ESTEBAN MARTINEZ 90,568 wds
Night is often a youngster’s nemesis with monsters lurking in closets and nightmares the norm. But what if the terror continues into adulthood and transforms into reality? Daniel is about to embark on a journey to find the answers and may wish he never did.
In 1979 as Americans enjoy a complacent lifestyle, the foundation of a dramatic change in how we interpret the world is taking place thousands of miles away. Traditionally, Americans are never concerned with events occurring on the other side of the world. Unfortunately that’s about to change.
The first domino tile of a long line of terror is tipped. In time the after effects will influence every resident in the U.S. and the free world. Iran carries out the first assault of an undeclared war against the United States. Unfortunately U.S. intelligence fails to recognize signs prior to the attack and subsequent clues of what’s looming in the future. On November fourth, radio listeners enjoying Gloria Gaynor’s hit “I will survive” are suddenly jolted by a news bulletin. The U.S. Embassy in Iran is under siege, hostages are taken. Ignoring cries of outrage from freedom loving countries, the embassy staff is kept in captivity for over four hundred days.
After non-stop negotiations and several botched rescue attempts, the hostages are eventually released on January 20, 1981. Iranian leaders celebrate their first victory. A timetable of premeditated terror is set in motion.Since then, American interests abroad have undergone a series of terrorist attacks with the worst occurring in 1984 when 241 U.S. servicemen are killed in Beirut after a truck packed with explosives is driven by a suicide bomber into the Marine barracks.
The United States is unaware the seemingly isolated incidents occurring throughout the world and those yet to occur is only the beginning of a carefully orchestrated plan to destroy America. To make matters worse a Saudi national creates an International terrorist network with ties to extremist organizations, another signal of what lies ahead. On learning of this the U.S. government squirms slightly and with oil interests in mind, responds with a small volley of rhetoric.
1989, five years after the Beirut massacre, dawn is about to descend on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Inside an old darkened six story building, occupants of a third floor apartment stir. Awakened by Phil Collins’ rendition of “Another day in paradise” two males prepare for a morning ritual. One abruptly twirls the radio dial until the sounds of a past hit by Guns N’ Roses fills the room. The other grimaces and remarks jokingly.
“Hey, if that’s “Sweet child of mine” by that guns and whatever group, you better turn it down big child of mine.”
The equally facetious reply’s quick, “Be glad it isn’t YMCA by the Village People. Remember when I was six? You told me I used to drive you nuts with that one.”
After a few seconds of banter, they share a quick breakfast of eggs and toast.
Ten minutes later they exit and proceed towards a dimly lit stairwell. Quietly descending the stairs, the young Guns N’ Roses devotee excitedly grips the banister. Using the railing for leverage he effortlessly skips two and three steps at a time.
The oldest follows a normal pace with no desire to compete. After two flights they meet in an equally gloomy hallway leading to a damp grimy sidewalk with temperatures in the mid-forties. Once outside they stand side by side to wait for dawn. Attempting to gain warmth, they move their arms aimlessly while jogging in place. Gazing south they communicate with gestures and facial expressions. Buildings on both sides of the narrow street create a murky man-made canyon with lampposts stationed near intersections. The dimly lit lamps offer little challenge to the darkness and merely serve to accentuate the shadowy structures.
Lanky soon to be fifteen Daniel Mazzone, outfitted with jeans, black leather jacket and back pack, hums the tune recently heard. Relishing the moment when air seems eerily different and serene setting causes secure feelings he prefers the unique span in time lasting mere minutes between light and darkness. Occasionally a touch of romance is added when gentle obscure glimmers of sunlight combine with blaring marine horns in the distance. At age ten when he first experienced the setting, it captivated his senses. It also created a haunting effect which in turn formed an obsession and ultimately a part of his life.
Overcome with anticipation he displays a wide grin and alert brown eyes that often give the impression of a much older youth. From the river a cool breeze carrying blends of salt and diesel fuel brushes past his dark curly hair. Shuffling old sneakers, he rubs his hands together before pulling a stubborn jacket zipper up to his chin. His father Daniello, dressed in an old brown leather jacket, khaki pants and construction boots gazes at his son’s innocent semblance. Grinning, Daniello recalls Daniel’s first encounter with the dawn mystique. It was five years ago while waiting for a ride to Sheepshead Bay and an early morning fishing trip. Ever since then, weather permitting, Daniel insists greeting each day on the sidewalk. At first Daniello became concerned but after realizing all he wanted to do is view a light display created by nature he found nothing seemingly harmful in his strange request. After a few mornings he learned to enjoy it and the bonding created because of it. Anxious for the show to begin, Daniel fidgets. Years of repetitive spectacles haven’t dulled his enthusiasm, considering each morning unique.
