How far would you stretch your moral principles in order to survive or preserve the life of others?
When the world-renowned heart surgeon, former television celebrity and aristocrat Dr Malcolm Spencer begins to question his purpose and identity, he leaves his comfortable condo in South Kensington, London, to volunteer at a hospital in a refugee camp in Namanga, Kenya.
Not only will he rethink everything he took for granted about the world and the way people value and connect with each other, but his priorities and survival instincts are sorely tested when the local terrorist group, God’s Will Movement, attacks the camp and takes him hostage.
Based in Africa during the 90’s, When I Lived with Terrorists is a fictional series filled with cruel realities and choices that change the life of its characters forever.
Covering ever-relevant and contemporary topics such as human connections, survival instincts, terrorism, power, women empowerment, child abuse and war crimes, “The Majestic Hostage” sets in motion an incredible journey for survival in a hostile environment. The real battle develops inside Malcolm Spencer’s mind, blurring the limits of right and wrong as he begins a journey of no return…
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PROLOGUE OF THE BOOK:
“Drop your weapon now! It’s over!” I heard the state army officers screaming over my left shoulder when they caught up to the rest of my companions and me, encircling us.
As I tried to raise my arms, the gun seemingly attached to my trembling right hand suddenly became too heavy and fell without resistance to the ground. My other hand is still bloody and numb, as are the rest of my clothes and body.
“Step away from the body! On your knees!” One of the soldiers screams at me while slowly approaching, gun in hand. Even from where I was standing, now unarmed and in a position of total submission, I could still feel the fear sweating from the brows of the men that had finally hunted me down.
Next to me, the corpse of the person who saved my life lay motionless from the single gunshot fired by the same pistol I had just dropped. The body is still warm, and I can smell the sharp tinge of iron from the dripping blood of his head wound.
If only they had found us a few minutes earlier… I think to myself complying with their commands and surrendering my will and freedom.
The dawn’s sunlight shyly starts to climb in the horizon, over that hill. Clarity slowly bathes the magnanimous building on my right side and the steady river on the sinister one, impregnating them with a timid brightness. Finally, with stars no longer in the sky, the long night filled with the frenetic, senseless violence is coming to an end. In a sadistically ironic way, this dusk and everlasting night have become a cruel reflection of my journey, which now seems to foretell a long-foretold conclusion.
“He did it, Mister Officer! He killed him in cold blood!!” My comrades, who had fought beside me during this long night, and many nights before, screamed out, while they surrendered one by one.
I expected no less from them, even though many of the unspeakable experiences we shared will shamefully bond us for life. After all, we all belong to the bloodiest and most feared terrorist group the world has ever seen. Nevertheless, their treason does not matter.
The frantic adrenaline-infused sensations still flow like a river teeming with rapids through my bloodstream. And rage… I still can feel so much of it. Like an invisible dark companion, it has overpowered my perception and reason. Perhaps my anger was always there, even before I was taken captive by the terrorist guerrilla, like a dormant seed waiting for the right conditions to hatch.
The bravest of all those frightened Kenyan troopers eventually steps forward and handcuffs me behind my back. Beyond the soaring and damaged walls that surround this mansion and compound, I still can hear the soulful laments of agony from the thousands of wounded and dying soldiers. Irrespective of which side they belonged to when this vicious battle started, Death will plant the barren fields with a bloody seed of each of their young souls today.
They will soon dispose of the dead like a forgotten and meaningless song; the survivors will wish they were dead after the horrors they witnessed and performed last night. The atmosphere and air are thick and heavy, portraying and carrying the burden of demise and anguish. Alas, the war is finally over.
“And there is another, Mister Officer! Behind that tree, by the river! He killed that one with his bare hands!” Another of the just-dismissed terrorist generals howled, pointing towards an acacia tree surrounded by overgrown bushes and standing by the stagnant river fed by a tributary of blood.
As the cadet approached the tree, I knew exactly what he would find behind that thicket: another warm corpse, bloody and with clear signs of strangulation. My hands still hurt from the effort it took me to cease his breathing, but no other pain ever felt better — like a well-earned, soothing relief.
