Tuesday 10 August 2021

Siddi Gautam, ShortStory 2021 Longlist


Away from the hustle bustle of the city there lived happy Peverret family, happy only till the parents of both the children left. They lived near dense forest which was told to be haunted as whosoever went there never came back. Their parents never allowed them to go there. After their parents left their lives changed, so this is the story of those two adventurous kids.

Andy and Sophie had returned from their school, without knowing that it was a turning point in their life.

“Hey Andy, come on let us take some books for reading from our parent’s room.” said Sophie.

“No I feel bad when I go there,” he said as he went back to his memories and remembered their parents leaving.

Their parents were explorers who had never failed any mission that is why the Archaeological department sent them on a mission from which they did not come back. Andy remembered the night on which their parents had left. Their mother sung them a lullaby. While they were asleep their parents left the room quietly and went away somewhere in the darkness with all the necessary things, leaving them with their grandparents. He remembered their promise that they would come back. But it had been 4 years since they had went. After one year full of pain and agony a letter from archaeological department came which stated that they were missing and people assumed them dead. But the promise made Andy and Sophie determined that their parents would return as they had always kept their promise.

As he returned back to the present from his memories he saw Sophie coming towards him with some books in her hand. One of the books was very old and looked mysterious.

She told him that she got a book from their parent’s study desk. It might help them discover where their parent went as nobody was willing to tell them where they had gone in fear of losing the children also.

They decided to read the book together.

“Hey look at this, this is mommy’s writing.” said Sophie

“But what does this mean?” asked Andy

“I guess this is the place where our parents have gone, because if you would have noticed the index all the places other than this had same kind of mark on them,” said Sophie

“Just see, all the places with those marks were explored by our parents. If you remember they even discussed their adventures with us. So I guess you are right.” said Andy

As they were going through the book they noticed a map on the back of the page which bore the information of the unexplored place.

They discovered what the place was and thought of going in search of their parents.

They decided to leave the house stealthily at night as their grandmother would not let them go if they told her. They wrote a letter to apologize for leaving stealthily and assured that they would return with their parents.

“Do you think that we are doing the correct thing?”……“because if we get caught then god knows what will happen,” said Sophie

“Oh! Come on no one comes in this dense forest. Don’t you know what father used to say it is haunted , our parents were explorers that is why I think they built house near this haunted, enchanted forest.” said Andy

As they went inside the forest they heard some spooky noises which made them shudder. Then Sophie suddenly noticed some organ pipes in the roots of the trees and explained Andy that they were making those noises just to scare trespassers. As they went ahead they decided to make some marks on the trees so that they would not forget their way back. When they were making those marks they noticed that some kind of mark was already there.

Hey these are the same marks which were there in the notebook so I guess we must follow them and we will reach our parents.

There in the house their grandmother was worried and called the Archaeological department and requested them to appoint a team for searching the kids.

The archaeological department apologized and said that mam you already know that nobody goes in that forest, so we are sorry. We can just hope that the kids are well and fine and they are back soon.

In the forest they followed the marks on the trees and reached in front of a cave. They noticed that the cave was closed by some big stones among which on one of the stone something was written and below that there was a key hole.

“Hey Andy I guess this is a riddle which we need to solve to get to know where the key is.” said Sophie

“You are really genius Sophie, so let us first find the meaning of the riddle.” said Andy

The riddle said that:

“Clear the first level by something that changes color, sometimes pink, sometimes blue. It would be helpful to you if you suffer from some respiratory and cardiovascular disorders. Find the answer, put the key, another obstacle waits for thee.”

“Oh what on the earth does this mean?” asked Andy.

“Show me the map,” said Sophie

“We will head towards east to this place marked as useful herbs, because I think I have read about this in a book related to plants.” said Sophie

“Okay, so what are we waiting for let us go and find the key, bring it back and pass the first level.” said Andy

When they reached the place marked as useful herbs, Sophie got confused.

“Oh no! I can’t remember which one of these is the key, because Foxglove also helps in cardiovascular disorders and Borage plant also helps.”

“I guess it is this boo-whatever plant” said Andy

“Its borage plant but how can you say that it is only the key?” asked Sophie

“It is easy, because this plant has this cone shape coming outside so I think it will be fit for the key.” said Andy

“Yes I did not think about it, so let us take this and go.” said Sophie

They reached at the entrance of the cave and put the flower at the key hole.

“Yes! We did it.” they exclaimed

They went inside the cave and found a skeleton. They started to examine when abruptly Sophie screamed and told Andy that their father’s watch was lying near the skeleton.

Andy comforted her and said that he had also found some bag and he started to examine while Sophie started to cry.

Suddenly Andy said “He is not our daddy see this wallet, in this name is written as Mr.Copperwolt, do you remember reading an article about him in the newspaper. I want to take this bag as it contains some essential things like candles which might help us if our gets over.”

Then they continued the journey and came in front of three caves

“Which one should us choose.” said Sophie as she looked for some clues.

“We have to take the left one.” said Andy

“How do you know?” asked Sophie suspiciously

“I will tell you afterwards, trust me and let us take this left cave.”

“Okay” Sophie said

They continued to walk after taking some occasional breaks. Then when they were tired they opted to sleep in the cave only

The next day they walked for around 5 hours when they came in front of another three caves. They noticed a very beautifully decorated flute which had some precious jewels around it. As Andy was about to pick up the Flute to examine it Sophie stopped him by saying that it can be some kind of trap and they should leave the flute and should instead proceed towards the cave. She asked him that towards which cave they should proceed. When he did not answer Sophie said quite ferociously that now tell me how did you know that we had to take that cave only? He answered by saying that I did not take Mr.Copperwolt’s bag for essential things but because it contains a map of the cave. It was marked on the map that is why I knew that in which cave we had to go but now there is no information about this obstacle in the map. Then they decided to find some clues near the caves, as they were going to go near a cave an invisible barrier stopped them, on the invisible barrier it was written “Play the right tune to get in, or else lose your life.”

