She had been walking home in the afternoon – no later than four, just as the sun had begun to descend over the pass. It had a curious effect, burning the gravel and the dirt floors of Mir Ali’s foundation and warming the ground before the cool evening air appeared to distort the temperature. Two cars stopped, one in front of her and one alongside her on the road. They were unmarked, but they did not bother to tint their windows. There was no need for such flourishes. There was no one the state needed to hide from, not here in Mir Ali. The soldiers were not the same as the ones who manned the checkpoints and interrogated drivers on the particulars of their identity cards. They were not the same, certainly not the same, as the men stationed at roundabouts and mosques ahead of important and inflammatory holidays. They were better. They were stronger. They swooped in on Samarra with the delicacies of fireflies. Samarra felt their breath behind her ears before she heard their footsteps. Their boots had not disturbed the sand on which she stood. Their soles had barely stirred the earth. The car doors were kept open. Before she understood what was happening, she had been lifted off the ground. The sound of the engine starting vibrated against her cheeks. Her hands had been bound and a filthy rag, smelling of sweat and of diesel, had been placed over her like a shroud.