Devil with the Angel's Eyes (16+)

(Based on Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner)

Saria Ahmed is Assef's twelve year old sister, a charming young girl with bright blue eyes, and curly blonde hair. With her girly dresses and sweet demeanour, she comes across as the perfect child. But there is evil lying just beneath the innocent facade, a darkness that is sometimes beyond her control...

Any characters, words or plot devices taken from the Kite Runner are copyrighted by Khaled Hosseini and Dreamworks studios. I do not own them, and no copyright is intended. Saria Ahmed, and any other characters not owned by Hosseini are owned by me.

Please note that this story does contain strong violence, language and mature themes, but it is meant to reflect the violent and sociopathic natures of both Saria and Assef, and is told from Saria's unique first person perspective. If you are under the age, or maturity level of 16, or are in any way squeamish about violence, please do not read this story. Any feedback/ideas are welcomed.

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9. End of an era

Chapter 8 saw Saria questioned by the police regarding Zainab's death. She was able to manipulate the officer into seeing her as simply an innocent little girl. Now, we find her getting ready for bed but her perfect world is soon to be shattered...

One whole month had passed since Zainab's demise and I would be returning to school in a week's time, the spring of 1974. I honestly could not wait to return to the classroom. Through research, I had learned that I was in the school next to Amir's. How thrilling was that? So close to the boy I was in love with, the boy I wanted for my own. My sweet little Adia would be in that class too, so I knew I would never be lonely.

I kept the china doll Masood had bought me on a shelf in my room. I never touched her, just looked at her. She was so pretty, with her blonde ringlets, her pale skin, and old-fashioned clothes. I looked at her, and I wondered whether this is what people saw when they looked at me. I was just like that porceain doll. On the outside, there was beauty, innocence, but when you scratched below the surface, there was nothing, just cold. Dark. Adia had lost her doll, had dropped it one day out walking, and had, I heard, cried all the way home. "Stupid fucking bitch, crying over a doll. Wish I could've been there, I'd have shut her up good," I laughed to myself.

It was now early evening, and I had just taken my nightly bath. I dressed in a white nightgown and brushed my blonde hair so it cascaded down my back. I took out my book and sat into bed, pulling the covers up to my chin. I flicked the pages until I reached the page of my favourite tale; Rostam and Sohrab. I lay back against my pillow and began reading. If I read for an hour, I'd surely tire myself out, wouldn't I? I thumbed through the pages. I had read this story so many times, I felt like I could quote it word for word. "If thou art indeed my father," I whispered, my mouth curving upwards at the image of this boy being stabbed by his own father! Thrilling, wasn't it?

After about an hour, as predicted, I began to feel quite tired. I closed my book and slid it under the bed: I could not be bothered getting up and putting it away. "Only one more week of sleeping in," I moaned to myself. I lay down and pulled the covers up to my chin, turning out my beside lamp. I snuggled down and shut my eyes. At first, I thought the banging noises were fireworks. I lay in bed, my eyes closed, hoping they'd go away. Fireworks never lasted long. But these, these were different. Louder, if that was possible. I slowly sat up. The room was engulfed in darkness, and it took my eyes a few moments to adjust. I rubbed my temple.

"What the fuck?" I jumped as I heard another bang, closer this time. "FUCK!" I swore loudly. What was happening? After some thought, I concluded that the noises were, in fact, gunfire. What were they shooting? Who were they shooting? Could they be coming for me next? For my family? My brother?

These were all very real concerns of mine. I hurriedly leapt from my bed, my bare feet making no sound as they hit the carpet. I stumbled around in the blackness until I reached the doorknob. I practically fell out into the landing, my heart thudding. From down the hall, I could hear Papa's loud snoring and Mama's humming, but I had no interest in going to my parents. I felt along the wall until I reached my brother's door. I didn't even bother to knock, just walked inside. "Assef?" I was surprised by how small my voice came out. He sat up in bed, his eyes blurry from sleep.

"W-what is it, kiddo?" Another noise made me jump and scurry over to him. Assef pulled back the covers and I crawled into the bed beside him.

"What's going on?" I asked. "Are those guns?"

Assef nodded. "Yes. The king's going to be gone tomorrow."

My eyes widened. "Dead?"

