Burning For Justice: from the Chronicles of Purgatory Station (Part 7)

BurningForJusticePart7

Burning For Justice

:from the Chronicles of Purgatory Station

(Part 7)

by

Scott William Foley

He stood uncomfortably in a black and orange, form-fitting costume upon a rooftop surrounded by other garishly clad individuals.   The one called Turf, the only one wearing real clothes—a suit, no less—engaged in a reserved conversation with the famous Colossal named Freedom.  The others he did not recognize.  A man with blonde hair wearing a silver shell of a uniform looked awkward, unsure of his part in all of this.  The press called him Silver Streak.  Another man, the youngest of them all, introduced himself to the world not so long ago as Excitor.  Wearing dark glasses and black leather pants, Excitor appeared primed and ready for action with blue electricity jumping from hand to hand.  He obviously showed off—probably for Freedom.

Though he remained upon the outer edge of the group, when they asked him his name he readily replied, “El Fuego.”  He intended to join this new team, to grow close to Freedom, and so while he didn’t want to seem too eager, he also didn’t want to come across as lacking confidence.  He could already tell Turf and Freedom thought little of Silver Streak.  El Fuego felt certain Silver Streak’s place on the team would not last long.

Their  supposed field commander, whom Devil Woman promised to deliver upon that rooftop of First Redeemer Church, had yet to arrive.

He counted himself fortunate at gaining notice so soon after his debut in Purgatory Station.  He’d heard about the Nocturnal Knight.  In Purgatory Station, his fame rivaled Freedom’s.  The Knight lacked international acclaim—probably by design.  The Nocturnal Knight gave every indication of only being concerned with his city alone.  El Fuego figured the veteran didn’t care about the rest of the world, including the raging war in Ulrakistan.  A war where more civilians died on a daily basis than soldiers.

However, El Fuego agreed that the serial murderer labeled Shadow Serpent needed stopped.  According to Devil Woman, that purpose inspired this team’s formation.  She said the Nocturnal Knight himself handpicked them and she recruited on his behalf.

When Devil Woman finally arrived with the Nocturnal Knight, what little of his faced showed illustrated grave annoyance.

To El Fuego, the Nocturnal Knight’s satisfaction meant little.  After all, his ultimate objective remained earning Freedom’s trust.

***

“Let her go, amigo,” El Fuego demanded.

He saw a thug sprawled out on top of an innocent woman, holding her at knifepoint, about to violate her in ways unmentionable.  The woman screamed at the top of her lungs for help.  El Fuego could only see the assailant’s back, for he pinned the woman down in the shadows of a nearby dumpster within the forlorn alley.

He could eradicate those shadows easily enough, but he hoped it wouldn’t have to come to that.

“Who in the hell are you?” the thug growled from over his shoulder as he wriggled upon the woman.

Taking a deep breath, El Fuego next replied, “Sin importancia, gamberro.  Just leave her alone.”  He felt the sweat seeping from his skin beneath the prickly mask.  The costume he wore clung to his entire body, from the orange boots all the way to the mask that covered all but his forehead and hair.  Though mostly black, his uniform sported an orange flame burning over most of his stomach and chest.

“She’s mine, freak,” the villain bellowed.  “Go back to Mexico and get your own.”

El Fuego swallowed hard.  He should have known better.  Purgatory Station proved a tough place to live, with tough people and tough criminals.

“I was born in the States,” El Fuego notified.  And then, a small spark flickered in the palms of his hands.  Within seconds, those sparks erupted into two small flames, which in turn exploded into two infernos, illuminating the entire alley.

El Fuego noticed the woman lift her head from the filthy pavement.  She had red hair and wore a terribly inappropriate, knowing smile.

Setting aside his befuddlement, El Fuego said, “I’m warning you one last time, villano.  Get off of her—now.”

The brute did indeed stand up, but it was not to change his mind.  He looked down at the innocent woman, his eyes ablaze with carnal lust and hellacious evil, and grumbled, “You stay put or I’ll make it tons worse on you, understand?”

