Nikhil slid the console of his mobile and checked the incoming message. "We're on. 1am sharp."
He sighed and pushed the instrument in his front pocket. That's it. Show time. He threw the cigarette butt and got into the car. He rolled the windows down as he hit the highway. The cold wind whispered angrily at his cheeks, but he was calm. He needed this dressing down. Soon, he turned his thoughts to the old days, when he rode the same highway on his bike. Innumerable treks with his friends, to nearby haunts - hillocks, forests. He pushed back his hair and turned the volume on his car radio, a wee bit higher.
At the 30th Kilometer, he veered off the tar and slowed the car down, the dirt track massaging the wheels. He drove for a few kilometers, concentrating on the path ahead. The light tunnel was closing in on the destination. He was surprised his heart wasn't behaving in the same manner his car was, on this bumpy track. It was pretty composed. He sighed deeply as he came to the clearing. The dust he'd kicked up behind him slowly settled down. He killed the engine and stepped out. In the darkness, he felt at home. The lone flicker from his lighter shone up the area for a brief second as he lit up. He waited. His radium-lit watch showed 12.40. About time now.
A few moments later, he saw a pair of head-lights bobbing its way toward him. It stopped at a distance. Doors slammed. He waited.
"All set?" Amod asked, rubbing his hands as he approached. Nikhil nodded and dropped the cigarette stub.
"Let's do it."
They headed up the hillock, leaving their cars behind. The flashlights caught a couple of surprised snakes on the way, inviting a gasp from Pradeep. "Holy Shit."
"Watch your step," Nikhil muttered, confidently leading the troupe.
They saw the building yonder, looming large, getting bigger as they closed in on it. Nikhil motioned for the others to turn off the flashlights.
After a few moments, against the faint lights of the nearby town, one could see four silhouettes crouching and entering the hollow mansion.
Legend has it that no one ever returned alive after a visit to the mansion as it was called, since nearby villagers always heard deep throated echoes from there. It was well-known that nobody ever ventured on that path after dark, let alone in the middle of the night.
But the four guys led by Nikhil, returned. Because legend also has it, that after the two abandoned cars on the dirt track were picked up by police, that same night a villager had seen four wolves, howling and speeding down the paddy fields. They were unusually big for wolves, he'd observed.