Yashif Goes To Heaven
YASHIF GOES TO HEAVEN
by Mark Say
Yashif opened his eyes and blinked several times as the layer of mist
between the lashes dispersed. His view of the hospital room sharpened -
bland, sterile, dimly lit and free of shadows - and he became aware of
a woman dressed in white, squeezing his arm and inserting a needle. It
was followed by a heaviness which spread through his body. She placed a
syringe in a tray and looked up to examine a plastic bottle connected
to a tube which ran down into Yashif's nostril. He looked up at her
face. It was plump and glowed with the mindless good health of middle
America and smiled at him.
"Don't you worry," she said, "we're really looking after you. I'll be
She took the tray with the syringe and one of the charts and left him,
gliding out of the room with an air of angelic efficiency. Yashif
tilted his head forward to watch her go, then relaxed and stared at the
ceiling. For a moment he felt comfortable, reassured by the pale light
and the blandness of the surroundings. He felt he was clear of the
danger, that he had escaped from the torments of his sleep.
A noise crept into his mind, a repetitive series of bleeps separated by
exact intervals with no variation in tone. It came from his left. He
rolled his head and saw the screen with the white dots, moving left to
right in a straight line, exploding for a split second to emit the
bleep which said his heart was still beating. Then came another noise
from his right, quite but enough to disrupt the stillness in the room,
the rustling of newspaper. He turned his head again and saw the two
figures framed against the half open blinds, features lost in the harsh
light pouring through the slits. He could sense menace as he strained
his eyes to adjust to the light, gradually seeing that they were both
seated, both dressed in dark blue suits and both looking at him. The
younger man of the two appeared lean and evil, horn rimmed sunglasses
resting on a rodent-like face and dark brown hair oiled back over his
scalp. His mouth was drawn tight in a straight line of restrained
malice, and his hands rested uneasily on his knees, flexing in a desire
to do harm. The older man had a rounder, healthy face, silver-grey
hair, a pair of tined glasses with metal frames and an expression with
traces of business-like sympathy. He looked at Yashif over the top of
the newspaper, its front page turned towards the bed. Yashif peered
harder to read the title, 'The Cincinnati Enquirer', and saw on the
page a large picture of bodies scattered across a linoleum floor and
the headline 'Eighteen Dead in Airport Massacre'.
It was how he had got there, in the service of his people and Allah. It
must have been the day before that he had walked into the departure
area with Erhat and Dilam and struck their mighty blow against the
great enemy of Allah. Straight to the check-in at Trans-Continental, a
branch of the conglomerate which spread the capitalist evil into his
country, opened their bags, removed the guns and spread Allah's wrath
among the servants of the American Devil. His memories were still
confused, but he knew that they had killed many Americans, that police
had begun to return their fire, that Dilam had gone down with a bullet
in his right eye, and that he had felt a bullet explode into his side
and other rip the flesh of his neck. Then the darkness had come.
The older man folded the paper, placed it on a table at his side,
picked up a file and began to read aloud.
"Yashif Armazzar. Born Al Katmurir, August 20th 1974, studied at Yerami
University 1993 to 1996, during which time you were recruited to the
Jihad Freedom Movement." His voice was soft, even comforting as he read
from the file. "Came to the University of Cincinnati in 1997 under a
scholarship from the Islamic Peace Studies Foundation to study Modern
History and Politics. We should have realised earlier that you were a
sleeper for the JFM. It may have saved a lot of lives."
Both men stood and walked around the bed. Yashif looked from one face
to the other, saying nothing, steeling himself against the approaching
"Yashif, we need your help." The older man's remained soft, maintaining
a trace of sympathy. "I'll be honest. We know of your organisation's
plans, that it attempts to undermine US policy in the Middle East with
a series of suicide raids inside America. We know it's coming, but we
don't exactly where or when. We need you to tell us, if not of all the
plans at least the name of the co-ordinator. Who's your chief in this
Yashif couldn't resist a smile. He was sure they would turn nasty
later, but this was too easy.
"You must be joking. To think that after what I have done that I would
help you in any way. My people, we are at war with you."
