That can’t be good, she thought.
The sight of blood, rather than the awareness of injury sent her into a hypnotic swirl slowly urging the darkness as the chaos continued around them, her mind only vaguely aware of it all.
She woke up with a start, to find an old man who terribly reminded her of Samuel L Jackson in Twisted leaning over her. He said something over her shoulder, and she looked over to see Rashid standing with his hands folded over his chest. Rashid nodded, and the Jackson lookalike stood and gathered his things into his bag.
For a moment, she felt like she was in an old Country Western movie, guns and roses complete with the home visiting doctor. She knew the Jackson lookalike was a doctor – he was the same guy who had tended to her father during that cancer scare 6 years ago.
She looked at her arm, neatly bandaged now, and tried to sit up. The Jackson lookalike turned to her, pushing her back into the bed she was lying on and said something. She didn’t hear what he said, her ears were ringing too loud, but she understood the pain more than his words and did not try to sit up again.
The two men walked out of the room and a teenage girl Zohra knew was her father’s stepdaughter walked in with a glass of water, placing it quietly on a table beside the bed and then walked out.
Zohra now looked around. This was not her room. This was one of the rooms inside the main house. As a rule the women of the compound had smaller homes built around the main house. No woman was allowed in the main house except for Talik’s first wife and her daughters.
Her mind wandered idly – the only people allowed into the main house were the owner and head of the household, his first wife and his first wife’s children – maybe a few servants and the head’s ‘goons’. That was a code Talik had upheld since his own father was alive and on his deathbed.
That explained why when she had been brought in the other night, she had been placed in an room outside of the main house, but secure enough under the circumstances.
So, what had changed? Why was she in the main house now? Was her father still alive? Was she the target of the shoot-out, or had she walked into an ambush meant for someone else, say Rashid? What was really going on here?
She didn’t attempt to sit up again, the pain had been a little too much, now it throbbed dully in her arm. But she did raise her head when the door opened again and Rashid walked in.
The ringing in her ears had subsided, so she hear what he said:
“Do you believe me now, Zohra?”
He was still dressed in his impeccably ironed blue shirt and tie, tucked to razor sharp trousers. The only sign that the recent events had jarred him, was the thin layer of sweat that has soaked the front locks of his half-arab half-african hair. She smiled, remembering the jokes she used to make about him when they were friends:
“Your skin is absolutely certain that you are African, but your hair, it just can’t make up its mind between Arab and African, can it?”
Mother would have thrown her anthropological combined with genetics knowledge, probably retorted at her joke with a sentence that begun with, “Scientifically-”
Zohra pushed thoughts of her mother away, if she even had an inkling about what was going on here, no, she could not think of that.
“Did they mean to kill you and your men, or was I really the target?” She finally asked.
“Both, perhaps.” At least he was honest about that.
“So what is really going on? Where are the police? Surely they should be here after all that shooting.”
“They came and went, Zohra, you’ve been out awhile.”
She frowned, “Wait, how long have I been out?”
He chuckled, reaching for a chair beside the bed, sitting on it, crossing his legs and then leaning back as if to study her. “A few hours. The bullet wound is not fatal, but it was deep, and you lost some blood. But the doctor thinks the shock knocked you out.”
“Right.” I am fragile. But there was too much on her mind for her to focus on the chagrin she felt at fainting. “Rashid, is my father alive?”