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."
Osama paused to look at the two men, "That in itself is likely to cause trouble with your countries," he said.
The two men nodded their understanding. The UAE and especially Dubai had a population that was only forty percent indigenous, the rest being composed of migrant workers from all over the globe. The majority of the manual and semi-skilled vacancies had been filled by people who came from the vast labour markets of India and the Far East but the skilled, technical jobs had been the preserve of the predominantly English speaking regions of the Western world.
"What is really going to cause problems is the return of all financial assets to the Middle East," Osama said. "The Sheikh, along with most of the leaders of the Arab world, has been convinced that centralising the financial power we have is the only means to deal with this perceived attack on our beliefs."
Peter was stunned, "You mean everything we've worked for..."
"Yes Peter," said Osama, "Everything we've established, all the companies we've built up, all the deals we've brokered are about to be ripped to shreds because the Arab world is being ignored."
Joseph spluttered, "You won't be allowed to get away with it."
"Who can stop us?" Osama asked, "We would be doing nothing illegal, merely returning our assets to their country of origin. If your economies fail that is your problem, not ours."
"It'll probably lead to war," said Peter, trying to grasp the enormity of the problem.
"The Sheikh has been convinced that war is not a viable option," said Osama as he resumed pacing, "The only real threat is the United States and it is believed that they would be unable to respond."
Joseph raised a questioning eyebrow.
"Who owns the majority of the US ports? How will they react when all funding, including the ability to pay the workers wages is removed?" Osama looked at Peter, "Could Great Britain launch a war against us without US support? Where would your war machines get their fuel when we have closed off all supplies?"
"Why?" asked Peter.
"The coming of the aliens, or more precisely the response of the rest of the world to their arrival, has achieved something that has never happened before. The Arab world has become united in the face of what it sees as a direct attack on its very being." Osama threw his arms wide, "As individuals you may be able to convince us that it is not some grandiose plan to do away with us but as a people you have no hope of achieving this. It is too late, and too many people have decided in their hearts, what the truth of the matter is."
Joseph recovered a little, "So why are you telling us?" he asked.
"Because it's not going to achieve anything," stated Osama clearly. "We will bring chaos on the world for a time, our people will be persecuted if they are not within our borders and then the world will ignore us. Oil that was uneconomic to extract will become viable, alternative fuels will be pushed forward more rapidly than they have been."
He took a deep breath as he continued pacing, "Others will step in to take over our assets, at very reduced rates, as world governments firstly nationalise our properties and then hand it over to others to run. Within the Arab world our economies will collapse as we have no one to trade with, just like the old Soviet Union. Our people will revolt when their standard of living plummets to where it was twenty or thirty years ago and the mullahs will finally get their way."
Osama ground to a halt by his chair, "And there is not a damned thing I can do to stop it," he said as he slumped into his seat.
Falak finally broke the silence, "These extractions, are they as bad as the television makes out?"
Michelle forced a smile, "How bad do you think they are?"
"These men who are going away, they drag the women off and keep them as slaves," said Falak, "Babies are torn from their mothers arms and dashed to the ground, Husbands are thrown to one side so that their wives can be ravaged by these 'volunteers'."
"As always, there's just enough truth in the rumour to make a flat denial impossible," muttered Michelle before raising her voice, "Some of the things that happen could be described like that," she said.
"See, I told you," crowed Kali.
"Be quiet!" snapped Michelle, "Keep your prejudices to yourself until you've got the facts." She turned away from the open mouthed Palestinian and smiled at Falak, "I'm sure you'll understand that I've looked into this most diligently, after all I'm expecting to be intimately involved at some time," she said.
Falak nodded and everyone ignored Kali when she snorted.
"When an extraction happens Confederacy Marines place an interdiction field around the location. This stops anyone entering or leaving," she glanced at Kali, "and believe me, if they didn't put it there they'd get swamped by people wanting to leave. Anyway, inside the field the volunteers are called forward and identified; once that has been done the Marines call forward anyone who wants to go with these volunteers."
Looking at Kali, she continued, "This is where most of the truth in your rumours occur. Anyone who steps forward indicates that they are willing, in effect, to become slaves. The volunteers then get to pick from these people who they are going to take with them." Michelle returned her gaze to Falak, "It isn't always pretty, she said, "the volunteers can only take a few, the number is based on their CAP score but usually it's two or four. Women, especially older women, will do anything to get picked, anything at all."
She glanced over at Jemma with a tight smile, "When I was trying to find out what I'd be expected to do Peter managed to get hold of a copy of the Marine's Extraction report, it's a report they do after each extraction which gives details of what occurred. Let me tell you it was an eye opener, some of the things that happened I'd never even heard of let alone experienced."
Jemma added, "I know what you mean. Joseph got hold of a diner's security video and let me watch what had happened."
Abia looked up, "Tell us," she said, "we need to know."
Jemma looked over at Michelle who indicated she should continue. "It's easier to describe them as scenes but you have to remember this was all happening at the same time." She pondered for a moment, "One of the first thing I saw was a man point at a young girl, she looked about fifteen, and then at a woman who must have been forty. The young girl got on the floor and the older woman squatted over her and lowered her pussy over the girl. Oral sex I thought, but after a couple of minutes the older woman raised herself and urinated into the young girl's mouth." She looked at Abia and grimaced, "I was so surprised I nearly lost my lunch, but it didn't finish there. When the older woman had finished he had them swap places and the girl was made to urinate all over the woman, and then he had them hugging each other, rubbing the urine in, at least he took them both."
