Submitted into Contest #27 in response to: Write a short story that ends with a twist.... view prompt







They were hiding behind the tall steppe grass, spread across the rocky slope of the foothills. And the golden grass was moving swiftly in the crispy wind. They could relax their backs against the grey rock hanging over them and covering them from behind.

Rohit observed the burned over stretch of the hillside in the east and moved his gaze far to the mountains across the hills. The orange sun was slowly climbing down towards the white ridges of the mountains. The wind was getting bitter and was flowing in the west. Steam came out of his mouth as he exhaled. "Listen !" Whispered Rohit. "I'm thirsty."

"We have no water." Replied Vikram. 

"Not water. I need a bottle full of Beer."

"Beer ?" Vikram wondered.

"Yes! A cold beer would be great, I think.

"You have gone mad," Rajwinder said, rebuking. He was the eldest of the four and behave like a senior. 

 "I haven't drunk for two months, I must have gone mad."

Vikram reminded, "We haven't drunk anything for two months."

"Except for the melted snow." Rajvinder completed him.

"That's why I need a beer now," Rohit said.

"Someone's bringing beer... so the red wine for me, please," Ajay said swiftly, adjusting his back. He slid a bit down as it was painful for him to sit straight against the rugged rock. 

"Believe me, neither red wine nor a cold beer, Vodka would be great," Vikram suggested.

"No ! Red wine," Ajay replied. "It will keep us warm."

"Don't give yourself hope," Rajwinder said.

Vikram frowned. "Don't talk like this, Rajwinder. This is stupid." 

"Speaking of hope in this situation would make you worse than stupid," Rajwinder said as bitter as the wind and then, he twirled his moustaches.

Vikram threw a pebble to Ajay, which hit at his helmet lied by his leg. "Are you hearing us ?" But Ajay was looking fixedly at the sky. Without even shifting his eyes, he said. "How red it is. Just like red wine."

"Just like blood," Rajvinder spoke in raucous tone.

"That gown was like this. Red." Ajay continued.

"Whose ?" Vikram asked.

"A beauty in the red." Rohit's eyes widened.

"Not a beauty idiot, he may be missing his wife."

Rohit starred at Vikram. "What did you say, wife ?" Then, he looked at Ajay's deadpan face with jealous eyes. "You are married ?" Ajay only looked as young as him. "It can't be."

"He also has a daughter. 2 years old." Vikram added.

Rohit had just met them two days ago and there was not enough time to get to know each other. They had a lot of work and rarely had the time to talk about wives and sons and daughters.

Ajay, raising himself with great difficulty, stared at their faces one by one as if he was looking at them for the last time. With the left wrist, he cleaned the blood running on the cheek and then lied down. Turned to look at the sky which was now, even more red. "The gown I sent her was like this. I was keen to see her in that gown. That gown was like redwine."

"My wife loves red too," Vikram added. "I sent her a Red saree, each time I wrote to her... Red. Every woman looks beautiful in red."

 "Everything looks beautiful in red." Ajay sighed.

"No." Rajwinder interrupted. "Everything looks ugly in the red."

"Yes, Yes ... I have hated everything that was in red in these fucking two days." Rohit straightened his waist. And with both hands, he lifted his right leg and stretched it forward. He didn't want to talk about red.. not even red wine. Red scared him. It is the colour of danger. "Bring me a beer .. and .. a beauty too." He said loudly.

"What? A beauty ?" Vikram guffawed but in a moment he began to choke. He kept coughing until he spat the blood out. Wiping his reddened lips with ragged sleeve of his shirt, he said. "First, dreaming of beer and now a beauty… It seems that today all the buried desires of yours are soaring high…."

"Yes, I have never ever fondled a beauty in my entire life," Rohit said, disappointed.

"What's your age ?" Rajwinder raised eyebrows.

"Why ?.. I ..I have just turned twenty."

"Twenty ?"

"Yes !" Rohit replied meekly. He felt proud about his declaration but as soon as he spotted Vikram laughing into his hand. He gave a moment to thought and said "What? How many have you touched till twenty ?"

"One. Only one. She is the one." 

"Beauty ?"

"Beauty !"

Rohit picked himself up and crawled to Vikram. "You tell it feels to touch her smooth skin? smooth skin and her soft parts. and down there ?" Rohit said with a sparkle in his eyes. "Is it too much sensitive down there ?"

"Ask him." Vikram pointed towards Ajay.

Ajay had now slipped a bit below in the grass and only his head was pillowed at bottom of the rock. His eyes caught Rohit's as he turned around. Cold and Red, and he was smiling through his lips were dark and dry. He turned back again.

"Don't fly too high Ajay! Come down to the ground." Rajwinder said.

"I've never seen sky red like this, before," Ajay said.

"And I had never seen a land red like that before," Rajvinder replied to him. "That was real.. not this."

