She was shrinking back, terrified. Not surprising thought Sam. Four masked men break into where she’s living, beat up the woman she’s living with, wave guns around, tie her and the other woman and man up, capture another three and tie them up too, drag her and the three newcomers into the back garden, chuck her into a car boot and drive off, leaving her in the pitch black for several hours, including another vehicle change. Then they bring her, still blind-folded, into a strange house, untie her only to chain her to a radiator in a darkened and locked upstairs room with a little food, water and bedding, and disappear. At least she didn’t see the executions, we spared her that, mused Sam.
How old is she, fifteen, sixteen? Could be more, could be less; so thin and malnourished it was difficult to tell, lots of bruises though, at least those on those parts of her showing. Didn’t seem to speak a language any of them knew, just whimpered quietly really. What had they done to her in that house? Poor kid, if it’d been me at that age, what would I have done? Flown at them as they untied me and tried to rip their hearts out, but I’d always had a fighting streak. He had seen others like her on the streets, in the homes of his youth, not quite as bad but bad enough. Filth, he wished he had pulled the trigger on those other two himself.
Poor kid. He was almost taking ownership of her. He had brought up more food, drink, some clothes, a bucket and loo roll, a bowl of warm water and soap, towels, even a comb. But he couldn’t help wondering what would happen to her, what was to be done? She was a problem, a big one. Not even Georgy would dare suggest the most obvious course of action, at least he hoped he wouldn’t, and he would have him and Alan to get past first, probably Art too. Where could they take her? Maybe he could help? He was on his way anyway; he would know what to do.
He tried to coax her, if they could find out more about her, maybe that would help their decision. He washed her face and hands with the warm water, towelling them dry; she was frozen, rigid, as if rigor-mortis had set in, in anticipation of what might come. He tried to comb her hair, but she just shivered in even more fear. He tried to smile: no response, no eye-contact. He retreated and sat on the floor by the door, smiling, willing her to eat, drink, make contact so they could help. At least he had had the sense to not to bring a gun in.
He was still sitting there thirty-five minute later when the door swung slowly open, followed by Alan and then another figure entering the room; oh, he was early. Sam hadn’t heard him drive up. He stood up. Alan was hovering by the door. “There’s our complication, but what else could we do? Leave her behind in the street?”
“Might have been better, certainly for you, us, maybe her too.”
The speaker looked at Sam.
“Has she said anything? Any clues at all? Wonderful shot by the way, well done, Hendricks would be proud.”
Sam looked back. Always the right words.
“Nothing at all, Sir. She’s almost beyond fear. I think she’s been beaten, maybe tortured, possibly worse. See the bruises?”
The visitor said something to her in a foreign tongue. Not a flicker. Then another language, nothing. He turned to Alan, “Can you bring my lap top up please? Also, I suggest you get the others to start packing and cleaning up. We need you safe back home.”
He stood there silently, just looking at the girl, almost looking past her at something else; it was quite unnerving thought Sam. Alan came back; he had already pressed the start button. Two minutes followed while the visitor found what he wanted. He started out sounding strange words, one, pausing, another. No reaction. A few seconds later, one, another eliciting the same lack of response. He went on patiently, one after another, until a flicker, an eye movement. He sounded it again, stressing it slightly differently. She looked at him, blankly. Another word, she was looking at him directly now. He smiled at her. Another flicker, no more. It was progress. A couple more words, then three strung together. A little more reaction then passivity again. One more. He shut down the machine.
“Nothing more than trial and error, nothing clever,” he smiled bashfully at their wondering faces. “Wouldn’t have a clue if she started talking back. Just worked through a phrase book of middle-eastern languages. Tried Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Armenian… I think she’s Kurdish, goodness knows what dialect, so many up in the mountains, but I would guess she’s Yazidi, war booty of your late friend Mohammed Badr. She won’t miss him. How the hell we find a way home for her I’ll be damned if I know. We need time to work it out. It’s probably best if you take her back with you for a while, she’ll be safe enough and well looked after, while I find an answer. Perhaps our other friends can help? I’ll write a note for you to pass on when you’re back. Well done again; I can’t tell you how impressed we are, and thanks for the sticks.”
