“We weren’t given a choice.”
Mike smiled, warm and encouraging, at Aitazaz standing beside him, nodding for him to go first. The young Pakistani boy cleared his throat, eyes on the ground before him. “He looked…wrong. I knew he shouldn’t be there. So, I challenged him…attacked him.” Eyes raised to meet the stern gaze bearing down. “It felt like the right thing to do.”
A slight nod and scribble. “And you?” the officious man asked Mike.
Mike’s grin faltered under the weight of the stare, but he clapped his companion on the shoulder and stood straight. “It was my duty, my responsibility. I had to try. I only wish I could have talked him down before…” Mike’s free hand wiped at his eyes. Aitazaz patted the hand resting on his shoulder.
The burning glare softened. “Very well. Step forward for my decision.” Mike and Aitazaz stepped forward in unison, heads high. “Mike Landsberry and Aitazaz Hassan Bangash, I find you guilty…” Aitazaz gasped and Mike’s head started to fall. “…of caring about your fellow man and sacrificing yourselves to save others.”
The gates swung open. “Welcome to your reward, and may you find peace.” Aitazaz and Mike stumbled forward, mouths agape as the beheld the wonder.
The gatekeeper smiled, and it felt like…home.
Word Count: 215
For the Weird, the Wild, & the Wicked’s #thursthreads challenge. I read this news article today about Aitazaz Hassan Bangash, a brave 14-year-old boy from Pakistan who wrestled a suicide bomber trying to enter his school. The bomber triggered his device in the struggle, killing himself and Aitazaz. Aitazaz lost his life, but saved hundreds of his fellow students.
Mike Landsberry was a former Marine and served in Afghanistan for several tours with the Nevada Air National Guard. He was also a math teacher at Sparks Middle School. When a student came in with a gun he took from his parents, Mike attempted to talk him down. He lost his life, and the student-shooter took his own life.
Courage and sacrifice know no age, nationality, religion, race, gender, or any other markers we use to differentiate ourselves from other human beings.
Bârakah Allâh, Aitazaz.
Semper Fi, Mike.
May you find peace.