Like many of the young, second generation immigrants in this country, Afarin Khan struggles to be accepted as English or indeed, an Afghan. She detests men of Pakistani or Somalian heritage. Hers is a lonely life and she serves her country the best way she can in a solitary, undercover role. She is convinced that she will die during one of her undercover missions and has learned to expect this and deal with it. But she feels fear and in a perverse way, excitement in her role.
Afarin is a a professional and carries out her challenging and dangerous tasks to the best of her ability. However, she is ignorant to the various levels of personal emotion. She only expresses feelings in black or white – angry or happy and doesn’t know how to differentiate the emotional shades of grey in between. She is often afraid that people will look down on her for expressing her true emotions and tends to convince herself that she is feeling a certain way to cover up her true feelings.
Some will hate her character and others will see her as marmite. It is difficult to write about her because parts of her I dislike. My wife who proof reads these ramblings of my mind is of the opinion she is her favourite character. Mark Edge is a violent and brave man with hidden traits of tenderness. The vast majority of his fighting is as part of a unit. Afarin Khan fights alone and is a complex and difficult character, which makes her bravery more remarkable. If you don’t like this story, no worries. Read the comments
Samyaza also Shemhazai, Azza, Uzza, or Ouza, is a fallen angel of apocryphal Abrahamic traditions and Manichaeism who ranked in the heavenly hierarchy as the leader of the Watchers.
The car was parked in the Manningham area of Bradford, on a side street where they could watch the comings and goings at the budget hotel. At around 21:00 they had watched about twenty young, white girls, who were led inside from assorted BMWs and Mercedes. German vans with blacked-out windows were very popular as well, along with Southern Asian men with beards. The younger men had carefully sculpted facial hair, the older ones with longer beards.
They were listening to the radio when the ten-o-clock news came on.
Palestinian factional violence: Hamas gunmen ambush a convoy carrying weapons to Mahmoud Abbas’s presidential guard unit. Six Fatah members are killed, more than 70 people are wounded and 12 others are kidnapped in ensuing battles.
Defence Secretary Des Browne announced that the UK forces in Southern Afghanistan will be boosted by 800.
In other news, passenger duty for flights from the UK doubled.
Downing Street officials revealed that Tony Blair had been interviewed as a witness by police on 26 January in connection with the Cash-for-honours allegations.
Farooqi leaned forward to turn up the radio, “The Pallies don’t need the Yids to stir up trouble in the area, do they? And increasing troop numbers in Afghanistan, that’s going to work, isn’t it?”
She shrugged noncommittally.
“You were out there, weren’t you?” he asked her.
“Yes. 2001. I was working with the SAS doing an interpreter’s job,” In her mind, she went back to the sights and smells of that blighted country, her ancestral homeland.
“I thought you were in the RAF.”
“I was. They heard I could speak the language and hijacked me.”
Farooqi huffed, “And what the SAS want, they get.”
“I think they wanted an interpreter with benefits as well. But in that scenario, they didn’t get one.”
He was a member of the shadowy SCD 10, seconded from the Met because the South Yorkshire Police were not party to the nature of the work they were undertaking. She liked him, simply because he didn’t take himself too seriously and was kind and considerate. He was also good company on the long surveillance operations. But despite this, she would rather conduct covert observation on her own.
“They will never pin anything on Blair, the slippery bastard.”
There was nothing she could add, so she said nothing. Lilly Allen’s Smile came on the radio and she turned it down.
“I was listening to that!”
“No, you weren’t, Farooqi and besides, it’s crap.”
“She’d still get it though.”
“And what would your dear mother say if you brought her home? She can’t even get in and out of a car without showing the world her perineum.”
“Good, isn’t it? My mother would probably say: Oh, Adeel, couldn’t you bring a nice Moslem girl home? And line me up for a trip to the old country. My aunts already think I’m gay.”
“A policeman’s lot is not a happy one,” She observed.
“So true. Are you going to take a few holiday snaps?”
“No. I did the last lot, it’s your turn this time.”
Farooqi sighed and reached into the back seats for the camera.
“Don’t forget to take the lens cap off.”
He raised his eyes and opened the driver door. He had forgotten to switch off the interior light and the inside of the car was flooded with light, destroying her night vision. She switched it off hurriedly.”
