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The Horror of Kotha-thumu

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I was visiting the lake of Anantasagar (25 kilometers from Siddipet, Telangana, India) with my chiropterologist family in order to look for bats to study. The area is beautiful, dirt roads interspersed with gentle rolling pastures (undulating plains, as dad calls them), small rivulets (more like drainage canals) leading from the Anantasagar Lake out into the plains. The actual road to the lake bund was about two kilometers of tar road until we reached a small hamlet called Patha-thumu (Patha - old; Thumu - sluice), where we asked for directions to the cheruvu (lake). We had to go to this little place called Kotha-thumu (Kotha - new) and we were told to follow the road till we reached a small sluice on the dead-end. We followed the directions to the point, accompanied by a couple of men on a Bajaj Chetak.

They came with us the whole way and told us that we had to be careful round these parts because the lake was right there and it was very very deep. Also, people came here and did God knows what kind of stuff.

There was this aforementioned little sluice on the cul-de-sac which we crossed with no problem and saw these stone stairs embedded in the soil, paving the way, apparently, to the bund. The sluice was on a little stream that came from the lake, and on moving further up the stairs I noticed that the actual rock had been carved away into a deep canyon by this kid of a stream. On the third landing, Dad and I stopped to take some photographs of the canyon and for some reason, I started feeling uncomfortable. I started noticing details about my surroundings, something I only do when I feel scared. I knew this feeling was strange because I severely freaked out because of a cobweb on my elbow. Never did that happen to me ever.

The villagers escorting us had come up by that time, accompanying Mum and our friend along the path and talking to them about the lake. As soon as one of them saw me, he said "Babu, akkada kuchovaku! (Boy, don't sit there!)" for some reason unknown to us at the time.

I heeded his advice immediately under the excuse of taking a photograph of some rock lizard I had seen just then and instantly, that ominous feeling passed over me. I suddenly remembered an amazing song I had heard the morning and started humming it, as I saw a fresh water tern and tried to take a few photographs of it. I was back in my element again.

Two hours of searching for any signs of life in the humongous sluice gate with the roar of the water of the lake rushing past the semi-open gate crushing our eardrums later, I was sitting on the edge of the "pier" looking out over the lake for any birds, when one of the villagers (Prakash, he called himself) came and sat next to me, and asked me about what our actual motive was. I explained that we research living things and all such stuff and slowly we came to the small abrupt conversation we had had when I was trying to take a picture of the 'canyon'.

I asked him why he told me to get up off the stairs just then and he was reluctant to tell me. I pressed him to divulge whatever information he was hiding until finally he agreed to and said in Telugu, "Some things, people like to remember. Some things, nobody likes to even know."

His story went like this-

Around two years back, two nature photographers came to the lake in order to take pictures of birds. They had met the sarpanch (headman) at the village and told him that they would be visiting for three days from the town of Siddipet -- one day for scouting in the afternoon, getting to know the area, and then two days early in the morning before 5 am to get some sunrise photographs and birds waking up. The sarpanch agreed but warned them to be careful of any wild 'animals' in the jungle around the lake. They shrugged it off, saying they'll take care of themselves.

The day they had to scout the region out, they arrived from the city of Hyderabad (120 kilometers away from Siddipet) around ten o' clock and had an early lunch in town, before arriving at Kotha-thumu at around noontime. They checked out the whole area, walking round the fields, round the whole bund of the lake to the other side and back to the sluice, before deciding to get back to their base in Siddipet at 6 PM. When descending the stone steps, one of the men thought he heard a rustle in the leaf litter surrounding the path, but made nothing of it.

Early the next morning, the two men arrived at about 5, parked their car at the small cul-de-sac and sat there listening to the birds waking up. One of them took his camera and went up the bund, saying he'll be taking some early test shots up on the lake. The other agreed, saying that he'd be preparing his tripod setup for a few sunrise shots later on.

Only minutes after the first man left, the second heard a scream. A drawn-out wail of anguish, suffering, abruptly ending in a gurgle. Then more muffled screaming, which suddenly as it started, stopped. Fearing the worst and arming himself with his extended tripod, the second man cautiously walked up to the bund.

What he saw there was a terrifying sight. His colleague lay on his back in the dust, his jaw shattered, face contorted into an expression of pure pain, his throat almost ripped out, jugular vein still weakly spurting blood into the already large pool there, and most horrifically, the abdominal cavity exposed, his entrails spread on the ground, pulsating.

Almost shaking with fear, the man stifled a scream as he saw an appalling sight on the ground next to the body.

An inhumanly large hand-print in deep red blood, fresh as the day, fingers perfectly proportioned, almost one foot in length from tip of finger to base of palm.

He ran. He ran like he never did before, got into his car, passed Siddipet, and drove straight on the highway for about 50 kilometers, shaking with fear, almost driven to insanity from what he'd seen.

One hour after the incident, about 47 kilometers from Siddipet on the highway, a car met an accident with a lorry. The single occupant of the car was killed on the spot.

Some things, people like to remember. Some things, nobody likes to even know.
DSC 0348

The author's approximate representation of the handprint. Note that the actual cameras of both the victims were never recovered.

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