Operation B*

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
He seems to be all lost in a dream world. Is he dead? Is he in the middle of a nightmare? What is really going on?

Submitted: July 14, 2020

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 14, 2020

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A A A


 

Operation B

 

When he opened his eyes, he found himself in a dream world. He seemed to be flying in the skies, floating in an expansive blue panorama embracing a vast number of white clouds.

“Hey!” he heard someone mumble as he floated. “It looks like he is… alive!”

“Well!” another voice muttered, “He may be! Nobody said…he was surely dead! That’s why we’re takin him to…the hospice. He probably didn’t have enough toxin to finish it up!”

He gently closed his eyes. He now had a feeling that a lot of people were watching him from all around. Was he on a stage or something? He began flying again. For how long? He couldn’t tell. How time was going by? He didn’t even know that. Eventually he felt that he was landing on something rather flat and soft. Sometime later a door squeaked closed, and the sound of something like an engine turning on echoed in his ears giving him  the feeling that he had been placed into some kind of motor-powered vehicle.

He shook his head a few times. His mind seemed to be flying backwards now. He was now sitting on a chair with his hands cuffed behind him. “For you, young man,” a scratchy male voice echoed in his ears, “It’s a question of life and death! Either you do as we say…or you’ll be shot in the head and begin your journey to the other world! Bang! Just like this! And that will end your life story! Understand? ” The speaker cleared his throat before he softly added, “We’re really sick and tired…of you!”

He began looking with wider eyes. He could now see a rather fat young man sitting not very far away…aiming a gun at him.

“He’s kidding you, you know, Herman,” an older man said leaning back on his seat a meter or so away. “He’s a kind of a nut, you know! He talks too much sometimes,” he went on. “He once actually did something stupid like that…but he had to face…its consequences…afterwards.” 

 “Who gives a shit…?” mumbled the younger man.

“What about it, though, dear Herman?” the older man muttered wearing a smile. “Do you think you can do…a little interview for us…or not?”

 Herman gently shook his head.

His whole flying trip seemed to have come to an end now. Instead, he was now lying on a very hard stone platform with almost nothing under or over him. He seemed to be feeling hot and cold at the same time. His head ached, and his chin, arms, legs and backbone seemed to be on fire. The soles of his feet seemed to be swollen and cut up in some places, burning terribly. A sound echoed in his ears: “Bearing all this agony…just not to do…an interview! Is it really worth it?” he mumbled to himself.  

He tried to get up but his whole body was too throbbing to let him.  “How much longer am I supposed to bear this agony?” he muttered to himself. “Why can’t one of these assassins stick to his promise …and shoot me in the head!” He lay back and closed his eyes.  “Death is really … such a great blessing!” he mumbled as he moaned.

 

“If you say the things we want you to…, we’ll gladly provide you with that…great blessing!” someone said laughing loudly. “Then you’ll have nothing to worry about…until the end of time!”

“It wouldn’t really be such a bad idea!” he whispered to himself. “What in the hell is the difference to me whether the whole world is turned upside down or not…when I am good and dead!?”

 “You may have another option!” a voice suddenly resonated in his ears before everything turned dead quiet again.

 There was a lengthy period of calm when the only thing he could hear was the soft sound of a car engine from a long distance away. Then the voice began speaking again, “What if…some people in higher echelons don’t actually want you to have an interview?”

 “What people?” he mumbled trying to control his own mind despite the dreadful pain in his whole body.

“Ask the General!” the voice murmured.

“The General!?” he muttered with surprise. “Isn’t he actually the one who drew me into this trap…with his promises of support?”

“Isn’t he also…your Mom’s cousin…as well as a close relative of the king’s!” the mysterious voice queried.

“Huh,” he murmured, deep in thought. “Mother!” he whispered, “She might be able to do something… about this!”

 

 “Look!” he then heard someone holler nervously. “It looks like he’s tryin to say somethin!”

“Don’t worry, man! He may be havin a daydream,” another voice muttered indifferently. “It’s actually pretty good! It goes to show that he’s still buzzin!”

 He took a deep breath. “Yes! So long as I’m still buzzing, I must do something!” he mumbled to himself before his mind glided back again.

“Hi, Mom!” he heard his own voice say. “Can you do something for me?”

“Yes dear! What do you want me to do?” Mother whispered.

 “Please find out if ‘The General’ really wants me to have a TV interview. It’s very important!”

“All right, darling! I’ll have your uncle ask him,” Mother said softly.

