The bloody bridge…
The dawn had just broke when Riya got a call from her manager. She was to rush with her camera to the spot where the latest spectacle of the day was beginning to unravel itself. From what she gathered of the incident from her boss and twitter, it was most likely a terrorist attack on the city’s iconic bridge. She reached the spot near the promenade overlooking the bridge which stood tall on the open sea. Her heart jumped at the thought of another attack on her beloved city, another of its monument being ravaged at the hands of some more misguided monsters. With all that in her mind, she positioned her camera towards the structure and cued her reporter friend who was ready to cover the story.
The confusion of the smoke from the bridge and the unusually dense fog of the winter morning meant there wasn’t much visibility on the ground. No reporter or residents of the area were allowed past the police barricades for their own safety. There were rumors of a few suspected terrorists arrested for their involvement in the bombings that rocked the city a few months ago, being transferred to a secure location outside the city. Assistant Commissioner Seth also reached the location to assess the situation. He asked for additional backup and requested for the army, fearing the worst. He was an army veteran himself before joining the IPS. Having dealt with extremists as a soldier, he knew how things can go bad too quickly. His first concern was the safety of the people in the surrounding civilian area. The city had seen too much innocent blood being spilled on its streets in the last few months. News channels started flashing their gimmicky Breaking News animations with the still hazed images of the chaos that was unfolding.
An armored vehicle of the police department drove past the barricades trying to reach the two pylon towers of the bridge where the terrorists were most likely holding up. But just before it could reach even halfway, it faced massive fire from the other side. The occupants of the vehicle managed to escape just seconds before it exploded into a massive ball of fire. Senior Inspector Prasad, who was one of the cops inside the vehicle, knew right then that it was going to be a long day. He could infer from the state of the armored SUV that they were against some very heavily armed people. He managed to sprint past the smoke behind another lopsided police van which was supposed to be carrying the terrorists being transferred. He somewhat had a clear view of what the madness was all about. He couldn’t believe what he saw next.
There was absolutely no one on the road. He could see right till the end of the cables that supported the bridge. There was no one, except a few burning vehicles and some blood. Did they escape from the other side? He asked the policemen on the other end of the bridge for the status. They answered in the negative. It was then that he saw a silhouette of a man sitting on the steel railings with his head down . Prasad couldn’t see the man’s face but noticed that he was looking down at something below the bridge. The morning fog had begun to fade away by then and the image that appeared shocked everyone present near the crime scene as well as the millions watching from the safety of their homes.
At first, it seemed like two men, and then as the fog cleared completely, nearly five men were hanging from the railings of the bridge, their bodies bloody and bruised. The four of them were suspected to be the terrorists around whom the entire horror of that morning was centered. The fifth man, as some news reports suggested was rumored to be the elusive mastermind of the group. But no one knew anything about the man who was sitting on top of those hanging bodies, wearing what looked like a black overcoat. Riya tried to capture a glimpse of the man’s face with her camera but the smoke from the bridge wasn’t helping her. In the next ten minutes, it was confirmed that this time the attack was not on the city but on the men who had wrecked her. But who was behind all this? Was the man on that bloody bridge solely responsible for bringing to those monsters the end that many citizens, including Riya wished but were stopped by a sense of civility? Was he alone? Was he driving home a message to someone? Was it a beginning? Or the end?
It was 7:10 A.M. now and the city had woken up to a grim and violent morning. ACP Seth now had his requested backup and the army was to arrive in 20 minutes. He commanded his men to try and capture the man who had, in all likelihood, killed all the five terrorists. What shocked Riya the most was the manner in which he did it. The city and its people were used to seeing innocent lives lost in a gruesome manner, not this. It was the first time a few dreaded terrorists were lynched and hanged for all to see. The city had just shed a bit of its remaining innocence. Someone amongst its millions of citizens had snapped.