“Sorry,” He said leaning into the car, “I forgot to…”
The black van with no lights come up fast on their offside and hit Farooqi at about forty miles-per-hour. One instant he was looking at her and the next he was gone, the van taking the driver’s door with it. It happened shockingly quickly and she knew that she would have to get away as quickly as possible and reached to check the keys were in the ignition. Farooqi was beyond any mortal help she could give him. The keys were there and she struggled across to the driver’s seat.
Three men quickly came out of the van and ran to the car. She had just managed to get into the driver’s seat, when they grabbed her. She tried to reach the knife in the shin sheath, but she couldn’t lean forward enough to grab the hilt.
“All callsigns, this is Mike-One. Mike Two is down, repeat officer down and I am in trouble!”
As they dragged her out of the car, she knew she was fighting for her life, with her elbows, knees and head. One of them went down, blood dribbling from his nose and mouth, until one of them hit her on the side of the head with a fire extinguisher. She went down onto her knees and she was hit again with the extinguisher. Consciousness was a rapidly narrowing and disappearing light and she had nothing left.
“Fucks sake man. Go easy with that thing. We don’t want her dead, not until she tells us what the hell she and her pal were up to. Drag her to the van and tie her up. She’s a bit free and easy with her knees and elbows.”
“Tell me about it. I think the fucking bitch broke my nose.”
“A session with Mr MIG will give the slut something to think about.”
“Oh yeah! I’ll look forward to seeing the bitch dance for us. She looks really tasty. We can have a lot of fun with her before we stick her head in a poly bag and turn off the gas.”
When she regained full consciousness, she became aware that breathing was difficult. She was hanging from chains, about six inches from her toes to the concrete floor. It was a workshop or garage, probably both. She realised she was cold, hanging from a gantry totally naked, a padlock through the chain links locking her wrists. Her head was throbbing and bloody. Her clothes were in a heap on the floor and on a workbench was her radio equipment and Fairbairn-Sykes knife. The three men were looking at them in interest.
One of them approached her and noted the blood running down her body from the head injury, “Are you undercover filth?”
She ignored the question and looked up to where the chain passed over the steel gantry. One of the links was cracked with a slight gap.
He looked at the fine gold chain and the little medallion hanging between her breasts, “I asked you a fucking question, Chhanal1!”
“Go fuck yourself, Paki!” she replied with contempt.
“Time for the MIG I think fellers.”
“Yeah,” said one, while the other danced happily from one foot to the other. She was of the opinion that he was educationally subnormal.
The one who seemed to be in charge said to Mr Retard: “Take my car and go and get the Sheikh . He may be very interested is hearing what she has to say, after a bit of persuasion.”
“Promise me you won’t start on her until I get back with the Sheikh.”
“I promise we won’t.”
When he had gone the leader said to the other one: “Hose the bitch down.”
On a wall there was a hosepipe coiled around a tap and the other man unravelled it with a smirk. She gasped as the cold water hit her body and started jerking on the chain. The split link had a larger gap.
“If she’s jerking around with the hose, wait until we put the MIG on her.”
The leader wheeled in a trolly, on top of which was a MIG Welder. He plugged it into heavy duty electrical wall socket and showed her the leads. There was no welding torch, just two large crocodile clamps.
“Would you like to guess where we’re going to put these, Chhanal?”
She was back in that cellar room in the West Bank. I’m not going through that again. I will kill you first.
He put them down and picked up what looked like a steel bar.
“But first we’ll warm you up a bit, coz I can tell you’re cold,” he said and proceeded to beat her with the bar, concentrating on her back and breasts. She felt a rib go and hoped the fractured ends didn’t puncture the pleural cavity.
He paused for breath, “Set the camera up. She can be the star of the show.”
She was jolting the chain, but needed more weight to split the link. He had his back to her, when she reeled up and locked her legs round his neck. With her sinews almost tearing she lifted him off the ground and the chain link broke. They both went down on the concrete floor and she felt her lower back crunch agonisingly. With her legs still around his neck and her wrists chained together, she groped for his eyes, dug her middle fingers in each one and blinded him. He screamed in agony, but she showed no pity, thinking of what they had been about to do to her with the welder.
She stood up with shaking legs, while the man she had blinded writhed, trying to grab her. His sidekick had watched them crash to the ground in bemusement, but he recovered and picked up a shovel. Holding it in front of him, he advanced on her. She knew she couldn’t let him get within range and swung the chains still locked to her wrists. He ducked the first swing, and went in with the edge of the shovel, which tore open her side. She swung again and caught him on the side of the head and shoulder. He dropped the shovel, grabbed the chains and yanked her towards him. She let him get close and headbutted him in the face. He gave a below of pain and went to grab her.
