Surreptitious – Episode 13 |
By: Nidheesh Samant |


Dock of Casa Grande, Cayo Fragoso, Cuba. 2018.

It had been slightly more than a day since Ice’s rescue attempt at Mauritius. The private dock made for a calm site in the late hours of the night. Ferries and motorboats were anchored in next to the boardwalk, not swaying in the slightest in the calm sea waves. This serenity was contrasted by the guards stationed along the dock, rifles in hand. A couple of them patrolled the private dock area of Casa Grande, a vintage mansion that stood in a well-hidden part of Cayo Fragoso. The head guard was sitting in the dock office, keeping an eye out on how well his underlings were doing their jobs. The dock office was built at a height, which gave the head guard a good view of his surroundings. Satisfied with the look of things, he sat down in his chair and opened his bottle of rum. He took a large sip expecting to savor the warmth of the drink washing down his throat, but all he could feel was a heavy pressure building there. He suddenly realized that he was being choked. He swung the bottle he was holding expecting it to hit his assailant, but it could only make contact with the air. The head guard could feel his vision darkening. He wanted to scream, but no voice could come out of his mouth. The head guard was then wrenched out from his chair and pinned to the ground. The choke hold on his neck was replaced by the sharp blade of a knife. His vision was still blurry, but he could make out the words being whispered to him

“Stay silent, or else the blade will do it for you.”

The head guard decided to listen to the words spoken to him. After a few seconds, his vision came back to him, and he could see his assailant – a masked man wearing black from head to toe. He could only see the man’s eyes that looked like ice-cold daggers. The masked man moved his head closer to the guard.

“Now, I will ask you a few questions. You will answer them. If you try to resist or raise an alarm, I’ll kill you. If you don’t answer, I’ll kill you. Si?”

The guard could only manage a faint yes.

“Casa Grande is a Jaeger hideout, yes?”

“I do not know about any Jaeger. I work for Senor Leo. He is the owner of the mansion and he hired us to protect the dock from trespassers.”

“I can see you are very good at it. Now, tell me. Did they bring in a prisoner over here, to Casa Grande?”

“Si Si. A few days ago, they brought in an older person. They took him to Casa Grande.”

“Very good. Now, where have they kept him in Casa Grande?”

“Prisoners and trespassers are usually kept in the cellar.”

“How do I get there?”

“There is no way you can get in there. Just go now, and I won’t even report you. If you go up, you will die for sure. I hope you die, pig.”

The masked man landed his fist on the guards face, drawing blood from his nose.

“Wrong answer. You have one more chance. How do I reach the cellar?”

The guard whispered, managing to speak with great difficulty.

“You have to go through the main hall. The main hall is easy to find. The biggest room. It is connected to every bedroom. You can get in using a window. Then go into the hall. The stairway leading to the cellar is behind the double-doors.”

“Good. Now, tell me about the guards.”

“There are multiple well-armed guards stationed around the house. Inside the house, Senor Leo does not usually keep guards. He detests it. However, there are bound to be guards in the cellar, keeping an eye on the prisoner.”

“Not enough. I need to know their pattern of guarding, their breaks, everything.”

“Senor, they do not leave their posts. They only swop their positions every fifteen minutes in a cyclic way.”

“Gracias amigo.”

The masked man withdrew his knife from the head guard’s throat. The head guard let out a sigh of relief, right before another left fist crashed on to his face, knocking him out.

Ice picked up the guard’s body and hid it among the crates lying in the office. He gave a quick look at the dock and disappeared into the bushes. He silently made his way to the mansion, remaining hidden from the sentries. Ice reached a spot from where he could observe the guards. He looked at the mansion. It was huge. Ice could make out only one window, which was on the first floor that had light coming out from it. He guessed it was Leo’s room. Ice scanned for entry points. The mansion was not in a very good state. There were a lot of cracks in the walls and windows. Ice finally eyed a window that was half broken, probably enough for him to squeeze through it. The window stood behind a sentry. Ice figured that his only chance was the position swop. He had to get a sense of how long it took for the next sentry to get here. Ice waited till the sentry in front of the target window started leaving and then began a mental count in his mind. Ice stopped counting when the next sentry came in a position from where he could view the window. Ice had counted ten seconds.

Ten seconds was a small window, but he had no other choice.

Ice waited until it was time for the next shift. As soon as the sentry walked away from the window, Ice approached the target window with silent footsteps, counting down in his mind. He reached the window and realized it was indeed a tough squeeze. Ice pulled his body up using the frame of the window and tilted his lower body sideways. Five. He entered the window, legs first, holding on to the frame for support. Four. His feet could not grasp any support in the room inside. Three. Ice knew he had no choice. He pulled back his body to build momentum. Two. He pushed forward, trying to swing into the room, sideways, twisting his body mid-motion. One. Ice found himself lying on the floor of the room. He managed to get through in time. Ice waited for a few seconds until his eyes adjusted to the darkness. He could see that the room had a bed and a couple of chairs. He sneaked through the room, towards the door leading to the hall. He reached the door and swung it open. The hall looked darker than the bedroom. He walked silently into it. The door swung shut behind him, and before he could react, he felt a strong blow on the back of his head. Ice fell to the ground, unconscious.

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