Chapter 7

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Years of insecurity had taken a toll on the capital of Somalia. It looked like a town that had stagnated at a time when it was just starting to flourish. With conflict being reduced by presence of UN forces then later AMISOM, the city was seeing some improvement. It seemed to be growing, despite the fact that total peace and stability was yet to be achieved. One day when the Somalia National Army was capable of holding out insurgents alone, the AMISOM would leave and hopefully the people of Somaliland would sort their problems and start of the long road to complete peace and stability.

Martin stopped outside a restaurant in a less crowded part of town. Rachel kept her eyes out for the slightest sign of danger.

“Here we are.”

“You go in.” Rachel did not want any drama if Martin’s girlfriend turned out to be the jealous kind.

“Why?”

“I’m not interested in what you have to talk about and you will need privacy.”

Rachel walked around the front and having trained in urban warfare, was ready to ward off anyone with bad intentions. A man with turban passed by, talking on his phone. Rachel stared after him, her hand on the rifle, ready to pull it should need arise. She glanced at the other side and went to stand against the wall. That way, she couldn’t be attacked from behind. After about fifteen minutes, Martin walked out alongside a lanky girl with fiery red hair. She had a beautiful oval face and a well-toned body. It looked like she exercised to keep herself fit.
“Hi Rachel,” she smiled, holding out her hand. “I’m Ava. Martin has told me a lot about you.”

“Hi,” Rachel hook her hand, smiling genuinely. “I hope he said good things about me,”

“He says you like to play by the rules. Thank you for letting him out, I missed him so much.”

“I missed you more,” Martin said. Rachel resisted the urge to roll her eye. He was such a liar, claiming to miss her when he was flirting with nearly every female at the hospital. This man had a lot of growing up to do. “See you soon.” He said, shaking her hand. If they were in another country, he might have kissed her but in the Muslim country, intimate physical touch between people of opposite sexes was frowned upon in public.

“You’re not getting rid of me that easily.  I’ll escort you to the other side of the road.”
Rachel was surprised. Maybe she was wrong about this country. It did not seem as dangerous as she had thought.

They were about to cross the road when they saw a white saloon car cruising down the street. Ava had already crossed and was waiting for them on the pavement in the middle of the street as there was another car coming on the other side. Rachel was about to look behind for danger signs one more time when the car suddenly skidded to a stop and exploded in flames. The force threw her onto the ground, a few meters away from the car. She felt disoriented but managed to look around and swiftly got up, ready to shoot. Another car stopped and two armed men jumped out of it. One of them, apparently on a suicide mission jumped and tackled her as she fired. She hit her head on the pavement and grimaced as if she had cracked her skull. The bigger one had lifted Martin into the car. She was dragged and placed next to Martin who was now unconscious. She looked at the other car and could see Ava’s blackened legs under the tires. She turned away, shedding a tear as the car cruised away as a guard came out of the restaurant. What a useless man.

She glanced at Martin and felt bile rising up her throat. It was all his fault that they were in this situation though she couldn’t help but feel bad about the loss of his girlfriend. The woman he must have loved. She had talked to Ava for few minutes but she had seemed like a good person. Most aid workers who wind up countries facing conflict are people with extraordinary souls. Ava had gone there to help and her goodness had cost her life at an early age. A woman driven to make the world a better place is an asset the world desperately needs.

Ten minutes later, they were way out of the city and the car stopped behind a van. The big kidnapper who was holding Rachel’s rifle carried Martin out to the van. Rachel was ordered to walk out, her own rifle pointed to her head. She obeyed and sat next to Martin and the man joined them at the back. The smaller one sat next to the driver.

Martin stirred.

“Ava,” he said, sitting up and scanning his surroundings.

Rachel’s heart broke when she heard Ava’s name. How could she tell him that she was gone?

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