“What is this, there is no tune there on the invisible barrier, what has to be played?” asked Sophie

“Hey! See the map these are the notes of flute. You had learnt it, right. So, please save us from this trouble and play the right tune.” said Andy

“But I guess I do not remember because I have not practiced it for so much time.”

“But a try would not be bad.” said Sophie

She took the map and started to play the flute but suddenly

“Oh no! I played the wrong note,” suddenly Andy pushed her to the ground and himself also sat, Sophie was astonished to see that suddenly as they had sat an arrow shot out which was meant to shoot the person who had played the wrong note which was Sophie. She was thankful to Andy for saving her life. She then continued to play the notes, when she completed playing suddenly a cave’s door opened. They hurried in the cave and saw that as they moved in the door again closed.

“Huff! I thought we would not make it out in this level, but we did It.” said Sophie happily.

“Now I wonder what we have as our next level, I hope that we complete these levels quickly, find our parents and return back home safely.” said Andy

They rested for a while before resuming again. They saw that the cave had some drawings that were similar to those in their History textbook, they wondered who had drawn them and thought that when found it would be the best Archaeological site. They continued and saw waterfall with some exotic plants around it. Sophie wanted to examine but was stopped by Andy, he said that while returning they can see that but now there goal is to quickly find their parents and return back and not enjoy the beauty around them. Reluctantly, Sophie agreed and they continued. They went and went deeper inside the cave, thinking when the cave would end and they would find their parents. They were very excited as they thought that the cave was just going to end and at any moment they might meet their parents. And then finally they saw their parents with some other explorers. They started to run in excitement to reach their parents. But Alas! They were standing in front of the last obstacle, their smiles faded and especially Sophie wore a grim look. “Hey look at this, funny drawing looking like boomerangs, and also see there is a space as if something needs to be inserted to move ahead. I wonder if you know something about It.” said Andy.

“Why on the Earth do you think that I know everything!?” said Sophie woolly. After taking a long, hard look at the funny drawing, she told that we must search this area for some clues. After their long search they found two stones which looked similar to the space given to insert. They inserted both the stones one by one, but nothing happened, their long search had gone in vain.

“We must now, decode this drawing to get ahead, but we have explored the cave completely, we did not get any clue about this drawing.” said Sophie.

“No, don’t you remember we saw some drawings just before reaching this place, I guess we should check that place also.” said Andy

After looking at their parents for some time, they started to go back to the place with same kind of drawings for searching for clues, but this time not with wretched faces but with faces full of determination. They looked and looked, but were unsuccessful.

“We have still one place left” Sophie suddenly said, looking quite pleased with her.

“Which place??” asked Andy absentmindedly, thinking that Sophie was a foolish girl who did not know anything that was not there in her books.

“Oh God! Use your mind Andy, it’s the waterfall.” said Sophie

For the first time in life Andy thought that her sister was not so useless and she did really have presence of mind.

They had to walk a bit more and then they reached the waterfall looking triumph, as if they had got the stone which had to be inserted. They started their search again; they saw beautiful flowers and exotic, even some extinct plants. After some time of search they both were tired and sat on rock.

“I am wondering that now as we have no other place left we need to decode the drawing, no other option left.” said Sophie

“Yes you are right sis, but those boomerangs can’t mean anything unless you go into a deep search of history, I guess that only very old explorers like Mr. Copperwolt, Mr. Dumas would know about it.

Suddenly they looked at each, and said “You are thinking what I am thinking right!!”

“Yes! Check the possessions of Mr. Copperwolt. In no time they found a diary,” containing the answer to their question. “Now we just need to get back, decode the hidden word, which might tell us where to get the thing that is to be inserted, take our parents , go back and live a happy and peaceful life. But before we leave, Andy can you please fill the bottle as it is empty.” Andy filled the bottle without seeing how he was filling and from where, they left. They both did not even feel thirsty in the excitement. When they reached the last obstacle point, Sophie started decoding and after a lot of difficulty, she found the word, it was “CRYSTAL” . “So we need a crystal but from where do we get it?” asked Sophie. “I guess you must would have decoded it wrongly, let me try.” said Andy shrugging. It took him almost half an hour when he finally told that Sophie you are right, there is no place mentioned. Horrors struck them, now they felt thirst and were confused. “Oh no!” wailed Sophie, “Now we are struck here forever, what will Mum and Dad think, we left it, when success was so near?”

“Why do you think success is near?” asked Andy furiously. “This is just stupid, they have told us that a crystal has to be inserted but they forgot to write where it is!?”

Then Sophie said that I think it is an assessment to test our logical thinking. On this Andy got very angry and started to scold Sophie. He took out the water bottle and started drinking water when something hard came in his mouth from water, thinking it was a stone he threw it. Sophie suddenly gasped, “It was the Crystal”. Their happiness knew no bounds, they thanked god and put the crystal when suddenly the barrier vanished and they ran to meet their parents. They were all in tears. Their parents cried and said that they knew that their children would definitely save everyone. Suddenly some old tribal people came and bowed to Sophie and Andy. “Thank you both of you, today we have found the true heirs of the god’s crystal, you will have the responsibility to save this stone from evil, once you will be old and would no longer be able to take care of the stone, the stone would return back to this place , waiting for its next heir to come and take it.” Then suddenly they were transported to their house. Both the children got bravery awards for saving all the people. “So this was the story of our adventure grandma.” told both the children as they finished telling their grandma, the story of their very own adventure.

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