The boardroom was now coming back to some sort of order after the chaos that had reigned for a time amidst all that had happened. All the time this was going on the intercom was blinking madly in the corner of the room, which to be honest, with all the confusion, no one had noticed. But who was on the end of the intercom was not at all happy that she could not get an answer from the room, or an answer to why she was being held captive in the royal bedroom with the her twins.
Leaving where the intercom sat, Nefertiti again approached the bedroom doors and pulled them open with force, again to be met by two palace guards who prevented her from leaving by barring her way. But this time she decided to speak to them as the frustration she was suffering was getting unbearable.
“How dare you do this to me, I am the queen.” She said glaring at them both as she spoke like a woman who had most definitely been scorned. “There will be repercussions for this from the highest level.” She declared with an alarmed and very angry threatening voice as the mask she was wearing at that time, demanded answers.
“We are sorry my queen.” One of the guards said, who was stood to Nefertiti’s left hand side. “These orders have come from the highest level my queen; they have come from the king himself.
Nefertiti forgetting herself for moment, because of the situation and the anger she felt by being held captive, suddenly blurted out.
“He is not the highest level by a long shot, so why should I adhere to such orders and another thing…?”
Then she realised what she had said and stopped herself, but to be honest she could see the damage had already been done by the reactions in the guard’s body language. Although she could not see their faces because of what protocol dictated, she had certainly seen a reaction occur.
“I do beg your pardon my queen, but I don’t quite know what you mean.” Said the guard who had spoken previously, inquiring politely to why the queen would say such a thing.
Nefertiti, who was about to unleash another torrent of abuse directed towards the guard for such an insolent question, restrained herself, and simply huffed in disgust and slammed the doors shut behind her, leaving the two guards pondering outside.
As the doors slammed shut in front of them the two guards turned around and resumed their position either side of the doorway, staying silent for a while. The guard who had spoken to the queen now stood allowing his body to relax back to a comfortable position; instead of the very uncomfortable standing to attention position his fellow guard was still maintaining. He knew he had to place himself in this position in the presence of the royal family – a position, in fact, he was supposed to maintain at all times as his fellow guard was. But, Farik was old school and had been a palace guard for nearly as long as his good friend Anelp and he knew the guard that stood beside him had not been at the palace long and didn’t yet understand the ways of the guards in many respects.
Farik turned to his fellow guard and spoke.
“Relax lad, you will do yourself an injury trying to maintain that stance. Take it from me you will ache all over later.” He said smiling to himself
“But we have to, don’t we, what if someone comes and Discover’s we are relaxing?”
“Oh, you have so much to learn lad, who exactly is going to come? The queen is under our guard in the royal bedroom and the king is busy in the boardroom, so who exactly is going to come and catch you? Relax a while and conserve your energy, for if things go as they might, you may well need it all. What’s your name?”
“It is Harian.” the young guard answered still nervous about relaxing his stance even though he was trying too.
“Ah Harian?” Farik said under his breath – “look you are new here are you not?”
“Yes I am.”
“You know my name do you not?”
“Yes, you are Farik one of the palace guard commanders alongside Anelp who is the other.”
“So if you know this, then listen to what I am telling you. You do appreciate that I have been here a long time, do you not?”
“Yes I do.”
“And do you not then appreciate that if I tell you something, even though it goes against what you have been taught to do, it is in fact ok to do, because I am doing it.”
“Yes sir, I see your point quite clearly.” As Harian said this he started to relax and his shoulders dropped to a far more comfortable position.
Farik could see this and spoke again.
“Now that’s better lad, are you not far more comfortable now than you were?” Harian smiled and nodded to say he was.
”I know it feels awkward, but you will get used to it, it’s always hard going against what you have been told you should do. Oh, and by the way less of the ‘sir’, we are all the same here, rank only ever enters into it if we are in the presence of those who we protect, apart from that it is always first name terms, ok!”
