WEEK four: "the terrible truth"


The night breeze has cleared my head, and I now feel quite foolish. Obviously, these goats I've shot will never revert to human Fedayeen soldiers. The whole idea is probably just Hollywood rubbish, and besides, I wasn't using silver bullets.

The breeze is gone again, and I stare up at the unfamiliar constellations. I follow the contours of the Turkish Backpack, the Persian Billfold, the Furtive Shepherd, and the Haitian Slipknot. Suddenly, I notice the stars are moving. Wide-eyed, I watch them form five duplicate faces of Saddam, their glittering moustaches taunting me from above. I rise to escape and a dizzying lungful of intoxicating air bursts from my chem suit. As I vomit into the sand, everything becomes clear. This is the Holy Land, where Jesus, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, and Mary Baker Eddy all received the Voice of God. Alone in this desert, I have also been vouchsafed a Vision of the Truth. I must reach Baghdad and tell the world.


I'm traveling with a group of Iraqis I met on the road. I was wary at first, but slowly my fear softened into condescension. Their language is like a complex code, with each Arabic word representing something in English. No wonder there's so much misunderstanding between our cultures! If only Americans and Arabs understood how much we have in common, it would go a long way towards Westernizing this part of the world.

As we walk, my companions tell me that God made Kosher food poisonous to Arabs, and they may only eat pork that's been named and baptized by a Catholic priest. The holiday of Ramadan, as it has been explained to me, is a sort of religious contest to determine who can go the longest without food. The winner is crowned "Mr. King of Ramadan," and he enjoys two weeks of debauchery before his heart is torn from his chest. The introspection, spiritual rigor, and self-denial of Ramadan is reflected in the Western tradition of "brunch," in which Americans forego breakfast until at least 11am.


Baghdad has just fallen! The streets are filled with a wildly restrained sense of guarded abandon. I'm slightly envious as I watch these citizens assault their neighbors and ransack hospitals. I can imagine the elation I would feel if a foreign power swept into my country and overthrew the quasi-religious government intent on destroying my civil rights. This must truly be a great day for them.

I back away from my companions and head towards U.S. tanks nearby. My soiled chem suit demands instant respect, and I'm taken to the American Commanding Officer. Though I know it sounds incredible, I explain my vision, that during the confusion of the 1991 Gulf War, five of Saddam Hussein's body doubles staged a brutal, secret coup. Over Saddam's lifeless body, the rogue duplicates hatched a plan to run the country. They took turns posing as Saddam, and constructed tunnels to conceal their crimes, movements, and stolen wealth. Saddam's corpse was frozen and stored deep underground. When the time is right, it will be thawed and dumped for Allied forces to stumble upon and triumphantly display. Once DNA tests confirm Saddam's identity, the lookalikes will easily escape, and their treachery will remain undiscovered and unavenged. While the tank commander gravely considers the situation, I race towards the Palestine Hotel, current headquarters of the international press corps. I must spread the word.


Something has gone terribly wrong. Halfway through the hotel lobby on my way to the press, an explosion rocked the building. Shouts from upstairs give rise to a horrifying realization: an American tank just targeted the hotel--and me. Unharmed, I found the service entrance and fled into the streets.


I know far too much. The U.S. military wants me dead. I must stay hidden and dressed as a woman if I wish to survive the week. I now believe a conspiracy exists between our President and the men who run Iraq. George Bush will claim the spoils of war, the murderous body doubles will escape to live as wealthy men, and Saddam's freezer-burned corpse will be a meaningless trophy. No punishments for the wicked, only great rewards. Though I am trapped in this city with only a small pile of looted crockery to sustain me, I ask you to be strong, Mercury readers. Be strong, and I shall try and do the same. Over and out.