When Abraham Khan releases an e-book condemning radical Islam, the consequences hit him fast and hard — an armed fanatic smashes into his home one evening, trying to kill him. He survives the harrowing attempt. Just barely. But will he survive the next one?
Maya Raines is the security operator brought in to protect Abraham. She is tough and committed. The very best at what she does. Always one step ahead of the threat.
But Abraham is no ordinary principal — he will not hide, and he will not stay silent. And as rage explodes on the streets and the nation is propelled to the brink, Maya will have to ask herself the hardest question of all: how far would you go to protect one man’s right to speak?
Samir had decided that tonight would be the night. As he sat in his car with the engine off, he stared at the house across the street. The rain had eased to a trickle, and he could see movement past the windows. The man of the house was helping his wife set the table for dinner. Curtains billowed, hiding the man’s face. But Samir knew it had to be him. The apostate. The blasphemer.
Samir exhaled, feeling so many things at once. Joy and hate. Faith and doubt. Excitement and fear. Which was which? He could no longer tell. Pain started to bloom in his temples, and he could feel it reaching into his eyeballs, stabbing him in sync with his heartbeat. That damn headache was back.
He clenched his jaw, trying to tough it out. He didn’t want to medicate himself. Didn’t want to risk dulling his senses, blunting his edge. But in the end, the migraine proved too crushing, too searing, and he relented. A bit of pain was good for the spirit, yes, but too much would be a hindrance.
Opening his glove box, he pulled out a paracetamol blister pack. The foil packaging crackled and popped as he pressed out two pills. He had no water, so he dry-swallowed them. It took him three tries and a fair bit of retching before they went down.
Breathing through his teeth, he was tempted to lean back against his seat. To close his eyes. To wait for the pain to fade. But he stopped himself. For a week now, he had barely slept and had eaten only a little. The fasting had purified his soul but wrecked his body. Nodding off now would be too easy. Far too easy. So he forced himself to stretch, to straighten. Yes, tonight would be the night. God had chosen him to be a mujahid. A holy warrior. He knew he had to obey.
Unzipping the bag beside him, he pulled out a pistol. It gleamed black, looking like the ugliest thing, its icy metal chilling him through his glove. Biting his lip, flexing his fingers, he raised the gun, uncomfortable with how big and heavy it felt. It was a Norinco. A forty-four calibre. The Asian guy who had sold it to him had called it the Desert Eagle of China. Top-shelf quality. Rock-bottom price. Superb stopping power. Two hundred dollars had sealed the deal.
But now, thinking back, he wondered if he had been too hasty. Perhaps he could have haggled for a lower price. Perhaps. But, ah, what did it matter now? He had his weapon, and it would serve its purpose. Yes, it would.
Reaching into his bag once more, he drew out an ammunition magazine. It held seven rounds. Remembering what the seller had taught him, he checked the gun’s safety catch, making sure it was secure. Then he tilted the gun to one side, lining up the magazine with the bottom of the handgrip, slotting it in smoothly until it locked into place. Finally, holding the gun straight, he reached for the slide above the barrel. Pulling it, he chambered a round with a satisfying click-clack. Oh yes. He had to admit that the sound gave him a small thrill. Made him feel like a real soldier.
He relished the word.
Retrieving another magazine from his bag, he slipped it into his jacket’s left pocket, while the gun went into the right. That gave him a total of fourteen rounds to play with. Inshallah, it would be enough.
Samir bowed his head. ‘Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim…’ In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. He recited the eighty-seventh surah, a favourite of the Holy Prophet. ‘Success comes to him who grows, who remembers the name of his Lord, who performs his prayer. It is better to forsake the ways of the world, for heaven is everlasting. Yes, this is inscribed in the scrolls of the ancients…’
Samir nodded, inhaling deeply. His migraine had dimmed to an insignificant throb. Alhamdulillah. He was ready. Pulling his jacket’s hood over his head, he pushed his car door open, stepping out on to the sidewalk. A puddle splashed under his shoe. Raindrops prickled his face. He shut his door and locked it.
That’s when footsteps came up behind him. He froze, and adrenalin spiked in his stomach. Had he been discovered? Had someone called the police on him? Shaking, he fumbled for the gun in his pocket, his thumb finding the safety. All he had to do was flick it off, and the gun would be ready to fire. And he whirled, ready to unleash hell. But—damn it—it was just a woman with an umbrella walking her dog. Twisting his lips, feeling foolish, he swallowed the knot in his throat and relaxed his grip on his gun, but not by much.
