The only other Chinese prisoner in the cell, Jiàn Z
u had aligned himself with the Feng brothers from the moment they’d arrived from Islamabad two days before. If he was to be believed, he had contacts with Chinese triads and other organized crime groups all around the world. He’d been arrested when some of his underlings decided to begin trafficking in drugs along with their human cargo.
Ehmet looked the jumpy snakehead up and down. “If we get out of here, you say you have contacts in China?”
Nose twitching, Jiàn Z
u seemed to sense that that something big was about to occur. “I have contacts everywhere, cousin.” He leaned in close. “My friends will make sure we are taken care of wherever you want to go—as long as we stay alive long enough to get to them.”
Afaz growled from the other end of the room. “You should come to me on your own, Yaqub Feng! My men will not be as gentle as I will be.”
Ehmet laughed out loud at that. “I will enjoy watching this one die,” he said.
u swallowed hard, but Yaqub saw him reach into the waist of his filthy trousers and bring out a sharpened metal spike. The little snakehead might tremble at the thought of death, but he was willing to run trembling toward it. Maybe they should bring him along.
“If the stories are true,” Jiàn Z
u whispered, “Afaz chewed his wife to death.”
“I can see you laugh,” the fat Pakistani roared. “You will not be laughing for long.” His stooge brought him a bowl of water to clean himself. He pushed it away and stood to pull his pants up around his waist. They were stained and torn, forming more of an apron than actual pants. Sweat bathed the mahogany rolls of fat that folded over his upper body.
Yaqub took a half step away from the wall. At six feet tall to Ehmet’s five and a half, the elder brother should have been the protector. That was not the case. Ehmet put out a hand and moved in front, placing himself between Yaqub and Afaz the Biter.
The Pakistani lumbered through the crowded room, shoving and kicking aside prisoners who didn’t move out of his way fast enough. Ten feet away, he stopped. Even listing to one side, he was a formidable man with powerful arms and a low, sloping brow over piggish eyes.
He pointed at Yaqub, clicking his teeth together.
On the wall, the shadow reached the scratch.
A half a breath later a horrific explosion rattled the prison, sending a cascade of dust down the ancient brick. All eyes turned toward the outer wall trying to make sense of the noise. Earthquakes were not unheard of in Pakistan—and could prove deadly to men trapped in a dilapidated pile of stone like Dera Ismail Khan Prison.
Ehmet looked at Yaqub and smiled. This was no earthquake.
A second blast roared directly outside the bars, sending a percussive fist into Yaqub’s chest. The pressure wave knocked him backwards, slamming both him and Ehmet against the stone. They’d dropped to their bellies as a third explosion tore the bars off the cell.
Prisoners coughed and choked as smoke and dust rolled into the room. It was difficult to breathe, and impossible to see. Panicked shouts and pitiful cries rose up with the dust throughout the prison complex. The rattle-can of submachine gunfire followed fast on the heels of the explosions. Outside the wall, a guard screamed for mercy—and then screamed again as he was shot. Ehmet pressed his face up from the concrete floor and grinned at his brother. Surrounded by death, he looked happier than he’d been in a very long while.
Three minutes after the first explosion, the gunfire outside had dwindled to sporadic spurts and volleys. A dark man with a flowing black beard that reached the middle of his chest stepped through the cavernous breach in the outside wall. He wore the green uniform of a prison guard and carried a short Kalashnikov rifle at low-ready. He cast dark eyes around the room until he saw the two Uyghur men. Prisoners who had not known to get away from the outside wall prior to the explosion were scattered around the room in various stage of dismemberment.
“I am Ali Kadir,” the man with the beard said, grabbing Yaqub by the arm and hauling him to his feet. “We have come to set you free.”
Yaqub nodded, blinking. It was one of Kadir’s men who had come to see him the day before.
“We must hurry,” Kadir said. “There is a vehicle waiting outside. There are three of you.”
Ehmet shook his head. “Our cousin is dead.”
u scuttled up in the cloud of dust. “Take me with you,” he said. “My contacts will be of use, I swear it. I assume you wish to get out of Pakistan. I am an expert at moving people from one country to another.”
Ali Kadir opened his mouth to speak as a prison guard stepped through the hole in the wall, spraying the room with bullets. One of the shots hit him in the back of the neck. Kadir fell instantly, a look of bemused surprise on his lips, and was dead before he hit the ground. Jiàn Z
u snatched up the Kalashnikov as he fell and dispatched the guard with a short burst.
“See,” he said, licking his lips. “I told you I could be of some use.”
Yaqub looked at Ehmet, who shrugged. “I don’t care,” the younger brother said, before pushing his way through the rubble to a stunned Afaz, who now lay sprawled on his back. Ehmet bent over the Pakistani, kneeling close to his face. Without warning, he ripped into the flesh of the screaming man’s cheeks as if he were feeding. Blood covered the young Uyghur’s lips and chin when he finally looked up. It dripped from the corners of his mouth and ran down the front of his tattered prison shirt.
Surviving prisoners, guards complicit in the escape, and Jiàn Z
u watched in disgusted horror as Ehmet Feng spat a grisly chunk of meat on the floor. He had torn the face off Afaz the Biter. Even Yaqub, who admitted to a mild disposition, felt a surge of pride at his brother’s ferocity. The story of the young Uyghur would be passed on for generations.
Ehmet turned to give Jiàn Z
u a hard glare.
“You fought with us, you will come with us,” he said through bloodstained teeth.
Yaqub shot a glance toward Ehmet, nodding. People always looked to him because he was older and taller—but everyone now knew which brother was truly in charge.