Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: CROWD (07/06/17)
TITLE: Soft Targets
By Art Westefeld
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As the disguised terrorist strode through the front door, the weight of his suicide vest made him wish he could just sit down in the lobby, but he proceeded into the sanctuary, and sat in the center. Feeling relief as his weight settled into the padded blue cushion, he realized how unimportant his fatigue was. In minutes, he'd be with Allah in Paradise, while these infidels would burn in Hell. He chuckled at his thought, and as another person in the crowd looked at him with a 'What's so funny?' look, he responded to the other man's unasked question. "Been here before, wondering if the pastor was going to issue an altar call. That's all, as this night is supposed to be for the kids, right?"
The infidel just looked at him and asked, "Got a kid here tonight?"
Yaaseen stuck out his hand even as he shook his head no. The other man took it and said, "Clark Palmer, and you are?"
"Jimmy Smith." Then the two men faced the front as the kids entered, and a tallish, slightly pudgy man in a church t-shirt and jeans asked everyone to rise for prayer. Since the front of this church faced Mecca, Yaaseen had no problem following the first part of the instructions.
At that moment thunder rolled across the sky, although it had been clear when Yaaseen had entered. It sounded to Yaaseen like the loudest trumpet he'd ever heard. Then there was a flash of light that temporarily blinded the bomber.It felt as if his suicide vest had gone off sooner than expected. However, when Yaaseen opened his eyes after the light had faded, he realized, to his shock, that he was not in Paradise greeting his 72 maidens. He was still in the infidel church and the few people still there were very much alive and looking around in confusion.
He had heard that infidels believed that their God would remove them from the world in preparation for the return of Jesus. As a devout Muslim, he too believed in the return of Jesus, to herald the 12th Imam. Could the infidels have been right, and that is what caused the church to almost completely empty?
He decided to activate his vest anyway, reaching for the detonator. If they were right,Muslims didn't need any apostate buildings surviving to oppose his faith, even though, were the infidels right, Islam would now dominate the world by virtue of sheer numberMuslimsBefore he could press the button, he heard a loud crack, and fire shot through his elbow, causing him to drop it. He looked up to see a woman in a State Police uniform.
She said, "This church is not getting blown up. Got it?"
Yaaseen was in too much pain to answer her rhetorical question. He spoke through gritted teeth. "Infidel witch, when the caliphate comes, you will die at my hand. You will suffer pain as you die, woman."
Her face lit into a smile as she responded, "My husband always thought you Muslims would bring the Rapture sooner rather than later. Perhaps I'll get a second chance at salvation, and see him in seven years. You, unless you change your ways, will go to join Satan and his demons."
Looming over him, she removed his jacket, stripped away the vest with the C-4 laced with ball bearings, and cuffed him. "This will never harm anyone, ever."
After she handed him over to a local deputy, who had also survived the vanishing of most of the locals, the woman looked at the cross at the front of the church. "I surrender to Your grace, God. Let me be with my beloved husband and kids again."
Yaaseen looked daggers at her as he was dragged away. "I will reunite you with them at my first opportunity," he spat.
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