Part 1

See the Story Index for a chronological guide to all the stories.

The Partridge strolled confidently into the SF General emergency entrance. He hated hospitals, but that would not stop him from carrying out his mission. He'd been a sickly child, and had been constantly mocked those first few years in Camp 64. It was strange that he'd even been selected to be a Kopis, since normally only the healthiest and strongest orphans were chosen. Why an exception had been made for him, he did not know. But he had survived. Every time he was ridiculed, every time he was beaten by another child, he'd turned his shame and rage into a fierce determination to succeed. Over time his health had improved and he had become strong – through sheer force of will, he liked to believe.

He did not have any actual memories of being hospitalized. But he reacted to hospital smells on a visceral level. They made his skin crawl.

Wearing the white doctor's coat that Sarkis had procured for him, a pair of spectacles, a blue tie and standard black medical shoes, he appeared to be just another doctor starting his shift. Only the wrinkling of his nose might betray his disgust to the most vigilant observer. The name tag on his coat read, “Dr. Green.” A little joke he had allowed himself.

He wore the merest hint of a disguise: contact lenses that made his eyes appear brown; and a “gay pride” button pinned conspicuously to his lapel. He knew that if you gave people something to focus on, it would be all they remembered afterwards.

He stopped a slender Asian nurse who came hurrying along the hallway.

“Did you release my patient without my authorization?” he demanded in perfect, American-accented English. His trainers at the camp had noticed his talent for languages early on, especially English, and had trained him diligently.

Flustered, the nurse brushed her hair from her face and glanced at his name tag and button. The Partridge was not worried. A large metropolitan hospital like this one would have scores of doctors, perhaps hundreds. A single nurse would not know them all.

“No I didn't, Dr. Green,” she said. “I mean, which patient is that?”

“African-American male, mid 30's, matted hair. Beaten in an alley. Wouldn't give his name.” This last bit was a guess.

“Oh, right! Calls himself Wolf? He's been moved to 245 in the MIU. I'm sorry if you weren't notified -”

The Partridge was already walking away, waving his hand dismissively. “No problem, nurse,” he said. “Keep up the good work.”

He took the elevator to the second floor and examined the hospital directory on the wall. MIU – Minor Injury Unit – to the left.

He sauntered past the room, glancing in as he did so. The man was alone and asleep, a blue cotton blanket pulled up almost to his eyes. Excellent. The Partridge entered the room, plucking a pair of yellow latex gloves from a box on the counter and pulling them onto his hands. He shut the door behind him, and pulled the curtain closed around the homeless man's bed. The room smelled of antiseptic and egg salad. One of the man's feet stuck out from beneath the blanket and appeared to be encased in a cast.

This would be easy, he was sure. He had never been to the United States before – all his previous jobs had been in the Middle East, and a few in Europe – but he had seen Hollywood movies. The American blacks were drug addicts, committing violence on one another, caring about nothing but music and dancing. Mindless people, easily manipulated. Look at this man. His hair half matted, his face weathered. What an uncivilized creature. The Partridge regretted that he would not be able to torture the man before giving him the gift of death.

He removed a silenced pistol from a holster in the small of his back, clamped one hand tightly over the homeless man's mouth, and pressed the barrel of the suppressor hard into the man's eye. The subject woke with a start, trying to pull away from the pain. The Partridge clamped harder on the man's mouth and pulled the gun back, letting him see it for what it was. The man's eyes grew wide and he brought his hands up to shield his face.

“I'm going to remove my hand,” the Partridge said calmly. “If you scream or call out, I will kill you without hesitation. Do you understand?”

The man nodded mutely. Good. The Partridge removed his hand.

“Lie to me and you die,” the Partridge said. “ Who is the man who saved you in the alley last night?”

“You mean – “ the homeless man started before he caught himself. His voice was a whisper. He stared at the Partridge as if trying to memorize his face.

“Where is he? Where does he live?” the Partridge demanded.

“I got nothin' to say,” the homeless man responded.

The Partridge felt a surge of annoyance. He would try the “count-to-ten” method. It never failed.

The Partridge gripped the patient's jaw with one hand and shook it slightly, turning the head one way and the other. The man had good bone structure. It would have been interesting to pull the flesh back from the bones. Ah, well.

