Paradise

Paradise

A Story by Michael Carr
"

The story of a muslim martyr, the death of his father, and his descent into a terrorist cell, his struggle between good and evil. Likely will be my most controversial piece. Thank you.

"

Where does paradise lie?
In the shadow of the swords.


The remote is light, cheap plastic and wires, but it feels heavy in my hands.

All around the shouts and whispers of a thousand voices vibrate through the still air. Tongues of men and women and child alike. Languages young and old. Hundreds of dialects belonging to thousands of men, each going about their daily routine. Songs of prayer, whispers of secrecy, shrieks of anger and jealousy, pity and contempt, sorrow and remorse. So many voices. So many tongues. But despite the rush of so many people, so many humans rushing through their pitiful lives in some futile hope of accomplishment, none take notice of me. None offer me more than a parting glance.

I'm just an Arab at an airport.
I'm all alone.
And no one notices.

Sometimes the world must be reminded of what they so cherish. What they value most.
Sometimes the world must be reminded of the blessing that is life, and why we cling to it so fervently.

Sometimes that means a simple act of kindness, a simple act of destruction even.
Sometimes it's something much, much worse.

***

"Jamil. Pay attention."
"Sorry, Father. What did you say?

My father was a great man. A strong and simple man. A philosopher.

"I asked you, why do you think it is that the extremists hate the rest of the world so? Why do you think we hate the Americans so? The Jews and the Christians and the Hindus?"

But where we lived, there was no place for philosophers.

"They're evil."

He slapped me.

"And who told you this?"
"Uncle Falid."
"Your Uncle Falid? The Jihadist?"
"He's a smart man--"

He slapped me again.

"No. He's a vain man. A slave to his own blind interpretation of the world. He misinterprets the one book he believes in. The holy Koran. He seeks fire and bloodshed. He views other religions, other people, as evil. Allah did not create our world only so we would destroy one another. He created us to obey and love and serve him. He may be a vengeful God, but He loves us all the same. He is our Father. He is our King. He weeps at the state of our world. He weeps for what we have become. Killing and maiming and slaughtering our own kind. Not just our own kind, but others all the same. Allah created us to embrace our brothers, whether or not they choose to embrace him."
"But Father, the Jews and the Christians--" I began.

He waved my argument aside.

"We are one and the same. We may not believe in the same things. They may be judged more harshly for their beliefs in the end, but we have no right to judge them. You see, Muslims do not believe in the concept of original sin."
"Original sin?"
"Yes. The Christian belief that man is born tainted. They believe in the idea of heaven and hell. Surely you learned of this in your studies?"
"We learned of hell."
"And what do you think of when I speak of hell?"
"Fire and brimstone."

My father would shake his head.

"Fire and brimstone," he repeated, chuckling, "when the Christian God cast Lucifer from his Paradise, where do you think he fell?"
"I don't know."
"He fell to Earth, my dear, Jamil. He fell to Earth. This is why mankind feels so inclined to hate one another. Our capacity to hate. This was our punishment. Do you understand?"
"No."

My father sighed.

"I didn't think you would."

I was naive. I did not know.

"But Father, you're speaking of another faith. How does this apply to our own?"
"In the end, how is it any different from our own?" he muttered.
"What?"
"Nothing. Kneel now. It's time to pray."

Three days later, my father was stoned to death.

***

A female voice rings out through speakers, echoing along the terminal.

"Attention all passengers. Flight's 368 to Hawaii, 374 to New York, and 391 to Washington have all been postponed due to further notice. Please be patient as we at LAX attempt to sort out the problems. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Thank you."

The voice is disgustingly fake. Falsely emotional and optimistic. It can not disguise to absolute disgust the announcer feels for her job. The animatronic boredom. The announcement is followed shortly by sighs, moans, and grunts of dissatisfaction by three separate sets of passengers, each feeling that their destinations are growing further and further away from them.

They're right.

My hand is hidden beneath the folds of my suit, the detonator and device carefully concealed. Tucked away from prying eyes. They've done a good job on the device. It leaves barely a bulge in the suit. It's small and durable. Incredibly lightweight.

Then why does it feel so heavy?

