by Gerald Rivard
The bomb must have gone off after all, because Rajiv al Fazir came to consciousness in a martyr’s heaven.
He was nestled inside a cocoon of moving flesh. He could feel the warm touch of soft skin everywhere on his naked body. Hands and fingers caressed, lips and tongues probed, long hair and a tapestry of breasts draped and dangled. The room seemed to spin, though there were no walls or ceiling. Distant stars floated through the dark sky, providing a dim ambient light, and the voices of the virgins as they lauded his courage seemed to swim in circles all around him. He could not have begun to count the number of hands or lips ministering to his body or the number of voices singing his praises.
“Rajiv, you are my hero,” said one virgin as she kissed along his chest.
“You are so brave and so strong,” said another as she stroked his thigh.
An olive-skinned virgin with the striking green eyes of a Persian cat kissed him on his mouth, her tongue brushing his lips. “We are your reward, Rajiv,” she said as she pressed her face against his left cheek.
A dark-haired virgin brought her face to his right cheek at the same time and whispered in his ear. “You gave your life for Allah,” she said. “And so Allah has given us to you.”
He felt himself being enveloped, then, as another of the virgins straddled him. He ran his hands from her thighs to her waist, then slowly up toward her shoulders as she moved against him. He pulled her toward him, and the other women moved out of their way. A short time later, the girl climbed off of him as another virgin took her place. One after another, the virgins shed their purity to him while others, virgin or not, found untended areas of his body to worship.
Later, satisfied, he lay entangled with them all. Gradually their breathing quieted and movement of flesh against flesh became almost imperceptible, until the silence and stillness was benign enough to be broken.
“Did you know Yasin Khumar?” asked the cat-eyed woman at his side as she stroked his cheek with her finger.
“Yasin? He is here?”
“Yes,” the dark-haired one said, kissing his upper thigh. “He is a brave jihadist, just like you. All brave jihadists are here.”
He had trained with Yasin at a camp in the Sudan. After the training, Rajiv was sent to the United States to await his assignment. He never saw Yasin, or any of his jihad brothers, again. He had hoped to see their names in the newspapers, to learn how they had died, to understand how his own death would fit into Allah’s great plan. But in all his time of waiting, he had learned nothing.
“Did you know him well?” she asked, her eyes shining in the darkness, her breasts pressed cozily into his arm.
Rajiv said nothing, just stared up at the stars. The women took his cue and remained quiet as well, gently caressing and kissing his body. Their touch was just as erotic as it had been before, but now that he was satisfied, its intensity was no longer sufficient to overshadow his own thoughts.
He had expected to hear the explosion in the instant before it blew through him. He had expected to feel his body being torn apart, just for a brief flicker of time before his death. But when he shouted “Allah Akbar!” and pressed the button, nothing seemed to happen. The last thing he remembered was wondering why the bomb didn’t explode.
But it had gone off, because he was here. Perhaps Allah had spared him the pain of being torn to pieces. Perhaps it was enough that he demonstrated the will to suffer for his faith, so that Allah had brought him straight to heaven before the explosion.
It was Rajiv who broke the silence. “Take me to Yasin,” he said. He sat up, but the room with no walls or ceiling seemed to spin again. The cat-eyed woman who was no longer a virgin gently eased him back down, with help from at least three other hands behind him.
“In time,” she said. “There will be time for everything.” The pulse of the room slowed and its movement stilled until all was calm again.
“Sleep now,” she said as she kissed him again. “There are more rewards for you, and all the time you will need.”
* * *
Rajiv woke up alone in his bed; the women were gone. He wondered why there was a bed, but no walls or ceiling, and no floor that he could see, but before he could give it much thought, the prophet Mohammad appeared in a flash of white light and smoke.
Awestruck, Rajiv scrambled from the bed and dropped to his knees. It turned out that there was a floor, or at least a carpet. He put his face to it and waited for the prophet to speak.
Mohammad’s voice was soft, but clear and commanding. “Yasin speaks highly of you, Rajiv,” he said. “I understand you would like to see him.”
“Yes,” Rajiv answered, “I would very much like to see Yasin. And Khalif, too, and Mahmud. Did they fulfill their assignments for Allah? Are they here?”
“You may see whomever you wish, if they are here. I will arrange for you to see your friends, all of them. But first, I have been asked to let you know that Allah is very pleased with your performance.”
At the thought of having pleased Allah, Rajiv was filled up with a joy that seemed much too big for his heart to hold. Tears flooded his eyes, and he began to sob so heavily he could barely breathe.
Mohammad reached out to Rajiv then, and being comforted by the prophet did not diminish his tears. They flowed more freely, washing away all of his fear, all of his doubt, all of his sin.
Afterwards, when he had been cleansed, Rajiv asked about his brothers in jihad, and learned from the prophet all that he wished to know. Khalif al Rawi blew up a bus in Chicago, killing forty-one infidels. Mahmud Jalil and Mohammad Sayf Mashhadami simultaneously set off bombs in New York subway cars, derailing the train and killing over three hundred infidels between them. And Latif Hassan crashed a plane into a nuclear power station, killing dozens immediately and thousands over time.
Rajiv also learned that his own bomb, which at first he thought had failed to explode, was responsible for the deaths of eighty-seven. He was but a small cog in Allah’s wheel, but that wheel was turning according to the plan, crushing the infidels and preparing the world for Islam.
Heaven was surely a wonderful, wonderful place.
* * *
Special Agent Wendell Grimes of Homeland Security reviewed the files on the three would-be terrorists who had arrived that morning. Their names had been obtained through Rajiv al Fazir, who had since been sent to Israel for final interrogation and disposal. The files bore the Operation Blind Faith insignia, a scarf-drawn face with a turban pulled over its eyes.
All three of these men—Khalif al Rawi, Latif Hassan, and Mahmud Jalil—had been contacted by undercover field agents and given false suicide bombing assignments. And like Rajiv al Fazir and others before them, they had been given a non-explosive compound fabricated to look like C4 and loaded with a powerful and fast-acting tranquilizer. The carefully chosen locations had been sealed from public access once the subject had entered and filled with agents in plain clothes who provided the expected screams, convincing the bombers that they had successfully completed their missions.
A cocktail of LSD, sodium thiopental, and MDMA had been administered to Mahmud Jalil, and the prostitutes were in position for his awakening in Heaven Room 3.
The other two, Khalif al Rawi and Latif Hassan, had already awakened, and Special Agent Jacob Weinberg, decked out in his flowing robes, was having a conversation with al Rawi in Heaven Room 1. Grimes pushed a button to listen in.
“What about Mullah bin Majid?” al Rawi asked in Arabic. Grimes wrote the name on a pad as Weinberg, posing as Mohammad, informed al Rawi of bin Majid’s success in destroying the Woodrow Wilson Bridge over the Potomac, killing over three hundred including many Washington officials. Grimes chuckled to himself, knowing that Weinberg had blamed heavy traffic on that very bridge for his own lateness that morning.
Enemies speak so much more freely when they believe they are among friends.
* * *
Gerald Rivard began writing before Kindergarten, and his strange tales entertained his classmates throughout most of his school years. After a long hiatus, he is back in the swivel chair, crafting short stories at a pace he considers far too slow as he prepares for his first novel. You can learn more about him and his writing at www.geraldrivard.com.