This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Heroes Rush In

Somewhere out there,” the Prince, Hero Singh, said, pointing through the window at the rocky, denuded hills, “is a monster.”

“No!” gasped his wife, the Lady Loveliness. “A monster? You mean...a real monster?”

“Close enough,” said Hero Singh. “It’s a monster in the shape of a man, with the heart of a hyena and the cunning of a jackal. It’s a monster who has spread death and destruction across the Seven Nations, a monster who kills without remorse or pity or even joy. He kills because that’s how he makes a living, by death. A cold-blooded lethal monster, as I said.”

“Who?” demanded the prince’s best friend, Sidekick Kumar. “Who is this heartless killer?”

“Pigface the Sneak,” said the Prince Hero Singh, his noble features set in grim lines. “That’s who it is.”

“The mercenary!” Sidekick jumped to his feet, flexing his enormous muscles. “Then is the evil villain here in our fair kingdom? How did you get to know?”

“The Royal Astrologer told me,” Hero Singh said. “Swami Knowitallananda himself. He divined it for me today, when I was having my daily horoscope cast.”

“If he said it,” the Lady Loveliness said, “it must be true. He never fails.”

“But if it came up in the course of your daily horoscope,” Sidekick Kumar said, staring at Hero Singh wide-eyed, “that means...”

“Yes,” acknowledged Hero Singh, with a face of stone, “that’s right. It means Pigface the Sneak is here to kill me.”

“I shall go now,” said Sidekick Kumar, “and, wherever the soulless knave be hiding, I shall find him and put an end to his misdeeds, once and for all.”

“Take the army with you,” said the Lady Loveliness. “Leave not a stone unturned in those hills until you find and destroy him, and bring his head here for the world to see that no devil can besmirch our fair land.”

“And you, Highness,” said Sidekick to the Prince, “you will please make sure not to step outside the protection of the fort’s walls, nor show yourself on the parapet, until I have laid the cruel vermin by the heels.”

“No,” said Hero Singh, defiantly. “I shall not hide behind stone ramparts while an evil swine pollutes my kingdom with his presence. It is ridiculous to ask me, a fully accredited hero, to seek safety while danger lurks. I shall go out and find this killer, and I shall destroy him myself, with the weapons I hold in my own two hands.”

“But –“ Sidekick began.

“Silence!” Hero Singh shouted. “Am I not the one who destroyed the Man Eating Tiger of Carnivorastan? Did I not – alone and unaided – put an end to the depredations of the Dark Bandits by capturing their chief’s daughter and forcing their surrender?” The Lady Loveliness seemed about to say something, but decided against it. “Have I not,” Hero Singh shouted, “been acknowledged the greatest hero this nation has ever produced, by popular acclaim, not to mention royal decree? I shall not skulk in safety here; it would ruin my prestige. No, no,” and he held his hands up to his lady wife, “I shall listen to no more arguments. I shall go alone.”

“Take at least your personal bodyguard,” insisted Sidekick Kumar. “And of course I shall go along with you.”

“You? No.” Hero Singh clapped his old friend on the shoulder. “You stay here and keep an eye on things. You’re the only man I can trust not to stab me in the back.” And – without a glance at his sobbing wife –  he went off to don body armour and golden war-helmet, and call his bodyguards, the dreaded Black Felines, together.

From his position high up on a hill, lying behind a rock, Pigface the Sneak watched them come.

The mercenary was camouflaged so thoroughly in brown and grey that he looked part of the dusty rock all around. One could have stepped almost on him without realising it, but this time the camouflage wasn’t necessary. Pigface hadn’t expected it to be. But he was an artist, and took pride in his work.

Through the scope of his high-powered sniper rifle, the distant figures coming from the fort came sharply into focus. Under their oversized helmets, he could even see their faces, and he focused his attention on the one who wore a golden helmet, unlike the steel headgear of the rest. He waited, patiently, until the enemy had come close enough for him to be sure. Then, gently, using all his skill and training, he aimed, regulated trigger pressure with his breathing and heartbeat, and shot the Prince Hero Singh’s head off.

After the panicked Black Felines had stopped blindly shooting in all directions, the few who had survived picked up the corpse of the valiant prince and trudged off back fortwards.

Pigface the Sneak slipped down the hill and away into the wide brown yonder.

It was the day after the funeral.

In a room deep inside the fort, the Lady Loveliness, dressed in mourning, was talking to Sidekick Kumar.

“Is it really true?” she murmured. “I can barely believe it.”

“It’s true,” Sidekick Kumar said. “The Prince is dead.”

“And what about Pigface the Sneak?”

“I sent out the army,” Sidekick Kumar told her. “They’re scouring the hills and valleys for him.”

“Will they find him? Where do you think he is now?”

“Find him? Not a chance. As to where he, in all probability,” Sidekick Kumar told her, “checking to see if the money has arrived in his account yet. It should have – I dispatched the balance two days ago.”

“You must remember to pay the Swami what he was promised.”

“I already did,” Sidekick Kumar said, “and included a bonus as well. But I think we ought to get rid of him. He knows too much.”

“You can do that.” The Lady Loveliness stretched lazily. “But first, come here, and comfort the grieving widow.”

He came.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2010

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