Friday, May 20, 2011

Born on 9/11 Chapters 51-60

Born on 9/11

a novel

Moses Seenarine
Version 5.05 5/11/09
62 Chapters - 305 pages

(chapters 51-60) 

Chapter 51: Alice X
Dearborn, MI June 26, 2006 2030 Hours.
The bomber stared at the cuts on his trembling hand. It was obvious he was an amateur, yet he prized himself as a professional. His nostrils flared.
A dozen glass bottles filled with napalm rested on the table. His friend was on his way to help him transport the two backpacks. He had to hurry.
He carefully examined the empty Alice for any defects. He preferred using the military backpack to load and carry explosives. Although not specifically designed for pipe bombs and napalm bottles, they could be adapted to any use.
The All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment, or ALICE, was introduced into Army service in 1974, and retained the concept of separate fighting and existence loads. The flexible system allowed an infantry rifleman to carry only the items necessary to complete the immediate mission at hand. The belt and suspenders held individual small arms, small arms ammunition, and other individual equipment, while the field pack carried existence items.
On this mission, he did not need the belt and suspenders, so he stored them away underneath the table.
The field pack was made of water repellent treated nylon duck and webbing, spacer fabric, and metal hardware. The main compartment closed with a drawstring secured by a plastic cord clamp. A radio pocket was located against the back on the inside. He would this pocket to hold one bottle.
There were three pockets on the outside with strap and buckle adjustable closures and with snap fasteners for quick access. The top flap had a pocket with a hook and pile fastener tape sealed closure. Equipment hangers were located above each outside pocket and on each side. The bottom of the main compartment and outside pockets had drainage eyelets.
He used this feature to load the pipe bombs in the previous pack to survive inclement weather, however it not as essential for this incendiary device.
An envelope pocket was located at the top, back of the pack and padded with spacer cloth, into which the field pack frame was inserted when the field pack was used on the field pack frame. A waterproof bag was located in the main compartment and each of the three outside pockets for keeping the equipment dry.
The pack frame was missing, however he did not need it.
Buckles and straps at each side near the bottom were used for anchoring the field pack to the field pack frame. Two rectangular wire loops located at the top back of the field pack and D rings on each side at the bottom of the field pack were used to provide shoulder strap attachment when the field pack is carried without the field pack frame.
He removed the strap. The pack would be carried and deployed by hand. Satisfied with his inspection, he placed a bottle into the inside Alice and covered it with packing material.

Chapter 52: Duty
Dearborn, MI June 26, 2006 2030 Hours.
The cool evening breeze caressed Adam's face as he went in and out of a flashback. He clawed the ground and pulled himself toward the high wall. He had to get away from the house.
Oh god, what had they done? Adam recalled the incident Fatima described. He was in a track in the front of column of five vehicles. All was quiet until the APC in the back took out a car. They stopped to check it out. All at once, everything came rushing back.
Adam scratched his eyes in horror. He did not want to see the images in his mind.
He recalled the people in the pictures in Fatima's room. They were the same two mangled bodies in blood he saw in the car that day in Iraq.
Adam bowled over and threw up. No. It could not be them.
The car exploded after they left. He didn't see any money, but he heard about it afterward, along with the passports.
Adam pulled his ears. There was no denying it was the same incident. He was present at the killing of Fatima's family. Why did he not stop them? He rolled in pain. He had to tell Fatima how sorry he was.
Adam looked up at the back door. Fatima was gone.
Adam slammed his head into the ground until his whole body felt numb, but the images kept on repeating in his head.
Her grandfather lay on top of her grandmother, his hands around her shoulders and his head split open. Both were in a pool of blood on the floor that spilled to the ground and unto Adam's shoes. In the back, hanging out the rear windscreen, a man with his right arm severed and his left eye smashed. A woman and another man slumped onto the seat with mangled limbs. The driver lay dead ten feet away from the car.
Adam lay on the ground, suffocating. The stars blinked untiringly, without any regard to his problems. His thoughts raced from one atrocity to another.
If Fatima went on the trip, they could easily have killed Fatima along with the rest and covered it up. Were they any different from Green and the others who raped and killed 14-year old Abeer?
He dry heaved into the ground.
What was his duty now that he knew what happened? Should he snitch on his own buddies?
Adam lay exhausted on the ground. What should he do? The incident was just part of a tangled mess of violence in Iraq. No one was to blame.
He grabbed his head and sighed. It never affected him before. So why was he torn up now? Was it because he knew the victims? Her grandparents were Americans and that changed everything.
Adam stared at the raising quarter moon until forced to blink. The guys probably felt sorry when they found that out, but what could they do about it after the fact? So many innocent Iraqis get up caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was a war zone.
The soldier closed his eyes. Why did God choose him to be the witness of such a grave mistake? He really liked Fatima. How would she react if she found out he was part of the same convoy?
Adam lay on the ground in complete agony. He was going crazy. He wanted to leave but he was too sick to move. He had such good intentions when he enlisted. Why did he have to suffer so much?
He never felt so miserable. Second, after agonizing second elapsed as Adam replayed the horrific episode and searched for a way to stop the carnage. He shuddered uncontrollably each time he recalled the lifeless expression on the disfigured faces and damaged bodies of Fatima's family.  
Adam bit his hands until he felt the pain. He had to move on, ignore whatever he learned, and escape from Dearborn now. After returning to base Monday, he would be back to operating the way he always had, and everyone else would go on with their lives as before. There was nothing he could do now.
He got up on his knees and started crawling toward the wall.
Did he just turn into cold-hearted Sean? Or, would the truth gnaw at him until he ended up like Max?
Oh God, not Max.
Adam whimpered and curled into a ball.

