Go to ARANIB E-Zine

Death becomes them
Jihad Samra

The gate had been open for two days now. It was all silent in the passages leading to the great wall. The earth was silent too, no heavy thudding, no floods, no suffocating dust in the air.

He stood there behind the wooden plank that kept him invisible, gazing at the great wall. He knew that the danger was gone, at least for now. But it was not the danger that worried him. It was the disillusion, for what lay behind the wall was the unknown, and it was always the unknown that he always feared more than anything.

He hesitated for a few more minutes and then decided to move on, feeling his way carefully in the dim light of the evening. He climbed the wall lazily, defying his cautious nature, for he knew that no one was on guard that night, and probably not for the coming few days.

Half way up, he decided to rest for a while, thinking of what might be on the other side. It was about three nights ago when he had decided to explore the world on the other side of the great wall. He was anxious, and although his mother had warned him that it was too dangerous for him, he was resolute and no one would stop him. She warned him that he was still too young to go there. Suddenly he realized that it was never convincing to tell a young one that he was too young to do something, let alone to refrain from doing it. It was inevitable that he would have to go one day, and despite his young age, he had decided to go. He thought of the wonderful lights on the other side, the luxury and the food, everything. But he was also aware of the danger, for how many times had he heard of how mean the people there were? No one had ever made it there for long. They were always killed by the system. People there will step on each other, and you, being a stranger, will even add more pleasure to that.

The great wall suddenly vibrated. What was that? He looked around and realized that he was totally exposed and that he could be spotted from a long distance. The vibration did not last for more than a second or two, but it was enough to put him on alert. He decided that it was time to move on.

There, on the top of the great wall, he felt like that he had finally made conquest. He suddenly realized that he was no longer in a hurry. He looked back. The path he had crossed was not that far, but it seemed to him as if it were worlds away. Nothing of that, silly old boy, you better stop thinking like a philosopher, he thought.

He moved around, trying to explore the area, but there was nothing to explore. Traces of an odor, however, made him wonder for a few seconds. What could that be? I had not smelled this odor when I was here for the last time. It was not a bad odor, but it certainly made him feel sick. He did not like feeling sick. The wall was not as high on the other side, and so, he started to descend slowly and carefully. In no time, he was down there, back on the grounds familiar and known to him.

Only minutes ago, he thought, he had been so eager and enthusiastic about how it would be like to be back home where he had spent his early childhood. But it did not feel like it was home. The silence around him was uneasy, deadly, in fact murderous. He could not stand it. Not that he did not love the silence, but when it is at home and unexpected, it just made him feel suffocated. Or was it that odor again?

It was dark already, and yet, he had not spotted anyone. He thought that maybe they had gone over to pay a visit to the old neighbor at the end of the camp. The old fellow had been dying for a while now. He walked around looking for any signs of life, but there were none. This is really strange, he thought, especially as the odor got worse. Suddenly, he spotted a body on the ground. He raced to the corpse. It was his brother, lying on his back and his limbs motionless. He felt a shuder in his legs and almost collapsed. What the hell has happened here? He could find no answers. There were no signs of violence around, no bruises or wounds on the dead body. And the silence was getting deadlier.

He walked towards the huge structure to the right where the corpse was lying. Behind it, he found out why it was so deadly silent. Dead bodies were lying there, motionless, just dead. It was as if everyone had suddenly decided to take a nap in the open, but the scene of it was so hideous and horrifying.

Suddenly he realized what had happened. It must have been that poisonous chemical weapon again. He had learned from his uncle once that the enemy used such chemical weapons sometimes, and it would get you out of wherever you were, even from inside the deepest caves. Losing a friend or a family member was nothing new. It happened all the time, but being all alone in this world, and so suddenly. It was too far for his mind to grasp. He did not shed a single tear. He was too shocked for that. He stood there, but although silent, his mind was filled with all kinds of noisy thoughts.

This is the price we pay for mixing with civilization, he thought. No, it is not. They will always come after you, and they will hunt you, even if you had not harmed them. It is the killing instinct, to live and let die. They make you run but in the end, they hunt you down one day, and they enjoy it as if it were some sort of sport.

He loathed war, fighting and violence, for it was against his nature. All he wanted to do was to live in peace and to have his world intact, but even that simple wish they would not let him enjoy. Why do men do these things? Why do they like to kill, sparing no old or young? Have they no feelings? No humanity? Nothing? But of course they do, but only for themselves, but not for those who do not belong to them. Humanity, he thought, must perhaps be the most flexible term he had ever encountered in his short life.

He felt hot in the head, and who wouldn't? He realized the rules of the game. As long as you were weak they would kill you. As long as you wanted to be in peace, they would kill you. And even if you never hurt or harmed them, they would still hunt you down and kill you. They just live to hunt and kill. They would do anything to kill you. They would destroy your land and your homes. They would kill your family. They would poison the air you breath. And every chance they get, they will also step on you. And they would never feel guilty about it. For what does it matter? If you are not one of them, then humanity does not apply. And if you are not one of them, then you are nothing but a cockroach that has to be stepped on and eliminated.

He took one last look at the bodies. The odor was still strong. He had no place to go, but he knew where to start. Behind the structure, there was a huge hole in the ground. It was dark and most down inside there. And as he moved his six limbs lazily, his mind drifted again. He would take a long and painful trip down there, but at least he would be safe, maybe for in a day or two, he might run across another clan, and then, things may be well until the hunt begins again.