“I will count to ten,” the Partridge said, squeezing the man's jaw more tightly and waving the gun in front of his eyes. “And then I will blow your brains all over this pillow. I want to know where to find the man you know as Hassan. One. Two. Three. Four.”

The homeless man's jaw seemed to set, as if steeling himself for the worst. No matter. He would give it up before ten. “Five. Six. Seven.”

“I ain't givin' you nothin',” the homeless man said.

“Eight. Nine. Ten.”

“Alright! I tell you somethin'.”

The Partridge smiled. “What is it?”

“You go after my man, he gonna make you eat that gun. You know what? When we was in El Reno penitentiary, he was a young 'un and he ain't have no set. No gang. Aryan Brotherhood tried to make him they bitch. He drop the first man, break his neck. Warden put him in the hole for six months, He get out, the AB send three mo' to kill him. He break they arms and legs, bust they noses and teeth. Then they mob him on the mainline, and he walk out with two shanks in him, blood everywhere, ABs lyin' all around like dead fish. Man is a legend! He gon' take that gun and shove it up – ”

The Partridge clamped a hand over the patient's mouth to stifle the man's rising voice. This was not how this was supposed to go. These Negroes were supposed to be an inferior race; but this man, in spite of his fear, was giving him nothing useful.

He didn't have time for this. A doctor or nurse could enter at any moment.

“Last chance,” the Partridge said. He placed one thumbnail at the outside corner of the man's right eye and exerted a slight pressure. “Tell me where to find him, or I will gouge out your eyes, and then I will kill you.”

The homeless man seemed to grow completely calm, his body relaxing into the bed.

“Go on, then,” he said. “I'm right with God. I'm bound for Canaan land.”

The Partridge stared at the man. He was out of time. He drew a golden gel-cap from his pocket. He'd brought a small bottle of these with him from Lebanon, disguised as fish-oil capsules. In reality they were injected with aconitum, a lethal poison derived from the wolfsbane herb, and virtually undetectable in the system after death.

Catching the homeless man by surprise, he slipped his fingers into a corner of the man's mouth and squeezed the capsule, releasing the deadly liquid, then withdrew his fingers quickly and pocketed the burst gel-cap.

The Partridge watched intently as the subject gurgled, choked and broke out in a sheen of sweat. His body arched then just as quickly fell back into the bed, staring at the ceiling. His breathing became shallow and irregular. The Partridge knew he should leave – he could be discovered at any time – but moments like this where what he lived for. The power of life and death. He watched as the man's breathing continued to slow. Finally the chest stilled, and the Partridge knew his heart had stopped. How appropriate – the Wolf, killed by wolfsbane. The Partridge would have laughed with delight if not for the fear of discovery.

When the pleasure had passed, the Partridge's sense of annoyance returned. These American Negroes were not the easily controlled people he had believed them to be. The homeless man had been strong-willed and unafraid, with an obvious reservoir of faith.

He was just about to exit the room when he had a thought. Where were the homeless man's belongings? Several cabinets lined the wall of the room. He opened the large one at the bottom and sure enough, there was a clear plastic bag containing army pants and coat, a t-shirt and a pair of boots, and with a collection of letters and papers. The papers were notices from welfare agencies and the Veterans Administration and offered nothing useful. The clothing smelled of mildew and sweat. The Partridge searched the garments quickly and hit paydirt. In the pocket of the coat he found a folded piece of paper with the word “Hassan” scribbled on it, and an accompanying telephone number.

He left the hospital, relieved to be out of that castle of disease. The homeless man's death would likely be written up as cardiac arrest, cause unknown.

What was it about this Hassan Amir that inspired such loyalty? Not that it mattered. He would have the man on his table sooner or later, and he would take his time, drawing the traitor's agony out to such lengths that if it could be transcribed into music it would form a concerto of pain.

***
Continued on Next Page…

30 Responses

  1. L

    I don’t think I’ve gasped so many times in such a short number of minutes before! This is hardcore, edge-of-the-seat material! Alice! Wolf! Dr. Basim!

    I particularly loved the part about Hassan’s hope to be reunited with his deceased family members, even though they were non-Muslims. I know it’s a hope that’s shared by many of our brothers and sisters with non-Muslim families and loved ones. Ultimately, Allah is the Final Judge.

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    • Wael Abdelgawad

      Yes, it’s a tricky and sensitive subject for many converts. We know that Allah forgives all sins except shirk. But what about a family member who believes in God and is a good person but has not been exposed to the message of Islam truly or properly? In the end I think we simply have to trust that Allah is Al-Hakeem; he is the most merciful and wise judge. He will not treat anyone unfairly.

