Published by 13Thirty Books, November 2015
Never Fear – Christmas Terrors is a horror anthology featuring 22 tales from ancient Iceland to modern-day Iraq. My short story, ‘Carol of the Refugees,’ is set in the latter. Sabra, a young Christian girl living in Iraq’s bloody Al-Anbar Province, must flee her home with her family to avoid persecution from the Islamic State militants destabilizing the region.
“Do not let go of my hand, Sabra. Do not let go.” Her father held her hand and pulled her along the side of the building. A screech echoed through the narrow street as a rocket flashed by overhead, a shooting star with no accompanying wish. Sabra in turn held on to the hand of her younger brother, Fahim, the four-year-old squealing at her tight grip. She dreaded losing him in all the confusion. Mother and her older brother, Qadir, trailed behind them, but she would not risk losing her younger sibling. If any of them were left behind, the militants would give them one choice: convert or die.
The shelling had started earlier that morning. The first rounds fell among the city of Sahiliya’s residential bazaar. The militants adjusted their artillery and mortar fire and resumed the bombardment on their intended targets: The small Army base and police station. With explosions tearing apart their position, the Army jundis and police abandoned their posts.
With the city defenseless and night falling, the militants advanced.
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