Play Duty

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
It does not matter about the where, or the when, this story is based on countless stories of immigrants trying to find a new home in a new land; escaping the oppression they faced before. Sam Walker, a new security worker at a nameless detention centre, experiences the confliction of doing her job and the compassion she feels for those living off nothing more than hope.

Submitted: December 13, 2011

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Submitted: December 13, 2011

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Today a new batch came in, a mixture from the Middle East. Afghans, Pakistanis, even some Saudis, filing past in silence. I closed and locked the gate as the group of refugees were escorted to the processing hall, to be numbered and forgotten. I sighed, trying to avoid their faces, but not being able to, because in each and everyone one of them, I saw him. His clothes, his filth, even his stooped shoulders, but most importantly, his eyes. Eyes filled with despair and fear, and yet filled with a certain hope, like clouds hiding the possibility of a sunny day tomorrow. I went back to my station and begrudgingly began my work day. My mind began to wander and before I knew it, it had drifted back to those days and to that man.

It had been my first day at the centre and I was terrified. I had heard stories of this place, of the dirty, angry men who were just itching for a weak link to allow them to escape. On my first round I had been assigned to ‘play duty’. I was told to circle the large, open grounds where most of the refugees congregated to bake under the sun and play with the mismatched assortment of equipment, I couldn’t move an inch. I sat under the shade of one of the large concrete buildings, watching, almost staring at the mixture of races separated into groups, some sitting, others playing and a few just wandering aimlessly. I was staring so intently that I didn’t even notice one of the men coming closer and closer, till he was right next to me, making me jump with his words.

“Hello,” I nearly screamed in fright, “my name is Asa Kohistani, what is your name?” I gaped incredulously at the perfect English coming from this Middle Eastern man’s mouth.

“H-H-Hi, I-I-I’m Sam Walker,” what was this? Some test of the new security chick? What did he want? Was he going to threaten me?

“A pleasure to meet you Miss Walker,” I nodded in acknowledgment at him but continued to stare, “oh I hope you do not mind miss, but this is my usual place, I will not be of any trouble. Please do continue with your duty.”

“Uhhhhhh, thank you,” he stood in silence as I continued to scan the area. 10 years of security training had not prepared me for this. I did not know if I should move, if I should ask him to move, so we both just stood there, watching.

So began our unusual friendship, every day, whatever time it was, when I was given this shift, he would be there. We would greet each other, him always polite and impeccable, giving the impression of an English lord, yet his appearance was that of a homeless man. Together we would stand, watching our bleak surroundings, each in our own thoughts, wondering how we had gotten here. Some days we would speak, our conversations short yet full of meaning.

A month had passed in the isolated place, one day, as we had stood, a new group of refugees were brought into the “play pen.” They stood huddled in a group, confused. Then slowly, one after another, they began to disperse, I watched fascinated as man after man scuttled to groups, knowing, without being told, where they belonged. As if hearing my thoughts, Asa spoke, “they have heard the dialects of their districts, and man will go to what man already knows; they go to other men who know of their pain, their history.” I turned back to him; to the insightful man I would come to know so well. We were the same age, yet he held the air of someone who had lived many more years.

“How long have you been here Asa?” I asked, yet somehow already knowing the answer.

“Ahhh, it has been 2 years since I was brought here Miss Walker,” and I could tell. The months he had been here were etched into his face. I wondered what he must have done to have been here for so long, but I was too scared to ask.

 “This is not a good place to be Miss Walker, I’m sure you have seen, or maybe you haven’t. When you look at these men, what do you see?” I stared at him blankly. “Ahhh so it is that is it? You believe that these men are here for a reason, that those who are damned to this place deserve it? This is not a place for the troublemakers Miss Walker, this place is for the people who are running away from the troublemakers.” He slightly smiled at me, a sad smile, filled with more meaning and pain then one person should be able to convey. I turned away embarrassed, embarrassed at the openness of this man, and looked out into the distance. I looked out to the gate that was the only exit from this place, and out to the bland scenery, broken only by the winding highway that stretched through the landscape.

A few days passed, a certain calm had settled over the centre. The new immigrants had settled and to admit, the security team had gotten lax. We had believed we were invincible, with our cameras and 10 foot fence, a stupid, yet understandable mistake. It had been the middle of the night when the screams started, not screams of fear, but of outrage. I jolted out of bed thinking it was the light of day that was illuminating my room, confused and disorientated, I stumbled out of my room to face a wall of flame. I stood at the doorstep to the staff dormitories to see a wall of fire that surrounded one of the residency blocks, Asa’s block.

I raced to the building, afraid, when my heart stopped to the sound of gunfire. I watched as security workers were handed out pellet guns and told to shoot the men, who were protesting on the roof, down. I walked up to my boss who handed me a gun; I circled the building, crouched, took aim and saw who my target was. There, waving his fists in the air and screaming, was Asa. I trembled as the fire raged and the screaming got louder, as if by sensing my presence Asa turned and stared down at me, at the gun in my hand aimed at his vulnerable chest.  I looked at the kind man whom I held at gun point. The man who had been kept in this place for 2 years for reasons he had never explained. The man who had explained to me what this place meant, how it operated. I saw the man who had moved me, but felt the weight and metal of responsibility in my hands. I looked into those eyes, eyes that burned as fiercely as the flames and heard, but did not wish to the unmistakable order from my boss,

“Fire!”

The End


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