Brothers

by - July 27, 2018


The past abduction of his little brother had always haunted him. So when his brother was taken again, of course he made sure the perpetrator would cease to exist this time.





Pain, a sharp pain twisting into his temple. Iskandar winced when he opened his eyes. Pitch black, until a dim fuzzy light came into view in a distance. He squinted hard but it refused to focus. He shook his head stiffly, only to feel nothing on the bridge of his nose. His thick glasses were missing which meant he was a blind man now.

Where was he? One minute he was at the hotel lobby, calling Hamzah then -

“We have your little brother, Inspector Iskandar,” announced his assailant.

When Hamzah was taken the first time, they were playing ‘catching’ in their grandmother’s yard. A masked man had suddenly grabbed him because the gates were carelessly opened. Only four years old then, too small and vulnerable, his little brother could not even struggle when his mouth was covered. And ten-year-old Iskandar could only stand in shock.

Now, Iskandar shifted, struggling to stand, realising too late it was a mistake. His arms and legs had been tied. The sudden movement sent an electrifying current of pain into his being. He fell forward instantly, smashing his cheek onto the ground. Cold, smooth concrete. Nature has rich soils for a ground. Man prefers to slab things up with concrete. They were in building, he concluded quickly. Was his brother nearby?


1




He tried pulling the knots apart. Useless, they were dead ones. Yet the ropes felt too soft. They didn't eat into his skin. If he had enough strength, he could have probably pulled himself loose. If he had enough sleep, he could have taken down this asshole in minutes, tied or not. He had been on a difficult case of a serial child abductor for the past week. And now, his little brother -

“Easy, if you hurt yourself, you can’t save him,” mocked the deep voice.

Back then, Hamzah’s abductor had a deep voice too. He had laughed under his mask, mocking him too. When panic finally set in, Iskandar had screamed his lungs out, surprising the man, forcing him to sprint off with his brother into the nearby forest. He remembered then the powerful hammering of his heart as he gave chase.

Calm down, calm down, Iskandar told himself. Back then, as a boy, he had acted purely on instincts. Now, he was a trained officer. He inhaled deeply, slowing down the loud heartbeats in his ears. As the thunderous panic finally diminished, he listened.

His culprit’s voice sounded muffled, possibly disguising it with a mask. But Iskandar could tell he was in his early twenties by his light intonation and hurried speech. The eagerness of youth in everything they do. He wasn’t the perp from his serial case.

“Hey, you playing dead, man?”

The muffled voice was louder now, echoing around him. A voice would sound muted if they were in a small tight space. Echoes meant space. There was an abandoned warehouse near the hotel. He shifted slightly. Soft music in a distance confirmed it. His family, waiting at the hotel, hadn’t noticed his disappearance. There hadn’t been any police sirens or any other human voices nearby. Only the rustling of leaves outside.

When he had ran after Hamzah’s abductor back then, tree branches had whipped hard on his face. There had been others helping him. The police might have been called. But he couldn't really tell. He only remembered his breaths growing hotter with anger at himself then at the man until he wasn’t afraid anymore, not even when the culprit had suddenly stopped and faced him.


2




Heavy footsteps drew closer. Now, Iskandar was pulled to his feet. The grip was strong enough to lift him off the ground. Iskandar spat at his assailant but he must have missed. The damn bastard was laughing now.

“If you wanna see him again, you gotta play a game with me.”

He was silent.

The forest had grown strangely still back then too. He had no plan when he ran after his brother. But he knew his anger had turned into a silent rage, building a strange calmness within him too.

“Hey, you listening, man?”

In the soft dim light, Iskandar squinted, trying to size up his assailant. He was already 1.75 metres tall and weighed just right for that. So being easily lifted off the ground meant this fella was possibly taller, stronger and bulkier. But there was a hint of coppery smell from the guy. Blood? He sniffed further. The pungent smell of Deep Heat, a pain relief spray to numb injuries. A fighter? A brawler?

Iskandar struggled suddenly, causing the man to let go. He fell hard on the ground again. This time he tasted blood in his mouth.

“Man, why did you do that? See, now you’re hurt.”

Hairy arms grazed his face as Iskandar was pulled up again. He was held against a hard wall by a heavy hand. Then a whine of metal hinges grated on his pain further. He winced at a sudden brightness to his vision. A door was opened now.

“I’ll give you a ten-second head start to find him. If you fail, you both get it," warned the culprit, loosening his knots.

Whatever happened to him, Iskandar didn’t care. His brother was more important. So back then, he didn't think of the consequences. He had picked up a large rock by his feet. With a Basmalah and all his strength, he threw it hard at the kidnapper's head and dashed forward.


