Short Story Archive for thriller:

Secrets in safe – micro fiction

Bunty, Goldie and Raja, aka the triad sat staring at the safe they had just unloaded from the van as if it were a cobra!  They had never done anything illegal before but in this case the cause justified the means.

They were all headed back to India during summer break and by a mere fluke they had been privy to a cryptic text message on a fellow passenger’s cell phone.  They had quickly noted down all the info and had decided to investigate upon landing.

Raja’s dad was a bigwig in the airline’s corporate staff.  Through his aegis they acquired full data with copy of fellow passenger’s passport.  Their job had been made easy by this information.  The safe’s secret had to be unlocked to get to heart of the matter.  Excitement tinged with fear was palpable.

Raja was tall and reedy in structure with a prominent adam’s apple but due to his dark liquid eyes, all the girls shamelessly gave him chase in the college campus.  He was shy to boot.

Bunty and Goldie were the extreme opposites and were constantly riding love’s seesaw on an off and on basis.  Bunty was of rugged build, fair and tall and had a wonderful voice.  Hence he too was much sought after.

Goldie was the nerd of the triad and hence kept them afloat in studies singlehandedly.    Goldie was hooked on workouts, if not busy solving difficult problems.  He spent half of his free time tackling weights.  His body was like a Greek God’s and hence cynosure of many eyes of both genders.

The passport revealed the name of the passenger to be Salim Malik.  The message had come from a girl named Ameena Begum.  On further research they were able to locate the whereabouts of Ameena.  They had to find the alleged safe quickly to get to the bottom of this plot.  Here they faced a stone wall.  They went into a huddle to solve this issue.

Fortunately everyone was from Mumbai which made things much easier.  They solicited aid from   local police station officer (SHO) who thought if this yields some crime in the making, he would make headlines and hence helped them with all means at his disposal.    With inside information from the cell phone service provider they had nailed down the exact location of the house and hence the safe.   The police usually made the rounds in the riot prone areas and hence their SHO with help from his Mohamed Ali road counterpart, effected a raid on Ameena’s house.

Ameena’s father Abbas Baig was a cab driver and father of five girls.  Ameena’s mother Samina Begum was deathly scared of her bully husband and did his bidding.  Hence the children suffered without respite being girls.  The SHO had seen the dilapidated safe hidden in a small alcove in the backroom wall covered by a dirty curtain.  He told the triad that now it was up to them to retrieve, open and put back without anyone the wiser.

The trio rejected the numerous invites from local friends and relations and went into a huddle.   A series of festivals were imminent and the streets would be teeming with processions and an odd blast here and there to create communal disharmony.  Keeping all this in mind, they designed a harmless noisemaker as a diversion and planted it near Ameena’s house.  As everyone ran out, they ran in and retrieved the safe.

Finally the SHO with expert help pried open the safe and it yielded three neat dollar bundles along with passports of Ameena, Samira and Aamna the three older girls aged 17,16 and 15 years.  All had Saudi Arabia visa stamps in them.  Apparently the girls were being sold to rich Saudi sheikhs.  They were all shook up to confront this human trafficking by a parent.  Now they wondered how Salim Malik their plane’s co-passenger fit in here.  They decided to visit him.

The SHO explained the whole situation to Salim and then he told them of his own heartache.  He was in love with Ameena from childhood but knew her abba (dad) was bent upon encashing all his daughters and had forbidden them from meeting.  They were only able to meet near their school or the mosque at given times.  They communicated via a note they left under a designated stone at a nearby park.  About two years ago Salim had gone to USA on scholarship and had been saving money to buy off Ameena from her Abba.  The information about safe and other details were messaged to Salim by a desperate Ameena who was scheduled to be married within the fortnight to a Saudi Sheikh along with her two younger sisters who had brokered a deal for all three of them paying handsomely to cab driver Abbas Baig, their father.   Now all the pieces fell in place.  The girls were under age and hence this was an illegal trade.

The SHO openly returned the safe back to Ameena’s house even as the camera’s from all news channels rolled in live action.  Abbas Baig was arrested and all the girls were rescued.  Ameena and Salim Malik were married by the mosque priest and rest of the girls along with their mother were whisked off to a new neighborhood under different names with relevant paper work, ration card etc…  With Salim’s permission, Ameena sent money to her mother each month to meet all the expenses.   No one missed cruel Abbas Baig.

***Ten years later

Raja, Goldie and Bunty as preplanned inaugurated their brand new NGO called Safe Haven meant for all homeless, abused and society’s pariahs seeking care and shelter.

notes: SHO- policestation Head Officer, NGO= non-govt. org.