The dog sniffed at him, its tongue lolling and dripping saliva, and he backed up against the side of his car. He didn’t know what breed it was. Didn’t care. The imam at his mosque had warned him about the uncleanliness of dogs. Yes, they were useful for guarding and hunting. But as pets? Playthings? Never. It was haram— forbidden.
The woman smiled at Samir. But he just stared. Yes, he could kill her right now if he wanted to—her and her filthy dog. Stroking the curve of his gun’s trigger, he allowed the fantasy to linger, watching as they rounded the corner. When they were gone, he shook his head and exhaled. He had been so close—too close—to losing control.
God is challenging you. Placing obstacles in your path. Seeing if you are worthy. But… of course you are worthy. You will not deviate from the path. You will not falter. Your heart is pure. Your faith is strong. Your cause is just.
Samir shook his head harder and crossed the street.
The house was one of the prettiest in the neighbourhood. A large two-storey, it sat last on the block, shaded by a willowy tree, its lawn decorated by bonsai shrubs, flower beds and a bubbling fish pond. A short white fence completed its charm. Made it picture perfect. Like a postcard image. More than anything, Samir wished it would burn. All of it.
He approached the house from the back, his eyes darting to make sure he was alone. Nervous energy pulsed through him, warm and dizzying. His body tensed. Like a spring coiled up to its tightest.
Do it. Just do it. Do not hesitate. Never hesitate.
He broke into a running start, jumping the fence, clearing it, the breeze tousling his hood. But his landing on the other side was clumsy. He slipped on the wet lawn, the soles of his shoes squeaking, and he dropped to his knees, skidding as he did, the freshly cut grass loose, its earthy smell tickling his nostrils. Jerking his head this way and that way, he panted, his heart thundering. Had someone heard him? Curses. He almost lost his nerve. Almost clambered back over the fence. Almost ran away. But—no—he crossed his arms over his chest and clutched himself tight. Head bowed, he whispered rapid-fire verses about courage and fortitude and self-belief and staying the course.
Restrain your fear. God is with you. God is always with you. Do not deviate from the path. Not now. Not when you are so close. For it is not your will that matters. It is God’s will. Always God’s will.
Slowly, surely, his panic eased, and when Samir looked up, he realised that nothing had stirred around him. No lights came on. No footsteps approached. No one shouted. Nothing. He was safe. Alhamdulillah. God had preserved him despite his clumsiness. Alhamdulillah.
He started to move.
Keeping himself low, he inched towards the pond.
Colourful fish darted as he drew close.
Curious, he dipped his fingers into the bubbling water. It was warm. Artificially heated. He scoffed. How could it be that the apostate treated his fish better than he treated his own people?
In his mind’s eye, Samir remembered something he had seen in the news—a kafir helicopter strafing and rocketing a Muslim home, turning it into smouldering rubble. Heinous. Yet, as bad as the kafir were, the apostate was worse. Much worse. For he had chosen to side with them.
Seething, Samir felt his way around the circumference of the pond and found wires. He followed them, and they led him straight to the power socket. He tore off its plastic cover and yanked the electrical plug loose. The water stopped bubbling. Good. The fish could freeze for all he cared.
He turned his attention to the smooth rocks decorating the edge of the pond. Picking up one as big as his palm, he weighed it in his hand. Too small. Too light. Dropping it, he chose another rock, this one as large as his fist. He had to stretch his fingers to grip it. Yes, this one would do nicely.
Cradling the rock against his chest, he drew his gun. He looked past the patio, past the deck chairs, past the potted plants. Finally his eyes settled on the glass door that led to the living room. He thought of his children, Abu and Fatimah. Still so young. Still so innocent. He hoped they would understand. He hoped they would be proud. And with that, he thumbed his gun’s safety catch off.
By day, he works as a producer at TVNZ, the nation’s largest broadcaster. By night, he is the managing editor of Kia Kaha Press, a publishing imprint.
You can visit his website at http://www.johnling.net
The Blasphemer is available now as $2.99 e-book from Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/The-Blasphemer-ebook/dp/B006QZ7BL4/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1325828780&sr=8-5
Click here for an interview with: John Ling, Author of “The Blasphemer”