Short Story #2: Heads or Tails

Updated: Oct 11

3. THE FINAL SHOWDOWN


Read from First Chapter here.

Read Previous Chapter here.


Previously on Heads or Tails: One of the forest tribes had decided to hunt for food from the northwest crop fields in the village at night.


At Manov's Home...


After Manov departed, his wife, Neeta had fed Siddhu and put him to sleep. She had finished washing the dishes and slept next to Siddhu. Manov's home was located in the east region of the village where their clan had initially settled down when they had come to this landscape next to the forest. Over a decade they had deforested the region at an alarming rate in order to cultivate and harvest crops. This had adversely impacted the lives of communities living in the forest. They had no choice but to compete with the villagers for their own survival. And so, the hostile relationship and interactions between the villagers and the forest tribes started.


Neeta woke up to a sudden thud sound at the middle of the night. Siddhu was disturbed from his sleep and he started crying. The sound was coming from the terrace. She got up to switch on the lights. Right then, a stone came crashing past the window and hit her in her forehead. She yelped in pain. And before she could do anything there were more stones incoming. She quickly rushed to the corner wall and switched on the lights. Bright radiance filled the house. She turned back and was stupefied to find out that she was not alone. They had come into the home and was near Siddhu.


At the Northwest crop fields...


The village men along with Manov were under the watch post. They had spears, sticks, and iron rods. They were slowly and furtively moving towards the forest bushes. And the tribesmen consisting of five males from the all-men troop were creeping towards the field, towards the village men. They had nothing but sheer aggression and bare hands. And when they crawled past the bushes into the fields, they were shocked to find the village men with weapons in their hands. This was not expected. But it didn't matter, the game has to be played. There is no turning back.


There was a fierce combat between the two groups. Loud screeches, shrieks, and screams ripped away the silence of the night. Weapons and collaboration helped the village men to secure the upper hand and they were successfully chasing away the tribesmen back into the forest. But one male was brave, it was giving a tough fight to Manov. Eventually Manov struck the brutal blow, hitting the head of the male and knocking him down. It was the dominant male of the tribe. He was about to strike the killer blow.


"Manov! Stop. Our chief told no killings" yelled Veera from distance. "Don't kill it."


"They have caused enough trouble to us already. Let this be a lesson to them. Death is what they'll have to pay if they want to meddle with our lives" said Manov enraged and stroked the final blow on it's head. The dominant male breathed his last and became lifeless. The other males of the troop were standing beside the bushes and watching the scene in horror as their leader was being killed. Manov was still furious. He gave chase but the troop escaped and disappeared into the darkness of the jungle.


The village men were upset. They did not intend to kill and were only trying to chase them way. But Manov has made a kill. It was just an hour or two from Sunrise and they went back to the watch post and spent the night in vigilance. And when the Sun rose, Manov and Veera were heading back home.

There was a huge crowd near the neighborhood of Manov's home. People had gathered around and were dead silent. As Manov and Veera were nearing they could hear someone sobbing. Manov recognized it instantly. It was his wife's. He ran past the crowd and went to see Neeta. He stopped suddenly horrified at what he saw. Neeta was on the ground on her knees and weeping. Next to her laid Siddhu dead, his right arm almost broken off, stomach opened.


"Why Lord? Why?" bawled Neeta who was crestfallen and sobbing as the other villagers watched the scene petrified.


Manov slowly walked towards Neeta. He stood beside her, shocked, completely shaken, and frozen like a statue not able to imbibe the scene. His face was expressionless. He didn’t know how to react, whether to be furious or to feel sorrow for his son and mourn. The villagers watched the horrific scene with utter dismay.


Somewhere in City...


The baker in a tea stall was hanging the latest newspaper rolls in front of his shop. One of the headlines read:


"Chimpanzee Attack at Putna Village"

Two year old toddler and one chimpanzee killed


One Chimpanzee and a two year toddler were brutally killed in discrete incidents at the village of Putna. The village of Putna had been threatened with increasing chimpanzee attacks lately. Due to habitat loss caused by conversion of the forested lands to agriculture, the chimps had been roaming through the village at unusual times searching for food. But things took a horrific turn yesterday night when all of a sudden a two year old toddler was snatched away from a house and killed brutally by a group of chimpanzees. They had started attacking the mother and the baby by throwing stones through an open window. Then jumped into the house and snatched the baby before the mother could do anything. The baby was later found dead nearby with severe injuries and blood loss.


Concomitantly, a chimpanzee had been killed near the northwestern region of the village where crops were cultivated. The village men had set up a watch post and were looking out for crops when all of a sudden a group of chimpanzees ventured into the fields for food. The village men attacked the chimpanzee group and chased them away while one of the chimpanzee was killed in the process.


[End of Story]


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