eau was startled as to the proximity of the voice.  In the dim moonlight coming through the large hole blasted into the wall - stood an old man slumped over from years of hard labor in the sun, long white beard and old sweat-stained hat with a tall point and wide brim perched on his head.

The man spoke quietly again."

"No comprendi senór?" the old man asked.

Beau didn't want to give away what he knew of the Spanish language so he feigned by shrugging his shoulders.  Why, he didn't know.  He just felt he needed to keep all he knew to himself as much as possible.

"Ok, English it is.  What's your name soldier?"  The old man didn't waver a bit with that old musket he carried.  Those things would leave a hole in ya the size of Texas, and he didn't relish the thought.

"How did you know I was here?" responded Beau.

"Senór, it is not too hard to count.  Two men in here for almost two days, and one is coyote feed and the militants did not bring anyone out.  My name is Eduardo Fernández, and my family has lived here many years until the moslems came in '89.  The leader, Yusof Salim infiltrated our community then slowly overwhelmed it from the inside.  Just like your black moslem president."

"Why should I not keel you or turn you in for a reward"  Eduardo asked.  "What can you pay me to let you go free?"

"I have nothing of value on me" responded Beau.  And in these days and times I have no means of acquiring anything of value.  Besides, what need do you have of me?  A man wounded.  To you I am nothing but a liability."

A commotion was stirring outside and the men ignored it.  But their interest in the other was broken suddenly when a long scream of deepest anguish, probably the young mother with the children earlier, pierced the air.  Then unmistakable staccato of a AK was heard, another scream, this time silenced quickly, and the commotion was all over with.

Eduardo chanced a look out the hole in the wall and saw a sight that sickened him.  The mother and the young girl had been brutally murdered with the silent edge of a sharp machete after being gang raped.  The two boys had all been shot.

Another burst from the AK and the old man fell from the window, his hat falling on the floor as his head brushed the side of the hole.  A dull 'whump' was heard as his body hit the rubble below.  The sound of feet running and a couple of militants burst through the door.  Yelling obscenities and motioning with their rifles told Beau that their intention was not to kill him, at least . . . yet.

Beau had dropped his guard of the ambient surroundings while speaking with the old man.  His hopes of overpowering the old man and escaping into the night suddenly evaporated.

He stood still while they lashed his wrists together behind his back.  Feigning ignorance to their language, he defied them by not crying out as they knocked him around with the butts of their rifles.  Fearing he would die soon, he hoped it would be quick. One of the militants dug around through the rubble once more, then he was herded through the door.

He was marched in close proximity past other men laughing as they urinated on the bodies of the four laying in the road.  The womans' dress was pulled up above her head, placed there while her dying body was being ravaged by these bloody monsters.  The blood oozing out from under her skirt confirmed her throat had been ripped open.

A fury was rising in Beau, and he fought the urge to attempt to destroy these beasts.  Ordered to halt, ignoring the order, then brought up by a militant threatening him with his AK, he stopped close to the rear of a Mercedes.

There were three ragged militants and one who was looking quite wealthy.  The door was opened for him and he slid into the rear of the large vehicle.  Beau was thrown into the trunk like a sack of potatoes and the lid slammed hard.  Beau had no way of knowing things were still very much in a downward spiral.

Beau was thankful for the easy ride of the Mercedes, and actually dozed for a few minutes enroute to where he would survive with little hope and much pain.  The vehicle travelled over a smooth road, then turned and rumbled over a stretch of what he thought was cobblestone.  Soon after it stopped the trunk deck swung open and he was lifted, well, dragged actually, from the trunk and thrown to the ground.  His ribs where he'd staunched the blood flow earlier was now bleeding heavily again.

Several youngsters were gathering around him as he lay in the dim light emanating from the open door of what looked like a small detached garage.  Understanding fully what they were saying, he knew he was in deep trouble.  This was the son of the famed Yusof Salim, of whom he had learned less than an hour ago.

He had only vague ideas as to the various methods of torture he would experience.  He continually fought the urge to fight, even though he would quickly die.  At least he would have died trying.  He would kill as many of these monsters as possible.  He might have been down but he was not out!

Throwing him down on the floor after dragging him into the little building, these fools hadn't even searched him.  And now, they were untying him.  He feigned rubbing his wrists and suddenly slammed his fist into the jaw of the youngest one close to him knocking him into two others.  Coming up with a severe uppercut, he caught another one under the chin knocking him out cold.

He grabbed his XD and fired a shot into each one, then grabbed one of the AKs, and blasted away.  He was warned of fast approaching danger by others coming to assist.  He hurriedly backed up and hunkered down in a dark corner inside the building.

Angry shouts came from the direction of the adobe brick house to the left.  Running through quickly without seeing or even looking for him, the sound of a frenzied search ensued.  The loud report of the AK was hammering all out in the desert as they searched for him.

Someone in charge was livid enough that he started shooting the men who were unable to find him.  Someone was in the desert with a jeep playing the lights back and forth.

"You're quite a magician to get them to pass you by unseen like that."  A lady around his own age with a Glock stood across the room just inside the door.  He figured correctly that it probably led to the inside of the house.  "Cuff yourself with the shackles on the wall" she finished, motioning toward the wall with the Glock.

At his hesitation she added "I'm crack shot and I'm very quick."  Beau stood up from the low corner, his legs shaky and tingling, started toward the wall with the shackles.  He suddenly swung around with his pistol and just as suddenly, it exploded from his hand.  "The next one will be through your heart" she said with a cold steady voice.

He reached up and swung his right arm up to to meet the shackle and saw his pinky finger dangling.  It was no secret that he would lose that one.  He clasped the shackles tightly on his wrists and fell against the wall rendered unconscious by the blow to the back of his head.  How long he'd hung there he had no idea, but figured several hours.  The next thing he remembered hearing was the door slamming very hard.

"What a way to die" he thought to himself.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Chapter II