THE DEFENSE OF FORT DAVIS, Chapter 2

28Jul19

AN8A1458

Chapter 2

 “Here, Hasibullah? You’re sure this is the place?”

“Yes, this is it,” Hasibullah answered. “It’s the same place I met the Chinaman before.”

A hundred freezing Taliban fighters huddled in the pitch-black woods beside a dirt road in the Tagab Valley, in northeastern Afghanistan’s Kapisa Province. Steam rose from the clusters they’d gathered into for warmth, dissipating as it hit the dense overhead foliage. When wind moved tree branches, faint light from the waning moon would glint off weathered AK-47s, PKM machine guns, ammunition belts and RPGs. Hidden from the moonlight under wraps and in ragged backpacks were four hand grenades per fighter, plus a scattering of satchel charges built from fertilizer and aluminum powder. Each team leader, ten in all, carried an iCom radio with spare batteries.

Every Taliban fighter carried a rifle, RPG or machine gun as a matter of course, but the grenades and satchel charges meant something else. This was an assault force, to overrun an enemy camp.

To gather a force that large, fighters had been pulled from cells all over the province plus the Surobi Valley to the south, Laghman Province to the east, and Parwan Province to the west. No cell leaders wanted to give up fighters, but they understood that these fighters would bring about the defeat of the United States. Not just defeat, but its complete destruction.

The cell leaders didn’t understand quite how these Taliban were going to destroy America, but no matter. Their commander in Pakistan had met the Chinese, gone somewhere secret, and seen something amazing. He ordered the assembly of an assault force that same night, and his only complaint was that he was limited to sending a hundred fighters. Those fighters didn’t ask questions; they were told the Chinese were taking them to meet strange fellow warriors and attack a strange American base, so they prepared to meet strange fellow warriors and attack a strange American base.

Hasibullah pulled his wrap over his head, drew his cell phone from a pocket and checked the time. 1:57 a.m.The Chinaman had been fanatical about punctuality, constantly reminding him that he and his fighters couldn’t operate on “Afghan time” for this operation; they had to be at the right places, at the right times. Since the Chinaman had told Hasibullah he’d be there with trucks at two, Hasibullah expected him to arrive in exactly three minutes.

Even with such a short wait, Hasibullah was nervous. Local Afghan police at the checkpoints had been paid off or knew not to stop them, so the sooner they were in trucks and on the road the better. But if an American drone spotted their heat signatures against the cold background before the trucks arrived, missiles would land among them in seconds. The Taliban never saw or heard the drones at night, their first indication they’d been spotted was an explosion.

Someone tapped Hasibullah’s shoulder. He uncovered his head, and his eyes followed a pointing finger toward dim lights in the distance. Mumbled word was spread, and the shivering fighters crowded the edge of the road. Within a minute Hasibullah heard tires crunching rocks, and at precisely 2 a.m. the first truck stopped at precisely the right spot. The Taliban split up, twenty men to a truck just as they’d been told, and climbed into the open beds. Hasibullah climbed into the lead truck’s cab and squeezed the Chinaman into the center seat.

“Hello, Hasib-Khan!” the Chinaman exclaimed in perfect Pashto. “Are you ready to defeat America?”

“Yes, yes,” Hasibullah grunted in annoyance as he turned the heater vents toward him. “We’ll defeat America soon. But first let’s get out of here before the damn Americans blow us up with their robot airplanes.”

The Chinaman said something to the driver that Hasibullah couldn’t understand. The driver shoved the gear shift forward, the engine whined, and the truck lurched forward. Hasibullah looked in the side mirror and could barely make out four faint silhouettes, all rolling close behind.

In the darkened cab, Hasibullah allowed himself a nearly invisible smile. They were on their way. Within days, he’d been told, his men and their foreign allies would attack a poorly-defended American base protecting a vital highway that fed material wealth to major American cities. When that highway was cut, when American’s sinful commerce ground to a halt and its greedy citizens stopped receiving their whorish clothes, pornography and alcohol, America would fall. Dissolve. Fade away.

Americans, Hasibullah thought. Pigs. Liars. Heathens. Filthy whoremongers. He gave an imperceptible shake of his head. If he wasn’t so cold, he thought, he’d roll the window down and spit to get their imagined taste out of his mouth.

