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Thread: Second Chance:

  1. #101
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    Just when I was getting to be relaxed about reading another chapter here we go again with the over the top excitment.
    Wheeeeeeeewwwwoooo buddy!

    I'm thinking dream too. Please??

  2. #102
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    Been waiting all this time for Charlie to level the playing field.....don't leave us hanging. good job

  3. #103
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    NO GRAND NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :P
    You know what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like this?

  4. #104
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    Another chapter worthy of praise, Grand! Well done!

    If a dream, this would be more like a nightmare!

    Thank you, looking eagerly for the next installment.

    Jim

  5. #105
    This is "Scary Movie" suspense!

    Really looking forward to hanging off the edge of my seat more!

    Thank you for sharing your talent.

    ........RunAndGun

  6. #106
    can we please PLEASE have some moar??? cause I'm hanging by only two fingernails now... and finals is coming up next week.....

  7. #107
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    CHAPTER 39



    “You will stop!” her father’s voice commanded from behind her. But her legs weren’t working like they should have and the distance to the woods wasn’t really closing as fast as she hoped.

    “Cindy!” the voice rang in her ears. She could hear the heavy footfalls chasing her as she tripped up and fell on her face. She attempted to get up, but strong hands grabbed at her shoulders and shook her. She swiped at them, screaming and crying at the same time. She was attempting to fight back, but it seemed like her body wasn’t following the commands of her brain.

    “It’s okay!” the voice said.

    “NOOOOO!” she screamed. The hands grabbed at her hands and held them in place.

    “Cindy! Wake up!” said Charlie as he shook her trying to wake her out of the nightmare. Her screams had woken him instantly and he had come running into her room. His first thought had been someone had broken into the house and was attempting to take advantage of her, but he entered the room to find it empty. She was having a nightmare and was screaming bloody murder at the top of her lungs. Charlie was thankful there were no neighbors around to hear the screams.

    “LEAVE ME ALONE!” she screamed once again, not fully awake yet. Charlie released his grasp and stepped back as he gave her the chance to fully wake.

    “Cindy, it’s Charlie, you’re okay,” he said in a calm voice, hoping it might soothe her in waking out of the dream. He pulled the pistol he carried with him into the room away from the end of the bed just in case she hadn’t snapped out of it.

    She was panting as if she had run a marathon and looked around the room. The last images of the dream came crashing into her mind once more before she finally woke up fully. Her eyes darted around the room back and forth looking for an unseen threat, but only finding Charlie. A tear escaped her eye as the vivid images played back into her mind, terrifying her one last time.

    “Are you okay?” he asked calmly, again hoping the soft voice might help.

    Cindy attempted to slow her breathing and looked around the room one last time to make sure she was safe. She still couldn’t shake the thoughts in her head about the horrid nightmare and broke down and started balling her eyes out. Charlie sat down on the bed and attempted to soothe her with a calm voice while giving her a hug.

    “It’s okay, you’re safe,” he said as he patted her on the back.

    “I saw it! It looked so real!” she cried and buried her head in his shoulder.

    “It’s okay, I won’t let anything happen to you,” he whispered calmly and continued to let her grasp him in her vise grip. They sat for several moments before she finally released her embrace and wiped her eyes.

    “You had me worried there for a minute kiddo,” he said with a smile.

    “It was a horrible nightmare!” she exclaimed as another tear escaped her eye.

    “There’s nothing to be afraid of,” he said and held onto her hand. “You’re safe here.”

    She looked around once again, just to make sure she wasn’t dreaming once again. There were no threats she could see and she saw nobody but Charlie in the room. Peeking outside the window, she saw it was still dark out and looked at the clock. It was just after three o’clock.

    “You want to try to go back to sleep?” he asked.

    “No!” she exclaimed, thinking the awful dreams would return from the dark place in her mind they originated from.

    “You want to talk about it?” he asked calmly.

