Chapter 20

Annie thought quickly, carefully analyzing all the possibilities.

First, she had to be able to know how many men were and what kind of weapons they had. Then she had to be able to break free, but it seemed much easier to do everything else. If she did, she later thought to rest.

"One thing at a time," she said to herself. She watched carefully the ropes and chains with which she was linked. The brooch that she had under her robe could probably serve her. Khennuj had taught her how to hide among the folds of the robe brooches and hairpins because "you never know, they could always serve."

"Dear Khennuj, because you were right." Annie thought. She just had to wait for the right moment to break free. The strings would then serve possibly to tie men who had kidnapped her.

Now she had to think about how to know how many men were in the building. Shortly after, one of them came in carrying a plate of food; he lifted her up, drew a chair up to the table and put down the dish because the girl could eat.

"Eat and be satisfied, because you will see nothing else until tomorrow," he said.

Annie ate quietly, trying to observe the man unnoticed. He walked nervously back and forth in the room, constantly checked his watch and had appeared at the window at least three times.

"He's nervous, perhaps are waiting for someone. This could make matters worse." thought Annie. She had to act quickly. She looked at the man earnestly.

"What are you looking at?" He asked. Annie made him understand that she was thirsty and she needed the bathroom. The man left and returned a few minutes later with one of his companions, this time they were both armed. The untied her and took her out of the building. Annie kept her head down, trying not to attract attention: they had not put the cap and this would allow her to closely observe the situation around, but if you were aware of this lack ...

The building in which they had locked her up was made of clay bricks and stones. Around it, there were at least four other buildings, behind one of which she saw the van. It was the only vehicle, then they had to be reached with that. Not far from the buildings there was a tower in the middle of a square and everything was surrounded by walls. Trying to keep lowest possible her head, Annie memorized everything she saw. Then her gaze was attracted by a quite imposing building that resembled her a fortress. They went into another building, in which they allowed her to satisfy his bodily needs, then gave her something to drink and took her back to the room that was her cell.

In a short way, she had not noticed other men in addition to the three who she had already seen. They had Kalashnikovs slung and their face covered with a veil wrapped around their head like a tagelmust, the typical veil of the Berbers.

"Well, two of them are Yebraim and Mebruk." she thought. She was almost certain the third man was a French because he spoke the language perfectly. But also he spoke very well Berber. She would think about him calmly. Now she had to focus on the two brothers. Yebraim seemed her more fragile and vulnerable, she had to work on him. Perhaps if she had persuaded him to release her... This meant, however, she had to reveal him that she was not dumb. And if she was wrong about him? No, she could not be mistaken: his eyes more than once had revealed his state of mind before her. She had seemed to sense his disagreement with his brother on several occasions in the Taoudenni's oasis. She had to make sure it was really so.

Both brothers went in the room where she was bound. Mebruk went in first, Yebraim was behind him. The Mebruk's gaze was mocking, Yebraim's one was worried and at the same time grim.

"Well, my girl." said Mebruk "Let's see if you really are dumb". He removed the veil from his face, he headed toward her, untied from the wall and threw her forcefully on the pillows. Annie looked at him very frightened. Mebruk took off the robe and remained shirtless. In his eyes, Annie saw cruelty and lust. And she was afraid.

"Get ready, floret. Now you'll know a real man." said Mebruk, leaving it clear to her what his intentions were. He ripped her robe, then blocked her to the ground going up astride on her thighs. With one hand blocked her wrists tied above her head and the with the other hand he finished to rip off her clothes. Then he loosened his trouser waistband and he lowered his pants to mid-thigh. He opened her legs and his fingers began to touch her and penetrate her intimately. Annie tried to free herself, but the man's weight on her body made any movement very difficult. Annie did not let out a groan.

"Floret, you'll see that I'll make you talk ... you scream for pleasure." grinned Mebruk burying his face in her long hair.

Annie looked at Yebraim with eyes full of tears. He remained near the door, motionless, with eyes full of disgust and hatred for his brother.

Mebruk slightly up his loins, preparing to penetrate into her. Annie waited for the inevitable, continuing to wriggle as she could. She was about to close her eyes when she saw a flash of movement in the room. She felt suddenly to flood the face and chest by a warm, sticky liquid. She opened her eyes and what she saw horrified her. Yebraim had slit the throat of his brother and his blood poured over her profusely.