Since the Americans came, they’d somehow managed to offend and repulse him every time he’d encountered them. First they at least pretended to be respectful, but Hasibullah knew better. He’d caught them trying to look through women’s burqas. He watched them talk and joke during prayer calls. He heard them laugh at village elders. He saw them drop trash, even outside the masjid. But most disgusting, vile, and repulsive of all, he heard them fart!

The memory made Hasibullah swallow back vomit. The first time he’d heard it, when American Marines first came to his village, he’d been so stunned he could barely speak. He’d been walking his favorite, most attractive goat through the village when he saw them, and had tried to detour around them like he’d been instructed by older mujaheddin. But as he made his turn, the ragged, staccato roar burst from one of the Marines’ pants.

Hasibullah froze in terror. For a moment he thought, prayed really, that it must have been something else, maybe someone stepping on a duck. But no, it was definitely a fart. It had to have been a fart, because the other Americans laughed. Tittered and giggled like little children. Then another American did it, and they burst into loud guffaws.

Hasibullah stood frozen in shock. Then he forced his eyes down, to check on his goat. She was already staring back at him, rectangular pupils full of terror, practically shaking in panic. Then the wind blew the American evil toward them, and his loving, beautiful, passionate goat said one word:

BLEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!”

Hasibullah’s jaw clenched in fury at the memory. That goat had never recovered. And he’d never forgiven himself for not protecting her from such shame.

Before that day, Hasibullah had heard one fart. It happened during a shura,a meeting of local village and tribal elders. The men were sitting on a rug around a collection of sweets and hot tea. One elder leaned forward to grab a biscuit, and it happened.

The assembled men froze and stared at him. He blanched, sat back, seemed to hope in vain that it hadn’t been noticed. Nobody spoke. Then the smell hit. Men gagged, dry heaved, glared angrily at the horrified elder. And the elder did the only honorable thing a real Afghan would do if he farted in front of others: he stood without a word, grabbed his AK, walked outside and shot himself.

Hasibullah had heard several American farts since then, each worse than the last. Every time it happened, he had to restrain himself from rushing home, grabbing his rifle, and mowing the insolent Americans down. Such an act would get him killed, of course, and maybe lead to the destruction of his entire cell. Even so, he’d been tempted to give his life just to kill one of these farting demons.

Hasibullah would get his revenge during the coming assault. Revenge for god. For Afghanistan. But mostly, for the life-changing trauma his goat had suffered at the hands of a gassy, disrespectful American.

He accepted that he might die; he would be in the forefront, as always, but no matter. He would be happy to die, if he could drag America into the grave with him. He’d go to paradise, while America would go to hell where it belonged. A noxious, putrid, fart-choked hell.

You devilish, filthy Americans, he silently sneered, will fart no more.

——————————————

Note: the fart thing comes partly from an experience I had in Afghanistan.

My team was hanging out on our firebase with our Afghan-American translator, “John,” a cantankerous old Pashtun originally from Kandahar who’d emigrated to California. We all loved the guy (even though I wound up having to fire him later because he was such a hardhead). Anyway, as we were BSing he loudly farted. Of course, my team and I burst out laughing. Our terp was horrified and apologized profusely. We shrugged it off, but he kept apologizing and acted thoroughly ashamed. We tried telling him, “It’s nothing John, don’t sweat it,” but John still looked like he’d been caught rummaging through a fat old lady’s panty drawer.

His reaction was really odd. So we pushed him for an explanation of why he was so ashamed, and after he calmed down he told us a story.

When he’d been a kid in Kandahar, farting in front of anyone was practically considered a mortal sin. But one man who lived near him had farted on accident in front of several other people. The man, John said, just disappeared. He abandoned his wife/wives and children, said nothing to anyone, didn’t take any property, and disappeared. Everyone in the community assumed he’d killed himself, which they also thought was the proper thing to do. Years later he turned up somewhere far from Kandahar. It turned out he’d started life elsewhere under a different name, hoping nobody would ever know he’d farted once.

That was the only time I ever heard of the Afghan attitude toward farting, and after I came home I forgot about it. Then, several years back, I read this article, about some Marines being banned from farting around Afghans in order not to offend them. One guy on another website commented, “I remember my Terp telling me how [farting] was the worst thing you could do. He told of a guy whose grandfather had farted in public and how his grandson now had to bear the shame.”

