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Friend of Ours


Markus Wilding
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"Why on Earth do you listen to that drivel?"

 

Jamie turned down his radio, rather annoyed. "I happen to enjoy listening to the news." His critic, Oscar Commons, shook his head and tossed an empty can into the nearby trash pile. The room they were in was rather simple, being part of a run-down shack in the middle of the mountains. Actually, calling it a "shack" was probably being too kind. But, it was the two men's home regardless, and it served them well, keeping them safe from cold and other such elements one finds up in the mountains.

 

"Everyone knows the only station out here is the Silver Legion's. Why listen to them?" Oscar questioned, now working on peeling a banana. "Maybe because I want to?" At this, Oscar laughed loudly before chomping off a bite of the banana. Mouth full, he mumbled "Look, if you really think you can drive Russia and Athens out through simple politics, you're nuts." Jamie frowned and wiped bits of half-chewed banana off his shoulder and stood up, walking to one of the few openings in the room that served as a window. "Well, what if they've got it right?" Jamie said as he looked out the window, overlooking the dirt road that twisted and wound its way up the mountain. Somewhere along it various travelers, thrill-seekers and gunmen walked, no doubt searching for the next big thing or person to give them some supplies. Oscar took another bite of his banana, eyebrow raised. "You serious?" he asked after swallowing.

 

"I'm just saying," Jamie explained, stepping away from the window. "I think they have a point." Oscar threw the banana peel away and gave his friend a serious look, quite a departure from his normally sarcastic demeanor. Jamie knew what he thought; Why? Oscar's parents had been killed in the Civil War by Silver Legion militias after his father informed on the local warlord to Athenian and Legion authorities, an act Oscar never forgave or forgot. Since then, he had voted for the Communist Party, not because he believed in communism, but because they propagated banning the Silver Legion from Sierra Leonean politics.

 

"I need to take a walk," Oscar finally said after several minutes of silence and exchanged looks. Without another word, Oscar put on his jacket and left, leaving Jamie alone. In response, Jamie turned his radio back to the volume he was listening at. The broadcast was droning on about new developments in Freetown, and the suspected sighting of a Stormlands delegation heading into the House of Representatives. This sparked a rant from the DJ on how the Stormlands was the only nation to support Sierra Leone when Gabon invaded, being abandoned militarily both by Athens and Russia. Jamie had heard that rhetoric before. If one looked past that, Jamie thought, one would see that the Silver Legion had only economic priorities in mind. Getting rid of Athens and Russia from Africa was a secondary goal. He thought so, at least.

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Several hours later, Oscar returned. By now it had darkened, and the silence of the night was pierced only by his footsteps and the creaking of the makeshift door into the shack. "Have a nice walk?" Jamie asked as he came in. "Yeah," Oscar replied. Jamie saw, even in what little light there was, that Oscar's clothes were soaked with sweat and dirt. "You got all that from a walk?" he commented, and as Oscar opened a bottle of water, he explained, "I take very enthusiastic walks." Finishing his drink of water, Oscar put the cap back on and lay down on his cot, placing an arm underneath his pillow. Soon, he was fast asleep, snoring as he usually did. Jamie also let himself fall into sleep, taking the day's conversations and arguments away.

 

Morning came as it always did on the mountains. Jamie got up and stretched, yawning as he did so. The radio was unusually on, but Jamie didn't take much notice of it given his still-groggy state. Standing up now, Jamie walked to their refrigerator and took out a pack of yogurt, then looked for a spoon. Settling on washing a plastic one that the two had kept for far too long, Jamie began to eat. He looked over at Oscar's cot, half-expecting him to be ignoring his alarms again, but the man was gone. Probably went to work, Jamie thought. It wasn't unusual for Oscar to flip between waking up extremely early and never getting up until 3 in the afternoon. Today must have been one of the early days.

 

Half an hour later, Jamie too started to get himself ready to go to work. Lifting heavy boxes was never really exciting, but it paid well at least. All he had to do was show up and listen to the boss-man on what to move where. A knock came at the shack door, surprising him. The only people coming up here were friends of Jamie and Oscar's, and they never knocked. He opened it, checking for any damage in the bondings caused by the knocking. He was met by several local gunmen. "What can I do for you guys today?" Jamie asked, although he felt he knew the answer. "Yeah," the lead one said, outfitted with what looked like a Sierra Leonean Army uniform, "I think you know a friend of ours." The way he said "friend", seeped in disgust and contempt, led Jamie to believe this "friend" wasn't really a friend. "I dunno," Jamie said, leaning carefully against the wall, "what's this friend look like?"

 

"Wears glasses, usually keeps his head shaved, he's got kind of a goatee, yeah?" The others nodded and Jamie realized he was describing one of the factory workers, Eric, fairly well. "Yeah, I might know him. What's he to you?" The lead man grinned maliciously. "Tell him Mark's looking for him. He'll know where to find us." Without letting Jamie ask anything else, they left and walked up the road. Even though it was a warm 70 degrees, Jamie shivered. Something wasn't right.

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