"I don't know. Does it matter? Daoud Khan is going to be president. You remember Daoud Khan, don't you?" I shook my head. Assef smiled. "He came last year. He and Father, they get along quite well, and Daoud Khan's always seemed to like me."

"And he'll be our new president?" I asked.

"I have no doubt about it. And, Saria, things are going to be different around here, I can feel it." I rested my head against my brother's chest as he played with a lock of my hair.

"I'm going to ask Daoud Khan to do what that kunis of a king never had the balls to. To get rid of the Hazaras."

"Forever?"

"Forever. Send them off, murder them, put them in work camps. Final solution and all that."

I smirked. "I want dibs on Hassan. Filthy cunt's got it coming to him."

Assef kissed the top of my head. "You and me, Saria, we're going to make the world a better place, eliminate the filth. Mark my words." I stretched my arms out in front of me, cracked my knuckles. Another gunshot went off. I couldn't stop the whimper that escaped my lips. Assef held me to him. "Remember Saria, they can't hurt you. They're our friends."

I looked down. My heart was pounding in my chest with every gunshot. "Trust me, Saria. I would never lie to you. Never. Nobody is going to hurt you." I looked up at my brother through tear filled eyes and smiled. As usual, he'd made me feel a million times better.

"Father's still asleep," I noted. "I can hear him snoring."

"That man would sleep through an earthquake. Forget about checking your children are okay. Stupid asshole," Assef muttered under his breath. I nodded in agreement.

Another flash of light illuminated the night sky, though, this time, it did not bother me. I had my brother's reassurances that I would not be harmed. That was enough for me. "You can stay here with me if you want, kiddo," Assef said. "I won't mind. Plenty of room, and besides, your room is closer to the front, so those guns will keep you up all night." I nodded, stifling a yawn, and snuggled down next to him.

The cold winter air streaming in through the window woke me the next morning, which was odd, I thought, because I never left the window open. I looked around me, rubbing my eyes with my fists. It must have been about half ten, or eleven. I stretched my arms over my head. "Morning, kiddo, sleep well?" Assef asked, sitting up beside me. I screamed and fell from the bed, landing heavily on my backside.

"FUCK!" I gasped, my hand over my heart. "You scared the hell out of me. What are you doing in my room?" Assef laughed and extended a hand to pull me up.

"We're in my room, kiddo. You came in here last night because of the gun shots. Don't you remember?" Instantly, the memory of last night's terrifying gunfire, and my brother's soothing words came back to me.

"I remember." I pointed to the open window. "You let the window open. Weren't you cold?"

"I did? Oh sorry, Saria, I must have forgotten to close it. You weren't too cold, were you?"

I shook my head. "Winter's almost over now. One week until spring. And school." I added as an afterthought. Assef smiled and ruffled my already-tangled hair.
"I know, kiddo. We'll make the most of the week we have left together. Promise." He kissed my cheek and stood up. "I hate to ask you to leave, but I'm meeting Wali and Kamal in an hour and I need to get dressed." I nodded in understanding and left the room.

The silence that met me on the corridor was eiree compared to the loud guns that had woken me the previous night. I couldn't stop myself from wondering that something bad had happened, and that I had slept through it. I imagined myself flinging open the door to my parent's room, to find their cold dead bodies lying in front of me, stained with blood. I imagined men coming for me, taking me to an orphanage.

I imagined myself screaming in my brother's arms, begging to be allowed stay together, as strangers wrestled us apart. To be thrown into a world where I had nothing, and no one. Everyone always says I have an over-active imagination. "You're worrying for nothing," I chastised myself as I took out my clothes and shoes. "Assef told you there was nothing to be scared of. Daoud Khan's going to be president and he's going to change things! No more Hazara's, Saria," Those words instantly calmed me. "Just think, Hassan will be gone. Amir and I can be together!"

I laughed to myself and spun around, arms outstretched. I dressed in a light pink dress with a pink ribbon at the back, and tied my hair into two pigtails. I looked at myself in the mirror. "Don't you look pretty?" I said aloud and the angelic child staring back at me mouthed those same words.

I took another look at my china doll. Her glassy eyes seemed to stare into my very soul. It unnerved me, to have this china-version of myself stare at me. Was this what Adia felt like, when she looked into my eyes? What about Zainab? My face had been the last thing she saw. Had she seen the coldness in my blue eyes as I plunged that knife into her skin? Did her life flash before her, and end with the eyes of her killer? Was I her china doll?

