Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta country. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta country. Mostrar todas las entradas

martes, 15 de noviembre de 2016

State visit

   Everyone at the airport was ready. The staff had put on their best clothes and every single corner of the small terminal building had been cleaned to the last millimeter. From very early in the morning, people had arrived to help organize every single part of this impromptu visit. After all, it was the president of the most powerful country in the world. And theirs was one of the poorest and most isolated ones on the whole planet. However, the presidential plane had to refuel somewhere, so the small nation had received the honor of hosting the president for a few hours.

 From the moment they had been warned about the impending arrival of the plane, hundreds of people were put to work. Not only those in the airport, people who only really worked on weekdays and even then only in certain time frames, but also every single operator and technician available. They wanted not only the people to feel welcomed but also to make the best work possible with the plane. They got fuel from the city’s reserves, as the amount they had on the airport was not enough to refill a plane the size of the one they were going to see in a few hours.

 The process required almost every person in the capital, a city of about a thousand people, to wake up and also help by cleaning the streets of the city and the authorities enabling the movement of fuel reserves from where they stored it to the airport, which was fairly close to the city. People took to the streets with brooms and mops and every single cleaning help they could get, but the truth was no one really knew if the president was going to land and stay on the plane or walk around a little bit. Many people were curious like that.

 The president of the tiny nation was the one that was moving all over his house, calling the right people and asking everything from food to more cleaning products. He wanted to send a message through TV but the people of the studios were helping around so he decided to send it through the radio. It was much simpler and more effective; as it was the medium of communication that people listened to while they were preparing the city for the big arrival. Every single person in the country heard it and everyone understood the importance of the visit.

 To the eyes of the world, it was practically a miracle that their country actually existed. To be honest, it had been a thing of luck and one of those strange coincidences that happen out of nowhere. They were too isolated and unimportant. Practically everything they had came from their neighbor to the east. So they had known starvation and real poverty because when that neighbor didn’t have enough for themselves, they suffered too. But the world in general never really knew anything because they weren’t watching, until now.

 The country had no army but its people did behave like one once the president’s message had reached every single person. They knew they had around six hours to have everything ready. With luck, the weather up in the clouds would delay the plane a bit more to give them more time but they constantly checked with the aircraft and that didn’t seem to be the case. Everyone had to do their best in the time given. Only an hour after the president’s announcement, everything was coming up nicely and all citizens were helping, even elders and children.

 A huge amount of people arrived at the terminal in order to use the old kitchens that some rundown businesses had not used in several years. The idea was to cook a good amount of their national food for the people arriving, as well as other dishes that they might like. It wasn’t crazy to think that they would be very hungry, even at that early hour of the day. After all, this was all going on in the darkness of the night. The president was scheduled to arrive around eight o’clock in the morning, so they had to wake up or not even sleep.

 The cooking team was led by the nation president’s chef, his own wife. It wasn’t like in other countries were the president has everything and the people below him have nothing. In that nation, everyone was basically the same. People hadn’t starved in some years but they weren’t rich or even close to that. So the president’s wife decided it was best if someone close to the government like her supervised the food. It was the best way to guarantee that it would be perfect for someone with such a high profile as the ruler of the richest country in the world.

 They acknowledge that all those people in that plane, around two hundred according to the information they had shared with them, had been and eaten in places much better than their small country. That was obvious and they didn’t feel bad about it. But they wanted them to leave knowing a little bit more of their culture and about what they loved to eat and drink in those lands. The menu had been defined by the president’s wife and she was very confident that it was going to be one of the best feasts in the recorded history of their nation.

 It consisted of a special recipe for meatballs using a kind of cheese that was made from goat milk, which also happened to be used in their national beverage, which was kind of like a milkshake but less thick and richer in flavor. They also cooked the goats in various ways and were very proud about their vegetables and mushrooms, of which they had a very large variety. Various dishes were cooked with all those ingredients and some spices too.