"Hmm, The Red Land! That was beautiful too! Like the redwine was showered all over the earth from the red sky.. and it was red and red and red everywhere." Ajay gave off, "I want to drink. Someone bring me a Red-wine. As red as the sky."

"Ajay, stop this nonsense." Rahul burst out. "Red wine. Red gown. Red skies. Red - Red - Red. I hate this colour. I hate red. Stop talking about red."

"Rohit !" Keep your voice down. Vikram said putting his finger on his lips. "They might be lurking here and there." 

"Are you afraid ?" said Rajwinder, "What's left now ?"

Rohit looked at Rajwinder with great disappointment. Why the hell does he always talk like this? Disappointing! He can't be a good leader. No, not at all. He looked into his hollowed eyes and they were scary enough. He turned to Ajay. "Will I drink a beer, again? Or touch a beautiful woman in my life. ?"

"No brother and I won't see her in a red gown again, I know," Ajay said.

"They'll find us and they'll kill us." Rohit shrieked and held Vikram's hand in his palm.

"We'll kill them when they come here." Rajwinder encouraged them.

"We don't have bullets. Do we ?" Rohit asked.

"Eight! I have saved eight bullets. We'll wait for them." Vikram said.

"We'll shoot them," Rajwinder said looking at the cartridges that Vikram just pulled out of his pocket of a jacket. The sky was now dark blue in the east and red in the west. 

"We must stay awake," Vikram suggested.

Rohit glanced at the waning sun. It was as disappointing as Rajwinder's face. The beautiful Red Sun was telling the bitter truth. A bitter truth they didn't want to talk about. He had never seen such a beautiful sky but It was about to be dark in a while. "If we doze ?" Rohit expressed apprehension.

"Then there will be a long long sleep and many ... many dreams." Ajay sighed. "Both the red wine and the red gown will be there."

"I don't want both of them." Rohit closed his eyes, tightly. "I hate red."

"And there will be cold beer too," Vikram smirked.

"I'd never drink a beer again, I know."

Vikram grabbed Rohit's shoulder and squeezed. "Friend! We'll all drink beer together someday. ..and we all. We'll Drink beer forever."

"Don't forget about the red wine," Ajay grumbled. His voice was harsh and lips were chapped and his face was pale. Small winged big flies fluttering in the grass were now buzzing around his opened mouth. He wasn't troubled at all and there were no wrinkles on his face. Vikram leaned left and extended his hand to fly them away and then, ran his fingers through Ajay's dry hair. "We'll all drink red wine, Brother."

"No ! Beer. Just beer. Beer means beer. Only beer." Rohit felt his hands were shaking, fidgeting with a leash of his rucksacks. It was difficult to sit there anymore. Trying to get up, he slipped down again and fell on the ground. He glanced the red sky. And then in the east. There were seven vultures hovering over the burned hills. Circling. 

"Vikram!" Rajwinder suddenly said sharply. His voice was exactly like he had just ordered. "You heard that ?"

Vikram opened his eyes. "Yes!"

"They are coming to us." Rajwinder guessed and he pulled out the gun. 

Rohit glared at their startled faces and he felt sweat flowing down from his forehead. Wiping it, he turned to Ajay. Now, Flies were entering his opened mouth and then coming out, but he did not even care. His clothes were stinking too. Rohit sobbed. "No beer. No red wine. I'll never drink beer again. never.

"Wait out !" Rajwinder shushed him up and put his ear to the rock. He could hear the rustle of grass and the sound of bonking glass bottles with some laughter. They were speaking in rather a loud tone. "They ... are talking about .. beer," Rajwinder said.

"What? Beer? they are not speaking Chinese ?" Vikram wondered. 

"No !" Rajwinder replied. "They are speaking Hindi." 

"Hindi ?" Rohit Shocked. "No-No. They can't talk in Hindi. Absolutely NOT. How come they know Hindi ?"

"They are really speaking in Hindi, idiot," Vikram said. 

"Really ?" Rohit said softly.

"Yes !" Shouted Rajwinder. "Yes !"

At that moment, Rohit also wanted to shout as loud as he could but he couldn't and he left with mouth wide opened. Vikram squeezed his hand. He saw Rajwinder, first time, smiling like this. But Ajay, not caring much, was still looking at the sky through the moving grass. "Red wine. I need red wine." He murmured.

Rohit tried to get up for the third time and he didn't fall this time. Though, the pain was in his right leg was growing, he crawled until he reached Ajay. Lying down by his side, He said. "Beer .. Red and Red wine. We'll drink all. Everything. You'll drink red wine and I'll drink red wine too. Red wine is my favourite now. Red. Just like that sky. Dark red. Look at that sky. What a lovely colour it is. Red is my favourite colour. You heard that .. Red is my favourite colour. "

Rohit shook Ajay and kept shaking him. But, he was sleeping and dreaming with open eyes. There was no sun in the sky but only a red sky itself to be the. Darker than the red wine, it was now. 

January 31, 2020 15:39

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