As if on cue, twilight breaks. A faint glow of light, refracted by the atmosphere, peeks delicately from the Brooklyn horizon. Gently dissipating shadows, the faint light clings to windows of taller buildings. Further south the majestic Manhattan Bridge decorated with tiny night-lights proudly exposes its massive steel towers and suspension cables. High up within the metal structure a subway train snakes its way west with windows forming a weaving checker pattern. Occasionally emitting sparks of electricity, it dashes to an underground haven in lower Manhattan. Its neighbor to the south the world famous Brooklyn Bridge exhibits its unique stone towers. The venerable structure, soon to celebrate over one hundred years, stretches towards the historic financial district. On the tip of Manhattan, the area’s crowded with huge edifices including the awe-inspiring towers of the World Trade Center. The mammoth structures customarily welcome the first rays of sunlight. The cloud-textured sky quickly becomes a streaked canvas with various shades of color, gold being the dominant medium. No longer feeling the cold, Daniel turns towards his father with a look of approval. The climax always sends a warm feeling through his body.
The brightening landscape reveals a centuries old neighborhood. An impressive array of old and new structures teeming in a relatively small area begin to unfold. Weather scarred relics of once brightly painted advertisements are visible on the sides of many buildings. Pigeons swarm with precision as if celebrating the arrival of a new day. In some areas centuries old cobblestone streets continue rattling modern drivers.
The scent of coffee and aromas from diverse ethnic culinary establishments waft into the morning air. Traffic begins to pour into the city above and below ground.
On the east, bustling maritime traffic dominates the waterway. Sea gulls gather overhead as the venerable East River comes alive with activity.
The west features Daniel’s school, an old structure huddled among equally ancient buildings in a sector populated long ago with pleasant ethnic blends existing for generations. Miles to the north the midtown area’s a privileged spot hosting the best New York City has to offer. Accentuating the landscape, the legendary Empire State Building and unique Chrysler Building with its creative design serve to inspire visitors.
After the brief show they gaze up at a third floor window and wave goodbye to Daniel’s mother. From her perch Sofia observes their movements while brushing her long lustrous black hair. Strolling south on the sidewalk, they separate at the first intersection and proceed in different directions. Daniel moves west towards his school and Daniello veers east towards the waterfront. Dressed in a simple housedress Sofia sighs and moves away from the window towards the kitchen. After washing a few items used during breakfast, she moves into an area long considered off-limits to both males. The room resembles a fashion studio with bolts of cloth near a table cluttered with paper patterns, scissors and tape measures. The walls depict pictures of smiling bridesmaids offering a mosaic testimony of past accomplishments.
Approaching a factory style sewing machine she prepares to resume sewing one of several dresses ordered for a wedding taking place sometime in March. Turning on a radio she hums along with the music while maneuvering glistening pink satin fabric under a lightning fast needle. A well-known neighborhood seamstress, she has enough work to keep her busy for the next ten months, as she eloquently advised a nosy neighbor yesterday.
On the day Daniel was born his father decided to make life easier and named him Daniel. When asked why, he answers simply “I don’t want him going through life spelling his name. For me, it’s annoying. Daniel’s easier on Anglo ears.”
Unknown to them, Daniel often fantasizes having a brother or even a sister to share secrets and fears. Sometime ago in a moment of solitude he confided this to Sofia. She in turn offered something his father remarked after learning she was unable to bear additional children. “What destiny decides may shock, excite, repulse and even make you cry but you soon realize there’s nothing you can do to change it and attempting to do so is wasted energy.”
A thin frame and easygoing nature sometimes gives the wrong impression. Schoolmates respect his easy going style and preference to avoid involvement in childhood pranks. Although his physique is far from intimidating there’s a certain aura about him that demands esteem, a seemingly mature semblance different from those his age. After several confrontations he often remarks,
“Just because I don’t like talking loud and walking with arrogance doesn’t mean I’m a wimp.”
To make matters worse, during a family gathering a relative mentions he has the makings of a priest. When Daniello heard the suggestion he laughed so hard Sofia had to playfully slap him on the back.
“What’s wrong with a priest in the family?” She admonished.
“Nothing, it’s just that every Italian family wants a son to become a priest. Priests can’t get married and as a result don’t produce grandchildren. Maybe, just maybe, if I had two sons I would share one with the church but Daniel’s all we have, ah you didn’t think about grandchildren did you?”
