Friday, April 4, 2008

Powder Burn Flash # 75 - William Brazill

Taking Back the Night

“Foreign Legion,” she thought as she saw the four young men approaching on the dusk-dimmed street.

They were dressed in civilian clothes but she could easily identify them. Their close-cropped hair, their forearms muscled, developed, carrying the intimation of power unchecked and intimidating. But more. They wore their clothes awkwardly, as if being used to uniforms made them uneasy in anything else, men in disguise, animals wearing borrowed skins that did not alter their identity. There was the almost-strut, straight-backed, as if the parade ground were the natural environment and its step the natural gait, a stride meant to signal ownership, this place is ours. And the smirking way they leered at women, their military status awarding them the entitlement to see any female as an object of use and abuse, as if there were no more to a female than her anatomy, the contours of her body meant for the pleasure of their explorations.

Still, as they maneuvered the street, their eyes were watchful, distrustful, ever-scanning, as if they sensed they were in a world that could suddenly dissolve into chaos, into something incomprehensible and menacing. Fear, she suddenly understood, underlay their arrogance.

She slowed her walk, aware that, sloe-eyed and high-cheekboned, her skin toned the color of rich mocha, she cast an aura of exotic sensuality that readily ensnared European men.

She turned her back to them, sensing their eyes scanning her body and measuring her supple movements as they imagined the lithe body draped inside the sensuously swaying folds of silk. One of them shouted at her in words that she could not comprehend, in a language she did not know. But they did not speak to one another, only making sounds, grunts, as if lust had reduced them to the primitive level of pre-speech, as if words were too complex, too civilized to express the throb of what they felt.

She walked slowly, confident that they would follow. With the lapse of each minute they surrendered more and more of their wariness, their helpless attraction to her became a depth that swallowed their minds and wills. Her barefoot steps took her along the street, down alleys, into shuttered walkways, through one turn after another, leading them into the serpentine labyrinth of the Quartier Bouna, where the indigenous population, the natives, lived. They followed, propelled by visions of the night of savage sex that awaited them. The air changed, new scents that stimulated their imaginations, shadows darkening into blackness, unfamiliar sounds that diminished finally into a silence that wariness should have identified as a warning.

Her pace lessened slightly as she passed through a gateway into a courtyard. The four followed, the closeness of lust-to-be-fulfilled dulling all their instincts and training. As she passed through the gate on the far end of the courtyard, she heard new sounds behind her, bodies colliding, struggle, muted cries, the distinctive sounds of violence committed with a lethality meant to be delivered with little noise. Then the suddenness of total silence.

She continued. Her pace now became a stride, the parade step of conquest. Her mind raced not in thoughts but in slogans: “Four more victims! Another victory of the Armed Front for National Liberation in its struggle for independence! Ownership of our country being re-established!” Slogans were now her language.

She made her way back to the square in the central city, knowing that other victims awaited and the night offered unlimited opportunities to be taken back.

BIO: William Brazill lives and writes fiction on the banks of the Potomac River in Virginia. His most recent stories have been published in LitBits, Amsterdam Scriptum, Electric Acorn, and Long Story Short.

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