 The small country’s president arrived in the airport only two hours before the arrival of the plane, to check everything out. The terminal had been painted in record time by volunteers and the control tower was bursting with life when, in normal days, it would only have one person and not even all day. He thanked everyone there and then went to the terminal’s commercial area where his wife and helpers were giving the final touches to the food. The smell had flooded the building and it was very delicious, so much that many stomachs growled loudly.

 Then, he went outside and did a walk around the tarmac and the runway. There wasn’t a single spec of dust anywhere, which he thought was absolutely magnificent, especially for such a windy part of the country. It seemed as if the weather was also helping them achieve their goal. The red carpet in the tarmac was the same one that the president had stepped on when he was inaugurated for his term, more than three years ago. A president’s term was five years and he couldn’t be reelected, which he personally thought was a good idea.

 He decided to check the band that had been practicing for hour in the cold and congratulated them for the amount of love they were showing the country. He stayed a bit to hear them play and, to be fair, they were not as prepared as he would have like, but there was no way of getting better musicians with only an hour to go. They would have to do. What made them special, at the end of the day, was that they played their instruments with real passion and the idea of making their country proud. And that was more than enough.

 The president decided to wait for the plane in the control tower. There, he would be able to know every detail about the upcoming visit. When he stepped in, the plane had crossed into their airspace. It would be only thirty minutes until they touched down in the runway. The atmosphere was really special. Every single person in the tower, in the terminal, in the tarmac and even in the city was ecstatic. This was, by far, the most exciting thing to ever happen in their country. And they had all worked together to make it the best day possible.


 The plane came out of the clouds and landed, in a very soft and elegant manner. Everyone applauded and greeted the people inside through the radio. The president ran outside, getting ready with all others. Many people from the city had come out of curiosity and they had been allowed to stay a bit further away. The plane parked exactly where they had determined it should go. For some minutes, nothing happened. Then, the door opened and everyone stopped breathing for a second. Their moment had come.

jueves, 23 de junio de 2016

High stakes

   The wind blew gently through the trees. Some pinecones and dried leaves fell softly to the ground and small animals ran to their holes in the ground or in the trees. The weather was getting worse by the minute and they could all feel it. All except for Samira. She was a rather beautiful woman wearing a dress to big to walk around the wood. It had already been ripped apart in some areas and it looked dirty. Some stains on it were because of mud and water but others were clearly blood.

 Samira didn’t stop when the wind got stronger. She kept on walking through the forest, as she tried to make her dress fit between the trees and not get ripped apart more. But that wasn’t possible. She finally stopped when the forest got too dense and it was much darker in the ground that in the upper area of the trees. She just stayed there, in the spot she was, and waited. Sure enough, rain came some minutes after. The trees were protection enough but she got very wet anyhow.

 As the rain poured onto her, Samir began to cry, finally breaking down. She fell to her knees, which was not something very easy to do in that dress, and cried her eyes off. It was confusing to see the rain on her face and also the tears. It was difficult to know what was what but thanks to all that water she was able to finish crying fast and started thinking about what to do next. She had come a long way, or so she thought, and there was no way she would stop midway through the woods.

 Realizing her dress couldn’t come with her, she carefully removed it. It wasn’t easy as it opened in the back and there was no one to help her with that. But after a couple of tries, the zipper lowered enough for her to grab it and pull it down. Carefully she removed the top part and then pulled the dress down her legs. She moved to a side and the dress stood there, as if a ghost was still wearing it in that part of the woods.

 She felt cold and sad to leave her gown behind but life was much more important. So she kept on going. She had been barefoot for a while, as the heels she had been wearing had gotten stood in thick mud not very far from the edge of the forest. Samira decided to keep walking the way she was walking, sure that it was the right direction in order to get away from everything.

 The trees grew closer in that area, which was better for her because rain almost didn’t get to the floor. She was cold and trembling, but at least she could clean some of the water of her body as she walked over pieces of rotten wood, mud, puddles of water and tons of leaves that autumn was taking away from the forest. She didn’t stop until it was very dark and she realized she had to sleep at least a few hours.

