Mustafa’s Manifesto

Best of the Boards
Lori Dehn

The trees whispered secrets in the wind. It was hard to hear them over God’s voice, an echoing sound always just at the edge of Mustafa’s awareness, but still, the whispering was audible, and he knew that the trees were talking about him. He ignored them, just as he ignored the pain of the gravel digging into his knees. He ignored the smell that came in waves from the latrine not fifty feet from where he knelt. He ignored the hardened black blood that caked his sweatshirt.

God wanted him to ignore it all, and so he did.

“There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His Prophet. There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His Prophet. There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is His Prophet. And I am Allah’s Beast. I am Allah’s Beast. I am Allah’s Beast.” He muttered the words with the solemnity of a saint and the devotion of a dervish. It was a litany that rang in his mind with every breath he took.

A car whipped past along the highway behind him, the doppler whine disappearing in the whispering of the trees.

His hands raised before him, Mustafa keened and rocked back and forth, muttering the words over and over like an incantation. His eyes were closed, and God began to show him things on the movie screen of his mind. At first it was flashing lights, but after a moment, those lights began to take shape. They were pictures. They were instructions. They were Allah’s commandments.

Mustafa whimpered. Not again. His hand still ached from the crushing blow he had dealt the woman in Georgia. It was bruised, he knew, and even the pressure of the steering wheel made it hurt so that tears sometimes squeezed from the corners of his eyes. And the look of fear in the eyes of the other woman, the one in the pretty store, it hurt him inside like a gunshot, a spreading, burning hole that he couldn’t explain. No, not another one. The blood was still sticky on his hands from the last one.

But the pictures flashed faster, the lights becoming more insistent, and in his mind, the voice of God boomed in Dolby Surround sound. Yes, it would happen again. He had no choice. If God wanted it, he would do it. Mustafa bowed his head, hot rivers of suffering streaming down his dark cheeks.

“Yes, Lord,” he whispered. Maybe she would know the answer, he thought. Maybe she wouldn’t have to die. Maybe he wouldn’t have to hurt her. But if God asked it, then he would.

How do you say no to God?


Lori, aka Bookbinder, is a regular at several Toasted Cheese boards. This 15 minute “speed story” was written in response to Boots’s challenge to “Write a quick manifesto for your antagonist.” and was originally posted at Maxim Tremendous. Lori can be reached at progressdownriver[at]

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