Mirriam decided to meet her girlfriend at the Leadenhall Market for lunch accompanied by her thirteen year old daughter Melissa and her American friend Jemma. They had taken a Route 43 double-decker bus traveling on London Bridge across the Thames picking it up by the old George Inn. They could have taken the ‘tubes‘ but her daughter insisted upon ‘going tourist‘ for the sake of her new companion. The two chattered away as Mirriam fixed her thoughts on the possibility of joining the Momentum Party to support ‘back bencher‘, Jeremy Corbyn. The Brexit affair had led to many angst based discussions and her heart of hearts that told her Labor party’s efforts to ease the tensions caused by recent terrorist events was necessary to safeguard her daughter’s future through conciliation. The growing Islamic community in Sutton had recently become the focus of repeated hate based graffiti attacks and as a Liberal minded modern career woman she felt it her duty to help push back against the increasingly violent right wing conservative sentiments of the ‘block-headed‘ right wing UKIP movement. Though Dulwich Village was more than a stones throw away it was evident that her neighbors were being affected this ongoing turmoil as well.
This morning seemed unusually sunny and bright for her two companions to babble about the surrounding wonders of the surrounding embankment. The upper seats were mostly empty save for some noisy tourists busily pointing back and forth and just beyond their midst a very mild looking bearded ethnic young man wearing a buttoned up raincoat. The end of Spring had brought several days of moderate weather and it seemed curious that the young man would be bundled so. The spate of changeable weather of the last several years that to her mind had supported the unpopular notion to more conservative tastes of the coming dangers of Global warming had affected everyone’s decisions as to outerwear of course. But she couldn’t help staring at the young man’s face as he seemed to be chanting something to himself in between his own furtive look scanning the scenery about him looking repeatedly towards the reflected sun from the gleaming glass of the towering white ‘Walkie Talkie’ building over the river. An unsettling feeling hit Mirriam in the pit of her stomach that something was gravely amiss. Feeling somewhat ashamed she stopped herself. It seemed that the recent mass hysteria of the recent attack in Westminster was still fresh in everyone’s mind. The easiest thing to do would be to single out anyone with swarthy ethnic features as possible culprits. It rankled her that she was falling prey to the same prejudice that she was trying to avoid infecting her daughter. She herself was not particularly drawn to the new groups of immigrants, especially the African ones. They had been showing up unexpectedly on street corners, with nothing to do idling on their government stipends. Some of them menacingly so! But like all human beings they were deserved of respect and not be singled out for the fact of their backgrounds however humble or challenging that might be. Mirriam turned back to watch her two wards for the morning as Melissa seemed rapt in pointing out Millbank further up the Thames not he other side of the bridge. The sharp flash of a detonation’s instant barely caught her attention.
Mirriam seemed suddenly distracted. Her mind out of place? As if having somehow lost her place along the way in following the tight narrative of a novel. Try as she might, she could not recover the expected view of embankment architecture that had just before filled the landscape across the bridge from of the window of the bus. Her eyes could only focus on a distant somewhat obscured horizon just before the break of dawn. She knew that she was standing upon hot sand but could feel a cool morning breeze rising up around her almost as if she was completely unclothed. She tilted her head down suddenly but this motion was interrupted by what appeared to be a roughly hewn wooden yoke. One that extend from where it encroached around her neck extending many centimeters forward to the back of another woman’s head. To Miriam’s shock the other woman was standing still and completely nude with slender wrists chains firmly attached behind her! Mirriam tried to cry out but now found that a wooden dowel had also been equally mysteriously tightly fastened between her teeth precluding any ability at intelligible speech. She made a quick attempt to bring her hands up to dislodge it in order to freely speak. But her arms were also tightly ensconced within the unbreakable grip of iron wristlets. A heavy iron chain attached to the other unfortunate’s wrists just before her led backwards swinging low between her own knees and back up the small of her back attached to her own manacles. A white flash blanketed her mind as she sought to expel her present impressions in order reconcile the disparity of what had just an instant before been a bus ride through central London. And how it would have been possible to end up so vulnerable in this totally unexpected situation of appalling physical slavery? Had an accident occurred? Was this some sort of heavily narcotic induced dream or a coma? She raised her chin up against the tight fit of her end of the yoke and scanned the view ahead once again as best she could. Taking in the horror and amazement of scores of women standing equally despicable circumstances, haltered like farm animals held motionless within their respective fetters silhouetted against the waxing dusk of an ever brightening desert sun. Her thoughts immediately raced back to her two children. Where were they? The uncompromising yoke tightly locking her neck to the preferred forward position scratching painfully into tender flesh as she turned to and fro attempting to find if her daughter and her companion might be somewhere close in sight. Twisting to the left and then the right with tears welling in her eyes as she found her daughter’s own slender now frame fully exposed. Naked and fully expose before the equally tightly harnessed form of her American friend. Both shivering in terror within the cold wind. Unable to move, shifting their weight to try to move beyond the boundaries that their heavy bonds allowed. Mirriam began a long low helpless animal moan. But was cut short by the sharp stinging pain of hard leather crop biting acoiss her fully exposed buttocks!