Chapter 53: Max
Dearborn, MI June 26, 2006 2031 Hours.
Max was tall, buffed, and all heart. A year younger, Adam's best friend was brave and determined never to quit a fight. He was the most loyal and reliable person Adam knew.
Max had a tough life, unlike Adam. A sister one year older, was born mentally disabled and died when Max was thirteen. His remaining sibling, Mary, seven years younger, was an introverted loner.
His best friend lived less than a mile away from Adam. As children, they slept over and went on summer camp together. As teenagers, they grew even closer, and rarely came to blows. Whenever they fought, Adam deferred to his friend. Max was the brother he always wanted.
Max looked up to him, and Adam was always the leader. Max copied everything he did, and joined the military because Adam did.
When he arrived in Iraq in 2003, Max collected a small black pebble for each target he took out. A few months later, he had a pocket full of pebbles.
One day it dawned upon Max that he was carrying around a graveyard, and he threw away the pebbles in disgust and gave up the quest of tallying kills. Instead, he began to tally near misses with death.
Months later, Max once again had a pocket full of pebbles. They now served as a reminder of the increasingly odds of being seriously injured in the next attack. Max tossed his marbles away.
At the start of the second attack on Fallujah in November 2004, Max called Adam out of the blue to talk. It was early evening, the end of a long day spent in the stifling heat. They were both exhausted from a day filled with violence.
Max sounded serious. "I can't stop worrying about IEDs and getting killed."
Adam sensed his friend's need to vent. "I feel you dude."
"I can't trust these Iraqis anymore. I see each one as a potential threat, and I'm really scared of the ones we trained. This constant fear, the constant vigilance, is wearing me down."
Adam was keen to show empathy in his response. "We all get that sense of panic. But let me give you a little piece of advice my grandfather passed on to me. Don't fight it. That wouldn't work."
"Why not?"
"It'll just get stronger." Adam paused. "Fear is a strange thing. The more you fight it, the more force you give it. I do not know how to explain it. It is kind of like fighting yourself. You can't really do it, you know what I mean?"
Max sounded confused. "So what do I do then?"
A gust of hot desert air blew through his tent and Adam felt like he was sitting under a huge hair dryer. "Don't shy away from looking at any fear in your life. You have to look at it in every detail and likelihood. Follow the fear to the end, to its conclusion."
"Then what?"
"Stay there. Live with all of the possibilities for a while. Carry it through to your worst fears."
"What's that going to do? It'll just drive--."
"When you begin to look at them more willingly, after a while, your fears will become routine. They will begin to loose their force and power over you. Try it, you'll see."
"Interesting, I'll do that."
Max later told Adam that he did what he told him. Max inspected each fear as it arose and rather than try to fight and avoid it as he usually did, he went into the fear and pictured himself dead at the end of each one. Then, he told Adam, something surprising happened. The fears disappeared and in a split second, he was back to normal.
Max claimed that he no longer agonized to avoid the fear of getting killed, of being shameful for feeling afraid, of being sad over how his family would react to serious injury, and so on. He met the fear head on and came out on top each time. He was grateful to Adam and was all right for a while.
A few weeks later, Max was posted to Ramadi, the heart of the Sunni triangle, in early January 2005. He called Adam late one night and spoke in a hushed voice.
"There is a cell of suicide bombers in the area. There are rumors Al Qaeda in Iraq is here as well."
Adam knew the drill. "Al Zarqawi huh?"
"Yesterday, a suicide bomber hit and killed four soldiers here."
"American?" The noise from the air cooler prevented Adam from clearly hearing his friend.
"Yes. Then today, our FOB was mortared with one casualty. A sniper is out taking shots at us now."
Adam shrugged. "Fallujah is back to business as usual as well. I'll be leaving soon, thank God."
"What's crazy is that in the midst of all this, we have to prepare the city for their first election at the end of the month. We have to put good old fashion democracy to work here."
"That's why we're here, right? Good luck buddy." Adam clicked the phone off and immediately went to bed. He had a rough day.
A month later, Max was disappointed when few people actually turn out to vote in the elections, and he begun taking Army prescribed medication for depression.
On another late night call, an intoxicated Max complained to Adam. "Man, I worked so hard for the election to occur as smoothly as it did. Many good Americans lost their lives to give these people the gift of democracy. And when no one shows up, well that's just a slap in the face. It makes our sacrifice worthless and it's like we did all that for nothing."
Adam gave his friend the usual answer. "You have to be more positive. Give them credit for trying, no matter how small. Democracy is a long process." Why was Max losing faith in the mission? He used to be so patriotic.
"This fighting between factions had been going on here for thousands of years. There is nothing we can really do to end it."
"We are protecting our freedom as well. We have to fight--."
"The fights between Sunni, Shiite and Kurds have nothing to do with our freedom. We need to go home and let the Iraqis fight their own war."
Adam was upset. "That's admitting failure, my friend." Why was Max so negative? Was he losing his nerve?
"Maybe we can eventually win, but at what cost?”
Adam hated having to repeat himself. "Like I said, the Iraqi people aren't ready to lead themselves, so we have to stay and help."
"Have you ever thought about the cost in American lives?"
"Dude, you are thinking too hard. No one is required to save the world by destroying himself. You've got to relax and get pass this. You can do it, so hang in there, okay."
"I'm beginning to get real upset at the attacks I face daily." Max hanged up.
A week later, Max told Adam a story that haunted him for a long time.
It was mid-day and the sun was unrelentingly hot. Max's unit was on foot patrol in the main shopping area when they began taking sniper fire. They sought cover under the wood stalls and received fire from all directions. They searched for minutes but were unable to pinpoint the snipers. Finally, they lost it and shot at everything in a circle.
After their magazines emptied and the dust cleared, they found many dead bodies including a taxi driver outside his damaged car, three customers in a teashop, and two small children who stood in a doorway.
A young girl stood next to the two small bodies. Her continuous scream pierced Max's ears and mind for days, and army doctors prescribed another bunch pills.
After the incident, Max's unit retreated and filed a routine report. There was no inquiry or reprimand.

