The Broken Doll: Chapter Nine.

by | Jul 2, 2023 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

Suddenly there was a rustle amongst the cushions.

The sun rose over the silent town of Kashmar, its golden glow slowly spreading through the lanes and alleyways. When it struck the giant cypress, its rays were blocked, casting a huge shadow across the plain. Hundreds of sheep and camels that had been sheltering under it from the cold desert night suddenly stirred. They lazily made their way to the shadow to hide from the impending heat of the day. Thousands of birds rustled in the branches and commenced their dawn chorus, each species with a different note, a vast ornithological orchestra.

Soraya was again, pressed against the rough surface of the cypress but this time she was alone, except for the animals. The bark gave way as in the ceremony and the warm glow returned as she entered the trunk.

“Welcome Soraya-Jan. You are now on your journey, while mine has come to an end. It is up to you now to save this pathetic species from self-destruction,” the same voice as before caressed her ears. Above the soft tones, banging and sawing noises commenced. “It has started Azizam, soon I will be gone. There is one thing I have to say, beware of the Zahhak, the serpent. He is the only one who can stop you.”

The ground proceeded to shake under her feet and she was thrown clear of the tree. A crowd had amassed around the sacred evergreen, chanting and wailing. Several men with axes and saws were attacking the trunk, protected by a dozen Turkic guards.

The earth continued to quake, erupting like a boiling pot of cornmeal. Smoke erupted from holes in the ground, forming miniature volcanos across the plain. The shaded animals stampeded into the crowd, mowing down tens of people in their path. There was a rushing sound from the shaking branches as thousands of birds deserted the doomed cypress. The sky turned dark with their number and the huge cloud disappeared over the horizon.

In the ensuing chaos, several of the felling party dropped their tools and attempted to flee, only to be put to the sword by the soldiers. The remaining cutters resumed their destructive act with a new enthusiasm.

With a deafening crack, the tree succumbed to the onslaught. Soraya was caught in the path of the falling trunk along with dozens of onlookers. As the sky darkened over them, she covered her face and collapsed to the heaving ground, waiting for her end to come.

She screamed and opened her eyes. The young nomad was standing over her, holding the small cup. Soraya inhaled the aroma and immediately became calm.

“You had a nightmare, Soraya-Hanim. However, all you dreamed was true, the tree has gone. As we speak, they are loading the trunk and branches onto camels bound for Samarra.

“No. It can’t be. His Excellency promised,” she cried, tears filling her eyes. She began to sob uncontrollably. The man placed the cup in her hands and lifted it to her lips.

“Drink Hanim, this was meant to be. Soon the infidels will perish for what they have done and the Anarchy will begin,” he said, turning to leave the tent.

“Anarchy? What do you mean?” Soraya pleaded but the nomad was gone. She sipped the potent brew and was enveloped in serene peace. Several moments passed before she decided to get up and investigate her surroundings. On leaving the tent, she realised that she was alone. Both men had vanished into the vast desert surrounding her. No footsteps or hoof marks were evident.

The tiny Arab mare sidled up to her and pushed its nose under her armpit. She tipped the thick coffee grounds onto her palm and held it out, The horse lapped up the brown paste with relish, rubbing its head against hers. She mounted the mare and it galloped away from the camp, to where she had no clue.

***

Shahid followed the girl’s progress across the sand, then concentrated on the slowly moving caravan. The two girls were busy preparing breakfast for the Governor, discussing how to break the news to him.

***

“Don’t worry sister, Mustafa-Bey will tell His Excellency,” said Caria

“Then he’ll be cut down like the tree,” replied Ceyda

“We’ll do it together!” they shouted in unison.

Suddenly there was a rustle amongst the cushions. The top one toppled into the bath and revealed the huge head of a serpent, its jaws wide and tongue flicking at the air. It caught sight of the girls and immediately leaped at Caria. Its thick, muscular body wrapped around the unfortunate twin and began to crush her diminutive body. Ceyda was the one who cried out in pain as the air was frozen in her sibling’s crushed lungs. The victim’s grey eyes turned red and her tongue swelled in her open mouth. With a sad crack, her back was broken and she slumped, lifeless in the snake’s embrace. Her sister dived onto the creature, clawing at its tough skin with her bare nails.

The serpent turned on her, dislocated its jaw and took her small head into its mouth. Ceyda’s screams became muffled as the creature sucked her body into its throat. The giant Turk and his master, having heard the commotion, burst into the room. Mustafa cried in grieving anger at the scene before him, and lashed at the snake with his scimitar. The sharp blade glanced off the leathery skin and the creature slinked away under the cushions taking one twin with it and leaving the other’s corpse slumped on the floor. The Governor cowered in the doorway as the guard sliced through the cushions, sending white down flying into the air.

The snake had disappeared as quickly as it had emerged and Mustafa fell to his knees, cradling Caria’s broken body in his huge arms. Tahir stepped forward once the danger had been averted.

“Soraya. Where is the girl?” He screamed. Mustafa turned to his master and glared. Hatred filled his eyes as he blinked away tears that had never before fallen.

“She is safe, Your Excellency.” He turned and buried his head into the dead girl’s mass of jet-black hair. His shoulders heaved with sobs which rocked the carriage.

“Where is she?  Mustafa!” Tahir continued, ignoring the carnage he’d just witnessed. The Turk slowly placed the body on the pile of cushions and feathers and turned to his master. He took a shuddering deep breath and headed for the door.

“Follow me,” he whispered, dropping his master’s title. He opened the door of the carriage just in time to see the little mare gallop up behind it with Soraya on its back

“Allah be praised. You’re safe Jamila,” Tahir cried. Mustafa turned away and entered the tragic carriage.

1 Comment

  1. kenchildse3dc1bd91f

    Highly descriptive and vivid imagination.

    Reply

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