Thursday, 22 June 2017

Maxx Mccullen, You Old Cheeky Bastard!

“There will come a time, as it does once in a billion years that this mortal will possess the power of the universe. And he won’t be gifted this greatness. No. He would have to go through great trials and sacrifices to obtain this immortality. And when he does, he will change the world. But the question is, will he make it a better place or lead it to its impending doom?”

-The Book Of Prophecies.

I want to die! You heard me, I want to die! I can’t stand living anymore! This place is hell I tell you, Hell! It stinks with nothingness and the silence is deafening. Wherever I look, I see emptiness. No matter how hard I scream I hear only the remnants of my own echo. This place is dead. In fact more dead than the 9th circle of hell. I wanna go away from this place. I don’t want my existence to be attached to this cursed land. Please, somebody help me! My name is Maxx Mcullen, and if anybody is out there, I want to tell you that I am still alive and I am the Last Man On Earth! To whomever it may concern, and wherever you are from. If you are an alien just discovering our planet or a human from another dimension. If you find this, know that I tried my best to survive but in the end I gave up. I just had too. But in order to understand why I am only moments away from my death, I need to tell you how it all began. I need to tell you how this beautiful planet which harboured life became the place where only death lingered …

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
-Mahatma Gandhi

It was a beautiful day. Oh it was. The sun was blessing us with it’s warmth. The children were playing in the park with their balloons. Couples of all ages were holding hands, kissing and hugging. It was truly a sight to see. It was like god was making a beautiful painting here on earth. I could feel the cold breeze from the ocean touching my cheeks. I inhaled the air around me and let my body take it all in. I tried not to blink because I wanted to be in this moment forever. Oh, I was finally home. I was finally home because the war was over. I did my time over there and I knew that after the love for country the only thing that mattered to me was the love of the most beautiful woman in this world, my fiancé and soon to be wife, Lindsay Shaw. 

"Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected."
-Robert Frank

Lindsay, my high school sweet heart. I knew I was in love with her the moment I accidentally bumped into her during lunch. Of course she was cursing me and telling me to go to hell ‘cause I had dropped her food but the freckles on her face and that wavy, streaked hair which just came below her neck did the trick for me. I knew I was smitten. After that, for the next 3 months whenever I tried to go and talk to her she would point blank refuse to acknowledge me. If it was english class or during football practice, she never ever even once saw me. I was about to give up but then I decided if I was going to be rejected I rather hear it on my face. And so, the day Prom was announced, I went up to her at the same place where I first bumped into her. She was with her friends, giggling and being oh so freaking beautiful. I turned her around and gazed into her enchanting dark brown eyes and asked her the question every boy is terrified to ask a girl in high school, “Lindsay, Would You Go To Prom With me?” I swear the next 3 seconds felt like an eternity but what she said felt like heaven. She said, “Yes. Pick me up by 7pm? Ok. See ya!” … And since that day, she never ever said no to me, not even once.

"Sometimes it's the smallest decisions that can change your life forever."
-Keri Russell

Today, Me and Lindsay have come to this park because this was the last place we were at before I was shipped. Before leaving I had told her, “Lindsay Shaw, I am going to marry you the moment I get back and I promise you, I will come back. I will cheat death if I have too but I will be back in your beautiful hands and embrace you in a hug so tight you will tell me to let go! And then, I am going to make sweet babies with you and we will have a beautiful family and I will love you until the end of time.” She said Yes with teary eyes and told me to go and fight the good fight and get my sexy toned ass back to her. She knew how to make a man blush. So today, I look into her eyes again for the billionth time and fall in love all over again and I feel blessed that this magnificent woman chose to love me. I hold her face in my hands and kiss her. Kiss her with all my might because for the first time in a very long time I felt that this would be the very last time I would get to do that. 

"Some of our important choices have a time line. If we delay a decision, the opportunity is gone forever. Sometimes our doubts keep us from making a choice that involves change. Thus an opportunity may be missed."
-James E. Faust

I don’t remember what happened after that. I didn’t see any white light. There were no sirens. No bombs fell. No dead came back to life. When I woke up, there was only silence and nothing else. It was like I was stuck in my own home alone movie. Like the entire people of the world decided to leave earth and abandoned me here as Punishment. I couldn’t believe it for a while. I mean the buildings were the same. The lights were still on. Heck, the internet was still working! So why didn’t this make any sense! Where was everybody? I looked for Lindsay everywhere. The phones were working but it was going directly to voicemail. I went to our house and all our stuff was the way we had left it. The plates were in the sink. The clothes were all dried up but there was no trace of Lindsay anywhere. Before the panicked kicked in I thought I was hallucinating or dreaming but when the slaps to my face made me realise I was no longer asleep, pure fear engulfed me! I couldn’t believe this was happening! Was this the rapture? I was an atheist for crying out loud so why was I the only one left behind? It just didn’t make any sense. Or did it?