Chapter 54: Detector X
Dearborn, MI June 26, 2006 2031 Hours.
Joe glared at Bukowski filling out paperwork at her desk. The television blared and the front door was wide open.
What the hell was wrong with her? Why was she not taking the terrorist threat to the station seriously? It was Roger's job to get the cops on board, but her lackadaisical attitude was undermining the whole effort. Joe had to get her to play ball.
Joe walked over to the sergeant and prodded, "Why is this station not yet guarded?"
Bukowski did not look up. "All available units are out on the APB you issued."
Damn pencil pusher. He hated cops. "Did you call in backup from other precincts, like I told you? I need the perimeter cordoned off, Sergeant."
Bukowski glanced at her nails. "We get prank calls routinely. We can't setup roadblocks every time--."
Joe gritted his teeth. "This is a specific threat from a highly credible source. We can't take any chances."
Bukowski stared at him. "Why don't you transfer Mr. Ali to an ICE detention center?"
The gall of this woman questioning his authority. Someday, he will make her pay dearly for this.
Joe grimaced. "Nice idea, but the terrorist may not be aware of the transfer. They'll attack the station regardless."
Bukowski sighed and returned to her paperwork. "That's highly improbable."
Joe raised his voice. He had it with her. "We are not going to back down against Islamic terrorists. Not on my watch, Sergeant. Mr. Ali stays, threat or no threat."
"When was the last time--?"

