It had become Stella's and Jacob's daily practice to search around in the den. Stella and Jacob raked their torch light into the den. Dead silence. Some sound like a munching of some creature broke the silence, probably the same creature. Fear crept over their faces. Stella held Jacob’s hand firmly. They slipped the focus of the light in the direction from where the sound was coming. They heard a low growl. They dazed. As they held the focus of light in that direction for a while, the sound stopped.
While moving the torch focus around in the den, they saw a piece of cloth entangled with a steep rock. They started to approach it. Suddenly the loud munching sound came again, probably very near. They slid the focus of the light. They saw a terrible jaw eating flesh. They remained still- rock still. The jaw stopped eating. An unnatural silence filled. Suddenly the creature jumped on them. They shouted with terror, defending themselves. It seemed the creature jumped to run away from them, rather than attacking them. Their torchlight followed the beast. It was a huge wild dog. The dog immediately jumped into ‘D-exit’ well.
"Intelligent creature." Jacob said sighing in relief.
" Oh..." Stella also sighed in relief.
" But how could it survive here?" Stella asked.
" Why? ... He is intelligent. He has right to survive. " Jacob said.
"It seems Tommy manages everything with his smell sense." Jacob said further, trying to ease the atmosphere.
"What about water?" Stella asked.
"It is there in one of the level B black holes." Jacob informed her.
They turned to the place from where the dog had emerged. A dead body lied upside down. Jacob went closer. Stella almost held her breath. Sickened, he turned the body. They saw a partially eaten face with eyes bulged out. Stella covered her face with her hands in disgust. He was the boy’s father, who had disappeared in the well.
Stella and Jacob reached the piece of a cloth entangled with a steep rock. Stella held it and observed closely. Suddenly her face fainted and eyes welled up.
"It’s Gibson’s shirt." She said in chocked voice.
She felt her legs weakening and she sank on to her knees, hitting the floor hard. She buried her face into her hands and began sobbing. Jacob squatted down holding her shoulder and tried to soothe her.
Original Novel by - Sunil Doiphode
English Version by – Mugdha Apte