Monday, September 8, 2014



    "Tell me where they're hiding it!" Jackal 20 slapped the prisoner across her face, the force knocking her onto the ground.

Nia bent down and translated the command in French to the young woman who lay motionless on the floor. When the prisoner didn't respond, Jackal 20 grabbed a handful of her hair, once gleaming coils now stained with blood, and dragged her to the other side of the chamber. He slammed her against the wall.
    "Tell me, pig!"
Nia gave the demand, keeping her eyes lowered. She tried to reason with the prisoner.
    "Please, Imani. Why won't you speak? Aren't you tired of suffering?"

Imani turned her face away, struggling to remain conscious. Jackal 20 was relentless. He kicked her several times in the stomach, lifting her up just to strike her back down again. She screamed out in agony.

    "Tell her if she doesn't tell me where the light of King Totem  is, I will break every bone in her body!"

Nia bent to examine the extent of the damage.

    "You've broken four of her ribs. If you keep this up, she won't live to tell you anything."

    "Then you better get her to talk, or she'll end up in a pit like the rest of them."

Jackal 20 stormed out of the chamber, locking the women inside. Nia carefully lifted the girl's shirt, trying to better asses her condition as tears streamed down her face.

    "Are you a doctor?" Imani moaned.

    "Yes. I was captured in a raid one year ago." Nia cringed. "They beat me often and feed me once every few days. The only reason I'm alive is to care for their wounded and translate their demands."

    "How do you know their language?"

    "My father was once a child forced into the Jackal militia, and he taught me."

Imani tried to sit up, but the pain was too great.

    "I can't die here. I've got to get back to the light."

    "So it is real! The Jackals told me it is the key to overthrowing the entire country."

    "If the light is smothered, it means death to the Totem legacy."

Nia bit her lip.

    "Please, Imani. I don't want to see you get killed! Maybe if you just offer something, a clue, anything. I can try to convince them to set you free."

    "You know in your heart that if I confess I'm as good as dead." With great difficulty, Imani propped herself up on one side, staring at the interpreter. "What happened to you?"

Nia's eyes glazed over, as if she could see what she was describing.

    "The Jackals nearly killed the entire village. Every woman and female child was raped then strangled to death. The men were either shot or brutally murdered. The male children were turned into soldiers. I thought I would die along side my family, but when I begged for mercy in their language and they saw my medical equipment, my life was spared. I wish to God I was dead."

Imani put a hand over Nia's trembling one.

    "What if I told you the light could mean the end of our pain and doom for the Jackals?"

    "How? The only thing strong enough would be a full scale army attack, but we have no king." Nia shook her head. "Everyone knows King Tunde Totem bared no children."

The look on Imani's face told her differently.

    "There is an heir? Then that must mean..."

    "The light will bring an end to darkness and lead the people to victory."

The cell gate swung open and in walked Jackal 20 followed by two other men. The were holding guns.

    "Tell me what she said." He glared at the doctor. "Now!"

Nia looked down at Imani, then slowly back up at the men.

    "No more." She laid down beside Imani, her arms outstretched. "I'll never tell."

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