"This station could be the next ground zero for Al Qaeda, damn it. Don't you get it? We're at war."
Roger walked up and announced, "The swat team is ready and waiting outside, Sir."
Joe nodded acknowledgment, then turned to Bukowski. "Get six patrol cars to meet us on Pine Street."
Bukowski appeared surprised. "What's going on?"
Joe was curt. "We found his car on Cedar Street, and we traced the Wisconsin plates to his parents' house in Milwaukee."
Roger added, "He may be armed and dangerous."
Joe clenched his fist. "Be prepared for a siege. I want everyone in full riot gear, with tear gas and live rounds."
Bukowski appeared concerned. "Why go after the soldier again? Didn't we just--."
Roger interrupted the Sergeant. "There's a threat to release the prisoner. Don't forget they're related."
Joe tapped Roger's shoulder and headed for the door. "ICE personnel will join us at the site. You have orders to arrest everyone at the house." He paused by the door to warn Bukowski. "This perimeter better be secured by the time I get by back, Sergeant, or heads are going to roll."
Joe took a deep breath of fresh air outside. "You smell that? Do you smell that?"
Roger gave him a puzzled look.
"Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the evening."

Chapter 55: Sean
Dearborn, MI June 26, 2006 2032 Hours.
Indecision paralyzed Adam. Rolled into a tight ball, he lay frozen on the lawn in the cool evening air. Blood drained from his limbs and he shivered uncontrollably.
What should he do about the killing of Fatima's grandparents? He did not want to turn his friends in, since that would make him a doubting Thomas, like Max.
The alternative was becoming a total warrior, like Sean.
One of his closest friends in high school, Seung (Sean) Lee was Asian American. His mother, Linda, was Korean. His stepfather, Jim, was American. Sean migrated to Milwaukee from Seoul when he was a boy. He became friends with Adam and Max during high school, and they all enlisted at the same time.
A few weeks after Adam spoke to Max about the young girl's scream, Sean related to Adam, a conversation he had with their mutual friend. Sean was posted in Najaf at the time.
Max called Sean wanting to talk to someone about another incident he had, just the day before. It was after 12:30 pm, and Max hoped to catch Sean awake. Sean was busy playing a video game.
Max had shot a young Iraqi boy by mistake, and he quickly explained what happened to Sean, and then became quiet.
Sean was unimpressed. "So, you wanna play online Doom or what?"
Max sounded woeful. "Be serious. How do you deal with the guilt, man?"
"I never felt guilt or remorse. It's war. People get hurt and die."
"Jihadis are not a problem. However, women and children are different."
"You don't have time to stop and think, right?"
"But don't you care when innocent people get hurt?"
"If they refuse to cooperate... Look, you have to survive. It's your duty, that's all."
Max sounded tearful. "What about the kid that died?"
"You have to look at the big picture, dude. Oil made America the greatest country and we have no choice but to remain here until the well runs dry. If these camel jockeys keeps attacking us for doing them a favor, they're no more than weeds on a lawn."
"I can't believe you. You used to make such a big deal about being a minority back home, but over here, you don't you care about all the brown people being killed. What's up with that?"
"These people are from the dark ages, dude. We've been fighting them a thousand years to keep the holy land of our savior from their clutches."
Max became increasingly upset. "So now, you and Billy-Joe-Bob are burning crosses together? Hey, buddy, this is their land as well."
"Everyone knows they drove out God's chosen people out and moved here." Sean missed scoring a big point in his video game and wanted to end the call.
Max rambled on, "Seventh grade history, my born again friend. Civilization began here. Even a majority of the bible was plagiarized from these ancient people's Mesopotamian and Sumerian stories--."
"I don't need a history lesson to tell me what I can see with my eyes. These people are backward."
"Iraq was one of the most modern countries in the Middle East before we invaded twice. Now it’s even worst than Gaza. If they're backward, it's because we made them."
"They're savages with public beheading. Look at the way they treat their women. That says a lot about how uncivilized their are."
"Under Saddam they could vote--."
"Only for him." Sean was losing points. He needed to get off the phone.
"Yes, but he allowed women to drive cars, own property, get an education, and work."
"I'm tired of hearing about women's rights under Saddam. What about the systematic rapes, torture, and beheading of women?"
"We never had a problem when he was our ally against Iran."
Sean was annoyed he was losing the game. "In 2000, Fedayeen forces beheaded 200 women 'dissidents' and dumped their head on their families' doorsteps for public display under the pretext of fighting prostitution."
Max sounded indignant. "Both Sunni and Shia militias do the same thing now, you know that."
"Their marriages are all arranged. If a woman tries to have a relationship based on attraction they are stoned to death. How backward is that?"
"That's just not true. There are many cases--."
"Under their religion, millions of women are unequal."
Max screamed. "How equal do we treat them here? We consider unarmed women in Iraq as terrorists. That's crazy and worst than anything else in the Muslim world."
Sean kept his cool. He knew he was right. "The only way to liberate women from this oppressive culture is to destroy it. These men will never change."
"I can't believe you turned out this way. You of all people who complained incessantly about 'The White Man' and how much your life was affected by racism."
"This is not America. Damn. You made me lose my game."
"This war is no game, Sean. The tables are turned here, and now you who can't see the extent of your own religious intolerance."
"It's not intolerance, my friend. God wants me to hate his arch enemy."
"Muslims and Christians consider each other the devil, so who's right?"
Sean shouted, "Christians."
"This war had changed you to a point where I don't know you anymore."
"You're the one with the hostage syndrome, buddy."
Sean hanged up and rarely spoke to Max afterward.

