The Council of the Ungodly was gathered for their monthly meeting. The rank on the epaulette of the senior member was that of a black scorpion with a red tail. Quickly drumming his thick fingers on the table with the staccato sound of an M-16, he called the meeting to order.
A thin man with hardened features and slightly yellowed teeth stood to his feet. Waving his arm in the air he brought up a screen and clicked on a map. “Using the calculation of X = 50, as you will note, we created 20 columns of smoke today. Doing a quick count of the columns of smoke coming out of Aleppo alone it is estimated that approximately 1,000 souls are contained within that particular daily column count.” The members of the council blew small rings of smoke out of their mouths with approval. The thin man smiled broadly as he received a nod of respect from the scorpion.
“Chimera research: report!”
A silver-haired woman with pock-marked features and reptilian eyes asked her aide-de-camp to distribute a stack of brown folders to members of the council. Using a slithering motion she loaded three separate screens onto the table, “Using a chimera model for operation we have been able to observe the effects of malnutrition, insufficient habitation and plummeting vaccination rates on our susceptible human hosts. The societal impact of any two of the metrics can be potentiated when a third metric is introduced. In your folders you will find statistics regarding predicted outcomes with manipulation of the three variables. The playground is becoming more dangerous by the day, hence my own deep satisfaction with my research results.” The council gave a long whooping cough of approval while a junior member completely lost his mind. He quickly warmed up to his task of smashing a crate of flu vaccine with a hammer whilst the scorpion waved his tail with venomous joy.
A man sprouting more hair from his ears than on his head now took out his handkerchief and mopped the sweat off his forehead. Tossing small metal figurines of women across the table like he was playing a game of jacks, he passed a bag of marbles along the table. Known for his love of camaraderie and bonding exercises the group humoured him as they each took their marble. “On the count of three, see how many of the jacks you can hit!” Cheers erupted as the game progressed. When the game was completed the jacks were carefully recovered and the marbles placed back into the bag. The jacks would be used again.
With a superior gloat the member spoke, “From the dawn of time we have been tasked with bruising the heel of the woman. Our latest playground is no exception. With each rape, every sexual humiliation, we remove the shade from the children. As the woman grieves, as the shade is removed, we gain greater access to the children. At the end of the day all of us know the truth of the matter. We cannot truly lay claim to our Theatre of Operation code named Satan’s Playground unless we can harm them. We can kill the fathers. We can rape the mothers. But if the children thrive the generations continue. If the children thrive, we have failed in our basic duty.” The men emitted distressed screams which eerily sounded like sounds coming from the throat of a tortured woman. The silver-haired woman let out a whimper and dropped the inner lid over her eyes.
The scorpion tucked his tail into the back of his uniform and cleared his throat, “Then I believe it is time for the most important item of interest.”
“Paese dei balocchi: report!”
An effeminate appearing man with a jester’s cap perched jauntily upon his head sprang to his feet. Placing a small treasure chest upon the table he opened it and scooped up a handful of cheap trinkets. After handing off a trinket to each member he daintily removed a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the spittle from his mouth. He always salivated excessively when asked to give his presentation. He had a special affinity for the little blue trinkets.
“We are very close to turning our playground into a Land of Toys! We have reached Tier 3 status and we are practically a sausage grinder! We are both a source and a destination for child trafficking for forced labor and a vibrant sex trade! Children are also being used as human shields and soldiers. We have children being taught to behead an enemy, load suicide vests, and function as couriers for our troops. Of course, trinkets are being used for prostitution using the concept of mu’ta.”
The senior member interrupted the speaker by zig-zagging his stinger across the trinkets. The silver-haired woman sent a stream of lava from her mouth which pooled into a chunk of obsidian when the man across the table released a rapid flow of water from his belly. Admiring their work, they chortled with mirth. The woman threw back her head and the linear slits of her pupils took on the form of a linear array of bloody dots. Her counterpart responded with pupils of nuclear orange.
The speaker gave a lop-sided grin and continued to speak. “The Arabic root for mu’ta is m-t and means to carry away, to take away. We are taking the trinkets outside the camps and they are being carried away. This is our most profitable caravan trade. Of course there is no real age limit when it comes to providing our clients with pleasure. Trinkets not colourful enough to please the eye become part of our band of beggars stretching from Turkey to Yemen.
Paese dei balocchi! Let the merry-go-round continue to spin!”
The Council of the Ungodly concluded their meeting. With a glance over his shoulder the senior member said, “See you tomorrow in Aleppo.”
The writer is a freelance journalist and can be reached at email@example.com