I walked downstairs and into the kitchen. My heart thudded as I opened the door. I needed to see with my own eyes that nothing had gone wrong, that we were all safe. That those guns had not affected us. I walked inside to find my mother handing out plates of breakfast, and my father sifting through the morning paper. I let out a sigh of relief. "Good morning," I said, bowing my knees and extending the hem of my dress between my fingers. Mama's simpering smile was hilarious.

"And a very good morning to you, my little sweetpea," she said, pulling me into a hug. 'Fuck, bitch, what's got you so happy?' I wondered. Mama pulled away from me, held me at arm's length, scrutinized every inch of me. "You're such a good girl, Saria, do you know that?" she asked.

"Yes, Mama, thank you." I looked down shyly. She hugged me to her again. "I'm blessed to have such wonderful children." She extended an arm to Assef, offering him to join the uncomfortable embrace. Assef narrowed his eyes for a moment before returning to his breakfast. Mama's smile faltered, but she knew better than to push it.

I wriggled out of my mother's arms and went to sit beside my brother. He smiled and kissed my hair. I hopped up on a stool beside him and tucked in. Papa flicked through the paper. "Did you hear the gunshots last night?" I asked him.

He nodded. "They didn't bother me, though, I slept right through them. What about you?"

"I-" I started but Assef cut across me.

"She came in to me last night, shaking like an Autumn leaf, terrified out of her wits. I let her sleep in my bed. Took me a while to calm her down."

"Oh, baby," Mama cooed. Instantly, she was at my side, stroking my hair, pressing me to her chest.

"It's okay, darling," Papa reached across and took my hand. "Everything is going to be okay." Words of comfort they should have spoken last night, words that I had already heard from my brother.

"Just thought you ought to know," Assef remarked. I looked into his eyes and I could see his fury towards our parents for their lack of care. Not just for me, but him too. As I watched him glare at them, a memory of a time long ago came to me.

I am four years old, unsteady on my feet, a mess of blond hair and gap-teeth. Assef is nine. We're supposed to be in bed, but neither of us can sleep. There's a storm outside, and the loud noises terrify us. A flash of lightning. Thunder. I jump and begin to cry. Assef presses me to his chest, kisses my head. "It's okay," he tries to reassure me but his voice comes out shaken.

"I want Mama," I whimper. We go to our parents room, knock on the door. No answer. The noises come again. Assef's eyes are filled with tears. He opens the door, steps inside.

"We're scared. Can we stay with you tonight?"

Mama rolls over, looks at us through sleepy eyes. "It's just lightning." she says. "Just a silly old storm."

"Don't be so stupid, the pair of you," Papa snaps. "Go back to bed. We all need our rest." Assef looks them both in the eyes, arm still firmly around my shoulders. I am openly sobbing now.

"Mommy, please." His voice, choked with tears, pleading. I will never forget it. "Mommy..." She waves us away. Assef leads me into his room, tucks me into bed. Kisses my forehead.

"I love you, sister," he whispered in my ear. The sound of his accent was soothing. I look up at him and kiss him on the cheek.

"I love you too," I lisp. He climbs into bed with me, covers my ears with his hands, hums some old song to soothe me to sleep. It's possibly the first time anyone has ever taken my fears seriously. I love my brother in this moment. Love him more than I've ever loved anyone.

I felt my eyes prick with tears, and quickly lept from the table. "Excuse me," I said hurriedly, brushing past my mother, almost knocking the glass in her hand to the ground as I hurried out of the room. I tore up the stairs and slammed the door to my room, sliding down the wall and burying my face in my knees.

Memories of my childhood always brought out that emotional side of me. Sure, I had been given enough toys to last an eternity, but that meant nothing to the lost, lonely little girl who craved her parents affection. Mama and Papa were always too busy with money to bother with their children. Assef has always been there for me, guiding me, being a shoulder to cry on, chasing away any monsters that scare or hurt me. As far as I am concerned, in the emotional sense of the word; I am an orphan. My "parents" can burn in hell for all I care.

Even now, they did not come up the stairs to check whether I was alright. Too busy with the paper I guess. Assef knocked on the door a few minutes later, as I expected. "Saria, are you alright? Can I come in?" I nodded and opened the door.

