That We May Know Them

I’ve pondered before the notion of creating a modernization of the Exodus story (Moses, Pharaoh, Egyptians, Hebrews, “Let my people go!”, Charlton Heston. That one). My idea was to put the United States into the role of the Almighty, since all the wrath and disasters and plagues are nowadays the domain of the US armed forces. The Navy would provide wrath-of-God style intervention in the form of air-strikes. The new Moses would be a local leader sent with American backing. For once the US would actually be doing it for humanitarian reasons, or at least that’s what the President would claim.

I may even write it out at some point, but today a head-cold has turned my brain to mush. Also, it’s long. Maybe too long for a movie. Maybe an HBO mini-series.

A more recent idea came to me to write a retelling of the attack on Sodom in which, again, the US military plays the role of God’s fiery wrath. The plot would go something like this:

Two US operatives arrive in an African / Middle-Eastern city in which the state has failed and two warring factions have been fighting in the streets for dominance. Except today.

The two warlords have agreed to temporarily cease-fire to negotiate a longer-term armistice. One side is looking to compromise to spare the city from further destruction. The other is delaying while petitioning the US for military support in exchange for drilling rights. The US is unpopular among the people and the US is disinclined to put troops on the ground, but a deal like this would be most opportune for American oil.

Hence the US agents. In town. Undercover.

The Americans are at a safe house talking with a faction delegate when they receive news of a nearby riot that has formed and is closing in on the safe-house.

At this point I’d want a Twitter-Flash Mob montage inspired by the Arab Spring: A Twitter dialog is trending, it started with someone recognizing one of the two Americans (or just that they were American and out of place.) It isn’t long before a lucky photo surfaces. The disguises get Photoshopped away by a friendly artist in France. Who and where the Americans are is determined quickly through concurring accounts. Why is guessed at, but it’s generally decided US agents can only be up to no good and should be arrested. A crowd gathers flash-mob style, armed with rocks and Molotovs and clubs with the intent to expose, capture and interrogate the Americans. Angry mob style.

Soldiers are deployed to halt the riot. They shut down the local cell network to cease further organization efforts by the crowd. A blockade is formed, and the crowd closes. The crowd refuses to relent, but the soldiers aren’t willing to open fire on their own people. After brief negotiation some of the soldiers join in, and the crowd, now armed with some guns, moves on the safe house.

The crowd reaches the safe house while the operatives and delegate slip out the back and to a car. The delegate’s daughters (who work as clerks for their father) try to distract the crowd as they push into the house. They claim that their father and the Americans were not here at all but met elsewhere. The crowd is not convinced. Frustrated and dissatisfied, the crowd sets the house on fire and sets off looking for the Americans, leaving the two young women to watch the place burn.

Delegate and operatives drive away, but are soon spotted by roaming militia. The militia presses an attack in an effort to corner the vehicle long enough to hit it with a rocket-propelled grenade. The rocket misses, but shrapnel kills one of the operatives, and the car doesn’t get far before it breaks down.

The delegate and the remaining operative try to escape on foot.

The operative and the delegate split up. The American explains that he needs to get safe, find a way to make contact with his supervisor and report in. Some high ranking officers would be glad for cause to blast the whole city to kingdom come, and between the chaos and loss of contact with their agents on the ground, there is probably enough material to convince the President to sign off on a citywide air-strike campaign.

The operative explains: He needs to get safe and reconnect with his supervisors, and call off any attacks. The delegate should just gather his family as quickly as possible and get the Hell out of town, in case the call doesn’t go well…

That’s pretty much the setup. There’s a bit later where the delegate’s wife won’t leave without her sister’s family, but they take too long.

When I read it, it scans like a pretty normal military / spy thriller, actually.

Image is allegedly of an airstrike on an ISIL target. I expect the nature of the target, why it was hit and the number and identities of the militants / civilians who also were killed or injured during the strike are all classified. Because that’s how we roll.

EDITS for grammar and typos, and tense consistency and style because I can’t leave well enough alone.


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