“The Chase” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Anisha Jain, Bal Bharati Public School, Ghaziabad, India.
It was a pleasant morning when I was sitting in my lawn and sipping coffee from my cup. Suddenly, I heard a voice which sounded quite familiar; I turned around to see that it was Cass, my good old friend, her sandy-brown face looking quite flushed.
“Cass! What a pleasant-“
“No time for that, Anne. You need to listen to me. Come inside.”
Baffled, I followed her in to my living room. After making sure that no one was around, closing the blinds and drawing the curtains, she turned to me and handed me a small blue pendrive.
“What’s this?” I asked, bemused.
“A pendrive, dummy.”
“I can see that,” I rolled my eyes. “But what’s in it? And why are you giving it to me?”
“It has”- She leaned closer and whispered- “Some top-secret files of the CIA.”
I almost dropped the little device. “What top-secret files?”
“I’m not allowed to tell you that.”
“Okay, let me get this straight. You trust me enough to give me a pen drive containing top-secret files of the CIA but not enough to tell me what it is?” I crossed my arms.
“Listen, Anne. I don’t have much time right now. I need you to keep this safe for a couple of days. I’ll take it back from you on Saturday.”
“What if I open the files on this thing?”
“So, are we good?” she said, pressing her hands together.
“Not until you tell me what you’re doing running with it.”
“All I can tell you is that some spies of the Russian mafia are after this and we need to get this to Hawaii.”
Two days later…
I had not slept a wink since Cass had given me that pen drive. Even now, I lay awake in my bed, tossing and turning in my bed, worrying about that top-secret possession when I heard someone rudely knocking on the main door, getting louder with each knock. “Open the door!”
I paid attention to the accent. It sounded Russian. As I realised this, my heart leapt out of my mouth and lay before me on the sheets. I tiptoed to the bathroom and took off the flush tank’s lid. Inside was the zip-lock bag which harboured the revered pen drive. I took it out, threw on the first pair of clothes I could find and crept to the basement. The knocking was going on all the while I was doing all this.
Just as I was about to unlock the basement, I heard a loud crash. The intruders had probably broken the door down. I quickly closed the basement door behind me. As I opened the door leading out of the basement and into the lawn, I found Cass silhouetted in the doorway. She grinned. “Have you got it?”
“It’s a good thing you’re paranoid. Now run with me.”
As we were running up the dingy stairs, I said- “I’m not paranoid.”
“You most certainly are. Who builds an underground passage leading out of their attic into their lawn?”
I remained quiet not only to save breath but also because I couldn’t think of a witty reply.
We ran across the lawn. The Russian mafia probably saw us, because we heard what sounded like a warning call in Russian from the direction of the house. Dodging bullets, we ran to Cass’s Rover parked beyond the lawn and got in. The Mustang of the Russians followed in close pursuit.
“We need to tick them off, somehow,” I said.
Cass didn’t reply but steered the Rover in the direction of Maze Alley. There was a reason it was called that.
I smiled inwardly. Cass and I used to play there as kids and we knew numerous ways out of it. But the Russians would be confused. Ten minutes later, we were driving to the John F. Kennedy Airport without anyone following us.
But when we reached there, an unpleasant surprise awaited us. The Russians had taken the pilot of the private jet in which we were supposed to leave hostage. They levelled their guns at us. Two of them came and frisked us roughly. Cass gave me a sideways glance. I understood her message.
“Vatican Cameos!” she shouted and we kicked the men in the groin. We slammed our heads against their skull right where the carotid artery would be so that they lay unconscious at our feet. We ducked just as the other men fired and snatched up the unconscious men’s guns. Firing randomly, we ran towards the jet.
The man who had been holding a gun to the pilot’s head was now busy firing at us. The pilot was wise enough to get up and flee towards the plane’s cockpit. By the time we reached the plane, he had lowered the ramp and we started climbing on it. But the Russians were also climbed.. One of them got inside. Instinct took over me and I shot him in the neck. I did not stop to see whether he was dead or not. He probably fell out of the jet.
Cass and I kept shooting at the climbing Russians. The pilot started withdrawing the ramp, but they still kept climbing on the plane’s body. It was all a blur of hectic firing and climbing Russians as the jet taxied on the runway. At long last, we closed the hatch and the plane lifted off the ground.
Adrenalin still coursing through us, Cass and I somehow managed to sit down.
“I’m never keeping anything safe for you ever again,” I said as I saw Cass close her eyes and drift off to sleep.