Chapter 56: Addiction
Dearborn, MI June 26, 2006 2033 Hours.
The moon overhead went in and out of focus as Adam tossed on the ground, trying to clear his head from images of death and destruction. It was no use. His body convulsed uncontrollably, and he was mentally transported to an early Sunday morning in Iraq, to the last time he saw Max.
Max had traveled to Baghdad to visit him since they both had the day off. They went for breakfast in a brightly lit, air-conditioned mess hall, and sat at a small corner table by themselves. The hall was filled with noisy soldiers enjoying a one-sided football game on television. Max picked at his food while Adam ate heartily.
Max confessed suddenly, "I'm totally addicted."
Adam gulped his coffee, "Stay off the hookah my friend."
"I'm talking about the cocktail of psycho drugs the medics gave me each week."
"What medications are you on?"
"Citalopram, hydromorphine, morphine, oxycodone, methadone, and other stuff I don't know."
There was an audible groan in the mess hall. On the main screen, a pile of bodies lay in the middle of the field. The ball was dropped and it was under the pile.
Max continued, "Do you want to know what my worst addiction is?"
Adam stared at his younger friend. "What's that?"
"I addicted to the adrenalin rush of war."
Adam laughed. "You're playing too many video games, my friend?"
Max appeared dead serious. "War is weeks of boredom with a few hours of heightened alertness. I will die of the boredom, I swear. Then, there are those few seconds of sheer terror. When you start living for those seconds…"
"Everyone enjoys the thrill of competition." Adam glanced at the television. On the bottom of the pile, several players were crushed and medics were on the field, while referees debated whose ball it was.
"The kick I get in those seconds is similar to ones I got from paintball, videogames, and hunting. I did all those before to satisfy my blood thirst as well."
"Those are just games."
"I'm trapped into hunting for bad guys, but with each asset I remove, the rush I feel have less of an effect. I'm irritable and in withdrawal most of the times. I feel like--."
Adam half-listened to his companion. "Relax, that's what we're here to do." The referee awarded possession to the losing team on offense as their running back was carried off the field.
"I engage the enemy each day, but only a handful at a time. I wish we got ambushed by an entire company."
Adam grinned. "Why? So you can take out more bad guys at once?"
"Yes. I want to get a bigger adrenalin rush. Am I going mad or am I already there?"
"You are not going mad, dude. You're over-reacting a bit, that's all." It was third down and long yardage for the first down.
Max paid no attention to the game. "I'm tired of this blood lust. I can't live with this craving for a bigger and bigger adrenaline rush. I wish it would end."
A defensive player sacked the quarterback and the hall exploded in celebration.
"You take out bad guys. What's wrong with that?"
"Killing more good guys than bad guys is not helping them. Neither is killing women and children repeatedly by mistake. That only makes Iraqis more mad at us."
"Mistakes happen." The quarterback was on a stretcher and seemed unconscious.
Max spat his words. "We shoot cars simply for backfiring, invade women's quarters in raids to satisfy our lust, steal jewelry and cash, rape and kill young girls my sister's age--."
Adam interrupted, "I know that you haven't done any of those things. The line is always blurred. You should give yourself the benefit of the doubt."
