Book Spotlight: Chedipe: Indian She-Vampire - Vikkram Dewan


Book Spotlight: Chedipe - Vikkram Dewan

About the Book

She has always been with us and will always be our haunting shadow. Chedipe entices, seduces, exploits and then kills. She traps men with beauty and repulses them with ugliness. Confronting her are a cunning English Captain, an Anglo-Iranian Anthropologist and an Indian Subedar. But can these desperados fight and defeat a supernatural being that has conquered death? This is the hidden history of an ancient Vampire, who terrorised the villagers of Hindustan, worried the fledgling Company Raj and interested the wily and merciless thugs in the 1800s.

Book Excerpt

The Attack

It was the sudden shaking of her shoulder that woke up Erlene; she saw the face of Guniya looking down at her. His dark brown eyes were moving feverishly in their sockets and his face was ashen white with fear. “Come Missy Sahib (mam); we go, now!”

She got up with a start and held the hand of her guide in her grip. It seemed that all hell had broken loose in the camp; everybody was shouting at the same time and soldiers were running helter-skelter. The guards at the Watchtower started to ring the warning bell continuously, while the drunkard Subedar standing next to them was firing warning shots in the air blindly. The coolies had broken the protective ring of soldiers and were running, leaving behind the mules that were trying to break the ropes that tied them to the trees. The horses were also desperate to break their bindings and were also jumping on their hind legs wildly and neighing frightfully.

Erlene saw a thing or being, was it the Darky or Chedipe, which was flying around like a flash. It was so quick in its movements that she was unable to discern how it looked. It was hopping from tree to tree like crazy with its black cloak tied around its neck following it; once or twice it jumped to the ground and then again to the high branches of a tree, all with a speed that the human eye could not match or follow. Erlene could only make out that it wore black rags as clothes and had a human-like body structure with long unkempt hair – a mix of open black & grey hair that flowed behind her.

“We go...we go,” Guniya was pulling her away. “Run this way.”

Before she left, Erlene saw that the Darky or dark terror had jumped down and had seized a hapless coolie. Her frightened victim shrieked, sending a chill down the spine. The bullets fired nearly simultaneously from various rifles hit only the empty ground as the hunter grabbed her victim and jumped off. It climbed up the Pipal tree, clutching the hand of its terrified victim. 

“Burn the goddamn tree! Shouted Mark.

“No, no Gaura Sahib; it's a Pipal tree, we cannot burn it,” said the Subedar who had climbed down the watchtower and joined him.

“This is not the time for your bloody superstition, Chaklader. We cannot let that man be murdered in front of our eyes.”

“If we burn the tree, we will roast the coolie alive,” said Captain Smith. “Soldiers climb the trees on both sides of the Pipal tree; hand them torches, I want to see what is happening on the higher branches of the Pipal.

With complete disregard for their safety, the brave soldiers followed orders. Their torches were insufficient to penetrate the higher reaches of the tree that was covered with leaves. “We cannot see anything Sahib” they shouted.

“Sahib, there seems to be something on my tree! Hey, Ishwar! No! No! Screamed a soldier on an adjacent tree as his torch fell. This was followed by violent shaking on the branches and a cry of terror that could freeze the blood of the toughest of men.

Before they could react, the blood-smeared body of the soldier with half-torn clothes fell on the ground. Within a few seconds, he had been mutilated beyond recognition. Almost spontaneously, everyone started to fire at the branches of the tree from which the body had fallen. The noise of firing rifles, and the pungent odour of the gunfire filled the entire campsite. The glowing embers of the half-extinguished bonfire cracked making the burning woods fall sideways. But no one had the time or inclination to look at it. They were all staring at the tree adjacent to the Pipal tree – as if half expecting the creature to fall from it. A macabre and terse silence prevailed as the party of hunters turned victims waited for the next move of the enemy that had the advantage of the initiative.

...Like a blind bat, Erlene was running, half falling, getting up and running again and was almost being half dragged by the boy guide who was far smaller and weaker than her. But the terror of Chedipe appeared to have added wings to his feet and fired him up with energy. The thorns of the wild bushes had bruised Erlene at many places and the sharp outwardly jutting pieces of wood from the trees had torn her clothes. But unmindful of it, she ran and ran as far and as fast as her legs could carry her. Her guide seemed to be able to see clearly in the dark and at the beginning at least appear to know where they were headed.

