“Where the hell is my SWAT team?" shouted the officer in charge of an operation near a site around downtown L.A. The team was about to apprehend one of the greatest criminal routine in the history of the country, The whole country was glued to their televisions and radios as newscasters from all over the world were broadcasting live footages and news to their respected channels. The police did not seem to have any authority over the case as it was a matter of time for the men in black to arrive.
It was assumed to be one of the biggest sieges of the year. A predicted armed group of over seventy men have taken over hostage a thirteen-theatre Cineplex in the city's Harrison Mall. A total of about twelve hundred people as assumed by the newsmen were taken as hostage. On a Sunday afternoon, with most of the theatres releasing new box-office hits, it was inevitable for such an enormous size of the number of people all of them innocent people who were victims to such a horrific incident, consisting of children, teenagers, parents and elderly people. Now the whole multiplex was in their hands, in the hands of evil. Their lives were at stake. And the worst part was that none of them had any idea of who was going to be the next one to be shot as the gunmen fired once every twenty minutes. All they could do was pray and hope that the terrorists got what they demanded. Their demand was a colossal ransom of one billion dollars and ten truckloads of deadly weapons comprising of bazookas, missiles, state of the art guns and ammo, etc. Will the government be willing to meet their demands? Or will they be more eager to give justice to those who at the moment are in total control over the lives of several hundreds?
Each time a gunshot was heard from the inside of the building, there was a huge uproar of affliction by the crowd waiting outside that has gathered in thousands. What must they be thinking? Despite all the several demands made by the gunmen, all they could demand was the freedom of their fellow citizens.
Finally they arrived. Four black trucks with nothing than "S.W.A.T" painted on all sides in white arrived at the crime scene. As the truck unloaded, a gathering of over eighty men lined up in front of their commander who was anxiously waiting. All of them were wearing black overalls with bullet proof vests. Not only were each equipped with new M-16 automatic rifles, but they also had other modern gadgets such as night-vision goggles, soldier to soldier communicating devices, knives and a pistol with the holster strapped to their ankles. There was a huge cheer of joy made by the crowd at their arrival. After all, these young men are supposed to be their saviours.
The commander gave them a short briefing and instantly at his words "GO!" they entered the mall one-by-one, silently and skillfully. They swung their heads left and right , the one in front gesturing the others to proceed. Their co-ordination seemed to be extremely professional as none of them hesitated to move ahead. The commander waiting outside had his ears open to his heavy walkie-talkie to receive any report informed by his team leader.
Although none of the action could be seen from the outside, however, the publics' heart froze waiting for the outcome. The soldiers broke into several groups as they neared to the Cineplex. Their plan was to enter each hall at once so that they could take down the whole group in surprise. However, there were a few gunmen who were guarding the entrance. At this time the team introduced their specialized gunman officer who carried nothing than a Desert Eagle pistol and a Sniper Rifle. From one corner he aimed the deadly rifle at an angle to that he had a clear view of all the seven guards standing fifty yards away.
He pulled the trigger. The first shot was right on target. The silencer did the work of avoiding the noise from being heard. After his second shot, it did not take much time to reload. After a total of seven shots, the result was seven out of seven for the officer and all of them near to the throat region, thus not allowing his victims to make a single noise as they dropped dead instantly. The only this that was heard was the rattling noise of the guns as they hit the surface. As they neared the entrance, the team broke up into several groups, each team named in colours. Each team leader asked for their commander's order to enter their destined theatres. The commander picked up his walkie-talkie, took a deep breath and spoke softly, "Team red, team blue, team green…… ..are you all ready? This is for our country boys, for your country". There was a pause for a while and then suddenly "GO GO GO!!!" yelled the commander as the adrenalin was also rushing through his blood. Immediately they slammed the doors open and the first thing they did was that they blew up the lights in all the theatres. In total darkness it would be impossible for the terrorists to spot them, and the soldiers on the other hand had their night vision goggles turned on. Through their goggles they could see their surroundings in various shades of green. Thus spotting the person with a gun was not that difficult for the soldiers. And then, both sides opened fire. At least the soldiers could see their targets, but the terrorists could not see anything, all they could do was locate the area from where the bullets were being shot from (the flashes made on the tip of the gun as each shot is fired), only then could they fire. Some of the hostages were screaming in fear. The others were quiet and were praying for mercy. At the hearing of the series of gunshots the crowd went silent. They had no idea of what was happening. The commander was staring at the building, motionless, hoping that his soldiers were carrying out their duty. Back inside, what took seconds seemed like hours, for the soldiers, the terrorists, and above all the hostages.
