The shrill laughter of children at play and women wearing headscarves and burkas, their insistent voices bartering with merchants, add to the festive scene.
Entering the center of the swarming bazaar, the young man stops. He assesses his location. This will do. He lightly pats his chest and smiles. Under his jacket, is a suicide vest filled with high explosives. He has volunteered to martyr himself, for the sake of Jihad and thereby help in the holy struggle against the infidels who have dared defile the lands of his fathers. He is arrogantly proud of his role. Allah will be very pleased, he thinks.
But today, he will not strike directly at the Great Satan. He will hit them from an oblique angle.
He tears off the jacket, drops it on the ground, and laughs as the men, women and children now recognize him for what he is. They try to flee, but there are too many in too small of a space.
They're trapped by their own sin. Now they'll pay the price for their lack of true faith.
A piercing cry of "Allah Akbar!" burst from his mouth and fills the air, moments before the fireball.
The young man is aware. But he can see nothing, for there is nothing to see.
He can hear nothing for there is nothing to hear.
Then, from what might be judged as the distance, a diffuse light seems to approach. It grows brighter, larger as it nears. Soon he raises a hand before his eyes, to shield them from the intense light. Fear grows within him as he throws himself down, prostrate in front of this overwhelming magnificence.
The whiteness speaks. It is a gentle, but still powerful voice.
"Arise," the voice says.
The young man slowly stands, but cannot look directly at the light.
"You are suicide bomber and consider yourself to be a martyr. Is this correct?" the voice asks.
Emboldened by the acknowledgement of his status, he proudly relies, "Yes, yes Allah, I am."
"Ah... Well, we have little problem here it seems. You see, I'm not Allah."
Unsure of what to make of this admission, he pauses briefly before saying, "Then you must be one of his angles, one of those He made from light. You certainly must then be aware that I am to be given special treatment, for the works that I have done in his name."
"Special treatment? Just what did you have in mind?"
Seeing this as a test of his faith and knowledge, the young man explains. "Paradise? The seventy-two virgins? You must know of this?"
"Oh, that special treatment. Well, of course, after all you deserve it."
"I do. I deserve what I have earned," he exclaims, his words dripping with conceit.
"So that's what you wish, that's how you want to spend eternity? The seventy-two virgins and all?"
"Yes, in fact I demand it. It is my due!"
"All right. But remember, you asked for it."
The light fades out and is replaced by a desert scene. The young man finds himself facing a robed stranger.
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