So here's Part 3 of this special free short story mini-series.
If you haven't read part 1 yet, then frankly you've been slacking and now you have a lot of catching up to do.
Here's a link to the earlier parts:
I hope you're enjoying the ride. Here's today's episode. A link at the end will help you navigate to all the parts.
Here's the next part of your free short story mini-series:
Safety – Part 3
Majid Nasser didn't know why the lights had gone out, but he did have a flashlight. He liked to keep it by his bed. It was a large black flashlight; the type with a long metal body. He'd bought it from a market stall. Was five British pounds a lot of money to pay for such a thing? He didn't think so. And anyway, it was about to come in very useful. He switched it on and let himself out of the flat and onto the landing. Perhaps he could find someone to ask what was going on. He might even be able to make himself useful. After all, back in Syria, he'd been a qualified mechanical engineer. He knew a thing or two about getting machines to work. “There must be some sort of master switch or circuit breaker somewhere,” he muttered. It would probably be hidden away somewhere. But he couldn't just go poking around without permission. He needed to check. He needed to find someone.
The landing was empty. Maybe he could ask a neighbour for help. He frowned. His English was not good. He'd been taking classes for a month, but it wasn't easy. He'd always favoured good solid numbers rather than slippery words. Still, this would be a good opportunity to try out his skills. He shone his flashlight across the landing that he shared with five other flats. He'd often passed his neighbours in the stairwell, but they'd never returned his smiles.
He tried each door in turn, knocking politely and stepping back to wait. But no one answered. He'd have to try again on another floor.
As he let himself out into the stairwell. The heavy fire door slipped from his hand and slammed behind him. He grimaced. The noise would not endear him to his neighbours. But he had a job to do. He must press on.
His flashlight was bright, but it did little to puncture the dark of the stairwell. Slowly, he climbed the stairs, and with every step the flashlight's beam sent shadows slinking across the concrete wall. It was eerie, disorientating. It was as if he was standing still and the stairs were sinking slowly into the darkness below. But what choice did he have?
Majid took a breath and pressed on. But as he watched the shadows, he missed his step and stumbled, cracking his knee against the metal railing. And as he bent forward to rub his injured leg, he dropped his flashlight and was plunged into darkness. He bent lower and ran his fingers over the filthy floor. There. His fingers brushed against the smooth metal and he grabbed the flashlight. As he stood up, he tried the switch, but of course, it was broken. He should've known that it was cheap rubbish from the moment he laid eyes on it. Cheated again. His blood rushed to his cheeks and he uttered some words that his wife would not have approved of.
My wife, he thought. My lovely wife. He sighed and stood alone in the dark and allowed himself to picture her smile. “Safiyyah,” he whispered. He closed his eyes, screwed them tight shut, and took a deep breath, holding onto the metal railing for support. So beautiful she'd been, so warm. What would she make of him now, creeping up this stinking concrete staircase with graffiti on the walls? “My poor Safiyyah,” he said. They'd visited the wrong house one day. That was all. Just a quiet meal shared with an old friend. A friend, it turned out, with the wrong connections. But Majid hadn't known that. It wasn't a clandestine meeting like the authorities had said afterwards. They'd done nothing wrong, nothing even remotely suspicious. But that simple fact hadn't stopped the police from storming into their home in the middle of the night. It hadn't stopped the beating, the humiliation, the torture.
Majid shook his head. It was sheer luck that he had a contact, an uncle who had some influence with the regime. Eventually the police were persuaded to let him go. But his joy was short lived. Their release orders came too late for Safiyyah.
There'd been no explanation, no word of apology, but Majid had known that he'd never see her again. His Uncle had told him to get out of the country. And why not? There was nothing left for him in Syria. No reason to stay. So he'd let himself be persuaded. His uncle had told him he'd be granted asylum in the UK. It was the only way to survive, he'd said. In the UK, he'd be safe.
** end of part 3 **
Enjoying it so far? What do you think will happen in the end? Feel free to leave comments.
I'm almost sorry to leave you in suspense, but as a reader, I really enjoy a bit of suspense. I hope you do too.
I promise you'll get the ending tomorrow. And of course, newsletter subscribers will get dibs on the audio files and any other goodies. You can join in the fun with the form below:
Don't Miss Part 4 – The final installment of Safety! Come back tomorrow or follow this blog to have it emailed to you via this nice form:
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Remember that I'm using this tag to help you find all the parts: mini-series safety
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Safety will be part of my new collection of dark short stories, which will be coming out soon. If you'd like to be one of the first to read it, you can get a free Advanced Reader Copy with just a click or two:Get a Free Book
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