"The Night of Power"

"This twenty-seventh night of Ramadan was Lailat al Qadr, 'The Night of Power,' when the first teachings of the holy Quran were revealed to the Prophet of Islam for the guidance of his followers.

"'What a night to feel powerless,' Abdulaziz Shaheen growled. 'On this, the most powerful night of the year...'"

Not a lot to say about this one, really. It's one of the best of the Mahboob Chaudri stories — possibly the best — and the last to appear in the pages of EQMM. At the end, Mahboob identifies the murderer and is offered an enormous bribe to let the guilty man get away with the crime. Mahboob isn't even tempted, and the final paragraphs of the story show him, I think, at his very best:

"It was still quite dark, but soon the sky would begin to lighten. Soon it would be possible to distinguish a white thread from a black, soon the muezzin would call the faithful to a renewal of their fast, soon the Night of Power would draw to a close.

"Mahboob Ahmed Chaudri took a deep breath as he stood there before the great hotel with his prisoner at his side. He could feel the power enter his body, his lungs, his very being — the power of a thousand months. He raised his gaze to the heavens and offered up a silent prayer of thanksgiving and joy. As his lips formed the unspoken words, a shooting star arced across the sky and lost itself in the velvet infinity of the night.

"A great sense of peace descended around him and into him, a peace Mahboob Chaudri knew would last until — no, beyond — the rising of the dawn."

You can read the entire story here, or you can listen to me read it for EQMM's monthly podcast in August 2015.

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