Fiction: The Antichrist

December 15, 2017 Fiction , Literature , POETRY / FICTION

artetic photo

 

By

Riham Adly

 

 

A lot can divide the human race, be it race, gender, or religion. The Antichrist is a story about children from different backgrounds on a bus setting off to the same destination. The story zooms in on the cultural perspectives of two young girls from very different cultures. While writing this story, my intention was to show how a child is often a spokesperson for views of adults, and also to show that inspite of having much that separates, there is much to unite over. I hope you find this an enjoyable read.

 

 

 

The bus shot across the desert, its dunes and hills glistening as the rubber of its wheels glided over well-tarmacked roads withstanding the ever rising noon inferno. All colors fasted except for the beige of the peach-colored mountains with their gray peaks sitting like caps shielding them from the scorching sun. The sky had a neutral hue to it, ready to transform to any color of your choosing. The mountains, as old as time itself, watched, like they always do, a bus, the only bus on the road scissoring its way through winding tracks. They watched it stop, a sudden halt like they say. A small scoop of smoke spiraled from its rear like insidious gas that when let out relieves a painful colic.

The bus driver waited for the left-over chill of the air conditioner to dissipate before getting off his seat. They were only a few kilometers away from the Jeddah-Jizan highway.

Elizabeth was playing with her Barbie doll when, her father, among other adults, nudged up out of his seat to check what was wrong.

“Stay here, sweets.”  A perfusion of sweat was already trailing down his forehead like a rain pour.

 

“I like your doll, it is pretty.” A little girl swathed in black from head to toe pointed out. The dust-speckled hem of her Abaya dragging behind her as she walked.

Elizabeth smiled, fanning the air with her free hand.

“It’s mighty hot! I can’t stand it! How could you?”

“I think it’s better now that the bus is near empty.” The snores of the woman also clad in the black robe-like cloak interrupted the girl.

“Well, empty except for my mom. My name is Nourah. What’s yours?”

“Where’s your Barbie, don’t you have one? I saw a Fullah doll in an Abaya just like yours.”

Nourah looked down at her long black sleeves.

“I never liked those. I want one like yours. I like the green T-shirt and the pink skirt.”

“Then why don’t you get one?” Elizabeth cocked an eyebrow.

“Father says I shouldn’t. They’re not good. Like figurines, they can bring in the Djin. Bad creatures we can’t see that could harm us. Harm our soul.”

Elizabeth didn’t say anything, forcing the silence between them.

“What’s your name?” Nourah repeated.

Elizabeth put the doll down. She looked like a student in a math class trying to figure out the square root of 576.

“I’m Elizabeth.”

Nourah smiled. She pointed her finger again. “I like the color of your Barbie. She has shiny hair. You do too. Her skin reminds me of caramel candy. Mother never allows it, says it’s bad for my teeth.”

“Your mom’s a dentist?”

Nourah glanced at the still snoring frame huddled in the seat next to her.

“No. Mom’s just mom.”

“Mom was a painter. She painted landscapes. A big painting of Lake Superior hangs in her studio back home in Minnesota. She liked to paint birds and faces, and lakes.”

“Father says painting faces is Haram. We’re not allowed to…”

“I don’t like your father. I don’t like it here. I want to go home. Muslims are too strict, everything’s wrong, everything’s Haram. It’s a lot easier back home. Everyone should be like my mother.”

 

Nourah pushed back her drooping shoulders and looked out the window. Grownups scattered around the bus’s engine. “Did you know a window is called “La fenetre” we took that in French class.”

“I knew that when I was little. I don’t like French, but my dad, he’s a Pastor in our Church, he once said, eyes are windows to the soul.”

“My dad says evil Djin live in the eyes of Barbies and figurines and they are the window of evil, and that we should protect our souls and hearts for when the Antichrist comes.”

“The Antichrist will come at the end of times. Dad calls it the apocalypse. We’re not at the end of times, yet. Dad says there are signs. Some of them have happened, some not yet.”

“Father says we should be prepared, it could be anytime. Says the Antichrist will come and wash our brains, make us follow his evil, but Al Mahdi and Jesus peace be upon him will save us and kill him. He’s a one-eyed monster who doesn’t want us to believe in Allah, only in the one God who has no son and no wife, do we believe. Only Islam will prevail. My  father said so.”

“You are wrong!”

 

The loud snores cease, and both girls looked up. Nourah’s mother rubbed her eyes and yawned, oblivious to all there is, before going back to sleep.

“You are wrong,” Elizabeth whispered. Angry whispers. “Jesus is the son of God. Only Christianity will prevail when he kills the Antichrist.”

Elizabeth frowned swatted her hands through the parched air.

“Look, there’s a man.” Nourah bit her cracked lips.

 

A bearded man wearing the traditional white thawb Saudi men wore, walked in. He fetched something from the compartment not far from where Elizabeth was seated. His Kohl-rimmed eyes darted between the Barbie doll and Elizabeth. His large hands stroked his Henna-colored beard. His nostrils flared. He moistened his lips once, then twice, before finally leaving.

“He’s been staring at you throughout the whole ride. You better cover your hair. I think he likes it.”

“I’m not covering anything, it’s why we’re off to Jeddah. Dad says I can be free there. I’m sick of covering up. Seems he likes my Barbie too, just like you do.”

“Every girl should cover her hair. My father says so, my teacher said we should do it so that we can be ready when we face God in Judgment day.”

Elizabeth didn’t listen. She peered through the window at the Henna-bearded man.

“He makes me think of the word “hostage”. I heard that in the news. Do you think he has a gun? To kill us? Or maybe he’ll ask for a ransom?”

“What’s a ransom?”

“It’s money paid to free hostages.”

“What’s a hostage?”

“People held prisoner.”

 

The man came back. Both girls buckled in their seats, scared. He fetched something else from a backpack in the front row before he left.

Both girls followed the squeak of his sandals as he left, their eyes stalking his moves, watching him mingle with the crowd outside.

“Is he coming back?”

“They’re all coming back.”

“Perhaps the world ends now and he’s the Antichrist?”

“Maybe.”

 

 

 

 

 

Riham Adly

Riham Adly is a creative writing instructor from Gizah, Egypt with several short stories published in online lit magazines such as Page&Spine, The 10 minutes Novelist, Paragraph Planet, Visual Verse, Fictional café, and The HFC Journal. Her short story “The Darker Side of the Moon” won the Makan Award in Egypt and was published in an anthology with the same name. Her stories appeared in Centum Press 1000 voices anthology volume 2 and volume 3. Riham currently hosts her own book club “Rose’s Cairo Book Club” in the American University in Cairo for those few –but existing- bibliophiles.

Twitter: @RoseInink

FB Author page: https://www.facebook.com/roseinink/

Website: www.rihamadly.com

E-mail: Roseinink@gmail.com

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