Hello, Reader Friends! This is David Telbat with a new and unique COIL-related short story. In my COIL Series novels, we often witness operatives who whisk in to save Christians, like angels rescuing orphans. But what happens when COIL operatives aren’t present, and ordinary civilians must endure without them? This realistic dilemma on the Syrian-Turkey border is played out in the following story. Meet Ethem and Florina Adem . . .
by D.I. Telbat
Florina Adem fumbled with the lock on the safe as gunshots pounded into the side of the house in Eastern Turkey. Since when did dodging bullets become a required necessity of motherhood?
“Ethem!” she yelled over her shoulder. Her Turkish was accented by her native Romanian. “Tell me the combination again!”
Another bullet crashed through a window downstairs. The nine children, all under the age of ten, whimpered from beneath the bed.
“Seven,” Ethem said with labored breathing. He held his shoulder where blood seeped through his wool vest. “Nine, four.”
Florina squinted through her bifocals at the dial. Fear gripped her, but she pushed herself to focus. Her family was in danger.
“To think I came all the way from Romania to get shot at with you!” She opened the safe door. “Of course, getting shot without you wouldn’t be any fun, either.”
“You got it open? Good! Now, give me the gun.”
“I don’t think so.” Florina handled a nine-millimeter handgun—a customized weapon loaded with non-lethal gelatin rounds. “We both met those COIL people at the same time and we both were shown how to fire one of these things. Besides, recent evidence dictates that I conclude this evening’s festivities.”
“What evidence is that?”
She climbed over Ethem, a Turk national in his sixties. He gasped when she bumped his shoulder wound.
“That evidence.” Then she squeezed one of the little hands that emerged from under the bed. “Sit tight, little angels.”
Crawling to the doorway of the bedroom, she looked back. Ethem, her husband of many years, pressed on his wound to stop the bleeding. He nodded at her, and she hoped he was thinking the same thing as she: that the Turkish military had surely heard the gunshots of the ISIS guerrilla fighters and the military was probably already on its way.
At the top of the stairs, Florina sensed movement below. They were already in the house! She pushed the tranquilizer gun through the railing and aimed at the living room table. The full moon reflected off the lacquer Ethem had painted on the table that summer. In the middle of the reflection lay the first COIL gun, now empty—the gun Ethem had used earlier to fend off the attackers. He’d bought them a little time.
Florina managed her breathing. Though she was past her prime, growing up in Romania hadn’t been without its share of conflicts. Trusting God through her fear was only natural now that her children faced certain death unless she acted.
Small bands of militants had crossed the border before, but they usually moved past their house for fear of attracting a NATO gunship. So, why tonight? Florina hated to think it, but the attack probably concerned one of the male youngsters upstairs. Each of the children came from refugee families, and many had variations of Christianity in their belief system, which made them targets in Syria. Ethem and Florina hadn’t adopted any of the children without legal consent from authorities who were overwhelmed by the thousands of refugees.
However, some of the children had mothers who were second, third, or fourth wives to ISIS fighters. Their mothers, after coming to Christ, had fled Syria to save their children. Florina understood that the nine children she’d become mother to weren’t just orphaned refugees. They were in a sort of protective services, and COIL had made sure that she and Ethem had the tranquilizer weapons to do the protecting.
A shadow moved across the floor in the kitchen. Then two shadows. Florina didn’t breathe. Ethem had said there’d been five in the band, and he’d already tranquilized two of them outside. One of the remaining three radicals was still unaccounted for.
A car door slammed. The militants had arrived on foot. That meant the third man was outside searching their family car!
Before she had to face three at once, Florina leaned through the stair railing, farther . . . farther, until both men were in sight. In the near darkness, they appeared to be listening for sounds from the house, oblivious to the threat overhead, no doubt thinking their other two friends were dead.
Back in Romania, Florina’s father had been a soldier. It was his instructions that now came to her mind. She rapidly pulled the trigger twice, as she aimed at the first man, then twice more at the second. The gun seemed to click loudly in the silent space, but its silencer muffled most of the noise. As the second man slipped into unconsciousness, he fired a loud burst from his machine gun into the floor. The children upstairs screamed until Ethem could shush them.
Outside, a man grunted, then Florina heard the sound of fading footsteps.
“Flora?” Ethem called. “Are you okay?”
“Two down and one ran away.” Florina whispered a prayer of thanks to God. “I don’t think they’ll be too happy to know they were shot by a grandmother.”
“Maybe if we relocate,” Ethem said, “we won’t have to tell them anything when they wake up.”
The sound of a combat chopper thumped nearer in the night. Florina turned on all the lights and helped Ethem downstairs. Together, they tied up the militants and waited for the authorities.
Through the railing above, nine pairs of eyes gazed down at them. The children giggled and their fears evaporated as Ethem made monkey faces at them and Florina prayed for each child by name. They were her angels. And she was theirs.
COMING UP: Some of you have been waiting for more news on David’s new series, The COIL Legacy. Next Monday, we have a peek into some of the research he’s done for Distant Boundary, the Prequel! Be sure to join us as he shares some shocking information about rhino poaching in, “Recent Research for New Novel, Distant Boundary.”