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Old July 15, 2020, 12:50 AM
shovon13 shovon13 is offline
Test Cricketer
 
Join Date: January 27, 2004
Location: Riverside
Favorite Player: Mustafizur Rahman
Posts: 1,579
Default "A Soldier's Love"

A Soldier’s Love.
- The Matchmaker

I.

Location: confidential.
Year: unknown.
Subject designation: Abdal - 43.

Our subject hides in wait for a target expected to pass in a medium-sized caravan between hours 2300 and midnight. To the north of the intersection sits a boundary of this small north-African oasis where succulent shrubs fade to an almost-white nothingness of desiccated desert dunes – its gaping mouth parched and in thirst. The caravan should come from the west, and should turn south towards town center. The intersection is book-ended by a grocery store and a bakery. The subject hides on the roof of the grocery store, with a satisfactory view of the eastbound incoming traffic. He is equipped with one PVS-7 variable magnification night vision goggles, one RPG-32 anti-tank grenade launcher, two glock 37s, one combat knife, grenades, chest-plated camouflage, and ECH.

The time is now 2315. A four-car caravan is observed approaching from the expected direction. The subject confirms the target with deduction using his knowledge of the following: a) the town is deserted due to heavy bombardments, b) the town is located in enemy occupied territory, c) the approaching caravan consists of military vehicles. He exchanges the PVS-7 for the RPG-32, and breathes out human variabilities to attain ‘readiness’. The caravan continues, incessantly – in a deliberate pace – with letters arrogantly emblazoned on its doors. He waits until the first vehicle passes a preset landmark, then fires one missile at the ground two meters ahead of the doomed machine. The thing completes a reverse semi-circular rotation in the air, and lands in a blazing heap atop the hood of the vehicle immediately behind it. The subject jumps down an approximate distance of three meters from his station, and sprints across the street to reach within 20 meters of the target, from the left flank.

Two men are shot as they attempt to leave the wreckage. The drop, lifeless in starlight. Two others position themselves on the right flank, but appear fearful of being outflanked by a second attacker. Unfortunately, their cautious protocol is going to lead to their demise. The trailing vehicles have also stopped, and have emptied their men onto the street. A battle begins.

Having shot his first two bullets, the subject shoulders through a side-door to enter the first house – its mud-bricks affording him a momentary haven while he bent to avoid the traitorous windows. It is now eight seconds since the firing of the missile. He emerges from the opposite side of the house with an unpinned grenade in his right hand, shoots twice with his left hand, and side-arms the grenade toward the undamaged vehicles. All men on his side of the street are now dead, while the men protected by the burning vehicles regroup. The subject retreats northward to regain stealth, then sprints toward the West – in the shadows of chaos.

“Where are they?”
“Check your six.”

A formation of ambushed soldiers move forward toward the intersection, at a slower pace than they should have. Thirty seconds have now passed. The subject reappears, from the right flank and from behind. The battle ends.

II.

Time: 1000.

Our soldier has finished transmitting the contents obtained from the target. He has been given orders to standby, so he rode a camel through the night to reach a shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Here he should rest and regenerate.

The coastal town is semi-deserted. Its dusty streets tell a story of desecration, when a pathetic nomadic organism afflicted its vitals. Its buildings are marked by excretions of metallic creatures sent forth by this sickened satanic subspecies. More evidence of this vile is marked by gigantic dome-shaped leeches stuck on the town’s earth that were once used to process its subterranean blood to energize further infections elsewhere.

The soldier rides through its deserted streets for some time, investigating for sources of food and water. He notices an elderly man toward the outskirts of the town, in prayer behind a half-broken wall. As he approaches the derelict structure, he notices two others nearby.

“HOHH!” He calls loudly, then calls again, “HOHH!”

One of the men standing by turns toward his direction. He appears to recognize the subject’s uniform, because a smile breaks open. Both men now hail the soldier over. Reassured of the men’s intentions by studying the nature of their gestures, the soldier proceeds. Soon after exchanging introductions, the men invite him to their home.

III.

In the home of this beaten-down family, the soldier is offered hospitality. He fills his belly with couscous, fish, and olives – and then, he sleeps for many hours.

The home consists of one room, with an adjacent kitchen, and it houses a family of six. Now, with seven Souls under its roof, such inhabitance felt understandably crowded. So, the aforementioned three peter out in directions this and that, in search of supplies and in reconnaissance. Those left are a mother, her two daughters, and the sleeping soldier.

The mother has seen the war from its beginning, through the stories she heard from her own mother and grandmother. It began more than a hundred years ago, with the discovery of liquid gold in Earth’s belly. Soon the grand-schemers descended upon the dark squirts of death. The conniving deceivers cheated and killed their way to its control; then they enabled a deathly dukhan to encircle the Earth and to rain ruination down on it.

So the mother knows of the war, and she has grown tired of it. Yet she survives for her Faith and for her family. She is wary and worn. But she has protected her children well. So her older daughter has grown into a freer spirit than she should be, while the younger one is a toddler – and, unaffected by history.

Rafqa, the older daughter, has been observing the soldier since his arrival, due to the natural curiosity a gender has of the opposite. She is not yet in love, for she is always surrounded by her family. While she loves them, it is not the love she feels when she reads Layla and Majnun or Romeo and Juliet.
Rafqa has an ocean welling within her – pushed and pulled by her knowledge and her Soul, harnessed by literature and Light. She prays to be free, to run on the sands washed by sea blue. She wishes to be serenaded, to be adorned. She is young, not yet matured through the suffering of life. So she is rebellious; she sees a freer world beyond the horizon, beyond the safety of the walls she has known for too long.

