WritersBeat.com
 

Go Back   WritersBeat.com > Write Here > Fiction

Fiction Novel excerpts, short stories, etc.


Expat Chapter 18, 19, 20, 21 - 2,853 words

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 07-31-2006, 04:39 AM
gary_wagner
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Expat Chapter 18, 19, 20, 21 - 2,853 words


Chapter 18


August 18, 1990 - Saudi Secret Facility

Jeffery was sitting at his desk correcting a draft of a design document that Rajiv had typed for him. He tossed his pencil down and pushed the papers aside. He hadn't hand written documents to be typed by a secretary in years. He was used to doing his own typing on a PC using a word processing program. He was frustrated by having to take a step backwards in technology.

Mubarak had told him to order whatever he needed and it would be promptly supplied. The first thing that Jeffery had put down was a decent PC and printer for his office. The trouble was that Mubarak was gone for the last two weeks. Since he had arrived here, Jeffery had seen his manager for a total of fifteen minutes on his first day and not since. Nothing could be purchased for the office without his signature so Jeffery was trying to make do with a pad and pencil in the meantime.

He looked out his office door where according to the clock on the wall, he saw that it was 9:25. He was still absent-mindedly staring at it when Mubarak walked into the office area from the hall. Jeffery breathed a sigh of relief, hopeful that maybe things would get rolling now. Mubarak came directly to Jeffery's office. They greeted, shook hands, and Mubarak asked Jeffery to come to his office in fifteen minutes.

When Jeffery went into Mubarak's office, Mubarak called out "Rajiv, bring tea."

Jeffery sat in the chair in front of Mubarak's desk and asked, "Did you get your family to Seattle O.K.?"

Mubarak replied, "Yes, thanks. They're all settled in. I stayed a while to arrange for an apartment and make sure they got moved in all right. They were worried about me coming back here, but what can I do? I have a job to do here. How have things been going here while I was gone?"

Jeffery said, "It's been strange. They just lifted the class two emergency last Tuesday. We're under a class four alert now. Not much work has taken place because all of the files and things weren't brought back until Wednesday. Letís see, oh the facility was surrounded by troops a couple of days after you left. They had machine gun nests, heavy artillery, and I think they may even have had anti aircraft guns out there. From what I could see from in here, it looks like there were a couple thousand soldiers surrounding the perimeter fence. They all disappeared when the class two emergency was lifted. I hope you can tell me what's been going on out there. No one knows anything in here. We don't get any news. What's going on with Iraq?"

Mubarak said, "None of the other Saudis have filled anyone in? It's the only thing in the papers and on the news right now."

Jeffery shook his head. "You're the first one back. We have had no newspapers, no radios, and no news of any kind. My guess is right now that there's probably a crowd of secretary's and clerks outside your office door desperate to get some news. The speculation has gotten ridiculous."

Mubarak leaned his chair back. Rajiv knocked on the door and brought in a tray with two cups of tea on it. Mubarak said, "Rajiv, are there people gathering out there to find out what's going on?" Rajiv nodded yes. Mubarak continued, "Then get your tablet and take notes while I tell what I know. We'll put together a memo in a while and circulate it. While you're out there, tell them to go back to work. They find out soon enough."

Rajiv returned a minute later with a dictation pad and pencil. He sat in the chair beside Jeffery. Mubarak started, "I'll start from the beginning and relay as much as I know. Iraq invaded Kuwait. The first couple of days they promised to pull out. They even showed scenes of the withdrawal, but it was a lie. They started massing troops on the Saudi border and it looked like they might sweep down here into Saudi Arabia, until the Americans showed up."

Jeffery interrupted, "Americans showed up? Are there American troops here?"

Mubarak continued, "Yes, President Bush started sending in troops after King Fahad asked for his help. Bush said that he was drawing a 'Line in the Sand' and that Iraq dare not cross over it. They're calling this 'Operation Desert Shield'. The American troops have been streaming in non stop for the last week or so. Military camps are starting to pop up all the way from here to Dhahran. Ships are on their way bringing tanks and heavy artillery. I think that this is just a show of strength. Saddam Hussein will have to back down. He's not foolish enough to think that he can take on the Americans and the allies."

Jeffery interjected, "Who is Saddam Hussein and what do you mean allies? It sounds like something out of World War Two."