"We know that, and don't fool yourself that you're dealing with
amateurs." The young agent's voice was calm, rational and vicious.
"We've got decades of experience, in Vietnam, El Salvador, that
shithole that you call a country. We know how to fight this kind of
war, how to squeeze what we want from vermin like you. We can inflict
incredible amounts of pain, extend it through days, weeks, and never
leave a mark."
"Allah will give me strength." Yashif's voice was quiet but fortified
with conviction. For over three years his life had been directed at
this moment, and whatever they did he was protected by the knowledge
that he had been serving Allah.
"Will he give you strength against this?"
The young man sneered and poked a finger sharply into the point where
the bullet had entered. Yashif grimaced and drew a sharp breath through
"No." The older man reached across the bed and grabbed the other's arm.
"There's no need. He's too low to resist anything we could do to him in
that way. He'd die quickly and we would be no better off."
The younger man withdrew and the older one looked at Yashif, his eyes
searching for an element of understanding, a bond he could
"Yashif, both of your friends were killed at the airport, and you
...... well you must know that you're very weak, and the doctors give
you little chance of survival. It's likely that you'll die soon." He
paused, as if waiting for a reaction which Yashif was not going to
provide. "I just want to reason with you as a human being, free of any
ideology or religion. You should realised that you would do everyone,
including your own people, a far greater service by co-operating with
"It is not for me to co-operate with the Devil."
"Yashif, please, just think of what you did back there. All those
people dead, all of them innocents. Regardless of what you think about
the USA, about your own people, those that you killed could have no
influence. Killing them was an act of futility."
"No-one who serves the Devil is an innocent."
"And what about the children? You killed three kids back there."
"And what about the hundreds of children killed by your friends' planes
and bombs in my country. Don't try to say that's nothing to do with
America. Everyone knows that country is your lacky."
"No, that's not down to us. And think of this, that your religion,
which you say you serve, must share many of our basic beliefs. There
are differences and conflicts and both sides make mistakes, but there
must be a respect for human life on both sides. There has to be a
"I hear your ideology at work, but it is no good. It's riddled with
hypocrisy and lies, it will never defeat the word of God."
"I think you could be wrong. Maybe the word of God only exists in men's
They looked at each other with a mixture of hopelessness and defiance,
separated by the gulf between two different worlds, two unshakeable
beliefs in what was just. Then a searing bolt of pain ran through
Yashif's stomach. He groaned and felt it move up to his chest and take
a grip on his heart, pulling him closer to the end. The older man moved
forward and held his arm.
"Call for the nurse," he told his companion. Then he looked regretfully
into Yashif's eyes. "It seems we may never find an understanding in
"And you and I will never meet in the next."
Yashif grimaced as another bolt of pain shot through his body. His arms
and legs shuddered as beads of sweat broke on his forehead. The nurse
came running in, followed by a doctor, then another needle was inserted
into his arm. The pain retreated, he went numb from head to foot and
felt himself sinking slowly into the unconscious. He heard voices but
no words, just a series of muffled exclamations in tones of decreasing
urgency, separated by silences which grew longer. He felt his body
sinking into the bed, lower and lower, losing its hold on the thread
which tied it to the world. His head rolled slightly to the left and he
could see the screen, the white dot slowing in its progress, the little
flashes of light becoming less intense, heard the bleeps become less
frequent. He felt the presence of the shadows over the bed, smothering
him and seeping into the pores of his being. One last effort to move
his feet, arms, fingers, head, but none would respond. The shadows took
his body and moved into his mind. He watched the last signs of his life
on the screen, a few feeble blips at intervals that grew longer and
longer. Then they stopped.
He awoke in sunlight which poured through a large window onto his bed.
