DAY 951 - OCTOBER 15, 2013
In response to threats of Western intervention, the Syrian Electronic Army, a group of pro-regime hackers, breaks into the websites of The New York Times, The Washington Post, Twitter, CNN, TIME Magazine, Global Post, and the US Marine Corps. Russia denies that the Syrian government was behind the chemical attacks, attesting that it was a false flag planted by jihadist rebels. After much deliberation, the United States and the Syrian government reach an agreement that allows international inspectors to start destroying Assad's chemical weapons by way of a deal brokered by the Russian Federation. Two more journalists are kidnapped near Al Raqqa and the Turkish border, dissuading more journalists from entering the country and consequently bringing the international coverage of the conflict to a halt. Thirteen rebel factions in Syria, break off from the FSA-backed Syrian National Council and form the Islamic Coalition, which further fractures the aims of the already disjointed Syrian opposition.
Members of ISIS arrive at the bullet-hole ridden building where you are being held by the men with masks. With them they drag a much skinnier version of Jeremy than you remember, but it's the same guy nonetheless. The ISIS leader, who holds Jeremy by the nape of the neck, announces to the men in masks that his name is Zaia. Both parties posture for a moment against each other and then close the distance that separates them. As the men in the masks approach Zaia they signal for you and Jalal to stay seated in your chairs. Zaia tosses Jeremy out of his grasp and, without warning, drops to one knee while pulling the signature gold-plated handgun out from the back of his jeans. His weapon fires first and you see your main captor, the one who punishes you for your internet use, get swiped with a bullet across the cheekbone. Two more hit his chest and both parties start to discharge their weapons chaotically, leading to more holes in the already torn up walls. You, Jalal, and Jeremy are crawling, bellies down, along the dusty ground, until you find cover behind a three person couch and old rosewood commode. On your way you grab the computer you have been using, and, once safely behind cover, you start to tweet furiously about the gunfight that has unexpectedly erupted between the two rebel groups. After seeing the state of the streets in Aleppo, coupled with the gunfight incident that is playing out before your eyes, you begin to understand what it means to lose faith in a cause. You don't believe in either the rebels or the regime any longer. There are no good guys out there. At that moment, almost halfway through your 140 characters, Jeremy thrusts your head to the ground, shooting the computer out of your hands as pieces of the wooden commode splitter in every direction. He holds you there, pressed on the dusty ground, for close to a minute while a slight layer of debris covers your back. When you look up, you see that Jalal is lying dead on the ground, a bullet hole cleaning through his forehead. Now you know you need to make a run for it.
- Tell Jeremy that you should find a way out together. After all, you could be face down, like Jalal, if he didn't have the wherewithal to save your life.
- Run towards the exit without Jeremy. He's still a foreigner who can't be trusted. What he did back there was just reflexive instinct. It didn't mean a thing.