Mubarak said, "You don't know who Saddam Hussein is? He is the president of Iraq. Well, actually he is the dictator. The U.N. has passed resolutions demanding that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait. So far, the U.S., Britain, France, Egypt, Syria, and a few other countries have agreed to send troops to defend the gulf region. And, that's basically it. I think that in a few weeks time this will all blow over. It was a little scare but nothing will come out of it."

Jeffery asked, "So we're not in any danger here? We're not going to be in the middle of a war or anything?"

Mubarak said, "Do you think I would come back here if I thought a war was going to start? No, there's no danger. Inshallah this situation will pass peacefully. Maffi moushkela."


Chapter 19


Journal of Jeffery Briggs

Saturday August 18, 1992





It looks like there was a big worry about nothing with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Mubarak seems to think that after some military muscle flexing, everybody will go home and things will return to normal. Normal? What is normal here? I wanted to talk to Mubarak about getting out of my contract and going home but he was on the phone all day. Tomorrow is definitely resignation day. With any luck, maybe I'll be home by the end of the week.


Chapter 20


August 19, 1990 - Saudi Secret Facility

Jeffery sat anxiously at his desk until 10:00 am. Mubarak had arrived about a half hour earlier and Jeffery wanted him to have time to have his tea and read the paper before he went to talk to him. He had laid awake most of the night worrying about how to handle it. He took a deep breath and went to Mubarak's office. When he entered, Mubarak put down the paper and called out for Rajiv to bring tea.

While they drank their tea, Mubarak filled him in on what the paper said about the further buildup of troops in the region and what all was occurring. Mubarak seemed very complacent about it, but it still made Jeffery very uncomfortable. It didn't help Jeffery's comfort level when Mubarak also told him that living areas were being prepared in the underground vault area for all of the Saudi managers and the special security force. It sounded like the Saudis were going to be living in hardened concrete bunkers while the others waited out the conflict on the surface.

Jeffery tried to put those thoughts aside and began with the topic he had come in here to discuss, "I know I've only been here a few weeks now, but I have to ask you what it would take for me to terminate my contract and go home."

Mubarak sat back and lit a cigarette. He crossed his hands over his stomach and leaned back in his chair. He blew out a thick cloud of smoke and said, "Actually, Jeffery, I knew we would have this conversation eventually. It came a little sooner than I expected but I suspect that this business with Iraq may have speeded it up. Before I get started, let me warn you in advance that what I have to tell you will not be pleasant for either you or me. First, a little background. You are an intelligent man and I'm sure that you have discovered by now what the purpose of this facility is. I don't think I have to say anything on that. I'm sure that this discovery is one of the reasons you would like to leave here just as soon as possible. I'm also aware of the promises you were probably given in your job interview with Abdullah. He is a very... let us say... enthusiastic man and to say that he tends to exaggerate is a gross understatement. By the time he was done talking, I'm sure that you were expecting to come to a luxury paradise in the desert and work in plush offices for a tremendous amount of money. You have probably heard about the pay system for the expats and are upset that you receive no money until you complete your two year contract. Am I wrong about any of these things so far?"

Jeffery shook his head. Mubarak continued, "While I don't like the false pretenses that expats are brought here under, I'm afraid that I'm powerless to do anything about it. You were specifically selected out of hundreds of applicants, not only because of your technical qualifications, but also because of your personal status. You have no living close relatives. You are single and are not involved with any woman. You have no close friends. You do not own a home, you rented your furniture, and don't even have a pet. In short, you are a loner with almost no compelling ties to the U.S. You look surprised that I know all of this. I received a copy of your background check and it was very thorough. You fit the profile of a man that could tolerate two years of isolation here. That's why you specifically were approached and hired."

Mubarak stubbed out his cigarette, lit another and continued, "You must be aware of the need for absolute secrecy about this facility. Because of that, you already know too much about what we are doing here to be allowed to leave. I have to tell you that you will not be able to leave here until this facility is made public knowledge. The plan is that when the facility is fully operational, it will be announced to the world. By that time, there will be no way to destroy it."

Jeffery stared at Mubarak for several moments and said, "I hope that you're joking and we can both start laughing, because I can't believe you're serious. Come on, tell me it's a joke." Jeffery smiled and looked at Mubarak. When he saw that Mubarak looked dead serious, his smiled turned into a look of dread.

Jeffery stood up quickly and began pacing as talked, "Oh my God, you're serious. I thought it might take me a while to get out of my contract, but you're telling me there is no way out. You say that I'll be allowed to leave when this place is operational but when is that going to be? Six months, a year, two years, ten years? Oh, this is unreal. This is a nightmare."

