The Bluff

Part One


“I’m not going to let my company be taken over!“said Adam.

“Be realistic. It is time to cut your losses. They’re offering fifteen million for a company that has not shown a profit for the past two years! You wouldn’t find a better offer anywhere! ”said John.

“The control of the company has stayed within my family for three generations, and I intend to keep up the tradition, ”retorted Adam.

“To hell with that.”

“You’re not a part of the family. You’ll never understand these things,” replied Adam. That was the alcohol talking.

“I’m only offering some friendly advice. Accept the offer, or you’ll be regretting it for the rest of your life.”

“Get the hell out of here. I’m sick of your pestering, you bastard.”The alcohol was in full flow.

John got up, and angrily replied,”Fine! Go bankrupt,for all I care.I’ll see you at Sotheby’s tomorrow. Don’t expect any mercy from me.”

“Ha!You’ll be the one begging for my forgiveness tomorrow!The painting is mine!”,shouted Adam.

John slammed the door behind him.



Part Two

 Established on 11th March 1744 in London, Sotheby’s is the fourth oldest auction house in the world, and is now a multinational corporation.It is the world’s largest art business. As John entered the auction house, his mind went back to the altercation he had had with Adam. Adam had taken control of his company two years ago, after his father had retired. When his father had stepped down,the company’s stocks were soaring high. Twelve months later, the stocks were at an all time low, mainly due to Adam’s inept management.

Adam and John had been on friendly terms since childhood, but as they grew up, so did their rivalry. Their most brutal battles had been fought at art auctions, as both of them were connoisseurs. Their rivalry had never impeded their relationship, until Adam had taken over the company. The frequent losses had turned him into a bitter man, and he had taken to the bottle. He ended up getting divorced and losing custody of his children. John had tried to talk some sense into him, but it fell on deaf ears.

The painting on auction that day was a van Gogh, who coincidentally, was their favourite artist. “I have an opening bid for six million pounds,” announced the auctioneer.

The final price was expected to be much higher. Adam had about fifteen million pounds in his bank account.He signalled to the auctioneer, who said,”I now have a bid for six million, five hundred thousand pounds.”

John accepted the challenge, and pitched a new bid.”I have a bid for seven million, ”said the auctioneer.

Adam wasn’t going to back down.”Seven million,five hundred thousand pounds.”

The bidding continued.A few others placed their bids, but by the time the price reached fifteen million, John and Adam were the only bidders left.

“Time to lay the bait ”,thought John. He made a bid for sixteen million pounds.

“He’s doesn’t know I’m bluffing ,” thought Adam. By the time the bidding had reached twelve million Adam had accepted that he painting was out of reach,if he wanted to stay solvent. His only purpose now was to make sure that John ended up paying much more than expected. He made a bid for sixteen million,five hundred thousand pounds.

“And now we call the bluff,”thought John.

“The bid is at sixteen million,five hundred thousand pounds.Are there any more bidders?”announced the auctioneer.”Then I’m offering the van Gogh at sixteen million,five hundred thousand pounds for the second time.”Adam looked expectantly at John, who didn’t bid further.

”Then it’s sold for sixteen million,five hundred thousand pounds to Mr.Adam Hart.”

A broad smile graced John’s face, as Adam looked on in horror.


Part Three

The van Gogh adorned his conference room, as Adam signed over the documents that finalised the takeover of Hart Associates by the United Corporation. They had unexpectedly scaled down their offer to five million, but Adam had to accept in order to save face. Had word spread out that he couldn’t pay what he had bid for the van Gogh, his reputation would have take the plunge. However, he was unaware that United Corporation was only a front for a third party takeover, the owner of which was John Hart, his step brother.

The seeds of the hostile takeover had been planted long before Adam had taken over the company. Adam’s father ,Robert Hart, had lost his first wife to a long term illness. He had then married John’s mother, Tracy Stuart.Robert lavished Adam with gifts,while John was always treated as an outsider. Adam was a dunce at school, while John was always top of his class. John believed it would endear him to his step father, but he couldn’t have been more wrong. His mother was blinded by her love for Robert, and turned a deaf ear to his worries. He established a friendship with Adam, but the wall between them was impenetrable.