"We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls."
-Anais Nin

So what does a man do when he is all alone? When that dreaded feeling finally sinks in? Well, he survives. And he hopes that he isn’t the only one out there. And that is what I did. You see I am a Marine. I was trained to live in harsh conditions. Surviving is what we do best. So I started stacking up supplies as that was the first thing on the list. Get all the food you can. Get plenty and I mean plenty of water. And yes, who can forget toilet paper? I never had realised that Vons Supermarket had so much of Food! Luckily for a guy like me who was into Crossfit and a very strict diet regiment, food was only a necessity and not used as a Luxury. While strolling through the aisles of this massive super market, listening to Sorry by Justin Bieber which has been stuck on repeat since no one is there to change it, it felt weird and yet somehow exhilarating to be the only one in the store! If this was before A-Day {Apocalypse Day} I would had told Lindsay to get me the hell out of here as I have had the fear of being locked inside a super store! Lindsay, … I do miss her but I know I must live on for her. No, I didn’t dig an empty grave for her ‘cause as you know, she didn’t die. She just disappeared. Disappeared like the rest of the world. And even though that was a feeling more sad than death itself, I don’t know why I couldn’t shake the thought that this was all my doing. 

"The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out."
-J. R. R. Tolkien

“Give in to me maxx. I know you want too. Just say yes and I will give you the greatness that you seek. Just say yes.” … Why do I hear those words as a whisper? Why do they keep coming back? Is someone talking to me or is it just a dream I can let go off? It puzzles me but when I close my eyes and breathe to 10 and open them again that voice dissipates and what I see is the nothingness. The nothingness that I have gotten used to now … 

"I intend to live forever. So far, so good."
-Steven Wright

So the days, turned into weeks and the weeks eventually turned into months. Since I knew I was literally the only one left alive, ‘cause the emergency radio frequency had zero chatter for which felt like eons, I had to create a pattern, a routine, a time table to keep myself occupied and not go insane. The day started every morning at 5am. The alarm on the iPhone went off and the phone came to life. Since I was also a gizmo freak I found a way to connect the phone, through wifi to the mega home theatre system I installed in the house. The song Stupefy would roar on the gigantic speakers and that sudden burst of electric guitar was the indication that it was a start of a new day. After that it was making my bed and having a strong black cup of coffee. You see, I stay in the valley so the view from here is breath taking. You can see the entire city from here. If this was before A-Day, cars would had already packed the streets and the radio would had been buzzing with the latest tracks. But now, the only sound I hear is the breath I take that oxygen in and it fills my lungs. So after coffee, it is the 5k Run. Yes, I make it a point to run every morning and going up and down the hill is pretty challenging. But I am getting good at it. It takes me only 40mins now to complete my 5k. I know I know, that’s pretty slow for a Marine but hey, I am getting there. Cut me some slack here, I am the only survivor of A-Day! After the run it is the same breakfast everyday, Scrambled Eggs, Fresh Juice and Milk with some Almonds and a Scoop of Whey Protein. Then, I take my bath, face my face, cream myself and read a book. I have a trillion books to choose from now. Then by 12pm I start making preparations for lunch. It’s grilled chicken breast with a nice clean salad, some sweet potatoes and some grilled vegetables. After cleaning the dishes and burping a few times, I see if I am feeling sleepy or not. If I am then I take a 10-20mins power nap or I just watch some documentary on youtube. Did you know it would take an individual more than 275,000 light years to finish viewing every upload on youtube alone! Which means I have loads and loads of content. Al though there isn't any new content out their in the world, the content I see now is quite entertaining for one soul. After that by 4pm I have another shot of Black Coffee and then by 5pm I am at the local Crossfit Box. Yes, training helps me and keeps me distracted. The music is of course through the roof and I myself make the WOD’s {Workout Of The Day}. After sweating and panting and challenging myself with those heavy weights I head back home and take a bath yet again. Since it gets pretty dark at night I have now linked my neighbouring houses with my electrical grid. So when I switch on the lights almost half a block lights up! After bath its time for some Playstation 4. Whether it is Call Of Duty World War II or Days Gone, I am hooked into perfecting my campaign by trying to not even die once. I can’t play multiplayer ‘cause you know. After an hour or two engrossed in that I start making dinner. Dinner is fruits, grilled salmon with lemon squeezed on it. Some mashed potatoes , grilled veggies again and a glass of coke zero as I don't drink alcohol. My cheat day is only on Saturdays so that is why you don’t see me hogging on chips or ice creams. After dinner, it is time for a movie. When I was in Afghanistan, I didn’t know that now mostly all the big networks are on the net! And so, now I have over 5 million episodes of television and nearly 400,000 films to watch! Yes I do sometimes binge watch on a few good shows but the other times I make sure I start a new show altogether and oh yeah, every night from monday to sunday, I watch a movie from a different genre and if I am in the mood for it, an international language film with subtitles. So it’s one episode of a tv show followed by a movie. After that, if I am tired I directly go to bed and if I'm not, I go to the terrace and just gaze at the stars. The pollution of the city still blocks nearly 80% of star light but even then, the view is serene and calm. I talk to them you know. The stars and the planets and the universe. They are like my friends and it feels good to tell them how the day went. But I wonder with astonishment that why don’t I cry? Like I am the only man left on earth so why don’t I tremble? Why am I not sad or depressed? Why is it that every night when I am up here looking into the blackness of the city below, that I have a huge smile on my face …

"Sunlight fell upon the wall; the wall received a borrowed splendor. Why set your heart on a piece of earth, O simple one? Seek out the source which shines forever."