He stared up at the ceiling and realised it was different, that he was
in a different room with pale pink walls and bright furniture. The bed
on which he lay was not from the hospital but a flat couch covered in
blue velvet with mauve cushions. The floor was covered by a large Asian
rug, elaborately designed with a multitude of colours in Moorish
mosaic. Around him were delicately carved wooden chairs, a table, a
cabinet with two fine onyx vases, and pictures on the wall. He had not
seen the pictures before but he recognised their subject, scenes from
the life of Mohammed. A man was sitting on the other side of the room,
olive skinned with a sharp, dark beard over a square jaw and strong
cheeks and thick brows over his eyes. He was dressed in a fine white
robe with golden fabric around its cuffs and hems and wore an
expression of quiet concentration as he looked at the patient. "One of
us," thought Yashif. For a second his expression became assertive,
almost stern, then turned to a smile.
"You feel well?" he asked.
Yashif was not sure how to answer, not when his last remembered thought
was an acceptance of death. "I .......uh .....uh!" He propped himself
up on one elbow and felt his side. There was no bandage, and although
he could feel the scar where the bullet had entered there was no pain.
He moved his hand around his neck, where the other bullet had struck,
and felt it was the same; ripped and lined with dried blood but no more
than a minor wound. The man laughed.
"You are all right. Everything heals very quickly around here. Come!
He stood and walked across the room, a hand outstretched to help Yashif
to his feet. Yashif gave his hand and swung around to place his feet on
the floor. It was amazing. A few hours before he had been too weak even
to move his limbs, and now he was standing, and taking the first steps
across the room without a hint of imbalance. But where was he? Where
was the nurse? The two men in suits?
"What has happened?" he asked.
"I think you know." The man smiled. "You stood little chance of
surviving those bullets. You sentenced yourself to death when you
walked into the airport."
Yashif stared at him and tried to grasp the enormity of what he had
been told. Even though he had believed, never questioned the
inevitability of this, he was still astounded by the fact it had
"You have been freed," said the man. "Freed of the troubles of that
pestilential cockpit on the other side, and you kept your faith."
"You mean ........." Yashif couldn't find the words.
"Yes, you are in heaven. Just as my teachings promised."
He experienced two seconds of unforgettable ecstasy, before he realised
what the last words implied.
"Your ........ your teachings?"
"That's right Yashif. I am the one in whom the righteous have believed,
although I sometimes wish a few of them had listened to me more
"Mohammed!" Yashif's eyes began to water. He trembled violently,
grabbed Mohammed's hand, fell to his knees and sobbed. "Oh great
Mohammed looked around, as if to make sure there was no-one to witness
"Come come, there's no need for that. I was only a man remember, and we
don't stand on that kind of thing up here."
Yashif got to his feet and smiled through the tears. Mohammed replied
with a hearty grin and threw his arm around Yashif's shoulder.
"Come my boy. There are others who wish to see you. You are something
of a personality here at the moment."
They left the room, walked through a corridor then an arched doorway
and into the open, into acres of lush, rolling grassland, littered with
small oases and trees dripping oranges, apricots, almonds and figs, all
under a brilliant blue sky. They walked along a path, passing several
groups of smiling, contented people, all waving to Mohammed and looking
on Yashif with kindly curiosity. For a while they were silent, just
basking in heavenly well-being, then Mohammed began to speak.
"Listen my lad. That place where you awoke is not one of the main
residences, just a kind of reception centre where people are given some
guidance to fitting into the community here."
"And you are there to meet everyone?"
"Hardly ever - they have a full-time staff for that - but what you did
in the other world, it made you a special case."
Yashif smiled. The Great One was ready to recognise his sacrifice. He
felt a sense of exultation like nothing in life, a sense that could
only come to a blessed spirit.
"I did it in the name of Allah."
"Yes, er, well ........" Mohammed hesitated, as if he was unsure how to
handle a delicate subject. "There are things you ought to know, about
Allah and everything. You see, all my teachings, about Allah being the
one God ......"
"Yes, the words of the Koran, the one true way."
"Well it was taken a little out of context over the year. I think some
of our people have misunderstood. You see Allah, Yahweh, the Christian
God, all those other religions, they're all basically the same, all
paying homage to one Almighty power."
