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Let the Darkness Come
( Biswapriya Purkayastha)

Page 2

Not today, though. Today, my instincts had failed, and at the worst possible time.

Furqan had tried to warn me, to stop me from coming. "I have a very bad feeling about this," hed said. "We can leave it this time, President, sir. Please dont go in there today."

"Im no longer the president," Id told him for the hundredth time.

"Youll always be my president," Furqan had replied, also for the hundredth time. "The traitors wont hold on for much longer. They cant. Even those who backed them at the start are wavering now. Another six months and well be on the way back, mark my words."

"I know," Id replied, smiling at him affectionately. Furqan, who looked so much like the young Fidel Castro, tall and broad shouldered with his curly beard. Even though he no longer wore his peaked cap and green uniform, nobody who saw him would mistake him for anything but what he was a warrior through and through, though one touched by compassion and a sense of decency that never went away, not even in the worst times. If Id ever married, if Id had a son, Id have wanted him to be like Furqan. "But it wont happen by itself. We have to make it happen. And this is an important meeting; the opportunity wont come easily again."

"Then let me come with you," Furqan had said, his huge hands clenching and unclenching in agitation. "At least I can do my best to keep you safe, if something happens."

"If something happens," Id pointed out, "you, all by yourself, wont be able to do a thing for me. Ill be able to sneak in and out of town if Im alone, anyway. A single person attracts less attention."

Hed given in reluctantly, and stood watching as Id driven away in the old, dusty red car wed been using for the last week. The car had been lent me by the owner of a house in which wed spent two nights after Id hurt my foot and hadnt been able to walk for a while; Id promised him that wed return it before the month was out.

Now hell never get that car back. I hope that at least he has the good sense to get out while he still can, before they trace it back to him. Unless, of course, it was he who had tipped them off about me, once I was safely far enough away. If they pay him at least a part of the reward theyd offered, instead of killing him and keeping it all to themselves, he can afford to buy another car, after all.

Theyd known what to look out for. I had changed drastically from the night Id fled my presidential residence, crouched down in the back seat of an old SUV. Id grown a beard, been burnt deep brown by the sun, and lost weight. Besides, Id had false papers, showing me to be a small time businessman, living in the city. None of it had helped.

Theyd got me at the first checkpoint. I should have been more alert, knew to park the vehicle in an alley and walk on. But my mind had been elsewhere, on the upcoming meeting with the arms dealer, and the promise of weapons which we needed if we were ever to overthrow them and take the country back. Now, I wonder if the arms dealer had even been there, or if that had been a trap, too.

The checkpoint had been deceptively sloppy to look at, little more than a few oil drums scattered on both sides of the street, the gaps between them stuffed with sandbags, and a pole laid across the space in the middle. The buildings on both sides were still streaked with soot and marked with bullets, the result of the fighting earlier in the year. They had promised "freedom" but hadnt even got round to cleaning up before falling on each other over the spoils. Id had those buildings constructed, and people, at last, were beginning to remember that. Too late, perhaps, but then is something ever too late? Really?

Id safely negotiated a hundred checkpoints like this, so Id braked automatically to a stop while reaching for the fake drivers licence and registration papers in the glove compartment. My mind had still been on the meeting with the arms dealer, what he might have to offer, what I could get, and how I could arrange to pay. Only when the pickup truck had rushed up behind me, armed men spilling out of it even before it skidded to a slantwise stop across the street to block my retreat, did I know what was happening.

[ Continue to page 3 ]

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Genre:General Horror
Type:Short story
Rating:6 / 10
Rated By:8 users
Comments: 1 user
Total Hits:8218

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