“And if they don’t let you come to visit me here again,” his own voice mumbled, “send me a note and let me know his answer by using different ink colors. Okay?”

“All right, sweetie,” mumbled Mother. “What tints do you want me to use?”

He took a look around to make sure that no one was listening before he mumbled, “Green, if he says no; red, if he says yes!”

 

 He was now in his jail cell again. “The time is up!” he kept murmuring to himself. “If she doesn’t come to see me today, I’ll be back in the torture chamber again soon enough.”  The thought of the place made his whole body shudder.

“Hey, sir,” he soon heard Karim, the prison guard, say loudly. “The office man says…they didn’t let your mother in this mornin. He says…she has sent you a note!”

His heart sank.  “Red or Green?” the question echoed in his ears. “Red or Green?” he mumbled a few times before he turned to the prison guard who had become his pretty good friend. “All right, dear Karim,” he practically whispered into the man’s ear. “Could you get me…the letter my mother sent me?”

“Huh,” the guardsman said. “I’m not sure, sir…I can just ask them…,” he added before he left.

 Sometime later, the man returned. “Here!” he said as he entered the chamber. “The sergeant sent me to get everybody’s things. It’s your lucky day, sir, I guess!”

“You’re sure a good friend, Karim. Thank you!” Herman mumbled as he took a small sheet of paper.

His heart was thumping wildly now. He felt his whole life was dependent on that short note which had been written on the inside of an old envelope. He took a long breath before he unfolded the note.

Mother had only written a few lines. She had first explained that everybody in the family was fine and that they all missed him and wished him well. In the second paragraph, she had asked him how he was and recommended a few things for him to do to remain healthy. And after signing it she had just said, “P.S. Your uncle said hello’.

“God!” he mumbled to himself. “What in the world does this mean?” He looked at Mother’s writing again. Without any doubt, the first paragraph was written in green and the second one…in red!

“Tomorrow,” he mumbled to himself, “is the day of my destiny, and I still don’t have a clue what I’m supposed to do!”

**

The motor vehicle carrying him was now standing still. He heard the squeaking of a door open and, a couple of minutes later, some hands grabbing his legs and arms. He was placed on something soft and gently carried away. A little while after that, he was laid on something soft like a mattress.

“Should I call the doctor, sir,” someone said softly then.

“No! That won’t be necessary,” another person said. “He’ll come to in half an hour or so. Have the guardsman call the doctor if something goes wrong.”

“Yes, sir!” the first voice said firmly.

He then heard the sound of a door close and someone cough a couple of times. He could also feel a cool breeze blowing from somewhere.
“There must be a big garden around,” he thought. “Have they taken me out of the inferno and placed in the Garden of Eden?”

Sometime later, he heard the creaking of a door open and someone standing up. “At ease, soldier,” a stern voice said from a distance as someone moved closer.

“What happened to the poor lad, soldier?” the newcomer asked.

“I don’t know, sir,” the private said loudly. “They say he tried to …kill himself last night.”

“U-huh,” the newly arrived man said softly. “How did he…try to kill himself?”

“Poison sir,” the first man said. “They say…he took some toxin with his dinner last night. He almost died…this mornin.”

“I see,” the new man said as he grabbed Herman’s wrist. He then began examining his heart and body with a stethoscope”

“Did he…vomit a lot?” he asked after a while.

“Yes, sir,” the first man said. “They say he threw up many time. He fainted after that. That’s why the people in charge rushed him here, sir. They thought he was goino die!”

“I see,” the second man said as he moved towards the door. “I’ll come and see him…soon,” he mumbled as he began to leave. “I think…they want us to…examine him more thoroughly. I’ll send for him tomorrow…or the next day.”

When the door was softly closed, his mind began racing around.  “How could I kill myself even if I wanted to?” he mumbled to himself, How would I get hold of poison in solitary confinement? Why are they lying about all this?”

He gently opened his eyes. He was lying on a small bed, in a small room with a narrow window behind which he could see a set of iron bars. “I thought they had brought me to a hospital!” he mumbled to himself. “This place doesn’t look much different from my Castle Prison cell.”

***

He closed his eyes and tried to remember what had happened earlier. He could now see himself walking followed by two armed guards. Everything around looked quite familiar to him. He had obviously gone back and forth there a number of times. Soon they reached a small building and moved in. Thisplace was very familiar, too.

“Hi!” a fat young man said very loudly as he entered.

