Ten years ago, I served six months in the civilian police mission EUPOL in Kabul. I was press and public information officer. The mission was organized by the European Union and I was seconded by Sweden’s Folke Bernadotte Academy.
Returning to normality in Sweden afterwards wasn’t easy. Our counselor Adam advised me to write about my experiences in a literary medium. By writing about them as dieselpunk science fiction, I could more easily explore the essence of my experiences, how they changed me, and how I reinvented myself after coming home.
Now my two short-stories are available in one self-published paperback on Amazon — link >>>
The following excerpt is the beginning of “Dust”:
I will always associate Ariana with the smell of dust, dry as cinder. It is a land of few colors: brown soil, grey rock and green vegetation characterize the hills and valleys. What do the inhabitants really subsist on in this arid home of death? It took some time before I realized what the farmers cultivated and what their herds grazed. We will usually not eat what they grow, but they are able to eke out a meagre existence here.
The sole relief for my eyes was the blue sky, a brilliant shade that I had never seen back home. Occasionally puffy clouds would drift across it, adding white to the limited palette. The sunlight is so sharp that the human eye cannot determine its color; just dazzling, be it white, yellow, or pale orange. It is only at the brief sunrises and sunsets that you are able to look in the sun’s direction and then the disc is orange, casting pink and purple hues across the sky.
What do we do here, aliens in an unearthly land, hated by some, distrusted by most and appreciated by too few? Ariana had for decades been a place shunned by the powers-that-be, the home of fierce natives and devoid of anything that would attract the attention of outsiders. However, the game of power is played according to rules that often are hard to comprehend for common men.