{November 12, 1943 – 10 PM}

Darkness of the night

The incessant rain just kept growing stronger. The darkness outside seemed extending to infinity. The eerie calmness of the November night was broken infrequently by the wild cries of the beasts. A soft country song in A Minor was playing in his mind. JJ kept the humming low so as not to invite unwanted attention. The torchlight in his hand had gone off, after flickering momentarily amid heavy thundering. The shack was 50 miles deep into the forest – barely constructed, highly camouflaged, and far away from any human habitat. A brief look at the wristwatch revealed 10:10, under a fleeting gleam of lightening flash.

There was a single window facing South and a single door facing North. The rest of the room was bare, barring a German-made K98K rifle, bullets, a few grenades, a compass, and some ammunition. He could now see some momentary firings towards the Northeast. The gunshots were echoing around in the wild mist. In a camouflaged suit, boots, and a helmet he was ready to flee at the slightest hint of danger. He could hardly afford to sleep due to threats all around – those of war and beasts. Still, he closed his eyes, slumbering slowly into the soft embrace of the intoxicating night.

The Characters..! 

  • Rifleman Gurjeet Singh (JJ)

Rifleman Gurjeet Singh (codenamed JJ), a sharpshooter in the Indian National Army (INA) was posted near the Germany-Poland border in the middle of the second world war. He was selected for an espionage mission that required him to kill Commander Richardson. He was provided key mission information by the German secret agents and by his own INA comrades.

  • Commander Richardson

Commander Albert Richardson was a high-level British official and an expert military strategist. He excelled in coding and decoding messages. He was also the officer in charge of a radio station that hatched propagandist announcements. These announcements were intended to generate encoded messages for their spies and strategic commands at different locations apart from spreading news of British dominance in war and panic among its rivals. He had played a key role in capturing the strategically located Galvez fields, cementing the British stronghold in the war. Richardson was a critical asset of the British and had to be liquidated at any cost.

{November 13, 1943 – 1 AM}

Fear of the light

JJ woke up suddenly. He had to leave the shack and move towards the next safe house 20 miles South as fast as he could. This house would be another shack that he had to build across the stream as swiftly as possible. The location would give him access to Richardson’s military camp from the forest side.

Quickly arming himself, he took a final look at the shack where he had been taking shelter since the last 2 days, before leaving. The next few hours would mostly see him running - running in the rain, running past the wolves, and running away from any prying enemy sniper. But, the rain? The rain would cover the sound of his footsteps. He hoped the rain continued. For a spy, it was the perfect time to be outside in the wild. So out he went. Out into the unknown.

JJ knew the precise direction where he was going. His compass was his trusted friend. After having run for around 6 miles, he slowed down.

He looked around. Blackness everywhere. More enigmatic than enigma itself.

The sky was pouring with extreme intensity. The ground was still hard enough not to sink below him. He had never ever felt any sense of strangeness before. But now he did. A bitter wave of cold air passed by carrying with it the fragrance of winter blossoms. Perhaps the stream was now closer. He moved forwards a few yards and could now see the glimpses of a stream through the sporadic flashes of lightening. The rippling waves dancing in the rain were all gleeful – unperturbed by the horrors of war, the terrors of deaths, and the miseries of humankind.

Suddenly there were flares of light all around – illuminating the stream. He stood frozen in his place for a while.

{November 13, 1943 – 2:30 AM}


Seconds later the realization occurred to JJ that he had not been spotted by the lights. He quickly moved behind a tree. From there he could see the rapid movements of light beams emanating from torches. Who could they be: in the darkness of this dreary night? The beams gradually kept moving ahead towards him. He knew that in a few moments there would hardly be any time for him to escape. Even the bleak night might not be safe enough. The sound of the footsteps suggested that there would be roundabout 20 people. 20 armed men? The British forces? Whatever. He had to find a safe shelter quickly. There was no respite on the ground amid the trees and shrubs. There was only one way out. And that was to go up. The trees could be his savior.

The tree behind which he was hiding had a medium trunk, few fissures, and a descent horizontal spread of the leafy branches - almost a perfect tree to climb and stay hidden from all the chaos below. JJ’s ascent began. The footsteps were nearer. The whispers were clearer. He kept climbing like a wild bear - faster and faster till he caught hold of a firm branch and lay still on it, camouflaged by the leaves. JJ looked down gasping. A diffused expanse of light and a gathering of soldiers had never looked so frightening. Within a matter of minutes, his mission plan had been hit for the worse. Plan B - activated.

{November 13, 1943 – 3 AM}


“Commander should take this route and enter Poland through the jungle. The passage is a bit unsecure, but this time and weather should see him through safely. Before dawn, he would be at our check point.”

“Which commander? Are they talking about Commander Richardson?” – thought JJ.

The conversation that was taking place below had just left him dumbstruck. If the commander was Commander Richardson, he would have to kill him then and there itself. If the commander was not Richardson, he would just have to stay put and watch his convoy pass by before getting down and continuing his mission. But how does he decide the identity of the commander? The darkness and the rain were all prevalent and intense, more than before. JJ wasn’t worried about his life. He just wanted to see the mission through. The convoy of the commander would pass beneath him in a few moments. He was now more focused than ever, analyzing all the facts and trying to decide. He had to carefully select his next tactical move hereafter. What could his actions and the corresponding consequences be? There were several possible scenarios playing around randomly in his mental faculties -

- He doesn’t shoot and stays hidden. The commander turns out to be Richardson. The mission fails.

- He doesn’t shoot and stays hidden. The commander is not Richardson. He never knows if the British might have shifted Richardson too out of anticipation. In that case also the mission fails.

- He shoots at the commander but misses. The commander turns out to be Richardson. JJ gets arrested. The mission fails.

- He shoots at the commander but misses. The commander is not Richardson. JJ gets arrested. The mission fails.

- He kills the unknown commander and escapes in the dark. The commander is not Richardson. The mission fails.

- He kills the unknown commander and escapes in the dark. The unknown commander turns out to be Commander Richardson. The mission is thus a success.

So, there was only one way to accomplish the mission. The last one. He had frozen his plan. He would go for the kill. His moment had arrived. The intensity of his eyes and the ferocity of his face were witness to his fidelity – towards his army and towards his motherland. Suddenly, an uproar in the distance alerted him. The convoy of commander was approaching.

{November 13, 1943 – 3:45 AM}

The Dance of Death

The soldiers below had taken their guards to ensure a safe passage for their commander. Grabbing the rifle in his right hand and the grenade pack in his left, he got ready for the final showdown: The dawn still far away, the lights still evading, the rain still outpouring, and the enemy briskly approaching. By keenly observing the silhouettes formed under the luminosity of the scattered lights, he could reckon the seating positions of the passengers. He knew where he needed to shoot.

Time had now slowed down and started ticking backward.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5...4....3....2...1....

First shot from the K98K sniper rifle triggered by JJ .... – Blood spurts out from the driver’s face.

Within the next second, the grenades blast on the ground all around. The soldiers run for shelter.

The second shot pierces the head of the passenger running away from the car. Soldiers rushed to his rescue. JJ knew he had shot his target. Quickly unburdening himself of all the weapons, he sleds down the tree. Within moments he was a galloping wild horse waning away into the darkness...

The forest is where I lie
Through the wilderness, I fly
Day has never shown me the way
Deep into the darkness, my destinies sway...

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