The Switch by Victor Nandi

There was a high-pitched shriek somewhere. Jack opened his eyes.
        The fading daylight filtered meekly through the dense canopy above. The ground felt moist and mushy.
        Jack rose to his feet, startled. Where was he? Trunks of tall trees soared skyward everywhere. How did he reach there? Jack tried to recall what happened. To his surprise, it was all a blur. He could remember nothing… nothing except his name.
        Jack fumbled inside his pockets and pulled out the cold round object he could feel. A compass! He peered at it under the dim light. The broken unmoving needle stared at him through the shattered glass. He tossed it away with a sigh.
        There was a distant howling somewhere. Night was approaching. He knew there was no time to deal with his confusion. He had to look for shelter first.
        Just then, there was a loud bang somewhere far away and in the next moment, a bullet whizzed past Jack’s left ear. He sank low to the ground. Something told him that they had picked his scent, but he could not recall who.
        There was another shot and a razing pellet tore through the bushes and hit the trunk of a tree a couple of feet above Jack’s head. Before he knew it, he had rolled over the ground and slipped behind a bush.
        It all seemed so familiar and yet beyond the grasp of his memory. Jack peered through the bushes, trying to spot the assailant. It was a sniper for sure. He scanned the surrounding for a potential vantage point. There were hundreds of tall trees hiding behind the partial darkness. The shooter could be anywhere.
        Suddenly, Jack spotted something in the distance. It was a jagged stony extension that rose skyward from the ground like an enormous human finger.
        That place!
        Jack looked at the unusual rock for a moment, and like a flash of lightning, it was all clear to him. The forest, the fading daylight, the broken compass, the gunshot… Jack knew the entire setup. He had seen it several times before. He even knew where the sniper was and he also knew how to take him out. Sitting in front of his gaming console, he had done it on so many occasions. Just that, this time he was at the other side of the screen.

Victor Nandi is a Senior Content Developer with an Indian Edtech Company. His stories have been published in Verdad magazine and Tiger Shark Magazine. He has also won a story competition organised by FirstNaukri, an online job portal.

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