tagNovels and NovellasNo Future Ch. 07

No Future Ch. 07

bybradley_stoke©

VII
Green Grass of Home
Tamara
2092



After the many months of uncertainty and anxiety since Tamara had began her desperate exodus, it could only be a relief to finally arrive at the Broad Oak Refugee Centre just outside the Ashton Lovelock gated community. She'd have been naive if she'd imagined that her welcome would be especially warm simply because the government of the Republic of England had reluctantly and belatedly agreed to provide asylum for a nominal fraction of the many millions of refugees spilling out of the devastated and still radioactive Holy Land. Nevertheless, she hadn't really anticipated quite the degree of hostility that greeted her and what was left of her family.

Tamara and the hundreds of other Jewish refugees in the convoy still identified themselves as citizens of the State of Israel, however much this was a nation that now existed in name alone. The charred wasteland that once held host to so many high hopes and aspirations was now under the reluctant care of the resentful citizens of Palestine. Israel's victory in the Holy War had been Pyrrhic at best. It was the official losers in the conflict who were now dominant in what had once been core Israeli territory. And this was simply by virtue of the fact that the number of Palestinian survivors was substantially greater than that of the equally wretched Israeli victors.

What had once been a short plane ride from the Middle East to the Republic of England was now a fraught journey for the Jewish refugees through the two competing and loosely federated European Unions. Not one nation state through which Tamara and her family travelled on their exodus would willingly antagonise their Muslim citizens by expressing more sympathy than was necessary to the mostly despised tribe of Israel.

The protest that greeted the refugees outside the Broad Oak Refugee Camp's forbidding gates was not substantially different to the others that had followed their peripatetic trek from one temporary camp site to another. There were much the same banners on display which as always attributed the entire blame to the Jewish race for the military disaster that had devastated the Middle East. The slow but inevitable demise of the State of Israel had been equally as agonising as, but rather less spectacular than the apocalyptic annihilation of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Tel Aviv just over a generation ago.

Tamara was too young to remember much about the war although the images of mushroom clouds rising above the city of Jerusalem had been replayed so many times that she almost believed that she'd seen it for real. Like most Israeli citizens, her actual memories of the war were of a time spent huddling in underground bomb shelters. She was one of the lucky ones who weren't instantly vaporised or had survived only to endure a more painful lingering death from the radioactive fallout that fell not only on Israel, Syria, Egypt and Palestine, but also on non-combatant nations as far afield as Turkey, Cyprus and Iran. Although Israel had suffered at least as much as any other nation, to the extent that it was no longer a nation at all, Israeli citizens were still blamed for the catastrophe with undiminished resentment by those who'd suffered directly or indirectly from its affects. There were few people in the world who didn't know someone who'd died or was afflicted by radioactive sickness after Israel resorted to the ultimate deterrent as a response to the threat from its belligerent neighbours. As if there hadn't already been enough distress from water shortage, crop failure and the long-heralded final collapse of the oil industry.

However much Tamara understood and in a sense sympathised with the protestors it troubled her that Broad Oak wasn't intended to be just one more stop on the journey but the final destination. This welcome wasn't one that boded well for the future.

The gates to the refugee camp shut close behind the trucks after they'd filed into the courtyard. The refugees disembarked, but the thickness of the camp's walls didn't muffle the sounds of protest from outside. Some were chants of disgust at Israel's role in the Middle East Apocalypse whereas others were the same gratuitously offensive anti-Semitic chants with which Tamara had become increasingly familiar during her years of exile.

Tamara and her family settled down to their new overcrowded home of ragged sheets, threadbare mattresses and leaking roofs. And home it was. At long last. Broad Oak Refugee Camp: home to the unwanted and despised. Shelter had only been provided because of Israel's role in England's imperial past when the nation was head of an empire powerful enough to dictate the fate of other nations. Now it was a republic as self-obsessed as the people of Israel with its own relative decline since the dissolution of the United Kingdom.

The Broad Oak Refugee Camp was asylum not only to Israelis, but also to refugees from Armenia, Kurdistan, Laos and Venezuela whose citizens belonged to the lengthening list of failed nation states. Amongst these, whether represented by actual governments or by governments-in-exile, there were also refugees from the now irradiated Gaza Republic whose mere existence had been considered sufficient provocation for the missiles to be launched. At least the administrators of Broad Oak had the sense not to house Israelis in the same buildings as the Gazans.

