Rough Diamonds

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Chapter 33

Jako Retief

Jako listened in horror as his family screamed for help. The blanket shielded them from what was to come - an horrific conflagration caused by the igniting oil-filled barrels. Kate-Emily gripped on to Jako to protect herself from the erupting flames.

The heavy blanket had saved them from the blaze. The truck had continued to gain momentum and twist, while the oil-filled barrels ignited in fury.

In that moment, Jako and Kate-Emily felt a violent jolt and landed up on the incline on the way down to the river. The flaming truck had carried on to its fiery end.

It continued to erupt in balls of fire, the people obscured by the flames.

Jako watched in horror and held tight to the unconscious Kate-Emily. He searched the blaze for signs of movement.

“Oh, no... ” he wailed. He was frantic to get to the truck, which had become a fiery wreck and was too far down the bank for him to reach.

“Fuck! fuck!” he shouted. He scanned the blazing vehicle, but he could not see any signs of life. Mike, his mum and dad had been consumed.

Jako cradled Kate-Emily in his arms, making her unconscious body as comfortable as possible.

“We’ve lost three members of our family.” he wept uncontrollably, but she couldn’t hear him. It appeared that Kate-Emily had suffered a blow to the head.

After about 10 minutes, she regained consciousness. “Where am I?” Jako broke the news to her. She was stunned. “Mum, Dad and Mike?”, she stammered.

“Yes... ”

He held her tightly as she broke down.

From a distance, Jako could see the heat was subsiding. The family and drivers had clearly been incinerated beyond recognition by the exploding oil containers.

The stranded pair got their bearings. Jako realised they were on their own. The driver and his co-driver had also perished in the accident that had taken them way off the road where no-one would ever guess their location. The truck was totally destroyed. There was nothing left.

Jako wept. “My family...”

Jako helped Kate to push on through endless rain. They walked for an hour through the downpour, until they came to a high gate. Pushing it open, he saw a doorway in the distance. He knocked at the door and heard the muffled sounds of children.

The door opened. A man stood there, looking a bit astounded. “Come in, quickly, so I can shut the door against the rain. What happened to you two?”

Jako explained briefly, doing his best not to break down.

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