Written in response to: Make a train station an important part of your story.... view prompt




The special, weekly tourist train to Chandangarh was about to leave Rampur station. The special gauge train had four coaches with seating arrangements and only one compartment with luxurious sofas accommodating only four passengers. The four seating coaches were full.

The tickets to the luxurious coach were exorbitantly high and so this coach was usually run empty. But that day three seats were booked. One of the occupants Satish was on his couch and he had opened his storybook and was engrossed in reading it. The guard was waiting for Mr. & Mrs. Chopra, the other two passengers who had booked the tickets just in the morning.

In a matter of a few minutes, a middle-aged couple walked into the platform. It was apparent that the unwilling Mrs. Chopra was being dragged by enthusiastic Mr.Chopra. They occupied their seats in the luxury coach and the steam engine-driven, special gauge train started.

Satish was impressed by the gorgeous Mrs. Chopra and aristocratic Mr.Chopra. He noticed that Mr.Chopra was quite in a romantic mood. As the train entered the forest area and started climbing up the hills, the surroundings were getting more and more fascinating. Mr.Chopra was trying to appease the lady and was making an effort to change her mood. But he was not getting any success.

Mr. Chopra was pointing at the deep valleys, the attractive waterfalls, and the breathtaking scenes which were making him excited. He was making different sounds at the sharp turns taken by the train. When the train entered a tunnel, it was completely dark in the compartment. Satish heard a muffled sound. He guessed Mr.Chopra, in a terrific romantic mood, must be kissing his wife. But in just a couple of minutes, the train came out of the tunnel and the coach was illuminated. Satish found Mr.Chopra irritated. Probably, Mrs.Chopra must not have cooperated with him. 

Just to remind the Chopra of his presence in the compartment, Satish asked Mr.Chopra whether he would like the lamps in the compartment to be 'on' when the train entered the tunnel. Mr.Chopra, staring at Mrs.Chopra,  hurriedly replied, "No. No. Isn't it fun to pass the tunnel in complete darkness?” She ignored him completely. Satish thought there was not everything going well between this middle-aged couple.

After some bright sunshine inside the coach for a few minutes, the train again entered a tunnel. It was pitch dark once more. Satish heard muffled sounds again. Satish was getting disturbed by the long, muffled groans. He thought Mr.Chopra had started enjoying his hill-station fun right before reaching the resort. The moaning sounds were irritating Satish. The tunnel was very long. After a few minutes, the muffled sounds stopped. Satish imagined that the middle age had put a stop to their vigorous activity.

When the tunnel ended after about 12 minutes, bright sunshine entered the coach. Satish hesitated to lift his head to look at the fun-loving couple. After his eyes got set on the light inside the compartment, he looked up. And he was shocked.

Mrs. Chopra was lying dead on the couch strangled by her scarf and Mr.Chopra was not to be seen. Startled by this horrifying scene, he got up. He shouted for the police. But in the noise of mountain climbing, coal engine train, his call could not cross even out of his compartment.

Confused, Satish opened the vestibule to cross the coaches and reached the police. Meanwhile, the train again entered a tunnel. But there, the lights were put ‘on’. Satish told the police about the murder taking place in his coach. When the police heard about the special coach, they rushed towards the luxury coach of the train.

Satish quickly followed them.

When the police entered the luxury coach, it was pitch dark. They switched on the light. But there was no sign of murder or any disturbance. Satish was surprised. His baggage was as he had arranged when he had entered the train in Rampur. Mr. & Mrs. Chopra had come without any baggage. And then both of them were missing.

Stunned, Satish was confused. Police went along with the theory of hallucination. They asked various questions to Satish. But there was no sign of any proof indicating a murder. Satish was helpless. After half an hour the train halted at the station “Bandhavgali." All the tourists got out onto the platform to stretch their legs. Satish took this opportunity and contacted the local police. When Satish told the entire story, of how Mr.Chopra had insisted on putting the light off when the train entered the tunnel. Satish also explained how the muffled noises in the dark were mistaken for kissing and sex play by the middle-aged couple. The second tunnel after the train started from Rampur, was fairly long. It took about 12 minutes for the train to come out of the tunnel. The police of Bandhavgali believed what Satish had told them. They did not brush aside this happening as a piece of hallucination. Satish also told them that the entire action happened only when the train was moving inside the tunnel. Even the missing of the body of Mrs.Chopra from the coach, happened while the train was moving in the tunnel.

The police sent a message to nearby police stations and asked them to comb the tunnels of the nearby areas along the railway tracks for Mr. and Mrs. Chopra. The search was started.

After a halt for 15 minutes at Bandhavgali, the train started to take the tourists further deep inside the forest and to a higher altitude.

About 3-4 hours later, and passing through 7-8 tunnels, the train reached Chandangarh only to start the return journey after a week.

Satish took charge of the small cottage, which he had booked.

Satish had dinner and went to bed.

The next day, after breakfast, Satish took a stroll in the thick forest. When he returned, Satish found someone waiting for him.

“I am detective Dhananjay. I need to know a little more about the murder which you witnessed.”

“Hello. I am Satish. Tell me what you want to know about yesterday's happening."

“Satish, I have been working on this matter since yesterday after the train reached Chandangarh. I have collected all the information that I could get. And now, I will tell you the entire story which I guess must have happened.

To start with, we have found that Mr. Chopra was the only son of the well-known landlord of Meerut. He was married to a daughter of another rich, cultured family in the nearby area. Mr.Chopra's father was not happy with the behavior of his son. Despite several warnings, he strayed away from proper conduct. He trusted his daughter-in-law more than his son. That resulted in his property going in the name of the daughter-in-law instead of his son, after his death. That made Mr.Chopra extremely unhappy.  There were regular sparks between the Chopra couple.

Once Mr. Chopra traveled from Rampur to Chandangarh all alone. He also had booked this cottage. The surprised cottage attendant when asked him the reason for his visiting this resort alone without his spouse, he told him that he was a writer and he needed total solitude in the thick forest, to write his story. This resort offered perfect surroundings to write a thrilling story. Throughout the week that he stayed here, he was drawing tunnels and was noting down the time taken by the train to pass that tunnel. He was writing something connected with that time. Joining the dots, I think, he had planned to kill his wife, connected with the time the train took to pass the tunnel.

The first short tunnel he used to create the muffled sounds by forcefully kissing his wife. He was successful in creating the impression of love activity during the complete darkness while passing through the tunnel. He knew the next tunnel would bring in the darkness for at least 12 minutes. He strangulated his wife by closing her mouth. But there his calculations went wrong. It took some extra time to complete the act of strangling. So before he could throw the body out of the coach, the train came out of the tunnel. So, he left the dead body on the couch itself and hid. As expected, you, the other passenger, were shocked and you ran out of the compartment. In a minute, the train entered another tunnel which he knew would take 5-6 minutes. Ensuring that there was no one around, he came out and managed to throw the body out of the coach. This happened unnoticed as the train was still passing the tunnel. He went into hiding before the sunlights entered the coach. Before the train reached Bandhavgali, Mr. Chopra managed to put on a mask. He mingled with the crowd as one of the seating class passengers.

So, Mr.Satish, be careful. The accomplished murderer is on this resort and he may try to wipe off the witness to his meticulously planned murder. We have kept the watch on your cottage. But my request to you is not to venture out into the forest all alone.”

After the week was over, the holiday trip returned to Rampur.

Soon, Satish heard the news “Murderer Mr.Chopra arrested.”  

October 22, 2022 00:07

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