Two boys giggled as they took turns swinging on the old tank's rusty barrel. A third clambered into the turret and made machine gun noises at his friends.
The mothers, washing their clothes a few meters away, tutted and shouted at their children.
"Bat, get off! You'll tear your clothes!"
"Fazel, be careful!"
"Ali! Stop being stupid!"
The men of the village, sat together under an awning, nudged each other in the ribs and raised their beer bottles at the women.
"We should send you ladies down to Vorga, the war would be over in a week!"
"I think the army would be easier on the lads than their mothers!"
Laughter erupted. The women shook their heads and promised they would heartily berate their husbands later. Right now there was washing to do.
The boy called Bat lifted himself out of the turret and hopped onto the ground.
Bored of the tank, he meandered through the scrub on the edge of the square and sat down on his favourite bench overlooking the plain.
Sometimes there were snakes and lizards in the rocks near the bench, and Bat liked looking at them.
He supposed they lived here because the hill was nice and high, and it was much cooler than the plain which Bat found much too hot.
Once he had brought a little snake home and his parents had told him to put it back, but he hid it in the garden instead.
A movement on the plain caught Bat's eye. A cloud of dust was lifting up from the black road that went to Yangiyer, and he could see some cars.
They turned off the black road and onto the dirt road that led to the village. Bat watched them for a few minutes until his eyes focused in on the lead car.
It was very big and square and had a gun on the top.
Bat suddenly got scared and ran back to the square where the men were still drinking and the women were still washing and his friends were still playing.
"Mum! The monsters are coming!"
Within seconds the men had scattered and the children were bundled into Bat's house.
Bat's mother closed the door and walked out to speak to the monsters, who had just stopped their cars next to the tank.
Bat and his friends watched through the window as one of the monsters got out.
He looked like a soldier, but his clothes were covered in stripes and his face was all black except for the eyes and the mouth. He took out some paper and showed it to Bat's mother.
She started to cry and shake her head.
Bat swallowed. He hoped the monsters wouldn't steal his daddy like last time they came, when they stole Fazel's daddy. Nobody had seen him for ages and Fazel said he wasn't going to come back.
The monster pulled something big and metal out of his pocket and started walking toward Bat's house.