Again Harian smiled to show he had fully understood what his commander had said.
The pair now stood quite relaxed, even though Harian was still feeling quite uneasy about doing so. He wondered to be honest what was going on, as he hadn’t actually been told. He was in the guard’s quarters when Anelp, his commander, had come running in and told him to join the guard he had already deployed to the royal bedroom. He did as he was commanded to do, even though his commander had asked him very politely to do so, something he always did, which to be honest he had found very strange, considering how he was spoken to by previous commanders when serving in the regular army.
One was a very pompous self-righteous man, who loved nothing more than to bark orders at everyone all day long, who controlled the unit he had belonged to before. He was regimented to the core and expected everyone else to be exactly the same. Harian was young and had only been serving in the army for a matter of months. To be completely honest he did not want to go into the army and only joined because his father wanted him too. He came from, what had become, a quite well off middle Egyptian family and his father wanted him to seek officer status, something he had failed in doing himself ending up a quite successful accountant, but had gained his status through a club he belonged too as many did.
It had become very obvious to Harian that his father was trying to live out his dreams through him, trying to make his son all that he was not and all that he had failed in being – pushing his son into seeking a career within the army.
Harian, truth be known, was a pacifist at heart and couldn’t hurt anything and this was quite obvious and this had led to his life within the unit being one that was not happy at all. He was picked on by the others and routinely bullied because of his soft heartedness, his kindness and his lack of ability in all things training related. His father had found out that he was not doing as he should be and was quite disappointed in his son and had made that very evident to Harian. And even though Harian had pleaded with his father that he wished and longed not to be in the army, his father would have none of it and had in fact placed such a guilt upon Harian for his failures, in his father’s eyes, that he was on the verge of suicide because of the life his was forced to be subjected too. The situation became so intense for Harian after a particularly nasty beating at the hands of the bullies in his unit; he decided it was time to take his own life or leave.
After contemplating suicide for a while, alone in his bed, he realised he could not go through with it and decided to do the nearest best thing and go AWOL.
Out of desperation Harian waited one evening till the dead of night for his chance to arise, when all was quiet and the sentries on guard would have most certainly nodded off to sleep – more from boredom than anything else. Harian knew this occurred because when he found it hard to sleep, he would wander away from the sleeping quarters to find a place of solitude just so he could escape the horror that he found himself in and had seen the sentries asleep. Many times he had slipped past them un-noticed, even to the point he had done this twice to return back to the sleeping quarters before he was missed. Even though he feared being caught, this was something he had to do to keep his own sanity.
All was quiet in the camp so Harian slipped away into the dark of the night and decided to make his way to his aunt Isabel’s. This was the only place he could think of going, as his aunt cared for him deeply as he did her.
Slipping past the sentries he started on the long trek that would last many days as he had very many miles to cover – as his aunt lived some distance away by foot. It was a very dark and lonely journey and even though his way was somewhat lit by the moon, until the cloud cover took away his beacon of light, Harian found it quite treacherous, but anything was better than having to put up with what he had endured over the last few months. Stumbling and falling many times did not deter him, nor did the threat of being caught, even though it would most certainly result in him being killed for desertion, legally murdered because he refused to comply and be instructed in the art of killing fellow human beings, no matter who they were.
In truth Harian would rather die himself, at the hands of another, than be faced with the prospect that he would someday have to do this, that he would in fact have to take another’s life.
Tired and hungry he carried on, sleeping by day and travelling by night. In the day it was too hot to sleep and by night it was so cold progress was hard, but nonetheless he carried on. Even though search parties had been ordered to look for him, they did so with no success, searching only in the day and not at night when Harian was on the move.
To be honest he had not returned to his family home as it was first thought he would. A captain was ordered to his father’s house to inform his father that he was missing and of course to search the house to see if his son was in hiding there. Even though Harian’s father was very upset to hear the news about his son, he was more upset about being told he was to have his house searched and more to the point, that he could not prevent it from happening. Even though he had nothing to hide, it was the principle of the matter, as he had position that gave him status and occurrences like this didn’t normally happen to those who have such status.