Finally, it all ended. It was over in a matter of minutes. After not hearing anymore gunshots by the gunmen, the soldiers searched the area and made sure that they were in control of all the theatres. Then the team leader reported to his Commander through his walkie-talkie, "Blue team to Alpha, blue team to Alpha. We have taken over. I repeat. We have taken over". At the sound of these words from the Commanders walkie-talkie, the crowd erupted in great commotion. The Commander replied, "That's a hell of a job soldier, hell of a job". "Roger that, Sir", was the answer.
At the end of the day as all the people were evacuated, the death toll rose up to above a hundred victims, fourteen soldiers, twenty-seven civilians. And perhaps the most shocking part, seventy-six terrorists, all of them, dead. In a time span of a few minutes so many lives were lost, yet so many more saved in comparison.
By Salman Rashid
The 600 taka adventure
This is my take on a bet I once had with a friend, who had said that the cost of any adequate adventure would be well over 600 Taka.
My father used to tell me, "Go, visit your native village. You have become almost a foreigner studying in an English Medium school. You have not seen the rural areas of your own country. How beautiful and green the villages are! The fish in the ponds, golden fields all around, flocks of birds swarming around the lakes, rivers and fields -- all of these make the villages aesthetic". His heart is filled with joy whenever he visits our village. He gets energised. He has founded a school in our village with the help of some local people. He goes to the village at least twice a month to look after the school as he is the Chairman of the Governing Board of it.
While I was thinking about what to do with 600 Tk, my father's words came to my mind. I planned to convince my friends to accompany me to my native village. I would go there and visit the school with my close friends Bashfaq, Ayman, Asif, Shehrina, George, and Rahul. It won't cost us anything. We'd travel in my father's microbus, take lunch at our village-house and stay there till evening.
We would set out at 9 o'clock in the morning and reach the village within two hours. We would roam around the village enjoying the scenic beauty as described by my father. I have got bored with the routine city life. This visit will invigorate, refresh and recharge our spirit to carry on studies and other activities at quicker pace.
Apart from this, we will come to know about the way of life, source of income, culture and behaviour of rural people. They are very simple and poor. In a country like Bangladesh, where the per capita income is around 440 US dollars, the condition of the people of rural areas is very helpless. We would interview some families regarding their life style, and take some photographs of countryside and her people. These photographs will encourage my other friends to visit rural areas. With the visit, I will get to know the situation first hand.
How would I spend the 600 Tk keeps haunting me. I would plan it in such a way that will be pleasing and effective for the people there. I have heard from my father that some well-to-do people of the village help the school financially as a result of which the school has been progressing. And because of this, there is more literacy and improvement in the quality of life, which will in turn contribute towards the national progress.
We would go to the school, talk to the students and teachers respectively about their progress in studies and the education of the rural people in general. We would also take a class each in school. I would take Mathematics and my friends other subjects up to their choice. My father would request the Head Master of the school to cooperate with us. In order not to interrupt the normal classes we would go during the leisure period. Inspiring the students in good studies is very important. I will ask the Head Master for a list of ten meritorious students. I would award each of them with a dollar as a token reward for their good results. This will inspire both the students and teachers for more dedication and better studies.
The fact that some students from English medium schools of Dhaka had come and rewarded students, would thus get some publicity through teachers and the students which will inspire the well-to-do people to come forward to contribute towards the development of the school and help education spread among the local people. Though a small step it is, it will contribute in improving the interest in students to take education more seriously and could help in spreading literacy. My 600 Tk could be successful in fetching many more dollars from the wealthy people of the area towards the improvement of education there.
We would then return to Dhaka the same day, highly enriched and recharged, spending just 600 Tk!
I believe, as soon as I will tell my friends of my plan, they will flash and be waiting breathlessly for the forthcoming adventure.
