Chapter 1: The hunting grounds
“The dark shadows that are now creeping like oversize fingers over the rocks, leaving only the blood stained colours of the sun on the cliffs, wind from the peaks pushes under the hood on my head.”
Two Teacher sit at The Reef, a local pub in Amanzimtoti on the Outskirts of Durban. It is a sunny day littered with a few clouds dancing between the air currents high above.
The two Castle Lager Draft beers still have drops forming on the glass but are already half empty. John Reed sips on his beer. With eyes staring at the sea his gaze tells stories of the days. He takes another large sip to down his beer.
“All that for nothing,” he says with his eyes still stuck to the waves crashing with white foam against the coastline. The sea is especially blue today and I noticed how the white foam close to the sandy beach form a strong contrast with the sea and skies.
“Beautiful isn’t it,” is the only reply that I give. My eyes still fixed on the white foam drawing the edges of the Indian Ocean.
I down my beer and indicate with two fingers to the bar lady to refill the empty glasses.
“Yeah, she is,” John reply, his eyes now fixed on the young lady filling the draft glasses.
“Ex-student, I taught her,” he continues with a smile.
“The weather I mean.”
I feel how my legs become active, how adrenaline drives through my veins. Visuals turn into a slow-motion movie before my eyes. I am now on the ground under the pool table, as the thundering blades of a military chopper pass close by.
“Coast guard,” I hear the voice of my friend.
“What,… where the fuck are you?”
Embarrassed I start crawling from under the pool table.
“Thought it was a five Rand,” I lie in an effort to cover for my erratic behaviour before I walk slowly back to the bar.
“Fuckin, spec forces,” John laughs, indicating with his head to the bar lady.
“They are all cooked.”
My hands dig into my shirt pocket and bring a five rand coin to light. I place it with conviction on the wooden bar counter.
“Five Rand, I tell you,” I say, while I pick the newly poured draft from the table to pour some cold liquid down my throat.
“Yeah, five rand,” John says, winking at the attractive bar lady.
Both of us stand up and walk towards a wooden table on the balcony. You know one of those all in one tables. The wooden palisade is now the only separation between us and the afternoon traffic driving down Kingsway Road. Shadows formed by the afternoon sun cover the table and push into the road.
“Well, where were we?” John breaks the silence. That is now if one can call the zoom of traffic and the roaring sea, silence.
“I cannot remember, think I was telling you about us running towards the cliffs,” I suggest with a monotone voice. I hear how my voice disappears into the rhythm of music from the Karaoke operator. Well, his name is Ben and on Friday nights he becomes the Elvis of Warner Beach, or at least that is what he thinks.
“Sometimes it is better to leave certain things unseen, and by that I also mean unheard, if that make sense at all,” I try to get out of my military story telling.
“But… didn’t the psychologist said you must verbalize your experiences?” John prompts.
“Idiots, they are all idiots, or should I rather say Pavlovian, bell ringers you know.”
Against my will, I continue the story.
“Let us give the story a name. Perhaps the day I lost my mind or something like that. You know like that TV series “The day I met you mother, I think.”
“Well, here we go,” I say while my mind slips back to the late afternoon.
Well with Chappies on my back we are approaching the hanging Cliffs.
“You remember Chappies, Corporal De Necker.”
“Yes,” He says keenly.
“With his wounded body on my back, I talk to him.”
“If we can only reach the cliffs,”I mutter under my breath.
“Chappies can you hear me?”
The thirty-year-old soldier on my shoulders answers me in silence while his one hand falls over my back.
“Hang in there buddy, we are almost there.”
Warm liquid seeps from his wound to drench my uniform.
“He is still alive.”
“Or so I think.”
The dark shadows that are now creeping like oversized fingers over the rocks, leaving only the blood stained colours of the sun on the cliffs, wind from the peaks pushes under the hood on my head.
I feel how the hard exterior shell formed by ruthless training crack slightly. Emotions of fear and sadness creep in. The brutal exterminator shield makes space for my soft human soul, for tears that I normally don’t have. Denial fills the mind of the trained operator as my friend is dying on my shoulders.
“We are almost there,”I repeat to myself like an old record stuck under the needle of a gramophone.
Sundays at home come to mind the voice of Cliff Richard filling the lounge after church.
Before I can, however, get to the gramophone and needles that stuck, my mind jolts back to this moment.
Step for step I carry Chappies to the cliffs in front of us.