Max pushed his plate away. "When there is no line, its over. Thinking is a dangerous thing and it never stops. When you combine an uncontrollable mind with hate and arrogance, you get pure insanity." Max tossed his head toward a rowdy bunch by the door. "People who are prejudiced should be required to have a license to act, I swear."
Adam had to try something else to bring his friend back to sanity. He needed to get back to basics, to why they enlisted in the first place.
Adam stared at his companion. "I think you have to remember where we were on 9/11."
Max said nothing. A rookie quarterback warmed up on the sidelines.
Adam continued, "We were attacked, and we had to do something about it, right?"
Max stood up and pointed a finger at him. "I don't need an elementary school lecture from you. It was a sad tragedy that ruined your birthday, but that doesn't give you the right to ruin others' lives."
That was hitting below the belt. Adam was trying to help and did not deserve this.
Adam lashed out, "You enlisted on you own, dude. No one forced you to sign up."
Max sat down and lowered his voice. "I know I did, but I followed you, and we were lied to. Iraq didn't have any WMD, and no links with Al Qaeda. It was all--."
Max broke off and there was a long pause. Onscreen, the rookie took the field with shaky legs.
Adam asked, "You're going home soon, right?"
Max shook his head. "I've become accustomed to life in the war zone and am terrified of change in any way. Now I fear rotation leave."
"Don't you miss Milwaukee? What about your family back home?"
"I don't care for them as much anymore, I guess. I want to my spend time here, alone. I hate what they've turned me into."
"Who, the army? How can you blame them?"
"Their lack of concern over the casual use of force and number of civilians killed led to me feeling like this."
"Stop being so critical." Adam glanced at the television. The pass was too high and it sailed over to the sideline. The losing team had to punt the football again. The mess hall cheered but Adam lost interest in the game.
"I've tried to get help. The officers say I should talk to the shrinks. The shrinks keep changing the medication and say talk to chaplain. I keep getting--."
It was a busy day and Adam remembered he had something planned. He stood up from the table.  "Look dude, I got to run to a meeting. I'll call you afterward, okay?"
Max pleaded as Adam left, "Take care of my sister, please. She's all I got." 
Adam ran from the mess hall, but the last look of despair on his friend's eyes haunted him ever since.


A few days later, Adam learned Max was killed. He cried for weeks and felt guilty for running out on his buddy.
Max's death was recorded in the line of duty, and he was awarded a medal of honor, posthumously. Adam learned how his best friend died when he visited the guys in Max's unit, stationed in a fortified outpost in north Baghdad.
The oldest unit member admitted, "One day, Max just stopped taking cover."
Adam gasped, "Christ."
"Instead, Max charged the enemy at full speed and unloaded everything he had. When he was empty and too far ahead for us to cover him, Max casually strolled back and reloaded."
Adam shook his head in disbelief. "Why was he being so reckless?"
The unit leader spoke next. "He acted this way for three days. He went through several flak jackets and helmets with minor wounds and bruises."
Adam covered his ears. He did not want to hear what they were about to tell him. They told him regardless and he did not walk away. He had to hear it.
The youngest member of Max's unit continued the story. "On the fourth day, Max was out two hundred yards ahead of anyone, in hot pursuit of a group of armed men. There were more of them on the rooftops, and Max took one in the mouth firing directly up at a sniper. It blew the back of his brains out."
Adam collapsed on the floor in tears.

