“Oh! Nilesh, where have you brought me?” asked Ananya.
“Do not worry! This treehouse is the only place we have where we can pass this night,” said Nilesh while removing the cobwebs with his hands.
Nestled in the branches of a banyan tree, stood the small treehouse built with bamboo sticks. It looked very ancient and dreadful, inspiring both awe and fear at the same time.
“Aah! Nilesh, what’s that?” Ananya asked fearfully and hurried over to Nilesh. Two tiny eyes sparkled in the moonlight and the thing dived down the aerial roots of the banyan tree.
“What a spooky place!” complained Ananya and hugged Nilesh tighter.
“Nothing to be afraid of,” he mumbled, cupped her face, and fondled her cheeks.
“Your hands feel so cold,” she murmured.
“Maybe because of this cold weather,” he replied.
“What had happened to the car?”
“The engine was overheated, and I had to go to fetch some water.”
“But you were away for such a long time.”
“Yes, it was getting dark, and I could not find any lake nearby”. He leaned closer to Ananya and planted a kiss on her cheek. Ananya pulled away. It felt like the kiss of a snowman.
Whoosh! The leaves rustled in the wind and a dreadful bat fluttered past them.
“It feels so scary here.”
“I am with you, dear,” said Nilesh and touched her fingers gently.
“Do you believe in ghosts?”
“Ghosts? Are they not only found in horror stories?” he guffawed. “Do not talk about ghosts. Look, what a romantic night it is! The moon is full today”.
“I do not feel comfortable here.”
“Look, there are wooden chairs. We can sleep on that. It is just a matter of one night.”
Nilesh lifted Ananya and placed her on one chair and then slumped into the chair next to it.
“Stay always by my side. Never leave me.”
“I will always be by your side. Dead or alive,” he answered and kissed her goodnight.
It was a haunting silence broken by occasional hooting of owls. Ananya had plunged into a deep slumber. By this time the moonlight shone brighter and cast her shadow on the floor. But only her shadow.
The sound of sirens woke her up. She opened her eyes and was taken aback to see a policeman in the treehouse. Day had broken out. She scanned all sides, but Nilesh was nowhere.
Worried, she asked, “Where is my husband?”
The policeman lifted his cap and answered, “An unknown caller called us and asked us to reach the treehouse. There is a treasure. The burglars who stole this treasure from the villagers were found dead near the lake. It seems your husband killed them and so a part of the treasure will be yours too”.
“But where is my husband?” she asked impatiently.
“Sorry, madam! Near the lake, we found another corpse. It was of your husband. Postmortem report says he died last afternoon…”
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