I

“Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds.” The thought that crossed Julius Robert Oppenheimer’s mind when he had first seen the nuclear bomb explode.  His own creation. Were he alive today he would have truly understood the magnitude of his own words. Entire cities wiped out in just a few minutes. Governments fell like a house of cards. Terrorism tightened its claws on the world. Ironic really. European Union had passed “Sentries- EOT” act to fight terrorism, but the terrorists pulled one over EU and destroyed most of the facilities that could produce the sentries AKA The sentient AI robots. They did that with nuclear weapons. Along with the facilities, whole cities, even nations burned to the ground. Soon the currency will lose its value and we will be reduced to stone age bartering. Nothing more than savages. The true face of humanity.

My father sat in his chair. That’s all he could do now. Rennie had beaten him up he couldn’t pay back the gold he owed. The next day he suffered a stroke. There were no doctors anymore so we couldn’t get any help. He sat there waiting for Rennie and his men to come and kill him and collect the collateral. Me. And he couldn’t even move. They will carve him like a cake and he wont be able to do a damn thing. How pathetic!

The door opened with a bang. Five men entered. Five? One too many than the last time. One of them remained outside, watching the entrance. The other four scattered across the hall. Rennie, the right hand man of the Boss walked towards me with a hunger in his eyes and his lips curled slightly upwards. A gigantic man stood next to Rennie with a machete in his hand. My father struggled in his wheelchair. He was paralyzed from the neck down. Nothing he could have done now.

“Take it easy officer, you don’t wanna suffer another stroke now do you? That is not until at least we take your daughter.” Mocked Rennie. Other men laughed.

My father’s face contorted.. He looked towards me apologetic. He was crying.

Rennie pulled up a chair and sat, pulled out the gun and placed it on the table, just like the last time. A semi-automatic pistol, the safety was off and it wasn’t racked. Problematic. My whole plan hinged on it. I would have used my own gun but the bosses had relieved us of firearms to take control. They were the only ones to have them.

“If we were to beat you up like last time, do you think you will survive?” Asked Rennie.

“Please don’t.” I said, trying my very best to sound defeated and not angry. I had slumped my shoulders, kept my gaze down. I even sniffled. I hope I wasn’t overdoing it. Growing up like I did, there was no place for emotions. I liked my father of course, which is why I stuck around. He was in this situation because of me. He wanted to save me from a gunshot wound and the only people these days who can do that is are the Bosses. He should have let me die. He didn’t, and I am thankful, but look at him now, helpless and worthless.

“Aww, don’t worry sweetheart. I’ll just poke him here and there and he won’t feel a thing.” Rennie said. He took the machete from the huge guy standing next to him and rammed it into my father’s thigh. My father’s face twisted in pain. His eyes watered. May be not paralyzed, I don’t know. Either way, not good. I ran up to Rennie, fell on my knees and begged, or at least tried to.

“Please, don’t do this. Kill me instead. Kill me, it was for me, he did it for me.” I said. I don’t think I was very convincing but Rennie seemed to believe me.

“The boss has plans for you girl, you are not gonna die so easy. So sit back and watch your father die.” He backhanded me hard. Took me a few moments to gather my wits. I was kneeling beside the table with Rennie’s gun on the table. One man guarding the door; blind spot, one standing next to Rennie; the huge guy, should be slow to react. One sitting comfortably buried in the couch; fat and ugly, should be easy. And the last one was leaning against the wall. Four of them armed. Rennie buried the machete in my father’s other thigh. goddamn it! Can’t wait. I took a last look at the men and snatched the gun on the table, pointing at Rennie.

“Stop.” I shouted. My hands were shaking. It was deliberate.

The man leaning against the wall was alarmed and went for his gun.

“Nobody moves or he dies.” Its harder to squeak like a mouse when you don’t mean to.

Rennie just laughed. He had a hideous laugh. It did the job though. The men relaxed. The fat man didn’t care that I had picked up the gun. The other man went back to leaning against the wall.

“I am gonna enjoy punishing you little girl. You need to be disciplined, oh yes..

I couldn’t listen to him. His voice hurt my ears. I decided not to find out if he could make them bleed. I snapped the safety lever off, pulled the gun close to me, with my left hand I grabbed the racking slide holding it in place, jabbed the gun forward with my other hand, and released the slide. I aimed the gun at Rennie and pulled the trigger.

Silence.

The three men seemed to be taking it all in while the man standing guard rushed inside, unfortunately for him he was in my line of sight. I pointed the gun towards him and pulled the trigger again. He dropped, along with Rennie. The others caught on. The big man went for the machete in Rennie’s hand, the fat man tried to stand up but the spring snapped and he got pulled further into the couch. The man leaning against the wall almost had his gun on me. Almost.

“Nobody moves or you die.” I shouted. He had just pulled his gun. “I have an offer. Rennie is dead. There is vacancy for the position of the right hand man.”

“I don’t need you alive for that you little shit.” The man spat.

“Sure, but you won’t leave this building alive if you try to kill me I promise you.” Gone was the girl who was shaking and whimpering a minute ago.

He spoke after long pause. “You are fucked up, you fucking killed the right hand.” he said, not exactly angry.

“And you hated his guts. I have seen you give him the death stares every time the Boss rode up with Rennie at his side and you at Rennie’s feet. What was it? Did you always hated him are daddy didn’t love you enough?”

He seemed like he was going to pop like a balloon. I shot the guy with a machete, who was standing next to him.

“He thought I was busy talking so he was going to try and take a swing at me.” That stopped him from making any move. I waited a moment. “So what’s it gonna be?”

“Shoot me in the arm.” He said. “Its metal.”

The deal was accepted.

I moved the carpet below my feet, and opened a niche in the floor. Gold sparkled. With blood stains on it. Oh well. “I want safe passage out of the area, a vial of Tanacium and a little food. The gold is yours.”

The man looked at the gold, not believing his eyes. “Where did you get it?” He asked.

“Where do you think?” I said. The fat man managed to stand up.

I shot him.

© Ankur Gedam

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