Ahmed ran, like a rabbit chased by a pack of ravenous wolves. The gash in his side was painful, but not critical. The sun beat down on his skin and his throat felt like sandpaper, but he dare not stop. His pursuers were close behind. He could feel them on his heels.
Run, Ahmed, don’t slow down. They’re right behind you.
Ahmed ran until he felt his lungs would burst; over rooftops, through side streets and down alleys. He toppled stands and carts in the market place. He finally reached a patch of woods outside the city and stopped to turn around. He could neither see nor hear his attackers. He fell to his knees in exhaustion. A cool breeze eased the pain of his ravaged body.
Where are the others? He was alone, separated from his unit. His only hope was to make it over the border.
Back to his homeland.
Back to his people.
He slowed his pace as he made his way through the dense forest. He lifted his blood-soaked shirt to inspect his wound. It was jagged and nasty, but not deep. He would fix it later. He bandaged it with a clean piece of cloth and kept moving.
Better not leave a blood trail.
With imminent danger momentarily abated, he began to reflect on his situation, and question his God.
“Where did we go wrong?” he wondered aloud. “Why did we not attain victory?”
Ahmed cursed under his breath as he pushed on.
“Surely our cause was righteous. Surely You were on our side.” He lifted his eyes to the heavens, but they were silent. His conviction, once strong like his faith, was growing weaker by the minute. His group was shattered; their plans failed. Their only directive now was survival.
Through the forest and the craggy mountain base, Ahmed stealthily evaded several enemy bands. Finally, he came to a small stream, following it until it deposited into a river. He followed the river several miles until he saw it.
Ahmed smiled. His homeland lay on the other side. There he would find friends and family that would supply him with food, shelter and supplies. He could almost smell his wife’s lamb cooking over the fire, and hear the voices of his children playing in the green grass.
He would repair and replenish his body, and renew his mind. He would regroup with his surviving squad members and plan another attack. And this time they would be successful.
Ahmed slid around a stand of brush trees and crouched low. He lay motionless for several minutes and watched the bridge. The sun was low and orange in the sky. Perhaps he would wait until nightfall and cross under cover of darkness. Just a few minutes of rest before…
Suddenly he heard the snap of a branch and spun around to face a large, muscular man with a scar across his cheek. He was known as Liam, an exceptionally well trained assassin.
This one was a spotter; he was waiting for me.
Instinctively, Ahmed reached for his weapon.
“Your weapon; evidently lost in your attempt to flee” Liam said. “How unfortunate.”
“I’m sorry, but there must be some mistake,” said Ahmed. “I’m just returning from a long trip. All I want is to cross the river and get home.”
“Where is home?” Liam asked.
“There, in the valley,” gestured Ahmed.
He eyed the blood soaked circle on Ahmed’s side. “That’s a nasty wound you have there. How did that happen?”
Ahmed’s mind was spinning as he tried to come up with an answer that might save his life.
“Do you believe in God?” Liam asked.
“Yes, I do”. A glimmer of hope sparked in Ahmed’s soul.
“As do I,” he said. I believe in our cause, and that God fights for us. I trust you believe the same.”
Ahmed looked deep into Liam’s eyes.
“I am sorry that it has to end this way,” Liam said. “We are really more brothers than enemies. You belonged with us, not against us. “
Liam drew closer and whispered to Ahmed.
Ahmed stared past Liam, past the river, into the valley beyond. He silently said a prayer for his wife and children.
“Speak.” Liam’s voice was low and deliberate.
Met with silence, Liam reached for his weapon.
Ahmed finally found words.
“Wrong answer,” said Liam, grabbing his weapon. “Godspeed, my brother.”
As Ahmed lay dying, a strong breeze blew his final words across the river:
*Author’s Note – Based on Judges 12
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