By Fahim Chowdhury
In her eyes
It was a beautiful day.The sun was high in the sky,shining for all that it was worth.The beach was particularly crowded with tourists and a few locals.The air was chilly despite the warmth of the sun,but that did not seem to bother anyone.The palm trees danced gracefully with the light breeze.
Evlyn sat crosslegged on the sand,facing her 10 month old baby boy,Kian.He looked up at her with his big,bright eyes and smiling mouth.He waved his chubby tan hand and gurgled to her in his language.Evlyn smiled and spoke to him as if she had understood his childish gibberish.
"Mommy,I 'm hungry"Amber,Evlyn's 6 year old daughter ,flopped down on the soft sand beside her brother,her frothy light yellow sundress falling around her feet as she looked imploringly up at her mother.
Evlyn looked at her daughter affectionately and ruffeled the dark brown hair that fell loosely over her daughter's shoulders. "Get your things,dear and lets see what we can get."
Ten minutes later,Evlyn led her children lazily towards a fast food shop just off the parking lot.Kian tugged at her hair and laughed periodically,content to be in his mother's arms.Amber skipped alongside them,her hand tucked into her mother's.
"Mommy,why can't fish walk?Why don't they come to play at the beach?"
Evlyn glanced at
her daughter "What do you mean dear?"
Not understanding,Evlyn looked over to where her daughter was pointing,sure enough there were fish flopping on the wet exposed stretch of sand,while white oyster shells winked in the bright sunlight.locals rushed forth,shouting excitely to one another .Others simply stood,rooted to the ground with fascination.
tightened her hold on both of her children.Kian wailed in protest while
Amber tugged furiously at her imprisoned hand.
The next few minutes seemed to stretch for few hours.Sheer terror held her ground as the horrific scene played out.
The water which had rapidly drained off the beach,suddenly rose.it rose higher and higher forming a wave almost 30 feet high in the air.The water rushed forward,opening its great churning mouth to swallow everything in its path.
Amber's hand tightened
on her mother's hand,"Mommy?"
Evlyn turned on these words,still holding both of her children and ran.She raced inland,half-dragging her daughter behind her ,deaf to her son's cries of agitated protest
The force of the first surge of water that hit her nearly knocked her off her feet.She cluthed her children to herself,ignoring their feeble cries of protest.
She spotted a palm tree,a few feet off to her right and made a mad dash towards it.The water pushed her away again and again.Struggling to stay upright and fighting to hold on to her children she made her way slowly through the rushing waters.Kian's wails wereintercepted every now and then as a current of water rushed over them and Amber's sobs were mingled with choking cries of fear.
Evlyn wrapped herself around the trunk of the tree as soon as she reached it,pulling her children into her embrace,before they were swept away.
Suddenly, the water current changed.The sea began to move back into itself,taking with it everything in its grasp
A sudden strong current threathened to snatch Amber from her mother's arms.Evlyn dug her nails into her daughters arms in a desperate attempt to hold on to her.Seconds dragged.
Then.time stopped.Evlyn watched the once laughing brown eyes widen in fear.Tears welled up in her eyes as she struggled valiantly with both hands to hold on.
The water rose again and again splashing against her pale face. "Mommy…"she choked out through her tears. Then Evlyn felt her child's fragile body into its murky depth
Evlyn stared in shock then suddenly she turned to look at her baby.Kian lay on her shoulder,his lips bluish. "Kian,"she whispered.Then she looked back out.Miles of water stretched out before her.Amber was gone.
"Kian!" Evlyn shook her son furiously until he gave a feeble cry.Hope welled up in her eyes as she began to bounce him up and down trying to keep his blood circulating.Kian whimpered again and again.but then his cries softened and then quitened,until he too was silent.Evlyn cried as she spoke to her son,making promises she'd never be able to keep.
As evening broke and darkness swept in,Evlyn sat in a rescue boat,clutching the cold lifeless body of her son in her arms.She stared blankly out at the sea,gazing out at her daughter's watery grave.In her mind she saw the bright eyes which would never again gaze back at her.She saw the brown hair which would never again be ruffled.She saw the young man her son would never be.She saw the bride her daughter would never be.In her eyes,she saw the lives which would never be lived.
By Aumee Ahmed
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