 She chose a place between two trees where there was a huge natural bed made of leaves. She didn’t sleep much though, because her brain kept telling her to keep moving, that she wasn’t safe yet and that she just couldn’t get all relaxed and happy yet. Samira had to go on through the forest and then arrived to the fields and, after that, the ocean. At least that’s how she remembered it was. If she had mistaken her route, it would be a major problem.

 After only three hours of sleep, she kept on moving through the trees, in the dark. Sometimes, she had to clean her tears with her dirty hands because se remembered something she had left behind, like her mother and all the beautiful memories of being who she was. Samira had left much more than anyone else had ever left before and the decision had already been taken. And she was sure she had made the right choice. There was no other way around it.

 Finally, she reached the other edged of the forest and, as she had expected, there were fields after fields of different kinds. It was the rural area that preceded the ocean, were most of the food was grown in order for the whole country to have food in their plate. Or at least that had been the idea behind it. Her mother had been the one who had convinced her father to do something like that.

 He always needed someone to convince him, someone to tell him what he should do next. People around him were too kind to tell him that he wasn’t good at his job, at all. But he had advisors and he had Samira’s mother and that could be enough to be mildly successful as a ruler. People liked him but did not love him and it was the same for the family as a whole. However, that worked just fine for everyone. It was the barely minimum, as someone had pointed our once.

 Samira entered the field and hoped the people that worked in them wouldn’t be around for some time still. Because if they saw her, they would ask her why she was practically naked in their property. But after some walking, she realized it was far too early for anyone to be around there. Besides, it was an orange plantation and the fruits were just beginning to grow, so no big masses of people would look after those.

 She walked fast through the small trees until she reached a house. The lights were off. But, most interestingly, the family that lived inside had let a large assortment of clothing to dry out in the sun. Maybe they had forgotten to put it inside or maybe it had been because of the rain. Anyway, some of the things were not really wet so Samir stole a white blouse and some pants.

 The only problem was her hair. It wasn’t that long but it was kind of obvious who she was. She found the solution only a couple steps away, in the shape of some gardening scissors someone had left inside a bucket. She grabbed the scissors, got her head a bit wet with water that had fallen into the bucket and started cutting. It took her a long time to get it even or what felt like even. They had no mirrors on the outside. The sun was rising and when she heard a metallic sound from inside the house, she knew she had to go.

 Samira penetrated the fields again and soon reached another plantation, a cornfield that looked ready to be picked. She had to find a road or something before she got mistaken with a worker or accused of being a thief. So she ran away in a different direction and ended up in a dirt road that seemed to link every single field in the area. There, she could walk down to the sea easier.

 The day began and people were pouring from every single place. Soon, there were carts passing through the dirt road and people working hard on the fields. There were even children playing with mud outside the houses. She thought it was something nice to see, that kind of routine and simple life of the people that worked the land. She even thought about staying but it was only for a second.

 She had to make it to a boat and get fast away from there. She had no choice. Samira had done something she really shouldn’t have and it wasn’t something that got forgiven. Maybe her parents could, but not her promised husband, He had been humiliated in public and soon everyone would know how she ran away form her in the wedding dress, fleeing an arranged wedding with one of the most powerful men in the country.

 What she had done could have serious implications for everyone, not only for her. After all, her marriage had to be fulfilled in order to for m an alliance between different powers in the region: between the wisdom and the strength, or that’s what her father said. But she couldn’t bear to be forced into something like that, out of nowhere. She had not known she was going to marry that man the morning of the wedding.


 Now, Samira looked like a lost boy, asking for work in one of the many ships that made it into the harbor, bringing fish and other goods from other places of the world. Finally, a crab fishing crew accepted her. Their captain happened to be a female, a woman that noticed right away that Samira was not the boy she was faking to be. The girl sailed that afternoon but her adventures were far from over.

miércoles, 16 de marzo de 2016

Homeland

   When Muriel was in the shower, she suddenly remembered how being in a combat zone felt. The water reminded her of the many times they had been under heavy fire and how they had narrowly escaped death. Well, how she had narrowly escaped death because there were others who had gave their lives for the cause that they were defending, a cause that Muriel had trouble understanding now that she was home.

