Ghosts

PART ONE

THE HUNTER

Greater Noida, NCR Region

February 13, 2016

9:00 PM

The sky, a thin veil separating life from the infinite expanse, was giving way to the unbounded darkness that lay beyond. The setting sun was casting long shadows, engulfing the world in a reddish glow.

The Assassin was lying on his stomach and gazing with his right eye into the scope of his rifle, trying to focus on The Target, which was in its apartment in the opposite building. The Assassin had a lithe, muscular figure, his arms slowly directing his rifle, his index finger on the trigger.

He could see The Target now. It was playing with a small Expendable, which could not have been more than 6 years old. It was laughing aloud, making the action figures enact various fantasies, as the Target looked on in amusement.

“Patience,” thought the Assassin.

Just then, another Expendable came into the room, brandishing a notebook. The smaller Expendable began to cry, and after a lot of struggle, quietly took the notebook and went into the other room.

The Assassin knew this was his moment. He drew a deep breath, his hands now holding the rifle steady, the crosshairs focused on the Target’s forehead. Holding his breath, he pulled the trigger. The Target collapsed, its blood splattering on the wall behind. The Expendable began to scream.

The Assassin allowed himself a rare smile. It had been a perfect shot, and for a moment he thought whether he could make two perfect shots in a row. His trigger finger was itching, his scope now focused on the Expendable. However, he would be paid only for one kill anyway. He relaxed his arms and stood up. Pulling out a cellphone from his pocket, he typed a message.

“1/4. Wire payment. Update on No.2 tomorrow”

Chandigarh, Punjab

February 14, 2016

8:00 am

He didn’t need a rifle to eliminate this Target. It lived alone, so there would be no collateral damage. His disguise was that of delivery man, and he had added a dense moustache and beard to make sure there were no loose ends. The nameplate read ‘Rohit Singh’.

He rang the bell.

“Who is it?” asked a loud voice from inside the apartment.

“Courier, sir. Carrying your phone bill.”

“Be there in a minute!” came the reply.

This was almost too easy. This Target had let his guard down, something that the Assassin never did himself. He pulled out the silencer-equipped Berretta .32 caliber from its holster, and waited. He heard the sound of footsteps, and saw a shadow fall over the peephole. Raising his gun to the peephole, he pulled the trigger, and heard a scream. He stepped back and emptied the entire magazine on the door. He then slipped away and hailed a taxi, and typed another message on his cellphone.

“2/4. Wire payment. Update on No.3 at evening today.”

Mumbai

February 14, 2016

4:00 pm

The flights from Delhi to Amritsar,  and Amritsar to Mumbai would have tired out a normal person, but the Assassin was anything but normal.

This Target was similar to the previous one. It lived alone in one of the several high rises in the city suburbs. He had been warned about this one. It was the best of the lot, as dangerous as the Assassin himself.

The nameplate read ‘Ranjit Gill’.His disguise this time was that of a pizza delivery guy. He would take special care of this one. He rang the bell.

“Who is it?” asked a deep voice.

“Pizza, sir.”

“Didn’t order any pizza, mate.”

“I’m sorry sir. My bad. Could you please help me locate the address given?”

“And get my eye shot off? No, thanks. Your game is up, asshole!”

The Assassin felt a chill that had nothing to do with the wintry air.

“Sir, what are you-”

“Shut the fuck up and listen to me very carefully. See the peephole in front of you? You can’t shoot me from there, because yours truly is always aware of what assholes like you are capable of. It’s a security camera that focused on you, newbie. I currently have a very beautiful shotgun in my hand pointed at the door, so take out your gun and set it down in the floor if you don’t want me to blow a large hole in your body. You have five seconds. I assume you can count.”

This was an unprecedented hindrance for the Assassin. His brain was racing, calculating the possible permutations. He could take out his gun and set it on the floor, accepting defeat. Or he could take a shot at outwitting the Target.

He had never accepted defeat before in his career. It was a point of pride. He could not accept it now. There was only one way.

He took out the gun and feinted downward motion, changing track at the last moment and firing at the door.

He could fire only one bullet before he heard a loud bang. His shoulder was on fire and his shirt was now turning red. The pain was excruciating, one that he had never felt before.

He did something he had never done before. He ran.

Mumbai

8 hours ago

Ranjit was woken up from his deep sleep by the ringing of his cell phone. The caller ID displayed the name of a person he had thought he would never contact again.

He hesitated for a moment. Why would Rohit be calling him? Had he forgotten the pact? Had he forgotten what had happened that had made them agree to the pact? Or had the ghosts of their past finally caught up with them?

Curiosity got the better of him, and he picked the call.

“Roh-”

“Listen to me, Ranjit. They got me. I don’t have much time, so listen to me very carefully. ” The voice was strained, as if coming from the wrong end of a speaker.

“God damn, Rohit. What do you mea-”

“Shut up and listen. They’re coming for us. I tried to call Vikram. He’s dead. Call up Karan and warn him as well. They are coming.

“Tell me what happened, goddamit!”

“Rookie mistake on my part. Let my guard down. Son of a bitch shot me through the peephole and then emptied an entire magazine on me.”

“Fuck! I’ll call an ambu-”

“No. My time has come. Run.Save yourself. Save Karan. It’s them.”

“Who’s them?”

“You know who. I’ve held on for long as I could. Goodbye, Ranjit.”

“Talk to me, Rohit! Goddamn!”

“They…they are coming,” said Rohit, as the last vestiges of his life left him.

“Rohit? Rohit? Answer, damn you! Rohit!!”

There was no reply.

Ranjit’s fingers were numb. The wall between his past and present had disappeared. His old colleagues were dead. He was next in line.

Rohit had told him to run and save himself and Karan. However, running away went against his every instinct. There was something going on that he simply couldn’t escape from. He wouldn’t rest until he got to the bottom of this.

It’s them,” Rohit had said. Ranjit knew perfectly well who he meant.

TO BE CONTINUED….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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