My Writers Circle

The Coffee Shop => The Gallery => Topic started by: Hunter on May 22, 2008, 08:13:07 AM

Title: Horde ch13
Post by: Hunter on May 22, 2008, 08:13:07 AM
Rasheed spoke quietly to his mother as she rested in the cot that Rabia had made up for her. ‘The soldier is still alive Mother. He asked for a prayer mat. I will go and take one to him now,’ he said.

      His mother smiled. ‘I don’t think he’ll be saying his prayers Rasheed. He probably just needs something to sit on.’ Her expression grew solemn. ‘Be careful my son. We don’t know who is watching, or who attacked these soldiers. Trust me, this is the Devil’s work.’

      ‘God will protect me.’ He squeezed her hand as she laid back and closed her eyes. Her life seemed to be fading before him.

      Aisha entered the room. He turned, and for the first time saw her without her burka. ‘I’m coming with you,’ she said.

      Rasheed felt suddenly self-conscious, aware that his mouth had dropped and he was unable to speak. She was more beautiful than he had imagined. Her skin glowed, and her smile radiated warmth. Aisha was virtually a woman and many Afghan men would consider her suitable for marriage. Rasheed only wished he had the wealth to take care of her. But he was only a teenage boy, trying to be strong for his family until his father returned. He felt his cheeks flush. ‘Why do you want to come?’ he asked her.

      ‘Because I can help. I have made dhal and rice for the soldier to eat. And I also have this.’ From behind her back she produced a tatty, dog-eared book.

      ‘What good is that?’

      ‘It contains English words, translated into Pashto. I got it from Mullah Ahmed. If the soldier speaks and we don’t understand, we can just look it up.’ She opened the book to show him.

      Rasheed screwed up his face. ‘But it’s dark outside and there are no lights in the hideout. Besides, the writing is too tiny to read.’

      ‘We are not such peasants that we do not have light Rasheed. I have a torch. It is only small but the batteries are still good.’

       Rasheed had no answer. An attractive girl who was confident as well as resourceful seemed a dangerous mix. He didn’t need Mullah Ahmed to tell him that.

      ‘Well? Am I coming or not?’

      He heard his mother chuckle behind him. She lifted her head from the pillow. ‘She is a strong girl Rasheed. You would do well to take heed. Let her go with you, but you must be careful, the pair of you.’

      ‘Okay. If you insist.’ He turned to Aisha. ‘But you must do as I say. It could be dangerous. Do you understand?’

      She nodded and her eyes sparkled. Minutes later they were crossing the street to Rasheed’s house to fetch water from the well. The night air was cold, the moon a bright silver disc lighting their way. A dog howled somewhere in the distance, and the twang of a mandolin drifted from a nearby window. They did not speak as they entered the house.

      Rasheed heaved a pail of water from the well, dipped his finger and tasted it. He tasted it again, but with a scooped handful this time, and decided the water was still good.

      After filling the pitcher, he and Aisha sneaked out of town and made their way across the desert wasteland towards the hideout. When they reached the building, Rasheed told her to stay outside while he checked the soldier was okay. He laid down the pitcher, along with the prayer mat, and carefully slid the makeshift door aside.

      ‘Take the torch,’ Aisha whispered.

      ‘No. We mustn’t use it unless we have to. It might give us away.’ Rasheed put his finger to his lips and when he was sure she’d got the message, he stepped inside. Groping his way in the pitch black, he stumbled upon the mound of blankets in the corner of the room. Blindly, he felt around the floor but couldn’t find the soldier.

      Suddenly a shriek went up outside. Rasheed stood up and hurried back towards the door, hit the wall, nearly tripped, found the doorway and ran through it.

      Aisha was stumbling backwards, hands to her face, expressing shock. He followed her stare. To his right, leaning against the wall, was the dark silhouette of a tall man wearing combat fatigues. The British soldier.

      Rasheed grabbed Aisha’s hand and they stood together watching the bedraggled figure trying to communicate with hand gestures that made no sense. The soldier murmured something, and dropped wearily to his knees. ‘Mat,’ he groaned.

      ‘I have it,’ Rasheed said. ‘But you must go inside. It’s dangerous out here. Dangerous for all of us.’

      The man’s eyelids fluttered, his head slumped against the wall.

      ‘Give him some water,’ Aisha said.