The woman simply nodded in understanding and winked at her attacker.

“You’re a kinky one, aren’t you?” the antagonist quipped.

El Fuego found the woman’s coolness peculiar, as well as her unwillingness to make a break for it.

Tossing his knife from hand to hand, the hooligan chuckled, “You think a little fire scares me, freak?  No dice, pal.  I’ve dealt with your sort before.  I haven’t cut me up a costume in some time, though.  I’m going to enjoy this.”

Eyes widening within the slits of his mask, El Fuego realized he would not escape violence.  In an almost pleading voice, El Fuego said, “Tu eres muy tonto.  There’s no way I can avoid hurting you.  Badly.”

The hoodlum grinned like a jackal and whispered, “I’ll take my chances.”

Seconds later, after a great deal of screaming and burnt flesh, El Fuego approached the woman, saying, “Do you have a phone on you?  We should call an ambulance.”

El Fuego watched as the woman rose to her feet with her back to him.  She reached inside her overcoat, affixed something to her face, before turning.  She removed her coat and revealed a silly costume as well.

Eyes behind a black, diamond-shaped mask studied him.  El Fuego returned the favor, taking note of her red bodysuit and thick, black belt.  The letters “DW” functioned as the buckle.

“I’m Devil Woman,” she said with a smirk.  “And we’ll call the cops, but no ambulance.”

Attempting to block out the man’s moans behind him, El Fuego stated, “I’ve seriously hurt him.  He needs medical attention, ahora.”

Devil Woman crossed her arms.  El Fuego noticed she wore black, opera length gloves past her elbows.  The rest of her arms were bare.  “He would have raped me.  Knowing that, do you honestly think he deserves a doctor?”

El Fuego had no response other than to look away from her.

“Look,” she began, “I’ll call the police in a minute and then they’ll make sure he gets treatment, okay?  But first I want to talk to you.”

Snapping his head to attention, El Fuego asked, “This whole thing … you set me up to find me, didn’t you?”

“You got me there.  Pretty sharp.  You’re new in Purgatory and no one knows much about you, much less how to find you.”

“You’re loco,” El Fuego scoffed.  “You could have been hurt.”

This time, Devil Woman sneered, “Please.  That rapist was due to get burned tonight one way or the other.  He should feel lucky he’s still got all his body parts, if you know what I mean.”

El Fuego turned his back and started to take his leave.

“Where are you going?” Devil Woman shouted.

“We’re done here, diabla.  You entrapped that man and now he’ll be scarred for the rest of his life because of me.  You’re reckless and amoral and I want nothing to do with you.”

“I’ve got an ally who’s very interested in you.  We’re putting a team together to take down the Shadow Serpent.  You’ve heard of him, right—the Shadow Serpent?”

El Fuego stopped at the end of the alley and faced her anew.  “Si.  I’ve heard of him.  He’s ruthless and needs to be stopped.”

“Exactly,” Devil Woman agreed.  “The only surviving member of the Absolutes is in charge of this new team.  He wants to train you and help you stop criminals without giving them irreparable damage.  Personally, I think a little permanent disfigurement can be a great deterrent, but what do I know?”

El Fuego thought for a moment, but then remembered his mission while in Purgatory Station.  He said, “Lo siento.  I can’t.”

“Why not?” she asked.

“ … I just can’t,” he finally replied.

“Don’t you at least want to know who else is on the team so far?”

El Fuego said nothing, so Devil Woman took that as an invitation to continue: “I’ve got another newbie calling himself Excitor.  Turf told me he’s in.  I’m working on that guy Silver Streak, and Freedom is risking everything to take part.”

“Que?  Freedom’s on the team?” El Fuego asked.

“Yeah, hot stuff.  I just said that.  You got a thing for Freedom or something?”

El Fuego felt his cheeks flush beneath his mask.

“I’m just giving you a hard time,” Devil Woman admitted.  She approached him and whispered into his ear so that the writhing goon behind them couldn’t hear, “Look, meet us on the top of First Redeemer Church in three nights, yeah?  Just be there; we need your kind of fire power—no pun intended.”