***

I stood watching the sunset over the ocean. The world around me had vanished. All that remained were the rays of light upon the waves. The rocking boats with heavy nets and groaning machinery. Everyday I left home to watch the movement of the ocean and the color of the sky and the sun as it drifted beyond the edge of the earth and left my world to stumble blindly in the dark.

A man was watching me. I could feel his eyes upon my back.
I left. The man followed.

He caught up and walked by my side.

"You like the ocean?" he asked.
"Yes."
"Me too."

I was still several blocks away from our home.

"You like the sunset?"
"I do."
"Me too."

I decided to humor him. That's all it was, just a joke. But it didn't stop me from moving faster.

"I have a boat, you know," he said.
"Really?"
"Yes."

My hands were numb. My body was shaking.

"You could go on it. If your parents say it's okay."
"Okay."
"I think they'd be okay with it."

I turned the corner and began to run.
The man followed.

Up ahead a white van pulled to a stop. The door swung open and my Uncle Falid stepped out. He stood staring. I stopped dead in my tracks.


I thought he was watching me, but he wasn't. He was watching the man.

"Jamil. Get in the van."

I didn't hesitate.
Falid stood watching the man. His hands shook.

"I don't want to see you near my nephew again. You hear me?"

The man heard.

Falid entered the van and shut the door. I sat on the cold metal floor, breathing harshly, my arms crossed and my head down, trying not to cry.


Falid watched me. He hushed me quietly, but he did not comfort me. The van continued on down the road, toward the neighborhood where I lived. But the van didn't stop there. No. The van continued on.

"Falid?"

He hushed me.

A muffled grunt came from the back of the van.

Across from me sat two men. Each held a rusted Kalashnikov, propped against their shoulders, like sentries. The noise had come from the man sitting between the two. His hands were bound, his face covered by a black sack. He rocked violently, his head turned towards my direction.

The van continued onward. We were heading into the desert.

***

The watch around my wrist continues to tick away. Still no sound. The alarm hasn't sounded. I must wait. Allah watch over me, I must wait.

Around me many tourists and natives gather, sitting in the uncomfortable plastic seats. A fat man fans his face with a white cap, struggling to breathe. A skinny black man with cornrows stares at the obese man, inching away slowly. A teenager sits next to his girlfriend, their heads resting against one another's, either fast asleep or deep in thought. A young woman sits beside her husband, talking sternly to their two children, a young boy and girl, each with bright blonde hair like their mother's. The two children take off at a run, speeding around the seats, each making their own variation of what an airplane sounds like.

The boy speeds off beside me, bumping my shoulder and quickly shouting an apology as he runs on.

The girl follows her brother past me, then stops. She turns to face me, her eyes wide and staring, a shy smile splashed across her face.


***

We pulled to a stop about twenty miles outside of Damman. Falid took me by the shoulder and guided me out of the vehicle. My heart was beginning to pick up speed again. Why was I here?

The two men with the rifles arose, shoving the hooded man forward and into the dirt. He grunted in pain. I stood watching. The driver of the truck shut off the engine and exited the cab.

A calm silence spread across the land.

The driver returned to the group with three shovels, the metal glittering in the moonlight. Falid took one, pressing the second into my hands.

"Dig," he said.

Several hours passed. Soon the hole was deep enough. The hooded man was dropped inside. The dirt began to shift back into the hole. I already knew what was to come. Before long the man was completely buried, save for his head, which arose like a single, fat stalk, the only plant left in a dead land.

The rocks were already laid at our feet.

"Fasiez, remove the sack."

The driver leaned forward and pulled the sack away.

My father lay buried in the sand, his mouth bound with a rag held in by razor wire.
The driver removed the gag.

"Falid! You b*****d. Curse you! Curse you! How dare you take Jamil here! How dare you!"

Falid ignored my father's rant.

"Brother. You have spoken out against our cause. You have taught your son of the infidel's worlds. You have tried to reason with these men. These heathens. You have lead them into our mist, with your words. You are a threat to all of Muslim life."

My father's head shook in the sand.

"What sort of life!? What sort!? Where you murder innocent men and women and children! You are a fool, Falid. You know what I think? I think you are slaves! You care not for what the Koran teaches. You only care for your own selfish views of the world!"
"Enough, Brother," Falid whispered.
"No. Do you think the world will remember you for what you've done!? No! You will be lost to the ashes of history. Lost like so many martyrs before you. You are no better than the evil, propagandic infidels you so despise. You are slaves."