Gift of Love

25 years ago

Mita and Ajay were seven year old orphans and best friends.  Fortunately they got adopted by same couple who wanted a boy and a girl.  Kanta and Kamal Mehra secretly hoped that the kids would grow up fond of each other and thus never leave the family roost.   Luckily, things seemed to be going in that direction.

**

Mita had turned out to be a beautiful young lady with fine patrician features and slim body.  That pretty faced housed a brilliant mind and a stubborn will.  By providing her a stable home life, the gods had been kind and she wanted to be a healer and chart unknown frontiers in the medical field.  And by god she was going to do it! 

Mita always wanted to be a doctor and had worked hard towards achieving this goal.  Her heart was set on becoming a surgeon and a cardiac one at that, which seemed strictly a male bastion.  She faced many roadblocks in her quest but her sheer brilliance and persistence paid off.  She had incorporated new procedures to make the surgeries easier and less painful for the patients.  They had been adopted by her colleagues after they were tried and tested over and over again.   She had won accolades and citations in medical journals. 

The spanking new Arya hospital erected by a leading business family hired her as their heart surgeon.  She was also a visiting surgeon at various facilities and post couple of breakthrough surgeries where famous people were involved, things became easy for her.  She was grudgingly accepted by her male counterparts as a colleague.  She had arrived.

**

Ajay grew up to be an average looking man with way above average mind.  Having ordinary looks was a great asset in his chosen line of work.  His perfect body was well honed and a lethal weapon when push came to shove.  He had mastered the martial arts early on.  He was a human chameleon.

Ajay loved Mita above all next to their adoptive parents.  They had cemented their love in a simple marriage ceremony in the presence of close family and friends at the registrars.  They did not enjoy crowds and had a very small circle of friends and kin.

Ajay was smitten by the armed forces and would watch war movies over and over.  He wished to serve his country and finally found his calling.   After a rigorous training he joined military intelligence.  Multi lingual skill and a flair for drama made him succeed at his calling.  He never was one for the limelight as he preferred to work behind the scenes.  His beloved Mita had become famous and that was enough for the both of them.  Life was beautiful.  To celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary, they had gotten their ring fingers tattooed with each others names in English in very fine lettering almost indiscernible.  This way even if they did not wear their wedding rings, they were bound to one another indelibly.

**

Ajay Jr. was five years old and was yet to see his father.  Given his line of work, Ajay did not wish to have a family and therefore when Mita became pregnant soon after their marriage, she never told him about it.  He was away during her pregnancy and was never told about it either upon his sporadic return.  The baby was cared for by the joyous grandparents in their home.  Mita being a busy doctor came around as often as she was able to. 

**

Mita had received an emergency call from the military hospital and she hurried over.   

There were injured soldiers from Pakistan and India lying side by side and emergency surgeries was required.  The Pakistani soldier seemed to draw her from the first moment.  The face was unfamiliar but the eyes were Ajay’s!  How could that be!   She gave a mental shake and immediately scrubbed and performed surgeries on the two cases that required her particular skill.  She promised to check in the morning and after giving firm detailed instructions, she left.  

Quietly she let herself in at the Mehra residence and looked in on her sleeping son.  She hugged him close and wept.  His dad had been missing for a couple of years now and her heart was breaking.  The irony was not lost on her, the hot shot heart doctor with a broken heart.  Somehow, the Pakistani soldier haunted her.  She was clueless.  Then she called that emergency number that Ajay had given her.

**

Armed with the cosmetically altered face of Ajay in her hand, Mita hurried towards the army hospital.  She went to the Pakistani soldier’s bed and compared the two faces.  It was her Ajay.  She quickly peeled off the skin grafted on his ring finger to double check.  It was indeed her love.  Quickly she sent an affirmative text to that secret number.   Ajay was unobtrusively whisked away by his people.  He would be discharged after he had fully recovered from his surgery and got back his original face.  Mita would wait for her love.

She had a lovely surprise for him and was certain he would not be mad at her.  It would be her surprise gift of love for her beloved. Maybe she can push her luck and have him change his vocation.  Only time would tell and if her Krishna so desires.  She smiled wholeheartedly for the first time.  She squared her shoulders and prepared for work.

