Saturday, December 31, 2016

FREE January 1st, 2nd on Amazon Kindle: "The Caliphate"

This is one of my longer short stories, and one of my earliest ones. 

Written after 9/11 but before the rise of ISIS, it explores the scenario of an Islamist terrorist "mini-state" in the heart of a Western nation:

Marty Frazier stopped to adjust the shoulder strap of his Uzi before heading down the long, gleaming expanse of Concourse A. Although he had been in the Ontario Islamic Guard for more than eighteen months now, he found that he was still uncomfortable with weapons—especially the automatic and semiautomatic kinds. He took a few steps forward before stopping once more—no doubt looking awkward by now—and double-checked the gun’s safety. The terminal was packed with what passed for Monday morning congestion these days, and Marty was taking no chances.
The sight of young men with guns had become commonplace over the past three years, and most of the passersby in Toronto International Airport didn’t even give him a second glance. Nonetheless, he kept deliberately to the side of the concourse, beyond the main flow of pedestrian traffic. Despite the authority that his gun and his uniform conveyed, he was almost shy about displaying either. Especially the gun. So far he had never had an occasion to draw the weapon in a threatening manner, and that was just fine with him. 
He spotted Phil Scherer in the distance through the crowd, walking in the opposite direction on the far side of the concourse. Marty held his hand high in the air and waved. Phil acknowledged the wave with a nod, and veered toward him. Phil was also wearing a Guard uniform, and carrying an automatic weapon of his own. People stepped aside to give him a wide berth as he threaded his way through the crowd. 
Marty leaned casually against the wall and waited. The airport loudspeaker crackled overhead. It was the midmorning call to prayer, which most Ontario residents still ignored. What else did Harb expect? The announcements were in Arabic after all, which almost no one in the Canadian province understood. Just the other day Ali had asked his opinion about reading the announcements in English. Marty had replied that English-language summons to prayer were an excellent idea. 
 Marty smiled as Phil drew near, but Phil’s gloomy expression was unwavering.
“Anything going on?” Marty asked.
“Nope. A quiet one today. What about you?”
“Nothing so far.”
“If we’re lucky it’ll stay that way.” 
“You said it. Insha Allah.”
Phil stiffened and glared at him. Marty immediately realized that his last two words had been a mistake. He began to say more, but Phil cut him off with a wave of his hand. He stepped closer, until the two of them stood no more than a foot apart. 
“Don’t quote the Quran at me.” Phil spoke in a low, raspy voice, just above a whisper. “We’ve had this conversation before, haven’t we? After all, it’s not like Ali’s here.” .......