 She had arrived just a couple of days ago, being received by her parents and her boyfriend, although she hadn’t seen much of him. Muriel couldn’t explain it but, she had missed John so much in the filed and now that she had seen him again, she couldn’t even make herself hug him or kiss him or say anything sweet to him. She felt as if her heart had dried out in the desert, consumed by everything she had seen, day after day. She hadn’t even hugged her parents and they had tried and she knew they had felt it too, that awkwardness, like a barrier that now existed between them.

 Trying to scare all the negative feelings and memories away, Muriel decided to shampoo her hair and enjoy the nice odors of her parents’ home. Where she came from, she didn’t really have the chance to wash her hair very often. Actually, she had showered a few times the last month and it was always a minute, two at the most beneath the coldest water a country that’s hot as hell can have. But, even so, she had to confess that made her feel alive.

 The smell of chamomile that the shampoo had reminded her of a time that seemed very far in her past now. She had been picking up flowers with her sister near a house her father had rented in some mountains, not very far from the city where she was now. That time seemed like a dream. Because it was almost false, unlike the burned bodies and mutilated corpses she had seen in the last year. Her mind immediately went to the destroyed cities she had seen; the destroyed cities she had helped become a battling ground. Because, the more she thought about it, the more she realized her presence there was also a problem.

 For many people, she was the enemy and even locals, just people that tried to survive, ran away from her when she tried to come near them. It didn’t help that she was the only woman in an assault team and that the rest of her teammates could be considered brutes. They were man built like a mountain, guys that she had managed to control during training. Some were nice enough, she could even talk to them about what she liked and didn’t like in life, about her boyfriend, her parents, her dream to someday become a veterinarian. But other were just beasts that had to be controlled at all times. And some other times, they were released.

 She rinsed all of the shampoo from her head and then just enjoyed the warm water falling on her black, gliding down her breasts and belly and legs. Muriel instinctively touched her breasts, as if she didn’t know that they were still there. She really touched them and got a bit aroused but her goal was not that but to really feel something, whatever it was. She had been numb for so long that she started touching more and more and then put one of her hands over her vagina and… And she stopped.

 Like a pinch to the stomach, memories came running into her brain, once again. One of those beasts, one of those animals she had been to war with, had tried to rape her on the first week. Luckily, Muriel was a good cadet, a good soldier in general and was able to turn his brute force against him. She threatened him with telling everyone and he laughed at her, touching his penis over his pants. She ran away before he could say or do anything else. That image stuck in her head, even though she had been trying hard to eliminate of her mind.

 She grabbed the soap and decided to clean herself properly, every single centimeter of her body. She even sat down in the shower floor in order to feel she was under a waterfall or something like that. She had always done that, fro, the time she was a child, and her mother always told her that was a waste of water and that people in other countries would have loved to have that water to drink and cook and live. And then she would argue with her and loose.

 Now, Muriel had seen the world and the truth was that she didn’t really cared if a family or a boy or a girl had no water to drink because of her. She simply didn’t believe that it made any difference. For her, she had discovered, the world was full of shit. The world was evil and awful and people didn’t really ended up in the bright side of things. People had bad endings, every single day. People died or they were killed, and there were orphans and fear conquered all of their hearts and that was just how things were.

 What Muriel had done in that country, her killing and her helping, was not useful. She didn’t make any difference by doing those things and she was ready to tell any idiot than helping with such stupid things didn’t help anyone. Being kind one moment and awful the next didn’t make you even or something. It made you human and humans are made to make each other miserable, make each other suffer and, slowly but surely, make competition go away because that’s how the world goes.

 Then, she stood up from the floor and closed the shower. The lack of water noise made her tremble but she inhaled deeply and stepped out.

 She took a yellow towel her mother had left her and dried herself with it over the small mat on the floor that was shaped like a hamburger. She liked that mat, ever since she had seen it once, one of those few times she had been able to chat with her mother over Skype. For some reason, she had shown her the hamburger mat and told her it smelled nice and that she wanted the house more fun with it. It was such a silly thing but that stupid mat was a symbol of the home Muriel wanted to go back to. Her goal was to go back home and see that mat in person and now that wish had become true.