SI Prasad now had enough backup to start engaging with the killer. He signaled his men to move forward. He wasn’t wearing any bulletproof armor, there wasn’t any time for that now. A police jeep was used to push the lopsided prison van which Prasad and his men would use as cover. They asked the killer to step down from the railing and surrender himself. There was no response, the man didn’t move. Prasad fired with his gun at the foot of the railings to elicit some response from the man. Anticipating some fire in return, he ducked behind the van for a few seconds, the man didn’t fire back. The cop glanced at the man using one of the broken side mirrors and he couldn’t find him, he had moved. Fearing that he was running away he jumped from his position only to find him standing right in the middle of the road, calm, with his hands behind him and his head still down.
Riya now had a clear view of the action although the killer’s face was still not visible. He was wearing a black half mask and had long hair. Prasad asked him to raise his hands above his shoulders, no response. “Final warning!”, he shouted, no response. He fired at the killer’s feet, this time provoking him to fight back. It happened in a split of a second, the killer threw what looked like a grenade or some chemical bomb at the van which the cops were using as cover. Prasad had never faced anything like this in his five years of service. He ordered his man to retreat. ACP Seth ordered his men on the other side of the bridge to engage with the killer in order to allow Prasad a safe retreat. The men on the opposite side started firing. The killer fired back at them, but this time Prasad noticed that he wasn’t using any bomb to attack. He was drawing the fire using his hands, the man was emitting projectiles after projectiles of fire from his palms.
Prasad started firing at the man, now aiming directly for his body. He shot him thrice in the back within a few seconds, no effect. He aimed for the killer’s head now and shot him, the man didn’t move. He turned towards Prasad, the anger in his eyes clearly visible, using his hands, shot a big ball of fire at the already burning van the daring cop was using as cover. The impact of the explosion dragged the van several feet behind it’s position along with the jeep used to drag it. Prasad luckily jumped out of the way, but was now dangerously in the line of fire of the killer. He fired again at the killer with his INSAS rifle. The killer, instead of firing back now, chose to sprint towards the railing, not caring for the hail of bullets coming his way and jumped into the open sea.
Riya had captured the whole fighting on her camera, though she was as confused as anyone about what had really happened. Prasad on the other hand, though safe, was shaken to the core after what he had seen the man do. Almost thirty minutes had passed since the killer jumped into the water and there was no sign of either him or his body. Prasad for one knew, that the man who dodged his bullets like they were made of paper, was not dead. The police and the coast guard were frantically searching the entire length and breadth of the coastal waters near the bridge for the killer. Riya, still trembling with fear after the incident, was capturing all the efforts of the police. She directed her camera towards the area in the sea where the man had jumped. The water below the bridge was still and it seemed that the man had either drowned or the current pulled him away from the coast. She decided to take a break but saw something moving on the surface of the sea on the other side of the bridge. It seemed like a wave, only, it was in the opposite direction.
She zoomed in her lens to get a clearer picture and called out ACP Seth who was now standing on one of the cement tetrapods on the coast and pointed him towards the sea. She looked through her lens and knew it was something unusual. SI Prasad ran to the other side of the bridge after receiving the message from Seth on his wireless. The unusual wave was almost a hundred meters away from the base of the bridge towards the sea. Sweat started rolling down Prasad’s forehead, he somehow instinctively felt that the worse was not over and then the wave suddenly disappeared. It was gone. Seth concluded that maybe it was because of the high winds but Prasad knew that wasn’t the case. Riya still had her camera freezed at the spot where the wave was last seen and just before she could move her device, something launched out of the water like a freaking cruise missile. It’s force was so strong that hundreds of fishes, garbage deposited on the shallow bed rock, and thousands of gallons of sea water ejected out of the sea along with it and rained down on the coast and the bridge, forcing everyone to run for cover.
A few seconds later, Inspector Prasad looked up and what he saw confirmed his trepidation. The killer of the bridge was hovering above him, hundreds of feet above the sea. He was flying. His gaze was fixed on the cop for a few seconds, then surveyed the coast and the hundreds of people who were part amazed and part horrified. He paused in his position for a moment before flying out into the sky with a loud boom and vanished before anyone could take stock of what had just happened. Riya, Seth and Prasad, just like everyone else were too dumbfounded to make sense of everything that happened since the time they got the call to rush to the bridge. But they knew in their hearts that things were no longer the same.
Their city and perhaps the world, had changed forever…