When Robert decided to hand over his company to Adam, John had decided that the time had come to take the game to the Harts. He was well aware of Adam’s business sense, and knew it was only a matter of time before the company went down. He was also aware of an upcoming auction of a priceless van Gogh. He kept on pestering him, as he liked to call it, to let the company be taken over, and delivered the punch the day before the auction, and the trap was set. He was well aware that Adam would not splurge on the painting if he went into overdraft, and make it his objective to drag John down and burn a hole in his pocket. All that was left was to call the bluff and deliver the knockout blow.











The Trial

The court of the local magistrate of that little town was seldom as crowded as it was that day. However, this rare occurrence was justified, seeing as the trial scheduled to take place that morning revolved around cold blooded murder.

His Honour Judge Karan Singhania was presiding over the case. He was ambitious, and probably one of the youngest judges in the state .He was quickly gaining a reputation as a man with a no- nonsense brand of justice. His hearings were quick, and to the point. The son of the former Governor of the state, he was tipped by several of his peers to join the High Court. The accused was Mr. Nitin Sutaria, who had chosen Advocate Nikhil Arora to represent him , while the state was represented by Advocate Anuj Mehta. Mr. Sutaria had pled not guilty.


The trial had begun. The opening statements were made by the lawyers. Mr. Rohan Khanna was the first person to be summoned to the witness box. Advocate Anuj Mehta began,”Mr.Khanna, where were you between 8 and 9 P.M. on the 30th of September?”

“I was at a friend’s place, for my weekly game of poker.”

His alibi was confirmed, and his questioning resumed.

Advocate Mehta asked,”At what time did you leave?”

“Around 8:45”

“Could you describe the sequence of events that occurred after you left? ”

“As I was walking towards my car, I saw a man emerge from the bungalow across the street. I recognized him as Abhishek Sharma, the anti-corruption crusader who has been in the news for his protest rallies. He is a friend of mine, and he must have been out for his post-dinner walk. The moment he stepped out, I saw a car start up from the far end of the street. The car was moving in our direction, and was accelerating quickly. Before I could realise what was going on, the car was upon us. It was headed toward Mr. Sharma, and it made contact with him, sending him flying through 20 feet ,and he landed with a sickening crunch. The car sped by, and I rushed toward my friend, and took him to the hospital. In the heat of the moment, I didn’t take down the license plate number of the car, as I worried about him.”

“Were you able to get a clear look at the driver of the car?”

“Yes,sir. As the car sped by, the light from a nearby lamp post hit him in the face. I recognized him as Mr. Sutaria, the dean of the local  medical college, who is also the accused in this case.”

Murmurs broke through the crowd. As far as they were concerned,this case was all but over. However, the defense lawyer, Advocate Arora was unperturbed, as he still had his trump card to play. He refused to question the witness,taking everyone by surprise. and the next witness ,Mrs. Indira Singh was summoned .

Mr. Anuj Mehta began,”What can you tell us, Mrs. Singh?”

She said, ”Sir, I am a lecturer at the local medical college.A few days before the accident, I was waiting outside the dean’s office for a meeting, when I saw Abhishek Sharma barge into his office. They were arguing, and the argument was a heated one. From what I could make out, Mr. Sharma was accusing the dean of accepting bribes in exchange for admissions. He left after a while, and the dean emerged from his office, looking flustered, and uttered some disgusting cuss words.”

Advocate Arora again refused to question the witness, and was looking unquestionably calm.

Advocate Mehta addressed the judge,” Your Honour, after hearing the testimonies of these two witnesses, it is fair to say that this is a clear case of premeditated murder. Mr .Sutaria, fearing prosecution and a loss of reputation at the hands of Mr. Sharma, chose to take his life.”

Everybody in the court was whispering among themselves,and the judge was nodding. Finally, it was time to call upon the last witness, Mrs. Anjali Sutaria, the wife of the accused. Advocate Arora had been waiting for this moment. The day before, Mrs. Sutaria had agreed to testify that her husband was at home with her at the time of the murder.  Her testimony would bring the case to a standstill, and the court would be adjourned. The case would be added to the enormous backlog, and would soon fade from public memory.

Mrs. Sutaria was summoned, and took her place in the witness box.

Advocate Mehta asked,”Mrs. Sutaria , was your husband with you at the time of the murder?”

The crowd held its breath, and Mr. Sutaria leaned forward in anticipation.

“No, he wasn’t”.


