What Pegman Saw – A Present for ISIL

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Tel Saki, Syria.

 WPS - A Present for ISIL 180106 - 02.jpg

WPS - A Present for ISIL 180106

A Present for ISIL

“Go kill me a terrorist,” said the armorer as he kissed the smart bomb.

Nizar watched his son, Hussain, as his football ricocheted off the bullet-pocked walls of their block of flats. His wife, Amena, had shooed them out while she fed the baby. Nizar glanced at the sky, clear, pale blue, and empty of warplanes.

He shuddered as he remembered last night’s encounter. He’d gone downstairs just as masked men with guns barged into the lobby. He’d tried to hide, but one of the men called, “Nizar. Say nothing of this. We know where you live.” Quaking, he had obeyed.

The warplane rocketed off the flight deck. Twenty minutes to target.

Nizar heard the plane.

“Hussain, come now!”

“Aw, Dad!”

Hussain turned away and chased his ball. Nazir followed.

“Now, Hussain!”

The rubble of their home pursued them as it collapsed under the shattering blow of the smart bomb.

Where is Europe?

Latifah struggled up from the nightmare, sobbing, the taste of fear like blood in her mouth. As she opened her eyes she saw her mother. “Quickly, Latifah, quickly!”
She heard revving engines, screeching tyres and gunshots. For a few seconds she lay petrified, too frightened to move. They had come!
Her mother pulled her to her feet, thrust her abaya over her head, tied her niqab in place.
“Come quickly,” she moaned.
“Allah, do not let me fall into the hands of these men; let me die first,” Latifah prayed.
Men were pounding at the front door, battering it. She could hear her father shouting. There was a burst of automatic fire, and agonized shrieks. Her mother gasped, pushed her out of the back door, and they ran.
Behind them were screams and the flickering light of burning buildings; in front was darkness. Latifah’s mother fell to her knees. “I’m wounded. You must run, Latifah, run!” She fell forwards, face in the dirt and lay still. Latifah let out a howl of despair, and then ran.
She ran until breathing hurt, until her legs wobbled, until she could no longer hear the dreadful sounds and the flames were hidden behind a hill. And then she wept for her mother and her father and her brothers, for her friends and for her home. There was no way back.
She walked on through night and the desert and the sunrise until she reached a small town. The gunmen weren’t there; this was still a place of friends. Latifah had a little money, and she bought some bread and drank from a water fountain. “Which is the way to the sea?” she asked everyone.
It was a long walk. Sometimes she was lucky and found a day’s work, which would buy her a little food that would last a week. Sometimes she had to beg. She slept in the open, fitfully.
And she reached the sea. Her eyes grew large and round in her gaunt face. The sea was so large! It was like a desert of water! “Where is Europe?” she asked everyone.
Some shrugged; some laughed; “It’s like heaven,” said a woman. “You only get there after you’re dead.”
One good-looking young man said, “I can fix it for you to travel there. Show me your face.”
“No, that would be sinful!” she exclaimed.
He grabbed her niqab and pulled it off roughly, tossing the rag into the bushes at the side of the road. She fought him, but he was strong and she was starving,
“Allah protect me!”
She fell and felt him press hard on top of her. He smelled sweet, rotten. The stones under her were gouging into her back, and they lacerated her as she struggled. He was laughing as he forced her legs apart. And then, suddenly, he slumped. His head fell against Latifah’s, stunning her.
It was the face of a young man that she saw first as she recovered consciousness. She gasped and shrank back.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “See, I’ve found your niqab. You can put it on and be modest again.” She looked at him as a cat approaches a stranger, warily, ready to flee.
“It’s alright. Here it is.”
He held it up. Latifah snatched it, tied it in place.
“Are you alright to walk? We’d better go. I think I killed him when I hit him with the rock. He…he hasn’t moved.”
Latifah dragged herself upright, and sobbed. She hurt all over, and her limbs shook with fatigue. She looked at the young man. Why, he was a boy really, hardly older than she was!
“Thank you,” she said. “Do you know where Europe is?”
“It’s over there somewhere.” He gestured towards the sea. “Is that where you want to go?”
Latifah nodded.
“My family is going tonight. Do you want to come with us?”
“Could I?” she said, hardly daring to believe it.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I shall have to ask.”
That night, Latifah and Asif, in life jackets, and with the strong arms of Asif’s mother around them, crossed the sea and reached safety.

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