    “You were out in the barn and my father showed up with others from New York. He started shooting and you…” she said and her voice trailed off.

    “Come on, let’s get an early breakfast,” he said and released her hands. She was coming back down to normal and starting to feel safe once again knowing she was in his home in Tennessee and away from her father. But the nightmare worried him as this was the first time she had manifested her feelings locked away deep in her mind.

    “I’ll be down in a minute,” she said as he rose from the edge of the bed. She was still collecting her thoughts as the horrible images of her father standing over Charlie pointing a rifle flashed into her mind. As much as she tried, the images kept coming and she finally realized just how much she cared about Charlie as a father figure.

    “Take your time,” he said and retrieved his pistol. He left the room and replaced the shorts with a pair of sweat pants to go to the kitchen. He would call the counselor and give her an update on the situation and make another appointment for Cindy. While he didn’t know the exact details of the dream, he figured he had been killed and her father had done something else. Hopefully he had stopped the nightmare before anything worse had happened, but only the counselor would know if she chose to talk about it. She appeared in the kitchen several minutes later, dark circles under her eyes as he was fixing a pot of coffee. She grabbed the milk from the fridge and poured a glass, slumping into the chair at the table.

    “I’m sorry if I worried you,” she said after taking a sip of the milk.

    “It’s nothing. I’m fine and so are you. I won’t let anything happen to you,” he said very fatherly.

    “I know, but it felt so real,” she said.

    “Dreams often do. Our mind likes to play tricks on us quite a bit,” he said as he watched the coffee run through the maker.

    “Do you ever have bad dreams?” she asked.

    “Sometimes,” he answered without looking.

    “How do I make the images stop?” she asked.

    “Time and don’t dwell on them. Think of happy thoughts,” he said. “Like your kitten that’s hungry.”

    Cindy looked down and saw Spazz coming into the kitchen, wondering what the commotion was all about. She had taken him to bed with her and he had probably run off scared when she started screaming. She got out his moist food from the fridge and spooned out the remainder into a dish before setting it in the floor. She had to step around him since he was rubbing at her legs waiting for his morning treat to come early. She petted him as he started eating and was rewarded with a purr as he chomped at the food. It did have a calming influence on her as she thought of other things as Charlie started on breakfast. It would be a long morning for her and he hoped to divert her attention away from the thoughts by keeping her busy that day.


    ********************


    “It was not who thought. The runaway girl there was from another place,” said Abdul as he briefed the Imam about his trip. They were driving up the Interstate heading back to New York after checking out of their hotel early that morning.

    “How did we get the two confused?” asked the Imam.

    “We were searching for any runaways that might have been hidden away from view. Apparently this girl was a victim of abuse and sexual assault by her father and had run away from Fort Campbell and ended up near Morristown. She was originally from New York, or at least born there so there was some confusion,” said Abdul.

    “I see,” said the Imam.

    “We did get quite a scare out there though,” said Abdul with a chuckle.

    “Oh?” asked the Imam.

    “Yes, the farmer apparently does some poaching during the off season. He just about stumbled across our hide while we were watching his farm,” said Abdul.

    “Bad?” asked the Imam.

    “No, we were silent and still enough to avoid detection,” said Abdul.

    “Nothing else to report?” asked the Imam.

    “The farmer apparently is a good marksman. He took a rabbit and two squirrels with only three shots,” laughed Abdul.

    “Yes, the southern infidels are good with their firearms,” laughed the Imam.

    “We are continuing to look, but it appears there is no one in the Tennessee State Government that knows where she is at or is not willing to talk about it,” said Abdul.

    “And money isn’t helping?” asked the Imam.

    “No, not really. The secret is being well kept,” said Abdul. “All the information we have collected so far has been useless.”

    “Everyone has a price,” said the Imam.

    “Maybe so, but we obviously haven’t hit that yet or the people we are talking to are not the right ones,” said Abdul.

    “Nothing else?” asked the Imam.