"You mean he could have left them after making them do that," said Talibah, with disgust.
"Absolutely, one man had four women lined up on their knees and was moving from one to the other, taking them from behind. He only had two slots, so two of them knew they'd be being left behind," said Jemma. "I thought one of them had blown her chances when she stopped him, but she didn't, she took his prick and lined it up with her own ass and had him push it in. She was lucky, he took her."
"Even after that he could have refused her?" said a worried sounding Falak.
"You'd better believe it," said Jemma. "One of the women got three men to fuck each other," as she said fuck there was a gasp from several of the women on the patio, then another when the homosexual nature of the act registered, "then only took one of them with her." She looked up, "I'm sure you can imagine how the others felt after that?"
Michelle joined in, "The worst thing I read involved women having to have oral sex with a dog."
Falak's mouth dropped open as she stared at Michelle.
"That's right, a dog," Michelle confirmed, "Don't get me wrong, even the Marines thought that was a bit extreme but it does indicate the lengths some people will go to, to get off this planet."
"And in every case it was those who wanted to get away that performed the acts and not the volunteers who forced them to," said Jemma.
"What about the dropping of children, the disgracing of husbands," said Kali, "where is your explanation for that?"
"You know the rules, don't you?" asked Michelle, and then without waiting for an answer she continued, "If a woman is picked then she is instantly divorced, end of story. Every government around the world has agreed to that, it's mandated by the United Nations." She glanced at Kali and waited until she acknowledged the truth of the statement.
"So if a wife is picked it's because she volunteered and she is automatically divorced. If this disgraces the husband then so be it, I know Peter expects that to happen if I get a chance and I doubt if he will feel disgraced. Happy that I've escaped, yes, but disgraced, not a chance."
"The children is another one of those half truths that make up so many rumours," said Jemma. "If a child is under the age of fourteen then they can be taken away and don't count against a volunteer's quota. But, and this is the rub, it's not the mother who decides whether to take the child or not, it's the volunteer and I'm sure there are cases of a volunteer saying no to a mother he's selected."
Abia suddenly looked thoughtful, "Have your husbands been checked," she asked? "Have they gone through this CAP testing?"
"Peter has," said Michelle.
"So's Joseph," confirmed Jemma.
"And?" asked Abia.
"Peter got a seven point one," said Michelle, "which is one of the reasons why he won't let me out of his sight when we're at home."
"Joseph scored six point nine," said Jemma. "Unfortunately I only got five point seven, it appears I'm not much good at the mothering bit."
"Do you have a score, Michelle?"
"You have to be tested Abia, if you don't you're not eligible for extraction. As it is I scored the same as Jemma," said Michelle, "so we both have to rely on our husbands to get us out of here."
Abia, still very thoughtful, asked, "Have they decided who else they'll take with them?"
"Peter hasn't," said Michelle, "he's of the opinion that it wouldn't be fair to put someone else's life on hold so they could follow him around everywhere."
"Even if they were willing to do that?" said Abia.
"I doubt if he's ever been given that offer," said Michelle.
"And Joseph?" pushed Abia.
"He'll only have one slot open, if I'm there, but he's never mentioned wanting to take anyone else," said Jemma.
"Hmm, interesting," said Abia quietly.
Peter crossed the room to where the coffee pot rested and, after checking that it was still warm, took his time refilling everyone's cup. After he'd returned the pot to the sideboard he sat and waited, sure in his own mind that there was more to come.
Across the table Joseph was rubbing his temples, trying to comprehend what the results of the actions Osama had just disclosed were going to be on the world and, more importantly, on his own financial situation. Over time he'd devoted a larger and larger percentage of his assets to deals combined with Osama.
Peter was half way down his cup of coffee before Osama stirred himself.
"There is one thing I can do for you," he said, "which will mitigate much of what is about to happen," he looked up, "and then there is one favour I would ask of you."
Osama dragged himself out of his chair and crossed to a heavy cupboard, from which he carried several folders. As he placed them on the dining table Peter noticed that they were divided into two colours, blue and green. Osama split the pile by colour and then, taking a single sheet of paper from the top of one of the piles, he looked up.
"This is everything that we own together," he said, tapping the two piles. "What I'm proposing, and you'll have to take on trust that what I've told you so far is an honest interpretation of what is going to happen, is that I buy you out of all our deals."
He held up his hand to stop any comments, "Please, I'm trying to be as honest as I can here. What I am offering is the true market value as at noon yesterday. Each of you will walk away with several million dollars that cannot be touched by anyone in the Arab world." He dropped his hands to the two piles of folders, "You will only lose if I've lied to you. I hope that you've known me long enough to trust me when I tell you that this is the best, for all of us."
"Won't this cause you some difficulty?" asked Peter after a little thought.
Osama snorted, "If I didn't believe that my cousins where doing exactly the same thing I'd agree with you but then, if it wasn't permissible, I'd have never found out about it. Which," he said suddenly looking sheepish, "just goes to prove the validity of the alien's objections to my people."
After shaking himself he continued, "So, if you agree to my proposal I have all the necessary paperwork here. Sign these documents and the money will be transferred to your accounts before you leave the Gulf."
Peter glanced at Joseph, who was staring at the folders, "What do you think Joseph, does it make sense?"