Although he voiced his objections to the captain, he was told quite abruptly he could not stop it from happening. Harian’s father then realised that although he had status, he didn’t have quite as much as he had first thought. So he reluctantly complied, stood aside and allowed the search of his home to be carried out.
In truth the last place Harian would go was his family home. Firstly, it would be the first place they would look for him and secondly, he truly believed his father would hand him in to the army, after trying to make some sort of deal with them. But even though in some cases this would have been possible, in many it certainly would not have been, as the army took a very dim view upon anyone who deserted there post, whether in war or not.
You did as you were told when you were told and you never questioned, no matter what was being demanded of you, no matter what!
Many days later Harian arrived at his Aunt Isabel’s house very hungry, cut and bruised and completely exhausted. It was still the early hours, so he felt it best to wait till morning before approaching the house, and decided to find a place nearby that would give him some form of protection from the elements, as it was particularly cold that night. After scanning the area the best he could in the moonlight, he decided to seek shelter in an out building that was some distance from the main house. As he made his way to the door of the out building, he once again scanned the area for any sign of life, cautiously moving very slowly. On reaching the door he pushed it open slightly causing the door to creak, something he did not expect, and this stopped him dead in his tracks as he nervously waited for any sign of movement from the house or the surrounding area. After a while of standing in complete silence and stillness Harian realised that no one had stirred and the coast was clear. Slowly he pushed opened the door trying to stop it creaking and even though it still did, it did so far more quietly than it had when he had first pushed at the door. Harian slipped inside the building and again tried to push the door shut quietly, very slowly moving the old door until it was almost shut, which was good enough.
Inside the building Harian could see, in the moonlight that shone through an opening in one of the walls, what looked like a pile of hay in the corner and he made his way to it. Kneeling down he cleared an area big enough for him to lie in and then he lay down, covering himself from head to foot with the hay. Not many minutes after Harian was a sleep and for the first time for many nights he was warm snuggled in the hay.
Morning came in a blink of an eye as Harian stirred and opened one eye to be greeted by the sunshine pouring through the opening in the wall. He was aching all over and was very hungry indeed and tossed off the hay from his body as the sweat ran down his filthy unwashed skin. Never in his life had he been in such a state and this was a complete culture shock for him and was to such an extent he began to weep. Sobbing bitterly he just lay there wondering what would become of him, even trying to cry quietly, because he did not want to be heard, but he had been and who had heard him was making their way towards the door. As Harian sat in the hay, head in hands weeping, the old door to the building creaked open, which startled him and made him look up towards the door. There in the door way was his Aunt Isabel looking directly at him in a caring and loving way as she always did when she saw him. Isabel made her way across the building to her nephew, who now on seeing her, was sobbing even more and at this point his shoulders dropped, as he gave up and embraced the sorrow he felt. Isabel walked over to him with the most caring expression on her face and knelt down in front of him and took her nephew in her arms, even though he smelt like a cesspit. Harian buried his head into his aunt’s bosom and as he did, his sobbing became uncontrollable and he wept as though he was weeping for the planet and everything that lived upon it.
Isabel just held her nephew for some time in her arms, waiting patiently for the intense sobbing to pass, as she knew it was something Harian needed to do, as if it was a pressure valve releasing the pain that had built up over the last few months.
Isabel knew her nephew was not cut out for the army and had at one time expressed as such to his father her brother. But she knew that her brother was very pig headed and knew he would not listen to anything she suggested, he never had had and she knew he never would, unless of course, he had something to gain materially from it.