“I am giving you a gift Maxx. A gift given to only one, once in a billion years. I see that darkness in you. I see that void. Say Yes to me and fill it up. Say yes to me and I will never let you go hungry again.” There it is again! Damn it! Who is there? Is some one still alive and playing tricks with me? Why is that voice so familiar? I know I have heard it before. I know it’s trying to tell me something. Something that I have forgotten. Or maybe something I don’t want to remember …

"These are the soul's changes. I don't believe in ageing. I believe in forever altering one's aspect to the sun. Hence my optimism."
-Virginia Woolf

When you are alone, time becomes irrelevant. I have stopped checking calendars and dates some time ago. What I remember is that it has been two summers since A-Day happened. I can say that ‘cause now I cover my 5k in under 20mins and I have achieved the Muscle-Up in Crossfit as well. If you would take a look at me I have veins popping from every muscle of my body and I have changed my hair style and beard look almost 7 times. When you are alone, you are your own fashion guru. And when you are alone you get the freedom to even walk naked at hollywood boulevard and take a selfie at beverly hills. Yes, I have travelled. I car jacked mostly all the cars I could find since I became familiar with that tool in Iraq. I remember it was my 2nd tour over there since the corps said I had exhausted going to Afghanistan so many times. Our platoon was ambushed by insurgents from three sides and we were taking heavy fire. The only way out was through a wall and so I quickly hot wired the truck under a heavy barrage of bullets and praying to god it had the will to function. Thanks to my East L.A. skills the truck came to life and then I rammed that wall to our freedom to live for another day. So I went from L.A. to New York to Washington to Baltimore and almost every city and town I could cover in this big land known as the United States of America. I climbed mountains. Tented at The Grand Canyon and made beaches my home. I was inspired to make friends out of Basket and Volley Balls but I knew, that Tom Hanks already used that idea in Cast Away. So I ditched that idea and started taking a lot of pictures wherever I went. I guess it was like I was making new memories for me after A-Day. But one day, the most astonishing thing happened. I remember I was cutting veggies for myself before dinner time and I accidentally cut my finger. I did feel a shrill which was an indication that the pain of the exposed skin would give in a few seconds along with the blood flow. But as I was trying to suck the blood, I couldn’t feel anything. Like I wasn’t bleeding at all! The skin didn’t cut, the pain wasn’t there and there was no feeling of the blade whatsoever. For a second I shit you not I was in disbelief. I mean, how can I not be bleeding right now? And so I did the next obvious crazy thing. I took the blade and cut myself again but my skin didn’t cut! I tried several more times but the result was the same. My brain wasn’t working and wasn’t giving me the right signals to function so I tried to amp up my crazy impenetrable skin rush. I tried burning myself, I didn’t burn. I tried stabbing myself, that didn’t work either. I even tried jumping off a 5-story building but that didn’t kill me either! And then when every source of killing myself was used up I went to the Gun store and filled the 12-Gauge Shotgun and pointed straight to my face. I knew that this would do the trick. I closed my eyes, inhaled and squeezed the trigger. The shock wave of the sound threw me out of the chair and I could hear the windows of the shop crack. But when I opened my eyes I could still breathe and blink and move. Yes, I was still alive! Then suddenly it happened. That thought, that lingering thought at the back of my head. It came. And then suddenly, it all made sense. I knew why this all happened. Why I was the man who made every living organism disappear into nothingness.

We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right. 
-Nelson Mandela

I remember. I remember how this all happened. I remember everything. Ever since I was a kid, adventure was in my blood. Whether it was trying to be the best in sports or topping the class with Straight A’s, I always was challenging myself. It was one achievement after the next. And I conquered it all. I knew I was unstoppable and that one day I would change the world. That is why my hand was always raised when the teacher asked to submit our homework or when the principal asked for a student to volunteer for extra hours in school or when Lindsay dared me to jump off a 100 feet cliff right into the ocean. Adventure and thrill was always a part of me. And that is why I joined the Marines. To know that I would be in a constant war with the enemy was exhilarating! To have a war that never ends! What could be more magical than that? 

If you don't change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news? 
-W. Somerset Maugham

One day when me and my platoon were doing recon in the outskirts of Fallujah, we were struck by a threatening ambush of more than 80 insurgents! The bullets just started coming from all sides and we were clearly outgunned! Our radio got it and we were sitting ducks. My Marines were stone cold war machines and I had faith in them that they would protect each other and somehow push through. But after nearly 600 rounds of bullets and grenades and dodging and evading, me, being the platoon leader somehow knew that we won’t be getting out of this alive. And then, it happened. Rick, my 2nd in command got hit on the shoulder and was down. I saw him fall down hard and the first thing I did was try to stop the blood. The medic was on the other side of the road trying hard to lay in cover behind the debris of the walls that were about to tumble down any second. I was telling Rick to stay strong and just hold on. I knew he needed immediate medical attention otherwise the blood loss would be his death. And then suddenly I heard a buzz on the satellite phone! That damn thing still had life in this god forsaken place! I got hold of the base and told them to send immediate reinforcements. I told them send them all! The air strike, the artillery, everything! We were under heavy fire! Base got the coordinates of our locations and within the next 50 seconds the entire area was bombarded with artillery shells! Within the next minute the Bad Boy, our Gunship circling above hit the ground with heavy J-Bombs and after that, all we could see was dust and ruble. We got those sons of bitches and we made them meet their maker! The platoon cheered and hurrayed in excitement and within the next 10mins the EMT’s arrived and took Rick back to Base. He was going to make it. I was ordering my platoon to head back to base ‘cause I knew we had enough of action for one day and this one was a close call. I was almost in the seat of the Humvee when I remembered that during the gunfight, Rick accidentally dropped his utility bag. I told the Marine sitting at the steering wheel to give me a sixty {one minute} to go and get it. He did as ordered with gum in his mouth. The bag was easy to find but just when I was about to pick it up I heard a sound, like a bullet breaking the sound barrier and after a second I felt a sting in my chest. I was trying to make my hands find the source of the pain but then suddenly everything was fading away. A moment later I could only faintly hear the marines scream my name but other than that I couldn’t understand what they were saying. And after that it was just blackness. And in that blackness is when I made the choice … the choice to live forever.

