Tehran's Old Ghosts

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Tehran's Old Ghosts

A short story set during the Iranian Revolution in 1978. Eight westerners find themselves trapped in their hotel. Little do they realise that the trouble on the streets is the least of their problems. A far older danger has been awakened by the death and violence.

Word count 15,400 Or about 52 novel length pages.

(Part 1)

                                                                  Π

Late August nineteen seventy eight, in Tehran and the temperature was just beginning to nudge above ninety degrees in the shade. The hotel was air conditioned of course, but most of the sites he had to visit, were just shells of buildings still under construction. They might never be completed of course, if the current troubles in Iran didn't settle down.

"I told everyone this crap would happen." Said Kris.

Harrison H Thistle had only ever had drivers and a company car before; the armed bodyguard was relatively new. There had been some large demonstrations against the government in May, with a few threats made against foreign companies. The result had been Kris, a personal bodyguard with a South African accent. Having someone with him all day was still a novelty, so Harrison tolerated the regular rants about what was wrong with the world in general and Iran in particular. In truth, he was also a little scared of Kris.

"It's him of course, the Ayatollah Khomeini." Said Kris. "Nice as pie when all the journalists go to see him, butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. That old man is pulling the strings though, stirring things up against the Shah."

Harrison felt sorry for his driver, even though he didn't recognise him. He was a young man, probably with a family relying on his wages. The man might agree with Kris, or be one of the young who looked upon the Ayatollah as a messiah. You couldn't tell who supported who, so the sensible thing was to be neutral and try to ignore the demonstrations.

"I'm sure things will settle down soon." Said Harrison.

"Someone should shoot him." Said Kris. "Then all this nonsense would come to an end."

"And you would be out of a job Kris. No more political talk it's not fair on our poor driver. He'll have to live here, long after we've all gone home."

"Fine, you're the boss.... He probably doesn't speak a word of English anyway."

The young man smiled at him in the rear view mirror, almost saying 'thank you.' He'd speak passable English and perhaps a little French of course. EVO Engineering didn't hire drivers who only spoke Persian.

"Not another diversion." Said Kris.

"Enough, let's do the rest of the journey without a commentary." Said Harrison.

"You're the boss."

He was and he realised he should have quietened his bodyguard down, three months earlier. Not that he'd ever want to replace the South African ex-soldier; he was too good at what he did. There had been an incident with an angry mob, in the Sangan region. Kris hadn't even drawn his weapon, though he'd made sure the crowd could see it, hanging under his left armpit. Kris had faced down at least eight angry men, without getting anyone hurt. No, Harrison wasn't about to replace his annoying bodyguard.

"More soldiers every day." Said the driver. "I know a way, but it's through quite narrow streets. Is that alright ?"

Kris went quiet and sullen, as he looked at the army checkpoint which was causing a jam at a major intersection. His input might have been nice, but Harrison trusted the knowledge of the local driver.

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