 Walking slowly, she got out of the bathroom and walked to the closet in the next room. She had somehow done that automatically, because of a force of habit that came from years of doing so, but her true attire of the day was on the bed. Her father had gone to a special store were they specialized in pressing and cleaning uniforms. And hers now looked brand new, with every single detail in the right place. She removed the plastic and just left it there, on the bed.

 That green, that shade of color on the uniform, had always symbolized so much to her. And now, she was trying to remember what it was that she had felt the first time she had seen it. And she did remembered but, again, she couldn’t feel it. She knew that the uniform had made her and her family happy and proud. She was one of the few people she knew that had decided to join the army. The reasons were many; include the benefits in education and even health but also because Muriel had been a patriot for a long time.

 When she was just a little girl, she was the one that made her father built a small metal thing to put over the front door of the house in order to put the flag there every time there was a holiday. With time, she just left the flag there because she liked to see it move with the wind. She liked the colors and the shape and how it made her feel. Muriel liked to learn more and more about her country and her community and was really admired by many parents and teachers, not so much by her fellow students.

 But now, all of that had left her. Her patriotism had been left for dead in a horrible battlefield filled with charred cars and corpses, were the only noise was the crying of a baby somewhere. Her flag was a rag with which she had cleaned all of the blood from her hands, as well as the blood dripping from her weapons.


 Muriel put on the uniform and didn’t even look at herself at the mirror after putting it on. She just went downstairs where her parents waited for her in the car, to take her to the ceremony where she would be qualified, by all her brothers ands sisters in arms, as a “hero”.

martes, 28 de abril de 2015

Rotten Nation

   It was raining. The small plane taxied for several minutes through the airport until it parked in front of a large hangar, owned by the police. This was very uncommon, as the president had a special building were he always arrived at after national or international tours. It was well know but the media and the public, that he had personally being overlooking the destruction of several drug labs in remote areas. So maybe that was the reason why, stepping out of the plane, he only looked forward, towards the small group waiting for him.

 They walked in silence inside the hangar and then went through a door that led into the building behind it. The president’s assistant was in front, going up some stairs, several corridors and finally arriving at a conference room. The president sat down in the chair in one end of the table as the others sat in the remaining seats. Only one seat was empty. Some mumbled trying to find out why its occupant was missing, others said nothing. The president drank some water and waited until his assistant told him something to the ear and then sat down in a chair in the corner, right after closing the door.

 The president stood up and looked at the eyes of every single one of those men: the chief of police and other men of that entity, generals of all of the military branches and also the head of the secret police. On every single one of them rested the defense of the country, the physical power that it had in order to maintain things as they were. The president inhaled and then looked to the empty seat and sat down again.

-       Do you guys know who occupies that seat?

 One of the generals, visibly eager to participate in order to seem important or smart, shoot his hand up. The president looked at him.

-       That’s where General Arroyo normally seats, the head of the aviation.

 The president nodded, without saying a word. He looked at the seat a little more then announced that General Arroyo had been arrested during the raid against the drug cartels. Every single one of the people present, except for the president’s assistant (the only woman in the room), were baffled at the news. They started asking and demanding and saying it was an outrage and how surprised they were and also hurt. The president asked them, with a gesture of the hand, to end the noise.

 Once the room was calm again, he stared directly at the director of the police. The man was a tall, white and pink skinned man. He looked scared as the president looked at him, with his piercing eyes and soft breathing. None of the military men, all experience in combat and enemies, had ever seen that look on a president or any other person. He looked vicious and hateful.

-       General García.
-       Yes, sir? – Answered the director of the police.
-       How many years have you been head of the police?

The man thought that was a weird question to ask but also felt more fear than before. The president had stopped looking at him and that made him feel even uneasier.

-       I have been in the post for almost ten years.
-       Ten years. – Said the president, in a surprisingly grave voice.
-       Yes…
-       Too many?
-       Sorry?

 Everyone present was surprised at this question. Some of the men tried to reply something but weren’t able to find the words.  No one would ever say that unless they wanted to sack someone. But, then again, what reason did the president have? And, would he only be interested in sacking one man?