The sentencing was quick. Mr. Sutaria was sentenced to a life term, and was dragged away from court, all the time screaming,” She’s lying! I’m innocent!”The lawyers shook hands, both utterly perplexed at the turn of events.


Later that day, the first witness, Rohan Khanna was on the phone with someone.

“Didn’t I say we could pull this off?”,Khanna said.

“I was scared, man. Though you did great. I have wired the money to your account. Poor Sutaria, sentenced to life imprisonment.Can’t feel too sorry for him, though. It was my career on the line.Sharma had found evidence that I rigged judgements in exchange for bribes.  It was necessary to kill Sharma, for the headline”Judge Karan Singhania convicted of bribery” wasn’t particularly enticing.”

Khanna  said,” Just one question. How did you get his wife to change her testimony at the last moment?”

“Well, my friends don’t call me ‘The Tiger’ for nothing, you know.”




The River

He looked along the alien river,

His destination nowhere in sight,

Wondering if he had the strength,

To do what was right.

Stepping on to the boat,

Letting go of his fright,

He picked up the oars,

Gathering all of his might.

Rowing along the river,

Through the ebb and flow,

Often he called out to the water,

To find out what it knows.

Wily as the river was,

It replied as and when it pleased,

Asserting control over

The life it had leased.

Through the meandering path,

Incidents filled his life,

While some gave him joy,

Others were nothing but strife.

As the river mouth grew ever closer,

He paused and turned back,

He looked along the familiar river,

The beginning nowhere in sight.

The Island

Dawn is about to break in the City of Seven Islands. A lone man strolls along the Queen’s necklace. Alone, dejected and forgotten by those who once loved him, he absorbs the scene around him .A group of friends sharing a laugh, two lovers walking with their hands entwined, and a group of homeless children running around, completely oblivious to their surroundings. The man looks towards the west, where the sun is gradually emerging, crushing the darkness, and signalling a fresh start.

On a different day, in the opposite corner of the world, Times Square is abuzz with activity, packed with people, for it is time to usher in the New Year. The crowd chants in unison,” Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! -”.A young woman watches the scene unfold on her television set, reminiscing about the same day one year ago, when she had attended her husband’s funeral.

“Three! Two! One! ” The whole place erupts in cheering. A thousand hearts beat as one, in anticipation of the unknown adventures that lie ahead, while glittering fireworks herald a new beginning.

Five months later, in another part of the world, it has come down to the last penalty kick in the tournament final. As the player steps up to take the decisive shot, his entire life flashes before him-growing up in an orphanage, bullied by his dorm-mates, and without any friends. He runs up to the ball and swings his foot at it, driving it into the top right corner, giving the goalkeeper no chance. The stadium erupts, and his teammates lift him on their shoulders, parading him across the ground. Fans invade the pitch, just to get closer to the match winner. The town hails him as a hero, and he is loved by all, alone no more.

What binds these completely separate incidents together?

In the vast ocean of humanity, Fate, the wily temptress, can plot to bring even the strongest of the lot to their knees. It is in these very moments, that mankind, in all its beauty, can conspire to make them rise again. In the tumultuous journey of life, one runs across the various faces of mankind-friends and foes, lovers and haters, good and bad. While some faces symbolise everlasting memories, others impart invaluable lessons.

There comes a time, when one loses his bearings in the sea of faces. The once endearing expanse of blue turns a dour shade of grey. The waves lose their vigour, and the sea looks familiar no more. Washed ashore on the island called Loneliness, marooned and desolate, he travels further inland, escaping from the call of the sea, for it seems enticing no more.

The waves lap up on the shore, lying in wait of the prodigal son. The loner erects massive walls to drown the noise, and makes a settlement deep within the island, at last convinced that he belongs there. He spends his days aimlessly wandering around, looking for a voice, one which can guide him, one only he himself can find.

One day, he hears a voice. Recognizing the voice as that of the ocean, he travels to the wall, to find the chink in his armour. However, the wall is sturdy as ever, and the voice still seems far away. Looking for the voice, he travels further inland, but he does not stop at his settlement. He keeps on going until he reaches the other side of the island. It was the ocean speaking to him, all along. However, the ocean seems different on this side. It is an endless expanse of blue, the waves crashing with untamed ferocity on the shore. It is then that he realises, that the voice was speaking from within himself, guiding him towards the ocean. Savouring the moment, he starts walking towards the expanse, letting it embrace him.

