Anna couldn’t wait for the plane to hit the tarmac. She hated flying. The plane was finally landing and she was only grateful that throughout the 10 hour journey to Negrida airport, she didn’t puke on herself, worse still, the sweet old couple beside her. It must have been her silent whispers of prayers to God, even though she had not spoken to Him in years, and the promises she made to Him and swore to keep if she landed honourably.
Now, she had a pile of promises to keep. She rolled her eyes at that.
South Tembrada was definitely a beautiful country, but the city of Negrida particularly, had to be the most beautiful place in the world. Although, some parts had been plagued by religious terrorists and left in ruins, it was still so beautiful.
Anna may have hated flying, but she loved airports. While she waited for her uber, she liked to stand and stare at the activities that played out; the dramatic salutations the airport security displayed to new arrivals in exchange for a token, the large families with grandparents and little children who came to escort their loved ones, the nearly comical cries between loved ones, the ones who just like her, looked like they might puke when the announcement for their boarding is made.
Sometimes, even when she wasn’t flying, she came around the airport and stared, it was therapeutic. She’d never mentioned this to even Beverly, her sweet hilarious best friend, it felt bizarre, really bizarre.
She takes a seat at a spot she thought had the best view, bites into her burger and takes out her phone, feigning indifference to her surrounding, meanwhile, she chuckled and cackled in her mind, at everything she saw.
Every year she used an uber, because she never told anyone she was coming. That way, her phone didn’t buzz every one hour, days before she arrived. She catches a glimpse at an attractive father-daughter duo and concludes he was a single father, the little girl was about five. She had been there, done that, never to go back and so takes her eyes away, she wasn’t falling into the temptation of going over to chat with him.
Suddenly, the loud blast of gunshots begin to echo. The warm, placid atmosphere had suddenly become dampened by chaos, anguish, blood thirsty terrorists. People begin running. Anna drops her burger to the ground and takes to hide. The sounds become deafening, filling the air with panic, the blaring cries of babies, little children, grown-up’s follow suit.
Some hide, some run, some goad their loved ones to hide, some to run as fast as they could, but before they make to jump over the fences of the airport, they are shot to the ground. Their wails of pain, agony, can be heard from afar. Anna conceals herself at the back of a 1960’s Peugeot vehicle. All the movies she had watched left her imagining that if she ever found herself in such a situation, she would find a better hideaway than the people in the movies. Now, this was the best she could do. The surrounding had been invaded by terrorists.
She knew she wouldn’t survive this. She wouldn’t live to see her adorable niece who had just been born, nor her parents who always longed to be close to their daughter, she wouldn’t see Dorothy her painfully annoying older sister, how could she? She didn’t have the mark of Agida on her neck, she wasn’t a worshipper of Agida. She really wasn’t a worshipper of anything. Only the people who had the unmistakable mark of Agida on their necks were let free, they were all told to step forward. The rest of them were going to die.
As she stretches her neck out, her eyes drop to the single father, who lay lifeless on the ground with blood gushing out of his mouth, the little girl lay on top of him crying. For the first time since the bloodbath began, Anna cries. She thumps her head on the car severally. She needed to get the little girl away from there, but how? she couldn’t even save herself.
The loud, screeching sounds of sirens draw near, but that doesn’t give Anna any hope, the weapons the terrorists used were unmatched. Even the police knew it was a failed mission, they knew they were going to die.
This religious war had gone on for years, and the government had since been silent, weak. The police and even the soldiers were often said to have diverted whenever they were sent on missions like this, some ran away when they saw their colleagues shot.
When she was away from South Tembrada, she often watched the news, her parents constantly kept her updated, but a part of her always thought it was something that happened to other people, you never imagined something like this could happen to you, but it didn’t have favourites, except you had an affinity with what the terrorists identified with. In this case, except you worshipped the traditional god; Agida.
The police soon joined the war, targeting their guns and shooting unsuccessfully. Only two terrorists had died as against the almost fifteen dead police men. As she summoned the courage to look at the faces of the terrorists, she could see a deep fiery passion for what they did, they were ready to give their lives for their belief, they were ready to eliminate, to wipe out, every non-believer from the face of the earth. She doesn’t notice one of the Agida men was walking towards the car until she sees a policeman drop down beside her.
He was getting closer, and now, there was nowhere to run to.
“Damn it” she says under her breath, wishing she didn’t get so lost looking at their faces. Her eyes search around, and they land on the gun “stupid me, how am I just thinking of picking you up?” she thinks. It must have been the adrenaline because she doesn’t know when she pulls the trigger, but she sees the man land on her, soaking her shirt with blood.
One more look at the little girl who to her surprise was still alive, and she comes out of her hiding. If they were ready to die for their god, she was ready to die saving the little girl and every other person.
It took one trigger pull and one dead man to spur her on. With gritted teeth and angry yells, she targets each man, watching them drop to the ground. Now she knew the people in the movies weren’t been extra when they sometimes screamed in heated scenes. She runs to the little girl, taking hold of her to a safer place, but as she turns her head, a melange of men come out of nowhere. She shuts her eyes tight, gripping the little girls hand so firmly she groans. They were going to die. All of them. But before they did, she had to kill a few more men. She couldn’t die without giving a fight.
As she takes her gun out, she sees what she recognises as an explosive in the hand of one of the men, her insides quake, everything in her crumples, all her strength goes into the drain. She brings the girl forward, hugging her tightly with tears running down her cheeks. “I’m sorry” she mutters.
Still in that tight embrace, she hears a loud voice, the last voice she was sure she’d ever hear “No enemy of Agida shall live”, the voice is followed by a loud blast, and everything goes blank.
Anna wakes up gasping for air. Cold sweat found it’s way out of her pores. She looks down and sees a large blotch below the bed, “Anna!!!” she yells. Nothing had looked more real. She puts her head down, still trying to find her breath when she hears a loud, thunderous sound. It sounded like the last noise she heard before it all went blank in her dream. The sound was followed by screams, sorrowful, deep groaning sounds.
As Anna looks out her window, she sees the blood thirsty faces of the terrorists on the street outside her house. She thumps on her bed “How does a person die twice?”.