"Oh, kiddo," Assef sighed, reaching out to cup my cheek. I must have been crying. I hadn't noticed.

"I was thinking about the storm," I muttered. Assef nodded sympathetically and pulled me into his arms. We sat down on the bed together and I crawled into his lap.

"The storm when you were four?" he asked.

I nodded. "Hearing those noises last night, brought it all back. They don't care, Assef!" I choked. "Fucking hell, they never have and they never will! Money, money, money, it's all I hear; day in, day out! Why did they even have children if they don't give two shits about them?"

"I don't know. I really don't," Assef muttered, resting his head against mine. He gently rubbed my back as I trembled with both sadness and rage.

I was snivelling now but I could not help myself. "You know something, Assef? I wish I was an orphan. I already feel like one."

"You know I'm here for you, Saria. You know that, right?"

I nodded. "I know, Assef. You've been more of a parent to me than Mama or Papa could ever dream to be."

"Do you want to come with me today?" my brother asked. "I'm sure Wali and Kamal won't mind."

"They won't?" I asked.

"Of course they won't. They love you. How could anyone not love you, kiddo?"

"I can think of many reasons!" I snickered. "We'll watch the kite fighting tournament again this year, nay?" I asked.

"Caa, jan."

"Do you remember the kite runner who climbed that tree? Broke his back, never walked again?"

"Hilarious."

"Yep. I love watching people get hurt. It's sort of thrilling, no?"

"So amazing." Assef kissed the top of my head. "Get your coat. I'll wait for you downstairs." He ruffled my hair once more and left. I pulled on my duffle coat but didn't bother to close it, as the day was quite humid. I stepped out of my room and walked down stairs to meet my brother. "MOTHER, FATHER, I'M MEETING WALI AND KAMAL!" Assef called. "SARIA'S GOING WITH ME."

No response. Assef shrugged and took my hand. We walked into the street. As usual, it didn't take long to get to Kamal's house, and I was surprised to see Kamal already there, waiting. "Nice to see you again, Saria." Kamal smiled at me. I returned the gesture, bowing my knees.

"And it's nice to see you both as well," I said.

"Daoud Khan is president, did you hear?" Wali informed us.

Assef beamed. "Didn't I tell you, Saria?" he asked as I leaned back against his legs.

"You sure did," I replied childishly.

"A day for celebration. What do you want to do today, kiddo?"

"I'm happy with just going for a walk," I answered honestly. "If that suits you three, I mean."

"A walk it is then." Assef slipped his hand into mine, and kissed the top of my head. I beamed up at him. To anyone watching it would have seemed like an innocent scene. A girl and her brother. Happy families. Even now I amaze myself at the simple childish gestures I could perfect. Assef continued to hold my hand as we walked down the road together. I began to hum an old song I had learned from one of the elderly Mullah's at school. He had been the one who organised the cinema trip.

Remember, the one where I locked Zainab in the closet for three days? He'd retired soon after that. I recently heard he'd gotten a heart attack and died about seven months following. I like to think my behaviour had something to do with that Hazara loving asswipe's death. A twisted sort of karma, if I may. I sniggered to myself. "What's funny, jan?" Assef asked.

I looked up at him. "Nothing. Just memories. Happy, happy memories," I smiled up at him.

"I know something that's going to make you even happier, Saria. Look. It's your two little friends." He pointed to the distance. I had to crane my head to see it. Sure enough, Amir was walking down the road a few paces ahead of us. Hassan was with him. "Would you like to go over and say hello?" I nodded. Assef picked up a rock and hurled it at Hassan. It hit his back, making him stumble. I saw him moan in pain. I clapped my hands together gleefully. Amir turned around. I could see the fear written on his face. It tore at my heart.

"Good afternoon, kunis!" Assef exclaimed, spreading his arms aloft.

Hassan stepped behind Amir, shaking like an Autumn leaf, as the expression goes. "Hey, flat-nose," Assef said. "How is Babalu?"

He was, of course, referencing Hassan's father, a man with hideous features to rival Masoods. Hassan's eyes widened in fear and he continued to creep ever so slowly behind Amir, as if hoping to make himself invisible. "Have you heard the news, boys?" Assef asked.

"The king is gone! Good riddance! Long live the president! My father knows Daoud Khan, did you know that, Amir?"