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  2. SZH

    I am spellbound!!
    What a twist…
    Now, a week-wait to know what is behind the 44 magnum pistol.. :-(

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  3. Ayesha

    I’m so glad that Hassan was not betrayed by any of his colleagues at the courier service. I bad been wondering which one it would be ever since you dropped a hint about it in the Story Index!

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  4. Hadija

    I really hating this suspense..i hope there’s nothing brutal awaiting us.

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  5. Amel

    As-salamu Alaykum,
    Is the idea about training orphans to be cold-blooded killers and brutal torturers rooted in fact? I once saw a film (partially based in Lebanon during the civil war) that contained the same premise, and I was wondering if this was something that was actually taking place at the time.

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    • Wael Abdelgawad

      Amel, I made it up for the purpose of this story, but in reality child soldiers are common in many conflicts around the world. Sometimes they are abducted and forced to fight – as the LRA does in Uganda, South Sudan and Central Africa – and other times they are simply recruited and brainwashed. Many children participated in the Rwandan genocide. Many Taliban suicide bombers are children. The militias fighting in South Sudan right now have a high percentage of child soldiers. Recently the Boko Haram has taken to kidnapping children in Nigeria, though it’s not clear yet what they are doing with them.

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    • Safa

      In all honesty, I thought br Wael’s character of The Partridge paralleled the historical elite squad of the Ottoman Empire, the “Janissaries” ,- who were basically “orphaned” boys disciplined & taught the skills of war, educated, and even took up high military & gov’t posts.

      They were originally Greek or Balkan so had a lighter complexion, but mainly this concept (later abolished by the subsequent rulers) was used to guarantee loyalty within the army & state.

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janissary

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  6. Umm bilal

    A weeks wait is not fair… I can’t breath. I hope all the team stays safe..

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  7. Safa

    Basims betrayal hurt double-fold, esp this time. What an insolent man. Heros are always brought down by cowardice, lowly traitors

    Wolf was awesome. His death valiant, it was a relief he somehow was not tortured by that depraved Green

    Im clinging to the edge of my seat….

    We need to start a petition for a 2 parts/wk publication. Waiting is proving to be insufferable.

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  8. Umm Ilhaam

    Mashallah, what penship.. I cant wait till next week. And thank you for sharing with us Hassan’s real Identity.. it is now making sense that he is a Haddad.
    May Allah bless you more with your talents and providing us with an Islamic alternative… Please copyright and publish your work in book form.. Lulu is also a self publishing option.

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  9. Amal Javed Abdullah

    I felt like I was going to barf when I read this bit:

    “How much would Boulos pay for this information? Not only Hassan’s location, but the contents of the briefcase? Quite a lot, Basim imagined. A fortune.
    He kissed his sleeping son on the forehead and walked out of the rehab center. Sitting in his parked car, he took out his phone with trembling hands and began to dial.”

    Also, I’m looking forward to having the Partridge being tortured and then dying a miserable death iA.

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  10. Grey Crayon

    Assalamu Alaikum Brother Wael and fellow readers.
    ‘Basims betrayal!’ Well, I didn’t see that coming – ‘scum bag’. In my opinion he is worse than The Partridge. The partridge is only the monster that he is, because of the extreme abuse and brain washing as a child… what’s Basims excuse?
    And Mr Green. I would love to see something touch his heart. Imagine if he were to die with ‘la illaha illaha’ on his tongue. Stranger things have happened and Allah is all forgiving and merciful… :)

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  11. Asiyah

    I knew Basim would betray Hassan sooner or later. I’m interested to see what will happen to the Partridge and Hassan.

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  12. Asiyah

    Is Hassan somehow related to Boulos Haddad, since his father’s name is Kamal Haddad

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  13. Nus

    Okay I am a little lost about Hassan being related to Boulos Haddad. What is the relevance of this Haddad connection (the week-long waits, multiple stories and inter story intertwining is getting me confused)?

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  14. Wazeed

    What a cliff hanger !!! Ma’ sha Allah brother you have talent .

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  15. Sarah B.

    Oh no! Poor Wolf! He sure was loyal to Hassan, that’s a rare trait to find in people these days. Can’t wait for the next part!!

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