The fine print, p.1
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       The Fine Print, p.1
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           Nathan Allen
The Fine Print
The Fine Print

  (The One Where Farouk Learns That Martyrdom Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be)

  By Nathan Allen

  Copyright 2015 Nathan Allen

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  Thank you for downloading this free ebook. You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete original form. Thank you for your support.

  Also by Nathan Allen

  The War On Horror

  The Empathy Correction

  Available for free download

  The Fine Print

  (The One Where Farouk Learns That Martyrdom Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be)

  The moment of anticipation had arrived.

  Farouk’s heart thumped like a Newton’s cradle. He closed his eyes and focused on his breathing.

  For as long as Farouk could remember, his whole life had been leading up to this one day. Before now, everything was theoretical. Today was an idea, an abstract concept. A moment in the distant future that may or may not occur.

  Now it was a reality. Today was here. His destiny had arrived

  He conducted one final check of his hardware to ensure that everything was in place, then swallowed his anxiety and made his way through the crowded marketplace.

  He tried to act as calm and as natural as he could, but acting natural was a lot harder than he had expected. By doing everything he could to blend in – smiling, greeting strangers, tossing complements to stallholders – Farouk was positive that he was drawing attention to himself. He felt the glare of one hundred sets of eyes burning a hole into the back of his head as he made his way through the crowd. It was as if the words “SUICIDE BOMBER” flashed above his head like a blinking neon sign.

  He brushed this off and reminded himself that feelings of paranoia were perfectly normal in situations such as this.

  He came to what he decided was the marketplace’s most densely-populated area. He nudged his way to a central position that would guarantee a maximum number of casualties.

  He took a deep breath and said a silent prayer for strength. He psyched himself up.

  It was showtime.

  His moment of glory.

  His ticket to paradise.

  With his thumb hovering precariously above the button, he filled his lungs with air and shouted his final proclamation to the world.

  “Allahu akbar!!”

  Pandemonium ensued. Onlookers ran for their lives. Infidels screamed and dived for cover.

  Farouk opened his eyes.

  Nothing had happened. His bomb had failed to detonate.

  Worst of all, everyone was staring at him.

  He pressed the button on the charger again and again. Still nothing.

  This was his worst nightmare – literally. In the lead-up to today, Farouk had been tormented by anxiety dreams where this exact scenario had played out. Now these dreams had invaded his waking life.

  “Oh, my Allah,” he said meekly. His throat contracted. His cheeks felt like they were on fire. “I’m so sorry everyone. I’ve never been so embarrassed.”

  It took only twenty-three seconds for Farouk to detect his error – he’d mistakenly put the AA batteries in the charger the wrong way around – but it felt like hours.

  Farouk was conclusive proof that when you build something idiot-proof, nature just builds a bigger idiot.

  “Imbecile!” he muttered under his breath.

  Farouk cursed his stupidity, and he cursed the hard-to-read illustrations for the charger’s battery component.

  An eternity of humiliation passed, but Farouk finally managed to get the batteries in right way around.

  “Now, let’s try this ag–”

  Farouk never did finish that sentence. He was tackled from behind by a well-meaning vigilante and brought to the ground. The surprise attack caused him to flinch involuntarily and press down on the button.

  In the milliseconds that followed the detonation of the bomb, as his body and the vigilante’s body were both being turned into kebab filler, it occurred to Farouk that he had martyred himself without proclaiming, “Allahu akbar”.

  He’d already said it that one time. Was he supposed to say it again? Surely the first one still counted. Besides, it was just a formality, wasn’t it? He’d still be admitted into heaven, and he’d still get his seventy-two virgins.

  He’d hate to miss out on eternal paradise because of a technicality.

  Farouk had landed himself in some awkward situations before. But he’d never truly experienced awkwardness of the palm-sweating, gut-churning variety until he found himself sitting in limbo, waiting for his number to be called, surrounded by fifty-four infidels that he had just murdered.

  Thankfully, he wouldn’t be forced to endure this torture for too much longer. His ticket stub had the number #11,243,715,473. The digital counter on the wall displayed #11,243,715,468. He would be out of there in no time at all. Although the man currently being processed – an obnoxious suit-wearing, loud-talking Italian – was taking forever to go through. He made repeated demands to speak to “whoever was in charge around here”, waving his hands around and threatening to have everyone fired if they didn’t fix what he insisted was a simple clerical error.

  Farouk was relieved there was at least one person in limbo who was more despised than he was.

  His number was called a short time later. He leaped up from his seat and approached the front desk.

  “Name?” the gum-chewing clerk droned in his general direction.

  “Farouk Ba’asher Bin Abdulraheem,” he said.

  Farouk noted that the clerk didn’t bother taking her eyes from the screen when she addressed him. He wanted to emphasise the importance of eye contact with regards to customer service, and that a friendly smile often went a long way. But he let it slide. Farouk was determined to begin his afterlife on a positive note.

  “Could you spell that please?” the clerk said.


  Farouk was glad that she’d asked. He hated it when people spelled his name F-A-R-O-O-Q.

  The clerk pecked away at her keyboard. She stared at the screen for a long half-minute, then blew a heavy sigh. “Sorry, the systems are running a bit slow today,” she said. “This always happens on Fridays.”

  A moment later, the clerk’s face brightened.

  “Oh, my,” she said. She looked up at Farouk with a bright smile. “It says here that you’re a martyr.”

  Farouk couldn’t help but feel the pride swelling inside of him. “Why, yes I am,” he replied.

