Monday, March 30, 2009

The Soldiers and the Witches

The questions still remain unanswered, even after decades and countless journalistic searches through every type of record. The detainees were taken, all of them women, on the good faith that they would be returned to their homes after a reasonable interrogation and some photo ops with high ranking government officials. That was the official story, it came from the president’s lips. It was printed in the one small daily paper next to the three photos of the captured women, their faces dotted by the micro spots of ink. It was plausible that some of the military officials had their hands in the cookie jar, that they were just waiting for the new coup and then they would run the country their way. Iron fist, shirts buttoned to the neck, each woman a potential hole for the taking. But now, before the gunshots, now, as the cauldron was still at a low murmur, they were waiting for night to fall and sleep to overcome many eyelids with an unbearable burden.
The women were not returned. There were years of tribunals, the world asked questions, and the questions remain. They are alive with question marks on both sides of the sentence. They are bold and italic. And they linger in the air, a once angry current that has simmered to a soft cry. The whole country lives with the curse of inflection. The babies in the womb feel the collective shiver and stutter at the consequences.
The women were taken in the dead of night. While the stars shone brightly, their heads were covered in soft white pillow cases. Despite the sacks and blindness, they remained tall and proud. It was the skin on their necks that spoke of their defiant eyes beneath the cloak. Their necks sung soft lullabies that their gagged mouths could not materialize. Their necks rejected the shackles on their bare feet and the ropes that bound their hands.
The largest man among the pack of wolves was overseeing the arrest. His round stomach was just below the arrogance of his chest, so pompous and eager that it pushed out the shiny buttons of his military uniform and reflected the light of the stars. He felt their rejection, the witches were not terrified of his guns or voice. As he exploded into the small shack, their eyes did not break with worry, their mouths did not tremble before the legion of men behind him. They were unmoved, unafraid. More so, they were unwavering, refusing to let their spirits be taken. He felt it through the pillowcases, he felt it through their silence, he felt it coming through his back and moving like a current to his chest.
“Damn these women!” he thought.
There were no alternatives. These witches would be punished for their acts against he president. Their detention would be a show to all the brujas that litter the mountainside- their fires and chants would not be tolerated! At least that was what he told himself. That’s what his consciousness liked to think…was he a good man? A loyal man? Defending and protecting the president? Maybe…in the smallness of his dreams, he wondered about the erections he had while breaking down the doors. He wondered about the heat he felt as he slapped the defiant witches into submission. Was this an act of loyalty? Was it something else? No, he was loyal damnit! A nationalist!
This was a reasonable land, with logical people…at least the people of the city. These women could not be allowed to play with the subconscious of a nation. They helped the enemy with their potent smoke and their red colored balms. They aided terrorism with their ceremonial chants and dreams. The country had been ruled by these fat women for centuries, these women with enormous breasts and checkered aprons. These women large as trees with flowers braided into their long gray hair. They had to be stopped.
“If the conquerors were not able to do it, then we will.” he muttered under his breath.
The military had raided three encampments in the past two days…there would be more to come. The three they had now had left crying children in their wake. The cocks were just beginning to crow as they began the mountainous descent, but in the bluish black of the heavens, the stars still flickered. The earth under their feet was hard and compact, the women marched soundlessly as their feet padded the soft soil like compassionate mothers.
It was a small chain gang and the man holding the reins, the second in command, turned every now and then to make sure the women trailing behind him were still there. He didn’t trust these witches and every time he turned around, he half expected one of them to be missing, having vanished into the twilight sky with a cloud of red vapors. He looked into the hillsides, into the blackened walls were he knew there were tree covered foothills and steep mountains beyond.
The small military team had pursued the rumors for years. They had hired scouts and bought off self-righteous old lovers in the hopes of tracking down another group of witches, little covens which dotted the jungle covered regions of the country. These could not be extraordinary women, they lived like animals, living within mud walls and sheltered from the rain with leaves. They ate worms and toads, he was sure! Without the women, closure would eventually enrapture the peasant community…there were just a couple of huts, “maybe we’ll go back and kill them all in the morning,” he thought. He shrunk a little with the thought of murdering the villagers, he still hated the sight of blood, even though he had personally ended the life of hundreds of people, slaying them with his metal blade. His duties had not changed him, he felt sick each time, his stomach revolted, yet, his loins…something within him tingled as he punctured them. They always begged, they pleaded with him for pardon…
Could he really be their salvation? Could he be their god? No, he did not grant life, he merely took it. The transfer of energy was one sided, their blood ran only towards him. He made a point of always slicing them downwind, so the gravitational pull, the wind, the force would bring their last gasps pouring into his lungs and skin. He felt them enter, like a steaming cauldron of red ink, he was poked and touched, massaged and punctured.
The countries he had traveled to were always desperate, half the population working for modernity, while the other half could not let go of their powders and their myths. Could they not see they were torturing themselves with their devil-religions? Did they not understand that the forces of truth were on his side? Wasn’t eternal life attractive to these people? He felt sorry as he bludgeoned the men, his pity dissipating as he dropped his green military pants and forced himself into the tight unwelcoming insides of crying women.
He compared himself to an ancient warrior, punishing those that worked against his god. If people would not join them willingly, he would put them out of their misery, allowing them to forever dance with the devil. Panic spread through the mountain communities when they heard that the Avenger Platoon had arrived. The smoking fires of the foothills re-created images of their last victory. The sky was alight with brutal scenes of slaughtered villagers, headless chicken and udder-less cows. The cooking fires knew what was to come.
“Even the fires of the people are haunted,” he thought. “What god-loving fires turns smoke into a prophecy?”
The poses of the women, their pleading eyes as they begged for their children’s lives, kissing his feet as he broke down their splintered doors. He moved with sexual heat as he stormed with his army through town, taking the beautiful maidens and gutting the crones. The uniformed men were allowed to do as they pleased with the townspeople, so long as they left no one alive. The thrill of it, the energy of it, the fear in the crisp morning air always led to a bulge in his woolen pants, and he walked around fully erect, while he ordered his troops to set fire to the thatched huts. He could decapitate a man while, at the same time, defile his daughter as she screamed for the solace of death. And yes, he would grant that to her later, after he released a small load of his heat and prepared for another invasion of peasant flesh. There was always sexual release in the slice of his sword. The sweet release of abandon that only lasted for an instant…if only he could hold onto it for another second.
He imagined other adults of his class, sipping wine at dinner parties and playing with their decks of cards. He snickered. It was he who was doing the real work for this country! He was exterminating the network of witches and warlocks. While they sat in their fancy neighborhoods and bred small white dogs, he was the real savior of the country! Not the general, not the president, it was he who led his men to do the good work of god.
“To hell with those social climbers! The history of the world will one day praise our goals. God will show who is right!”
He turned around once again and saw that the three witches were still there, walking in single file, in silent defiance, seething with the hatred of utter and complete defeat. At that moment, that was all the proof he needed. God was in his hands, god was in his weapons, god was in his soldiers, god was in the chains that held them and wouldn’t let them go.

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