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Mostofa Syed

An avid reader, an earnest learner and an enthusiastic writer

An End With Unity

The cool articulate female voice reverberated around the broad international terminal of Logan International Airport, as Molly Gablehauser tore off the packet of Mars bar and handed it over to her daughter, Betty. Her ponytail was swinging sideways like a pendulum while she was jumping up and down excitedly.

“When are we going to see Dad?” she asked her mother, her face beaming with hope and elation.

“After we reach Los Angeles and he joins us there,” Molly replied with a smile, caressing her daughter’s cheeks. She has grown up so much, Molly thought to herself. To her, she was still like the baby in the cot, who let out a cry every time she woke up from sleep to find herself without her mother.

The blonde stewardess ushered them towards thee check-up zone, telling them they would leave in fifteen minutes. Molly phoned her husband, let him know that they will be with him really soon, and joined the queue.

* * * * *

Frank Gablehauser hung up the phone as his lips slowly curved to form a smile. Two years. It had been two years since he last saw his daughter and wife, and soon they would be together again. For a moment he forgot how tired he was from last night’s overwork.

The austere office room was redolent with the smell of rose-flavored air-freshener. Frank grabbed the knob of the drawer of his table and pulled, but to no avail. Nothing daunted, he pulled again and found the object he was looking for, a photograph of him with his daughter and wife, occupying the whole of the drawer. He picked it up, went over to the sofa and stared at it unblinkingly. He marveled at his life, how lucky he was, and how the next days of his life would be nothing but happiness.

The last night’s fatigue resurfaced, as he heard a musical tone somewhere far, a somnolent cadence which suffused with the comfort of the sofa and lulled him to sleep, all snug and warm…

* * * * *

The masked man wielding Ballester-Molina pistol yelled once again, ordering everyone to maintain pin drop silence. Beside Molly, Betty was trembling uncontrollably, tears trickling down her cheeks. Molly hugged her, refusing to let go, determined to protect her from whatever danger that comes before them.

Another masked figure joined them. He cleared his throat, and gabbled some things in an Arabic accent about Jihad and sacrifice, before saying something that momentarily made Molly frozen in the spot. Their plane would be used to attack the Twin Towers. By attack, he meant literally crash into the World Trade Centre.

Molly could feel her heart palpitating and her forehead perspiring. She did not know how to respond. She pretended as if she did not hear it. This is all a joke, she muttered to herself. This can’t be happening; we are in the twenty-first century.

Then suddenly, with a jolt, she remembered that Frank shifted to a job in the World Trade Centre…

* * * * * 

Frank stood up from the sofa and looked out of the aluminum glass. He heard a distant purring sound somewhere. The road adjacent to this building was abuzz with cars honking and buses trundling by. People of all ages walked along the pavements briskly. Time is of the essence in New York city- you cannot afford to lose a single minute.

Frank noticed that the purring noise was amplifying. He strained his years and located the source, and looked straight ahead. A plane was travelling his way. The pilot must be travelling in a low altitude, he thought.

But Frank noticed something very odd. The plane was now very close to the tower, and yet it showed no sign of moving up.

He understood what was happening. A crippling sensation made him unable to move. His eyes widened with terror. His hands trembled with fear. His mind raced to show him a slideshow of all the sweet memories, all his dreams, now nothing but a part of the life he would be living behind.

The plane was now inches away, as Frank closed his eyes to picture his wife and daughter, wishing to bid them farewell, wishing that the hopes would not plummet down just like that.

An ear-splitting crash and then silence…

(A fictional story based on the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre)

When The Music Is Over

The dappled sky was chucking down buckets of rain, just when the once-scintillating birds were fluttering their wings, on the way to their Promised Land. Perched on the window-sill like a giant bird, I was watching the usual urban life go awry, thanks to the unusually timed rain. The dwellers of the city, especially the officers, return to their home from their workplaces at this time, when the sun prepares to take a rest. I couldn’t take the musty smell of the under-construction building in anymore. I braced myself for a wet ride over the jungle of buildings.

