Unring The Bell [COMPLETE]

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4 - Africa

“In this story, people will get hurt or killed when things fall on them. They will get as hurt or as killed if they get hit with something big and heavy like, say, a car. Should anyone in our story have the misfortune to fall off a roof or out a window, they won’t bounce. They will die.” (James Mangold, “Logan”)

A cargo plane lands on a dirt runway. Shang departs wearing an Ultra Instinct Shaggy t-shirt, sunhat, and blue jean shorts. She waves a jeep over.

Rebuilt huts and smiling faces greet Shang. Freshwater pulled from wells sit in pots at two WOMEN’S feet. Children run to greet her.

Shang is an outsider here but treated as a family member. The war appears to have been rinsed away. MUMBI (20) greets Shang. Mumbi’s rosewood eyes captivate Shang.

Mumbi’s luscious hair, the color of freshly cut pine wood, entrances Shang. The power of Mumbi’s beauty takes Shang’s breath away. Mumbi appears as the purest personification of female energy, of life itself.

The village's liveliness presents joy and security. Shang interacts with children, yet cannot remove her interest in Mumbi.

Shang wanders the tranquil huts. Shadows fill empty pathways under the gathering dusk. Fire lights glimmer from above the structure. Insects buzz in low, contented music. The world seems at peace.

Shining eyes search Shang as a child tugs on her tee-shirt. They giggle. Their dark skin contrasts with her creamy skin.


I kept away from prying eyes. How did you come here?


Rumors and satellites. My supervisor wanted me to explore the off-chance.


That I may be a danger to China? Or that the niche we have carved and built a tranquil oasis among the brutal warlords?


How did you do that?


We did that. There was a cost. Fecundity requires payment that I have paid for my tribe. For this verdant valley and heal the wounds that plagued us.


But, how?


I let loose a storm of life.

Mumbi pulls away to a trio of WOMEN (various) that want to talk with her. Shang becomes distracted by a BOY (15) offering a plate of fresh fruits.

Shang sleeps deeply within a barebones hut. Lying on soft leaves and spider threads, Shang stirs. She catches the sound of movement. Shang brushes a hand over her eyes, stretches her arms. She frowns as she listens to the air.

A clatter of metal and feet in the underbrush awakens her. She grabs her sidearm, checks for a round in the chamber, and releases the safety selector.

Silhouettes glide by the window.

Shang exits.

Shang draws an astonished breath. She inhales a furious gale that ripples through the forest. Leaves rustle and rattle, thick boughs sway and bend in reverence... to Mumbi.

Mumbi explodes with life, seething with energy that surges her veins, a mountain snowmelt runoff. Her muscles writhe and countless strands of plants and foliage.

Muzzle flashes dance with licking flames. Mumbi stands amidst an avalanche of exuberant mottled green and brown. Her fingers stretch like branches. Mumbi is coiled and twisted like powerful wind-lashed trees.

Shang witnesses strands of plant tissue pull the bones from the attackers. Mumbi’s irises sparkle as if created from carapaces. She is the embodiment of femininity, of life and creation. An ominous elemental avatar at full strength.

MILITIA men and boys fire AK-47s and wave machetes. They set fire to the outskirts and flames lick fiercely into the forest.


Fires screech into the black sky. A hut burns in the corner of Shang’s sight. A SOLDIER (15) shoots from the hip. Leaves zip past a blink to intercept the bullets. More soldiers, more barrage, more leaves.

Shang aims for her gun. Wood bursts forth to bind her wrist. Shang glances about her.

WE HEAR a ROAR so primitive it shakes the ground. Shang whips her gaze to Mumbi. Mumbi becomes a living titan. Wood roots her yards into the air. Gale winds sling leaves into every bullet. Timber walls clap the inferno.

The village goes deathly quiet. Mumbi strolls over the dead bodies and muck.


Shang. I’m sorry. Evil never rests. I let my guard down and they sought revenge.


For what?


Their general’s death.

The ladies step around the hut Shang slept in. Remnant fire illuminates into the shadows.


You killed him?


I did not know what his position was. I only know what he did to my mother.

Shang’s empathy becomes palatable.


Quiet, cheap, and scarily efficient terror. Banal masculinity normalizes the logic that sexual “needs” must be satisfied, and if deprived, they have the “right” to take a woman’s body by force. I have witnessed this too often.


The frustration from neglect, loving support, and the blurred lines of palatable evil do not erode their choice. The general did not offer my mother that choice.

Shang notes at a thick plant resin, the cool color of amber, pimples the hut’s rear wall. Her eyes widen.


He did not believe he was the only provider of male seed. How else could my birth be explained? So, he had his soldiers drain my mother’s blood through her feet and armpits. He strung her up when I was a newborn to die. When I found my father, I did the same. But I did not want his body to rot away.

WE SEE: The general encased in the resin. His body resembles a deflated costume save for his eyes. Fear permanently encodes the orbs. Shang holds her breath.

Shang turns to Mumbi. Mumbi has gone. Silence punctures the air. Shang makes preparation to leave.

Later in the evening, a commercial craft carries a light passenger load. Everyone wears a filter mask as Shang types on a laptop.

WE SEE: She is filing an after-action report. A chat window pops up.


Did you get to sleep?


Yes. I know it’s hard to believe.


Impossible. No superpowers from comic books can be real. The fundamental truth of science. Did they burn herbs or plants that caused hallucinogens?


Respectfully, I can only report the truth.


Go to the USA. See if you experience the same. If not, then we know.


If yes?




What do you want me to do?


Look, but don’t touch. Report back when you have proof.

As the conversation ends, Shang shuts down the computer. She stands up into the aisle. Shang shuffles, stiff, to the rear of the plane.

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