She stuck out her hand, and, after pretending to deliberate, El Fuego took it, saying, “I’ll be there.  Just don’t forget to call an ambulance.”

He couldn’t believe his luck.

Devil Woman watched him walk away and muttered, “Yeah, right.  We’re going to have to work on that bleeding heart of yours, fire boy.”

 

***

“Hola, senora.  I’m interested in the room you have for rent.”

Etta Hurston stood in the doorway to her building.  The young man appeared nice enough, but being nice wasn’t her main prerequisite for tenants.

“You do have a job, Mr.—”

“Vicente.  I’m Iago Sol Vicente, and yes, Ms. Hurston, I do indeed have a job.  I start next Monday at The Arena.  My cousin owns a concession stand and has agreed to take me on.”

Etta stepped out of her door, closed it, and asked, “So you’re from out of town, then?”

“Si,” Iago responded.  “I’m originally from Wardner, Idaho.”

“Never heard of it,” Etta confessed.

“Not many have,” Iago replied.

“Are there many Hispanics in Wardner, Mr. Vicente?”

Though slightly taken back by her bluntness, Iago answered, “Less than three percent, Ms. Hurston.  It’s a small town.”

“Married?” she asked.

Iago winced just a little at her question as he struggled against past memories, then answered, “Single.  Always have been and probably always will be.”  He forced out a laugh at the conclusion of his statement.

“Oh, I don’t believe that,” Etta replied flatly.  “You’re a good enough looking boy.”

Iago frowned a little as he retorted, “Gracias?”

Etta then confirmed, “And you’re here to work at your cousin’s concession stand in The Arena.”

Iago said, “Times are tough, Ms. Hurston.  The mining industry in Wardner isn’t what it used to be.  I thought I’d better jump at this opportunity.  Besides, I’ve always wanted to visit the east coast.  Figured I’d search for a little freedom, you know?  What have I got to lose, right?”

Etta studied him a bit longer, then asked, “There’s a five hundred dollar down payment.  Do you have it?”

“Do you take checks?”

“You have a bank account?”

Iago laughed, “Of course!  I’ve already been to the bank and transferred my funds.  Are you always so distrustful, Ms. Hurston?”

For the first time, Etta smiled, “When you’re in the rental business, Mr. Vicente, especially in this part of town, you learn to tread carefully.”

“Yo comprendo,” Iago returned.

“Let me show you the space,” she said while offering her hand.

Iago shook it and said, “I’d like that.”

As they walked through the building’s foyer, Etta said, “I’ll have to do a background check while I wait for the check to clear.  Do you have someplace to stay in the meantime?”

“Not a problem,” Iago said.  “I can stay at my cousin’s as long as it’s only for a few days.  Let me know if you need any references.”

***

“Buenos dias,” the man named Iago Sol Vicente said to a woman as he took his appointed seat next to her.

“Hi, there,” she replied before glancing up at him.

Settling in, he fastened his seatbelt and bowed his head in prayer.

“Nervous?” the woman asked once certain his prayers concluded.

“Si,” he answered with a sheepish grin.  “I’m not much of a flyer.”

She feigned great fear and sunk away from him, saying, “You’re not a puker are you?”

Iago kept his smile affixed, but his mind raced for the best way to answer her question.  He figured to play it safe with, “Occasionally.”

He truthfully had no idea what “puker” meant.

The woman sensed his uncertainty and felt embarrassed for him.  “I’m Emily,” she said in an effort to move the conversation along.  “Nice to meet a fellow American.”

“Indeed,” he agreed.  “Though I don’t stick out quite as much as you,” he joked.  “Mi nombre es Iago,” he informed with a polite nod of his head.

“Yes, this blonde hair and these blue eyes aren’t really the norm around here, are they?” she joked.  Then, after they both chuckled, she asked, “So what brought you to Egypt, Iago?”

“Just seeing the sights,” he replied.  “You?”

“Business.  I’m an art dealer and thought I had a lead.  No such luck, I’m afraid.”

“A wasted venture,” Iago assumed with a shrug of his shoulders.

