“I will not let you commit this heinous crime. Don’t you know that poaching is illegal? Better back off,” warned Munshilal, the forest guard, to Neil and Ramlal.
“Ha Ha! Illegal? But it fetches us a handsome amount in return. You seem to be a major obstacle for us. Don’t you want to lead a luxurious life? Why don’t you become our partner?” asked Neil to Munshilal.
“Kabardhaar! I will never stoop down to your levels. This forest is my abode. The inhabitants of this forest are my family. I will not let you both proceed. I will inform the authorities.”
As Munshilal was about to make a call, Neil struck him hard with a rake. Ramlal stabbed him viciously without showing any mercy. Blood gushed out unstoppably. Munshilal’s wobbly knees could no longer hold the weight of his body and he collapsed onto the floor of the treehouse that he called his home.
“Phew! Senseless idiot. With you dead there’s nobody around to stop us now,” exclaimed Neil unapologetically, kicking at the lifeless body.
“What do we do with the body?” asked Ramlal.
“Don’t worry. Once our job is done we will set this treehouse on fire. People will assume that it was an accident. Anyway, nobody is likely to come looking for this orphan.”
“Very true. Poor guy! He didn’t see this coming.”
“This treehouse gives a spectacular view of the forest. Do you see the thicket there beside the lake? We can expect the tigers there. Tigers are most active during the night.”
Time trickled and slowly darkness engulfed the forest. The forest was replete with the sound of chirping crickets and croaking frogs.
“It’s time. Here, take this fawn and tie it onto that tall tree. This is our bait. Once a tiger comes looking for it, blow the whistle. I will be ready to shoot it down,” said Neil.
“Sounds like a plan,” said Ramlal carrying the timid fawn.
Neil sat on the edge of the precarious ladder of the treehouse, waiting patiently and at the same time imagining how he would spend the reward that a dead tiger would fetch.
In a few moments, he heard the whistle. Neil’s fervent eyes could faintly see a tiger moving behind the bushes. His dexterous hands aimed the gun at the target.
As he was about to pull the trigger he heard an ominous voice behind him.
A chill ran down his spine.
“Neeee..il! Did you think that killing me would solve problems for you? Haha. I’m back. ”
An apparition then loomed before him blocking his view.
A flabbergasted Neil quivered and lost balance as he pulled the trigger and dropped dead forty feet below, crashing onto a boulder. The swerving bullet, unfortunately, headed towards Ramlal, piercing his chest.
“I am not gone. I will always guard this forest.” The spirit’s voice bellowed in the air.
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