 This meeting had been ordered by the president on his flight back and most men had narrowly missed his arrival, as it was imminent. Since he had been elected, almost a year ago, he had proven to be quite and unpredictable man. He had won narrowly in a country that normally hated the likes of men like him but somehow, it had happened. Of course, there had been recounts and lawsuits but nothing had moved him from remaining in power. He had powerful enemies, namely the men that had been in power before, as he was not the typical president.

 Not only he was on the left side of the spectrum, a “soft” left in his words, but also he was interested in preserving culture and encourage the inner growth of the people. Some even said that was precisely why he won: the ones always outside had chosen him in the bigger cities and that had been enough. The military and all public forces had been scared of him but he had went on with the recurrent struggle against the cartels just as the others did so they had all relaxed, to this day.

-       I said, have they been too many?
-       I… I don’t know sir.
-       I think it’s time to clean up, wouldn’t you say misters?

 He said that looking at everyone in the table, and with an annoying smirk on his face. He then turned to his assistant who instantly produced a folder with several sheets of papers. They went through them and took out only six papers. The woman put away the folder and went back to her chair. The president held the sheets on his hand, looking at the men again.

-       Any idea of what that is?

 The same man that had raised his hand before, raised it again:

-       Our resignation letters?

 The president then laughed. It was an obviously fake laugh but it went for so long than people didn’t know how to respond. Some of them smiled and others just trembled in their spots.

-       Not exactly. In here, I have several names, including General Arroyo’s one. All the people listed here have been tracked down by the secret police and we have enough proof to put them in jail. There are some as high profile as the general and others not so much. I need you… Well, I demand of you to clean up your mess.

 He put the papers in front of him, in a way that anyone could have taken them but no one did. They were visibly bothered by what was happening but did not dare to say a word.

-       Any comments, gentlemen?

 The oldest one of the bunch, a general of the navy, looked straight at the president and pointed at him, his hand shaking like mad.

-       You have no right to do that.
-       Excuse me?
-       You cannot tell us what to do, not like this! We’re not children!

 The old men had stood up and raised his voice. The assistant instantly looked to the door, worried people might hear on the other side.

-       We are older than you, more experienced and you should take our advice instead of telling us how to run our entities.

 The president then stood up and smiled weirdly again. It was very unpleasant.

-       First, I have to ask not to raise your voice. Second, what do you mean with “your entities”?
-       I mean we have maintained…
-       Exactly – Said the president, interrupting him. – You have kept them going but those entities belong to the State, to the people. You all took an oath to protect them and you work for me and I for them. Do you understand that?

 The old man sat back down. Everyone was looking at the president as if he had gone insane but he kept his smirk on his face and didn’t sit back down.

-       Gentlemen, I repeat, I demand of you to clean up your entities. They are rotten and you should be grateful you’re not the ones to be sacked first. Your entities are supposed to be the ones protecting us and making the example and that is not the case right now. You know what we found out? Do you?

 Again, no one said anything, only scared faces looked at him.

-       Several policemen involved in bribes and corruption, navy officers helping the cartels, aviation officers bringing whores to the compounds. Even my own personal guard has been known to film pornographic films in State property. Do you understand how bad this is?

 Some nodded, some didn’t. They looked to the ground now, exactly like children after having been grounded.

-       The president’s before me let it all happen, let this country rot from the inside out. I’m not going to tolerate that anymore. If you don’t put this entire people under trial, I will. I have proofs. And if you fail to do it fast, I have many candidates for every single one of your posts.
-       But…
-       But what general Márquez? But what?

 But general Márquez, of the air force, had no idea what to say next. He was as intimidated as the other ones. As men of force, they were already thinking of a way to keep their posts and form an opposition but then the president drew attention back to him by coughing.

-       I have a dinner to attend to with the ambassadors residing in the country. But before that I want to warn you: I’m decreasing the amount of money invested in the military and the police and allocating it to education and health. Tell it to your men, the announcement will be done tonight.


 And then the assistant opened the door and the president left, leaving the country changed and the forces of the past in a state of induced coma.