Jeffery stopped pacing and stared at Mubarak. He then said, "Aren't you going to say anything? You're telling me that there's nothing I can do about this?"

Mubarak said, "You have a right to be angry. It will take you a while to get over that anger. But, no there is nothing you can do about it but learn to accept it."

"You're damn right, I'm angry. I'm an American citizen and I don't have to accept such bullshit. You can't hold me here against my will. I'll contact the state department or someone and they'll get me out of this."

Mubarak got up and walked quickly over to his office door. He opened it slightly and looked out. He shut the door quietly, turned to Jeffery and said, "Please, I know you need to vent your anger, but keep your voice down. The other managers in this complex are not as tolerant as I am. Don't ever say what you just said to me to anyone else. Don't ever threaten to contact the state department or any other authority. The people in charge of security here do not take things like that lightly. They are not people you want to mess with. You will have to accept the situation here and make the best of it."

Jeffery sat back down in the seat and stared at Mubarak with rage seething in his eyes. Mubarak didn't notice the cigarette smoldering in the ash tray and lit another. He said, "I'm going to have Rajiv drive you back to your apartment. You need to calm your anger and you can't afford to do it in the office. And, please don't think I'm threatening you when I tell you not to try anything rash. You need to know that those guards out there have real guns and real bullets. They will shoot anyone trying to leave without proper clearance. Stay away from the fences because they are electrified and touching them will kill you."

Mubarak took a long drag and talked through smoke, "You've never been overseas before so you might not understand that even if you did get out of this facility, you can't just go wandering around the country and leave when you want to. You don't have an iquama - which is your residence and identification papers. You have no travel authorization papers. Your passport is being held in Riyadh and even if you did have it, you can't leave any Saudi border without a valid exit visa in it. You can only get that visa if your employer agrees to it. What I'm trying to say is, even if you managed to get out of the compound, walk miles through the desert to the nearest road, get past the dozens of checkpoints where the guards check for valid paperwork, and made it to the airport, you couldn't possibly get on a plane. I'm telling you this so that you won't even think of trying something like that. You simply would never make it."

Jeffery stopped his pacing and sat in the chair again. Mubarak lit another cigarette, leaving two smoldering in the cut crystal ashtray.

Jeffery took a deep breath and said, "I'm a prisoner here. That's what you're saying aren't you? That I'm a prisoner here? I'm being held hostage?"

"I wouldn't call you a prisoner or a hostage. I guess I could borrow a phrase from Saddam Hussein and call you a guest worker."

There was an uncomfortable silence. Mubarak said, "Just go back to your apartment and try to cool off and think rationally. You come back to work when you can be calm. If you need a day or two - take it, I'll fix your time card. I know this is no consolation to you right now, but I don't like they way they brought you in under false pretenses."

Rajiv drove Jeffery back to the expat house in total silence. Rajiv had heard the entire conversation through the office wall but had nothing to say to Jeffery. Jeffery's anger was beginning to turn to depression by the time he got out of the car and Rajiv drove off.

Carletta was mopping the sitting room as Jeffery walked through. She smiled at him at first but saw the look on his face and looked down at her mopping. He walked past without acknowledging her presence. He went back to his room, shut the door, and lay down on the bed. His mind was reeling. He didn't know whether to scream, run for the main gate and make a break for it, or just lay there and cry. He did none of them. He lay motionless for over twenty minutes, thinking; then wishing he would quit thinking so much.


Chapter 21



The Journal of Jeffery Briggs

Sunday August 19, 1990





I'm not sure just what to write. I don't know what I'm feeling yet other than utter despair. I'm trapped here for at least the next two years. I came here intending to stay for the two years but when I'm no longer offered any choice in the matter, it seems like an eternity ahead of me. There is literally no way out of here. Alcatraz never had security like this place. Am I a prisoner? No, according to Mubarak I am a guest worker. What a crock of shit! What if they never get this place operational? What if they do? What if the Israelis discover this place? What if the Iraqis invade? What? What? What? and Why? Why? Why?


Last edited by gary_wagner; 07-31-2006 at 12:19 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 07-31-2006, 09:36 AM
lucyj's Avatar
lucyj (Offline)
I Am My Own Master
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Manchester, the rainiest city in the UK
Posts: 97
Thanks: 0
Thanks 0
Default

Hey,

'He stared at it for a few moments when Mubarak walked into the office area from the hall.' - This makes it sound like the staring is simultaneous with Mubarak's entrance. I'd suggest a slight re-word, to the tune that 'he had been staring at it... , when Mubarak walked in...' / 'he was (still) staring at it when Mubarak walked in...' / 'he stared at it for a few moments before Mubarak walked in...' Again, personal thing.