Sad things happen. They do. But we don't need to live sad forever. 
-Mattie Stepanek

When I opened my eyes, all I could see was white. No noice. No air. No sound. Just white. Wherever I turned my eyes, there was nothing but the whiteness. I knew I was dead but I didn’t know that when you die you see this whiteness. I thought it was the blackness and a void. But this felt calm for some reason. And then, I tried to speak but I couldn’t hear my voice. Like someone pressed the mute button on me. And then suddenly from a far, I could see a figure approaching me. This entity wasn’t running or howling or coming at me with a blade. It was just walking towards me, like it had all the time in the world. And after what I thought was 5mins here on earth, I saw who it was. It was a man. An old man, maybe in his 70’s. Well, a man who looked very fit at 70. He had a nice thick salt and pepper beard and a nice set of white hair. I had to admit, this man certainly had a personality. When he was nearly 10 feet away from me I tried to move back but couldn’t as my feet were planted on the ground, like I was submerged in concrete. When this man came close to me is when I noticed that he had no eyes. Only a nothingness covering the space where his eyes should had been. He just came close to me and stared. I have never been afraid of anything my entire life but today after death had taken me, looking at this man I was truly afraid. After what felt like a millennia the man finally spoke. “Maxx, you are dead. You died because you were meant too. And if you are wondering who I am? Well, I am the Reaper and I am here to collect your soul and wager your sins. it is time for your judgement. I was awestruck by what he just said and I don’t know but something in me refused to accept what he said and then I opened my mouth, knowing I had no voice but tried anyways. And when I did that I could feel a vowel forming at the tip of my tongue and that is when I knew that I could finally speak and so I said, “No! I will not allow you to take my soul! I am not meant to die this soon! I am only 30 years old dammit! There is so much more that I wanna do! No! You can’t take me right now! I refuse!” I knew that the repercussions for my outburst would be severe but then the most unlikely thing happened. The reaper just gazed into me and said, “They said you would say that.” And he followed that with a sly smile. And I said, “Excuse me? Who said that? What are you talking about?”. “The gods said it Maxx. You see, they have been watching you since the time you were born. They always knew that you were the one. The one who would make the Prophecy come true.” I was completely out of sync by this time but then the Reaper continued saying,”Maxx, you were always the chosen one. Deep down, in your bones, in your cells, in the fibre of your soul, you knew it yourself that you were one day meant for greatness. And no love, no friendship, no achievement could ever compete with the burning fire you had within you. You knew that one day a time would come when you would have to choose. Choose between a life of simplicity, with Lindsay and your kids and that perfect white picket fence or the Greatness that you truly desire, no matter what the cost would be. Am I not right?” “Yes, … Yes, you are. I … I always wanted more from this world. I always wanted more from my own life. I knew that this wasn’t it. That there was something more out there waiting for me to grab and make it mine. I always knew that one day I would finally become Legendary.” “Well Maxx, now is your chance. In front of you are two doors. The door on the left will lead to paradise where Lindsay awaits you. At least a form of hers. And there you can live a life of pure bliss and harmony. A life which you think will be as real as living. A life, which a man like you truly deserves. And on the right is the door which takes you back to the living. But there is a catch, when you wake up, you won’t remember that we met or the things we spoke about and the deal you made with the gods. But I promise one day soon the time will come when you will finally remember how you came about in the new world and then every thing will make sense to you. And before you give me an answer, the Gods already know which door you will choose. They know you will choose the Door on the Right.” I literally had no words to say. I just looked at him and smiled and for some weird reason I hugged him. I hugged him tight and embraced him with a feeling of pure gratitude. And then I walked towards the door on the right and opened it. Just when I was about to go through it, the Reaper told me something that I didn’t expect. He said, “Maxx, before you walk through that door, it is my duty to ask you again to choose wisely. No matter whatever the gods say, you need to know what happens once you go through that door. You will pay the heaviest price any man has ever paid. You will be cursed and gifted at the same time. You will regret and rejoice forever. There won’t be a single moment when you won’t feel alone and complete at the same exact moment. Your memories will always be there but there will be nothing you can do to make them go away. What you ask today is the ultimate form of greatness. The stuff legends are made off. But no one will be there to see you gain that aura. You will always be alone but always in a state of adventure and thrill. And yes, you will never die, no matter how much you will want it one day.” I listened to every word he said and then told him, “I am counting on it.” And then I the only thing I remember was that I was in the hospital bed at the base and I was alive!