The Last Conversation

He would leave for the front tomorrow. His division, the 50th Infantry, had been assigned to fight Erwin Rommels’ Afrika Corps in Gazala, Libya. The ballroom was filled with his fellow officers and their partners, all trying to ignore the stark reality, that several of the men might not come back.

He looked into her eyes, and whispered ,”Darling , I might not come back from this . ” She replied,”Sure, Johnny. But know this-I will wait till the end of time if I have to. You’re not getting away from me that easily.”

“Neither will I ever let you go” ,he said. They locked in a passionate embrace, treasuring the few moments they had together.

1st July,1941

The 50th Infantry division was held in reserve during the ensuing First Battle of El Alamein, due to the severe casualties it had suffered in the Battle of Gazala. First Lieutenant John Kendrick was one of the lucky few to have made it alive. The horrors he had witnessed in Gazala seemed to be right out of the pits of hell. The continous barrage of gunfire, shelling and grenades made him wonder what God would allow humanity to descend to such madness. He watched his fellow comrades die. He watched them lose their limbs. He watched their bodies blown apart by grenades. Deep down, he knew that his time would also come. He only wanted to take down as many of the Krauts as he could, before that inevitable bullet found him. He was lying on his bunk, staring at the letter in his hand. It was from Alice.

Dear John,

I hope this letter finds you alive and well.I’m counting down the days to your return. Things are in a precarious state at home.Maisie was just informed that her husband was killed in action in Lebanon.No amount of words can comfort her.She refuses to accept he is dead. Meanwhile, its all chaos in London. The Blitz is on song, and is causing destruction around here. Give those Germans my love, won’t you?  Remember,I’m waiting for you.


John wanted to leave all this behind, and dash back to London that very instant. His mind went back to what Alice had written about her friend,Maisie. If he were to die, could he allow Alice to go through the same trauma? He couldn’t bear the thought of his Alice living her life as a shadow of herself.He knew what he had to do.

6 June,1944

They were preparing to land at Gold Beach,Normandy in the Universal Carrier, an amphibious craft . The beach was in sight. John’s mind flashed back to the past few years,and the battles he had fought in Central Africa and Sicily.He thought about the brothers he had lost .He thought about Alice. He had not replied to her letter, nor the ones after that. Her letters regularly found him, but he never wrote back. He wanted her to forget him.He wanted her to hate him. He hoped that when the news of his inevitable death reached her, he would be long forgotten in some deep recess of her mind, and she would not go through what millions of other women had suffered in this tragic war.

As the beach drew ever closer, John looked sideways at his comrade and friend, Second Lieutenant Gary Bates. Over the numerous battles they had fought together, they had saved each others’ life several times. They had developed a close friendship.

“Gary”,said John.

“Fire away,old chap.”

“In case I die today, there’s something I want you to do.”

“We’re going to make it. We didn’t fight all those battles for nothing, you know.So why don’t we decide how many of those Germans are we going to kill-”

“Listen to me! There’s a bullet out there with my name on it.Its only a matter of time before it finds me. If I die, promise me that you’ll check on Alice. Make sure she is doing well. Don’t tell her that I sent you.”

“I still think you should have replied to her letters”, said Gary.

“Clear the ramp!Sixty seconds!”,came the cry from the Captain.”God be with you gentlemen!”

The men readied their rifles, anticipating what lay ahead.

7th June,1944

Gary was looking at the carnage around him. His division had suffered over 400 casualties in the brutal battle at the beach. However, the beach had been secured, which enabled the Allies to establish a foothold in France. Gary found what he had been looking for. John lay on the ground, motionless.

Right after they had landed on the beach, John had taken a bullet to the stomach, and crumpled to the ground. As Gary had bent over to pick him up, John said,”Go!Don’t wait for me!I know what I signed up for!”

“I’m not leaving you like this!”,exclaimed Gary.

“You’ll get yourself killed, you idiot! Just remember to check on Ali- ”

Right then, a bullet went through John’s forehead, and he collapsed.

Gary turned towards the Germans, and shouted,”I’m coming for you, you bastards!”

Gary had killed over 20 Germans. But John still lay motionless. He stooped down, and opened John’s haversack, expecting to find the letters from Alice. He would keep them preserved, and would one day tell his children about his selfless moron of a friend.

However, when he opened the bag , he only found a single letter.It was from John’s mother.

