The Pirates of Aden
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by Daniel Rasic
Description: Dr. Paul Alban has tried hard to forget. He's managed to carve out a quiet and relatively anonymous existence with his girlfriend Ellen while working as a physician in Somalia. But when a Somali pirate is injured during the hijacking of a cargo ship and brought to his clinic for treatment in the coastal town of Bosasso, the demons of his past threaten to destroy the future he's trying to protect.
eBook Publisher: Wings ePress, Inc., 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: April 2011
8 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [463 KB]
Reading time: 299-419 min.
A white van with tinted windows idled in front of the house. Two men in military fatigues with scarves wrapped over their faces holding assault rifles snapped the chain on his front gates with bolt cutters and burst through. Another masked gunman emerged from the van and the three ran onto the property and scattered with purpose. Two of them went to the lower floor and one went up the side stairs to the second floor. Paul could hear the gunman's steps approaching the front door.
He didn't know why gunmen were invading his home, but he recognized them. The black-checkered pattern on the white base of their scarves helped to identify them but something a man he had treated for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound had told him settled it. The man was a bodyguard for a prominent judge and the two were entering the courtroom when a truck with three gunmen opened fire on them, killing the judge and wounding the guard. He said they were from the Asabiyyah Resistance, a newly formed secular terrorist group (or freedom fighters, depending on one's perspective) responsible for a number of attacks in the Puntland. The next morning, Paul had seen a blurred photo of the gunman spraying bullets at the courthouse on the front page of the newspaper and saw the distinctive pattern on their scarves. The article had said that the group's mission was to stop what it felt was Western influence in the government. What wasn't clear to Paul was why they were now on his doorstep.
Paul slid down under the windowsill, and out of sight. He wasn't sure if they had spotted him. His hand fell on the glass, gashing part of his palm open. He rubbed the blood on his pants and crawled on his elbows along the floor around the bed to the nightstand. He crouched with his back to the bed and then turned his head slowly, looking just over the mattress towards the open door. He had at most a few seconds before the man was in the room. Paul slid the drawer of the nightstand open, and felt around the bottom. He pulled a dusty seven-chambered revolver from inside, and felt blindly around the bottom with his fingers, looking for the cartridges that he heard rolling along the bottom of the drawer. His fingers found two cold cylindrical cartridges and he clenched them between his sweaty, trembling fingers. He had fired a gun a half dozen times in his life and it taught him that he was a lousy shot. His medical training had not prepared him for a standoff.
The gunman's heavy footsteps approached the bedroom. Paul's hand shook and he fumbled sliding the rounds into the revolver. One of the bullets slipped out of his hand and rolled along the floor and under the bed. He managed to slide one into the chamber and shut the revolver.
The gunman was at the door. Paul held his breath, and slowly lowered himself prone onto the ground, hearing the bones in his wrists crack a bit. All he saw through the six-inch space between the bed frame and the floor were the gunman's scuffed black boots. The gunman stood momentarily at the door and then stepped into the room and walked along the edge of the bed opposite Paul. Whatever else might happen, Paul knew that once the gunman's feet rounded the corner of the bed and walked towards him, it would be too late. If his one bullet was to have a chance against the assault rifle in the gunman's hands, he had to strike first. He never took his eyes away from the man's scuffed, dusty boots. His finger tensed around the trigger.
Then, the gunman's feet turned away from Paul and towards the bathroom, so that Paul could see his heels. The gunman's back was turned, not five feet away. Paul pushed off his fingertips and in one fluid motion pointed the gun at the back of the gunman's head where he expected to see a dot of red enlarge along the white and black-checkered scarf.
The gunman swiveled around and pointed the assault rifle at Paul. The surprise that Paul had expected to see in the eyes of a man who had just survived a round of Russian roulette was absent. The gunman's eyes were steady.
"Put your gun down."
Paul tossed the revolver.
"Hands up high."
Paul stretched his arm up.
The gunman walked over to the bedroom window and yelled something in Arabic out the window. The two other gunmen, who were nowhere near as calm as the first, ran into the bedroom within seconds and yelled at Paul to get on the floor.
"I don't know what you want, but I think you've got the wrong guy."
"Doctor Paul Alban?" one of them said.
"You are the right man."
There was no answer. The men were busy tying his hands tightly behind him with nylon rope that burned his wrists. It happened quickly, and now they spoke at him from behind.
"If you want money, I'll get it for you. How much am I worth?"
"We don't want money."
"What is this?"
"We're taking you in for questioning."
"What? Why? For what?"
And before Paul could say anything more, a dark hood was placed on his head and he was led out of the house.