I FREEZE, AND so does the man in front of me. Awareness comes into the Hulk aka Neil’s eyes the same time as mine. The silence around us is eerie … and deafening at the same time. The TV from the recreational room spews forth the endless, high pitched monotone of the news reader. It’s the only sound we can hear, other than the cawing of the ever-present crows outside. Then another shot has both of us dropping to the ground.
Neil crawls across to me, and mirroring my posture sits with his back to the wall. In a few seconds we’ve gone from adversaries to comrades in arms. I am realising there’s more to being part of the force than meets the eye. Perhaps being united for a common cause, for the larger good, really does give you a feel-good high. When you stand shoulder to shoulder with your team-mates, it makes you feel as if the power of your self is amplified many times.
“What can it be?” He whispers.
I shake my head and put a finger to my lips. Around me the other recruits have dropped to the floor, all in various stages of undress, but with eyes wary, most hugging the wall or the floor.
I hear the staccato of shots being fired, followed by yells and howls of pain. Then, the sound of something being smashed and everything goes quiet. The TV no longer chatters. I look to the open door. The recreation room is down at the end of the corridor. The sounds of shots get closer. Without giving myself a chance to think I make a run for the door slam it shut, lock it and it’s as if that’s a signal to the rest of the men to jump to their feet. Without a word, the ten of us scram to our bunks, pull on trousers and shoes.We get our hands on whatever weapon we can find. No guns, none of us have guns. So I grab my cricket bat. (As if that’s going to make a difference?)
Around me the others too are grabbing cricket bats and hockey sticks. Neil grabs an iron rod. An iron rod? Where did he get that from? We drop to the floor, crouch and wait.
Should I hide under the bed? Nope, no way. Like, that is going to help.
And then a crash as the door is broken down, hacked by what looks like an axe till it’s in pieces on the floor and through it step through two men. One holding a machine gun, the other wielding an axe which he drops to the floor and instead grabs the the gun slung over his back. They are both wearing balaclavas, so we can’t see their features. Of medium height, they are muscular and dressed all in black: Black jeans and sweatshirts, their hair covered by the hoods. Their backs are to the door. They point their guns at us, signalling to us to put our hands up. I hesitate, not looking around but sense that the others too are not sure what to do. The first gunman points his gun at the nearest recruit … a boy just out of his teens and shoots him in the head.
There is a collective gasp from the room. A chill runs through me. Who are they? How did they break through the security measures of the force base? And then they are foolish enough to barge right into the heart of the training facilities of the force and shoot its cadets? Why? Why would they do that? The gunmen gesture to us and this time we follow their orders. We walk to the wall at the back of the bunkhouse and line up, hands on our heads, staring ahead.
An alarm rings out then. Finally! It’s been almost ten minutes since the shooting started. Still, the reinforcements should be here soon. Now all we need to do is keep these gun men distracted enough so they don’t kill us. As if reading my mind, the guy who’d shot the young recruit moves forward, his gun trained on us. I draw in a breath and hold it. The sweat trickles down my back. My heart is racing so fast I am sure if I look down I can see it leaping out of my chest. The gunman passes me, walks to the end of the line; then back to the middle where I am.
“You have no idea what this is about do you?” He asks.
He sounds young, as if he is barely a man himself. And something in his voice … muffled as it is, it sounds familiar. A faint recollection grabs the edge of my mind, And then I forget everything because he leans close to Neil who is next to me, and smashes the butt of his gun into his stomach. Neil falls to the ground, moaning, holding his middle. I firm up my stomach muscles. I know I am next, I must be. I want to squeeze my eyes shut, but don’t. The gunman leans to the other side, and shoots another man in the head.
This chap collapses without a cry. What the fuck? I want to jump him right then, but that would be really stupid of me. I am not going to help anyone if I get killed will I? There are six of us left in the room now. One of the younger recruits lets out a sob, at which gunman no 2 holds his gun at him, so he shuts up immediately.
The gunman asks me, “Where are the plans?’
“What are you talking about?” I reply, trying to stay calm, struggling not to show how scared I am inside.
He only grins and in response, and without taking his eyes off me, holds his gun up and I know what what he is going to do and I scream. “No!” But it’s too late. This time he’s shot two more guys in succession. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. These guys are desperate, or crazy or both.
Besides me Neil stirs on the ground.
The gunman takes a deep breathe, as if trying to calm himself and says, “Don’t pretend to be dumb. If you don’t get me the blue prints of the security arrangements being planned by the force for Bombay; the one that you and your team mates are being trained for, then all the rest of you die too.”
Only six of us left now. Four young lives, gone just like that. I feel sick. What the fuck are these guys upto? And … and how do they know about the plans? This is top secret. The only reason I know about it, is because I’ve overheard the training officer speaking with the ACP about it on the phone last week. And only because I happened to be waiting outside his room then. And how does this gunman even know that I know the details?
My head begins to whirl trying to piece this together.
If they want to know about the new security arrangements, then likely they want to intercept it. But if they do that, it will be clear that there is a security breach and all that we’d do is change the arrangements. Unless… unless they plan to kill us all, once they get the information. It’s all the impetus I need. Without waiting a second I hurl myself at the man, using the surprise to slam his gun up, grab it from him and smash the butt in his face. Behind him the other guy raises his gun, but Neil pushes back from the floor like a human catapult and head butts him in the stomach. The man goes down firing shots in the air, one of which bounces off the wall and hits the remaining cadets on the far end. One of the other recruits takes a flying leap towards me trying to help me hold the gunman down. I scream out in fear, in pain, in warning; but already the gun is firing and this cadet too is hit.
