Posted: 13 May 2015 at 12:41am | IP Logged
RENDEZVOUS - PART 2
Written by Archana Vinod
SIDDHANT: (talks into the wireless) Hello? (no transmission) Hello!??
Siddhant looks around in utter confusion and helplessness. Teleported into the game? Family held as hostages? I'm a soldier? A Captain? This is so absurd. How can something like this happen? What am I supposed to do?
He moves away from the ruins of his house and begins to walk down the street just as instructed.
The community which was once teeming with life looks abandoned like a ghost town. The houses all look empty. In ruins. Old and battered. Where is everyone? What happened?
SIDDHANT: (looks around for signs of movement) Hello? Is anyone there?
He stops before the plot of land where Roli's house used to be. But all what he finds are the remains of an "ancient" dwelling.
He stings in unbearable guilt as the hard truth hits him - he misses her terribly.
I wish I could have been a better friend to her. If only I would've let her know at least once that I enjoyed her presence every single minute. That I couldn't bear to be away from her! I wish I could've been sweeter with her. I've had ample opportunities but I've never cared to use them. Please God, just give me one last chance. I promise to set things straight.
With a heavy heart, he leaves behind the battered remains of his friend's house - the only thing that is left of her memory.
He moves on along the deserted streets. It's so dark and eerie. So cold and bone chilling. A gust of wind whistles in his ear and sends a chill down his spine. All the houses are dark and empty. Destroyed as if been hit by a war! It's like a living nightmare!
The rain has died down now. The wet earth squelches under his boots as he walks on. As he turns around the corner, he spots an army truck waiting for him with four other soldiers.
The men stand at attention as he closes in.
One of the soldiers steps forward and gives him a stiff salute. He is ALPHA 1.
ALPHA 1: Alpha 1 reporting for duty sir! Your equipment is ready!
Siddhant is speechless.
The three other soldiers step forward, salute him and introduce themselves.
"ALPHA 2 reporting for duty sir!"
"CHARLIE 1 reporting for duty sir!"
"CHARLIE 2 reporting for duty sir!"
SIDDHANT: Guys... listen. Something's very wrong. I really don't know what happened. I don't even know how I got here. But I'm not a Captain. I'm not even a soldier. I really can't lead you through this operation. I'm not the right guy for that.
ALPHA 1: Yes you are, sir! And you must because you are the chosen one. You are in charge of this operation.
CHARLIE 1: We have a deadline from the Iraqi General, sir. 24 hours.
SIDDHANT: Deadline for what?
CHARLIE 1: Deadline to complete this mission. After which your wife and family will be executed.
SIDDHANT: Hang on. "Wife" and family?
CHARLIE 1: Yes, sir.
SIDDHANT: No. This is all a mistake. I'm not even married.
ALPHA 2: Yes you are, sir. Roli Dwivedi is your wife.
Siddhant is shell-shocked. Roli? My wife? When did this happen? How?
CHARLIE 2: Unlike the game, you just have one chance, sir. If you or any of the hostages die in the game, we'll lose this mission and you can never return home again.
SIDDHANT: Do I have a choice?
ALPHA 2: Unfortunately no, sir. There's no turning back now.
Alpha 1 step up to Siddhant with his gear -
A back pack - a heavy load of equipments and supplies.
A bullet proof helmet
An assault rifle
Siddhant puts them on one by one and gets into the truck.
Very soon, they are on the streets, headed to the open plot.
The once inhabited town is now practically empty. Not a single soul in sight. What the hell happened here? Siddhant feels more terrified by the minute. What could be in store for him? He has played this game umpteen times and he knew all the ins and outs of the game, but this mission... "Operation Tikrit" was never on the list. This is a bonus mission.
Though he found it fun and thrilling to riddle the other soldiers with bullets... or even himself for that matter, he now regrets it. This is not a game. This is reality. And it's no fun at all!
What if I really get shot? What if I get killed? What if I'm not able to make it to the deadline? What will happen to my family? What will they do to Roli? All these thoughts make him want to cry but he tries to control himself.
The horrors of a soldier's life make him shudder in fear. He clutches on to his rifle. It's cold and heavy. I've never even seen a real gun in my life before, but now I have to use it! The other fearsome weapons in the game make him even more terrified cause he's going to come face to face with them now - grenades, tankers, heavily armed attack helicopters... Hey Uparwaale! Watch over all of us.
In a while, they reach the open plot and find the chopper waiting for them. The whipping blades of the chopper kick up a strong current of air that Siddhant almost falls to his knees.
They board the chopper. In a moment, they are up and cutting through the air to the insertion point.
Alpha 1 pulls out a map to plan out their attack. Siddhant for the first time gets to see a vague picture of the hell he's going to.
ALPHA 1: (points at a particular section in the map) The camp lies in a clearing behind this hill. One kilometer north of insertion point.
CHARLIE 2: According to Intel, the terrain is hostile. In addition, the camp is equipped with a tanker plus a good number of soldiers.
But Siddhant seems disturbed.
SIDDHANT: Wait a second. If we have just 24 hours to complete this mission, how are we supposed to get to Tikrit that fast? It's a really long way!
ALPHA 1: There are a couple of cheats here too, sir.
Alpha 1 doesn't reply. Rather he fixes his gaze at an approaching mist of dark clouds.
Siddhant is perplexed.
SIDDHANT: What? What is it?
They fly straight into the clouds. And as they do, time seems to stand still. They get surrounded by nothing but an endless grey.
Siddhant covers his ears as it begins to hum and buzz painfully. His head reels and feels heavy.
SIDDHANT: (moans faintly) Stop... stop... stop it...
He can't bear it anymore. He must throw up now!
... TO BE CONTINUED