Chapter 57: Alice XI
Dearborn, MI June 26, 2006 2033 Hours.
The bomber stared out the window over the sink. The sky was completely dark except for a small moon. It was a perfect night for planting explosives.
He glanced at the two harmless-looking backpacks on the floor and smiled. His Alice was going to deliver a huge message to the world tonight.
It was not usually the bomber's responsibility to deploy the devices, but their most experienced member had left for another group. After his hard work, the bomber did not want to leave this important job to rank amateurs, so he decided to plant Alice himself. For days, he conducted surveillance of the site in order to understand the nature of the explosive environment. He chose the perfect spot to plant his seeds, and after that, he planned to watch the news to see them bear fruit.
The bomber stooped on his knees to shoulder Alice, the one loaded with pipe bombs, then stood upright. He was in a good mood. He finally understood why his nemesis wrote the play. He should have thought of it before, but he was too busy. The bomber laughed and grabbed the second Alice.
Al-Fredah blamed his father for molesting him in the play, however it was not physical abuse he was referring to. No, his nemesis was alluding to the psychological poisoning of his mind with explosives the elder Nobel had accomplished. Each step of the way, his father guided his learning and helped him develop the craft until Al-Fredah himself fed the monster inside. His father had committed psychological incest.
Driven to create ever more efficient bombs, Al-Fredah kept hoping deterrence would end the violence they produced. That was his biggest mistake, losing respect for the art he perfected. In the end, the crazy genius considered his entire work the devil's brew and gave each penny he earned from explosives away to establish the Nobel peace prize. What a fool. And, as the last act before he died, Al-Fredah artistically blamed and killed his father, years after the older gentleman died, with the play titled, "Nemesis."
The bomber checked the mirror by the front door. His insides tingled with excitement as he adjusted the white prayer cap, and black and white shawl.
Al-Fredah lost his beliefs and marbles simply because he lacked perspective. Instead of literature, the inventor of dynamite should have studied history, especially the thousand years of crusades and the sacrifice of millions to defend the faith. The history of explosives in this great struggle was filled with many discoveries on all sides. In spite of being a genius, if he realized the enormity of the task that lay ahead, Al-Fredah would have remain humble to the cause.
The bomber had to improve on Al-Fredah's work. None other than God depended on him, and he was committed to the struggle to the end. The bomber made a last prayer and exited the apartment with a bounce.

