[This is a fiction I co-authored with Louise Norlie. I will be publishing the story in serial installments, every Monday for the next little while. Stay tuned.]
My parents left me everything and they were insured, so I got the maximum amount for “accidental death.” I still have not run out of money and could, theoretically, live comfortably even after all I have spent on ammunition, explosives, and weaponry.
One day I went to the library and pulled down a vast religious text. I propped it upright on the table and read for hours. Anyone walking by would notice that I was openly and proudly reading it. They probably thought I was studying it to understand the mindset of the 9/11 terrorists, but it was quite the opposite. I found myself drawn to the spirituality and philosophy of Islam. My foray into religion was prompted by an interest in the afterlife – not that I believed there was one. But to me religious terrorism was the ultimate rebellion and transgression; coming from my background, I was by no means expected to assume and embrace the aesthetic of a religious “terrorist.”
I started watching the news for information about so-called extremists, rallying against the excess and decadence of “the West.” I grew a beard and wore different clothes.
No one spoke to me now. A few Muslim students approached me one day with looks of earnest approval on their faces. They believed I was truly one of them. But I was not. I told them so in definite terms. They thought I was making a mockery of their faith. But I was not an actor. In fact, everything had become very real for me.
I dropped out of university soon after.