Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Marked Man


Image Courtesy: Fotolia
I looked up and down the street, and swore. Every house looked exactly alike. The same blue lintel flanked the sides of the same brown doors with the same black latticework. Except for that cactus plant outside this door, which might have been a great marker if only this were the house Ali Baba lived in.


The Sardar had been livid ever since we’d returned to the cave to find some of the jewels missing and a wimp of a man, scared out of his wits, cowering behind one of the casks. The Sardar wasted no time in getting his story and Cassim was quick to blab about his brother, Ali Baba, in exchange for his life.

But the Sardar was not in a forgiving mood. Security had been breached. I smirked inwardly, resisting the temptation to say, I told you so, to the Sardar. I had told him last year that passwords, even oral ones, must be alphanumeric and at least 30-odd characters long, but no. He had his heart set on “Open Sesame” and “Close Sesame.”

The Sardar slashed Cassim’s throat in one swoop. As the man fell, the emeralds and rubies that he had stuffed into the pockets of his tunic rolled out. But it was too soon to exhale with relief.

The Sardar sent five of us to the surrounding villages to find out if someone had suddenly become rich overnight. To my bad luck, it was the village assigned to me that yielded Ali Baba. I say bad luck because in our kind of work, safety lies in numbers. You are safe when you work as part of a team. On your own, the slightest mistake could cost you not only your job but also your life. We are the forty thieves but not the same forty thieves.

Ali Baba’s house is two doors to the left of this one. I considered marking it with a chalk, but I can’t risk any kids drawing the same mark on other houses. It would be a tactical error.

What to do? Whatever it is must be done fast. The man is marked. If only it were as easy to mark his house.

It is noon now and everyone is indoors. But any movement, someone coming out to see if the clothes on the line have dried, or someone going to fetch water, could get me into serious trouble. Should I pick up that cactus and place it near the door of Ali Baba? But what if the rightful owner finds it and takes it back to his home between now and tonight? I cannot afford to make mistakes.

And then it came to me.

Write Tribe Prompt




The Sardar would likely do this job alone, with me to guide him. He would not risk the sound of forty horses’ hooves trampling through the cobbled streets. What if I led him but not to Ali Baba’s house? Of course, “thirty-nine thieves” does not have the same ring to it, but what the heck? Ali Baba can meet his Maker later.

It’s time for a coronation.



This story was written for the Write Tribe - Prompt 2.




20 comments:

  1. What an imagination Cynthia. Great story. :)

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  2. Let me echo Kajal - what an imagination !

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  3. Wow, Great idea to tell the story from the viewpoint of one of the 40 thieves.

    Very nice.

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  4. Ah! Another nice story from you. I like the way you build up your stories - the tempo is never lost, and there's always a punch at the end. :-)

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  5. Thank you, Ava. I'm so glad to know you liked the story.

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  6. Thanks, Raja, I enjoyed writing this one too. The bigger challenge is limiting it to 500 words. When it comes to writing, and talking, I have a tendency to go over the top.

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  7. Thank you, Vinod. You are too kind. I try.

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  8. Brilliant story. How do you do it? Had a good chuckle. A Mr Darcy, Ali Baba what's next?

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  9. What an imagination ! Brilliant !

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  10. Very imaginative story, Cynthia! Liked it :)

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  11. Applause for the imaginative and well written story.

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  12. Its how everytime your story astounds me. (though I have read only two :D) but seriously this one is like a hands down winner (if they were giving some toffees :P) what an imagination- as many have already said...

    Richa

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  13. That was such an engaging stort, albeit familiar :-) Goode going Cynthia!

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  14. alibaba 40 thieves - latest remixeed one this is.
    So bful cynthia
    my fav of all for this prompt :)

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