He was caught, with loads of cash, trying to cross the border to avoid our invasion. His brown, wrinkled skin resembled bark. Fear glinted in his wide eyes. He hunched his shoulders, anticipating violence, hands tied behind his back. His dark-brown skin indicated he belonged in the hot place we had conquered. I saw him hunched over between two of our soldiers who were bone-white with red noses. His irises resembled freaked mahogany in their tanned surrounds. He was accused of being the head of a clan–with using his money to incite rebellion. No legal process had occurred.

*

Sipping soup in the kitchen, I heard: “Narahhhhh…..”

The spoon stopped before my mouth.

“Yarahhhhhhh……”

That high shrieking of horrified disbelief conveyed the amazement of shocked innocence.

“Barrrrharrrr…..”

My head shot around to look down the corridor.

“KNEEOHHHH!”

I carried a chair down the corridor. Standing on the chair, I looked through a window above the door into the room where the seated suspected clan leader’s ankles and wrists were tied. His head fell forward. Blood dripped onto his lap. His puffed-up eyes were hardly visible in a face that now resembled putty.

Big, blonde Aaron released a flurry of fists, cracking the man’s head. The man howled like a wounded dog when a burning cigarette got stubbed out on his nose by Ariel whose smile resembled a malevolent spotlight in the room’s gloom. The man’s money was scattered across a table. Horror waves smacked my skull.

I bashed on the door while hearing: “Arhhhhhhhh…”

“Go away,” Ariel screamed.

“What did he do?” I yelled.

Aaron opened the door and said: “You’ve got work to do on the trucks. Do it.”

The tortured man’s wincing was high-pitched with disbelief.

I lingered in the doorway. Aaron was my commanding officer. His penetrating, blue eyes, like cut glass shimmering with anger, glared as he jolted his head and hissed: “Well?”

The blood on his green shirt contrasted vividly with his snowy hair. The tortured man wheezed like a punctured lung. Aaron and I stared at each other in a slow moment of both realising that we could never be friends. A savage brilliance filled his electric-blue eyes.

“Is this going to help us?” I asked.

“Go,” Aaron said, pointing down the grey corridor.

His attitude towards the man he was torturing seemed unnaturally personal.

“You don’t know what animals they are,” he said, slamming the door in my face.

The man’s body, dumped onto one of the trucks I had been working on, got taken to a mass grave for people massacred in the villages we had destroyed, its legs flying up and crashing down as the truck hit a bump when leaving the compound.

Terrorism started about ten years later.

 

 

Kim Farleigh

Kim has worked for aid agencies in three conflicts: Kosovo, Iraq and Palestine. He takes risks to get the experience required for writing. He likes fine wine, art, photography and bullfighting, which probably explains why this Australian lives in Madrid; although he wouldn’t say no to living in a French château or a Swiss ski resort. 154 of his stories have been accepted by 91 different magazines.

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