Dear Son,

I am deeply disheartened to be the bearer of this news.Alice was killed last night during the German air raids. I know how much you two loved each other, and that no amount of words can comfort you.Just know that we love you, and are counting down the days to your return.


Gary was shocked. The letter was dated  May 1941. Had John being imagining things? Then he remembered what John had told him about his last conversation with Alice.Then it dawned on him.

John had never let her go.

Origins-Part 1



The Covert Ops Division didn’t exist on paper. There was no official record. It was a covert operation, which meant that Headquarters would deny all knowledge of its existence if the mission was compromised. They were deep within the heart of enemy territory.  The village was deserted, and looking at the bombed-out huts in the vicinity, nobody asked why the residents had left. Private Thomas Clarke knew that the stakes were higher than ever. America was facing tough opposition during the ongoing Tet Offensive, and the Viet Cong was gaining ground. Headquarters had resorted to desperate measures, and had hatched a plan to slow down them down. The Covert Ops Division was summoned, and orders were laid out by Lieutenant Colonel William Rhodes. Intelligence had reported that a major arms drop was on the way towards the NVA at the front. The arms were being carried in a convoy of three armoured trucks, and were crucial to sustain the troops. Intelligence had gained access to the entire route to be taken by the truck, and the plan was to intercept the convoy behind enemy lines. They were dropped into North Vietnamese territory in the dead of the night by a stealth chopper, and had secured the deserted village. According to the information, the convoy would be passing through the village at 0500 hours.

“Hawk-Eye, this is Team Leader. What’s the status?”came a voice from his communication unit.

“No activity”, replied Private Thomas Clarke. He was perched on the roof of the local school, and was on the lookout for the convoy. He kept looking Northwards through his binoculars for another five minutes, until he saw movement. Three trucks were approaching towards the village, and they matched the description provided to him. He spoke into his communication unit, ”Target approaching! ETA Two minutes! Acknowledge!”



“Roger!”replied Major Josh Davis.”Everyone, move into position. Stand by for further orders! Do you copy?”“Copy” ,came the reply. The Major had a dozen men under his command,all of whom he had handpicked for this mission. They were the best in the business, and there was no margin for error.”T-minus sixty seconds”, said Hawk-One.

He could see the trucks now.They were moving at a gradual speed, very close to each other. The Major spoke into his unit, ”Attack on my word.”Sixty seconds later, he said, ”Engage!”

His men came out of their hiding places and fired on the truck drivers. After 30 seconds of incessant firing, there was silence once again. The Major walked up to the foremost truck and took the key from the ignition. It hung on a keychain which held one other key. It was the key to the containment chamber which housed all the weapons. He walked up to the back of the truck and inserted the key into the keyhole. On opening the door, he had expected to see firearms stacked on top of one another. What he hadn’t expected was half a dozen men in NVA fatigues, who fired at him.


It was an ambush. They had been sold out. First Lieutenant James Walker heard the gunshots and dove for cover into a nearby hut. He could see his comrades diving for cover as well, and he saw half a dozen men come out of each of the armoured trucks. He watched them take down seven of his fellow officers. He saw Private Thomas Clarke crawling towards his hut, and provided cover fire until he was safely inside. They fired together at the enemy, and managed to hit four of them. At the same time, two more of his officers were killed by enemy bullets.

The Lieutenant noticed that an NVA soldier had been shot down at a close distance to his hut.A plan began to form in his mind. He spoke into his comm. unit,” Sergeant White!On my signal, give me cover fire! ”He then looked at Private Clarke and said,”Private Clarke and Sergeant White!It was an honour to serve with you. Give me cover fire at my signal,and finish off these bastards!”

“Sir, what are you-”began Clarke, but Walker continued,” That’s an order!Listen to me! Find the son of a bitch who sold us out, and kill him !I want your word on this gentlemen!”

“We swear to hunt down and kill whoever was responsible for this,Sir!”replied both.

“Well, that’s settled. Time for some fireworks,fellas!Now!”Walker ran out of the hut towards the dead soldier,while a hail of bullets was exchanged between the combatants. He picked up the dead body and used it as a human shield, and started moving towards the foremost truck. The dead body was splattered with bullets. Yes, his plan was working.

On reaching the truck, he let go of the body and slid under the chassis. He positioned himself beneath the diesel tank, and pulled out a grenade from his flak jacket.


