“Pray”, he commanded.
She felt the cold steel against her forehead. Smooth, almost soft against her skin. She knew how much violence that it was capable of unleashing.
The other girls looked up to her and were ready to follow her lead. For she was their unelected leader since their kidnapping two weeks ago. She looked into the eyes of her friends, one by one. She saw fear, defiance, sorrow, helplessness, resignation – all the emotions she too felt in various degrees. She made her decision and theirs.
She contorted her body to the position that his religion dictated. Closed her eyes as was expected and the darkness slowly crept in and erased the images in her mind. She moved her body through the series of motions that was prescribed. Uttered the syllables taught the past two weeks and the chant increased in tempo as the others joined.
Her mind first concentrated on getting the new routine going – sending signals from memory …coordinating the sound and motion. Soon she was lost in the ennui of misplaced faith yet strangely after a while the mind stilled. There was no noise even though hundreds of vocal chords made sounds. The darkness was replaced with white light. This must be god she thought. A god whose gender , name and shape was neither what she has learnt as a child under the love of her family nor one that her captor professed as the one true god.
But if these chants and motions evoked it , it must be his god, she deduced. Maybe he was right. Maybe his faith was true. The light turned red and danced in her mind , painting beautiful scenes that words could never describe; answering all her questions, those that she didn’t even ask. Then it stilled. She felt its truth; hope and joy followed.
He watched her face go slack as she prayed. Watched as the muscles relaxed and a soft smile spread across her lips. As he watched her face he saw that the fear dissolved; defiance got redefined; sorrow disappeared; hope radiated. Soon she was glowing. He was entranced and felt the power of his steel diminishing. The power dynamic shifted imperceptibly.
She opened her eyes and looked at his face. Her pupils dilated. She smiled beautifully. A smile so incongruous to her surrounding and situation that it surprised him.
She wondered why he looked so surprised. Was it because he didn’t expect her to smile ? Or was it because of the unexpectedness of the sniper rifle’s bullet piercing his forehead at the point where the red light danced a few seconds before ? Or was it because his god answered her prayers?