The Bond

The Bond  

Her tattoo was throbbing! Yogi had to be near!  Why could she not find him?Getting second wind, she got up again and searched the debris and broken bodies strewn all around due to that unexpected landslide.  Their tour bus had been hit and the driver was dead  

Mia and Yogi were childhood sweethearts and post storybook romance, had tied the knot.  In childhood during a visit to India they had gotten each other’s names tattooed in their inner arms which had further cemented their bond.   There are only few times in life when all the planets are aligned and a perfect match takes place.  They were those soul mates Yogi had always wanted to serve and had joined the army.  His skill with languages and analytical ability led him to a plum assignment in Kabul.  He could speak Pashto like a native and had blended seamlessly.  The only way he could communicate with his US bosses was via an Afghan asset Lalrukh who ran a dry grocery store in Kabul.  This shop had been in Lal’s family for generations.  He had become an agent due to disenchantment with the Taliban and other fundamentalists. Lalrukh like his abba (father) respected women and that was another reason for helping the Americans.

 Mia did not need a laptop to connect with Yogi.  Each time she caressed her tattoo, Yogi’s arm throbbed and vice versa.  Their tattoos kept them strung together as one.

It was a stroke of bad luck that a bomb had landed in the very bazaar where  Lalrukh’s store was and Yogi had been having a cup of tea with him in the back room.  Both had been injured and taken to the local hospitals.  It was there that Yogi had been caught.  In a state of delirium he had babbled in chaste Hindi the name Mia over and over again. He was still in his afghan getup and head gear.  An injured young man brainwashed by the Taliban lay in the next bed.  He got suspicious of Yogi and immediately informed the local imam (priest).  Yogi was brusquely whisked away even as the US army was on its way to airlift him to safety.  The nightmare had begun.

Mia had visited Vrindavan once only and had been captivated by the playful god Krishna.  She had heard many stories about Krishna and had adopted him as her own personal god, friend, and confidante.  She would close her eyes and get transported back to Vrindavan. The awful news about Yogi was conveyed to both the families who were stricken, fearing the worst.  Mia ran to her small Krishna and closed her eyes.  She pleaded with him to help.  She found herself roving in the streets of Vrindavan until she saw Kanha with a flute in front of her, smiling away.  She woke up with an upbeat mood.

 Through various channels, Yogi’s whereabouts had been located.  He was stuck in a cave in the nearby hills under militant’s control.  He was being lashed daily but divulged nothing.  He caressed his tattoo parroting Mia and Mia only. 

 Handpicked men trained in rescue missions were sent after exhaustive briefing.  Everything had been timed to perfection.  Divert, attack, rescue and run like hell.  They chose a cloudy night and the rescue went like clockwork.  Yogi was now resting in a US army hospital and was scheduled to fly back in a week’s time.  Mia was aboard a flight to India to bring him home personally.  It was then that Yogi’s mom requested them to visit their family shrine in the lower Himalayas.  They had agreed and had boarded the bus to pay their respect.

 Locals had gathered and were helping with rescue operation.  A few scavengers too had emerged from dark crevasses like birds of prey.  Mia had informed the parents along with the US embassy.

The tattoo throbbed and frantically she searched here and there.  Then she saw him!  Krishna with his flute was beckoning her.  She walked in that direction unquestioningly.  After climbing down some precarious ledges, Mia saw her Yogi lying on an outcrop of the hill.  It was a natural ledge.  Krishna had vanished.  Eyes filled with tears of joy she screamed for help.  

They were aboard a flight home when Mia shared her news.  They were going to have a baby finally.  Yogi and Mia had been married for seven years.  To Mia’s relief Yogi had to decide on a career move now as promised by him after marriage.  That could wait as he savored the word “dad” on his tongue. (picture from internet)

The Fog

The Fog

Seth household was like a war zone.  The three “bahus” (daughter-in-laws) were constantly bickering and elder Seths had had it up till here.  They decided to make an early run for it to their summer home in the hills.  Their one and only daughter Minnie was visiting from USA with her twin boys Samir and Ranvir and she decided to go with them. The foursome along with the nanny got in the family jeep early a.m. and took off without a backward glance.

**

Minnie had met Alex Burns at NYU (New York University) and had fallen headlong in love.  They were kindred spirits with lots in common. Once married, they never looked back.  Alex had had specialized training in military intelligence and was on call as and when needed.  Currently he was on an assignment.   Minnie took this opportunity to visit her parents in India for a few days.   

**

Seths quickly settled in and the caretaker couple soon had a warm fire crackling with hot food on the dining table.   Warmed and replete, they decided to retire early.  The peace here was a stark  contrast from the pandemonium at home.

**

Whimpering sound in the middle of the night woke them all up.  They hurried to the nursery and saw Ranvir crying in his sleep.  He was having a nightmare.  Minnie took him in her arms and coddled him.  Suddenly the elders screamed, “Where is Samir?”  His bed was empty!  Minnie turned to stone!  Hurriedly she thrust Ranvir in her mom’s arms, and armed with flashlights, her dad, nanny, housekeeper and she fanned out in search of Samir.  A thick fog hung like a curtain, hiding everything.

