Where eagles dare: A story by Sanjukta Ghoshal

“You’ll find me where eagles dare,

But beware, dear, of the devil’s snare!”

Manoj stared at the clue on the piece of paper, almost willing it to reveal its meaning. It had been hours since Priya had disappeared. She hadn’t been gone for so long before, heck! It hadn’t taken Manoj so long to figure out her clues before either.
Manoj and Priya had been high-school sweethearts for a decade before they tied the knot a year back, and every weekend since, they had played this hide-and-seek game in turns, leaving behind clues for the other to lead them to their hiding places. The charm in it? All their hiding spots were supposed to be places they had frequented together so far. They were a daredevil pair and they had vowed to keep this fire of adventure alive as long as they lived. But things had gone too far this time. Manoj remembered, once when he couldn’t figure out her clues, he had given up after three hours and called his mother-in-law, tensed. Priya was upset with him for getting her mother involved. He dared not repeat the feat, but his nerves were getting the better of him.


Priya was scared beyond her wits. She had written the clue with a smug smile on her face, choosing the hiding place with care. But that smile had vanished. Priya and Manoj had discovered this place quite by chance, in their sophomore year. They’d been sitting on a secluded part of the rocky creeks off the sea that sultry evening when it suddenly started raining. Searching for a shelter with no umbrella, they had discovered this nook with a rocky shade jutting out. Standing underneath, they had spotted an old hidden lighthouse. The next afternoon they had sauntered to the creek again, hoping to explore the desolate spot.
“Whatever are you two up to in this godforsaken place?” Hari Chacha, the local milkman, had said, gathering the seaweeds he had collected through the day. “Don’t you know the place is haunted? It’s filled with snakes, the slithering devils. Go! Leave!” They gave up that day, and one thing or the other drove it out of their minds later. But now, sitting on a chair in this dimly-lit room, she realized there were more than slithering devils here, it was a drug-peddler’s den, where she had been seen, captured, and gagged. For the first time, she wished Manoj would involve others in their game.


Ever since he was a child, Manoj had come to the beach when he needed to think alone, this time it was no different. As the water glided through his toes, he recalled the slithering devils. “Of course! Where eagles dare: the haunted lighthouse!” His sixth sense nudged him to call his inspector.
The headlines came in newspapers, the next morning. “Daring Officer Manoj Parekh, with the team, rescues wife, nabs notorious smuggling gang from a hideout at the abandoned old lighthouse.”
Sipping on coffee, Priya winked, “Life’s some adventure, eh?