  The swift change in the clerk’s demeanor was evident. One minute he was being treated like a number, the next it was as if she was talking to a celebrity.

  “Just one moment,” the clerk said.

  She picked up her phone and dialed. She spoke softly into the handset. Farouk couldn’t quite hear what was being said, but she kept glancing back up at him and smiling flirtatiously.

  I could definitely get used to this, Farouk thought to himself. He already felt like he had grown a couple of inches in height, and that he was holding his head up a fraction higher.

  The clerk replaced the handset. “Someone will be with you soon,” she said.

  Another minute passed, and then a door opened at the side of the room.

  “Just go in through there,” the clerk said. “They’ll be expecting you.”

  “Welcome home, my son.”

  Farouk could barely believe his eyes. He assumed that when he arrived in heaven he would be met by one of Allah’s subordinates. The last thing he expected was to be walking in a field of fluffy clouds, bathed
in an ocean of golden light, being greeted at the gates of paradise by none other than Allah himself.

  “We’re so glad you could make it,” Allah said. He placed his hands on Farouk’s shoulders. “We’re all such huge fans of your work.”

  Farouk was about to return the compliment, but he held back. He thought it might appear insincere or sycophantic, like he was only expressing his admiration for Allah because Allah had said it to him first. He decided he’d wait awhile, and slip it into the conversation at a later date when he and Allah were better acquainted.

  “Here,” Allah said, placing a gentle arm around Farouk. “Let me give you the heavenly tour.”

  Farouk beamed. When he had fantasized about this moment previously, he always imagined he would affect a type of cool nonchalance. But this wasn’t a fantasy anymore; it was real, and there was nothing he could do to hide his delight. His face wore an ear-to-ear grin, like a sex offender at a child beauty pageant.

  Allah showed him all the sights. There was the prayer room. The jacuzzi. The massage parlor. The gym. The cinema. They even had mini golf.

  Farouk became a little light-headed from overstimulation. Heaven was everything he dreamed it’d be and more. He’d always wanted to try mini golf, but the opportunity had never presented itself on earth.

  They arrived at a large bungalow at the end of a cul de sac.

  “And finally,” Allah said. “The moment I’m sure you’ve been waiting for. This is where we house our virgins.”

  Farouk was now giddy with excitement. He hadn’t wanted to push the issue, but he was wondering when Allah was going to get to this part. Because – let’s face it – the promise of virgins was martyrdom’s greatest selling point. The jacuzzi and the mini golf were great, but that was available on earth. But seventy-two virgins all to himself? Not even rock stars or dictators enjoyed those kinds of privileges.

  He wondered how it would work. Would he be given an allocation of seventy-two that he kept for all of eternity? Would they remain virgins even after they’d been defiled? Or was there some sort of rotation system in place – were new virgins brought in as soon as the old ones stopped being virgins? Either way, he didn’t mind. Although he secretly hoped it was the latter. Variety was the spice of life.

  “They’re all in there waiting for you, Farouk,” Allah said. “Enjoy!”

  Farouk wrapped his arms around Allah. “Thank you, Allah!” he cried. Tears of joy welled in his eyes. “Allahu akbar!”

  “Oh, no need for that,” Allah replied. “My ego is big enough as it is!”

  Allah chuckled at his own joke, an affectation that Farouk found unusually endearing.

  He hugged Allah once more, then moved toward the door. He reached for the handle.

  The door opened, and for the first time he laid eyes the virgins.

  The smile quickly vanished from Farouk’s face.

  This was not what he had expected.

  There were seventy-two virgins inside the bungalow. But they were not the kind of virgins he had envisioned. These were no nubile beauties, sunbathing on clouds and rubbing baby oil into each other’s backs.

  The “virgins” were all like him – fellow martyrs, frustrated young men lured into heaven on the promise of erotic adventures with exquisite babes.

  They lounged around the room, playing Xbox and watching a football match on the wall-mounted plasma TV.

  Farouk heard a chorus of uproarious laughter coming from behind.

  He turned and saw Allah doubled over in a fit of hysterics.

  Next to him was Jesus Christ. Jesus had tears rolling down his cheeks and a deep laugh reminiscent of Fozzy Bear.

  Buddha, Mohammad and Krishna were all there too, laughing and pointing at Farouk. The whole gang had come by to join in the fun.

  That was the moment Farouk realized the joke was on him.

  “Oh, come on Allah!” one of the bearded virgins complained. “Would you stop it already?”

  “The joke’s gone on long enough!” another added. “It’s not funny anymore!!”

  This reaction only made the deities laugh harder.

  One of the virgins jumped up from his seat and slammed the door closed.

  “Sorry about that,” he said to Farouk. “In case you hadn’t figured it out by now, the whole ‘virgins’ promise is one big con.”

  Farouk tired to mask his disappointment and shrug it off like it was no big deal.

  A couple of the other virgins took pity on him. They offered him a seat and an Xbox controller.

  “It’s not all that bad up here,” a heavyset virgin said to Farouk. “There’s still a lot of cool stuff. The new Grand Theft Auto has just been released. We get Xbox games a month before the mortals do.”

  “We also have mini golf,” a bespectacled virgin added. “That’s pretty cool.”

  “Overall, we don’t have too many complaints,” the heavyset virgin said. “Just remember that Allah and his friends can be real jerks sometimes.”

  If you enjoyed this ebook, feel free to download to following:

  The War On Horror

  The Empathy Correction

  Available for free download

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