    “Not yet,” said Abdul.

    “Keep looking,” ordered the Imam. He checked the clock and saw the three would be due back by that evening. It was an early phone call for him and he decided to go ahead and start his day instead of going back to sleep. He started his morning prayer, although a tad early and went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea to start the day. He went into his office afterwards and started checking the five e-mail accounts he had set up for use. He downloaded the files onto a CD and disconnected the internet connection before running the decryption programs on the scrambled files. They came out in English and Arabic as he started to read. Nothing of major importance as some of the e-mails were just general chit chat with others he kept up with from around the world. But some were information and instructions from the others he dealt with. He read through them quickly before deleting the files and making sure they were gone by destroying the disk.

    He departed the simple house and headed towards his office in the mosque. The Imam wished Abdul was around to assist with the planning on certain items, but he would have to wait until tonight to get his opinion on certain matters. He hoped he was getting some sleep along the way and would be fresh tonight when he arrived. He also needed to speak with Mohammed Hassan and let him know about his son. The contact from Pakistan had written back and let him know everything was ready and in place for the boy to arrive and continue his education, albeit with extremist views. Hopefully the seed they had planted would bear fruit once he was surrounded by the faithful in that area and he would become a powerful force within Islam.


    ********************


    The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agent saw there was no better time to infiltrate than now. He had studied the community in New York for several days now from a concealed position outside of the main gate. He watched as visitors came and went, using the training he received as an intelligence specialist in the Army to record the details. After several days of observation and going over his notes, he carefully prepared himself to go and visit the mosque and hopefully meet some of the occupants. He especially hoped to meet the Imam and Mohammed Hassan and speak with them. Possibly even gain their confidence, but that was fairly farfetched. So he began his investigation by speaking with the “guards” at the gate, convincing them he was one of the faithful coming in for a midday prayer.

    “Are you one of the faithful?” asked the man at the gate.

    “I am and it is time for the midday prayers,” said the TBI Agent.

    “And you believe we will just let you in?” asked the man.

    “Yes, you will. As we are one faith we should be praying together. Or have you forgotten your religion today?” asked the TBI Agent.

    “It is not yet time for prayer,” said the man evasively.

    “It grows near. Are you just going to continue to sit out here and watch TV while forgetting about Allah? Or will you join me in prayer at the mosque?” asked the TBI Agent.

    “One doesn’t need the mosque for prayer. The faithful can pray anywhere and at any time,” said the man.

    “This is true, but I prefer to have myself surrounded by the faithful,” said the TBI Agent.

    “I am not sure if we can permit you,” said the man.

    “Then I will pray right here,” said the TBI Agent as he got out a prayer rug and a bottle of water to wash his hands and feet.

    “In the middle of the road?” asked the man.

    “Allah requires full devotion and does not care where it is given at,” said the TBI Agent as he put down the prayer rug in the middle of the road.

    “You are crazy!” exclaimed the man and made a phone call. He spoke for several seconds before hanging up the phone. “All you require is a place for prayer?”

    “Just to show my devotion to Allah and Mohamed his prophet,” said the TBI Agent.

    “Will you leave one this is complete?” asked the man.

    “Yes,” said the TBI Agent, continuing to prepare.

    “Come inside and go to that building,” pointed the man at the central mosque and the people already arriving for the midday prayer.

    The TBI Agent thanked the man and collected the prayer rug before driving inside and parking near the mosque. It was a nice facility from the outside and Ramzi was already calling the Adhan for the community over the loudspeaker. The TBI Agent brought his prayer rug inside and removed his socks and shoes before washing once again. He found a place in the room unoccupied and prepared for the prayer service.

    The Agent leaned forward and touched his head to the floor again as he continued to pray (falsely) in the traditional Islamic prayers. While a practicing Methodist, this was not the first time he had been undercover investigating potentially violent Muslims. While he never practiced the religion, he knew far more about it than most practicing Muslims and had fooled even the best of them during his times undercover. In addition to speaking Arabic fluently, he had a mixed Hispanic background which helped him pass as Middle Eastern several times before.