Chapter 58: Change
Dearborn, MI June 26, 2006 2045 Hours.
Adam opened his eyes warily. Stars flickered in the night sky, and a cool, gentle breeze blew over his temple. The flashback was over but he still grieved for Max. His best friend was gone six months now, but Adam broke down each time he dredged up his friend's suicide.
Where did Max go wrong? When did Max lose his sense of duty? How could he have prevented Max from questioning his service, which led to Max abandoning the will to live?
Adam squeezed the sides of his head. He should have cared more. He should have reached out to Max rather than cringe when his friend called. He should have contacted Max's commanding officers about getting his buddy some leave. He did not do enough, and his best friend died as result.
Why was he so scared of Max? Why was he afraid even of thinking about his friend? Max's chronic depression was not a disease he could catch. Or was it?
Adam shook his head. Would he suffer the same fate as Max if he thought too much about what he was doing in Iraq? The one thing he was sure of was that he would not become another Sean. It did not matter how hard he tried, he could not ignore the incident with Fatima's grandparents. He was just not that kind of person.
Nevertheless, he was still confused. If he accepted Fatima's version of events, what would happen if he did nothing about it? Would the truth break him down, like it did in a similar way to Max?
Adam gazed at the moon for a sign, but Earth's satellite seemed strange and mysterious. It was weird, like he had never seen the moon before, and he could not really see everything that was there. He gave up looking for an answer.
If he could not walk away from the crime, the only other choice was to take responsibility for what he saw.
There, that was it. He had found the answer, and he only found it after he stopped looking. The night was full of revelations.
Cowboys who initiate crimes should be forced to explain their actions in a military or civilian court, and there has to be consequences for the senseless killings to stop. That was the right thing to do.
But what if he was implicated in the killings as well? He had nothing to do with it, but if he snitched on his buddies, they might take him down with them. He could end up with years of captivity, loneliness, boredom and depression. Not being able to see his family would be the hardest part.
What about Xavier?
His father was wrongly imprisoned, and it made no sense to spend years in captivity when he could be out trying to free Xavier. He could not leave Xavier to his own fate. If Hartman tried to ensnare him, would the bastard try to entrap his mother next?
Adam clenched his fists and pounded the ground. Not Mom. He had to return to base soon, and being in Iraq would prevent him from trying to protect his family in America. Christ.
And, if he did not like what the government was doing to Americans, why did he respect what they were doing to the Iraqis? Like Max warned him, anger at September eleventh should not cause them to act just as brutal as the attackers.
Adam buried his face in his hands.
Why was it that the faster American soldiers were being killed overseas, the faster American citizens were losing their rights back home? Adam shook his head. He could no longer be a witness to American mistakes in Iraq. The right choice was not serving his country in an illegal war. It was better to do nothing than participate in the government's violence and wrong actions. Unless he lived right, everything he did would go wrong. Like his grandfather told him, the greatest duty was to act in a moral way at all times, regardless of circumstances.
He turned to look at the house and beyond the majestic oak, and saw the light on in Fatima's bedroom upstairs.
How did Fatima manage to get through each day with such loss? How can anyone go on after losing his or her whole family? What were her plans are for tomorrow?
Adam slapped his forehead and stood upright. "Christ. Fatima."
Adam flew off the lawn and ran up the steps toward the back door, but he found it locked. He kicked and shoved the entry but it refused to budge. He dashed to the side of the house, jumped into the open basement window, and scrambled for the room door in the dark. He bumped his head on the doorway and bounded up two flights of stairs to Fatima's room. The door was locked. Jesus.
Adam slammed his right shoulder into the door, fell inside the room, and rolled over in pain. Someone had kicked him in the exact spot yesterday.
He heard a creaking sound. Adam looked up and froze. His eyeballs budged against their sockets and his stomach felt like a truck hit him.
"Oh, no."
Fatima stood on a chair with a rope around her neck.

Chapter 59: Detector XI
Dearborn, MI June 26, 2006 2100 Hours.
It was a dark night, and the huge pine trees on the parkway smothered the streetlamps. Inside the house, there was dim light. Joe paced the sidewalk and fumed. The suspect could easily slip away. They needed to search the location as soon as possible.
Six members of his ICE team were assembled and ready to launch the raid. Where were the others? Did they detour for a coffee break? He could understand the Swat Team getting lost, but the local cops knew the suspect's location. Why weren't they already there?
A group of Arab men emerged from an apartment building on the opposite side of the street to observe them. Who were they? Did they know the suspect? If the other members of his team were there, Joe could arrest the Arabs for obstructing justice.
His phone rang. He did not need the interruption. It was Frank. He got right down to business as usual.
"Did you get that grunt yet?"
"We're about to go in. I'll call you right back."
"Well get him and lock him up real tight."
"Yes, Sir."
"And when the general shows up, arrest that bastard as well. We've got to show these fools who's in charge."
Joe was stunned. "You're not serious, are you?" What the hell was Frank thinking? The department could not take on the military.
"Just leave it to me, grasshopper. Our leaders understand that we can't win a holy war with an immoral military. Weak brass lacking faith is of no use to us."
Joe looked up and saw a line of flashing lights approaching. His mood improved immediately.
"How about the job, Master? After all this, don't I deserve it?"
"If you make this arrest, Grasshopper, it could be the start of a whole new ball game for you."
The line went dead.
Joe slapped Roger on the back and yelled, "Let's rock and roll, buddy."

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