A Piece of my Imagination
Peter sipped his coffee, the traditional strong Arabic blend that Osama always served after a meal and waited. His friend had been dropping hints all night that he had something important to discuss and now was the time. The ladies, his own wife Michelle among them, had retired to the patio leaving the three men in the dining room. The two Palestinian women that Osama employed as housekeepers had cleared away the remnants of the meal and then quietly disappeared.
Across the table from Peter sat Joseph, who sipped at his own coffee. Like his English partner, he too had been catching the same hints and was dreading the coming conversation. As an American Jew, he always felt tense when he visited Osama in Dubai, not that he'd ever had any problems here but, with 9/11 and all the associated crap that went with it, he was just naturally nervous. He'd been trying to guess what was coming but didn't really have a clue.
Osama finally broke the silence, "I take it the two of you are somewhat familiar with the coming invasion of our planet?"
Peter was the first to respond to this unexpected question. "The Sa'arm?" he asked.
"That's the one," said Osama, "how much do you know about it?"
Peter returned his coffee cup to the table, "Just what everyone's been told," he said.
"Joseph?" asked Osama.
Joseph looked a little nervous, "About the same," he said.
Osama sighed and ran his fingers around the rim of his own coffee cup. "Please gentlemen, help me here?" he pleaded.
"Well, what do you want to know?" asked Peter.
"Is it for real?" Osama asked.
Peter pondered for a moment, as he always did when he was about to get into an area that impacted on his part-time job. "From what I've heard there doesn't seem to be any doubt," he said, "Cheltenham have gone over everything that's been sent and they're convinced that it's for real." Cheltenham was Peter's euphemism for the Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, which happened to be located in the town of Cheltenham. GCHQ was the British counterpart to the American National Security Agency and had close links with the equivalent organisations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Joseph was nodding in agreement and when Peter had finished he added, "I've got a friend in the State Department and they're absolutely livid that the Department of Defence is the lead body on this. They've been trying to get involved but keep running up against the Artificial Intelligence that is running this Confederacy thing." He chuckled, "It seems that the aliens don't trust our politicians."
"And that my friends appears to be the problem," said Osama. "I've made enquiries into this and, as far as I can tell, nobody in the Arab world has been approached." Peter and Joseph nodded their understanding, Osama was a distant member of the ruling family and would have access to most of the available information in the United Arab Emirates.
Peter glanced at Joseph who shrugged. Still nodding Peter spoke up, "When it became general knowledge the affair was clearly being run by the military, predominantly the Americans. It also turned out that the Darjee had reservations about certain groups, some of them nationalistic, others because of their chosen professions. Generally politicians around the world joined that excluded group, as did a lot of countries whose governments are generally seen as corrupt. I fear that the UAE joined Saudi Arabia and Israel in that latter group."
Osama scowled at the statement but deep down he knew it was true, every deal he'd ever made had had to be sweetened in one way or another. To him that fact gave evidence of the corruption Peter was speaking of.
He got his face back under control and asked, "You don't think it's a CIA plot then, like Al Jazeera is reporting?"
Peter chuckled, "No, definitely not." He took another sip of his coffee to find it had gone cold, "There is actually a report doing the rounds that indicates that the head of the CIA was one of those excluded from the group initially approached by the Darjee. It appears they didn't trust him."
Joseph joined in, "Yeah, I've heard that one," he said, "I've also heard that the Knesset has been giving the White House a hard time about how they've been excluded from involvement."
Osama raised an eyebrow at that admission; he'd always wondered if Joseph had connections with Israeli intelligence.
Joseph shook his head, "No Os, that's not from Mossad," he said with a chuckle, "it's from Rabbi Himmelman at the synagogue, you know how we all like to gossip."
Osama held up his hands, acknowledging the hit. "Sorry, I guess I'm getting as paranoid as the rest of my countrymen. Which I suppose brings us round to the subject I wish to discuss."
The woman with the long blond hair lent back and sighed, "It's a lovely evening isn't it?"