She laughed and admitted, “A trip to Cairo is never a wasted venture, but as far as the piece I sought, well, in that regard, yes, I came up short.”

They paused in their conversation as the flight attendant ran through the required instructions and notifications.  Then they rolled slowly to the runway.

“So what do you do, Iago?” Emily asked.

“Oh, I’m a miner from Idaho,” he answered.

“Idaho?”

“Si; that’s right.”

“But this flight goes to Boston.”

“Que?”

Emily laughed a little and then said, “You don’t want to fly to Boston if you’re trying to get to Idaho from here.  I think you picked the wrong flight.”

“Oh, no,” Iago said.  “I’m moving to Purgatory Station.  I have a cousin who lives there.  He got me a job and everything.  I’m not going back to Idaho.”

Lifting her eyebrows, Emily confessed, “No offense, Iago, but I think I’d stay in Idaho if I were you.  Purgatory Station is the freak capital of the world.  It’s not safe there.”

Iago pressed his lips together, surrendering to her argument, and simply said, “Well, what’s a guy to do?  I have to work, right?”

“But you’re a miner,” she reminded.
“Not anymore.  I lost my job.  I have to go where the money is.”

Emily squinted at the young man next to her.  Never one to withhold her thoughts, she said, “Look, Iago, I don’t mean to pry, but I don’t understand how you can be sightseeing in Egypt if you lost your job.  You sound like you’re a little hard up for money.”

Brushing his hair out of his eyes, Iago felt foolish and then admitted, “Honestly, my abuelo recently died and left me a little money.  I should have saved it, I know, but he always wanted me to see the pyramids and so … well, I burned right through it.”

Emily dealt with enough shady executives to know a lie when she heard one.  She simply said, “Well, best of luck in Purgatory Station.”

They did not speak for the rest of the tremendously long flight, and Iago decided he better get his act together if he wanted to avoid a detention camp.

 

***

 

<I just don’t know, Bader,> Aeat said with her eyes threatening to overflow.

Bader reached across the table and took her hand.  <Aeat, I’ve been training for over a year and a half now.  I fly out of Cairo in three days.  We thoroughly discussed this after President Shahrastani came to us so long ago.  We agreed to his plans, remember?>

Aeat rolled her eyes and mumbled, <As though we had a choice.  He would have killed us if we defied his wishes.>

<Hoshyar Shahrastani is an indecent man, Aeat.  That is common knowledge.  However, we have a stake in this as well.  Our innocent countrymen die daily because of this war.  If I can convince Freedom to help me—to help us—then perhaps we can bring the suffering to an end.>

Aeat took her husband’s face in her hands and reminded, <President Shahrastani will kill you if he finds out you are altering his plans.  He will kill you, and then he will torture me before he puts me to death.  And there’s no telling what he may do to the children.  You realize this, of course.>

Bader pressed his hands to his wife’s, saying, <I believe the American called Freedom is a good man.  Once he realizes my cause is just, he will assist me in destroying his clandestine organization.  He will come to understand that his super powered allies are an abomination when they follow such reprehensible orders.>

<You are taking President Shahrastani’s word that they even exist, Bader,> Aeat reminded.

Bader stood up and walked across the room.  He leaned his head against a bookshelf with his eyes glazed over, disturbed.  <They exist, Aeat.  I’ve seen pictures of them and what they do.  One of them looks to be a hybrid of wolf and man.  How can we ever hope for independence when such monstrosities play a role in our final fates?  We have to believe we can save our homeland, Aeat, even if it means betraying President Shahrastani.  We must risk our own safety for the good of others.  My father—>

<Hush, Bader.  No need to dredge up those emotions.  I believe in you and your cause, and I trust you will convince Freedom to help our people.  Like you, I will risk everything for the betterment of our children’s lives.>

Aeat then stood up, traversed the room, and took her husband in her arms.

<I love you, Bader Thary Kareem.>

<And I you, my love.>

They then walked to their children’s bedroom.  They watched their babies slumber peacefully even as the bombs exploded miles away.

