I used the characters from one of the Muslim teen novels I'm writing now. It's about a Christian boy that meets a Muslim girl at work and upon realising that she's pretty much just a normal girl struggles to overcome his preconceptions about Muslims that he has heard from the media and people around him; i.e. terrorism, fanatics, brainwashing, etc.
Anyway, here's the story. I like it so much I think I may insert it into my actual novel. Just for some humour which because I usually struggle to write humour I don't have a lot of spots to laugh at.
“Hey, Dan. What’s got you so mopey?” Steve laughs from across the table and Daniel’s eyes flick up from his nearly empty glass. Sukainah would have used a word like forlorn or disheartened. She made words like mopey or sad sound elegant and refined. Biting back a groan he lifts a hand to push back his fringe. It needed a cut soon.
“Nothing Steve. I’m just tired with this new job and studying for this exam we’ve got coming up. It barely feels like I have any free time anymore.”
“You study too much. Take a break.” Steve takes a noisy slurp from his iced chocolate, the heat of the day having melted the cream on top.
“I can’t just take a break.” Daniel bites out. “I only have one chance at getting this degree. I can’t afford to re-sit a unit.”
“Dude, everyone re-sits a unit now and again. I’m going to have to re-sit the two units I did last term. I failed both of them.” He smirks, as if he’s proud of this feat. Daniel slumps further in his seat. To be perfectly honest he’s not surprised, ever since he met him on the first day of term Daniel knew Steve wasn’t the brightest kid on the block. But to be fine with failing, to the degree of being happy about it; that was wrong.
“Don’t you ever think about what your life will become once we’re finished here?” He asks, swirling the last dregs around, watching what’s left of the foamy cream slither down the sides to add to the dismal mouthful.
“Wow, that was deep. Seriously, what happened to you this weekend?” Steve chortles and Daniel sighs, tipping the glass up to my mouth. Finished with the drink he places it back onto the table and grabbing his backpack moves to stand up.
“See ya Steve. I’ve got to get to class.”
“Class doesn’t start for another 20 minutes.” He protests and Daniel pauses, backpack thrown over his shoulder, hand on the back of the chair.
“I want to catch the professor before class, ask him about the themed essay.”
He sighs, before lifting his glass and sculling what’s left in it. “I’ll walk you.”
Great. Daniel thinks. I was trying to get away from you. But instead he forces his mouth to smile, makes his lips move. “Fine.”
“So...” Steve sidles up to Daniel’s side, hands deep in his pockets. “What’s new?”
Daniel is seriously reconsidering why he ever made friends with Steve at that moment but he pushes the thoughts down, letting himself walk through the campus’s café doors. After pausing to fill his water bottle from a fountain they walk slowly through the halls. Daniel is in a hurry to get to his class, to lose Steve before he can pry any further but Steve is taking his time, strolling down the walls like there are no time constraints or responsibilities that await him.
“You seem really out of it.” The tone is casual but the words aren’t. Daniel glances over at his friend. He’s watching him out of the corner of his eye, his gaze judging. Daniel knows he shouldn’t ask Steve the question that’s about to come tumbling out of his mouth, but he needs to get it off his chest.
“Do you think a Muslim could be a... a friend?” As soon as the words are out Daniel regrets them. He knows better than to discuss this with Steve.
“Are you kidding?” Steve throws back his head and laughs. “Good one Dan.” He whacks him on the back, still grinning manically. Then the grin fades as Daniel keeps walking.
“Wait... you are kidding, right? Dan?” Stumbling to catch up Steve grabs hold of Daniels backpack and yanks him to a stop. “You’re not kidding.” He curses and Daniel turns away.
“Just forget it Steve. It’s not that big of a deal.”
“Yeah it’s a big deal! You’re in danger. That’s their first move you know, they pretend to be all friendly like and then bam!” He throws his waggling fingers up into Daniels face. “They convert you and turn you into a terrorist.”
Daniel stares blankly at Steve’s earnest face. What had he ever seen in this guy to become his friend?
“I thought they just blew you up.” He remarks, stepping around Steve. “That’s what you told me.” If he can get Steve to back off, convince him that he’s not about to run down to a mosque and devote his life to killing people maybe Daniel could get to his lecture on time.
“Yeah, that’s the converted ones. The zombies you could say. They do what they are told. But who do you think tells the zombies what to do? The masterminds are the ones that you need to watch out for.”
“I thought zombies just walked in a vague direction until they found someone with fresh brains to eat.” Daniel muttered. “You can’t tell zombies which target to attack. They just eat whatever’s alive.”
Steve stutters for a few seconds before throwing his hands in the air. “Look, forget the zombies! The point is that your Muslim ‘friend’ is probably one of the masterminds controlling the... the...”
“Zombies?” Daniel supplies.
“No! Not zombies! Zombies are stupid. Forget the zombies!”
“I wish I could.” Daniel says calmly.
Steve’s arms flail around him, his face flushed and frustrated. “Daniel!” This guy wants to add you to his people-killing, life-destroying hoard.” In that moment Daniel sees Steve more serious than he could ever imagine, and the fact that it’s about something so foolish and stupid makes him wonder if he never woke up this morning and if he’s still asleep dreaming.
”I’m going to class now.” He says slowly and resumes walking down the hall, this time at a quicker pace.
“Dan, you need to listen to me. Or you’ll wake up one day and you won’t be you.”
“That doesn’t even make sense. Besides, I really doubt that Sukainah wants to turn me into a mindless slave.” The mental image of Sukainah dressed in gold, sitting on a throne-like dais pops into Daniel’s mind and he shakes his head to get rid of the strange sight. He definitely needs to examine his diet and sleeping routine. This was getting too weird to deal with.
“Sukainah?” Steve says, mangling the name horribly. Daniel winces, was that how his first try had sounded? How embarrassing. “It’s a she?! Is she pretty? She must be. Very clever... I have to admit they may be more ahead of us than I thought.”
Daniel can’t help himself, he stops walking. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t you see? They are using feminine charms to convert the male youth. That’s so... it’s genius actually. I have...”
“Steve.” Daniel interrupts him; he just needs him to stop. “No one is planning on brain-washing me, no one is using feminine charms to convince me to kill someone, no one is plotting to turn everyone into zombies,” Steve starts to grumble at this but Daniel throws up a hand, cutting him off again, “and no one is forming massive armies of mechanical people. Honestly Steve, I’m going to be late for class!”
Rushing off Daniel shakes his head. Steve was a good friend; he was the only one that would talk to him on his first day of uni, but sometimes... sometimes Daniel worried what effect hanging around Steve had on his mental health.