"S-so does my father." My poor Amir was shaking now. I felt sympathy for him, even though the whole scene was rather hilarious.

"So does my father," Assef mimicked.

I snickered behind my palm. "Well, Daoud Khan dined at our house last year. How do you like that, Amir?" When Amir didn't reply, Assef went on. "Do you know what I'm going to tell Daoud Khan the next time he comes to our house for dinner? I'm going to have a little chat with him, man to man, mard to mard. I'm going to tell him what I told my mother. About Hitler. Now there was a leader. A great leader. A man with a vision."

I leaned my head against Assef's legs. He rested his hand on my shoulder. "I'll tell Daoud Khan to remember that if they had just let Hitler finish what he'd started, the would be a better place now."

"Baba says Hitler was crazy and he ordered a lot of innocent people killed."

"You sound like my mother and she's German, she should know better. But then they want you to believe that, don't they? They don't want you to know the truth." I was smiling like the chesire cat. This whole conversation was thrilling. "But you have to read books they don't give out in school," Assef explained. "I have. And my eyes have been opened. Now I have a vision, and I'm going to share it with our new president. Do you know what it is?" Amir didn't respond. Assef carried on regardless. "Afghanistan is the land of Pashtuns. It always has been, always will be. We are the true Afghans, the pure Afghans, not this Flat-Nose here. His people pollute our homeland, our watan. They dirty our blood. Afghanistan for Pashtuns, I say. That's my vision."

'Our vision,' I thought to myself.

"Too late for Hitler," Assef said. "But not for us."

I noticed him reaching for the brass knuckles. I beamed. "I'll ask the president to do what the king didn 't have the quwat to do. To rid Afghanistan of all the dirty, kasseef Hazaras."

"J-just let us go, Assef." Amir's voice was shaking. "We're not bothering you."

"Oh, you're bothering me," Assef retorted. I looked up at him. He gave me a simple smile before turning his attention back to where the frightened boy stood. "You're bothering me very much. In fact, you bother me more than this Hazara here. How can you talk to him, play with him, let him touch you?"

His voice dripped with disgust. He slipped the brass knuckles onto his hand. I couldn't hide my smile. Shit was really about to go down now! "How can you call him your friend?" I was wondering the same thing. "You're part of the problem, Amir. If idiots like you and your father didn t take these people in, we d be rid of them by now. They d all just go rot in Hazarajat where they belong. You're a disgrace to Afghanistan."

Assef raised his fist. Lunged for Amir. I wondered whether I should do something and after a moment's pause, decided against it. Amir needed to learn that the way he treated Hassan was wrong. He needed to know his place before we could be together properly. If a beating from my brother taught him that, I was more than willing to watch it happen. I didn't get to watch any beating, however. Hassan picked up a rock, placed it in his slingshot.

"Please leave us alone, Agha," he said.

Assef stopped what he was doing. "Put it down, you motherless Hazara."

"Please leave us be, Agha," Hassan repeated.

"Maybe you didn't notice, but there are four of us and two of you."

"You are right, Agha. But perhaps you didn't notice that I'm the one holding the slingshot. If you make a move, they ll have to change your nickname from Assef the Ear Eater to One-Eyed Assef, because I have this rock pointed at your left eye." I froze in shock. Was this little cunt threatening my brother? I had an urge to fly at him, to let him really have it, but Kamal held me back. I hissed like a feral cat.

"You should know something about me, Hazara," Assef said gravely. "This doesn't end today. I'm a very patient person. This doesn't end for you either, Amir. Some day I'll make you face me one on one. Come along, Saria." He took my hand and began to lead me away. "Your Hazara made a very big mistake today Amir."

I was almost shaking with rage as Assef led me away from the scene. How fucking dare that boy threaten my brother like that? Did he have any idea of the repercussions of his actions? My mind flashed to the way I had burned cigarettes into Adia's stomach. Maybe I could do the same to Hassan. Did I even need the cigarettes? I could just burn him with a lighter! It was decided then. The next time I saw him, I would make him pay for what he had done. I would stand up for Assef, the way he always stands up for me.

Hassan, I will make you bleed. You will regret your actions today. Mark my words.

Next, it's Saria's 12th birthday, but will it be the perfect day she wishes for? As always, please leave a review or PM. I love getting feedback, let's me know people enjoy my work :D

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