He slipped on the water spilled on the floor and went sprawling. He kicked the camera and tripod over and she was on him like a cat, wrapping one of the chains round his neck. With a knee in his back, she pulled tight, the links digging into his throat. He managed to get her on her back with his weight, but the chain was still being pulled and getting tighter. Her battered face was a rictus and her teeth were gritted. His legs and feet scrabbled on the wet floor, trying to find purchase and he tried to get his fingers under the chain to relieve the pressure on his throat. She could tell he was getting weaker and pulled the chain as tight as it would go. His struggles were getting feebler until he stopped moving, but she kept pulling the chain. She gave it another minute, certain that by now he was dead, then stood up with shaking legs. She vomited with the pain and then went back to the ringleader, who was crawling on his hands and knees.
“Fuck you, bitch!”
She hit him on the head with the chain several times until he was still and searched him. She found a bunch of keys on a ring in his jeans pocket and picked one for a Chubb padlock. It was difficult to twist the key in the padlock with both hands chained together, so she used her teeth, breaking the corner of her lateral inscisor. The chain fell off and she went and grabbed the ruins of her clothing, dressing quickly. The radio equipment was useless now and she picked up her fighting knife and headed for the door.
Too late she heard the outer door opening and was face-to-face with Mr Mental Subnormal. An older man with a white beard and typical Pakistani dress was behind him. She had to give him his due, he may have been lacking in the brain department, but he moved quickly and was on her. She felt a blow to her side and a deep agony inside her as the serrated blade tore her internal organs. He pulled out the knife for another blow and she screamed with the pain. He laughed at her, spitting hatred and drew back his arm. Her knife went upwards, the seven-inch blade going under his chin, through his tongue and into his brain. He shook like a palsy victim as she tried to pull the knife back out, but it was locked by the bones in his skull. She eventually got it out and blood poured from his mouth as he fell to the floor.
“You’re next, you old bastard!” she said to the older man but he had seen enough and ran from the workshop and into the night.
She leaned against a wall for support and felt her right side. Her hand looked black with her blood and she could feel it spreading, wetting her clothing. Her heart was hammering away, trying to keep her vital organs oxygenated. Holding the wound, she went out into the night and saw a two-lane carriageway beyond the maze of workshops. She was starting to stagger as she reached the road and fell down, the knife clattering on the asphalt.
A taxi driver was just beginning his lucrative shift, multiple pick-ups as the nightclubs emptied. He swerved to avoid the figure and stopped, putting on his hazard warning lights. It would seem as one of the punters had put away too much, too early. He got out from the taxi and walked back to the body. This punter had breasts, so he covered them with her torn clothing.
“Excuse me miss, but are you all right?”
She opened her eye, looked at him and whispered, “Help me please. I’ve been stabbed.”
He picked her up with some difficulty and saw the blood that coated her right-hand side. It was pointless phoning for an ambulance because they were all dealing with aggressive drunks, or RTAs on the M62. He leaned her against the passenger door and went to the boot for an old tarpaulin liner. Once again, she fell and was slumped on the road. He laid the waterproof sheet on the back seat and picked her up, sliding her into the back.
“I’m taking you to hospital, luv.”
It was a short drive to the Bradford Royal Infirmary and now he had a dilemma. He was not a bad man, but if he became involved with the police and making statements, he would lose valuable punters. He stopped outside the A&E entrance and pulled her out, laying her against some steps. He went inside the A&E and shouted at the receptionists:
“Somebody’s collapsed outside,” they stared at him, “Come on, she’s been stabbed!”
He glanced quickly at the girl lying on the hard floor, “Good luck, luv.”
The taxi had gone by the time they found a trolley and wheeled her into triage and they realised they had a dying young woman to try to save.
He was finishing a leisurely breakfast when the phone rang.
“I’ll get it,” he shouted upstairs at his wife.
He picked up the phone in the hall, “Bartlett?”
“Where and when?”
“Who’s with her?”
His face darkened.
“What the hell is the matter with you? Why is no one from the “Box” at her bedside?”
He stared at the wall with contempt.
“She may have been one of ours, but she was seconded to you and you had a duty of care…”
“Don’t you dare give me that! If she doesn’t make it, I’ll come looking for you!”
He slammed down the phone.
“Everything all right, dear?” his wife asked anxiously, leaning over the banister.
“One of our agents has been injured up north. Would you please pack an overnight bag?”