“Hang in there,” I continue denying the truth, while the cold wind folds around me like a dark cold blanket. My ears sense the presence of emptiness.
I become aware of the vacuum that now manifests with a hollow feeling in my chest, with pain that I cannot explain.
“We are almost there.”
Soulless creatures fill my senses and crawl into the hollow of my chest.
The Pain of exhaustion in my feet remembers the road I have walked, thorns that have pushed through the soles of my boots, the stress that has rolled like rocks over the lining of my heart.
“We will outrun the dogs,” I scream at Chappies.
I am aware that the limp body on my shoulders will not answer but I continue talking – talking to myself.
“Is that a sign of insanity?”
“No, I am in…,” I want to say control of my thoughts, but “in…well deep thought,” I tell myself. After all, it sounds much more convincing.
“Stuttering answering to your own question, deep thought you say,” My inner self now question me, while the darkness gathers behind the spooky trees. Shadows creep like dark forces closer as they outmanoeuvre the sun rays.
Darkness flows over my soul. Fear of the unknown becomes goose bumps on the lining of my heart.
“Don’t fail me now,” I say to my broken knee, as excruciating pain rings in my mind with every step I take.
Trees bend over as if they want to join in the lonely conversation.
I know that darkness will shortly circle the pupils of my eyes.
“Hold on Chappies, we need to hurry.”
“We need to beat the dark,” I whisper to myself
Freezing wind now cut through the wool-lined jacket, chilling me to the marrow of my bones.
A jackal calls with a cutting voice for his partner, the sound echoes against the empty peaks and haunts my ears with fear.
“Bottom of the food chain Chappies, the bottom I tell you,”
“We are like canned food, ready and spiced.”
“Did you see the track that we have left?” I go ahead with my one way talk to Chappies.
I know that it will not be missed by the hunting dogs of my enemies.
“My friend, darkness will not hide our smell… it will not hide…”
My mind stops for a moment thinking of my surroundings before I start thinking again.
“Fuckin dark, smell and animals,” I rattle on “this will haunt us”
“Think, moron.” My mind interrupts
“Think, calm down, you are trained to walk in the dark,” my mind answers “trained to confuse dogs and survive animals.”
The argument seems valid but the emotions cloud my trained exterior.
I drag my feet with effort between the rocks over the steep terrain, I feel how the blood-soaked body on my shoulders rumble, how the weight become too much for my broken knee.
“Hang in there Chappies.”
“Almost there,” I mumble as his soul fight to leave his broken body, a body that once carried him with pride, and now it is spent.
His guts rumble under the excretion of his last bowl movement of everything that kept him human, the smell of fear, of death surround me now and I know that his fight is over, that the loneliness that I feel has become a reality between these dark trees.
“Almost,” my mind interrupts me again
“Shut the fuck up, I need to… think… about Chappies.”
“He is dead,” my mind reply, “and you want to think, rather think of the dark…….”
“The smelling dogs, the intestines leaking odor on your shoulder.”
In the last light that filters through the trees I see the greenish bowel running down my arm, I smell the smell of offal flowing on the cold winter breeze.
“I cannot leave him here. I have to take care of him.”
My hand now slip over his leg, it is cold like the barrel of the AK47 in my hands.
“Chappies are you still there.”
The only answer I get is the growl from his body.
“Don’t worry I will protect you to the ...”
Until death, do us part is the phrase that comes to mind, but to the end sounds more appropriate.
“…end,” I complete the sentence.
My logics and patterns of thought become limited, by the combination of lack of food, water and the loss of blood.
My head spins with dizzy spells as we approach the rocks.
Hunting dogs now bark the silence of the night away. Their irregular barking prevails as they pull against the leashes around their necks, straining against the control of their masters. They are now following the smell of a new hunt.
“Come, Chappies we need to move faster,” I said, “We need to stretch our lead.”
“You are talking to yourself again, Chappies is dead,” my mind reminds me.
“Fuck this, I am carrying him home,” I argue back.
“The time has come,” I continue, “to rely on the brutal instinct in my veins that does not recognize life. It does not know emotion and does not know how to give up - how to surrender. The ability that has been drilled into my body and soul by cruel survival training that might keep me alive for the night and during the hunt.”
As the instinct kicks in I feel how the pain in my knee becomes tolerable, the cold in the marrow of my bones turns into burning energy and how the weight of my friend loses its force on my legs.
Trees become my friends, and I can feel how they smile on me. The deadly incline becomes my ally to higher ground, a dreadful cry of a hyena becomes my hope, as my feet keep climbing.