We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will. 
-Chuck Palahniuk

Yes, you can call me a monster. You can call me the bringer of death. Hell, you can call me the purest personification of evil itself! But trust me, I know why I made this choice! Look at me! I am indestructible! I cannot die! I am immortal and I will live forever and now I have the entire world as my kingdom! The gods gifted me this power! To create a new! To be the only one left standing! I am Maxx Mccullen and I am the man who cheated death! That guilt of dying is not there anymore. Not when I know I am the cause of all this! I am the reason no one is here. This place is my home now. The gods knew I would make this choice. That my life was meant for something more than falling in love and making friends and living for others. My life was meant to be of Greatness, no matter what the cost was! The Maxx who began this story, isn’t the same Maxx who is going to finish it. That Maxx was the mere shadow, a dying grace of the man I once used to be. But after nearly 3 years living alone, I can tell you, it feels amazing! I know now what my purpose is! My purpose is the bring meaning to the gift that I have been given. Not to cry in remorse of the choice I made but to make the most of the man that I can be with the immorality that I have been given. I know one day the lights won’t work. The Nuclear plants will explode and the food will run out. But that day isn’t today and until that day comes I will make this life a beautiful one. I will make a life of greatness! So I say again to whomever it is out there, I am Maxx Mccullen and I am the Man Who Changed The World! I am the Man who lived Forever!

This is Me, Mahaakshay Chakraborty and this was a story about a man named Maxx Mccullen. Maxx Mccullen, … That Old Cheeky Bastard!

With All My Might,

Your No.1 Fan,

Mahaakshay Chakraborty.


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Code Name: Reaper ...

“We have seen them all. We have seen the tyrants and the healers. We have seen the monsters and the gods. But never have we seen a specimen like this. A man so relentless, so focused that even ‘The Higher Ones’ fear his power. He is like no other. He is truly The Chosen One.”

-The Book Of Prophecies.

The weather is beautiful today. The wind is in a playful mood as it touches my cheeks and withers away. It teases me to come and play with it. The sun and the tress are in a quarrel of their own. The trees as tall as buildings with leaves greener than the garden of eden are not allowing the rays to come through. But eventually, with it’s brute force, the rays win and pierce through the leaves and remind me with their warmth that there is only true dominant force that governs us all. Below in the plains I see the HVT. {High Value Target} He is sitting in his lazy boy chair and smoking his favourite cuban cigars. He does that everyday sharp at 4pm. The HVT is a man of strict habit. I would know that ‘cause I am just like him. But the only difference between me and him is that I have my finger at the trigger and he has his on his cigar. I am hidden well under the trees and the brown soil below me gives me the perfect cover. I have three different variants of the Camo Suit. {Camouflage Gear} And today I have chosen the Desert Camo Gear so I blend in with mother nature. While the sunlight is almost heavenly today it is also my greatest asset as below no one can suspect where the shot will come from. The sound of the bullet will be echoed throughout the valley but no one will be able to pinpoint the actual location of the shot. And by the time they do, I will be long gone. I notice the HVT is having a laugh with his men. Men covered in masks and who carry AK Machine Guns. There weren’t any lip-reading classes back in BUD/S {Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal Training} but if there was an option I would had taken it. Maybe I would had laughed along with these men. But for the last 3 months, laughter isn’t something I associate myself too that well. For the last 3 months I have been here, behind enemy lines in a place too classified to even mention. That part of the world where humanity died long before humans ever existed. A country torn by civil war and people like the HVT who picked up the remaining pieces and corrupted men and children into joining his crusade to free the world of the west. For many people here he is like a hero, a icon, a messiah even. But I know what evil looks like. And that HVT over there, he is the impersonation of pure evil. 

"'T is strange that death should sing.
I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,
Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death,
And from the organ-pipe of frailty sings
His soul and body to their lasting rest."

-William Shakespeare

Who am I you ask? My name is Max Shepherd. A cali boy. Born and raised near the ocean with loving parents who left me a long time in a drunk driver accident. Al though I am right now telling you all about this ‘Classified’ mission I am actually a very shy, soft-spoken guy who talks only when necessary. In other words I am more of an observer. If you don’t believe you can ask the friends I had back home in California who used to call me Max ‘The Mute’ ‘cause I hardly spoke. I sometimes wonder why they were so kind to me and always included me in their group. This one time, before any of this. Before the enlistment, before the realisation of the journey a boy needs to take to become a man, my friends dragged me to this party at the beach which I had no interest to go too. But there, in the twilight of the night, right at the shore line, where the waves come and merged with the grains of sand, I saw the woman whom I fell in love with the moment I laid eyes on her. Her name was Lindsay Emerson and she was studying at the University of San Diego taking up Biophysics. When she looked at me and gave me that smile, I never guessed that in a million years that a beauty like Lindsay would go out with a quiet jock like me. She was truly an angel and it was the most beautiful date I had ever been too. Before I dropped her off I went in for a kiss while trying to hug her and she being the smarty she was, chuckled and told me, “Silly, that isn’t how you kiss a girl.” And then she kissed me and I swear to god it was like the fourth of july! And after that we never looked back. We become the couple everyone loved and all knew that very soon I would go on my knees and ask her the most important question of any bachelor’s life. But you see, life isn’t always how we think it to be. It was at that point of time the war broke out and our country needed men to enlist and show those evil bastards that tyranny won’t have the last laugh. And I knew I had to enlist. Even though Lindsay didn’t agree I knew it in my gut, like a calling that I had to be there, fighting for freedom. And then just like that everything changed forever. 

"Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once."

-William Shakespeare

It was 3 years ago when I enlisted for the Marines. Our country needed her young men and women to stand up and fight and to be Marine and serve your country, was the greatest honour of them all. And the moment I walked inside those doors I knew it in my bones that it was a marine that I was meant to become. And so, my journey with the Marines began. All those days at Camp Pendleton truly took me to the limit. Day in and day out we trained. In the dirt, in the rain, in the mud and in the heat, we pushed and pushed until we had nothing left to give. And when our bodies gave up, our drill sergeant made us push harder. After all, the Marines Are The Few, The Proud. And after those gruelling 13 weeks I was a Proud Marine. And I was no longer Max ‘The Mute’ Shepherd either. It was like something in me woke up. like a beast who had gone for a long hibernation. Lindsay didn’t come for my inauguration. A part of me knew she wouldn’t. She was against the war and also she told me she won’t support me going ‘Over There’. She said I was making a mistake. “It isn’t like you have to enlist! You can be here with me. You can be safe. I don’t want to loose you. I don’t want that man in uniform knocking at my door and telling me with his grieving eyes that your husband died while fighting for his country. I don’t want that Max. I faced that horror with my dad. I can’t go through it again with you. I won’t allow that.” That was the last thing she told me before she hung up the phone. I knew I heard her sobbing. But she being the stubborn woman she was, she didn’t wanted to admit it. She didn’t know that if she would had come that day I would had put a ring on her finger and would had told her how much I loved her. But I didn’t get that opportunity. You see, I have come to realise that people do get to fall in love but the fire in them always reminds them that they are meant for bigger much greater things. 

"A person doesn't die when he should but when he can."

-Gabriel García Márquez

We were deployed the moment I got my badge and I was part of the MARSOC {Marine Corps Special Forces}. Marines as you know it are one of the finest breeds of warriors on the planet. We go where the action is and we went and took care of the missions that were bestowed upon us. For the next 3 years since I said my 1st “Oorah” we overcame every obstacle. But it was when I was is Fallujah that I realised that the powers above had something else planned for me. We were fighting back the insurgency in the city and we knew that within the next 48 hours the city would be free of the imperial forces. I was by that time promoted to Lance Corporal {LCpl} from Private First Class {PFC}. Our mission was to clear three blocks of buildings which intelligence indicated to be enemy strongholds. The mission was going smooth. Barge in, check, double check and then onto the next building. Since I was in charge of the mission I was first in, last out, just how I liked it. But then, when we were in the last building that strange gut feeling started tingling inside of me. Like the ‘spidey’ sense spider-man gets. Even though that ‘instinct’ was growing, I shook it off and started approaching the building. I was only 25 feet away from the main door when I felt the wind move and my eyes went to the building right across and there I saw an insurgent with a RPG {Rocket Propelled Grenade} and he had me on his sights. Even though my reaction time would had kicked in, I knew I wouldn’t survive the impact. But just a mili-second later, which felt like an eternity I heard the sound of a bullet and before you knew it, the insurgent’s head was splattered in two and the entire platoon cheered and howled like wolves. It was at that time my eyes locked with the Navy Seal Sniper that saved my life and I knew from that moment on, my life would never be the same again.

"Death is the king of this world: 'tis his park
Where he breeds life to feed him. Cries of pain
Are music for his banquet."

-George Eliot

The moment I came back form my 3rd tour in Iraq I went and visited the Navy Seals Centre. The recruiter told me that to be a Navy Seal was one of the most privileged things a man can do. But only if a man can survive it’s brutal training. I loved being a Marine but that voice inside of me sang a different tune now and I knew that it wanted me to be a Navy Seal Sniper. Without wasting another moment I signed up to enlist as a Navy Seal and the recruiter told me that my training would begin in 3 weeks. Since I had no time to waste the first thing I did was inform my chain of command with the marines that I am trying to be a Seal Sniper. “You are one of the finest soldiers I know Max. I will hate to loose you. But if this is something that you wanna do, then God Speed to you son.” And then I gave him my salute and my last “Oorah” and walked away. Lindsay and me were not in the best of terms during this period. But when I had made that phone call from Iraq and told her I was coming home, I sensed that she still loved me and was delighted to see me back, al though she didn’t wanted to admit it. That night, after we made love and were having our candle light cheeseburgers dinner I told her that I would be enlisting again. But this time, as a Navy Seal and eventually become a Sniper. I have never seen her so torn. Here was this woman who loved me yet was hurt by the fact that I would be going away again. “What will it take me to stop this Max? When will you ever feel complete with me? Will I never be enough for you? Do you love war that much that you are killing the one thing that makes us stronger? Why are you pushing me away?” And I told her something I didn’t expect ever sharing with anyone. I said, “I love you Li. You are the love of my life. There is no other who can ever take that place. But I just can't shake this feeling. This feeling inside of me that I have to fight. That I have to give every evil in this world what it deserves. I have to be out there in the fight. And I know even though you and me can have the perfect world here and one day grow old and see our children become lovely human beings, I know in my heart that this is something that I have to do. And I am sorry for that. I am so sorry.” The next day when I woke up I saw a letter in the bed. It read, “I will always love you. But now I have come to realise that you are a fighter and you will always be whole and complete when you are fighting. Good bye Max.” After that, I didn’t care to wipe off the tears which were rolling down my cheeks. I didn’t care when I screamed out so loud that my lungs hurt. I didn’t care to clean the floor of the glasses I broke ‘cause after the world of hurt I felt and the sense of loneliness had engulfed me I sensed a feeling I didn’t feel before. I felt a deep sense of desire. A burning passion. A quest. An invoking. And when I saw my reflection in the mirror I didn’t see the boy who was called ‘The Mute’ but I saw a man who knew what had to be done. At that point I knew it in my bones that I truly was chosen to be something more than just a man. I was meant to be a Sniper.

