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Authors: Saad Hossain

Escape from Baghdad!

BOOK: Escape from Baghdad!
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The Unnamed Press

1551 Colorado Blvd., Suite #201

Los Angeles, CA 90041

www.unnamedpress.com

First published in North America and the United Kingdom by The Unnamed Press.

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This book was originally published in 2012 in Bangladesh as
Baghdad Immortals
by Bengal Publications.

Copyright 2012 © Saad Z. Hossain and Bengal Publishers

ISBN: 978-1-939419-32-3

Library of Congress Control Number: 2014948158

This book is distributed by Publishers Group West

Designed by Scott Arany

This book is a work of satirical fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are wholly fictional or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is totally coincidental (mostly).

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

CONTENTS

      
A Note on the Glossary at the End of this Book

  
1. South Ghazaliya

  
2. Barriers

  
3. The Lion of Akkad

  
4. Blackboard Rage

  
5. Maroon Investigations

  
6. Tea Party at the House of Furies

  
7. Heavily Drugged and Demented

  
8. House of Many Doors

  
9. Inside the Watchmaker

10. Further Inside the Watchmaker

11. Lost in Space

12. Reprisals

13. Roots of the Lion

14. Wards of the State

15. Old Men

16. The Belly of the Beast

17. Gun Day

18. Empty Nest

19. Al Kindi

20. Telomeres

21. Hand in the Jar

22. Meeting of the Minds

23. Into the Abattoir

24. Dungeons and Dragons

25. Hunters

26. Death by Kibbeh

27. Ministry

28. The Strange Island of Dr. Sawad

29. The Journals of Dr. Sawad

30. Burning Books

31. Unexpected Help

32. Interview with a Lion

33. Lion's Story

34. The Circus Is in Town

35. Born in Fire

36. Birds of Peace

Epilogue

Glossary

Acknowledgements

About the Author

A NOTE ON THE GLOSSARY AT THE END OF THIS BOOK

There is a glossary of mostly factual terms and names at the end of this book (“factual” being a relative idea open to loose interpretation (“loose interpretation” meaning we're aiming for a 50% chance of something on the page tallying with someone else's verified opinion.)) So, if you find yourself wondering: What's a Druze? Or who's Moqtada Al-Sadr again? Or what does JAM stand for? Or IED? Just refer to the helpful, mostly factual glossary at the end of the book.

1: SOUTH GHAZALIYA

“W
E SHOULD KILL HIM
,” K
INZA SAID
. “B
UT NOTHING TOO ORTHODOX
.”

Silence then. A kind of scathing, derisive, stifling silence expanding to fill the room, crowding out the detritus of previous conversations, leaving two blackmarketeers drinking in a darkened space, in the back of a battered house, with nothing much to say. The room was dark because they had used foil paper to blacken the windows. The lights were off because outside, the JAM militia, known as the Mahdi Army, had just torn through 13
th
Street, which was rare, because 13
th
Street in Ghazaliya was a dead-end nothing suburban thoroughfare.

“Out of principle alone, it should be done,” Kinza sipped his Jack Daniels, which he had bartered from the US Marine Ted Hoffman for a piece of Chemical Ali's skull. “Not because I hate this man. It is nothing personal for me. I am merely an agent of fate, like the Count of Monte Cristo.”

Kinza's partner Dagr received this comment without surprise or apparent concern. Though he had once been a professor of economics, it turned out the wartime shift in profession had been ridiculously easy for him.

The JAM normally preferred 14
th
Street, as it allowed them access to the northern Shi'a neighborhood of Shulla, but in this excursion they had run into the South Ghazaliya Defense Brigade, sworn to defend South Ghazaliya. The JAM often won these encounters, but recently their firebrand Shi'a patron, Moqtada Al-Sadr, had cut down their bullet rations, and today the SGD had produced a black-market US army M60 and risen to their youthful promise. All this defense had
forced the JAM into Kinza's street, a hail of smoke and diesel and bullets, AK47s popping. Kinza had brokered the sale of the M60 to the SGD in the first place,
provided they fought on 14
th
Street.

“My friend, we have a moral duty in this situation,” Kinza said.

The situation was indeed demanding of their attention, moral or otherwise. Two days ago, Kinza and Dagr, purveyors of medicine, gossip, diesel, and specialty ammunition, had inherited the living person of Captain Hamid, formerly of the 8
th
“As Saiqa” Special Forces Division, of the Republican Guard. He had been the chief savant of interrogators, vigilant against traitors to the party, known especially for his signature style and a certain personal flair to the work—an artistic flourish to the branding, undoubtedly the star striker on the torture pitch, the number 10 of all 10s, the 23 of all 23s. Now this Mother Teresa of black holes, this living spit of Torquemada, belonged to them.

This inheritance had come to Kinza and Dagr by a circuitous route. Kinza's cousin twice removed, Daoud, had been a second lieutenant in the All Martyrs of Anbar Army, an offshoot of retired Republican Guard types who had agreed to shelter the notorious Captain Hamid. This brave battalion had lasted for all of two weeks before a combined (but wholly coincidental) US and Shi'a pincer attack had fulfilled their dearest wish of martyrdom. Both wounded, Daoud and the captain had taken refuge with Kinza. The captain had survived, Daoud had not.

“Morality is for the Aztecs,” Dagr said. “We should sell Hamid to the Americans. We could probably retire on the reward.”

“Was he on the deck of cards?”

“He almost made it,” Dagr said. “I think he was ranked 56
th
. There was some talk of putting him in the second round, but I guess he just slipped through the cracks.”

“Funny, I thought he would have ranked higher,” Kinza said. “Not the face cards, maybe, but in the deck, at least.”

“We could just let him go. In Shulla, maybe,” Dagr offered quickly. “Let nature sort it out.”

Kinza made a face. That was not a solution he favored.

“We could sell him to the Mahdi Army,” Dagr scratched his head tiredly. “Sadr might have put him on
his
deck.”

“Sadr has a deck?”

“I think he made one,” Dagr said. “But he left out the queens and changed the hearts to little crescents.”

“I hate dealing with the Mahdi Army. Last time they made me pray all day and then woke me up at night to pray again,” Kinza murmured.

“You're a product of your race. Self-loathing defeatist,” Dagr scraped back his chair. “You hate everyone. You hate the Sunnis for killing Hassan. You hate the Shi'as for breaking up the Ummah. You hate the Americans for being crass. You hate the Palestinians for being beggars. You hate the Saudis for being cowards. And because of this, you piss on rational self interest.”

“Thank you, professor,” Kinza saluted him with an empty glass. “Condescending as usual. You still live in a tower. A shitty tower, but a tower nonetheless. Hatred is a physical thing. It comes from the gut. I physically need to kill Hamid.”

BOOK: Escape from Baghdad!
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