For the first time in his life, Bade had the feeling of an out-of-body experience. Time seemed to slow down as the Corper fell to the ground, dust rising into the air around him. The screams seemed to wash over him from a far distance. He could almost see the life departing from the dead Corper, the very essence of his being depleting into the air, as the body seemed to wilt a little, the light dying in his eyes. Bade was shocked at how quickly a story could end, how quickly a path could be truncated and it left him reeling.
The fat man was speaking again. ‘That is the fate that would befall every of my brothers here if you insist on protecting these infidels.’ He paused as one of his men came from beyond the light and into the circle. The man whispered into the leader’s ears, but Bade caught the words ‘reinforcement and army.’
The fat man absorbed it quickly and waved his man away.
‘I would love to do this with you one by one, but it would seem I am a bit pressed for time. This is for my brothers, I will give you a few minutes to decide amongst yourselves who will die today, the infidels that I seek, or the misguided ones who do not have the stomach to save themselves. By the time I return, I want to see every Corper who is not a muslim in the middle of these circle, begging for their lives. Who knows, I might feel merciful.’ The fat man left, heading towards the gate, but the guards remained, stone looks on the faces of those without masks and steady hands on their sub-machine guns.
There was silence for a few moments, the last of the screams having died down as everybody looked at everybody else, not knowing what was going to happen next. Bade looked around as well, looking at those who suddenly held his life in their hands. Finally, there was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. He had never hidden the fact that he was a Christian, besides, he couldn’t recite anything that would save his life. It came down to the question of which would prevail that night in their minds, survival or humanity?
There was sudden movement as one of the Corpers on the other side of the circle got to his feet. ‘What are we waiting for? Why should I die for some stranger? We know who they are, bring them out.’ He shouted. His words were met by silence, but the seed had been planted.
Then another Corper, one Bade didn’t know stood up and replied him. ‘Do you support what your ‘brothers’ are doing?’ He asked calmly.
‘That doesn’t matter at all.’ The first Corper replied.
‘Of course it does, by doing what they want, you are showing that you are in support of what they are doing?’
‘And you would rather I die for another?’ The first Corper asked angrily.
‘If need be, yes, for you would at least know that you died a human being, and not an animal.’
‘And why should another person’s life be more important than my own?’ The first Corper asked.
When there was no response to that, he looked around a look of disgust on his face and marched to a fair girl who was crying to herself silently.
‘Cynthia, remember me? Mufutau’ he shouted in her face as he grabbed her by the upper arm, ‘I asked you out and you said no to me, I will not die for you.’ He said as he dragged her towards the middle. Two of the other Corpers got to their feet simultaneously. One of them rushed Mufutau as he dragged Cynthia who was also struggling with him. Mufutau was thrown to the ground, losing his grip on Cynthia who fled back to her position. Mufutau and the other Corper rolled around on the floor, grunting and groaning, trying to get on top of the other and land the first punch. The third Corper stood beside them, but saw no need to join the fight.
‘Help me,’ Mufutau shouted before the first punch connected with his jaw, knocking him out. There was a rush of sound as virtually everybody threw themselves to their feet then.
Bade moved close to Lola, trying to shield her as all hell broke loose. Punches and kicks were flying everywhere, dust rising into the air with their agitation. Bade kept clear of it all, looking for a possible means of escape with the brouhaha as a distraction. But the guards refused to be drawn into the fight and he could not see a way past them. But he stayed at the edge of the fight, avoiding the thick of it at least.
When the dust settled, literally, a division had occurred. The Christians stood on one side, and the Muslims stood on the other. Coincidentally, Bade and Lola were on the side of the Muslims.
Then the fat man appeared out of the darkness, clapping his hands. ‘Now, that wasn’t so hard was it?’ He said with a smirk.