The explosion was tremendous. The truck went up in flames,which spread to the other trucks almost instantly.Two of the NVA soldiers went down during the explosion, while the rest caught fire.Lieutenant David White fired at them, and watched Clarke do the same.In no time, the remaining assailants were terminated. They scoured the battle scene for survivors. There were none.

“What now,Sir?Back to base?”asked Clarke.

“No. Whoever sold us out is probably still at base. We’re not telling anyone that we’re alive. We aren’t supposed to exist anyway, so they’ll report us Missing in Action.”

“So what’s the course of action?”

“We get back home and investigate.”

“But you said we weren’t going back to base.”

“I meant home,Private.”



Los Angeles, California

Lieutenant Colonel William Rhodes was pleased. The Tet Offensive was over, and so was his time in Vietnam. He had served for four years, and been sent back home.He was looking forward to a quiet life with all the money he had earned. He turned into the access road which led to his newly acquired apartment in Brentwood Park, one of the richest areas in LA. He parked his car in the basement of the building and took the elevator.

Upon entering his apartment, he closed the door and turned on the lights. Sergeant White and Private Clarke were seated on his sofa. They had their Berettas pointed at him.

“What’s the meaning of this?”asked Rhodes.

“The jig is up, you moron!”, said White.”We know about the account in the Cayman Islands, and we know who deposited three million dollars into it, you treacherous swine!”

“Sit down”,said Clarke, motioning to a chair opposite the sofa.

Rhodes took the chair and said,”Okay, so Mr.Holmes and Dr.Watson have solved the case.What are you going to do about it? Take me to court? Ha!I have enough money to hire the best lawyers and sue the both of you for slander.”

“You think we’re that stupid?”,said Clarke, and stood up.He walked over to Rhodes and punched him in the face.”This one is for Major Davis.”

White also joined him, and both of them punched Rhodes in the face repeatedly, until their arms hurt. Rhode’s face was covered with blood and he was in considerable pain.

White then held his Beretta to Rhodes’ forehead, and pulled the trigger.

The Red Company was off the mark, and the first assignment undertaken by Red One and Red Two had gone off without a hitch.

The Safehouse


0137 HOURS

Red Five was driving the car, while Red Four was riding shotgun. The safehouse came into sight, one of many cottages that lined the street. It was well past midnight, and the lights were out. Their orders were to sweep the house, and if no threat was identified, they were to give the all clear. Red Four spoke into his communications unit, ”Red One, this is Red Four. We’ve reached the safehouse.  Wait for the all clear. Do you copy? ”

“Copy”, said a voice at the other end.

They stepped out of the car, and gave the front gate a slight push. It swung open on well oiled hinges. They walked across the well-manicured lawn and stepped onto the front porch. Red Four held a semi-machine gun, and was prepared to storm into the house. Red Five took a key out from his pocket , inserted it into the keyhole, and turned it. The door swung open, and they found themselves facing the barrels of two machine guns.


0143 HOURS

Red One heard a volley of shots at his end of the communications unit, which continued for about three seconds. That was followed by silence.Red One shouted into his communication unit,” Red Four! Red Five! Acknowledge! ”There was no answer. “Can anyone hear me, dammit! Acknowledge!”The response remained unchanged.

“Red One! This is Red Two! What are our orders?”came a voice from the communications unit.

Assuming the worst, Red One said,” Red Two! Red Three! We’re burned! Abort the mission, I repeat, abort the mission! Regroup at 0400 hours.  Rendezvous point Delta-Four-Two. Acknowledge!”

“Roger!”, answered two voices.


Red One was the first to reach the rendezvous point. It was a small, dingy room in a run-down, decrepit hotel. He sat down on the bed, waiting for his comrades, or what was left of them. He was the leader of the Red Company, a band of well-trained , ruthless mercenaries. This was their 27th mission, and their reputation for efficiency had spread far and beyond. Their missions were covert operations, which meant they did all the dirty work for the government. They had been chosen for the mission not only for their efficiency, but also for their discretion. Names were dangerous. To each other, they were simply Red brothers. They took their payment via discreet offshore accounts which were never traced back to them.

