The Safe House
Red Five was driving the car, while Red Four was riding shotgun. The safe house 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 safe house. 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.
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 hrs. 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 wide. 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 could 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 unparalleled in 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 on, or someone, probably the defector, had sold them out. Red One spoke into the communication unit,
“What’s the status?”
“ETA ten minutes,” came the reply.
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 for his 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. Which 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 the 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.
Red Four was in the adjoining room, his ear pressed to the common wall. He had to observe, look for the slightest misstep, slightest aberration, which could explain what was going on, while himself remaining undetected. No one could know that he had survived the ambush.
He heard a knock, and then the sound of quiet footsteps, as Red One walked towards the door. Red Four was listening with rapt attention to the conversation that followed.
Red Two and Red Three entered the room. Red Two shut the door behind him, and said, “What the hell just happened? That bastard defector sold us out! I swear, he will come to regret this day! I shall hunt him down and kill him!”
“Why d’you think the defector sold us out?” asked Red Three.
“Let’s go over the details then. Apart from us, the defector was the only person who knew the time and place of the meeting. The only person who knew the location of the safe house. There is no one else who could have done it!” replied Red One.
“There’s one more possibility.”
“It wasn’t the defector. It was someone from within. Someone leaked our plan to the syndicate.” said Red Three.
There was a long pause.
Then Red Two spoke up.
“Red Four and Red Five are dead. They couldn’t have done it. Which leaves only the three of us.”
Red Three said calmly,” True. But I know for sure that neither of you two leaked our plan. I did.”
Then 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.
Red Three then took out his cell phone and dialled a number.
He then heard a voice from behind him.
“It’s not done. Not by a far margin, mate.”
Red Four was standing at the door, his gun pointed at Red Three. Red Three heard a loud bang, and his vision went black
~ Uday Verma | Edited by Farrokh Jijina