"I know, but the others were all corruptions. They turned to serve the
"Well not exactly." Mohammed paused, looked at Yashif as if assuring
himself the latest entrant to heaven was ready for all this. "Yashif,
we're going to see the Almighty, Allah. He wants to talk to you about
that little incident at the airport, to set you straight on a few
"You mean I will be in his presence." The words came out in a whisper,
quiet in the underlying sense of awe.
"Yes, but be prepared for a little shock. All those teachings of mine
and the other prophets, they've all been corrupted over the centuries,
even abused. How can I say this? The Islamic interpretation of God
isn't entirely accurate these days. In fact, other interpretations are
a little closer." He paused again, reluctant to make an unpleasant
revelation. "Especially the American one."
Yashif said nothing. He couldn't believe he was hearing this from
history's greatest prophet.
"You see, when he took me into his service he was trying to correct a
few socio-economic imbalances which were unsettling the Middle East in
those days. He didn't foresee it creating all this fundamentalism which
is playing havoc with the world's economic fabric. That's why he's
sending all his best people into the West these days, especially
"You can't mean those evil hypocrites in the midwest? Those fake
preachers and revivalists?"
"No. I mean the people who run the economy. You know, CEOs of the Dow
Jones Top 100, a few in the NASDAQ, presidents of trading houses and
oil companies. He's even got a couple of his men in the Federal Reserve
Bank. You see he wants to make sure that the most powerful nation over
there stays God-fearing, and he reckons it will stay that way if it's
wealthy. He approves of the USA directing all the world's resources,
and taking the biggest cut of the economic action, and flooding the
world with its TV movies and Levis."
"No! It can't be true! The USA is the instrument of the Devil!"
Mohammed looked at him imploringly.
"Yashif, trust me. The Devil has spent the past hundred years in and
out of Moscow, Peking, Tehran, Baghdad. He hasn't had the time or the
power to set up in Washington."
An uneasy silence followed, a barrier of belief between the two. Then
Yashif understood. This was a test, the last great trial of his faith
to determine his place in heaven. He must not break.
"Come on," said Mohammed, "maybe he can explain better."
They came to a large white house on the brow of a small hill. Yashif
was reluctant to admit it even to himself, but it bore a striking
resemblance to another large white house, the one in Washington.
"You see," said Mohammed. "He likes their style."
They entered the house, greeted by a Caucasian butler who told them
they were expected.
"Just go right up to the boss's office sir."
They climbed a spiral staircase and walked along a short corridor at
the end of which were two large oak doors. Mohammed pushed them open to
reveal an oval shaped office, furnished with a simple but elegant
mahogany desk, a few chairs and a single rug. A dark suited figure
stood with his back to them, gazing into the blinding light which
poured through a large window.
"Your magnificence," said Mohammed.
The figure continued to look out of the window. When he spoke it was
with an educated accent from the midwest, friendly with an element of
"Glad to see you Yashif. We've been very concerned about you up here
the past couple of days, waiting to speak to you about a few problems
in the other place."
"You see Yashif," Mohammed took over, "we know the attack at the
airport was carried out with the best of intentions, but the fact is
that you got the wrong end of the stick. Your action was, how shall I
put it, counter-productive."
"That's right Yashif," said the figure. "You've got to realise that
I've invested a lot of time and effort in the Western world. It sets an
example for the rest. Now when you go killing people, staging acts of
provocation, they get distracted from the good work and begin looking
for retribution. So they launch some air strikes, tell their operatives
to assassinate a few bad eggs in the Middle East, there's more anger in
the world and all the good work is set back. Now Yashif, we're willing
to forget about what you did down there, but we can't tolerate any more
incidents of that kind. We know that your group has more of unpleasant
surprises planned, but we don't read the minds of people over
there........" He paused, and when he spoke again his voice suggested a
little pain at his words. "....especially when they don't open their
hearts to me. So we don't know when and where these incidents will
"And you want me to tell you," Yashif mumbled.
"That's right. We've got a few hot lines, people with the right
spiritual attitude who are also close to the security agencies. All we
need to know is your co-ordinator, where he's based, and we can prevent
it with little damage done."
