Richa Lakhera’s ‘Contamination’ is a supernatural horror story

 Richa Lakhera’s ‘Contamination’ is a supernatural horror story

Team L&M

Author Richa Lakhera who earlier published books like Hungry Gods, Garbage Beat, and Item Girl, is back with an intense and gripping tale of the supernatural and horror with a female combatant set in the current times, Contamination (Om Books International). The book is being much appreciated by readers, including cinestar Manoj Bajpayee and screenwriter and novelistFarrukh Dhondy.

Following is an extract from the book:

It began with a knock on the heavily fortified village gate, late that evening.

Two men, who identified themselves as ‘government officers,’ demanded to be let in. They informed Headman Phamdom Lama that the village was to be ‘inspected,’ following an intel tip that an illegal arms factory was going to be set up.

“We are officers from the city,” the taller of the two men asserted solemnly as he asked the village chief for his cooperation. “And we need to investigate the matter. Setting up an arms factory in the village premises is strictly against the law. Those found to be involved in any way with such a criminal act will stand accused of plotting against the state.”

“There is no need for you to investigate. I am the village headman and you have my word. Only women and children and old men are here. There is nothing illegal happening in my village. Also, neither Tanu Bakar nor his men are here.”

“Well, in that case, you should have no objection to the inspection.”

After a lot of deliberation, and a great deal of reluctance, it was decided there could be no harm in letting the two men in, provided they proved their identity. Almost as if expecting such a demand, the two men promptly offered their identity cards, holding them with both hands, thumbs and forefingers gripping their corners. They held their cards just below their faces and peered over like eager schoolboys as Phamdom Lama put a finger on each card to scrutinize it, while using the other hand to caress the rifle slung across his chest. Finally, they were both let in

Setting about their job earnestly, the men moved house to house, making a great show of checking and writing comments in their little notebooks. And following them was an excited babble of children, aping the men as they went about making enquiries. They were taken aback when they saw Tara’s beautiful white cow, shining with heavenly health. Tara instantly offered them Coral’s sweet milk, perhaps also as an insurance against any misadventure.

“Delicious! This is sweet,” praised the first officer, genuinely surprised.

“No sugar, too,” praised the second officer.

“Wait here, mister. I will pack you some butter I made from her milk.”


Tara nodded proudly. The ‘officers’ consumed more milk but refused the fragrant white butter she packed for them. They had to move on to ‘finish their job’ they said avoiding her eyes and Tara felt the first prick of misgivings.

Soon, there was a commotion; which followed the village headman’s grandsons dashing down the streets, yelling.

“They are here—they are here!” shouted the elder one.

As if on cue someone thumped at the village gate which was closed after the ‘officers’ were let in, and a voice boomed on the microphone—

“I am Lieutenant of the Hill Regiment. I have orders from my commander. Our platoon has surrounded this village. We have received information that the criminal Tanu Bakar and his accomplices are hiding here. And that they are holding two of our inspection officer’s hostage. This is a very serious offence. Hand over our men, and all members of that criminal gang immediately.”

“This is a mistake. Tanu Bakar and his boys are not in our village. Your officers came on their own accord to inspect our village and you can confirm with them! No one is holding them hostage.” Phamdom Lama shouted back.

“Then let us in. We need to inspect the village by rule of law.”

“No. I cannot permit it. Your officers will be here any minute now, and they will tell you the truth. The gates will not be opened for any more of you,” Headman Lama insisted.

“There is no need for this defiance old man!” Sushithal interrupted and hissed at the old chief, “We know there is nothing here. But they have weapons. Why are you making them angrier?”

“You will do well to shut up boy! Hard to believe you are Tanu Bakar’s nephew.”

“Mind your words stupid old man.”

“I don’t have the will to fight with you, boy,” he told Sushithal, before turning to the regiment officer at the gate. “Lieutenant sir, I am repeating that you have no business getting men and weapons at our doors. We are protected by laws too and the law says you cannot trespass without valid reason. Your two ‘officers’ insisted to be let in. It was they who claimed that they had orders to check our village for an illegal arms factory.” Phamdon Lama said, but he might as well have been singing to a dead hog.

“Outright lies! There are no such orders. We demand that you to open the gates!”

“You are the one speaking lies and your men. I am sure now that your men trespassed into our village by lying to us about their true motives,” he shouted back losing patience, “But we will get them here and make them tell you the truth!”