My chest is burning with the cold air that rushes through my lungs. Under the pressure of the adrenaline that pumps through my veins.
“Fuck.” air rushes in pain over my lips as my knee bends between the branch splits that keeps it in place, as my feet stumble over a rock that I did not see. It crept like a dark ghost up to me. I feel how its teeth shake the loose tendons in my leg.
My head turns in the army hoody to look down on the trail that I have left. In the last dim light, I can see the broken branches, the grass between the rocks that scream and bare witness of my movements.
“My hunters will be able to follow me, even without the dogs. The dogs will never lose my scent they will hunt me down like a rabbit between these rocks.” I think
With that thought, my fingers inspect over my AK47, the only partner that I have left.
“Your life is also limited,” I start my new conversation with the gun in my hands, “limited by the ammunition I have left for you.”
“I will have enough to die fighting.”
That thought clinches for a moment to my inner reality before I continue on my way to the dark cliffs.
Dark has now defeated the last of the light. The cold creepy darkness hugs my soul with fear and desperation. I see how the darkness clears my trail; it silences the witness bench of the grass – it also swallows my vision, my ability to see the deadly knee breaking rocks between me and possible freedom.
My feet are feeling through the grass in search of rocks while I drag the weight of two adult men through the unfriendly terrain. In the distance, I can now see a few torch lights between the trees, torches that track my odour.
“They are coming.”
“They are searching for your image between the trees,” my mind interrupts.
“I have to stop them,” I continue, “I need to force them to overnight.”
“I need to create time that I so desperately need to set up my death acre, my fight to the death.”
I tighten my grip on the motionless body on my shoulders and drag my feet forward.
“He has left me to fight this one on my own, his body is no longer occupied by his soul,” the thought crushes through the essence of my heart.
“The time has come to let him go, to leave the empty vessel behind.”
For a moment I wait for the, I told you so, but the words do not come.
As if there are no torches hunting me, my mind goes to the photo of his wife in his pocket, the knowledge that she does not know; the little boy that became fatherless in his dreams. I think of the possibility of a bodiless funeral that might await them if I leave him now.
“If I die tonight here in the dark with him, his body will never return,” I now say out loud to myself.
Still, there is no reply from my inner-self, no argument, perhaps he also feels sad.
I feel how the priority changes in my mind, how the drive to protect his dead body for his family becomes my new aim. It gives me a new reason to defeat the walking torches, to avoid the barking dogs, and to cheat the crawling angels of death.
But I do not say it out loud, that might antagonize my inner-self.
My spine bends under the weight of Corporal John De Necker, known by his friends as “Chappies”; I place his lifeless body next to the big rock at the foot of the cliffs, now engulfed with black and grey shadows, waiting over the ghostly spirit of he who died.
“Rest in peace my friend, I will be back to fetch you,” I say with tears rolling over my cheeks.
The full moon is now pushing his head over the valleys in the east, its yellow light beams reflect off the tears now flowing from my face.
My mind sees the moon with mixed feelings of happiness and despair.
“I need the light to move, it can also expose me to eyes through normal binoculars.” I think
My inner mind broke his silence.
“Time to move on, the funeral is now over,” he says without a sign of sadness.
The empty staring eyes of Chappies exposed by the moonlight, stare up the cliffs as if he is following his soul. Cloudy eyes stare at me where the curtains to the soul have been closed. I have to close his eyes, but I want him to take in as much as possible.
“He needs to see his soul floating over the cliffs.” I Think
For a moment my instinct succumbs to emotion before my hand slips over his pale stiff face to close the windows to his soul.
Cliffs now coloured by the moon in a pale yellow, shadows of purple and black, keep the guard over us. The sound of the barking dogs bounces off the massive precipice before it pierces the rumbling silence in my head.
“The dry bowel on my clothes will be distinct for the dogs.”
“With the blood and intestine smell,” I start thinking of the grass on the route that I have followed, “they will follow me easy through the night.”
“Yes, and find your stinking ass,” my mind replies.
“I might……have,” I want to say a plan, but I know the plan is still an idea, a wild fraction of my imagination.
“Yes…..” my mind starts his reply, “and?”
I don’t feel like explaining myself so I remain quiet, under the moon.
With my eyes now fixed on the dark shadow filled cracks between the rocks, the thought continues in my head.
“The death smell has become one with my clothes. The camo jacket the wool and my hands are stiff with the mixture of dry blood and yellow excrement.”