The first rock struck my father's face.
Blood jutted up from his twisted nose, dribbling down his mouth. He spit as he cried, pools of blood gathering at his neck.

The driver threw next, catching my father across the eye. Blue began to rise and swell. A deep gash opened down my father's forehead upon the third.
His screams echoed through the still air.

The silence was broken.

Falid placed the fourth rock in my hand.

"It's the only way you'll learn, Jamil," he whispered.

I stared into my father's broken face, drenched with fresh blood, purple and raw. I turned to face Falid, his wild black eyes dancing their dance, the dance of madness. I let the rock drop to the desert sand below.

"No."

The men behind me cocked the trigger guards of the Kalashnikovs, raising them level with my back.

"You don't understand, Jamil. You have no choice."

I watched my father stare up at me, grimacing in pain. He smiled.

"It's ok. It's ok, son."
"No. Father--"
"It's ok," he whispered.

Falid smiled, bending down and placing the rock in my hand, cupping my fingers together. He rubbed his hands across the top of my head.

"You may think me evil now, but you will see. There can be no peace in this world. There can be no rest. The servants of God are always needed."

The fourth rock was thrown.

***

The little girl stands across from me, staring into my eyes. Still smiling. She's dressed in a small pink skirt and shirt, like a ballerina's outfit. In the distance her brother shouts for her to follow him, dismayed by her sudden lack of interest in the game.

The little girl just stares, no longer content to make airplane noises. I raise my hand and give it a little wave. She waves back. My heart skips a beat. The skin upon her left hand is charred and burnt, rumpled and raw, a single mark upon her beauty.

I check my watch. Soon. The end will come. The infidels will suffer. And when all is gone, I will be sent to paradise. The paradise where my family lies. Where all is good and right. Where no more evil exists to burn the lands.

"Hi," the girl whispers, and takes off running, laughing as she continues the airplane hums.

There will be paradise. There will be love. My father will not have be left to die, cold and alone in a desert. My mother will still have her son. All will be well. In the end there will be paradise.

But what if we are wrong?

The alarm on my watch begins to beep.
It is time.

***

My father was dead.

Falid was my father. He would lead me, teach me, care for me. He would train me to martyr. And in the end he would send me to my death.

The white van pulled to a stop. The door slid open. I thought about running, but there was nowhere to go.

We were in the heart of it all. The origin of madness. I stood up and glanced around the camp, the iron gates and chains blocking all sides. We were among a training cell. I would never leave. All around me men and young boys rushed to and fro, carrying weapons, wires, sheet metal. As I passed the firing range several boys held rifles, firing wildly into wooden targets. A toddler sat alone in the sand, holding a box of matches. A G.I. Joe browned and burned under the flames. The child laughed, clapping his hands together. Men in black masks marched side by side through makeshift obstacle courses, climbing ladders and bustling through live fire.

As we neared the end of the tour, a harsh smell hit my nostrils. I tried to cover my nose but Falid slapped my hands away.

"There is something you must see," he whispered.

He placed his hand upon my should and guided me beyond the camp. Ahead a small ridge rose up, ending in a peak that shadowed over a valley below. Falid led me to the top and together we gazed down upon the land.

Broken, burnt, ruined. The land was scarred and gone, each tree blackened and dead. Ash floated in the air with each swirl of wind. And then the smell. The smell of rotten flesh. I tried to turn away but Falid held me in my place, his hand locked upon my chin.

"Look," he said.

Far below stood the remains of a mosque. Its once shining white marble now stained gray, turned to rubble and ruin. The bodies of hundreds, thousands, lay dead at it's gates. Women clasped children to their bodies, twisted and deformed. Arms stretched to the heavens, pleading with Allah to save them from the fires that struck his house of worship. But Allah never came. No one ever came. They were left to burn and die and cry. As they always were. As they always would be. I glanced across the land. All black, save for a single blot of color that stained the land.

Arising from the ashes, buried in the black stand, stood the American flag, waving proud and free.

***

I slowly stop the beeping watch.

