Their bodies glowed in the dark, not unlike that of glowworms; but these emanated a curious fluorescent purplish orange glow. Large heads attached to spindly bodies, with bloated stomachs danced in a kind of curvy, undulating manner. They looked like human children who suffered from rickets. The bloating bellies looked oddly translucent in the light that seemed to come from within their bodies. Large sunken eyes looked out at nothing in particular and yet at everything at once. A strange hissing noise, similar to those made by crickets issued forth from the group of glowing bodies.
As Madhavan watched in complete stillness from behind a huge tree trunk, the bodies seemed to dance into some kind of formation . At first he thought they were forming a circle holding hands, but soon he realized that these creatures were moving out in a spiral circle – with the tiniest one in the center and increasing height wise as the successive circles grew larger. As they danced in this curious formation, a slow soft whine grew from within the circle and Madhavan realized that it was some kind of a work song. The creatures, danced away the night in this unusual fashion and after a while, Madhavan grew tired of watching them and his eyelids drooped. He had walked many miles that night and his little body sank deep into slumber.
Early next morning, when the sky was still a dull grey, Madhavan was awakened from his sleep by a curious feeling on his stomach. As he struggled to come awake, he chuckled – someone seemed to be tickling him. “Stop it Thankamma” said Madhavan and then suddenly sat upright. Where was Thankamma? He had gone to sleep in a forest. Madhavan felt the ticklish sensation again on his neck and swerved around. His eyes bulged in surprise when he saw a creature from the night before standing before him, its thin strangely translucent arm extended towards him. Big round eyes looked at him with as much curiosity as Madhavan’s own.
Madhavan smiled at the boy creature and it did a sudden little dance in response. Madhavan laughed and the creature jiggled its translucent belly. “Who are you?” asked Madhavan enjoying the display. In response it made a snorting kind of sound that made Madhavan giggle. The creature then crooked a little finger motioning Madhavan to follow him. So Madhavan got up, stretched and decided to follow his new found friend deep into the forest.
He walked happily behind the creature who strode along in long lanky strides. Soon however, Madhavan found himself lagging behind as the creatured loped forward at a faster pace . Madhavan could barely keep up with him. Panting and lurching through the undergrowth and vines, Madhavan ran as fast as he could, but in vain.
Suddenly, Madhavan’s breath started coming faster and he felt an unusual surge of panic. He could see mist curling from beneath the forest ground and from behind the creepers and tree trunks. Mist which curled and snaked its way through the trees and plants began to envelop him in swirling meandering droplets of opaque water . By now his heart was thudding and he had difficulty breathing . Unable to run any further, Madhavan stumbled and came to a stop next to a big acorn tree. Panting , he leaned against the trunk and tried to catch his breath. The creature with the thin limbs and big belly had long since outdistanced him and Madhavan was utterly alone in the forest. He remembered his grandmother’s warnings ruefully. The green curling mist was becoming thicker and thicker and soon Madhavan knew that it would envelop him completely.
A large drop of water slid down a leaf and splattered on his neck and Madhavan jumped and stifled a little scream. Fear and terror, which had hitherto been unknown to him, was beginning to become a familiar feeling. He looked around him at the growing mist and glanced up at the leafy branches above. He was completely alone in the hissing mist without a clue as to his whereabouts.
A sudden chill traveled up Madhavan’s spine abruptly and he froze. Was he truly alone in the forest ? Something was watching him. Madhavan mustered up all the courage he could and looked around him. Surely, it must be his nameless friend. Madhavan ducked behind the large acorn tree and waited quietly. Perhaps his friend would emerge if Madhavan appeared harmless- though what could be dangerous about him, he was unable to fathom.