“Sit down, sir,” an older man ordered.

“I hope you have good news for us today,” the first one said mockingly. “We’ve been waiting for too long. We really deserve the good news, don’t we?” he added chuckling.

“So, what’s the verdict?” asked the older man.

There were a few minutes of silence during which the three looked at each other without uttering a word.

Then the older man said, “As you remember, the time we had given you came to an end this morning. You are now faced with two alternatives. Either you go on and do the interview we had asked you to do, or you will be sent to one of our dungeons in a distant city where, you will probably agree to do whatever we ask for!”

Herman nodded his head before he mumbled, “Okay.”

“Okay, what?” the man asked frowning.

“I’ll do the interview if you people stick to your promise, too!” said Herman looking at the younger interrogator.

“What!?” the older man mumbled after gazing at Herman for a minute. “What promise?” he then asked more loudly.

The room was quiet for a minute again before Herman whispered, “A bullet in the head!”

“Are you serious?” the older man asked after a couple of minutes. “You mean to tell me that you honestly want to do the interview with the condition that we…shoot you in the brain?”

Herman gently nodded.

“Are you mad or somethin?” shouted the younger man. “People do this interview so they can go home and live their lives in peace! You’re tellin us that…you wano be shot in the head afterwards!?”

“I’m sorry,” said the older man after a minute. “My colleague here was joking the night that he brought this up. What we wano do is…to have you carry out the interview in return for….your discharge. And, as far as I remember, you said that under no circumstances you would do such a thing!”

“Can I say the things that I want?” asked Herman looking up at the ceiling, “in my interview?”

“Like what?” asked the younger man irritably.

“Like…telling the people…what you people have done to me and…to some other guys here in jail,” said Herman blankly.

“Like what?” screamed the younger interrogator.

“Like lashing, punching, kicking, burning with cigarettes, hanging upside down, pulling out finger nails…” he said quickly before he was interrupted by that man jumping up and rushing at him. “You son-of-a…” he began saying before he was grabbed by the older man and put back in his seat.

“All right!” said the older interrogator rather coolly after a minute. “By what you’re saying, I gather that you’re willing to…have the interview! Right?” he added bitterly, staring at Herman.

“U-huh,” mumbled Herman. “As I said…”

“You mother…” the younger interrogator began to say before the older one cut him off by yelling something.

“All right then,” the older man said. “Here, on this questionnaire, write down and sign that you will have an interview whenever we want you to do it!”

“Okay,” Herman said with a frown. He then pulled the questionnaire forward, wrote ‘Yes, I will’ and signed it.

“All right!” the man said tensely. “We’re going to have an interview, right now!” he added after a short pause, “We have a camera hidden up there which will record everything. Understand?”

“Yes!” said Herman, gently looking up and around.

****

 “Thank God, professor!” he suddenly heard someone say. “Thank Heavens you’re alive!”

“My goodness, Abdu! Is that you?” he heard his own voice say as he gently turned his face, trying to sit up.

“Don’t get up, sir!” the man called Abdu exclaimed as he rushed towards him.  “It might be bad for you!” he added, “I’ve been worried sick about you, sir!?”

“What in the world has happened?” he asked as the man came closer and stood by his bed.

“They said…you tried to…kill yourself, sir,” Abdu mumbled. “That’s why …we put you in an ambulance and rushed you here.”

“You weren’t in charge there, were you?” Herman asked softly.

“No, sir. I was on guard duty outside,” Abdu explained. “They sent for me …to come along with you…to the hospital, sir.”

“Did you see me …in my cell?”  Herman asked. 

“Yes, sir!” the soldier said. “As soon as I saw the door, I knew it was you, sir. That was the place where…you taught me to write many words.”

“I’m sure glad to see you, Abdu,” said Herman. “I, a sort of, missed you during the past month.” He cleared his throat before he added, “Tell, me, please. What did you see when you entered my cell?”

“You were on the floor, sir,” the man said in a sad voice, “You looked like…you’d been dead for…ages. They said you tried…to kill yourself, sir.”

“They lied!” said Herman firmly. “Someone must have, though,” he added. “I just wonder who and…why?”

“I’m sorry to hear that, sir,” Abdu said as he looked around. “I won’t let anybody touch you here, sir! They must go over my dead body to do that!”

“Thanks! Buddy,” mumbled Herman with a smile. “I’m not quite sure if they were planning to kill me, though,” he added. “They could’ve kept me in the cell until I was good and dead, before allowing anyone to enter my cell. Unless…someone else messed up their plan!”