I unzip my bag and lay the cloth before me, spreading it neatly, facing towards the terminal glass. Soft rays of light begin to spill over the land. The sun is setting. Beautiful showers of golden light twist into the air, spiralling in multitudes of color as they pass through the windows. I sink to my knees and bow my head, whispering aloud the Salatu-l-Maghrib, the sunset prayer.

"Bismillah hir rahman nir raheem," I begin, but there is no time.

I speak quickly, hastily, proclaiming my love.


The remote is heavy in my hand. My face is slick with sweat. Tears stream from my eyes. My body begins to shake. I realize there are people watching me. I must hurry. The bomb against my chest has sprung to life, glowing lightly under my suit. The wires and soft clay of the explosives sting my skin. I lean up, still sitting upon my knees.

My father lies dead in the sand. My mother weeps. Falid waits, watching the airport for the holy fire that will rise into the sky.

There will be paradise. I know it. There will be love within the world, a world where my people are truly free from tyranny and hate. Where great men do not die as martyrs, do not suffer an unjust death before their father's eyes.

But what if I'm wrong?

There is no time to waste. I have trained. Eight long years have I trained. I will follow into the footsteps of history or vanish into its sands. I raise my head, tearing open my suit, letting the people around see their fate. The screams have begun. Women and children grasp one another, husbands comfort wives. The teenager holds his girlfriend close, smoothing her hair, her face buried in his chest. The fat man holds the crying black man, his eyes wide and haunting. The little girl and her brother hold hands, confused, watching me as I shout.

I raise my hands to the sky, the remote clenched tightly in my fist, the copper wire dangling as it connects from the clay explosive to the detonator. Already security has arrived, their weapons drawn, focused on my chest. They're screaming for me to drop my weapon.
The last of my prayers ring through the air.

"Ameen," I whisper, holding the remote to my chest.

I press down upon the trigger.


© 2009 Michael Carr



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Dunh dunh dunh another one bites the dust. I want to rehabilitate the suicide bomber. I don't want to stop him, you understand, I just want to teach him the greater bliss and blessing to be received from Allah if he takes himself to some remote area (hundreds of miles from other people) and shows his devotion there. In theory, sooner than later the whole problem of suicide bombers would eliminate itself. I wonder that the CIA hasn't tried it already. They do all sorts of other cornflake psychology stuff. A cool write man, I liked it.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.



Andrew Nelson Stewart Andrew Nelson Stewart
In poetry and to find answers of who we are while walking the ephemeral road upon cracks of pain signs leading you.
The first mistake
A band of soldiers finds diplomacy in the dreg forest comes with consequences.

Reviews

In love. In the country i live, i hear about suicide bombing on a daily basis so i can relate to this. A job well done.

Posted 3 Years Ago


This is, truly, an amazing write.
Such detail and great story-telling.
You have created a work of art, with this piece.
The ending is brilliant, well, the whole story is brilliant.

Posted 7 Years Ago


Once again! A great Write by Mr. Carr! :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


Good write, it grasps the attention of the reader because we are constantly questioning ourselves and others and whatever religious figure we believe in. Aside from some minor spelling errors it is a good piece. Keep writing.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This really got to to me, moving. Fantastic! Nice title too

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Dunh dunh dunh another one bites the dust. I want to rehabilitate the suicide bomber. I don't want to stop him, you understand, I just want to teach him the greater bliss and blessing to be received from Allah if he takes himself to some remote area (hundreds of miles from other people) and shows his devotion there. In theory, sooner than later the whole problem of suicide bombers would eliminate itself. I wonder that the CIA hasn't tried it already. They do all sorts of other cornflake psychology stuff. A cool write man, I liked it.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This was... there are no words to describe this! It was awesome and very moving! I really like this and this is different from your other pieces and that makes it awesome! Its a very moving piece! Loved it!!!

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Michael, this is so different from your other stories.
It is a tragic story,
the mind of a terrorist, is so discerning,
yet you tic into it with much insight,
great write, ---mishel

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on March 17, 2009
Last Updated on March 18, 2009

Author

Michael Carr
Michael Carr

Prosper, TX



About
My name is Michael Carr. I'm 20 years old now, god help me, attending UTD on a full ride scholarship in the Biology pre-Med program. IF YOU ARE READING THROUGH MY WORK FOR THE FIRST TIME, PLEASE HE.. more..

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