It was later that she discovered that the light of the quarter moon above them had made the boy find his way around and that he had subsequently lost his way. Once her eyes became accustomed to the darkness, away from the brightness of the bonfire and when they had stopped running, Erlene found herself in a part of the jungle that was devoid of densely grown trees. The ground lowered in front of them and soon they were walking in a giant bowl-shaped area with a tall tree at the edge of the bowl.

“Where are we Guniya?” the Englishwoman asked her guide.

“Far enough and safe. I know not my way here; never came so far.”

“You mean we are lost; how will we ever find our way back to the camp?”

“Don’t worry missy sahib. We walk; in morning me find way back,” he said grinning at her.

The snake of suspicion again raised its head in the mind of Erlene; could she trust the boy she had met only a day earlier? What if he was an agent of the thugs? Similar to the orderly Jeevanlal before him, whom Erlene had met in the adventure of Snake Princess? And what if the boy had been given the task of luring her away from the safety of the camp and into the waiting hands of murderous and lecherous thugs?

“You did not even give me time to pick up my rifle,” she complained and after a pause added, “though I still have my grandfather’s pistol that I always carry with me.”

The boy looked at her with a strange expression but said nothing. Her eyes had become accustomed to the darkness by that time and she could make out the outline of the trees in the light of the quarter moon; she had taken her hand out of the boy’s grip but continued to walk with him. “Couldn’t we have stayed back in the camp and fought back?”

“Missy Sahib; we dead there; Chedipe will kill all!”

“What was that creature anyway? Did you see it? It looked hideous and was hopping around at a speed that defied belief.”

It was Chedipe; I (try to) not see it or look in (its) eye. It can kill all; no gun, no dagger can stop it.”

“You believe that it is in the business of killing people for pleasure?”

”It (will) kill when people hit her; it wants not killing but it wants our blood.”

“I have heard that the thugs also offer animal and human blood to Goddess Kali. You have lived with them for so many years; do you think that this creature is associated with them?”

“I know not what Missy Sahib says,” he said in a confused tone.

“I mean can this thing be their pet; and the thugs and Indians alike unleashed, or sent this thing to terrify us, English people?”

“Thugs too fear Chedipe very much!”

“How would you know? You have not seen thugs for years since your release from their captivity, or have you? Are you still in touch with them?”

“I am not, I...I think they also fear the Chedipe; as everyone does.”

“Maybe; but how do you know all these things about Darky?”

“I told you; the boy from my village telling me.”

“Are we going to walk all night like this?”

“No Missy Sahib; we go up to (a) place high (above). No animal attack at a high place. We rest, we sleep. We go, find a way in the morning. Only some time to morning,” he said with an innocent smile.

Because she did not have a better alternative Erlene continued to walk. The land started to rise before them and they climbed out of the bowl-shaped clearing. Beneath a natural shelter of climbers hanging from the trunk of a fallen tree and rocks smeared with algae, they settled for what remained of the night. The fear of Chedipe, thugs and wild animals kept the Englishwoman awake for a while until the tiredness got the better of her and she dozed off on the cold grass covering the ground beneath the tree trunk that lay resting on huge boulders.


About the Author

Vikkram Dewan

Vikkram Dewan is a Delhi-based author, editor and researcher on Occult, Paranormal and Satanist cults and beliefs. He writes historical fiction, thrillers and adventure stories with elements of horror and paranormal. His stories are an "East-West cocktail” that includes Indian & western characters and belief systems. 
His 'Warlock' series of novels were well received by readers, reviewers and commentators in India and abroad. Its Hindi audio version has garnered 1.2 million+ plays and counting. 
His publishing credits include 3 novels in English, 3 novels in Hindi, and several short stories, articles and blogs. 
He has been featured in various newspapers such as Deccan Chronicle, Asian Age, Daily Hunt, The Free Press Journal, Navbharat Times and Amar Ujala. His articles and writings have also appeared on several websites and news portals.

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