The wind scurried sand even in the neighborhoods away from the desert. Mansoor watched the darkness coveting Silwan's ridge. He rubbed his hands together for warmth and wished he wasn't a cadet. Khirbeth, squad leader of the firebreathers, claimed that protecting territory from the archeologist's propaganda was more important than front line fighting. But there was no glory in his guard duty. Mansoor dreamed of his first kill and promotion. How difficult could it be to kill an infidel?
Blinking away sleep, Mansoor poured himself another cup of khiv. A stone rattled as it slid down the graffiti-strewn walls. Mansoor spied the out of place shadow. He ignited his fires; pleasures suffused his belly.
The darkness hid the man's features. Yet, he knew from the way the man hunkered against the wind and the shape of the cupped hands holding tools. He faced an infidel archaeologist. "This place is forbidden." The fires licked his esophagus. He should spark and kill the man inside his five meter range.
"Wait." A woman's voice.
Mansoor retreated, but he kept her within range. The air felt cold when he gulped it. "You're an archaeologist?"
"Of course." She moved forward out of the shadows, the moonlight catching the swell of her breasts.
"It's not allowed." The crevices around his words hissed as saliva dripped into his stomach.
"You would deny knowledge?" She kept her arms wide, the hands in fists, where he could see them. "Our history is a blessing, but it was never meant to be a mystery. You must understand that I am not different than you."
"You would claim Silwan's walls as your own." Mansoor's words were sour.
"Only if they were ours."
"The propaganda of your ways lie, they will cheat us of our birthright. Our homes."
She opened her palm and a shadow fell from it skittering to the street below. She leaped into the air to levitate for a second during which Mansoor breathed fire. Her face was beautiful as the flames consumed her flesh. Bones clattered to the pavement below.
Her porcelain cheeks stared at him. Accusing afterimages. He fumbled for more khiv. He never forgot.