After quite a long hiatus, I’m continuing my short story ‘Tears Of Damascus. You can catch up with earlier parts below and feel free to leave constructive criticism. I’m a learner and always happy and willing to learn from those who know
The hand on his shoulder sent a cold shock wave through Aaron’s body. No time to breathe or look around.
“You don’t have to be afraid” said Muhsin “We just want to talk”
‘We? Who’s We? ‘Aaron Thought. His entire body had turned to stone yet he so badly wanted to turn around and find out who ‘We’ was. Muhsin and Paul sat down in front of him, “We just want to talk” repeated Muhsin “I can see you’re uncomfortable, you don’t need to be”
Muhsin opened a bottle of water and passed it to Aaron. Seeing Aarons’ stunned silence, he decided to take the lead
“I came here to help people, not to fight, I have nothing to do with the so called ‘caliphate’, Y’know I’m not stupid enough to try and challenge them though, I can’t do my work if they see me as a threat”
Paul nodded in approval but said nothing. Muhsin continued
“Even if they (the caliphate) weren’t around, we would have Fahd’s thugs all over us, it makes no difference, we’re here to save lives”
‘Is this their propaganda? Thought Aaron ‘Are they trying to indoctrinate me?’ and again, the recurring ‘who is we?’
“I’d like to show you round our camp” said Muhsin “You can see what we really do, we won’t hide anything, this is my number, call me when you’re ready”
Aaron was gob smacked, if he knows that Aaron is a secret agent, why would he give him his number? As if reading those very thoughts, Muhsin said “I have nothing to lose, if that number gets passed on, I’ll just get rid of it at the very worst. If your people back home want to talk, I’m always open to talk with them but if they just want to make me a scapegoat or capture me and torture me then I have no time for them”
After Muhsin left, Aaron mustered the strength to get up off the ground and head for the camp. He now knew that Paul had accepted Islam and had been concealing it from the others. Had Paul been radicalised by Muhsin and the caliphate? If so, he made a very daunting infiltrator to Syrian Hands and yet he was such a dedicated worker, Could it really be an act? All the training amounted to nothing right now, Aaron was tired, confused and truthfully he was scared. He would have to face Paul in the morning too. Not a prospect he looked forward to.
Morning came and the first person Aaron would see was Paul. Paul had brought breakfast to Aaron’s tent. “Look mate” he said between mouthfuls of bread and olives “I can see you’re aright really. You came here thinking you were gonna catch a terrorist but I know you enjoy being a relief worker. You care about those kids, we all do”
“How could you tell?” asked Aaron. There really seemed no point in trying to cover up his activities, they knew but how did they know?
“You’re not the first mate” said Paul matter of factly. “I’ve been followed from Palestine to Syria” “after a while you can see the signs a mile off” Perhaps getting the better of himself, Aaron failed to stifle his response and blurted out “What signs would those be?” Paul chuckled in a manner ever so slightly sardonic. “Dunno mate, could be that Toff accent that gives it away, secret intelligence agencies aren’t exactly known for hiring working class boys” Paul added in a more sombre tone “I don’t think your hearts in it mate, I can see that from working with you. You’re not one of them, you’re one of us” Aaron listened in stunned silence, stunned because deep down he knew Paul was right.
Image from Flickr Creative Commons user Magnus Halsnes