They were both silent for a minute before Herman asked, “Who told you to come along with me?”

“Karim did, sir!” Abdu answered. “I mean the caretaker who likes you. He was the one who found your half-dead body and told the sergeant; then the sergeant asked him to go get some help, and…he got me.”

“Smart guy this Karim is,” mumbled Herman. “He must’ve suspected something too!”

*****

“Need anything else, sir?” Abdu said as he put the tray on the small table next to the bed.

“No, thanks!” muttered Herman, turning his body to sit on the edge of the bed. “Did you get your lunch, too?” he asked as he looked up.

“Yes, sir,” said Abdu loudly. “Mine is right there!” he added pointing to another tray on a tiny table in the corner of the small room.

“That’s good,” Herman said as he began to eat some potatoes. “No sign of the doctor yet!” he mumbled as he ate.

“No, sir,” Abdu said as he chewed. “Would you like me to go ask why?”

“No,” muttered Herman, “That won’t be necessary.” He ate some of his lunch before he asked, “Would you like to learn to read some more letters and words?”

“I’d love to, sir!” Abdu exclaimed. “I’ve been waiting for the opportunity…”

“All you need to do,” Herman said as he looked at him while he ate, “is to get hold of a notebook, a pencil, and a newspaper.”

“I’ll get them, sir!” Abdu exclaimed. “When we were coming here, I saw a newspaper stand right outside the hospital. I think he has notebooks and pencils and things.”

“Wonderful!” Herman said. “You can get them when your lunch is over. We will start as soon as you get back, if you like.”

“Yes, yes! I do sir!” Abdu exclaimed. “Only, I’m not supposed to leave…this room until…”

“You can say you had gone to see why the doctor had not come today, or something like that…if someone shows up,” said Herman. “I’ll pretend to be asleep while you’re gone to be safe…”

“All right, sir,” said Abdu beginning to chew faster. “I’ll come back…in two minutes!”

 

When their dinner arrived sometime later, Abdu was doing his ‘homework’ and Herman was reading the newspaper!

******

“Get ready sir,” said a young woman wearing a white overall.  “We’ll have to take you with us. The Professor wants to see you.”

“Can’t the doctor…come here?” mumbled Herman who had just finished eating his breakfast.

“No, no!” the nurse said wearing a smile. “He’s the head of the hospital,” she went on. “He’s too busy…to go around visiting patients.”

A man wearing a white uniform was waiting outside. Abdu rushed out behind Herman to grab his arm. The two men helped him walk gently around a wide circular lawn of grass towards a one-story building some five hundred feet away.

“Hey,” said someone suddenly before they had gone a hundred feet. “Where’re you takin him?”

Herman half turned his head to see who that was. There were three tall men all wearing white uniforms pursuing them.

“We’re taking him to Professor Ashrafy,” the nurse said looking back. “He wants to see him. What do you want?”

The men did not say anything but followed them just the same.

A few minutes later, they were in front of the one-story building. The nurse and Herman took a look back. The three men were now standing some twenty feet away watching them. The man accompanying the nurse smiled and pulled the door open. As they entered, Herman took a glance back. The three white clothed men were standing firm in their places watching them.

“Bastards,” the nurse mumbled as she led Herman towards a door the sign on which read: “Head of the Hospital”.

As soon as they walked in, they stopped. There was an elderly man wearing a white uniform sitting on a chair surrounded by four younger ones in white overalls standing.

“Please, let go of him,” the elderly man said softly. The nurse and the young uniformed man released Herman’s arms.

The old man looked at Herman and smiled. “I’m Professor Ashrafi, the head of this hospital!” he said softly looking straight into Hooman’s eyes.

Herman nodded.

 “Now, young man,” the Professor said after a long pause, “I want you to come towards me on a straight line. Do you think…you can do that for me?”

“Yes, sir, doctor,” Herman said taking a step forward. He wanted to walk further but he felt extremely dizzy.

“Come!” the Professor ordered softly.

Herman took a few steps forward but soon lost his balance and moved to his right and left.

“Bastards,” mumbled the chief angrily. “What in the hell have they done to you!?” he said as he stood up. “Please take him back,” he then ordered. “Tell them he’s my own patient from now on!” he added firmly as he stood up.

One of the men standing around him swiftly moved to the door and walked out.