    However, this time was the first he was far out of his jurisdiction. The mosque in New York State was relatively new and in good shape. There was enough floor space for at least two hundred people although there was only about a quarter of that number including the children. The Imam gave a short sermon after the prayers were completed, speaking of the evils of sin and America as a whole while quoting several verses in the Quran. He ending with the threat of eternal pain if they dared stray from the word of Allah and how they should guard against the Great Satan in America. The Agent had heard such rhetoric before in the Middle East out of extremist Imams, but never before in the United States. After everything was done, he rolled up the prayer mat and stood looking at the front of the mosque as if he was deep in thought over something. Eventually the small crowd left the central prayer area and he was alone, still wondering what angle to use to meet the head Imam.

    “Can I help you brother?” asked a voice from behind him.

    “I am reflecting and looking for guidance,” said the Agent as he turned and saw the Imam.

    “Not a bad setting in looking for guidance, but there is more than enough guidance in the Book,” said the Imam. “Are you new here?”

    “I am passing through on my travels, bringing the word of Allah and Mohammed his prophet to all,” said the Agent in Arabic after hearing the accent of the Imam.

    “You speak Arabic?” he asked.

    “Yes, I learned it during my time in the Army,” said the Agent.

    “From a…Syrian I believe,” laughed the Imam.

    “From Damascus,” laughed the Agent.

    “They have a particular dialect in that region,” said the Imam.

    “So I have been told,” laughed the Agent.

    “And how did you find this place?” asked the Imam.

    “I have heard about it from others in New York City. I was told by Imam Kamil of this place. Please forgive the intrusion, but I was curious,” said the Agent.

    “I know Kamil, he is well?” asked the Imam.

    “Growing sick due to the cancer,” said the Agent, getting vetted in the process. “But his mind is still as sharp as a razor.”

    The Imam knew only a few would have known about the New York Imam’s sickness and started to learn the man wasn’t just a casual intruder from the outside. He didn’t know the Agent had also been to that particular mosque already and been vetted by the veteran Imam in the process. “What were you curious about?”

    “This place. It is far away from most other places,” said the Agent.

    “We like our seclusion. We attempt to get as far away from the temptations of this nation as possible,” said the Imam.

    “A wise decision, there are many who fall away from the true path by giving in to the decadent evils of America,” said the Agent.

    “So many have fallen away from the faith,” agreed the Imam. “How long are you staying?”

    “I should be on my way soon,” said the Agent. “I have a meeting scheduled in Cleveland tomorrow.”

    “With Imam Yousef?” asked the Imam.

    “No, with a family in a private setting,” said the Agent. “I just stopped in for prayer and guidance.”

    “It is nice to see you remembered your faith,” said the Imam.

    “For Allah, one will make the time for prayer,” said the Agent.

    “It is good to see a young man of true faith,” said the Imam. “Would you care to have a meal before you leave and talk about your problems? Possibly I might be able to give you guidance as well. I may not be as intelligent as Kamil, but perhaps I can offer a different viewpoint.”

    “I don’t want to impose,” said the Agent.

    “It is no problem. Please, it would honor me to have you as my guest,” said the Imam.

    “If you insist, I cannot refuse,” said the Agent as they departed the central area of the mosque. They entered another room where younger men were being instructed in a classroom and continued walking through the back of the room. The conversation stopped once they saw an outsider was with the Imam and all eyes turned to the intruder. They continued into a smaller kitchen where the Imam got out some soup and crackers.

    “It is not much, but the midday meal is often simple,” said the Imam.

    “It is better to eat with those of the faith rather than others,” said the Agent.