Abia, Osama's first wife smiled, "Yes Michelle, but then most evenings here are like this. I suppose we're spoilt by our good fortune."
Jemma chuckled from her position overlooking the sea, "Our place in New Hampshire has some magnificent views, almost as nice as this one, but the temperature is a little chilly this time of year."
"But surely you wear the proper clothes," said Falak, Osama's second wife, "so this cannot be a problem."
Jemma grimaced, "Two years ago you'd have been right but now..." She glanced over at Michelle who'd made the original comment. I don't know what it's been like in England but across the States we're wearing less clothes in winter than we used to in summer and in the summer, well take it from me, naked is over-dressed in some places."
Kalila, Osama's Palestinian third wife looked down her nose, "It just shows that you have no morals in your degenerate country."
"Be quiet Kali," said Abia firmly, "these ladies are our husband's guests, they should be treated with respect."
"Oh don't blame her," said Jemma, "most of us hate it to a certain degree but it is easier to conform than it is to stand out. And," she slapped her smooth stomach, "it has meant I had to do something about the paunch I'd acquired."
Talibah looked up shyly, "And it is the same in England?" she asked Michelle.
"Probably not as bad, though I did see Cheryl, my daughter going out in a completely see-through dress and a pair of heels last week."
"And you didn't stop her?" asked a scandalised Talibah.
"I couldn't Tali," replied the anguished mother, "she's sixteen and counts as a woman. She's free to do as she wishes and it would be wrong to try to stop her."
"And she wishes to be seen as a whore!" exclaimed Kalila.
Jemma jumped in, "No! Not a whore, Kali." She sat back on the wall before continuing, "She wants to be seen as desirable, so if she's around a Confederacy extraction she'll get picked, and then she'll be safe. It's a hope that drives all of us to one degree or another."
"You believe those lies?" Kali asked her eyes going wide in surprise.
Michelle got in first this time, "I only wish they were lies," she said. "Peter works in a place that looks into this sort of thing and he's convinced," she looked up at Kali. "He's so convinced that this," she indicated the flimsy summer dress she was wearing, "is the most clothing I've been allowed to wear outside the house this year. Peter has paid for every cosmetic treatment you can think of in an effort to enhance my chances of getting picked." She glanced around at the other women on the patio, "He's told me over and over that if I get involved in an extraction situation I'm to be out of my clothes before anyone else and do whatever it takes to get away."
Slowly tears ran down her face, "Peter's seen images of what will happen when the Swarm arrive and he wants me out of here, even if it means going without him." She stared directly at Kali, "So yes, I believe those 'lies' as you call them, because the man I love does and he's scared to death that I'll still be here when they arrive."
Abia crossed the short distance to the blond woman and slid a comforting arm around her, "You feel the same, Jemma?"
Jemma flicked her luscious red hair back over her shoulder, "I doubt if Joseph has seen any pictures but he's seen enough data for him to believe." She paused for a moment, her eyes lowered in thought, "Last month we had a family barbecue and he had every female there strip, so that they would get used to the idea that being naked was acceptable."
She looked up, "At first I thought he was being a pervert and was going to give him Hell for it, until I saw him watching his two grand-daughters with tears in his eyes. Those girls are eleven and twelve and when I asked him later he told me he kept seeing images, just like ones from the holocaust, but with his grand-children being tortured by the lizards."
"So, yes Abia, I'm with Michelle on this," said Jemma. "Those creatures are coming and when they get here, most of us are going to die."
Silence settled across the patio as the six women dealt with their emotions.
Osama stood and started pacing across the end of the dining room, his shoes clicking on the marbled floor. "I've been told that by the end of this month no citizen of the UAE will be allowed to leave the country. Already I have been told that I myself may not leave, even now." His hands slid behind him and he clasped them together, "It would appear that all of the Arab countries are going to be enacting similar legislation before the end of the year. It will not affect the likes of yourselves who are just visiting but it will be extended to anyone who is employed here."
.... There is more of this story ...