Excerpt: Smokey tendrils wrapped themselves tauntingly around the man who was not a man as he stumbled through the tall glass doors into the downtown café. The thing, whose name had once been Nour, stood there dressed in a stained galabeya looking around, not feeling the slight caress from the chess player’s smoke to his left.
Mustafa stared at the man from across the room nursing a bottle of Stella. Taking the cigarette out of his mouth and accidentally ashing on his designer jeans, he gazed at the man with his dark brown eyes. He watched the man’s his jaw working frantically. The high ceilings of the café were great for reducing heat, but the rectangular columns placed throughout and the odd angles of the room made it horrible for acoustics. Moreover, he could not hear what the thing was saying, if anything intelligible at all, above the growing din of the Thursday afternoon crowd.
The chess players ignored him too intent on their games, and everyone else was too interested in their company or their drinks. Only the waiter kept an eye on the man, but he did not get up from his seat.
“He has been standing there for too long,” thought Mustafa taking another sip of beer.
The light almost, fizzy concoction was heavenly. To a first time drinker, it may have been stale, but for Mustafa, who worked long hours at the nearby stock exchange, it was respite from the shambles his life had become. He regretted turning to drink as a solution, but he would never leave it. Resting his beer on his small but developing beer gut, head sinking into his chest and stubble tickling his neck, Mustafa continued to stare the man, seeing but not really seeing him. He pondered how difficult it was being an alcoholic in a society where drinking is prohibited by Islam. Granted, it was freer than some Muslim countries, but it was still hard facing his coworkers some of them who were devout Muslims.
“It would matter for much longer though,” he thought, picturing the hot roof of the stock exchange at midday, “Just one quick leap.”
The man who was not a man who stank of sweat and desperation began to moan.
It would start of strong and end in little more than a whisper. It seemed to come from the very pit of his stomach voicing the oppression, the suffering, and the hunger he had had in his life. This man’s life, as with many of the poor, lived in a constant state of hunger; it was their curse. His curse. Except the curse was different now. He did not see it as a curse; he did not see it as anything. Just a need—a need for flesh.
With that first moan and the two more after it, the café fell silent. Mustafa’s eyes flicked to the waiter who had stood up and started walking towards the man. In that instant, the slight tension that Mustafa had felt while watching the odd man turned into fear. Coincidentally, it was also the start of the carnage.