"While man is growing, life is in decrease;
And cradles rock us nearer to the tomb.
Our birth is nothing but our death begun."

-Edward Young

“Give me 50 push-ups! Come on you little piece of shit! Get a move on! You wanna be a Seal? You want to be the best in the world? Then get on the ground and smell the dirt and give me those god-damn push-ups!” That is what I heard on the 1st day of my Training at Seal School. To be a Navy Seal you have to have heart. Like a fortitude of a Lion. It has been said that more than thousands apply to be a Seal. But on day one itself 90% of candidates walk over to the bell with a beaten heart and quit. In fact, during ‘Hell Week’ the drill sergeants keep telling the men to quit ‘cause quitting will be much more easier than to bare the pain of training which awaits them. But thanks to my Marine Training, I pushed through. But it wasn’t easy. Well, nothing great is ever easy. After I survived ‘Hell Week’ I knew things were about to get only tougher and more challenging but whenever the pain had gotten unbearable that voice inside of me always reminded me who I truly was and what was needed to be done. Over the next 24 weeks, me and my batch mates went through the most hellish training the human body and mind can endure. That was needed in order to pass through the BUD/S Training. But that wasn’t enough. I wanted to be a sniper and there were times when my fingers tensed and longed to pull the trigger when I use to hear gunshots in the distance. Even though it was tempting to go and see the pros at work at the range I knew one day I would be there firing those bullets instead of just looking at them. One weekend, sometime in-between the training we all were given an off to go and splurge and enjoy in the city. Many of my batch mates had wives and girlfriends and some of them just wanted to go to bars and get drunk, and so as the leave was granted not one was left at the bunker station. Well, no one except me. I decided to stay. You know by now I had no one waiting for me in the city and second of all, I wanted to go back to training. It wouldn’t had made me a sniper right there and then but I longed for the challenge of training. The more I trained, the more I calmer and focused I got. And the pain of not having Lindsay in my life was used as a tool to ignite my performance. My Drill Sergeant, Sgt. Lance Mitchell saw me doing the 5k early on saturday morning on the grounds and called me over. “Come take a walk with me Max.” In all my weeks here I never heard him a say a word which sounded ‘Normal’. Hearing that sentence from him surely started an excitement in me. The weather was perfect on this saturday morning at Coronado, CA and in the distance the pelicans were playing catch with each other and the waves were being mischievous. For a while we walked in silence and then finally the Lieutenant spoke. “Do you know what I see when I see you Max? I see a Boy becoming a Man. I see a man who has this tremendous hunger and energy. You really have it in you to become a Seal Max.” “Thank you sir.” I said, as those were the only words that came out of my mouth. “But do you know what makes you special Max? I sense a great darkness in you. A Darkness which normalcy can’t contain. Maybe that is why you became a Marine. Maybe that is why you are here wanting to become one of the most elite of the elite.” “Sir, I don’t know what to say. I … I feel, I know deep within in my bones, in my soul that fighting is what I was born to do. Before the war, before the enlistment, it felt like I was just existing. But ever since I learned how to fight, I felt I became alive!” The LT smiled and said, “Many men live ordinary lives because they think that just by getting by and not pushing themselves, or challenging obstacles or taking risks they will be happy. But I have believed in all my years of living that a man can only be complete when he faces his fears, when he pushes through the barrier of pain, when he is ready to sacrifice everything to achieve his goal. And I believe you are that man.” “I promise I won’t let you down sir. In fact sir, if I have permission to say, I really want to become a Navy Seal Sniper.” “It’s like you are reading my mind Max. I was just about to say that as soon as your BUD/S Training gets completed I want you to apply for Sniper School and I also do believe you will be a great sniper. A sniper needs his soul to be sold to the Reaper in order to take out his targets from far away distances.” “Reaper sir?”. “Yes, the Reaper. You know, like The Grim Reaper. The Grim Reaper is associated with Death. He is the Monster sent from hell to collect the souls of the damned. He comes without warning and once he has sights locked on you, not even god can stop him. A Sniper is very much like a Reaper. He is a Lethal Weapon of Justice. His bullet comes from nowhere and puts an end to the enemy who has no idea that his end is only a mere seconds away.” “That’s a great way to put it sir.” “Yes, it is. I would know ‘cause I was a Sniper once. And now go and do another 5k and meet at the weapons range.” “Sir! Yes Sir!” When I started that run, I felt a deep sense of happiness. Like it was flooding over me. It was an answer from the universe showing me that every decision that I have taken till now has been absolutely right. And before the cool wind came and touched my face I also had another realisation … I just had found my codename. It would be Code Name: Reaper.