Alan went down and ushered him out shortly afterwards following a brief discussion. Sam, Samson, sat back down to watch. So far from home, poor thing. I wish I’d killed that bastard myself.
And then later, when I chose my new name, everyone thought it was because I wanted to be the strongest, but they got the wrong one. I wanted the name of the other, the most disciplined and the bravest in the hardest of places.
The air-conditioning was turned up full and a radio played local music at a volume just below loud. The weather was beginning to warm up outside, but was rarely other than hot in the day, but even so the aircon would soon make the room cold. Together the sources of noise would impair any listening devices that may have evaded the last sweep.
The three men drinking tiny cups of strong coffee were in a sour mood.
“The news from England is disappointing; it looks like that whole effort has been compromised.”
The speaker was an ageing, well-built man wearing the traditional Gulf Arab robes of his class. The man at whom his statement had been directed was clad in a western style suit, but wearing an open collar shirt, running to fat, late forties, with very dark hair and thick moustache. His thick Turkish accented English of the Anatolian interior grated on the ears of his Arabian interlocutors.
“A set back, but we still have resources on the ground and others that can be directed to replace our losses quickly. As you know we always plan for losses, volunteers are not the problem. I believe we should press ahead; their will is not what it seems, whatever they say, they continue to weaken, offer compromise, concede ground…”
“So you say, but too much too quickly could spark a reaction, something which our allies, the useful fools as that damned atheist Lenin called them, and the weak of will, our wealth suckers, cannot contain. They have been surprising in their past, their history demonstrates…”
The previous speaker passed a groan of exasperation at the third speaker, a younger man in his thirties, clearly western schooled from his manner and his grasp of English.
“They are not what they were, not what their parents were and certainly not what their great grandparents, who bestrode the world, were, damn them. We have spoken of this many times; they are ashamed of who they were, have lost their faith in the things that made them great, now their force is spent. Why otherwise would their leaders scrabble for your wealth, send their royal family to beg of you, let you buy them up bit by bit, their properties, their companies, their elite schools, allow us to colonise their cities?”
“It is the slow but sure way, look how far we have come in two generations. Look how we brought your friends to power in your own country by these means, in only two generations. Even Ataturk’s spirit could not withstand us.” The younger man was not normally one to be argued down, but had met his match, at least for today.
“Wealth and investment can be confiscated in a moment if they awake. That way helps undermine them, I agree, but is not enough. They are already terrified of their growing immigrant populations, that fear is paralysing them. Injecting more fear into them further paralyses any response and emboldens our populations on the ground to demand more rights and special treatment, thus they concede more and more, until there is nothing left other than submission.”
The eldest man made his decision. The Turk was a brute, an unrefined son of Anatolian peasants, but nevertheless he was a true believer, even if he thought his people the more cultured. Upstart Central Asian nomads they may have been, even now a quarter of them were heretics or non-believers: Alevis masquerading as heretic Shiites, when everyone knew they were really obstinate pagans, Christian Syrians who still held out after a thousand years in their mountains, devil-worshipping Yazidi too, and here they were telling us how to spread the faith. At least they had exterminated the Armenians and driven the Greeks from their ancient homelands, the rest could be mopped up later. Nevertheless, there were tens of millions of them, and they were growing quickly, they just needed direction from those who could see the longer game. Yes, the use of wealth and fear together would continue, it was working despite the recent set-backs, besides there were many thousands of would-be martyrs’ dreams to be satisfied.
He turned to the Turk. “Let it be as you wish. Intensify the efforts. Have whatever you need. Keep our allies, as they think themselves to be, at a distance. When this is over we will deal with them as Khomeini did.”
The Turk, as the others termed him, walked out into the street. It felt hot after the chill of the room. He had what he wanted, for now. Now to show these primitive decadents what real warriors could do.
© 1642again 2018