There was silence outside the gates and then the microphone boomed again. It was a new voice, that of Colonel Rosie Madbull.

“Headman, Phamdom Lama, you speak to me, now—Colonel Madbull. So you can see that the matter is quite serious! You seem to think you have a choice in the matter whn you have no option. You have to let us in or you will be responsible for the fate of your own people.”

“Madbull, your men are safe—and you know that more than us. How do we know that when these men are returned, your troop will not attack us? As far as we are concerned, they are guarantee of our safety, so we cannot hand them over to you. If you provide a government communication that safe passage will be provided for our people, if that is a possibility, then the handover can happen,” asserted the village chief.

“That cannot be arranged,” pat came the reply.

“Then our business is done.” There was a look of disbelief on the faces of the captives.

You are done, old man. All of you.”

“You are committing treason.”

“You all will hang.”

“I think our business is over. Goodnight, officers.”

Night came. Colonel Rosie Madbull’s men retreated from the gate. It was a temporary truce. Dusk came and suddenly it was quiet. An unnatural kind of quiet. Something happening kind of quiet.


Colonel Madbull’s men were back in an hour. They gathered outside the village walls. A new tension prevailed in the air. A new order had come over. Something decisive was going on. The bullets rained soon after. And bullets were always followed by consequences. Colonel Madbull decided both.

Three… Two… One…


Reload, aim, low.


Three… Two… One…


A giant monster seemed to be yanking at the gate. The whole structure shook at the impact. Roared and banged as they shot indiscriminately. Bricks and mortars chinked everywhere. Incessant firing tore off huge pieces of timber that held the gate up. The bullets moved on after moving through them. Perhaps to make way for the hundreds of metal heads following. They fired so much gunpowder that the soil had charge, was explosive to walk. The villagers, well, some of them, grew chickenhearted at the sight of the very first charge. The shots felt like Madbull’s Red-hounds were in hundreds; actually, they were about forty and they came in hordes and went rampaging through the village firing at all and sundry. The front row, comprising young men, were the first to be hit. The ones who ran to the back windows, got hit in the backs and the back of the heads, before they could reach the safety of the nearby Iravati river. The brutality of the events which had unfolded for the past few hours had left the villagers stupefied. Women wailed aloud over the injured, the dead; some wailed at the horror of what was to come; some wandered about, frantically bewailing the dead and cursing the living.

When the regiment vehicles began to pull out, Coral appeared from nowhere and blocked their path. One of the constables took out his rifle. Tara scrambled to reign in Coral but, by then, some soldiers had thrown a rope around its neck and begun dragging it into their vehicle. Tara wept and begged for her cow to be spared.

“That is my Coral, sirs. We have nothing left. Please, don’t harm her.”

Madbull freed the cow and asked Tara—

“Is she yours?”

“Yes, sir. She has done no one any harm.”

A soldier aimed his gun at the animal.

“You idiot! What are you doing?” shouted Madbull.

“From the looks of it, it seems a crazed animal.”

“It is a beautiful creature.”

“Sorry, Colonel, my mistake. It is magnificent.”

Coral munched grass with a mechanical clapping of the jaw, without removing her gaze from Madbull.

“Hard to imagine, the fire of a pure animal,” he said wondrously. “You should appreciate the beast’s advantage. Mud-slick and swift, brute strength and hard to catch and kill if they don’t want to die. They can thrive on anything, scrap, trash, and still give life-sustaining milk. Their look witless and dull, which lulls their enemies. Crafty and clever. But not with me.”

Instantly, Madbull aimed with his rifle and shot the animal at point-blank. Sickening sound of rapid pellets on flesh. Coral let out a wail of agony. She tottered on her feet but, amazingly, did not fall. Nor did she still avert her gaze away from Madbull. A bullet exploded her head into red and pink. Tara crumpled, stunned, holding her head, she rocked back and forth. After a few more impacts, Coral buckled and lay down.

“I think, if you want to kill something, just do it. Don’t write an application, put it on its guard. Just do it. In any case the beast was too beautiful for these barbarians.”

He stood in front of the dying animal. And stared into its eyes. Perhaps he was willing it to remember who sent it to wherever animals went to after death.

In her dying stare, Coral drew back its upper lip in a warning snarl. She, too, was committing Madbull’s hateful face to her memory.



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