Pouting, Sofia looked at him for a second. Realizing he was right, she broke out laughing.
It’s taking Daniel a little longer to get to school today. Normally the eight-block route takes less than fifteen minutes. Each day his mood and distractions dictate time of arrival. Today he met up with a schoolmate and decided to accompany him to an aunt’s apartment to pick up some lunch money. Yesterday he was enticed by the itinerant aroma of a nearby bakery and veered off course to sample fresh baked pastry. He also discovered if the baker’s approached at the right moment the treats free.
Although three years distant he looks forward to graduation and is planning to comply with his father’s wish of attending college. Daniello loves to read and keeps up to date on various topics including recent technological advances. Years ago when computers first appeared at work he quickly became fascinated with the system. With this in mind he approached Daniel one day.
“If I have to work two jobs you’re definitely going to college. Times are changing and you need to be prepared. When I was your age I wanted to be a shoemaker like my father but he convinced me the trade was being replaced by mass produced merchandise and suggested becoming a carpenter. The trade served me well but today carpenters are a dime a dozen. Plan for the future, technology’s the way to go.”
Since it’s customary to follow in a father’s footsteps, the declaration created both surprise and relief. Daniel never really relished the idea of becoming a carpenter.
Thousands of miles away near a small village in Afghanistan a large group of black garbed men engage in training exercises primarily designed for the sole purpose of creating terror. They represent Muslims from poor communities throughout the Arab world. Most are young volunteers from different regions of the middle-east with one chilling thing in common. Through the use of religion they have been manipulated to participate in the slaughter of the enemies of Islam, which sadly includes the western hemisphere. Tactics used to wrongly lead these men includes a special strain of brainwashing saturated with twisted beliefs that includes a daily dose of propaganda laced with misrepresentation of the Holy Koran. One method includes the credence of expected rewards in heaven after sacrificing themselves in battle. Martyrdom is encouraged and revered. The determined look on the faces of those being trained tells the whole story, they are not afraid to die. Muslims not in agreement with the methods of militants fear the consequences of going public, creating a false impression of acceptance.
Another reason for the present situation includes the mutation of the Muslim faith by an evil entity determined to overshadow the true teachings of the prophet Muhammad. Peace loving Muslims all over the world are now forced to choose if the violence suddenly erupting against westerners is a covenant of God. Westerners in turn find it difficult to separate the militant Muslim from those dedicated to words of peace from the Koran. They are equally unaware that long ago due to a disagreement on who should fill the sandals of the late prophet, the Sunnis and Shiites emerged, two opposing entities capable of unleashing a third world war. As a result the western world will erroneously label and treat every Muslim with suspicion. Islam has always been the most misunderstood religion on earth. It’s this ignorance that will create an all out war between the west and middle-eastern Arabs, the basic text of a prophecy written hundreds of years ago.
Islam is now facing its greatest challenge. An anti-God has evolved to destroy the three religions by pitting one against the other. The evil spirit has taken the appearance of a Muslim, a perfect disguise since the youngest religion, when compared to Judaism and Christianity, is presently involved in a perplexing existence amplified by widespread violence. The presence of western armies on long considered sacred ground serves as mechanism for the creation of a new breed of militant Muslims. The new strain will take the tradition of maintaining the land free of infidels a giant step further. Inspired by the anti-God, Muslim terrorists are now more ferocious and determined to export terror to Europe and America.
A suicide bomber is the ultimate weapon, normally a politically frustrated misinformed individual trained for the sole purpose of dying alongside those they come to destroy.
As prophecy’s clock ticks on, complacent Americans are totally unaware of what’s taking place in terrorist training camps in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and other parts of the world. New York City exhibits no signs of concern. As residents go about a routine existence the smell of blood hangs heavy over the atmosphere stretching from the North American continent to the middle-east and beyond. The heavens convulse when clues of a mind-boggling cataclysmic prophecy appear with alarming frequency. Sadly no one’s paying attention. As a rule the Universe never interferes when nature wreaks havoc but when humans rise to slaughter each other the balance of nature is upset.
After waiting patiently for all concerned to reach an agreement, a mystical force prepares to intervene. A timeless process designed to influence the course of history. Throughout the ages multiple warning signs ignored prior to an occurrence often preceded a major catastrophic event. Thousands of years of trial and error often produced negative results but when distinctive individuals are chosen, be they members of government, the military or ordinary citizens, history tends to excel.
As a centuries old prophecy counts down, an unlikely figure selected by destiny prepares to emerge.
Excerpt from my book "OCCURRENCE' soon to be sold in AD BOOKSTORE.