90 Seconds…



JUNE 20, 2017; 1105hrs IST; Space…

The mammoth 2000kg INDSAT-8 floated silently in space like a blue whale cruising the seas. “The jack of all trades in the satellite world”, beamed Dr.Ajmeer, president of ISRO, during its launch. The craft’s responsibilities varied from telecommunication to remote sensing and much more.

At present, in its vicinity was the discarded US spy satellite ‘Incognito’. It has been decommissioned by NASA due to a systems failure and since then it has been roaming around the space like a ghost.

As the satellites made contact the transmitter of INDSAT was slightly dislodged and it took 90 seconds for scientists to reposition it. And for the whole 90 seconds, a lone village in India couldn’t make or receive calls……


At the same time, 1700 kms below…..

A horde of angry voices awoke Vivin Sharma, RAW agent from his deep stupor.  “Even the terrorists couldn’t put up with this hell hole…” he mused, listening to the commotion outside.

Wounded and captured by Sha-wee terrorists during a surgical strike, he now lay at a small dingy prison, location unknown.

Al-Shin, the commander of Sha-wee was furious. The capture of Vivin Sharma was not proving to be as fruitful as he had thought. The repeated torture sessions had no effect. “Could we do water tomorrow? The sun’s frying me” was his only reply from yesterday’s torture session. No, this has to stop.

“Get the camera and the sets ready. It’s time for a video message”, he growled at Jaffar, his go-to man. “And get Rasool on phone now. It’s his turn as the executioner.”

Jaffar dialled the number. Long beep…. No signal at all even in the satellite phone. Confused, he looked up to his boss.

“What’s wrong with these damned guards again… Let me check” Al-shin went out as the commotion grew louder.

Jaffar too rushed out of the room but went headlong into a servant waiting outside. The phone slipped and disappeared into a ventilation shaft for the underground prison.

Vivin’s instincts kicked in the moment his mind registered the fallen mobile. Knowing that he had only seconds, he jammed the keypad furiously… 9…1.2.2…5…6.6…7.7.7 the RAW headquarters… long beep… NO SIGNAL…

“Damn” he cried just as the doors swung open and a foot that came out of nowhere knocked both his breath and the mobile.

“Give this pig a sound thrashing” Jaffar ordered his men as he got hold of the mobile. He felt relieved when the mobile showed no outgone calls and still no signal.                     Sprinting upstairs, he found that the commotion has ceased.

“Still hasn’t figured how to make a call..??” Al-Shin’s deep voice boomed from his behind.

“Er… no signal boss…” stuttered Jaffar as his boss sounded both angry and irritated.

“You moron, the signal is full” snarled Al-Shin as he snatched the phone from Jaffar’s hands. A surprised Jaffar opened his mouth to protest only to find the door banged on his face.


At the same place, 1115 hrs IST;

Vivin was dragged onto the set. He was made to kneel down and a hood was put on. He waited for the single gunshot that would end his life. Instead he heard several precise gunshots, and not one even scratched his body.

As the hood was slowly removed, he found himself face to face with his

fellow RAW agents, grinning broadly at him.


09 minutes earlier…..

“You moron the signal is full”, Al-Shin had picked up the phone and called Rasool and explained the execution place, time and other details. Or at least he thought he had called Rasool…..

In his frustration with the commotion, Al-Shin had pressed redial on the phone and made the call. If only he had seen the screen closely, which read



Written by R.U Arjun, Third Year, Automobile Engineering.