Hence, my Taliban protagonist is motivated by desire for revenge against farting Americans.

——————————-

AN8A1472

Chris Hernandez (pictured above at Fort Davis) is a 25-year police officer, former Marine and retired National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and has published three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

 



5 Responses to “THE DEFENSE OF FORT DAVIS, Chapter 2”

  1. I thought the story was hilarious. From now on every time I pass gas I’ll think of Afghanistan. Can’t wait for chapter 3.

  2. Looking forward to seeing more of this. It reminds me of some of Harry Turtledove’s work (specifically “The Guns of the South”, where a South African neonazi group with a time machine supplied modern weapons to the CSA).

  3. 3 George (from Athens)

    I really like the story so far. It has my favorite type of humor. It might not surprise you but my favorite part was about farts. In fact, it reminded me of a “smelly” incident during my own army days.
    During 2006 I was in the army (I am a Greek and military service is compulsory in my country). In our army, there is a thing called morning inspection: you stand in attention next to your bed (the bed must be made of course), you must be shaven, your boots polished, your uniform clean and in order, your weapon clean etc. (I am sure you don’t want to remember how often you had to endure such an activity).

    I was assigned to an infantry company, and I was part of a platoon. All of us were in a small room, standing in attention and waiting for the company commander to inspect us when suddenly I had an urge … a very strong urge to fart!

    I tried very hard to suppress my urge! I really did. But in the end I “fired” a “stealthy” one (you know, one that makes no noise but keeps the nice farty perfume intact). One of the other soldiers — who up to that point was half asleep — suddenly jolted up.

    “Hey what was that?” he asked, a bit scared. “Who farted?”

    Hesitantly, I admitted I had done it.

    “My god,” he said still scared, “I haven’t smelled such fart since I was ten years old.” Needless to say, we all tried really very hard not to burst into laughter (our company commander was in the next room and inspecting another platoon).

    It was a moment of agony. The smell of the fart had engulfed the room (it was winter, and we had orders to keep the windows closed). The company commander slowly approached our room … when we suddenly heard his voice. He was ordering all the company to exit the building and stand to attention in formation outside (a standard daily practice in the Greek Army) to brief us about the day’s training and other activities. For some reason he didn’t inspect us that day.

    Thirteen years later, I still have this same question: Was my fart the reason our company commander didn’t inspect us that day? (OK he usually inspected half the platoons at random … but the question remains till this day).

    It is a mystery for the ages I think.

    In any case, I learned three valuable lessons that day.

    1. You cannot hide the fact you farted in a closed space even if you are silent!

    2. Farts sometimes can replace coffee.

    3. Farts sometimes prevent morning inspections.

    P.S. Keep up the non politically correct good work!

    • George,

      The Greek army sounds a lot like our army. Also, there is no better place to fart than inside a tank when you have to keep the hatches closed. 🙂

      • 5 George (from Athens)

        I think all armies have a lot of things in common as far as mentality is concerned (love for ceremony, strict hierarchies, enthusiasm with polishing their equipment etc)

        Yes, farting inside a tank or an APC with the hatches closed seems like a tricky situation. At least you can open the hatch (if you are in a safe place: kilometers away from enemies firing at you). I wonder what happens if someone farts in a submarine or a spaceship though.

        Speaking of spaceships, I just reread your article about Holdo and the Last Jedi and I found a solution to the major problem there. (I post it here and not there because it is fart-related).

        As we know Holdo had a plan but she refused to share it with anyone so Dameron asked about it. Here is how it could go:

        Dameron: So Admiral, what is our plan?
        Holdo (annoyed): I have no obligation to tell you Captain.
        Dameron (determined): I am very determined Admiral. And I have a way to find out.
        Holdo (unconvinced): What way Captain?
        Dameron (with a big confident smile): I had beans for breakfast! Two cans of them to be precise.
        Holdo (horrified): You are not going to fart on the bridge, are you?
        Dameron (still smiling): That depends on whether you tell me about the plan Admiral. I can barely restrain myself!
        Holdo (resigned): Very well Captain, here is the plan (and proceeds to tell him).

        (I know it is a bit silly, but I can’t restrain myself. I love farts as plot devices.)


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