When they left the office, Abdu rushed to them and grabbed Herman’s right arm. As they moved out of the building, they saw the three big men in white uniforms slowly walking away.

*******

“Hi!” said a nurse in white uniform, “Did you sleep well last night, sir?” she asked as she approached the bed.

“Yes, thank you,” muttered Herman slowly sitting up.

“The Professor sent me, sir,” she then said. “I need to take you for your treatment.”

“All right,” mumbled Herman as he tried to get off the bed. Abdu rushed forward and helped him get down.

“Are we going to…Professor Ashrafi’s office?” asked Herman.

“No, sir!” the woman mumbled after some seconds. “It’s not the very same place…but it is near it!” She then grabbed Herman’s other arm tightly and murmured, “The Professor is busy today.”

When they stepped out, two big men in white uniforms walked forward to help out.   “We don’t need you, man,” one of them said loudly looking at Abdu.

“It’s okay,” responded Abdu. “I’ve got to go with him. It’s my job!”

The man shrugged his shoulders.

They walked past the building they had gone to the day before and strolled for another ten minutes before they reached a three-story structure. “You can wait here!” one of the two men said authoritatively, looking at Abdu.

Abdu strolled with them until they got to the entrance of the building before he stopped. “I’ll see you here, sir,” he shouted as the group of four moved in.

“Please lie down on the bed until the doctor comes,” the girl nurse told Herman as the two men helped him climb a high bed.

“Here, sir,” the nurse said “I’m supposed to give you this!” she added as she cleaned Herman’s arm with some wet cotton and gave him an injection. Herman felt rather sleepy.

“All right, sir,” the girl said then. “You can go now. The soldier is...waiting for you outside.”

Herman gently got off the bed with the aid of a young man wearing a white apron.

“How do you feel?” the man asked.

“Pretty good,” Herman answered. “I feel a sort of…light! I feel like … flying!” he added with a smile.

The man laughed. “Very nice!” he then said. “Go on, sir,” he added. “We’ll see you tomorrow morning, at the same time!”

“Thank you, sir,” Herman muttered as he walked towards the door without anybody’s assistance.

 

“How was it?” asked Abdu as he rushed towards Herman when he strolled out.

“Quite good!” answered Herman wearing a smile. “I don’t know what they did,” he added, “but whatever it was…it helped me a great deal. I feel rather healthy now.”

Abdu nodded his head as he grabbed Herman’s arm and began to walk along with him.

“I’ll teach you four more sounds, today,” Herman said with a smile. “In a few days’ time, you’ll be able to read and write anything you wish!”

*******

 They were now walking slowly along the lawn.

“How many days…has it been since we started coming to this place, Abdu?” asked Herman shaking his head inquisitively.

“I think it’s the fifth, sir,” answered Abdu. “How many times more…are we to come over?” he asked.

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Herman softly. “They never say anything. I’d like to find out what they are actually doing. It sure has a wonderful effect on me…”

“Sir,” someone called from behind interrupting what he wanted to add.

They both turned around. It was a middle aged, heavily built, woman panting as she walked forward.

“Yes, madam!” said Herman, “Did you want to ask us a question?”

“Yes, I did,” said the woman still panting. “I’m looking for the M.R.O. building. Someone said it’s up here some place. Do you know…which one it is?”

“No!” muttered Herman, looking at Abdu inquisitively. “Never heard of it!” he added. “Do you know…what it is for?”

“I have no idea!” said the woman now in front of them still panting. “My son is…hospitalized here. Someone said he is in the MRO building,” she mumbled.

“I’m sorry,” said Herman. “You should ask one of the hospital personnel. I’m just a patient here,” he added as he turned back and began walking along with Abdu.

“I see,” the woman said before she asked, “Can you tell me why you’re a patient’s clothes? You look quite healthy to me!”

“Yes, I am healthy,” Herman said chuckling. “I’m here against my own will!” he added before he began laughing loudly. 

The fat woman gave him a dirty look and walked away. 

“She thought I was crazy or something,” Herman said. “I’d really help her if we had somewhat more time. We may be late for my session if we fool around too much.”

“We have fifteen extra minutes, sir,” Abdu said. “We’re almost there.”

“Yes, I know,” said Herman. “But I came a bit earlier today because…I wanted to go in before it’s my turn, to get a hunch about what they are doing.”

“That’s good then, sir.” Abdu mumbled. “You can go in. Their guardsman is busy over there talking to the fat lady. It’s a good time to enter…”

“Yes you’re right,” muttered Herman as he began walking faster. “See you later,” he whispered before he moved quickly to the entrance and paced in.

