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Lizards' Colony

[Fiction] An Iraqi-born American woman works as an interpreter inside a prison camp:

"She opened the door of the trailer, the rising sunlight submerging her. The still air was saturated with extreme humidity, making it feel like Basra, and the temperature was close to thirty-five degrees Celsius. The heat might have been tolerable but not the humidity, which left heart, soul, and spirit filled with loathing. Besides, something somewhere was making a stench like rotten eggs—no, decaying fish. Was it the sewers or the rank smell of the sea? Was she imagining it? Was this a result of the shock of the rape that had kept her in the hospital for ten days? Who could say?

"During those ten days she had consumed nothing but liquids. How could a person work in a hostile environment with everyone else lying in wait? She was raped and lacerated. She had entered a hospital the first day and had received her work there; no one cared about what had paid happened to her. Before she had time to heal, a load of documents had been dumped on her head, documents she had to review: dozens of tape recordings for her to hear and reconcile with the huge, companion file. She started in the hospital and then finished in the small, cramped, stifling trailer. She read while the pains racking her midsection grew increasingly intense and tears came uninvited to her eyes. She speculated about the appearance of Ahmad, the able-bodied terrorist covered by this huge file and the many tapes. He was no doubt an awe-inspiring, powerful, grand giant with a muscular body. She gazed at the sky. Why did it look pale blue in the morning?"
PUBLISHED: Nov. 9, 2012
LENGTH: 34 minutes (8665 words)

Fátima, Queen of the Night

[Fiction] Confessions of a Cuban drag queen:

"When I was seven years old, the Virgin of Fátima appeared to me in the kitchen of my house in Madruga. That’s why people sometimes see a pink halo around my head. It was an apparition that marked my life. I saw her in the kitchen door, but she wasn’t standing on a rock like everybody says, she was on a stool, and she was mulatta. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Virgin of Montserrat, the black one sitting in a big gilded chair, well the Fátima I saw looked just like her, except not as black, just sitting there in all her glory on a stool.

"I’ve always been a lucky person, and that’s probably why. Well, that and I’ve never stepped on anybody’s toes, and I don’t go around sticking my nose in other people’s business. I do whatever I feel like, and that’s all there is to it. I get by because I have a youthful spirit and a positive energy that comes from Saturn, at least that’s what my horoscope says. If you could just see me right now, naked from the waist up, but I’m actually very modest, and I don’t let just anybody see me naked."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 1, 2006
LENGTH: 44 minutes (11138 words)