"Since the day of my birth, my death began its walk.
It is walking toward me, without hurrying."

-Jean Cocteau

“Reaper, this is 2-1 Actual. Do you Copy?”. “Yes, 2-1, this is Reaper. Hearing you loud and clear. Over.” “Can we have a status update? Over.” “Yes 2-1. I am right now at the designated location. I have the HVT in my sights. It is a Go. I repeat the mission is a Go. Do I have your orders to comply? Over.” “Yes Reaper, your request is approved. Proceed with the mission. Contact again from the exfil position. Good luck. Over and Out.” It has been 3 years since that day at the beach. Three years since the word Reaper dawned on me. And three years since I ever thought I had any ounce of normalcy left in me. The generals and the majors and the captains call me The Reaper for a reason. It is not just a call sign for me. They say I am cold and deadly and like a demon I am truly the taker of souls. Some even call me The death Machine. A Punisher of sorts. The man who was truly made for war. That is what I have heard. They say the enemy has a bounty on my head. Something like 300,000 dollars and 350,000 if I am captured alive so they can execute me on live television. But since the time I fired my first .50 cal bullet, not once have I missed a target. Somethings are just meant to be. I know I was destined to be a sniper but I never knew that I would become the most feared and lethal sniper in American History. I’ve heard many stories about me. Some of which are true and some which are just pure fantasy. The young cadets sometimes even have the courage to come and ask me how it is to kill a person, I simply tell them, “It’s as easy as breathing.”. I agree, I sometimes must have projected to be strict and tough and would have that ‘No-Time-To-Give-A-Flying-Fuck’ face but I was like that or maybe I am still that way ‘cause I love what I do and I take my job very very seriously. Maybe that is why even after 3 years I don’t have people I can call my friends or family. Maybe that is why I never could find a connect with a person or any human emotion which binds us together. Maybe that is why I have been alone. Maybe that is why I am cut off from the world and always looking for another mission, another target, another war to be a part off. I guess the beast inside of me always wants feeding ‘cause for some reason he never gets fulfilled with the death I give him. No matter how many men I kill, no matter if the kill count has now reached upto 1,200, the beast inside of me wants more and more. Maybe that is why I am out here, behind enemy lines. I guess there is a rush in this. There is a thrill which love or friendship can never give me. And even though there are times when I feel those moments of ‘What ifs?’ I know when I pull the trigger and see the scumbag in my sights take his last breath, everything in the world makes sense. I heard Lindsay moved on and got married recently. I am happy for her. I wanted to wish her personally but I know she wouldn’t want to talk to me. I still have her ring though. It is a constant reminder of the one thing that really meant so much to me.The one thing that I gave up to be here. That knowingness makes me feel stronger. I wouldn’t disagree with you, sometimes it gets very lonely. But all men who become wolves have to wander the jungle alone. Greatness has a price. I know that more than anyone else.

"And I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death."

-Walt Whitman

I adjust the scope for the very last time. The wind is perfect. I inhale a long breath and see the HVT. He also inhales from his cigar. I wait for him to blow the smoke out. The moment he does, I gently pull the trigger. Within a matter of a second, I see bullet pierce through his head and a fraction later his body is on the ground with the fragments of his brains every where. His personal guards go into a state of shock. They start yelling and within a few seconds later the emergency siren rings. I learnt one thing in sniper school and that is to never underestimate your enemy so instead of giving them the time to even guess where I am, as a surprise I planted some C-4 Explosives all around the facility to go off in sequence. You know, to create a diversion. And the moment I press the button on the remote control, the C-4s, perfect as clockwork start going off one after the other. By this time the whole base has come alive. Guards and soldiers are in a state of disarray. They don’t know what to do or from whom to take orders from. Some men get into their jeeps and drive off towards the blasts, while some stand where they are too scared to do anything. The mission was a success. The HVT is down and now it is time for me to reach the exfil. By now, the blasts must have been the signal to the satellites above that my mission was a success and within 30mins the heli would be waiting for me for my extraction whether I make it there or not. I am right now in radio silence so I don’t give the enemy a way to find my signal and location. I go back to base. Make sure nothing is left behind and just to be sure rig the entire cave with C-4. I give it one last look. This cave was my home for the last 3 months. And then I head out. When I am about 500 metres away I press the button and the entire caves collapses with the might and sound of the explosives. I reach the extraction point and within minutes the heli arrives. It lands and come out the navy seals on board who are ordered to bring me back home. They do as told. I give them the thumbs-up that I am ok and we are ready to move. The heli roars its engines and we are in the air. After a while with my rifle still in my hand and my hands still twitching for another mission as glorious as this, one of the seals comes upto and asks, “How was it?” and I tell him, “It was as easy as breathing.”

"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death."

-Revelation 6:8

This is Me, Mahaakshay Chakraborty and this is the Story of The Reaper.

With All My Might,

Mahaakshay Chakraborty.