“There was no one in the narrow corridor that he always went through to get in and come out. He tiptoed to the door and gently pushed it half open. He could now see the bed that he lay on every time he came in for medication. The bed, however, was not vacant. A tall young man was lying on it with a large number of cords connected to his head, chest, and arms. His eyes were tightly closed but he did not seem to be asleep because he kept moving up and down. His whole body would rise up almost to a sitting position and then go back down. “God!” he whispered to himself. So, that’s what they’re doing to me!?”

He quickly turned around and began rushing towards the exit door but was grabbed by someone before he could get out. “Where do you think are you goin, man?” the guardsman said angrily. “How in the hell did you manage to get in here?”

“I have a session,” mumbled Herman. “I’ve come a few minutes too early. That’s why I wanted to go back…out.”

“I see!” the big man said. “It’s all right then! You can wait here until it’s your turn.”

“Okay,” Herman muttered as he moved towards one of the chairs placed along the corridor and sat down.

*******

“Sir! It’s getting late!  We only have about five minutes!” said Abdu in a worried voice.

“It’s all right! Don’t worry!” said Herman still lying on his bed looking at the ceiling. “I’m not going there until they tell me the reason why they are doing all that!” he explained.

Abdu nodded his head and walked back to his place. “I don’t know, sir. I hope everything will work out all right,” he muttered shaking his head.

Soon someone knocked on the door and a tall heavily built familiar- looking man wearing a white uniform stepped in.

“How come you’re still in your room, man,” he asked. “You’re half an hour late already!”

“I’m not going there anymore,” said Herman frowning, “unless you people tell me the purpose of the treatment.”

“Oh, yeah?” the man said walking back towards the door. He then shrugged his shoulders and pushed the door open. Two tall, heavily built men, wearing white uniforms, walked in and went straight to the place where Herman was sitting. A minute later Herman was lying on a stretcher unconscious with a white sheet covering his body. “You can come pick him up in two hours!” the first man said to Abdu as he pushed him away from the door.

 

“Are you all right, sir,” said Abdu as he walked towards the entrance of the building he took Herman to everyday.

“Yes, I’m okay,” Herman mumbled, “The only problem is…I don’t seem to remember how I got here!’

“They made you unconscious, sir!” Abdu said with a sad grimace. “They almost beat me up when I wanted to…stop them.” He paused for a minute before he added, “They brought you here in an ambulance.”

“Huh!” mumbled Herman looking very confused.

“Hey, you bastards!” a female voice suddenly exclaimed. “I thought you two didn’t know where the MRO building was! What in the hell were you doing in there then?”

“Who are you, lady?” asked Herman. “You must’ve taken us for somebody else!”

“It was just yesterday, silly!” the woman said. “Are you dumb or something?”

“Sorry, lady,” Abdu said. “Mr. Herman is not feeling good, today. These guys here roughed him up this morning. His mind is tired.”

They were staring at each other now in silence. A minute later the woman spoke again, this time rather softly. “Are you working here or… you are patients?”

“He’s a patient, Ma’m,” said Abdu, “and I am his watchdog.”

“How many times have you brought him here,” the woman asked staring at Herman’s pale face.

“This was the sixth, Ma’m,” Abdu answered frowning. “Why do you ask, lady?” he then said irritably.

“Huh!” the woman said softly. “So you didn’t really know the name of the building, huh?”

“Nobody ever told us, lady! Why?” Abdu said now sounding quite dismayed

“Look, look!” the woman suddenly said turning her head towards the building. “Come! Let me show you two…something!” she said as she began to quickly march away.

“What in the world does she want?” asked Herman rather confused.

“She wants to show us somethin, sir,” said Abdu loudly. “Do you wano see it, or would you rather go back…to your place?”

“I’d like to…see it,” mumbled Herman hesitantly.

They began walking slowly in the direction the woman had gone. Soon they were back, near the entrance of the building they had come out from. The woman was now standing near a tall officer wearing a brand new uniform. They stopped a short distance away. “Please come closer!” the woman said beckoning them to go forward.

“This is my son, Amir,” the woman said pointing to the young man in uniform.

“Hi,” said Herman to the young man whose face looked dreadfully familiar to him.

“Hello, sir,” mumbled Abdu staring at the man’s face.

The woman turned to the tall officer, then, and asked, “Who am I, darling?”

