Doctor Prithvi cursed his luck. From the moment he had set foot on Marhi, a secluded tribal village in the Himalayas, he had worked for its amelioration. The previously non-functioning government hospital saw major improvements. He toiled day and night to treat the natives, reduce their pain….and this is how they repay him?!

For the last few hours he was lying locked up in a small, dingy hut. The only source of light was the oil lamp burning at the corner. He felt nauseated. This darkly superstitious tribal clan took seconds to forget his good deeds and ganged up against him. All because of that farcical Priest!! He knew the Priest disliked him. After all, the old man’s earnings through quack treatments were completely eaten up by Prithvi. But the shrewd man was politically correct….

Prithvi had been aware of the killings that happened occasionally in Marhi and the well decorated tribal folklore associated with it. The bodies were mostly discovered at the desolate river banks, just at the outskirts of the thick forest, murdered brutally, hardly recognisable. Also, the killings had a pattern, they were always on a full moon night. The full moon and the mutilation associated made the murders a fearful mystery to the tribes and the “shapeshifter” folklore came into the picture. Prithvi was sure that it was some animal which the uneducated natives believed to be a shape-shifting human.

Things escalated when the identity of the latest victims was out. They were men who have had some heated dissensions with Prithvi, the whole village knew about it. Added to this, was the fact that the murders had stopped for over a decade now, only to start after Prithvi had come. It took the Priest moments to bank on these incidents. After a ritual to locate the shapeshifter in the village, he conveniently pointed out Prithvi’s residence.

Prithvi’s only hope now was Sashi. Sashi, who had a boorishly enchanting smile and beautiful brownish yellow eyes, was his compounder, a paramedic student who had returned to her native to make a change. She had joined the local hospital just a week after Prithvi. In a lonely place when you find someone of opposite gender sharing a common interest, love blooms. She lived in a quarter within the same complex. It was during one of their evenings breaks that Sashi had told Prithvi about how she was made orphan by the Priest as her parent’s hut was then suspected to be the lair of the shapeshifter.

There was a sudden creak at the door.

Prithvi!!”.

He could recognise Sashi’s voice and silhouette.

They are busy worshipping the full moon… later you will be sacrificed…. better escape now”.

A chill ran down Prithvi’s spine,” How will I…”

I know!! Ride on my back, we have to get out of here!!”. There was an aura of confidence in Sashi’s voice.

And a perplexed Prithvi watched her silhouette metamorphose into a huge wolf with gleaming brownish yellow eyes!!

*****