    The lunch was spent covering little get to know you items, where the Agent had been, where he was heading, how the faithful was flourishing in America. The wars against Islam in the Middle East, other politics, his family, his teachers in the faith. The Agent knew he was being vetted right then by the answers he was giving as the Imam was probing for validity in his cover. And lucky enough for the Agent, he had practiced it plenty of times before and his cover was all but impenetrable. Eventually the Imam seemed content with who he said he was; a fundamentalist with a sincere desire to spread the words of Allah and Mohammed his prophet. He was the type of individual the small community would actively seek out if the situation presented itself as they had other ideas for the decadent American evils.

    “May I have some of those sunflower seeds?” asked the Agent.

    “I believe Abdul won’t mind a handful,” chuckled the Imam. “He is addicted to them.”

    “I like them myself,” said the Agent as he took the bag from the Imam as well as a Styrofoam coffee cup to spit in.

    “And your time in the Army? Why did you get out?” asked the Imam.

    “The American Army is on a crusade of killing the faithful just so they can fill their gas tanks. It is nothing more than a continuation of the killing of our people since the first Crusade. I cannot willingly go and fight against those of the Faith and I did not reenlist,” said the Agent.

    “And how did you discover the one true faith?” asked the Imam.

    “During my time in the Army and during my travels to the land of the faithful. Since I was trained as a linguist, we had to study the Quran. Along the way, my eyes were opened to Allah and his love. Just one day…no never mind,” said the Agent.

    “No, please continue,” said the Imam.

    “One day I believe I had a vision from by Allah himself. As if it was something straight from the Quran, He opened my eyes and made me see the path of the faithful. I converted that day and my life has been in service to Allah ever since,” said the Agent.

    The Imam seemed to understand what he was saying and a slight smile came over his lips. But he caught himself as this man still wasn’t a member of the community. But he was starting to see a younger version of himself in the Agent and was warming up to him rapidly as a member of the faithful.

    “So what troubles you?” asked the Imam, getting around to the point.

    “It really is no great concern in the big scheme of things, but a problem troubles me and I fear I do not have the solution,” said the Agent.

    “Which is?” asked the Imam.

    “I am to be married soon,” said the Agent.

    “And this troubles you how?” asked the Imam.

    “My bride was picked for me by a family in Cleveland. This is why I am traveling there,” said the Agent.

    “This is not a bad thing. Many marriages are still arranged in the land of the faithful,” said the Imam.

    “I know, but there is a considerable age difference in the two of us,” said the Agent.

    “How much are we talking about?” asked the Imam.

    “It is rather embarrassing,” said the Agent.

    “It cannot be that bad,” said the Imam.

    “She is seventeen and I am thirty-two,” said the Agent, whose actual age was closer to thirty seven, but carried younger looks.

    “Fifteen years…this is not a big problem,” said the Imam with a laugh.

    “I know, but I was raised in this country and I fear I might have been conditioned to think in other terms,” said the Agent. The Agent was good at gaining the confidence of people around him. He was a skilled interrogator and was able to get people to open up to him almost immediately. His time in Guantanamo Bay was spent with several high level terrorists and he had gained valuable information. But being an Army Reservist, his time was limited in those camps although he had made several trips since as a consultant. But the Imam was warming up rapidly to him and he hoped not to push the boundaries too far with this first meeting. But he was surprised at the next part of the conversation.

    “The teachings of Mohammed do not give an age on marriage. Some women are in their teens when they marry,” said the Imam.

    “I mean, she is to be eighteen in another two months, so I won’t feel as bad then,” said the Agent.

    “What is to feel bad about? As long as she is loyal to you and the faith, is age a concern?” asked the Imam.

    “I suppose not,” said the Agent.

    “I have seen more than a few women in their teens married around here. Obviously we keep such things somewhat hidden, but it does happen with arranged marriages,” said the Imam.

    “You have seen seventeen year olds married?” asked the Agent.

    “Younger still in the land of the faithful. Again, there is no age in the Quran for marriage,” said the Imam. “In old times, a girl could be nine and be married. As soon as she showed signs of becoming a woman, she was wed off to a man.”