The officer smiled and stared at the woman’s face for some seconds before he said, “Well, you are my Mom, I guess!”

The woman gazed into the young man’s eyes for a minute and then said, “You guess…but you’re not sure, are you?”

The officer shook his head before he said, “I gather you are, though. You look…quite familiar. I think I’ve seen you lots of times!”

The woman made a grimace before she said, “Since you were born, that is, huh!?”

She then began to walk away. The officer followed. Herman and Abdu pursued them and soon passed the officer to catch up with the lady. “What’s happening here?” asked Herman looking at her confoundedly.

“What is happening here, is that,” the woman said tensely, “they arrested my son a while back…because he had been reported to have carried out some anti-regime activities. We did not know where he was for a year before some relative of ours, who works for the military, informed us that my son had been moved to an army hospital. Eventually we found out that…he was here. When I saw him, however, he did not recognize me!”

They all walked in silence until they were near Herman’s place. “We’ve got to go lady,” said Abdu then. “We’re staying here.”

The woman stopped, turned around, looked straight into Herman’s eyes and shook her head. “I’m terribly sorry about all this, young man,” she said before she turned her head towards Abdu. “Please don’t let them continue with this operation,” she said. “What they are doing is officially called MRO which stands for Mental Reorientation Operations. The frank name they use for it among themselves is ‘Operation B’ which stands for ‘Operation Brainwash.’ They are washing your friend’s brain! If he goes through ten of their sessions, he may not even remember his own name!”

She then shook her head and resumed walking. Her son followed her wearing a far and wide happy smile on his lips.

*******

“No wonder I can’t remember so many things now!” exclaimed Herman angrily. “No wonder I don’t seem to care about so many things that used to be extremely important to me!” he went on. “They are washing up all my past memories. They’re turning me into a jolly good child with very few horrendous memories which would induce revulsion and fury.” 

“What do you want to do, now, sir,” said Abdu not quite understanding what Herman was saying.

“I don’t know!” said Herman shaking his head. “I can’t stop them from continuing with their brain washing program. I have to get help from somewhere.”

“They will let you go soon, sir, I guess,” said Abdu hesitantly.

“That’s the idea, you see,” Herman said as he walked back and forth in the small room for a minute. “What they’re apparently trying to do is to wash off all the memories I’ve had about the past two years in jail and before. They are probably ordered to release me, for some reason, and they want to wash off all the bad reminiscences, as well as all the information about what they are doing, off my mind before they set me free.”

“It’s not so bad, though, sir,” said Abdu. “It seems to me that…you’ve been feeling better and better after your sessions…in that place…”

“Yes! That’s just what they’ve been doing in the MRO building. They’ve been washing off my past memories in order to…give me ‘a new orientation’!”

“I don’t quite understand, sir,” said Abdu. “You may be right, but it may not be all that bad if…it makes you feel happy!”

“How am I going to finish teaching you how to read and write,” asked Herman wearing a sad smile, “if I’m happy but I no longer know how to read and write myself?”

“It’s that bad…, sir! Huh?” mumbled Abdu.

“I’ve got to solve this problem somehow,” Herman murmured, “before it’s too late!”

********

“Abdu, dear friend, wake up!” Herman said as he shook the man who was snoring very loudly. “Get up, please1

“Yes, sir! Sorry, sir,” said Abdu as he shook his head and drowsily sat up.

“Please go wash your face and come back,” Herman said in a sad voice. “I have to tell you a few things.”

“Yes, sir. Of-course, sir,” Abdu said in a sleepy voice as he got off his bed.

Herman sat on his bed and began rubbing his own face.

“Yes, sir! I’m ready, sir!” Abdu said as he returned from the tiny bath room near his bed.

“You are my good friend, Abdu,” said Herman, “the best friend I’ve got right now. So I’ve decided to tell you a few things to remember…just in case I won’t be able to think of them tomorrow myself. Okay?”

“Yes, sir. All right sir. I promise I’ll remember them forever!” Abdu said in a mournful tone of voice.

“You don’t need to get distressed Abdu,” Hooman said. “I’m only telling you these things because I want my parents to know about them just in case my brain is washed altogether and I can’t tell them…myself. You can remind me of them tomorrow or the day after if my brain washing process continues.”

“All right, sir,” mumbled Abdu. “I’m all ears now!”