And I took off. My black cloak was creating ripples at its rim, as the wind was crashing against it. The freezing rain pelted my whole body like shards of glass. I imagined the face of my would-be victim, oblivious about the fact that his life will be enshrouded with mist of blackness by me. Yes, I am Death -the creator of darkness and blackness. I am not a mad delinquent, not a perpetrator. I am the warrior who defeated immortality.

I spotted my prey’s house and plunged towards it. I went swiftly through the roof, as if I am empty space. I landed on a place which looked like a sumptuously decorated sitting room. Aah, there he is, my prey. I looked at him closely. His wrinkled face depicted all his sins he had committed. I controlled my eyes away from his face and gazed around the room. Every single bit of this room was made of expensive materials. But the question is –where did all the money come from? As far as I knew, he is a government official who receives a monthly salary which is adequate for passing a normal life not a luxurious one. I wondered where the other family members were. It would be a simple work if my victim’s alone. There would be no shrill cries, no screams reverberating around me.

I looked at him once again. He was reading a book, humming merrily at the same moment. He looked elated for some reason. His life is teetering on the brink of death, and he doesn’t know that.
Poor soul.

Everything was ready. The phosphorescent void was waiting for him, ready to spread its arm and welcome the newcomer.

And then it happened. I had caught yet another prey and dropped it in darkness. I looked at the motionless face of my prey and questioned him: when the music’s over, what happens to all your wealth?

The Betrayal

Richard Holtby never encountered a situation like this. He laid down a punch on the desk, making his companion cringe away from him. How could they know? How could they?

The cavernous meeting room had merely two souls occupying it. Richard Holtby and Fred Gibson were crouched around a monitor. Fear and anger were clearly etched in Richard’s wrinkled face. Never in his twenty years’ experience did he face a predicament like this.

The mail from Taliban was not ambiguous, it was perfectly clear. “We know about your plans to attack our Ameer in Khartoum. Beware.”

Almost instantaneously, he got the answer. CIA has been infiltrated. There could be no other answer to CIA being swamped with legions of unsuccessful attempt. This has to be the answer.

He and Fred had works to do.

***

The barren-looking room was painted in a subtle shade of sky blue colour. In the far corner of that very room, tormented in confusion and anxiety, sat Fred Gibson.

Richard’s message still reverberated inside his head. “CIA has been infiltrated by one. It is the duty of both of us to find him and finish him for good.”

Fred chuckled. How stupid he was, Richard! The CIA has indeed been infiltrated but by more than one.

Fred was serving Islam. It has been years since Hashem approached him, summoned him to the Way of Light. He had embraced the Way since then, and stayed undercover, as a spy in the CIA.

Fred wondered about his partner Nick Roy. Both of them served the Taliban from the enclosed walls of the CIA headquarters. Now, if Richard found out about Nick, it would be his duty to protect him. Brothers protect brothers.

At that very moment, Fred’s cell phone let out a beep. He had a message. He fossicked through the pile of papers and found his cell phone. His heart throbbed as he read the message. Richard found the traitor. It was Nick Roy.

***

The plush bedroom depicted every signs of aristocracy. In the middle of the opulent room, which was as big as a ballroom, was a four-poster bed. There was a lone silhouette lying in the bed. Moonlight penetrated through the window and fell on his face, giving him a scary look.

Richard Holtby was elated. He had solved a huge conundrum. If there was one thing that he learned from his guru Mr. Downing, it was the punishment of traitors – death. Those who break the strong bond of trust and friendship should be dealt with severely. Richard felt grateful that he had Fred by his side. He was an earnest agent with loads of talent.

Just then, he heard an ear-splitting thud. He looked sideways and saw the doors wide open. A masked figure stood in the doorway and pointed a pistol straight towards Richard. With a commanding voice the assailant shouted,

“Don’t move!”

All his hopes plummeted to ground as he recognized the voice.

“You?!” Richard could just whisper.

“Yes, me.” Fred hissed, satisfaction clear in that voice.

The Heckler and Koch pistol recoiled as Fred pulled the trigger. Within a split second, the bullet seared through Richard’s belly.

Richard felt dizzy, pain spreading all over the body and blood streaming down. He had been betrayed.

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