<I imagine a time when our children won’t fall asleep to the sounds of destruction,> Aeat said.

<As do I,> Bader agreed.  <It will come soon.  I promise.>

They passed the moments in silence.  Finally, they made their way to the bedroom.

<May I see the ridiculous costume they’ve assigned you?> Aeat asked.

<It’s already been shipped to our contact in Purgatory Station.  I never would have made it through customs with that thing.>

<Tell me again the name they’ve given you,> Aeat requested.

<El Fuego,> he answered.

<No, not that silly thing.  I mean your new identity.>

<Ah,> he huffed.  <I’ve got all the papers proving I am now Iago Sol Vicente of Wardner, Idaho.>

Giggling in an effort to avoid tears, Aeat choked out, <You’re going to end up in Cuba.>

They then took each other in their arms for perhaps the last time.

***

Bader Thary Kareem kept his mouth closed and fought to remain calm as they marched him into the presidential palace.  He easily could have stopped them from taking him, but then what?  Would he take on the entire Ulrakistanian army?  Even with all his power, he couldn’t stop mortar or missile attacks.  No, he assured Aeat that going with President Shahrastani’s men was the safest choice for she and the children.

But what could they want with him?

They finally paraded Bader into a large room with a literal throne at the end of it.  Bader couldn’t believe Shahrastani’s reputed vanity extended so far as to have procured an actual throne.  Of course, he did not express these thoughts with even the slightest amount of body language.  Such disrespect would ensure his family’s suffering.

<Bader Thary Kareem,> President Shahrastani addressed.

Bader answered with his eyes reverently lowered, <Yes, sir.  How may I serve?>

President Shahrastani nodded at Bader’s veneration, flattered.  <It is a matter of record that you possess extraordinary abilities.>

Bader felt the vein in his neck suddenly throb.  This day had been a long time coming, and he’d dreaded it from the beginning.

Remaining silent, Bader didn’t dare contradict President Shahrastani but also didn’t verify his claim.

<Your rationale is to be valued,> President Shahrastani expressed.  <Your ability to remain calm, even in the face of terror, is commendable and leads me to believe my advisors are right about you.>

His mind raced faster than his heart, unsure of what President Shahrastani meant.  Bader always assumed if they discovered his … unusual … abilities, he’d either be enlisted into the Ulrakistan army or dissected.  This dialogue is not at all what he expected.

President Shahrastani rose from his throne, descended several steps, and then stood face to face with Bader.  He actually placed his hand on Bader’s shoulder, something none of the guards and advisors in the room ever before witnessed.  Such an uncommon gesture riled even Bader, enticing him to look up and meet his President’s gaze.

President Shahrastani said, <We’ve known about you for many, many months, Bader.  Nothing occurs in my nation without my awareness.  My advisors initially wanted to use you to defend the homeland, but I thought of you as my secret weapon—one to be unleashed only when absolutely necessary.  After all, our enemies have agents far more powerful than even you.  I couldn’t waste your talents, and so I decided to leave you be until a need arose.  Indeed, a need has arisen.>

<Sir?>

<You see, Bader, our enemies fabricate people like you in a factory of sorts.  Our intelligence has not learned the location of this secret organization, but we know its name—MAP.  Do you know what that stands for, Bader?>

<I do not, sir.>

President Shahrastani abruptly removed his hand from Bader’s shoulder and returned to his throne.  He waved an attendant over with a glass of wine, took a refreshing sip, then informed, <Meta Agent Program.  They’ve been producing unnatural human beings for decades now, and they’ve decided it is their right to disperse them in covert operations wherever they please.  My people tell me it won’t be long until one of them attempts an assassination attempt against me.  Can you imagine?  Me?>

In fact, Bader could very well imagine.  President Shahrastani brought much trouble upon his nation, but, of course, Bader didn’t dare utter this common knowledge.

<I’m about to give you classified information, Bader Thary Kareem.  If you breathe a word of it to anyone, even your wife, I will have you and your entire family exterminated.>

Bader almost cried out that he wanted to leave, that he didn’t want to know anything, but he realized showing such weakness would only hasten his loved ones’ deaths.