Yebraim shifted his brother's body from Annie, held out his hand to help her up, held out her tunic because she would cover and motioned for her to follow him. Annie knew she had been right, she could trust him.

They left the building and quickly made their way into the one next, where they had already been brought earlier.

"Here you can wash. There is a tub with water. Not much, I'm sorry." Yebraim looked down. "I'll leave you alone if you need help, I am out there."

"Thanks." said Annie to him. Yebraim stared at her open-mouthed in surprise, then smiled.

"so Mebruk was right. You can speak."

"Yes."

"I'm sorry for what he did to you. I never approved of his ways."

Annie nodded. "You killed him to save me. Why?"

"If I had just turned him from you, he would kill him. You do not know what he can be capable of when he is in that state. " His voice was deep and sad. He had seen before his brother raping girls, in those moments he was really a fury. He had even tried to stop him, but he realized that it could be more harmful than letting him do. When he felt that uncontrollable impulse, he could not reason with him, it was as if he was under the influence of any drugs or possessed by some kind of demon.

Annie nodded in thanks, then he headed to the bath and washed and she seemed to be reborn. Yebraim returned, handed her a towel to dry and gave her the clothes he had gone to pick up where Mebruk ripped them to her.

"Can you fix them?" He asked gently.

"Yup. Khennuj taught me how to use brooches and hairpins."

"Good. We'll have to get out of here as soon as possible, tomorrow morning."

They left the building and walked to the van. The bright colors of the sunset tinged the sky with shades of orange to increasingly intense purple. In a few minutes, it would be dark.

"We'll sleep in the van." said Yebraim.

"Where are we?" Asked Annie.

"In the salt mine of Taghaza, about 95 miles northwest of Taoudenni. Now it is an oasis. It's been abandoned for many years; tourists sometimes come to visit, but not at this time."

"Where are we going to go?"

"We'd have to get our comrades to Sijilmasa, in Morocco, in the coming days. Now we will have to consider very well the way to go. I will have you back to Taoudenni, to your countrymen."

"I heard that they detonated the oasis."

"Yup. My parents are still alive, I hope your American friends are too. And I hope even Ghumer and his family are still alive. They have always been very good to me, ever since I was a child."

"Why did you save me?"

"What do you mean?" Yebraim stared.

"You could just leave the room and go, you could ignore what your brother was doing, but you didn't. Why?"

"I could not just pretend nothing happened. My father perhaps will never forgive me."

"You have not answered my question." Annie said. They looked each other in the eyes for a long time, then Yebraim looked away.

"In the back of the van, there are a couple of blankets and pillows. You can sleep there. I will stay here, so as soon the day breaks, we leave. If you sleep, I do not wake you up."

Annie thanked him again, then she went to the back of the van and prepared for the night. In her mind, she still had the look of Yebraim, a look that told her more than many words. Realized she could trust him, she could get help. And she also realized that he would defend her if need be. But more than anything she understood why he would help her. Yebraim was in love with her and, if on one hand, this flattered her, on the another hand, she was sorry. She could never reciprocate this feeling except with gratitude, but nothing more.

She was walking, side by side with someone; there were many bicycles around them as they crossed a bridge over a canal. Then she recognized the voice of the person who was with her, that warm, deep voice. They had to be on a mission.

"You got quiet all of a sudden."

"I know I just want this to work."

"It will. I had a Sergeant in basic training, mean son-of-a-bitch, but he taught us one thing that really stuck with me. Going into battle is like blowin' out a birthday candle."

"Okay, that doesn't help me because I have no idea what it means."

"It means, don't over think it, put all the noisy thoughts out of your head, close your eyes, and think about one positive thing that you want. Or one thing ya love."


Please, forgive me if my English is not so good, I'm not a native Language.
If you find some mistakes, please lemme know. Thanks in advance for all your help and support. And, as my friend Mandi used to say, "Just like you'd clap or boo for the concert, please review my writing as you read it. I really NEED to hear from you. Each review is like a piece of chocolate rewarded to my for my hard work. Do you think I deserve that reward?"