Relief… what a warm and cathartic sensation. Just like this sun, emerging and cuddling the humble and plain lands of this ordinary Kenyan valley that embraces us. The contrast with the artificial presence of the glorified and inappropriately luxurious construction by our side seems a mocking irony.
As everything in Africa, the light seems to take over the darkness at its own pace, slowly and unevenly. However, it did not matter anymore. I was guilty. All I could feel right there, in my knees and over 10,000 kilometres away from my condo in South Kensington, London, was redemption and atonement.
Then, I remembered her too, her velvety scent and her indomitable hair, always untamed like her spirit. I could still hear the canorous sound of her laughter and recall the way she used to subjugate my will with the inexorable power of her smile and eyes staring back at me. Her determination and courage were omnipresent, right until her end.
I remembered the first and the last time I laid eyes on her, and how much everything, including us, had changed in between; little could I imagine then how deep she would redefine the wrinkles of my soul. Even descrying my end, the only sensation that felt warm and real was her love and how sharing my soul with her gave meaning to this finality.
Then, the feeling of guilt that had been emerging and tormenting me ever since our last encounter, the day I lost her, suddenly started to evolve like my perspectives of freedom and survival. Deep down, I knew that finally, the scale had balanced itself on the side of justice, even if I was about to receive a new kind of truth.
I wish she could see it… However, my guilt over her brutal death was a burden much too heavy to carry for just one broken soul.
Nevertheless, I had never stopped feeling our unbreakable connection. Maybe, whatever is left of her now, somehow knows that it is finally all over. Whatever was ever good within me, stayed behind with her. Because, when the entanglement between two souls is profound and meaningful, the limitations and boundaries of time and space become irrelevant and forgiving.
And nothing had ever felt more enlightening that the way we naturally understood each other’s chaos. Her big round eyes had the incommensurable power of seeing right through my soul, making me feel both invincible and vulnerable.
Our captors, the troopers loyal to the legitimately elected government, gathered in a small circle once they finished securing all the captured terrorists. I never understood much Swahili, perhaps I should have made it a priority when I landed in Kenya just over a year ago, but the course of events hadn’t favoured me to have any practical thoughts, beyond my immediate survival.
However, it was clear what they were discussing: should they execute me in cold blood right there, and then make an excuse to their superiors about why they didn’t bring me in alive for questioning before standing trial. They didn’t have much time; all the international press around the globe would arrive soon.
This is a story no one will want to miss, one that will be told with varying degrees of accuracy, yet I know no one will ever fully understand it. The macabre irony of how a TV celebrity like myself ended up in this situation has no match. They will not comprehend why my once-pristine clothes are dirty with blood, and my surgeon’s hands are now guilt-stained; when you pursue what you know in your heart is right, logic and reason rarely follow.
I should feel scared; maybe even beg for mercy over my life. Fight to live another day, just as I have done throughout this crazy quest—battle after battle; execution after execution. The world wants me dead because of what I did, but more so because of what I didn’t do. I should explain to them everything, but my wish to be reunited with her is too strong. It does not matter, because it is finally over.
Eventually, the highest-ranking officer walks up to me, with a hand over his gun, to pronounce their indictment.
“Doctor Spencer, you are under arrest for crimes against humanity and will be handed over to the UN to stand trial for the atrocities you perpetrated,” he blurted out with a sense of disgust and repressed revenge towards me. Had things gone his way, I would have a bullet instead of an arrest warrant in my face.
Doctor… I don’t even remember the last time that someone called me a doctor. My years as the most gifted neurosurgeon in the whole Western world seemed like an eternity ago. But the rage seeded back then, had resiliently survived this journey, just like what is left of me as a man.
Where did it all start to go wrong, leading me to this abrupt denouement? The task of thinking about the time before my captivity is an audacious effort for my unstable and wrecked mind. Yet, as relief continues to take over my nerves and anxiety, knowing that it is finally all over, then I remember.
It all started by flipping a coin, of course! That coin that changed my life forever, setting the chain of events that made me one of the most wanted and sanguinary persons in recent history… I recall with an unexpected smile, enjoying the randomness of the choices we make freely. Then, when the noise of the cameras and the reporters crowding outside the fence take over the sound of death and screams, I am blindfolded, and darkness reigns over my world again… Why was that coin so capricious?
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