Fighting to control his voice, Bader lied, <I’m honored, sir.  And you can rely on me for loyal servitude.>

President Shahrastani beamed at his newest ally.  <Excellent!> he exclaimed.  <When I wrestled control of Ulrakistan from the perverse leader before me, one of my first actions was to secure many underground sects throughout the world.  We have operatives in every major nation across the globe, and I use them for a variety of purposes, including the securing of identities.  In fact, I purchase identities like some men buy stock.  And just like good stock, my efforts are paying dividends.  Do you follow me so far, Bader?>

Bader nodded to the president without speaking.

<Good,> President Shahrastani said.  <We plan on sending you to the United States.  There is a city called Purgatory Station off the coast of Massachusetts.  It is renowned for housing an inordinate amount of these aberrantly gifted people.  We will give you a new identity—an American identity—and you will become one of these costumed fools.>

Bader couldn’t hide the incredible shock.  He stammered out, <Sir?>

<Your powers make you the perfect candidate, Bader.  You will wear a costume and perform feats of justice throughout the city.  It’s only a matter of time before you draw Freedom’s attention.>

<Freedom?> Bader repeated.  Plans sprang into his mind, ideas that, if discovered, would guarantee prolonged torture proceeding a gruesome death.

<That’s right,> the president substantiated.  <And once you meet Freedom, you will win him over.  He will count you among his allies and eventually bring you to MAP as their newest recruit.  You will then gather intelligence and deliver it to your handler in Purgatory Station.  He will in turn deliver it to us, and, when the time is right, we will have you destroy MAP from the inside out.>

Bader considered such strategy the product of a lunatic.  He could think of at least ten ways it would never work, but he didn’t really care, for this may be the surest way to end the war with America.  He would have to discuss it with Aeat, of course, but if he could explain to Freedom why they needed his help, then perhaps some sort of peaceful resolution could be found.

If President Shahrastani suspected him of any treachery, it would mean certain death for them all, but what if Bader could pull it off?  What if he could save his people?  What if he could finally bring peace and justice to his land?

He only had one problem.

<I don’t speak English, sir,> he confessed.  <And I’m not familiar with American customs. I don’t believe I could pass even as an Ulrakistanian-American.>

<Nor do I, Bader,” President Shahrastani agreed.  <But not to worry.  Tonight you make arrangements with your wife, telling her nothing of what we really have planned.  Then tomorrow, you begin a program of total immersion.  We estimate within the year we can train you to pass as an American citizen.>

<And I’m to also take on a costumed identity?> Bader asked with obvious trepidation.

President Shahrastani smiled at Bader and replied, <That’s correct.  It’s perfect for you.  You shall call yourself El Fuego.>

<Is that … Spanish?> Bader asked.

***

 

It would later be revealed that the roaring inferno resulted from an errant American missile striking a nearby oil truck.  The missile had been among the first of the American salvo aimed at eradicating what little Ulrakistanian infrastructure remained.  The American government would later apologize for destroying a market full of merchants setting up for the day’s business.  The only good news had been that it was too early for most of the shoppers to arrive.

Bader would find all of this out much later.

He had no explanation for how he survived the explosion.  He remembered hearing the missile’s approach, and he remembered stumbling out of the flames, but he had no recollection at all of what happened in the duration.

What he did know, however, was that his life had been irrevocably transformed forevermore.

Once emerging from the firestorm, he realized fire consumed his entire body.  As taught during childhood, he fell to the ground and rolled.

The flames refused to extinguish.

His body burned, but he didn’t detect any pain.  The blaze licked at his clothing and hair, but neither incinerated.  Understandably so, Bader panicked when he grasped he couldn’t put the fire out, and his terror made it rage all the more.

His ears filled with the sound of hungry flames and the chaos of warning sirens and the cries of humans suffering.  Everything looked blurry and red with traces of orange.