IV.

Time: 0500.

The subject has awakened, and appears in stronger state than when he arrived. Some members of the household are also awake in prayer and in preparatory tasks. They observe him wear his boots, and acknowledge his silent request to go outside. He begins a run toward the morning smell of the Mediterranean. This location is suitable for open air exercise, because it is no longer an active battleground. The ambushed caravans from last night were the victims of poor planning and an arrogant decision to travel by road through an area assumed to be deserted. But the Abdals are one with the desert.

So he continues his run, along the edge where the whiter beach sands mix with the white desert sands and stretch together to the unseen beginning in either direction. A soldier’s run is distinct from a civilian’s in its pace and gait. He runs with equidistant strides and does not slow, until the time reaches 0600. Then he completes a set of strength exercises before returning toward his temporary home.

While nearing the house of hope, the subject notices Rafqa in a purposeless walk toward his direction. Their paths cross in a short while, when Rafqa attempts to initiate some contact.

allo, soldier.” She says, but notices that the soldier has not returned her gaze. She sees the man’s face in sunlight, and discovers something on it that sinks back into his skull – and then, to his grave, where worms squirm through his decaying carcass, where he is happy – and, further still, deep within his soul that only the girl could see – the moment of his conception, the purpose of his creation. This halts her for a moment, during which the soldier passes by in silence.

Once he enters the house, he is confronted by the mother’s worrying face – to which he nods. She understands and is consoled. Soon after, the center of her worries returns as well, and is promptly scolded.

“RAFQA! You are not to go so far alone. You know this.” The mother continues at her daughter, “answer me, Rafqa. Do you know this?”

It appears that this was indeed an abnormally dangerous act on the part of the troublesome daughter, who herself looks somewhat bewildered.

“I am sorry, mother. I really am! It was a mistake.”

V.

Time: 1700.

A lazy afternoon is unfolding inside the house, where men, women, and the solitary child is gathered around to share stories and the warmth of tea. Our subject sits with a straight back in his corner, and listens.

“To believe is to understand,” the father speaks, “knowledge is to faith as are pillars to a great building. Truth illuminates what the Soul sees. Go to that place where these two Oceans meet.”

His children close their eyes at these most comforting sentences, and bathe away the corrupting bile that flows outside. Then the soldier speaks -

“What if Death blocks your path on the way there?”

“And Death has, for many. But the journey is so that it returns afterwards to your Birth, and brings a piece of that place with it. And then, should you die on this journey, you have lived your entire life at this place.”

The mother is silent through this exchange. She can speak such, but her greater powers are hidden. They flow through those present, search within them, and heal. She can sense restlessness that eventually becomes destruction; sees hollows hovering about looking for loveless hosts; can find those who are lost. However, the mother feels difficulty in assessing the soldier. He appears somewhat lifeless, robotic. So, she asks him -

“Birth, Love, and Death – are these the three great events in a human’s life?”

The question suspends in the room’s air for a short while, during which it dilutes to the corners.

“I feel a greater purpose, and I believe Death is waiting until I fulfill it.” The soldier responds to the mother.

VI.

Later in the evening, the inhabitants have had their dinner and are now plotting to end their days – whether it be in prayer or in study. During this slow hour Rafqa approaches our subject again.

“Oho! How was your run in the morning?”
“Good.” he responds without fuss.
“I often close my eyes and imagine that I am in Valencia.”
“Valencia should feel quite similarly, seeing as it is also on the shores of the Mediterranean.”
The effervescent girl feels a little embarrassed at this, so she doubles down on haughtiness.
“Not quite so. Valencia has its own gulf, and its winters are much milder,” she shoots back.
The subject laughs at this, for the first time in days. He allows himself to enjoy the mirthful moment, and looks fully at the girl.
“Yes, you are correct.”
Rafqa laughs back, then asks again -
“Have you been to Valencia?”
“Yes. It is not as it once was. Now many men there are perverse, and many women are unloved.”
“But they have people there? Do they have noise? Do they eat in a restaurant there? Are there theaters there that play the plays of Federico Garcia Lorca?” She asks in impatience.
“Yes, it is livelier than here. But the theater halls have given way to modern cinema. Staged plays are not popular.”
“Are they? But it is louder you said? I miss the noise, and not that of the bombers flying overhead.”
“Where could you hear such noise? This part of the world has not had a livable city for many decades.” The soldier asks in some disbelief.
“In my mind’s eye, with my imagination. I can hear it in the words of novelists who lived in great cities.”

Then, the mother calls the daughter – and a short while later, they fall asleep.

VII.

In the dead of the night – a few hours after their conversation – the soldier is buzzed awake by his intercom. He is recalled to duty. He is called to his work, to his reason. There is a rush of emotions that enhances his awakening. There is anger, to fuel a murderous rage against the murderous horde. There is the strength of conviction supported by Words revealed to Prophets. And later, deeper, darker, hidden, are his sorrows.

The house wakes with him, except the child. They know, and so Rafqa stands hurriedly and looks about for supplies to provide. The soldier nods toward them, and speaks -

“Thank you for sending me back for one more fight.”

The house raises its hands in agreement, except the sleeping child, and except Rafqa. So he turns to her -

“Stay inside of your quiet home. I had not known of this yet, but there indeed is a greater purpose for me. Should I be allowed, once this War is over and when, finally, there is Peace; I want to come back and take you to Valencia – and watch plays with you.”

At this, the girl weeps – but she does not move.

Then the soldier was gone.

Last edited by shovon13; July 21, 2020 at 10:56 PM..
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