An excerpt from chapter The General
“There was once a land ruled over by tribes, in a loose yet efficient fashion, so that the many travellers who came to her shores marvelled at the wonder of it all. And even though invaders came and over the century’s left their mark, the real damage was never done until the Turkish invaders arrived, an arrogant empire seeking to grow and to trample whatever people lay in her path. Then, in their wake came the French, who actually made our country a part of their own, but refused to grant our people equality of status and used us as slaves, Eventually we rebelled, after having had our young men go to fight their battles in foreign lands, giving their lives, only to return and see their fellow countrymen slaughtered at Setif and all the surrounding towns and villages. And after the French, with our new freedom, we will be enslaved by our own, by the selected few, in a new form of colonisation being used by the Western powers to crush the poor hungry and helpless of the world under their jackboots. This last, the most insidious of all invasions must be stopped, all over the world, and I believe there are millions of souls out there who are and think as I do.
“Wow,” exclaimed the older woman, ”That’s quite a piece; but surely most intelligent human beings in today´s world think more or less along those lines, only that they realise there is little that can be done as the problem is humanity itself.”
“That precisely Madame is what I refuse to accept, the acceptance of people all over the world, their acquiescence, their participation in their own end, their own eventual destruction. We live at the start of the era of technology and we must create a free and just world to use this new power for good. With it, as a race we can survive the future and all it may hold, once we have a properly governed world.”
“Dreams, one day you will begin to awaken to the harsh reality of things and will become as others.”
“With due respect Madame you hardly know me. All I can say is that I will dedicate my life to being a true Algerian and follow in the footsteps of those men in our history who´s lives and examples I hold sacred.”
A dark night lighted occasionally by brisk breezes drawing back the cloud curtain and a glimpse ,momentary of tall palms leaning at angles into the wind and the night, and the actual roundness of the orb and its watery faltering light cast in swathes over the sand green, dun colouring of the camouflaging of the hovering aircraft, the sand crazily flying in roundabout formation and the surrounding hive of hurried activity set in the oppressive blackness of the desert night. Not a twinkle nor a solitary gleam from theheavens of some rebellious and recalcitrant star wishing to be seen, not a glimmer as if all heavenly eyes were turned away. The orders, screamed out in clipped barrack room style, the actions, speak of a military force yet the figures milling about clambering with precision on to the craft that were settling on the sand were civilian in their makeup with glimpses of burnooses and chilabas and other trapped headware flying haphazardly in the slip made by the churning rotors; the lie, told by the assault weapons they carry, selective fire and semi´s, Zastava M70´s and Colt AR15 carbines
“All loaded and ready for take off Sir” he screamed countering the effect of the wind which suddenly died down so that his voice rang echoingly in the sudden hush..
The younger of the two men he had reported to, a very tall straight individual returned his salute and in an aside to his companion.”What the f… is this Louari, why all the secrecy and where are we going.”
“No idea Sir, we have been ordered to deploy and wait for details. Sir, here we are now.” A paper is pushed into his hand.
”We are to subdue a town due west , Zonthilma?” The aide lifted his eyebrows questioningly, “seems It´s not really a village, rather a training camp for terrorists.” He speaks clearly, enunciates, did time in France, they think in the old mother country, old habits, where do his loyaltys truly lie ? The portable is brought up to him on a fighter´s back in the form of a rucksack,” HQ sir, he answers ,listens , acknowledges .He clears his throat loudly as if delaying the moment, the other man is looking at him forehead creased demanding.
“Sorry sir that was his aide,”
“Spit it out man what ….?”
“ There are to be no survivors,” His words hang ominously, visions of things passed, old hatreds men gouging out eyes of other men lying wounded.
The choppers come down a distance from the target, out of earshot, the ramps are lowered and the fighters troop out , the platoons of armed men saturate the night, targeting the village silently and effectively. trained in colonial times, various battalions which once formed part of an elite regiment of colonial military history, tonight they are civilians.
Like a rush of dervishes, pouring out of the orange groves onto a sleeping village where a handful of local Islamic party members caught unawares try fatefully, dismally to detain the flood but are wiped out instantly and like them men throwing themselves uselessly out of the abodes where they lay sleeping, women screaming and rushing to find the child, the children an old lady tottering along on her spindly legs clubbed clinically the death blow no feeling, just orders , children screaming running and shot down indiscriminately, no survivors, none; They look up from the deathbed in which they lie hundreds of them, looks of terror amazement hysteria snapped as if in an instance in time. A group of officers just standing dazed” Cease fire, cease fire” , the colonel his hands to his head covering his eyes yet looking again to see the horror his people, his own battalions have wreaked. Nights full of pain and terrible dreams, of his father and his stories, yet he carries on, the state must be served, the will of the people the latest junta the dark forces from abroad the same ubiquitous shadows as ever. And in his head and even in his dreams the screaming the screams never cease.