COPYRIGHT NOTICE: The characters and events in the following story are the sole property of the author and may not be used or archived without permission.


By Darrin A. Colbourne

Juarez screamed in agony again as the guerilla twisted the implement. It's needle-sharp end had penetrated deep into his arm, so deep that it was now dancing on bone. The man that was manipulating the device had done this kind of work many times since joining FARC and considered himself an expert, a "seasoned professional". That was the main reason why Gallega had given him this task.

"It is not hard to understand at all, Señor Juarez." Gallega said in a reasonable tone of voice. "You're initiative in Congress to pass a resolution that would allow the Norteamericanos to place more military and law enforcement assets in our country would put a great deal of strain on the businesses of the patriotic citizens who fund our noble cause. Such a strain would force them to deny us funding, as well put several thousand loyal countrymen out of work, and deny a great political party a voice in governing our country. You would not wish to do such harm, would you, Señor?"

"You're murderers!" Juarez grunted through the pain. "You're a cancer on this country! You and your patrons! For once, someone had to stand up and do some good!"

Gallega shook his head and sucked his teeth. "I'm afraid we have not gotten through to you, Señor Juarez. Hector, if you would please explain it to him again?"

Hector kept his first implement in place while retrieving another, which he inserted delicately into the same wound, slowly, methodically, causing the prisoner agony with each second. Juarez screamed as the probe also touched bone.

For him, it would be a long night in Colombia.

It had been a good plan that had not come off well. Mugamba had taken six men with him to try and reach the UN Peacekeepers' encampments. The foreigners had to know what was happening in his village. The Army had quartered several companies of men there, in secret, to serve as a shock force that would be used to drive the Peacekeepers out of the country.

He and his men had communicated in secret themselves, meeting only at night in secluded parts of the village, communicating by hand signal during the day. Finally they struck out, using the darkness to shield their movements and moving as stealthily as they knew how.

Unfortunately, the soldiers had been better, and soon the seven villagers found themselves kneeling in the dust before a platoon of soldiers with rifles, waiting for their fate to be decided. Soon the platoon leader made his pronouncement.

"It is my judgment," he professed, "that for your disloyalty to this nation and our great President, you are to be summarily executed. This shall be a lesson for all traitors that would allow the foreigners on their soil. Executioner, you may commence."

One more soldier came out, this one brandishing a long knife, with a double-edged blade. One edge was serrated, indented with several small, jagged barbs. Mugamba watched in dread as the soldier went behind one of his friends and put the jagged edge against the man's exposed throat. The knife went in deep, and the soldier's slash nearly took his head off. The body flopped to the ground, the head hanging loose as it dropped. Mugamba fought back nausea as the soldier moved to the next villager.

For him and the rest of his men, it would be a long night in Rwanda.

Juang didn't know what to do. He was mad with fatigue and hunger. There was a constant mechanical thrumming coming from somewhere outside of his cell that prevented him from sleeping, and no one had come by with food or water since he'd been brought there two days ago. There was no place to sit or rest in the room, no furnishing or bed. The only human comfort was a toilet in the corner, filthy from years of not being cleaned.

He didn't even know why he'd been brought in. The police had pulled him out of his dorm in the middle of the night and dragged him to the prison, tossing him into the cell without saying a word. He'd been forced to do nothing but pace ever since, except for waiting--and hoping--that someone would come by to give him nourishment and explain what he'd done.

Finally the cell door opened. A police lieutenant walked in with a folding chair and closed the door behind him. He set up the chair in the center of the room and sat in it, watching Juang with scorn. "Do you understand why you've been brought here, Comrade?"

"No." Juang said. "I've done nothing wrong!"

"Oh? Then how do you explain the unlawful gatherings you have attended? The ones led by Academician Wu?"

Juang froze with terror. They knew about the meetings! Wu, his history professor, had run daily "tutoring sessions" with anyone who cared to attend. The sessions were really opportunities for the teacher and his students to discuss ideas like freedom and oppression, and what constitutes both.

"We've had our eye on Wu for some time," the Lieutenant said, "and we are aware of his--and your--subversive activities. So starting tonight, we will begin to disabuse you of any subversive ideas he might have filled your head with. If you cooperate fully, you...may be released soon."

Juang realized now what was happening. Sleep deprivation, starvation...he was going to be turned back into a good Communist sycophant.

For him, it would be a long night in China.

Gerard Montgomery watched the news and raged. "How dare they!" He said. "Such conditions are an outrage! To treat people such simply because they are the enemy is outrageous!"

The Member, Parliament knew civil rights abuses when he saw them. He'd been seeing this story on the BBC for days now, and still the government officials responsible had failed to give an adequate response to the allegations of cruelty to prisoners of war. Well, it was time for someone to act!

His aide was with him in his office. "We're going to stay all night and prepare questions for the Prime Minister on this issue. We're going to make him talk to these people and get them to treat their prisoners with dignity!"

He turned back to the screen, which was tuned to CNN, and made a noise of disgust as one of the responsible parties offered commentary in a sound bite:

"They're being given culturally appropriate meals, clean clothes, copies of the Koran and the opportunity to carry out their devotions." US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said. "We've given medical treatment to anyone who needs it. I don't see how much better we can treat them."

"See?!" Montgomery shouted. "No mention of them being shackled and hooded on the plane! Maybe they're hiding other things. The Red Cross visit wasn't enough. We have to get the UN involved. We won't rest until we get that done!"

His aide nodded, and Montgomery was satisfied that he was doing the right thing, and he really wouldn't rest until he'd gotten results.

For him, it would be a long night in the United Kingdom.

FINAL AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hey, all you crusading liberal Europeans out there: The United States of America is not a tinpot dictatorship! WE DON'T NEED YOU TO TELL US HOW TO TREAT PRISONERS OF WAR!!!!