'Letís see, oh yeah, the facility was surrounded by troops a couple of days after you left' - that sounds a very casual way of introducing this information. Unless he's being sarcastic?

'It sounded like the Saudi's were going to be living in hardened concrete bunkers' - nit-picking, no apostrophe.

"You've never been overseas before so I'm sure you don't understand that even...' - I can't help feeling that he'd say 'perhaps' there. People say 'I'm sure you understand...', but they don't tend to say 'I'm sure you don't understand...', even when they know perfectly well that you don't. Just because it doesn't sound polite. Though I realise that with 'perhaps' it starts to sound rather like a gangster film.

enjoy!
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-31-2006, 11:50 AM
gary_wagner
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Originally Posted by lucyj
Hey,
Hey back.

'He stared at it for a few moments when Mubarak walked into the office area from the hall.' - This makes it sound like the staring is simultaneous with Mubarak's entrance. I'd suggest a slight re-word, to the tune that 'he had been staring at it... , when Mubarak walked in...' / 'he was (still) staring at it when Mubarak walked in...' / 'he stared at it for a few moments before Mubarak walked in...' Again, personal thing.
Ahh, that runaway past tense edit again. I really over did it in a few places, like this one. I can fix this so it sounds better.

'Letís see, oh yeah, the facility was surrounded by troops a couple of days after you left' - that sounds a very casual way of introducing this information. Unless he's being sarcastic?
Not necessarily sarcastic. I was trying to make him sound like he was forcing non-chalance. You're right though, he has only talked to his boss for a few minutes total and this level of informality and casual conversation is probably not ready yet. I'm going to drop the "yeah" but keep the "oh" because I think it sounds like normal conversation for me - especially if he is trying to recall the events over the past two weeks.

'It sounded like the Saudi's were going to be living in hardened concrete bunkers' - nit-picking, no apostrophe.
I get caught up in doing that a lot. Thanks.

"You've never been overseas before so I'm sure you don't understand that even...' - I can't help feeling that he'd say 'perhaps' there. People say 'I'm sure you understand...', but they don't tend to say 'I'm sure you don't understand...', even when they know perfectly well that you don't. Just because it doesn't sound polite. Though I realise that with 'perhaps' it starts to sound rather like a gangster film.
Perhaps sounds a little "uppity" to me. I can rework this but I'll have to think about the word perhaps. It is typically used in very formal language here and I'm not sure I want to give Mubarak that tone. It's just not a word that people here would use often in conversational language. Ahh, what do you expect from the colonists, huh?

enjoy!

I greatly enjoy your comments and help. I keep trying to give you reputation points but it tells me to spread it around to other people first.
BTW - when are you going to post some more of your story?
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-31-2006, 02:12 PM
lucyj's Avatar
lucyj (Offline)
I Am My Own Master
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Manchester, the rainiest city in the UK
Posts: 97
Thanks: 0
Thanks 0
Default

It's just not a word that people here would use often in conversational language. Ahh, what do you expect from the colonists, huh? - Fair play, I'd be the first to admit I know nothing about how an American would use language - but I'm learning!

'BTW - when are you going to post some more of your story?' - I did, I think it's sliding gently down page 2 of the Fiction pages... ;(

I'm always glad to be of help, after all, you're saving me a trip to the bookshop.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-31-2006, 03:08 PM
gary_wagner
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Originally Posted by LucyJ
I did, I think it's sliding gently down page 2 of the Fiction pages... ;(
I don't know how it snuck past me but I'll look it over right now.
Reply With Quote
Reply

  WritersBeat.com > Write Here > Fiction


Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Creep World (WIP) MalReynolds Fiction 21 09-07-2017 06:06 AM
Expat Chapters 52 - 61 (2,948 words) gary_wagner Fiction 2 09-25-2006 10:26 AM
Expat Chapter 49, 50, 51 (3,038 words) gary_wagner Fiction 2 09-12-2006 07:02 AM
Expat Chapter 9 (part 1) - 2,514 words gary_wagner Fiction 5 07-27-2006 03:58 PM
Expat Chapter 3 (part 1) 2785 words gary_wagner Fiction 6 07-24-2006 06:55 AM


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:25 AM.

vBulletin, Copyright © 2000-2006, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.