Meet Ahmed Akbar
Ahmed Akbar is a character in Savage Investigations, the novel I’ve been writing for 500 years (or so it seems).
This is his origin story…
Ahmed Akbar awoke early that morning. Today would begin the most important day of his young life.
It all began on a normal day like any other. Ahmed was a brilliant young man, going off to the school where he was the youngest teacher on staff. He slung the worn messenger bag over his shoulder that contained his lunch and the test results from his students. He kissed his wife, Sanaa, on the cheek and their infant son, Raheem, on the top of his head and went to the front door of their modest two room house on the outskirts of the Iraqi city of Al-Awja.
The door wouldn’t open.
Since the bombings and the American invasion, the door frame had shifted.
Too proud to leave his house by the back door, it had been the same comical story every morning for months now because Ahmed felt it was, “too insignificant a thing to bother with.”
“Ahmed, I swear, you must fix that door,” Sanaa laughed. “It embarrasses me to have to tell our friends to go around back to enter our house.”
“Sanaa, my love, we are lucky to even have a door after what has happened around here,” he reminded her but then added, “I will fix it on our next national day of rest. I promise.”
She looked down at Raheem in her arms. “Do you hear that, Raheem? Your father will fix the door on Friday. He promised. We will see.”
Ahmed pushed up hard on the latch and to the left and the door opened.
“See? I told you I could open the door,” he smiled. “Friday,” he promised and left the house, slamming the door behind him to close it. It shook the china on the shelves and the baby started to cry.
Later that morning, a squad of American contract soldiers were patrolling the neighborhood. This had become a common sight and there didn’t seem to be any cause for alarm.
They came to Ahmed’s house.
Sanaa was sitting in her chair and reading with Raheem asleep in her lap.
The soldiers knocked on the door with their rifle butts and Raheem woke up crying.
Sanaa got up to answer the door but she couldn’t get the door open.
The soldiers, hearing the baby crying on the other side, knocked louder and demanded that it be opened.
Sanaa tried to open the door but couldn’t with Raheem in her arms.
“I can’t get it open. Please go around to the back!” she cried in her native tongue, which the Americans could not understand.
“You hear that? Sounds like a baby’s crying,” said the leader of the squad. “We got reports of insurgents in the area and it looks like somebody doesn’t want us to come in. Kick down the door!”
Two men kicked in the door, knocking Sanaa backwards. She dropped the baby and struck her head on the corner of a table, killing her instantly. Raheem died in the fall and Ahmed Akbar’s little family lay lifeless on the floor.
“Now what?” exclaimed one of the American contractors.
“Well, she seems to be the only one home. No terrorist insurgents here,” said the leader. “Let’s get the hell outta here!”
“Yeah,” said one of the men, “the corporation’s not payin’ me enough to get involved in a murder investigation, even if was an accident!”
Rather than trying to offer assistance, they left Sanaa and Raheem on the floor where they lay and ran.
A few blocks away, the leader said, “Okay, that never happened. Am I clear?”
The rest of the squad agreed and nothing more was said or done about it.
After school, Ahmed came home and seeing the door open, ran inside and found that life as he knew it was over.
He screamed as he sat on the floor in the pool of his wife’s blood, holding his lifeless family in his arms until the neighbors came.
“Murdered at the hands of the American infidels!” he said quietly at the funeral. “I hate the Western dogs that brought war to my peaceful world. I will strike back!” he hissed between his teeth.
After he said his final goodbyes to his little family, his wife’s uncle approached him.
“I know of a man who can help you to avenge the death of my brother’s daughter and grandson. If you wish, I can have him contact you. Not now, but when your head and your heart are clearer.”
Ahmed looked at the man through enraged eyes and said, “Please. I cannot let this travesty go unpunished.”
A week later he was visited by a man from a secret organization that was so secret, it had no name, nor seemingly any members that knew about each other. He recruited Ahmed to join the fight, and told him he would be able to get his revenge against the capitalist mongrels that were ruining the world with vile arrogance, spreading hatred wherever they went. The mild mannered schoolteacher was transformed into a terrible angel whose only mission was to avenge the death of his family.
His handler, known to him only as Kadin, the confidant, had told Ahmed to go to a clinic on the other side of town to see a doctor for the tests and then he would be spirited away to begin the transformation. He had an eight-thirty appointment. He already knew that he had the right blood type, AB positive, and the correct bone structure, so the physical alterations Ahmed was about to undertake would only be changes to his eyes and other facial features, along with a slight modification to his voice box so he would sound like his doppelganger. Kadin told him the entire transformation would take six weeks and when he looked in the mirror afterwards he would no longer see himself staring back. He would see the American he was going to replace.
After the operations, during the recovery and orientation period, he would learn to speak flawless English and undergo intense speech therapy. His body would be trained to move the way the American did and to affect all the mannerisms and other physical traits that until now were the American’s alone. His physical size and body type, even his shoe size, was already a perfect match. Once the transformation was complete, if they were to stand side by side, they would appear to be the same person.
Unbeknownst to the American, he was continually being monitored and videotaped so that Ahmed could study the American’s every movement and facial expression until, with the help of a team of coaches, Ahmed would be able to walk and talk and move through the world exactly like him.
He stood in the doorway to his little house, tears in his eyes as he remembered the joy and laughter that had echoed off the walls. Walking out for the last time, he slammed the door.
He heard the sound of breaking china as he stalked away to begin his new life.
What do you think? Feel free to let me know…