I struggle with the gunman and am aware of Neil being hit in the face again and again, by the balaclava clad guy he’s jumped. My phone hidden below my pillow rings out. It cuts through the sounds of the struggle. Then, suddenly the two gunmen jump up, let us go and we are free. The first gunman nods to my phone. I walk toward it pick it up and my instinct warns me about what is going to happen. No. No. No. It can’t be her. There is a missed call from an unknown number … and a message. Don’t open it, don’t. I read the message which says,
<Well done. You passed your test. Are you ready for the next??>
What the fuck? I slam my phone on the ground and look up in time to see both gunmen flee. Chest heaving, the sweat pours down my forehead, down my shoulders, over my back; blood thudding in my ears I look to Neil, who is sprawled on the floor. Around me some of the wounded stir. The first boy who was shot moans, then pushes himself up and blinks.
I run to him, drop down and rip apart his shirt to see the wound. Air bullets.Fake bullets. They hurt like a bitch but don’t kill. What was this? A hoax?A joke?Her kind of joke?
Behind me Neil’s voice rings out in surprise. “What the fuck was that all about?”
I sit back on my heels. I know who’s behind this. She’s putting me through the paces, that’s clear. Making me a soldier. She’s toughening me up, preparing me. But for what?
It will be many months before the full extent of her plan becomes clear. But only when it’s too late do I get the full picture. Timing. Yes it’s always going to be my problem.
About The First Life of Vikram Roy (Ruby Iyer Series)
His family is being held to ransom by a deadly mastermind.
Vikram never should have left his family, but when Vikram’s father brings his half-brother Vishal home, life will never be the same.
Vikram thinks things will be better now that he’s gone. He’s met the love of his life, his future looks bright and then everything is shattered.
Now, his family’s life is hanging in the balance, and only Vikram can do what needs to be done to save them.
From the bestselling dystopian fiction author with over 200 reviews and ratings of her dystopia books across Goodreads, Amazon and other retailers.
“A killer ending and the pacing of the story and the build-up is really good. I related to Vikram, really liked it.” Richard Sheehan, Author and editor
“I raced through the book… And the killer ending! Oh my God! It left me with a hangover, and makes me want to physically push the author to write the next book in the series faster.” Ritesh Kala, Book reviewer & blogger
If you’re looking for books like Hunger Games, then this dystopia romance series, The Ruby Iyer Series is it.
About the origins of Ruby Iyer:
Growing up in Bombay, my daily commute to university was inevitably nightmarish. It’s just how public transport is here. The man behind you on the bus will brush up against you. You know you are going to be felt up on a crowded train platform. All you can do is accept it and get on. Or so you think. I did too, until, a young photojournalist was raped in the centre of Bombay in broad daylight. It made me furious. Nothing had changed in this city in all these years. But what could I do about it? Then, I had a vision of this young girl who would not back down; who would follow her instincts, stand up for herself regardless of consequences. Thus Ruby Iyer was born. Make no mistake, Ruby’s her own person. She leads. I follow. When I first started writing Ruby Iyer’s story, I didn’t think it would build into a series, that she would have a following on wattpad and that many teens would reach out to me on connecting with her. Many wrote in to tell me how much they loved Vikram Roy, Ruby’s super cool, sexy cop. And so I had to write Vik’s story too in The First Life of Vikram Roy. You can download the RUBY IYER DIARIES, the prequel novelette in the series free HERE
About The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer
2015 Readers’ Favorite (Bronze) YA Action
YA Finalist 2015 IAN Book of the Year Award
Finalist 9th Annual Indie Excellence Awards
When her best friend is kidnapped, Ruby will stop at nothing to rescue him.
Criminals run the streets of Bombay. Jam-packed with the worst degenerates. The city is a shell of the pride and joy it used to be.
Ruby knows something must be done, but it isn’t until her best friend is kidnapped by the despotic Dr Braganza that she knows that she and she alone must save city, save her best friend, save the world from total destruction. Armed only with Vikram, a cop-turned-rogue they are about to embark on a road they may never return from.
If you’re looking for fast-paced books like Hunger Games or dystopia fiction like Angelfall, the Ruby Iyer series is perfect for you.
From the bestselling dystopian fiction author with over 200 reviews and ratings of her dystopia books across Goodreads, Amazon and other retailers. If you love books like Divergent, this is for you.
“Laxmi is a storyteller who knows how to build worlds populated with endearingly down to earth bravehearts.” – Inma Martinez, world leading digital media strategist.
“…A dystopian young adult novel that presents so much more than a singular, easy path.” – D. Donovan, (Midwest Book Reviews)
The First Life of Vikram Roy, The THIRD book in the RUBY IYER Series, launches this month. To celebrate the launch of the FIRST LIFE OF VIKRAM ROY I am giving away a $30 gift card/ paypal cash. Enter HERE. Winner will be drawn, Oct 1, 2015, and announced in my next newsletter.
DOING MY BIT
I have often wanted to set up a channel to donate a portion of the lifelong earnings from the RUBY IYER series to the cause of the girl child in India. The fate of the Syrian child refugees have spurred me on to do something, NOW. So, all SEPTEMBER earnings from the RUBY IYER SERIES will be donated to SAVE THE CHILDREN: SUPPORT CHILD REFUGEES OF SYRIA. All the RUBY IYER books with their brand new covers, are on SALE all this month at 99p/c &Rs 69/49. Click HERE to buy them.
YOU can also donate to SAVE THE CHILDREN directly HERE