Bullets flew from all sides the moment they reached the port. Firing blindly they ran for cover and took refuge in a broken armored car.
“It’s an ambush, Sir,” his commando shouted.
Lieutenant Eshaan fired and saw a body fall on the right from one of the buildings window. The enemy already knew of their operation and time of the arrival. According to the recon report, the port and surrounding buildings were supposed to be deserted.
One of his men aimed and took a shot. On the left, another terrorist fell from a damaged ship’s main deck. They got a breather. The Lieutenant could hear only a few, scattered shots, probably due to lack of visibility. Falling dusk had given them much needed respite to form an escape plan. He had fairly good idea about the layout of the place and they were in touch with base camp. If they don’t reach the helipad by eight pm, they would be dead meat.
“We wait for another thirty minutes before moving,” Eshaan said. He looked at two of his team members, lifeless, lying on the sand and fought his own battle of rage, inflicting silent wounds on his soul.
The smell of gun powder, blood and rotting body parts assaulted him and he thought of how much the place had changed.
His thoughts went to the last day he was here… a lifetime ago.
Muthu ran fast on the shore with Eshaan close behind.
“Muthu wait!” Eshaan called, his gait slow and awkward, unable to run barefoot on dry sand.
“Go away,” Muthu shouted and climbed the main deck of the half built ship in the abandoned shipyard.
“Running like this will not help.”
“Go to hell.”
“Why don’t you talk to your grandfather?”
“Now a rich high flying brat will advise me.”
“Brat! Are you referring to me?” Eshaan pointed at his chest.
“Do you have any other f…g name?”
Eshaan gave up and sat on another ship’s deck throwing wooden blocks on the shore.
He had come to spend his school holidays with his father’s close friend, an industrialist. The port and shipyard was his property. Ships always fascinated Eshaan. He had met and befriended Muthu wandering in the shipyard last year.
Muthu came after a while and muttered, “Sorry, I hate it when your holidays are over.”
Eshaan patted the bench beside him. “Even I don’t feel like going. But I have to start my Navy Academy training.”
“Yeah…I know.” Muthu stared at the roaring ocean.
“Tell you what…” Eshaan took off his prized possession. “Keep this. When you wear this, I’ll be with you.”
Muthu’s face broke into wide toothy grin. “You really mean it.” He took the three-dial sports watch.
“And make peace with y our grandfather, he is your only relative.”
Muthu nodded, fastening the watch on his wrist. “But you will see Eshaan, I will break-free from this god-damn place where survival means only fighting.”
Eshaan lost touch with Meethu after two years. His father’s friend relocated due to constant strife in the area. The port and shipyard since then became a refuge for terrorists.
A sniper bullet ricocheted off the armored car pulling Eshaan out of his reverie. They ducked.
“It seems he has night vision,” Eshaan said. “Can you guess the location of the bastard, officer?”
“The bastard is sitting at the helm of the broken ship at 10 O’clock. Sir!”
“Okay, taking him down is the only option. I am going around and up, cover me.” Eshaan put on his NV Goggles and took off from the other side of the car. He ran fast to the ship and climbed the rope ladder. Luck was on his side when he peered and saw the back of the sniper, the swine was too confident.
Eshaan aimed and pulled the trigger. Sniper’s body stiffened, as if in surprise then slumped forward. Eshaan turned to leave when something familiar caught his attention, his heart lurched. Ignoring years of training and risking his team’s safety, he crouched and approached the body, the three-dial watch on the sniper’s wrist glowed in the dark.
Lieutenant Eshaan turned the dead and looked at Muthu, finally at peace and free.