Short Stories By Gary J Byrnes
9/11 Trilogy - First published in 2011 by Gary J Byrnes on Smashwords.
Copyright 2011 © Gary J Byrnes.
The right of Gary J Byrnes to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright & Related Rights Act, 2000. All rights reserved.
In this work of fiction, the characters, places and events are either the product of the author's imagination or they are used entirely fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
This ebook is freely distributed for your personal enjoyment. This ebook may not be re-sold but may be given away freely to other people as long is it is not edited in any way. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Novels by Gary J Byrnes, in print and ebook formats, available from all good online retailers.
Dedicated to all the innocents who lost their lives in the terrorist atrocities of 11th of September 2001 and in the ensuing conflicts.
1. THE GARDEN AT THE INN
"A similitude of the Garden which is promised unto those who keep their duty to Allah: Underneath it rivers flow; its food is everlasting, and its shade; this is the reward of those who keep their duty, while the reward of disbelievers is the Fire."
- The Glorious Koran. Surah 13. Ar-Rad, The Thunder. V 35.
I was face down in a smoking crater, my hands pressed to my ears, while fire and rage rained down all around me. Thundering shock waves shook my bones. A deafening roar came closer and I peered out of my hole to look for the source of the noise. No more than twenty metres away, a Soviet Hind helicopter gunship screamed past, sweeping the ground with its nose-mounted cannon which lashed fire all around the plain. Was I in hell?
I peered in the direction from which the gunship had come. Another helicopter approached, this time firing its unguided rockets in a pattern that mercifully stopped short of my hiding place. On the road ahead were two Soviet tanks, two armoured personnel carriers and some trucks. Flames licked the tanks and APCs. Bodies were scattered on the ground all about, some on fire. A few Russian soldiers were still alive, firing wildly at a position off to my left where the Hind was also concentrating its attention. Dusk was falling in the valley that stretched beyond.
Both helicopters circled round to bring their armaments to bear on what I knew must be the position taken by my comrades. I had lost my AK during the ambush, after the helicopters surprised us; my mind was disorientated from the explosive concussions and my eyes and ears were bleeding. A picture came to my mind of an anti-aircraft missile. I remembered that I had been carrying a Stinger on my back when we ambushed the Russian armoured patrol. Then I knew that I was in Afghanistan and we were winning a war against one of the world's Godless superpowers.
I carefully crept forward out of my hole and began feeling the ground in the gathering gloom. Smoke from the destroyed vehicles was burning my eyes and adding its stinking blackness to the approaching nightfall. I knew that time was short for the helicopters, which did not have night-flying capabilities. A dull glint caught my eye. I crawled a short distance on my stomach. It was my Stinger round, a launch tube with a missile inside. To make it operable, I had to find the separate grip stock and a battery coolant unit. I saw a body a few metres from me. It was my Stinger team colleague. His head had been blown off by the helicopter. He was just seventeen years old. I would mourn him later.
He had carried the grip stock and three batteries in a backpack and, fortunately, they were undamaged. I had been well-trained in using the Stinger and within seconds I had fitted the grip to the launch tube and attached a heavy cylindrical battery. The battery coolant unit is vital as it supplies power to the missile until it launches and also supplies argon gas to cool the heat detector in the missile's nose. So my weapon was ready for firing. The first Hind had completed its circuit and was now coming straight for me. Its cannon blazed and rockets leapt from its wing pylons, turning the ground around me to smoking ruin. Shrapnel and rocks flew at me and I felt pain lash my body. Though my body pulsed with adrenalin and fear, I was ready to die as a martyr, fighting in the name of Allah. This readiness gave me a great elation deep inside. If this helicopter killed me, I would go directly to heaven, where Allah would meet me and give me eternal life and happiness. Only later would I come to appreciate how much of an advantage this gave us over our foes. Heaven for us was guaranteed, but the Christians and Jews were unsure whether they would go to hell or to their heaven. Truly a man must fear death if eternal damnation might await him? But I would not let this helicopter kill me. I was determined to destroy it and save my comrades.