Red and Blue

He crouched lower behind the bush, the dirty green of his jacket merging with the scraggly brush. His eyes narrow searched for them in the gaps between the leaves. Nothing stirred in the soft afternoon breeze. The ragged stones of the footpath stretched out in front of him, uneven, bumpy, chequered by the sunlight filtering through the leaves. On the far end beyond the lawn he saw them, four shapes splattered with red, silent, motionless, slouched against the tree; spread-eagled on the ground, waiting, waiting, waiting.

He turned away sinking back into the bush, the leaves rustling softly. How did it go so wrong, his plan? Well it was easy enough to figure, they had Arjun and Rahul. Individually they were fearsome enough, together it was suicidal to go up against them.

A few metres to his left was the garage, the one that was their fort, their stronghold. Its shutter had been drawn low, rusted now into a permanent open yawn. On this once white shutter, blotches of red sprayed across, memories, reminders of battles won and lost. Mostly lost though, it was a sobering sad sight.

A quick bust of feet startled him as he turned, his eyes keen, alert, spied a shadow as it bent behind the tree to his right. Were there two, or just one? He couldn’t be sure, all he knew was that they were surrounding him, closing in for the kill. They knew he was alone, the last line of defence.

His right arm crept down, on his gun slung low on his belt. Ready waiting. He glanced back at the garage, three times, three times they had lost it to those blue blooded idiots. How had he thought it would be different since he was leading the foray? “Come out Chetan, its over”, a voice called through the silent trees.

His grip tightened on the reassuring trigger, his palm sweaty, his finger taut. No hope, no hope, he thought to himself. Maybe I can take one of them down he thought and smiled. I’ll try Arjun, the guy always taunts me.

He crept to the edge of the bush, his breath caught in his chest. Forcing himself to breathe, he gulped air, filling his lungs and rushed out into the light. A figure whirled away from the tree, he fired blindly, a dull thud against the tree. Chetan rolled low, close to the ground, a shot behind him scarred the ground. He ran now. He ran towards the tree, towards his unit, he could see them, cheering him on. Not to victory, but to a glorious end.

A blow from his left slammed into him, his balance lost. A second one slammed into his back and he fell forward. I lay still, as around me, I heard voices shout in victory. I rose slowly, my friends gathered around me, our tees blotched in blue and red.

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