"They should have stayed in the Gaza City slums," complained Tamara's mother. She could never forgive the Palestinian militia for the summary execution of her husband and Tamara's stepfather. This happened in the desolate ruins of Ashdod where Tamara's family had once enjoyed prosperity and an easy life. "At least the bastards have somewhere they can go."

Tamara couldn't really dispute the logic of her mother's assertion. Palestine continued to exist as a state with real territory, but only the most romantic fool would genuinely prefer a radioactive wilderness to the relative security of the Republic of England. There was no need here to wear a mask to shield one's lungs from radioactive dust. No need to use a Geiger counter simply to decide where to settle down for the night. Even the hardiest former resident of Gaza City couldn't survive long in the fine dust and ash blowing about the extinguished cities of the Middle East.

"We have to treat everyone equally," said Benita, an old woman whose job in the kitchen was to help feed the thousands of refugees crammed into the camp. "There are very strict rules which everyone has to obey."

"Surely you can see the injustice," pleaded Tamara's mother to the older woman. "We've got nowhere to go. Literally nowhere. We Jews are persecuted wherever we go..."

"Not all Jews," disagreed Juan Valdez, an elderly man whose mattress lay adjacent to Tamara's. "American Jews are no more persecuted than they ever were."

"They aren't Israeli Jews!" complained Tamara's mother. "And precious little welcome do they give their fellows. Did they help us in our hour of need? Did they help clear the Holy Land of the Palestinian scum?"

"I have to warn you not to use language like that," said Benita firmly. "Whatever grievances you have must be put aside here. The administrators don't take provocation lightly. The Sherwood Forest Refugee Camp has already been shut down because of rioting. We can't risk the same thing here."

"I still think it's unfair," said Tamara's mother grumpily.

Despite Benita's admonition, Tamara couldn't help agreeing with her mother. It was all well and good trying to enforce a bland neutrality to maintain the peace, but what could this old woman know? She'd spent all her life in England. She was unlikely to have dallied long in the war-torn Middle East. The English might complain about the poverty that had returned to Europe and the humiliating break-up of the United Kingdom, but the worst they'd ever known was a brief episode of what had amounted to almost a dictatorship and which had served only to hasten the nation's decline.

The Refugee Camp dormitories were overcrowded. Food handouts were sporadic, unpredictable and never really adequate. There was little to do in the grounds of what had once been a private garden and throughout which were now scattered tents and make-shift shelters in wait for the next intake of refugees. Nowadays Tamara's life was principally focused on just two things. The first was the tedious and lengthy processing of her family's petition for asylum. If this process ever came to a resolution, she and her family would be released into more permanent accommodation elsewhere and could start earning a living again. The second was the erratic arrival of the food trucks. These were the very deliveries that the crowds of anti-immigration or anti-Semitic protestors outside the camp walls most complained about. Food was no longer plentiful even in England and many English were upset that a scarce and expensive resource was now being provided free to foreigners who were unable to work for a living.

Tamara was assiduous in seeking friendship with Benita in the hope that in this way she might benefit from a few extra scraps of meat but the old woman was scrupulously fair and only gave extra portions to the genuinely needy. And this was an ever-increasing proportion of the camp's population.

"Don't look so glum," joked Bilal on seeing Tamara seated alone by the side of what was once a pond but was now no more than an oval mound of grassy soil that would soon be covered by new tents.

Tamara smiled at Bilal.

After all, he was personable, young and extraordinarily attractive.

But he was also an Arab.

Although she wouldn't want her mother to know that her daughter was consorting with a goy and, of all goyim, an accursed Palestinian, Tamara had become rather fond of him. In fact, when they first met a few days after Tamara arrived, Bilal initially thought she was a Palestinian. Hers wasn't an uncommon name amongst Arabs. Tamara meanwhile was also not expressing any prejudice mostly because she too couldn't quite place Bilal's ethnicity. His accentless English was rather better than hers and he didn't sport the thick beard and traditional garb affected by some Palestinians.

"It's nothing," Tamara replied, but conscious that her eyes were still damp.

"Don't be silly," said Bilal. "It's obvious that there's something..."

"It's my mother. She's not getting any better."

"It must be the cold and damp."

"To have come so far and now when we've arrived..."

Bilal put an arm around Tamara's shoulder while she nestled her nose into his ragged woollen jumper that was decorated with gaily jumping Christmas reindeer. Like the frayed MS Apple tee-shirt that Tamara wore, it had been provided for free by the dwindling number of charities that were sympathetic to the world's dispossessed.

