A Beheading

A terrifying and very short story by Mohsin Hamid in the current issue of Granta, which is devoted to Pakistan:

1283783497754 I hear the window shatter. There’s no air conditioner on to muffle the sound. I get out of bed. I wish I wasn’t my age. I wish I was as old as my parents. Or as young as my son. I wish it didn’t have to be me telling my wife to stay where she is, saying everything will be fine in a voice she doesn’t believe and I don’t believe either. We both hear the shouting downstairs. ‘Put on some clothes,’ I’m saying to her. ‘It’ll be better if you’re wearing clothes.’

The electricity’s gone so I use my phone to light the way. already there’s the sound of men running up the wooden stairs. I shut the bedroom door and lock it behind me. Shadows are jumping and stretching from multiple torches. I raise both my hands. ‘I’m here,’ I say to them. I want to say it loudly. I sound like a whispering child. ‘Please. Everything is all right.’

I’m on the floor. Someone has hit me. I don’t know if it was with a hand or a club. My mouth is full of liquid. I can’t get any words out. I’m gagging and I have to let my jaw hang open so I can breathe. Behind my back my wrists are being taped together. It feels like electrical tape, the kind of tape you wrap around a tennis ball for street cricket when you’re a kid. I’m lying on my face and there’s a grinding pain from that so I make some noise before I black out.

More here.