**

Sirens cut the silence and fog like a knife! Squealing sounds of tires burnt the asphalt.  The tolling from the prison bell tower a couple of miles away announced  the escape.   The night was fraught with danger becoming nightmarish progressively.

**

The ringing phone startled Mrs. Seth.  It was the DC (District Commissioner) calling to warn them to be careful as the convict was armed and dangerous.  DC and their elder son were classmates.  Mrs. Seth secured the house tight and started reciting Hanuman chalisa (holy mantras).

**

There was a soft knock on the back door.  Mrs Seth opened it cautiously and a gun was thrust in her face.  A ferocious wild looking man was carrying Sammie and waving the gun at her.  He pushed her aside and hastily closed the door.

The front doorbell rang.  The convict hid in the next room.  Standing at the doorstep was a young couple.  They were lost in the fog and wanted directions to nearby hotel.  Mrs. Seth invited them inside so that she could give them written instructions.  The young couple looked at each other wondering why she looked so edgy.  Mrs. Seth hustled them out on the double.  They drove off soon after.

Then the front door opened.  Mrs. Seth quickly hid him in the children’s room.  Her family had returned, downcast.  The fog had hampered the search.  They decided to wait till it lifted.

In muffled tones Mrs. Seth filled them in.  They sighed in relief and then were full of consternation.  They decided to let the escapee rest for the night in the children’s room and worry later.  Things settled temporarily.  Their minds were racing trying to find a solution to this risky dilemma.

**

After a couple of the longest hours of their lives,

they all trooped into the nursery.

The sight that met their eyes took them

by surprise filling them with delight.

The convict had dozed off and little Ranvir

had calmly picked up his gun and sat pointing it at the convict.

 His eyes were unblinking! Samir was hiding behind Ranvir.   Elder Seth quietly dialed the DC’s number.

(picture from the internet) 

(just wrote this for a creative challenge- a fog- a house at a hillstation, a 3 year old missing, escaped convict w/cops in hot pursuit and a lost honeymoon couple)

 

picture from internet

Murder

Murder

“Headlines screamed defense attorney Sam Bishop stabbed to death outside his home. Police on the case.  DA Chuck Molina braying for blood”.  Molina decided to lean hard on the police chief.

 

**

 

Police chief Sam held a closed door briefing.  Among list of suspects were widow of deceased, son and his wife, daughter, secretary and partner.   The chief whistled in envy as all the Bishop women were real good lookers. He ordered tapping of phones and hidden cameras to get a quick lead on the case.  He told everyone to cooperate with other departments.  He urged all to search for clues, make calls to their contacts with underworld et al.  Ace homicide detective Sidney was assigned to the case.

 

**

The myriad people Bishop had saved were clamoring for a quick arrest.  They started bombarding detective Sidney with theories and tips.  Sidney decided to go to his hideaway away from the city and try and work on this puzzle in his own unique way.

 

**

 

Ursula Bishop Jr’s wife was in shock out of grief and remorse.  “What have I done?” She had never imagined this horrific end!  She had married the son out of love but after getting to know the elder Bishop, she had been attracted to him.  She knew he was ripe for plucking as he was not easing into his 50s gracefully.  Instead he had started dressing like a younger man with a new flashy car et al.  Family was independently wealthy from various holdings.  After numerous attempts and rebuffs, she decided to teach him a lesson.  She self inflicted some wounds and went for a massage.  Her masseur Tommy was in love with her and she counted on this fact.  He was horrified at her bruises and name of her culprit.  He was full of rage.  He recalled all the beatings his old man had given him in childhood and in his mind, the old man and elder Bishop became one person.  He planned meticulously. 

 

He tailed Bishop unobtrusively for a few days.  Then he struck.  In a rage he stabbed him repeatedly thinking he was his nasty old man.  Then he removed his Rolex watch and wallet and fled.

 

 

**

 

Detective Sidney holed up in his hideaway to put together the pieces. Events clarified in his mind.  He decided to go for a walk with his dog.  As he strolled in the nearby park, he heard his dog yapping excitedly.  He had dug up something in the ground.  Sidney investigated and deep in the pit he found the Rolex watch and wallet.  They belonged to the deceased.  The wallet had nothing missing.  He was both excited and mystified.  He had his dog sniff the objects and followed his lead. Soon they stopped near a cottage.  The dog barked excitedly.  The nameplate read Thomas Parker, Physical Therapist. Sidney had to merely link him to the list of suspects.  He homed in on Ursula who quickly broke down and spilled the beans.      

     

 

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