She knew her brother was completely consumed by the material world around him, knowing that, nothing else mattered to him bar the position, wealth and the status this brought. The love he should have shown his family, was invested in the love for material gain being proud of what he had achieved and the way that others around him, looked up to him, because of the position he held – even though this position was quite lowly in the measurement provided by the society that they all lived in. Always striving to maintain the mask he presented himself as to the society he was trying to impress, but this came with a price, as his sister knew so well. Isabel had lost her own son to the army, being killed on a training exercise that had gone horribly wrong – this had destroyed her, because at that time she too sort what her brother sort. Only by the death of her own son did she seE things for how they really were and in doing so, she had pleaded, almost begging her brother, not to make Harian follow in her son’s footsteps, as she loved Harian as if he was her own.
As many moments passed Harian’s sobbing started to subside and he was becoming calmer. Realising this, Isabel released her arms and allowed Harian to look up to her, even though at first he would not and spoke with his head down.
“I am sorry Aunty, I did not know where else to go.” He said between sobs shaking his head. “How did you know I was here?”
“My dear boy your father sent word that you had gone missing a few days ago and I have been waiting for you to come here as I knew you would. I heard you last night, I heard the door, but knew you would be tired and even though I so wanted to come to you, I felt it better that I allow you to rest. I knew seeing me would upset you and I felt it would be better now, than in the early hours of this morning.
Any ways enough chatter, we can speak later, come now, you need to bathe and dress in clean clothes and you need to eat and I also need to dress your wounds.” Isabel said smiling as she did so.” Come now into the house, food is already under way.”
Harian did as he was asked and started to stand up, but then a thought crossed his mind that made him turn and face his aunt with an alarmed expression.
“What if they find me hear aunty – what will become of you?”
“Do not concern yourself with this sweet Harian.” Isabel said as she put her hand up and started to softly stroke her nephew’s cheek. “Things are already in hand.” She reassuringly said. “Come now and let’s get you sorted out.”
The pair left the barn and walked over to the main house side by side. Even though Harian felt like death warmed up, he felt happier now and had a calmness inside that had come over him when the sobbing had subsided. His aunt entered the house first and made her way into the kitchen and Harian followed behind her.
The house was a modest farmhouse, nothing like where his aunt used to live, or the house she used to live in. No servants could be found here as there were before in his aunt’s house, she lived a humble existence far from the hustle and bustle that was the city. She was happier this way, not having to compete within the fashion parade that was her life at one time, forever trying to keep up.
“Sit at the table my boy and I will bring you something to eat and drink, you must be famished.”
“Thank you aunt, I have not eaten for several days and to be honest the food they served in the camp was not what anyone would actually describe as food.”
Sometime later Harian had eaten and bathed and was now dressed in some of his cousins clothes. His cousin had been a bit smaller than him body wise, but the clothes fitted reasonably well and would suffice and to be honest were far better than what he was made to wear in the army. He walked through from the bathing and dressing area at the back of the house towards the kitchen and could hear voices. Stopping by the doorway, he paused for a while before entering the kitchen listening to his aunty talking to a man trying desperately to hear what was being said. The man had a deep voice and was very softly spoken and his aunt’s voice was one of politeness as usual, but with an air of flirting in it as she talked to the man. Even though Harian could not actually hear what was being said he could tell that his aunty was definitely flirting by the way she was laughing now again after the man had spoken.
Harian edged closer to the doorway still making sure he could not be seen, he needed to find out who this man was and why he was here, but still he could not hear what was being said. Then he started thinking to himself ‘well I know my aunty would never do me any wrong, so surely it would be safe to enter’. But then another thought crossed his mind ‘what if the man in the kitchen had actually fooled his aunt and he does mean me harm?’
A bit confused Harian stood there not quite knowing what to do when his aunty came through the door.
“Ah, there you my boy do you feel better now?” His aunt said smiling as she did. “Hurry now I have someone here who I would like you to meet.”
Before he knew it the door was wide open and he was on view to the man stood in his auntie’s kitchen, who, on seeing him started to walk over to him.
Harian was hesitant and Isabel could see this, so she offered some kind words of encouragement.