“Kunn kafir radian!“, a male voice roughly spat out. The smart of the pain was followed instantly by a heavily bearded face. Though Mirriam’s conscious mind had suffered mightily within the last few moments from each lurid horrible discovery her eyes opened incredulously wide at the sight of the person standing before her. It was the young Middle Eastern man that she had been looking at on the bus before all this had happened. She tried to drone out some words as concisely as possible given that her mouth was restrained by the chunk of wood. The same young man was now dressed in intricately appointed Arabian silk robes. A cloth of gold turban of a sheik absurdly topping his head above a beard that had equally fanatically grown in length and bushiness. “Be still abayd khadae!“, he spat as his whip came down hard once again upon her. His narrowed eyes seemed to seethe with a boundless arrogant pride. He passed by her walking up and down the line of the many scores of women who squirmed slightly as he passed. It struck Mirriam that his expression was reminicent of the owner of a herd of sheep or cattle. She looked over at her daughter again who now was stared back in a terrible heartbreaking expression that seemed equally choked by fear and the pain of physical distress. The little Sultan came by her and seeing her looking off away from him ruthlessly swung his whip hard against the adolescent’s naked white back leaving the spread of a widening welt. Mirriam exploded into a loud physically suppressed shriek of rage. Hot blooded tears flooding across her eye singing them as the chains restraining her body clinked away merrily in mockery of her total impotence. “Leave my daughter alone!”, her mind screamed with such force that it seemed to blast out through her eye sockets! The little potentate turned back towards Mirriam with a malevolent looking toothsome grin. “Do not worry khinzir mother!” “I have eternity to convert your daughter and her seventy-one other companions into the most blessed ways of Allah in pleasing me in every way.” “They are my reward for sacrificing myself to kill off you infidels in our glorious jihad, Allah be praised!” The full horror of the moment struck Mirriam. Though she had herself never been religious enough in life to accept a belief in God or an afterlife she was now shocked to find that she had been in error to not seriously entertain it. Worse yet! it seemed to be a heaven that fully favored the Muslims! It seemed apparent that this cruel upstart of a young man had been a suicide bomber. And that his final mortal act had been rewarded with the gift of the body and souls of his victims. She seemed to recall something about virgins in heaven? But as she pondered the fact that she herself was definitely no longer a virgin though of course her poor thirteen year old daughter and her companion were, the evil little prince seemed to pick up on the thought. “Worry not infidel eahira!” “You are soon to taste your just reward for denying Allah in the eternal flames of burning Hell that will roast your flesh and boil your belly forever!” As if by some unseen cue or anonymously issued command Mirriam felt herself pulled roughly forward by the line of struggling women before her. The sands beneath the burning the soles of her bare feet growing ever hotter as she and the others were marched off into the desert. The little man’s final, “Allu al Akhbar”, being the last human words that she would ever eternally know.