The little girl sat hugging her knees in the courtyard. She had been there for several hours, her hysterical sobbing eventually trailing off into soft weeping. Tears now dry, she rocked silently back and forth. She had killed her brother, now she must die too.
Her twin brother Jawid had teased Mina mercilessly all morning, pulling her hair and frightening her with a captured insect. Mina loved her brother but sometimes he made her so angry!
She often accompanied Jawid and his friends when they went to gather firewood. Combing thru the mountains for wood was a brief respite from the boredom of village life, and Mina was as strong as any of them. But when she went to join them he told her no, you can’t come along this time. The eight other boys laughed at her, but Jawid did not laugh. He only stared, stared at her with a strange look on his face.
Mina shouted that she hated him, she hated her brother and she hoped he would die out there, before turning to run thru the courtyard into the house.
As she rocked she thought of the times her brother protected her from bigger boys, how he brought back oranges and nuts and candy from the Eid-al-Fitr celebration, how he always shared his prize, giving the bigger orange to his twin.
She remembered the words of the sheikh, that sinning in thought is the same as sinning in deed. She had wished her brother dead, now Jawid was dead. She had committed a deadly sin. She recalled the strange look on his face, as he stared back at her.
Jawid had been afraid.
Once inside the house Mina helped her mother prepare rice and bread. Walking back into the courtyard and chewing on a piece of the bread she’d made, Mina felt the hair on her arms rise up. She dropped the crust of bread and hugged herself as she grew cold. She began to shiver, finding herself in a clearing between two mountain ridges. Boys were carrying sticks and branches. A clap of thunder caused her to look into the sky as fire began to rain down on them. Screaming, she turned to run as pain tore into her back….
Mina and Jawid had once hidden and listened to the sheikh tell her father of God’s wrath, how He would strike unbelievers down on Judgment Day with fireballs from the sky. The sheikh had also said one must atone for a deadly sin before God could judge one worthy of entrance to paradise, or one would be condemned to eternity with the Accursed One.
She had seen them, she had seen the fireballs come down from the sky to strike her brother dead. She had committed a deadly sin, and must atone for it before God. But how?
Mina thought she knew. She arose, lips barely moving as she whispered the opening surah of the Quran. Walking swiftly into the street, she turned and headed towards the mountains.
November Echo Whiskey to base, single target spotted at the same coordinates as last night. Say again, single target spotted at same coordinates as last night. Request permission to engage.
Copy that, base. Weapons free. November Echo Whiskey out.