    “Nine is kind of young,” laughed the Agent.

    “Yes, we are slightly more progressive these days,” laughed the Imam.

    “I suppose it is my upbringing in America. You know we have been taught to believe a woman should be of legal age before being wed,” said the Agent.

    “Bah, legal age? What is legal except in Allah’s eyes?” asked the Imam.

    “And your wife? If I may ask how old she is?” asked the Agent.

    “We practice some of the older traditions here,” said the Imam guardedly. But the man in front of him seemed to accept the answer as he nodded politely.

    “As in more than one wife?” asked the Agent.

    “We cannot legally do such things as it is forbidden in New York,” said the Imam.

    “But you are secluded here,” said the Agent.

    “Such things might go unnoticed since we are away from other populated areas. We believe in the shari’a,” said the Imam.

    “I see,” said the Agent, realizing the answer had been presented by the last statement. The Imam had answered the question without actually saying it and could legally go into a court of law and deny everything while getting away with it.

    “But between Allah, you and I, there was something recently that happened. It is has been postponed for a time, but eventually will happen,” said the Imam.

    “Oh?” asked the Agent.

    “Yes, the daughter of one of the faithful in this congregation was to become my bride. But unforeseen circumstances occurred and have placed these plans on hold. But we should have resolution in due time. She is returning here and the plans will proceed,” said the Imam.

    “What happened if I may ask?” asked the Agent.

    “She disappeared for some time, but she is to be returned to her family soon,” said the Imam.

    “And if she does not?” asked the Agent.

    “All things will happen. The laws will see to it,” said the Imam.

    “And if she is impure when she returns?” asked the Agent.

    “Her father will have his honor restored,” said the Imam simply.

    “Do you mean…” started the Agent.

    “It means many things to many people,” said the Imam.

    “I was in Iraq with the Army before I converted to the faith. I witnessed a father having his honor restored. It was a good thing to see the faithful keeping up with traditions,” said the Agent.

    “The faithful must do what the shari’a demands,” said the Imam. “Have you received the guidance you sought?”

    “I will think on it more, but for the moment, I believe you have provided me the path I know I should take,” said the Agent.

    “We all have problems and they are better to be discussed with others from time to time,” said the Imam.

    “Am I welcome here again?” asked the Agent.

    “Any time you would like guidance or the opportunity to pray, you are most welcome in our house,” said the Imam.

    “I must thank you for your hospitality and your guidance,” said the Agent.

    “It is nothing more than the ramblings of an old man,” said the Imam.

    “With age comes wisdom,” said the Agent.

    “You are wise for your years. With time, you can become a powerful leader in the faith,” said the Imam as they walked towards the door.

    “Thank you, but I am only a soldier for Allah at this moment,” said the Agent.

    “Allah needs soldiers and generals alike. While you are a soldier now, you could become a wise general in time. Please, return to our home again. We should meet again and talk further,” said the Imam as he shook the hand of the Agent.

    Insha’ Allah, I will return,” said the Agent as he got into the car and departed. He didn’t say anything more in the vehicle since he was unsure of it had been bugged while he was away in the mosque. However, he felt the overwhelming urge to shower right then and would find a hotel as soon as he was out of the local area. He felt extremely dirty from the short time he spent in the mosque and the conversations he had with the Imam. In his brain, he started making out the contact report to his superiors and the Governor and the confirmation on the allegations of misconduct at the mosque. But he would certainly omit the colorful terms he was using in his head to describe the occupants he had met that day.

  8. #108
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    Thanks for not killing off Charlie. I've grown kinda fond of him. LOL

    Another great chapter. Thanks for that too.

  9. #109
    Whew! Is is bad to say I am happy Cindy was having a nightmare? :O
    Didn't see the twist coming of them not being at the right farm!
    Excellent chapter Grand, thank you!

  10. #110
    Wow!

    More Please!?!

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