“Do you want your razor and shaving stuff?”
He looked at his face in the reflection of a picture frame, “I guess so. This bloody stupid beard makes me look like a dirty old man.”
“Thank goodness,” she said quietly.
He went into his study and opened a heavy steel cabinet bolted to the wall, opening it with a large key. He took out a SIG Sauer in a shoulder harness and put them on, with his jacket over the top. Then he phoned a personal number.
“Hello, Jean-Claude. Samyaza has been compromised and is in hospital. Get hold of Ava and both of you get up to the Bradford Royal Infirmary. I’ll speak to you when you arrive.”
“Do be careful please, dear,” his wife said to him. She knew he rarely carried a weapon
Within forty minutes he had picked up the M1 and was heading north as fast as the speed cameras permitted. He was quietly seething with anger and very, very worried…
The chairs in relatives’ waiting room were stiffening his back. It was around 14:00 when the door opened and the surgeon came in. He pulled off the theatre hat and looked very tired.
He stood up, “How is she?”
The surgeon shook his hand, “She is out of danger. We had to give her ten units of blood because she had lost so much. The knife had caused damage to several blood vessels, including the duodenal artery, which caused us real worry. Apart from the stab wound, she has been bludgeoned by a heavy, blunt object, she has a fractured rib, her side was severely lacerated and there are nasty contusions on her wrists. It took a great deal of anaesthetic to get her under, she must be very fit. We lost her twice, but she is a fighter; I expect you knew that. What is her occupation and does she have any next of kin?”
“She is employed by the government and I am the only close person she has. When can I see her?”
“Now, although she hasn’t regained consciousness yet. I will need to contact the police…”
“They already know. Thank you, Dr…”
“Mr Brahmins. Follow me please.”
She was alone in ICU and there was just the steady bleep of the blood pressure and heart rate monitor. He pulled a chair next to the bed and held her bandaged hand. She was the nearest thing to a daughter he had, and he loved her as a daughter, a wilful, wild, wayward daughter. Her head was battered, fresh, stitched scars on the side of her head. She looked so helpless and small, almost childlike in the bed. A drainage bag was full of her blood, hanging at the side of the bed.
“Oh, Afarin. What have they done to you?”
“You should see the other guys,” she whispered.
Her eyes were still closed but he could feel the pressure as she squeezed his hand. Her eyes opened.
“We were set-up, Alan. They killed Farooqi. They were going to torture and kill me. The South Yorkshire plod fucking set us up!”
“How did you get away?”
“There are two dead bastards and a piece of shit I blinded.”
“I do wish you wouldn’t swear, Afarin.”
“Alan, the police were in on it. A Met officer was murdered. They were going to watch me jerk around on a chain, attached to an electric welder. There were three of them, around thirties, one was in his twenties and an older man with a beard, an elder. They were all of Pakistani heritage”
“So, no plod. Have you forgiven me yet?”
“Afarin there was nothing you needed forgiveness for. I’ve phoned for Jean-Claude and Ava. I’ll stay with you till they get here.”
“I promise. Afarin, perhaps it’s time to retire.”
“I’m in my twenties and I’ve got nothing else. See if anyone had been admitted with eye injuries. That should help you track them down.”
“Excuse me while I phone and I’ll be right back. I’ll contact two of my team to watch over you and I’ll inform South Yorkshire Police about Farooqi. An investigation should make them sweat.”
“I hate MI5. They are all wankers.”
“I would put it slightly differently, but I can’t argue with your hypothesis. Go back to sleep. You’re safe now.”
“I lost my Fairbairn Sykes. Could you get me another one from Hereford, please?”
“You won’t need one for a while, Afarin.”
“Alan, please lose that bloody stupid beard. You look like a rough sleeper or Jeremy Corbyn.”
He sat in the corner and waited and Jean-Claude appeared a couple of hours later.
“Eva’s by the lifts and stairs. We’re both carrying.”
They made a quick handover and then he went to create hell with the Chief Constable. When he had gone, Jean-Claude sat in the chair next to the bed and waited. Later she opened her eyes and looked at him.
“Why have they sent an arsehole like you to look after me?”
Jean Claude stood up and leaned over her. She could feel the weight of his holstered automatic. He moved a strand of hair away from her eye and gently kissed her.
“Hello, Afarin. I’ve been wondering where you were and I missed you.”
“He kept me safe, Jean-Claude. St Michael.”
© Blown Periphery 2022