Once the blackout came, we rarely got more than two hours of electricity at night, I climbed the forty steps to Chilzina's niche, stopping after a few steps, unable to help myself, listening to the echoes of my bare feet padding against hewn stone. The filters hid the white noise of the wind, but I'd be stupid if I filtered out the sounds I made. In the darkness above me while thick clouds hid my approach from their sight, two of Yasir's goons ran fingers over the triggers of their AK-47s, the rifle's shape obvious in the hole left where the wind wasn't.
I sometimes found it difficult to remember others didn't hear like I did now. I'd never known what normal hearing was like, having been born deaf until I'd saved that Army transport and the soldiers had insisted on sponsoring me at one of the NGO hospitals. Now, everyone seemed deaf in comparison.
An advantage I intended to use.
The goons wore night vision goggles, but if you know what to look for, you also know how to move in the holes where they're not looking to slip behind them. I wasn't large even for a ten year old. If you've got surprise, large isn't necessary.
I rolled into the backs of their calves, knocking both of them down. Fingers clicked as they pulled the triggers, but the safeties kept the motion from moving, the gun from firing. The scuffling was painful and momentarily blinded me, but I managed to pull their goggles from their heads before they scrambled to their feet, their guns lying in dark crevices against the wall.
Both of them were over six foot, their arms waving, searching for me in the niche. I ducked under one and punched his stomach and he fell down the forty steps. He rolled to a stop and I listened to see if he'd move, but there were no sounds. One goon left. Of course, Yasir was here as well, otherwise there would be no point to the guards, but he'd be sleeping, trusting his guards.
"What's all this noise." A flashlight pierced the darkness.
I was an idiot. Yasir hadn't been asleep. Without the element of surprise, I didn't stand a chance against even one goon.
He tackled me, his forearm slamming into my ribs and my head cracked against the stone floor. The world oozed around me, pinpricks of false light dancing in the ceiling. Ropes were pulled tight around my wrists, cutting off the circulation.
Yasir leaned down to look in my eyes. "Who are you?" His expression seemed to imply he didn't understand why I was here.
"He ran a coffee house in old town."
Yasir's eyes were empty.
I refused to believe he didn't know the name of my father. He had to know him. It was his men who'd broken father's legs when he'd refused to pay protection money. The goon stood. I stared into Yasir's flashlight as if blinded from the light and then without looking, without telescoping what I planned, I turned and bit the man's shin. I tried to roll towards the stairs, but the flashlight caught my temple and the room blacked out.
When I awoke, the ropes have been replaced with chains. Yasir spoke with some colleagues in a room far enough away, that I was sure they thought I couldn't overhear them, but I heard the plans. They planned to bomb the regional governor. They ran more than a simple racket.
Outside, it had grown light. Helicopters flew over the city. Their radios crackled, my implant caught their signals, the black-market electronics cracked their codes and I listened. They searched for me. I hadn't told anyone I'd do this. Regardless, they couldn't see into Chilzina's niche. They wouldn't find me.
It was hard to scramble to my feet, my hands chained behind me, and links locking my legs together. I shuffled away from Yasir's posse and leaned against the door. I heard the negative space where a single guard stood watch. I waited until the helicopter neared and timed my shamble so that I escaped the niche as the helicopter flew over. I stared into its windows, and the pilot saw me. He recognized me as Yasir's man grabbed my shoulder to pull me back into the niche. A handgun fired and blood splashed my cheek. I was relieved to be pulled into the helicopter.
Yasir might've forgotten my father, but he would not forget Forood. I would return.