The Sands of Time

Author's Note

This is a work of fiction. And yet .

The romantic land of flamenco and Don Quixote and exotic-looking senoritas with tortoiseshell combs in their hair is also the land of Torquemada, the Spanish Inquisition, and one of the bloodiest civil wars in history. More than half a million people lost their lives in the battles for power between the Republicans and the rebel Nationalists in Spain. In 1936, between February and June, 269 political murders were committed, and the Nationalists executed Republicans at the rate of a thousand a month, with no mourning permitted. One hundred sixty churches were burned to the ground, and nuns were removed forcibly from convents, "as though," wrote Duc de Saint-Simon of an earlier conflict between the Spanish government and the Church, "they were whores in a bawdy house." Newspaper offices were sacked and strikes and riots were endemic throughout the land. The Civil War ended in a victory for the Nationalists under Franco, and following his death, Spain became a monarchy.

The Civil War, which lasted from 1936 to 1939, may be officially over, but the two Spains that fought it have never been reconciled. Today another war continues to rage in Spain, the guerrilla war fought by the Basques to regain the autonomy they had won under the Republic and lost under the Franco regime. The war is being fought with bombs, bank robberies to finance the bombs, assassinations, and riots.

When a member of ETA, a Basque guerrilla underground group, died in a Madrid hospital after being tortured by the police, the nationwide riots that followed led to the resignation of the director general of Spain's police force, five security chiefs, and two hundred senior police officers.

In 1986, in Barcelona, the Basques publicly burned the Spanish flag, and in Pamplona thousands fled in fear, when Basque Nationalists clashed with police in a series of mutinies that eventually spread across Spain and threatened the stability of the government. The paramilitary police retaliated by going on a rampage, firing at random at homes and shops of the Basques. The terrorism that goes on is more violent than ever.

This is a work of fiction. And yet...

"The dead do not need to rise.

"They are a part of the earth now and the earth can never be conquered for the earth endures forever, it will outlive all systems of tyranny. Those who have entered it honorably, and no men entered earth more honorably than those who died in Spain, have already achieved immortality."

Pamplona, Spain


If the plan goes wrong, we will all die. He went over it again in his mind for the last time, probing, testing, searching for flaws. He could find none. The plan was daring, and it called for careful, split-second timing. If it worked, it would be a spectacular feat, worthy of the great El Cid. If it failed...

Well, the time for worrying is past, Jaime Miro thought philosophically. It's time for action.

Jaime Miro was a legend, a hero to the Basque people and anathema to the Spanish government. He was six feet tall, with a strong, intelligent face, a muscular body, and brooding dark eyes. Witnesses tended to describe him as taller than he was, darker than he was, fiercer than he was. He was a complex man, a realist who understood the enormous odds against him, a romantic ready to die for what he believed in.

Pamplona was a town gone mad. It was the final morning of the running of the bulls, the Fiesta de San Fermin, the annual celebration held from July 7 to July 14. Thirty thousand visitors had swarmed into the city from all over the world. Some had come merely to watch the dangerous bull-running spectacle, others to prove their manhood by taking part in it, running in front of the charging beasts. All the hotel rooms had long since been reserved, and university students from Navarre had bedded down in doorways, bank lobbies, automobiles, the public square, and even the streets and sidewalks of the town.

The tourists packed the cafes and hotels, watching the noisy, colorful parades of papier-mache gigantes, and listening to the music of the marching bands. Members of the parade wore violet cloaks, with hoods of either green, garnet, or gold. Flowing through the streets, the processions looked like rivers of rainbows. Exploding firecrackers running along the poles and wires of the tramways added to the noise and general confusion.

The crowd had come to attend the evening bullfights, but the