Yashif dropped his head and stared silently at the rug, his spirit
grappling with the dilemma. He was being told to betray all he had
believed in, his faith, his friends, his people, that his life had been
worthless. Was it possible that his own faith had betrayed him? It may
have been seconds or minutes until the answer came to him. No, these
were apparitions sent to torment him, to test his resolution, to see if
he would surrender his faith. He lifted his head and glared in
"I'm sorry." The suited figure was obviously disappointed. "This means
we'll have to revert to other methods. Mohammed, take him to the
Mohammed took Yashif by the arm and led him out of the office, to the
end of the corridor, to the doors of an elevator. As the doors opened
he gave Yashif a gentle push forward.
"I am sorry," he said, "but I never visit the place where you're going
now. They give the Israelis a free hand down there."
As the doors closed he gave a single wave, an expression of sadness on
his face. The elevator plummeted and Yashif felt a heavy sickness in
his stomach. The doors slid open and he found himself facing a bald man
in military uniform with a large nose and a patch over his left eye. He
clicked his fingers and beckoned. Yashif stepped out and felt two hands
grab his arms, twist them behind his back and quickly bind them in a
leather strap. Two large soldiers, both with swarthy chins, square
noses and dark curly hair frog-marched him along a corridor, following
the man with the patch. They reached a door, the man turned to Yashif
and spoke in a flat voice.
"You know what information we desire. Tell us and you will be able to
Yashif was silent, gritting his teeth behind closed lips.
"And remember," said the man, "there is no release in death from what
you will see. It goes on for ever."
He pushed open the door and Yashif was bundled through. They were in a
large cell with bare brick walls and a single light hanging from a
ceiling. Shadowy figures were on the far side, making muffled sounds
which gradually sharper, louder, more frightening. Yashif began to see
through the shadows, to recognise faces. Dilam was hanging forward,
arms outstretched behind his back, hands manacled to the wall and legs
half buckled as he tried to fall. Another Israeli, with the same face
as Yashif's guards, stood at Dilam's side thrashing the base of his
spine with a large cane. He was shouting, an incoherent bark matching
every swish of the cane, and every time he struck Dilam screamed, no
words, just pain. Yashif looked beyond them and saw Erhat, hands also
tied behind his back and feet chained to the floor. Two Israelis stood,
on facing and one behind the prisoner, holding a long iron bar between
his legs. They jerked the bar up and down, forcing Erhat to dance in
agony as it wacked into his crotch, and every time it jerked they
shouted and he screamed.
"They also refused to co-operate," the man with the patch whispered
into Yashif's ear. "I think they have lost the ability to do so by now.
Their senses are so scrambled this continue for eternity."
Yashif shuddered, gripped by fear, then felt another surge. It came
from the depths of his soul, the strength of his faith.
"No," he snarled. "I will not talk."
"Then we have more to show you."
The man with the patch was calm, not needing to show his malice. He led
Yashif and the two guards out of the cell, further along the corridor
to another door. As he turned the knob he paused, turned to Yashif and
said: "Think of this as a visionary experience, the logical outcome of
your group's campaign. Ultimately the Americans will be forced to
retaliate, to launch air strikes against certain targets in your
country. It will be in the near future. These are some of the
They entered the room. It was well lit, white, disinfected. A row of
tables stood against each wall, white sheets draped over the contours
of bodies. . They walked slowly along the line, looking from side to
side at the collection of covered corpses. The man with the patch
"These people were all killed, sorry, will be killed in a strike on the
village of El Akbuni, a base for the Jihad Freedom Movement."
"El Akbuni!" Yashif couldn't hide the shock.
"Yes." The man walked between two table and pulled the sheets from the
bodies. "I believe you know some of the residents."
Yashif stared at the bodies, a cocktail of disgust and grief filling
his heart and forcing tears from his eyes. The bodies were burned,
their skins charred into an ugly reminder of life, limbs twisted in
grotesque contortions of pain, faces mangled and glowing in terror. But
what made them so terrifying to his eyes was their familiarity. Through
the mutilations he recognised clearly that it was his mother and his
"You can still prevent this."
