Updated: Jun 17, 2020
The sand storm shrieked, howling and hollering like a banshee, banging and battering age worn shutters almost ripping their hinges clean off. It searched the city for open windows or doors to deposit it’s parched load. There is no sustenance in it’s gritty cargo, just irritation and pain.
A figure fights the storm, wrapped in pale cotton robes, turban and scarf tied tight across mouth and nose, tinted goggles cover eyes, a large stalf is used as an anchor. The figure stumbles forward. Male, based on a height, but bent almost double against wind and sand. He struggles. At points stumbling and dropping to a knee or cowering in a doorway, a port in the storm.
Our ghostly figures halts, peers intently at the buildings around him, looks up and down the alley of the souk and then hesitantly approaches a large wooden door with huge metal banded gates. At a small pedestrian door cut into the ancient gates, he raises his stalf and strikes the door three times. Once, twice, wait, wait, thrice. A small grilled window in the pedestrian door is opened and warey eyes peer out, shielded by a hand against the dust.
Our figure leans towards the window and mutters one word... ‘Babylon’. The little window slams shut. And gingerly the pedestrian door eases open. Our figure slips inside and the portal is sealed once again.
Inside is quiet after the shrieks of the storm and it takes the figure a while to acclimatise. He shakes his head and arms freeing himself of dust as much as he can. He stamps his feet and shakes himself like a dog fresh from the river. Trying vainly to dislodge any dust which remains stuck. Then he removes his turban, revealing flame red hair, his scarf and goggles show us a light freckled complexion and piercing blue eyes, a young man's face little more than twenty. Finally he removes a small dagger from his belt and unwraps himself from his pale outer Desert robes. Before us stand a British Officer from his look, army issue Khaki shorts, shirt with pips of rank on the epaulettes and desert boots. He pulls a battered cap from his shorts and straightens it on his head. A small homemade badge shows a winged danger motif and the motto ‘Who Dares Wins’.
From the courtyard, he moves forward into a smoke filled room, men lounging on silken cushions, smoking shisha pipes, playing cards or chess. In the corner a silk draped beauty dances slowly to the strains of a seated player.
Peering into the room our figure spots his target and approaches a man laid back on cushions and being fed dates by a beautiful girl while another wafts a large feather fan to cool the recumbent.
Our figure snaps to attention, salutes and states, “Captain Harry Williams, 22 SAS, reporting as ordered sir!’
“Good lord!! ...If you’re Captain Williams… and you’re here… who the devil did I send with Top Secret orders 200 miles behind enemy lines with two jeeps and eight men?’
‘...I believe there is a Corporal Harold William in Catering Corp sir?’
“Oh dash it all to blazes …” then with a far away look on his face perhaps induced by the shisha “ ...I may not know where they are exactly... but at least they won’t be hungry.”