They had never failed at a mission before. However, this mission was of a far larger magnitude than any of their previous ones, and was equalled by the cash reward offered. Their target was the head of the largest organized crime syndicate in the country, who had eluded capture for the better part of two decades. Their plan was to stay put at the safe house, where a defector from the syndicate, who had made contact with the government, would be waiting for them. Following the standard protocol, Red One had sent two of his comrades as scouts, to give the all clear signal, and they had been ambushed. Either they were being spied upon, or someone, probably the defector, had sold them out. Red One spoke into the comm. unit ,”What’s the status?”

“ETA two minutes”, came the reply.


0400 HOURS

Two minutes later, Red Two and Red Three entered the room. Red Two shut the door behind him, and said,” What the hell just happened? That bastard sold us out! I swear, he will come to regret this day! I shall hunt him down and kill him! ”

Red Three said calmly,” It wasn’t him”, and took out his Beretta. He fired two shots. The first one hit Red One in the head, and the second one took Red Two in the stomach. Red One crumpled to the floor instantly, landing with a dull thud. Red Two was clutching his stomach, still reeling from the shock. He said ,”You -“ but before he could finish, Red Three shot him in the head.

An hour later, Red Three heard a knock on the door. He stood up and opened the door ever so slightly, and saw The Don, as he was popularly known, standing outside. He opened the door, and was frisked by The Don’s bodyguards. They took his Beretta, and strode over to the two corpses, taking possession of their weapons as well.

“Are they dead at the safehouse?”asked Red Three.

The Don entered the room and shook his hand, saying,” They were tough. Took my men along with them.  Good job, lad. Knew you had it in you! It was a pleasure doing business-”, but was cut-off.

“Cut the bullshit and give me my money. You said it would be double that of what my original employers were paying.”, said Red Three.

“”It has been wired to the account number you gave us.”

Red Three took out his cellphone and dialled a number. “Status?”, he spoke.”Its done”, came the reply. He turned it off and put it into his pocket.

“I guess we’re done here. Please show yourself out.”

One of The Don’s bodyguards strode over to the door and opened it. As the door swung open, the sound of machine gun fire rang out. The bodyguards and The Don were riddled with bullets. Splattered with blood , they fell face down. Red Three had taken a bullet to the chest, and directed his gaze at the door.

Red Four was standing at the door, his gun pointed at Red Three . Red Three heard a loud bang, and his vision went black.


0140 HOURS

Red Four was standing on full alert as Red Five swung the key. They opened the door to find themselves facing the barrel of two AK-47s. One of the enemy shooters fired at Red Five. Before the other one could shoot, Red Four took him down with his semi-machine gun. Red Five was down, but Red Four took a well-aimed swing at the other shooter, who at the same time swung the muzzle of his gun at him. Both dropped their guns. The enemy combatant knocked him onto the floor, and pressed his hand to his throat. Red Four could hear the voice of Red One coming from the communication unit, but could scarcely make a sound. Red Four was pressing his left hand to his assailant’s face, and at the same time was trying to reach his back pocket with his right, where he had kept a pocket knife. His breathing was becoming laboured, and he knew he was running out of time. He finally managed to reach his back pocket. He took out the knife and drove it into his combatant’s neck. His enemy lost his grip, keeled over, and lay still. Red Four stood up, and he could hear Red One’s voice calling a mission abort. He started to speak, but he saw another body in the middle of the room. It was that of the defector. The defector himself was dead.  That meant that he wasn’t the one who had sold them out, which left one, very disturbing conclusion.

Red Four knew that The Don would send somebody to confirm the kill if his henchmen didn’t reply, and he would have to play dead in order for the ruse to be successful. He heard the sound of a car coming from a distance, and he quickly lay down on the floor. He was already covered in blood. The Don’s men entered the house and prodded at their bodies. Red Four held his breath, silently praying to every God he knew. The men, apparently satisfied, left the house, and Red Four breathed a sigh of relief. He decided to not inform his comrades about his situation, instead opting to shadow them and ferret out the traitor.

0400 HOURS

He was in the corridor leading up to the hotel room, when he heard the shots. He ran towards and adjoining room and lay waiting. If there was one thing he hated, it was treachery. He was too late to save his comrades, but he could avenge them. An hour later, he heard footsteps, and voices .He recognized one of them as that of Red Three.

Rage boiled inside him, and he came out of the room. He had taken the machine gun from his assailant, and he stood outside the room occupied by the Don. He heard the doorknob turning, and when the door fully opened, he fired.