Again Yashif trembled, the weight of the horror upon his spirit, and
again he felt the surge of faith, the conviction that he was right. He
looked at the man through thick tears, his lip curled in defiance, and
shook his head.
The man said nothing, just jerked his head at the guards and led them
off again, back into the corridor, towards another door. This time
Yashif was thrown inside, several yards into blackness. For a minute he
lay on the floor, panting in a mixture of exhaustion and dread at what
may come next. Then there was light, a shaft directly upon him. He
stood and began to look around, trying to see into the gradually
receding darkness. Another light came on high to his right, and he saw
the man with the patch, flanked by the guards, looking down from the
"You have reached your ultimate fate," he announced. "Your faith has
brought you to this place."
Yashif looked around, sensing that there was more. He became aware of
footsteps moving gently towards him, first from his left, then from the
right, then all around. He turned in a circle, straining to see what
approached from the shadows. Figures loomed from the dark, closing in
to surround him.
"You will not be alone!" the man shouted. "You sealed your own fate in
the airport, but you also sealed that several other people. Your lives
came to a conclusion together!"
Yashif looked around again, a fresh wave of terror spilling into his
soul. He began to distinguish men, women, children.
"You can spend eternity together!"
A woman stepped into the light, her eyes fixed on Yashif. He recognised
the pretty, rosy cheeked face under long blonde hair, the uniform of
Trans Continental Airlines, the bloody red hole in the middle of her
forehead. She had been the first victim. Footsteps came from behind, a
heavy, uneven tread punctuated by a wince of pain. Yashif turned and
saw a businessman, fat, balding and sun-tanned with half of his left
cheek ripped away, clutching a bloody mess in his stomach, limping
heavily on a shattered knee. Yashif stared, saying nothing, desperately
hanging on to the few shreds of belief that he would be protected from
this horror. To his side he heard more steps, lighter, those of a
child. He looked down and saw a little girl clutching a doll, her body
clear of any sign of harm. Then she smiled, and as her lips parted the
blood flowed from her mouth, spilling over her and onto her dress. Her
eyes lit up with the terrifying energy of hate and revenge. Yashif
turned again, gasping as he felt the fear squeezing and slicing into
his spirit, and saw others advancing from every direction. A collection
of mutilated, bloody remnants of humanity, racked with pain, their eyes
all burning with the same inexhaustible, ravenous surge of hate. He
closed his eyes, clawed at the sides of his head and screamed.
"I'll talk! I'll talk! I'll talk!"
"Name! Address! Details!"
"Ilkallur Aqzad! Sherman Building, Springfield, Illinois! I don't know
the dates and places, just that we have groups in Chicago, New York, St
Louis, Denver and Los Angeles. Please, get me out!"
There was silence, no further words from the man with the patch, no
sounds of movement from around Yashif. He kept his head buried in his
hands, eyes closed, sobbing. He stood for a minute, incapable now that
he had surrendered totally to his fear. Then he opened his eyes and
they were all gone, no man with the patch, no Israelis, no walking
corpses. He heard a laugh, an evil snicker from the shadows, moving
closer. A man stepped out of the dark, tall and lean with a rodent
face, dark horn rimmed sunglasses and greased brown hair. He approached
Yashif and stuck a malicious grin into his face.
Yashif jolted, opened his eyes and found himself staring at a white
ceiling. His eyes shot around the room and took in white walls, a white
door, a white bed, white charts. The two men in suits were standing by
the bed looking down at him.
"You should have known Yashif," said the older man. "Our capabilities
for extracting information are very advanced." He held up a small
bottle containing the colourless liquid. "For example, the formula of
this drug is unknown outside a small group within our organisation, but
with careful manipulation of the conditions in which we hold our
subject it gives us a unique ability to get into his mind. Even, his
Yashif looked at the men. The younger one was still grinning
maliciously, the older one looking at him sympathetically but with
satisfaction. He lost all touch with thoughts and feelings. His body,
his mind, his soul all became numb.
"Come, we have work to do." The older man led his colleague out of the
room, pausing for a moment before he closed the door. "Thank you for
your co-operation Yashif."