      Rasheed lifted the pitcher, and set it down next to the man. He dipped his hands in and scooped some into the soldier’s mouth. Aisha tentatively held out the bowl of rice and dhal. The soldier accepted the food with a trembling hand and used his fingers to eat. After a few mouthfuls, he looked up and said something that neither of them understood.

     She switched on the torch and opened the dictionary. But when the soldier spoke again, Rasheed told her he didn’t ed the book. He understood the words perfectly. ‘Thank you.’

      He managed a faltering reply in his best English. ‘You welcome.’ Feeling pleased with his efforts, Rasheed unfurled the prayer mat and held it up proudly. ‘For you.’

      The soldier began mumbling again. Nothing that either of them could translate. Then the man prodded his chest with his forefinger. ‘Christian,’ he said. He repeated the word slowly. ‘Chris-chian.’

      Rasheed was barely able to contain his excitement. ‘Yes.’ He pointed at the man. ‘You Chreezchen.’

      The soldier nodded. Rasheed grinned and placed his hand on his chest. ‘Muslim,’ he said. He pointed at Aisha. ‘Muslim. Pashtun.’

      But the soldier seemed to be losing consciousness. His eyes rolled, and he fell forward into the dirt.

      ‘Quick Aisha. We must carry him inside.’

      The girl wedged the torch between her teeth and grabbed the soldier’s legs while Rasheed took his arms, and together they struggled through the narrow doorway into the house. The man was heavy and they couldn’t help but drop him onto the blankets. Rasheed fetched the food and water from outside and placed them on the floor next to him.

      Aisha played the torchlight over the man’s scarred face. ‘We must get help. He needs more than we can give him.’

      Rasheed had not considered this. Who would they ask? Indeed, who could they trust? ‘We’ll wait until morning and see if his strength returns. Then maybe he can tell us who to contact. For now we must leave him to sleep. Come, we must go.’

      They made their way back across the dunes. From here, the town was discernable by the handful of faded yellow lights. This time Aisha insisted on using her torch to guide them across the harsh terrain and Rasheed did not argue. ‘When is your father coming back to live with you?’ she asked him.

      Rasheed was shocked by the impertinence of the question. He shot her a look of contempt.

      ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you,’ she said.

      He shrugged. ‘My father is Talib. He does as he pleases. But he would not be happy with what we are doing here.’

      ‘What . . . helping the soldier? He would be angry with us?’


      Aisha pondered for a moment. ‘But I can’t imagine it. He always seemed such a kind man, and your mother loves him dearly.’

      ‘Sometimes kind – yes. But he hates all foreigners, even foreign Muslims, as well other Afghans who do not believe in the old ways. He is only happy around his own people Aisha.’

       ‘My father is much the same. He does business with foreigners but would not help a man in need. Especially not a foreign soldier.’

        Rasheed couldn’t hide his resentment. ‘Where is your father anyway?’

        ‘Kandahar. He says he cannot make a living here, so he returns every few weeks to bring us money and food, but only if there is a bus available. We are lucky to see him twice a month.’

       ‘Does he still repair cars?’

      ‘I suppose. I don’t ask.’  

      They reached the main road into town and Aisha stopped. Rasheed continued on a few more yards before he realized she was no longer at his shoulder. He turned and saw her silhouette motionless in the centre of the road. Behind her, to the north and across to the west, the desert gave way to a ridge of mountains which in daylight provided a sweeping landscape of rugged beauty. But at night this terrain formed a dark, jagged profile that resembled the jaws of a giant beast.

      ‘Come on Aisha, we don’t want . . .’ He trailed off, sensing there was something wrong. ‘What is it?’

      He could tell she was shaking. Her eyes stared out into the darkness towards the peaks in the west.

     ‘Aisha what is it?’

      Her arm lifted slowly and she pointed the torch into the empty void.

     Rasheed tried to disguise his growing anxiety, and raised his voice. ‘This is no time for games. Tell me what’s wrong.’

      She spun to face him; thrust the torchlight under her chin, illuminating her face, in a contorted, terrifying glare. She growled from her throat, and Rasheed jumped back, yelping in fright. Aisha instantly doubled-up with laughter.

      That made it worse. Rasheed was furious. ‘You are the Devil!’ He turned, and marched back towards town.

      She called after him. ‘I’m sorry. I just couldn’t resist.’