When thinking back to that moment, Bader understood his brain must have entered a instinctual mode.  The next thing he knew, stood before he and Aeat’s simple home and pounded on the door, praying what little wood comprised their mostly cement house wouldn’t ignite.

When Aeat answered, tears streamed down her face.  Surely she believed her husband and father-in-law were already dead and gone.  Nothing could have prepared her for the sight of Bader slumped over with his hands on his knees, totally engulfed in fire and begging for mercy.

***

<We forced their hand,> Fathel Ikal Kareem said as he laid out fresh produce upon the table.

Bader whispered, <Hush, father!>  He looked around to make sure none of the other merchants setting up along the street heard his father’s bold declaration.  Content no one overheard, he murmured to his father as he helped arrange the fruits and vegetables, <Keep you voice down, father.  Such words are punishable by death should someone report us.>

Fathel ceased his organizing and stared at his son, <You cannot live in fear, Bader.  One day you will be called upon to sacrifice everything, and when that day comes, you must listen to your sense of justice, not your dread of consequence.  Soon America will attack, and when that happens, our homeland will crumble.>

Bader also ignored their goods for the moment and met his father’s stern gaze.  <Father, President Shahrastani has assured us he can keep America at bay.>

Fathel laughed, informing his son, <America is a lion just waiting to pounce, my son.  When wronged, they seek retribution.  Shahrastani continues to antagonize and threaten them.  Only a fool would believe, after everything that’s happened, that America would not find its way to Ulrakistan.>

<Perhaps President Shahrastani will surprise us all,> Bader returned.

<Don’t count on it, Bader,> his father replied.  <You’re a smart man.  It’s a shame you couldn’t have continued on with your schooling.  I believe you could have been an engineer or perhaps—>

<Father, please, let’s not revisit this conversation,> Bader begged.

Fathel continued anyway, <Our homeland has been cannibalizing itself for decades, since the moment Shahrastani took power.  And as a result, our infrastructure has suffered.  Do you realize our educational system was once among the best in the world?  And now?  We were lucky to keep you in school as long as we did.>

Pausing to look at the rising sun, Fathel crossed his arms in contemplation.  Finally, he resumed, saying, <Yes.  I honestly believe when America attacks, it may be a hidden treasure.>

Bader could listen to no more.  He cried, <Father!  You’re speaking treason!>

Fathel uncrossed his arms and used his hands to take his son by the shoulders.  <Bader,> he began, <it is only treason if you’ve pledged allegiance, which I have not.  Hoshyar Shahrastani is not this land’s caretaker.  He craves only power.  He has let his people down time and again, even killing them on many occasions.  If an invasion removes him from office, it can only be to Ulrakistan’s ultimate benefit.  Once he’s gone, this nation can begin work on healing itself and bringing honor and productivity back to its people.  Remember, Bader, your allegiance is to the common good of your fellow man, not to tyrannical dictators.>

These words penetrated the fabric of Bader’s being as he carefully weighed their meaning.  His thoughts, however, were suddenly interrupted by a sound he knew all too well.

He did not have time to get one last look at his father’s face.

_______________________________________________

Copyright © 2009, 2015 by Scott William Foley

All Rights Reserved.

Originally Published at WWW.SCOTTWILLIAMFOLEY.COM

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews or articles.

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Dr. Nekros: Phantasms and Chicanery (2 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: Bloodied Pistons (3 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: An Unforeseen Calamity (4 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: A Nightmare Realized (5 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: An Abhorrent Culmination (6 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: Monstrosity’s Dawn (7 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: The Demons Within (8 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: Lineage (9 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: The Inevitable Demise of Anton Hall (10 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: Diatribe and Divulgence (11 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: Peripeteia (12 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: The Realm Within (13 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: The Depths of Fate (14 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: A77 (15 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: A Catastrophic Convergence (16 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: The Devil’s Ashes (17 of 18)

Dr. Nekros: Requiem For the Redeemed (18 of 18)

About the Author

Scott William Foley is a proud husband, father, educator, and writer.  He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in English Secondary Education and his Master’s degree in Reading from Illinois State University.  Foley currently lives in Normal, IL

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