3




Like now, he didn't think much either. When the knots came lose, Iskandar pushed himself off the wall, slamming his shoulder against the culprit to the opposite wall. There was a satisfying grunt of pain from the large mass of body. As he rushed aside, the monster slid onto the floor. Quickly, he untied his legs. Large towels, he frowned, plain towels had sealed his movements.

“Why, you!”

He remembered Hamzah’s abductor yelling at him just like that. His large rock had hit him on target. But before he could react further, Iskandar had rammed ahead, tumbling the man over a fallen tree trunk. Quickly, he grabbed his brother and ran.

Now Iskandar was running too. When in fear, others would have run away. But no, he was made tougher by experience and dedication to his job. He ran towards the problem. Without his glasses, he was like a blind lion facing an elephant’s rampage. But he was still a lion.

So quickly, he lowered himself. Just in time too as the huge torso slammed into him like a tonne of bricks. He lost his breath for a short second but held on to the thick waist. Years of training at the police dojo had made him agile. So effortlessly, he turned the heavy force around, lifting the monstrous body then throwing it hard onto the floor.

However, he didn’t see those big hands shooting up under his thigh. The brawler easily pushed him right off despite being on the ground. The wind was knocked out of him instantly. He expected another heavy blow. But none came.

He turned, squinting at the brightness from the open door. A hunched dark shape was sprinting off. The bloody bastard was actually running away. He hadn’t said where his little brother was. What made him think he could get away?

Iskandar chased him.


4




By then, the police had arrived, immediately apprehending Hamzah's abductor. He hadn’t realized then he had hugged his little brother so hard, making him even harder. That night, they had slept together, hugging each other tight, still traumatised. A good thing Mom had eased their fears with her soothing voice. He had made a promise then to always protect his little brother no matter what.

Iskandar was keeping that promise now. His assailant hadn’t gone far. Heavy, clumsy footfalls were breaking twigs and leaves until finally they stopped. He found the culprit, hunched over, hands on his knees, already winded.

“No, wait, stop - ” A large hand was held up in surrender, mask taken off.

But Iskandar had already lunged forward. A blow on the solar plexus. A hard slap on the chest. Both down on the ground. Arms, legs and hands struggled to grip the other, trying to reign dominance. But the man was a skilled fighter as Iskandar was twisted into a sleeper hold.

“Calm down, bro. Listen to me!”

Again, another mistake as the fighter's hold came loose.  Instantly, Iskandar broke free, twisting around. His long legs immediately grabbed the fighter's neck. Once secured between his thighs, he hit the head hard until it turned an ugly red. Now, maybe he would tell where his brother was.

“Stop, stop,” pleaded the red face.

“Where is my brother?” Iskandar finally spoke.

“Right - right here.”

What the hell was the moron talking about?

“Here - here, take them.”


5




A large hand held up his glasses. Still gripping him, Iskandar secured them to their rightful place. His vision finally aligned. The red, disgusting face, sweating and panting hard, salivating by the mouth, finally came into focus. He loosened his thighs but still not letting go, he jabbed an eye hard.

“Hey, ow, ow, ow. Stop that.”

Iskandar finally let go. For a good measure, he kicked the big pile of muscles back onto the ground. The monster grunted in pain.

“Welcome back, Hamzah,” he greeted.

“Great to be back, bro. Hey, that was a good kick. I thought you’d be slacking without me around,” said Hamzah.

“You look like shit.”

“Same for you. Looks like it runs in the family, huh? Didn’t expect you to hit me so hard. Damn, bro, didn’t know you love me that much.”

Iskandar glared.

“Oh, come on, come here, you!” cried Hamzah, thick arms wide open.

He was hugged tight. His little brother towered over him, twice his size and much stronger than him now. No kidnapper could whisk him away anymore. Iskandar returned the embrace hard too.

“Remind me not to mess with you again. They weren’t joking when they said Inspector Iskandar can be very cold when pissed. Man, the way you kept quiet, that was scary!”

“That wasn’t funny, Hamzah.”

“I’m sorry. I know it was bad for you back then. It was for me too. I promise I won’t do it again. Truce?”


6




“Let's just go. Everyone's waiting for you.” Iskandar pulled his brother by his thick neck, heading towards the path back.

“How was the fight, kid?” he asked when the hotel came into view.

“What, you doubted me, bro? Of course, I’m took the podium. Our gym was proud of their best MMA fighter. Ah, crap, Mom’s not gonna like how we look right now.”

“We’ll make something up. You know, the usual, like we had to help some girl or something.”

His little brother roared with laughter.

Iskandar missed the damn prick. Half a year went by, busily training with his gym then competing and finally returning only just in time for his birthday, with hardly a text, save only for Mom. That had hurt him. His little buddy was going to get a good one from him today.

“I missed you too, Abang.”

“Shut up.”

Iskandar tightened his grip. Even if Hamzah was stronger now, he would still do whatever it takes to save his little brother.


7



Part Of The Anthology: Intrigue 2018

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