Drive Through the Hills

Drive Through the Hills

A railway line was going to being constructed in the hilly town of Badalkot and the Consulting Engineering team was visiting the site for the first time. It was a prestigious multi-crore project funded by the government and several multi-national companies were involved in its execution. A group of four experts comprising engineers and geologists had reached the site for assessing the terrain and studying the conditions thoroughly and remained stationed at the makeshift accommodation at the site for three days.

The site was remote with hardly any habitation nearby and an office cum guest house was situated around 85 kms away. The nearest airport was another three hours further from the guest house. In the hilly terrain, it usually took around three to four hours just to reach the guest house from the site. The day prior to their return flight they packed up by early evening to be able to reach the guest house on time, where they were booked for the night. The site team saw them off with the office driver Bhola.

As the vehicle jumped over the uneven road, he saw their scared expressions through the rear-view mirror. He turned on the radio to entertain them but the signal was poor and all they could hear was a hissy sound of old Bollywood songs of the nineties. The chill in the air kept increasing as the sun faded.  Suddenly, it started to rain heavily and the mobile reception too got lost. Bhola tried his best to maintain speed but the weather ensured they moved slowly. The area was prone to landslides and the weather was also likely to get worse. A crease built up on Bhola’s forehead. He had been instructed to bring the team safely. Not the kind to take his work lightly, he stopped the car when they reached a small village to enquire about the place. He seemed to know the people well.

“There is a landslide in the distance, we may consider spending the night here. I know a place nearby”, Bhola told the passengers. Suresh, the only Indian in the group asked the opinion of the other members who agreed to the suggestion. It was a dark, stormy night and it made sense to wait a few hours rather than put their lives at risk.

Bhola smiled and turned the vehicle into the dark diverging road. He felt smug at his efficiency and eager for the rewards that awaited him.

Next day, a search was commissioned by the Engineer-in-charge of the project for the missing delegates. Breaking News flashed, “Insurgents suspected in the kidnapping of four engineers working on the railway project.”

Months later, in a far-off village, a drunkard maniac was found dead in his room. Several empty bottles of alcohol were recovered. Villagers stated that he kept ranting about a mysterious saucer-shaped vehicle that lifted up his car before disappearing into the sky. The maniac was later identified as Bhola. Search for the missing engineers is still on.


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