We had a threat of snow today, but I may have seen one flake. The sky was pretty gray and gloomy, but it was a bright writing day inside the house–5,216 words. I broke the 60,000-word milestone, with a grand total of 64,251 words.
I finished two chapters today, Chapter 22, Ground Zero, and Chapter 23, Recalled. Here’s an excerpt from Ground Zero:
Harzat Ali was alone in his tent when his lieutenant told him a messenger had arrived for Abdullah Ignatsiev.
“Send him in,” he said.
The young man, a boy really, came in, shoulders hunched, his fingers twisting the pakhool he had removed in deference.
“Come in, come in,” Ali said. “What is your name?”
“And you are related to Abdullah or his wife?” Ali asked.
“I am the youngest son of the youngest wife of Tarife Ignatsiev’s uncle, Najibullah,” he replied.
“And everything is all right at the Ignatsiev household?” Alexei asked.
“Then, why does Abdullah’s wife bother him at a time like this?” Ali asked.
“I do not know, sir. I do not know what is in the letters,” Rishaad replied.
Ali saw his manner made the boy even more afraid, but he didn’t soften his gaze. “Give me the letters,” he ordered.
Rishaad debated briefly between his duty to his family and angering a warlord of Ali’s reputation. He reached inside the layers of clothing and produced the two letters. Ali took them and lay them aside.
“Were you told to wait for a reply?” he asked Rishaad.
“No, sir. I was to return at once,” Rishaad said.
“Very well. My lieutenant will pay you and give you some food. Did you come by mule or vehicle?” Ali asked.
“My lieutenant will give you some petrol as well. Thank you for being diligent in carrying messages for your family,” Ali said and waved a hand in dismissal.
When he was alone, Ali opened first the message addressed to Abdullah Ignatsiev. A short, simple message: “You and Saradi must come here at once.”
When he was a young Mujahideen, Ali had been sent to infiltrate a Russian unit by serving as a translator. He read and spoke Russian quite well and easily recognized the language on the second letter. That one was longer, and he pondered it after he finished reading it.
Saradi’s wife, whose death drove him to revenge, still lived and was, in fact, too close for Ali’s comfort. If Saradi were to learn this news, he would leave to go to her bed, leaving a gap in his army. Ali, who could understand the lure of a woman, better understood the needs of war.
He took both letters to the brazier and burned them.
(c)2013 by Phyllis Anne Duncan