“Okay!” said Herman firmly. “Now, listen carefully and try to remember! The first thing is that my mother sent me a note written half in red and half in green ink. I took it to mean that…according to the General’s order, if I agreed to have a public interview…I should notdo it, but if I refused to have an interview, I should be forced to do it. So I told them that I would do the interview. That made them very angry. They had a sham interview with me in which I talked about the horrific things that they had done to me and to other political prisoners. They said they had recorded it but I’m not sure about that at all.” He stopped cleared his throat and then asked, “Do you think you can remember this and tell my mother later on…if I forget them myself?”

“I’ll remember every word of it, sir! You know that…I have a very good memory!” said Abdu now wide awake.

“That’s wonderful,” exclaimed Herman. “Now the next thing,” he started again, “The day after that interview…I was poisoned. I don’t know who did it nor how it was done! But I have a hunch that it was done by one of the interrogators who had come to the solitary confinement ward of the Castle Prison for some reason. They poisoned me either to shut me up forever, or to have an excuse to bring me to this military hospital to have my brain washed. By tomorrow or the day after, or the day after that at the most, all of the things I’m telling you now may have been splashed off my brain…forever. Will you remember that?”

“Yes, sir,” said Abdu in a tearful tone of voice.

“I might not even remember who you are, just like that officer who could not recognize his own mother!”

Abdu’s head was now bent. He was trying to wipe off his tears unnoticeably.

“I’m so sorry to make feel bad,” Herman said. “You are my good friend and, right now, the only person I have in this world. So, please be strong and just try to remember everything to let others know in the future. Okay?”

“All right, sir,” mumbled Abdu.

Herman took a deep breath and lay down on his bed closing his eyes. “I can take a nap with relief now,” he mumbled, “before they come and take me for another session.”

“Sir!” Abdu said rather loudly a minute later.

“Yes, dear Abdu,” muttered Herman as he lay on his bed.

“Why don’t you…let your family know about what they are doing to you?” Abdu said softly.

“How can I?” said Herman. “I only have you, and you are stuck with me…all the time.”

“I can tell Karim…to telephone them, sir, and tell them where you are.” Said Abdu rather loudly.

“I thought about that, Abdu, my dear friend,” said Herman, “But I cannot …remember…anybody’s telephone number. It has been about two years…and remember that my brain has been washed…”

“What about…their address, sir?” Abdu said after a minute.

“What is the use of their address?” mumbled Herman. “If we send them a letter, by the time they get it and find a way to come here and see me, I won’t be able to remember who they are themselves!”

“Not send a letter, sir,” mumbled Abdu nodding his head. “Just a note – a note Karim or I or somebody else…can take to your…Mom.”

“Well, that’s an idea, maybe,” murmured Herman thoughtfully. The problem is, though, I can’t remember…their address either.”

They could now see the shadow of the coming day appear behind the little window of the room. They were both deep in thought for a while before Herman said. “Please try to remember all that I told you. From now on, you are my memory. I would write everything down so that you could give it to my Mom later when they come to get me, but that is too risky for you. I’m sure they’ll come and search us before they let me go with my family. So we should be very careful about the written things we have with us.”

Abdu gently got up and took a note book from under his mattress. “The last letter you taught me sir, was Z . What is the next one?” he asked.

“Huh!” Herman mumbled as he began searching for something in his clothes. “The last letter I taught you, Abdu, was the last letter we have in the alphabet. So you are through! You should be able to read everything very soon.” He then shook his head and added, “And the last letter I got from my Mom…is here in my pocket. It’s written in green and red on the inside of an old envelope with their address on its back! So you can go give my parents my note during the time they will be brain washing me tomorrow.”

*******

“Hi, darling!” Mother yelled as she opened the door and stuck her head in with excitement.

“My God!” exclaimed Herman as he got off his bed to rush to the door. “How in the world could you get here so quickly!” he asked joyfully.

“You know,” mother said with exhilaration after they had ended their hot embrace, “We have been looking for you for days! We went to the Castel to visit you some days ago but they told us you were not there anymore! We thought they had killed you. Your father almost had a heart attack. We began searching around quickly. Some people said you had been transferred to another jail. Some others said you had committed suicide. Some even suggested that you had escaped. So we contacted the General. He promised to do his best to find out what had happened to you and to inform us immediately. But he did not contact us for days. So, as soon we received your note this morning, we called him, and he issued an order for your immediate release. Thank God! You can put your things together and get out of this graveyard at once! Professor Ashrafi has already signed your discharge papers...” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2020 Herman Azadi. All rights reserved.

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