      ‘The Devil’s daughter!’ he yelled over his shoulder. But then he stopped suddenly, and turned around to stare into the desert once more.

      Aisha gasped and shone the torch across the dunes. The sound came again, echoing across the mountains in the distance. It sounded like the roar of a very large and powerful animal. The sky lit up with bright flashes and the air  crackled to the sound of gunfire. The two young Afghans turned and ran but this time their terror was real.

Title: Re: Horde ch13
Post by: domenic on May 22, 2008, 11:44:54 AM
Hunter, this is not your best work... it's not the writing, your writing is fine; it's the subject matter. It reads like the writer has never been in that country, or, has any idea about the nature of the people. The sound is just not right.
Title: Re: Horde ch13
Post by: Hunter on May 22, 2008, 01:50:55 PM
Thanks Dom,
 I am now going to go and shoot myself. I am an utter failure. Have you any idea how long I spent researching this?
 What bits don't work (please don't say all of it). :'(

 I'm sloping off now to get drunk and drown my sorrows. Help me man.
Title: Re: Horde ch13
Post by: domenic on May 22, 2008, 02:05:37 PM

Thanks Dom,
 I am now going to go and shoot myself. I am an utter failure. Have you any idea how long I spent researching this?
 What bits don't work (please don't say all of it).

 I'm sloping off now to get drunk and drown my sorrows. Help me man.  

The writing is fine....It also looks like you did your research...names, places etc...The people come across as characters, not real people. I don't see dirty feet...I don't smell anything...I guess the best way I can put it; "It's to clean." I don't see little habits that real people have. Some people rub their chin before they speak, or they have a habit of spitting.

It's not that you wrote something's what you left out. You didn't fail; you rushed.
I have read your work before, you are a good writer...If you were not, I would not have made a comment.
If you shoot yourself, can I have all your un-published works?
Title: Re: Horde ch13
Post by: Hunter on May 22, 2008, 05:20:34 PM
I understand. Of course . .  it is a little sterile.

Thanks for pointing it out mate. You're right.
Title: Re: Horde ch13
Post by: thatLous on May 25, 2008, 05:34:06 AM
It's written just fine, Hunter! In fact, the only thing missing is the imagery of the place; the culture, if you will, just as domenic mentioned :) But let me mention the positive ones now:

I like how everything is progressing in this story, and I got a hype reading the last part. I haven't read the rest of your snippets yet, but I'm planning to go through everyone's stuff if I can! The interaction between Rasheed, Aisha, and the soldier was realistic for me, and I definitely loved that part.

I can also feel the heavy dread that they feel as they kept the soldier in... all in all, it's great!


ps. I don't see you all much now :( Hope you're doing all right. And if you need something, don't hesitate to PM me
Title: Re: Horde ch13
Post by: SteveJ on May 25, 2008, 05:36:01 AM
Have you sent 'The Horde' anywhere, mate? To a publisher, I mean.
Title: Re: Horde ch13
Post by: Hunter on May 25, 2008, 05:46:03 AM
Hi Guys,
 Thanks for reading all my snippets. I'm using this board to do a final tidy up before I finally put this story to bed.

Steve, yeah I have now sent this out (about 10 days ago) to a number of agents. I haven't had any positive feedback yet, but then again, I didn't expect it, but I will let you know how it goes. This is my first time and I understand that it's particularly difficult to get published when you've got nothing else against your name. I suppose that's where you're Hardline magazine comes in. It's sounds like a good starting point and I've been thinking about talking to you about it for some time.

Louie, I'm more than okay mate - just very busy at the moment. I am a little worried about RD though. Has anyone tried to contact her recently?

Cheers Hunter 
Title: Re: Horde ch13
Post by: SteveJ on May 25, 2008, 06:05:41 AM
I waited about 6 months to hear back from one organisation, so it's early days yet, mate.
I think it's certainly good enough though. :)

As for Hardline, you're welcome to submit some excerpts for the mag, though it has to be borne
in mind that some publishers are rather fussy about any kind of publication, sadly.
Title: Re: Horde ch13
Post by: thatLous on May 25, 2008, 11:15:19 AM
She's been busy with work, I guess. Last time we talked she was running off and being busy with her job  :D Right now I'm having problems myself (lazy partners... I end up doing everything myself, aigh).

You'll get that published sooner than later, Hunter, good luck!  :)