“Go on my boy, he is a dear friend and I know he will be able to help you.”
It seemed Harian had no choice, so stared to walk through the door way into the kitchen to be greeted by the strange man who stood there still after realising that Harian was still very anxious about who he was considering his circumstances.
As Harian entered the kitchen fully the man stuck out his hand in a friendly gesture and said.
“Hello Harian my name is General Sarim and I am a dear friend of your aunts.”
Harian froze on the spot and refused to take the Generals hand. As he did this his aunt intervened.
“Harian, please my boy.” She said now standing to his side looking up at him. “You trust me don’t you?”
Harian said nothing but nodded his head in agreement.
“Then trust me now, Sarim only wants to help you, I promise you this, please trust him as you trust me.”
Hearing the reassurance in his aunt voice put him at ease, well enough, to take the Generals hand and shake it. The General had a firm, but very friendly handshake and as they shock his left hand rose and held onto the boys shoulder in friendship and a gesture of his own to reassure the boy.
With a very deep warming voice the general asked.
“Would you care to join me Harian at the table, so we can sit and drink some tea and have a little chat about what has occurred and the best way we can resolve this issue, the best way for you!”
Harian nodded in agreement and started to walk across the kitchen towards the table and as he did the General put his hand upon the boy back again to reassure him, as he realised Harian was still very wary of him and rightly so after all he had been through.
They both sat down opposite each other, whilst his aunt went to make some tea.
Sarim started to talk to Harian.
“Firstly Harian please allow me to explain. I am no longer a serving General in one sense, but in another sense I am. I know that sounds complicated, but you will understand what I mean when I have explained it to you.
Many years ago, as you know, your cousin was killed in a very unfortunate occurrence and he was one of the soldiers under my command. To be honest what occurred could not have been foreseen and nor could his death resulting from this, but nonetheless it was under my command and I bear the responsibility for that as I do the deaths of many other soldiers. Upon this happening your aunt, like any other parent of a deceased soldier, required answers, answers that were not forth coming. Your aunt, in my view, was treated with the utmost disrespect like so many other parents in this situation. The army are quick enough to take their son’s and make them fight, I might add for the wrong reasons as well, but when they do die, and many do, and it comes to explaining about exactly what happened to them, they do not want to explain and many parents never get any form of explanation at all.
Your aunt came to me and told me of her son, your cousin and how she had been treated and the fact that your uncle had also died serving in the army, again with no full explanation regarding his death.
At the time I ignored her for I was a pompous fool and had her removed from my office, but as you probably know your aunt can be very persistent when she wants to be.”
“Now, now Sarim, remember I am only stood here.” Isabel said as she placed a cup of tea upon the table in front of the General putting her left hand upon his shoulder and squeezing it as she walked past him.
Sarim chuckled, as did Harian.
“Your aunt never gave up and pursued me to a point it made me realise that she was entitled to some answers considering, that not only had she lost her beloved son, but also her beloved husband as well. It made me realise that they, like so many others, weren’t just dispensable implements to be used, abused and discarded of when they were no longer useful, they were in fact human beings and they were a mothers and father’s son and husbands and fathers too. So I started to ask questions and was soon told to mind my own business and to be careful as I was nearing retirement and I could jeopardise my future security. I decided the best thing I could do was to shut up and allow my retirement to go through without a hitch and then I could start to delve deeper. I know it seems I was bought off for money and in some respects that is very true and yes I have to live with that now, also I have to live with the facts of what really went on in the army I was supposed to be running.
Please remember I am only human and at the time, and this is not an excuse, I didn’t realise what a monster I was, well not until meeting your aunt, who so politely told me.
So now I can explain what I first said to you and now I have said all this, you will understand what I meant.”
Harian sat there listening and was very intrigued by what Sarim was saying, but to be honest, was not sure how this affected him. But out of politeness he was willing to allow the General enough time to explain himself, to be honest, what did he have to lose?
Continue reading Chapter Seventeen