It was even more of a comfort for Tamara when Bilal and she sloped off together to the boiler-room in one of the several shelters that had once served as guest houses on the estate. It was one of the few places where a couple could find privacy and consequently it was in great demand: so much so that the couple had to reserve a time-slot by scratching their initials on the scrappy writing-pad that acted as a makeshift reservation system and was discreetly hidden on a shelf above the boiler-room door.

The boiler-room was already occupied. The door was secured from the inside to preserve the dignity of the couple (identified as T+U on the lined writing paper). Bilal and Tamara hid from prying eyes in the shadow of an old oak tree while keeping an impatient eye on the boiler-room door.

When Bilal and Tamara first became a couple, it seemed the most natural thing in the world. A girl needed companionship and protection and a man had his needs too. This wasn't Tamara's first such liaison on the winding trail of refugee camps between Israel and England, but it was the first time she'd had a relationship not just with a goy but with a Muslim. A Palestinian at that. OK. She didn't know that at first. But he was a good enough fuck that there was almost nothing Tamara wouldn't forgive him for.

Bilal had never known a Jewish woman even as a casual acquaintance, but he was actually rather less troubled about race and religion than she was. "We are all people of the Book," he would say, although Tamara wasn't quite sure that the Torah had quite the same significance to Muslims as it had to the Jews and their tempestuous history.

The boiler-room door opened at last and an amorous couple spilled out. They were both women and they both wore head-scarves. They giggled and averted their gaze from Bilal though they looked slyly at Tamara. They probably thought she was a Muslim. Her father's Moroccan ancestry made her ethnicity rather ambiguous.

And then they were in.

It might have once served as a boiler-room and it was still filled with pipes and metal chambers, but as the camp was heated by coal fires these days the room was now mostly used to store possessions that the refugees couldn't find anywhere else to leave. In amongst it all was a battered mattress with damp stains and a hole where a spring had once burst through. There was also a quite distinct late November chill. It was many years since the pipes had held warm water and the intermittent power supply was too unreliable for the building to be heated by other means.

Even so, Bilal and Tamara had already learnt that intimacy didn't require nudity. As long as they each had access to the fleshy bits that mattered, the exertion of lovemaking would soon heat them up. But before the couple fell together onto the stained mattress, they secured the door behind them. They were conscious that Al + Pa, whoever they were, would soon be outside the door and impatient to get in. They also had to move aside the clutter to lessen their discomfort as they embraced in the shadow of the bizarre family heirlooms that filled the room. There was a portrait of the Mount of Calvary (now too radioactive to welcome visitors), a broken electronic keyboard and an array of battered ancient laptops.

Tamara took Bilal's penis inside her arse, not because it was the most comfortable place to be fucked but because with the scarcity of condoms she wanted to save the few she had for when her anus was too battered for penetration. She was sure she wouldn't get pregnant as long as she wiped off the semen with the old cloth handkerchief that she'd found in Hungary several months before.

It would be a disaster if she did happen to get pregnant,.

What would her mother say?

Tamara already knew the cost of carelessness, but thankfully the worst consequences had been kept at bay by the miscarriage only a couple of months after she was even aware there was a problem.

"When can I fuck you properly?" Bilal wondered.

Tamara wondered what grounds he had for complaint. After all, she'd sucked his prick, let him prod her anus and spurted his semen over her face. What more could a man want?

"When I next have a period," said Tamara firmly.

Bilal nodded. He must have understood the wisdom of her words. His own family probably knew their son had a lover. Men were never as discreet as women. But if they knew that the dusky-skinned girl with the dark curly hair and the scar across her forehead and cheek was not a fellow Muslim but rather one of the most despised people in the world, what would happen next?

Perhaps she would share the fate of the Jewish girl she'd once got to know when her family was stranded for several weeks on the coastline of Cyprus. She'd had her nose sliced off.

That was a far worse punishment than Tamara had suffered from the blade of the knife wielded by the irate brother of the Hassidic Jew with whom Tamara had just made love in the crowded slums of Ljubljana.

For the moment however Tamara had the blessing of the love of both Bilal and her mother. Such precious blessings were to be cherished. She kissed her lover passionately while outside the boiler-room door she could hear a gentle knocking from Al and Pa to remind her of another couple's furtive need for satisfaction.

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