“And…what is your plan?” My mind jumps in again
“Shut up I know what I am doing,” I reply.
For a moment I wished that I have named my mind so that I could have told him by name to fuck off.
“How about a name for you?” I ask.
“Now you want to make me an imaginary friend,” he starts with that loud voice, “you want me to play in the sand with you, hop-scotch like Heidi through the mountains?”
I do not reply.
“I have to stop the hunters, induce the decision to camp.” I change the subject, while I still think of me referring to myself as him.
My hand tightens around the Ak47 while my fingers feel over the trigger. My eyes study the pattern of the torches, counting the lights, estimating my survival rate.
“I will have to double back, flank the torch bearers;”
“My mobility with the broken knee will cut my changes in half.” I start formalizing my idea into a plan.
My eyes are now combing over the lifeless body that I have left next to the rocks, the body of a friend, who’s smell will be with me forever. His death odor will forever mark the rocks of this God forsaken mountain.
I feel how that emotion thing almost fills my eyes again with tears before I say
“Sadly I need your scent to distract the dogs,” words aimed atChappie’sfall on the ears of my obnoxious self.
“So your plan is to ask your dead friend if you can use him as bait,” my mind start to attack my plan.
“Hope, he answers so that you have a workable plan.”
Without answering I start walking back towards the empty vessel of Chappies, as I lift his shoulders I see how his guts slip through the wound in his stomach. My fingers burn to push it back, but instinctively I know I have to use them.
With a swift movement, I pull the slim sharp knife from my side and slice through his guts to free it from the strings of skin that attach it to his body. As I cut them free, the smell of death fills the air of the early evening.
“You always pierce the intestines when you cut,” my inner self-start the conversation, “remember when you cut the lamb on the farm,”
“I was only twelve, I defend the mistake, “and… I do not intend to eat Chappies.”
“You could have spared us the smell, though, he replies.
The sharpness of barking dogs jolts me back to reality to the real smell of guts hanging over my left arm. My eyes look for a brief moment at the yellow and red mass that I have left in Chappies. But before sadness or emotion can replace the will to live, I remove the AKM and ammunition from my friend. With his guts hanging over my left arm and the strap of his AKM tight around my right arm I start my mission towards the cliffs.
With a mission in mind, I move plus minus 100m along the edge of the cliff, to the right of the dogs and hunters. The route is downhill
“I have to stop the pursuing torches the cold eyes of soldiers and my hunters.”
“You are telling this to me….why?”
“I am not telling you, troop, I am instructing you,” I answer
“Just fuckin follows me,” I conclude.
“Oops sensitive, are we.”
“I have not slept, ate, or drank for three days,” I start, “I have lost blood so please stop your petty questions.”
The make-shift splint rips through the torn shirt bandages as my feet slip on the steep downhill. My body tumble to the ground, I feel how the hard rocky surface strikes against the side of my face, my hands are still holding on to the guts, and to the gun.
“Fuck.” Is the only word coming to mind.
“Still want to play Heidi with your unnamed friend,” laugh my mind, “perhaps Humpty Dumpty…..”
I have now reached the rocks and move my broken body into the shade behind it. My right-hand fiddles around for the AKM while my left-hand places the guts safely on the rock. I align my body behind the gun.
“Aim,” I instruct myself.
My eyes peep over the gun, to see the moving torches.
My right hand tightens the AKM strap around my arm, over the sights of the AKM the vision of the torch lights between trees are now clear,
I single out one of the lights and take aim the sound of a single shot slaps against the cliffs behind me and echoes over the valley. For a few seconds machine gun fire rattles before all the torches dim and dies. The view over the sights of Chappies’s gun is now pitch black, another flash of gunfire is clear, I take aim on the spot and send another single shot into the air.
“See I got them.”
“And you know…..how?” “Aiming at one and all go down, then tell me you got them,”
“Can we work together here?”
“Yeah, let’s do it,” for the first time he agrees.
“You know the AKM is not very accurate over these distances, the Russian gun was developed for close contact.”
“I was also in the class, so you tell me…..why?”
“I at least know that the two bullets hit within 5 feet of the targets and that is what I needed to do, create the illusion that they are watched, that we can see them and we can take them out at will.” I continue my explanation, while the sounds of barking dogs fill the air, it is clear that the barking sounds are not coming closer.
“The hunters are now lying between the grasses scanning every inch of the area where I am hiding.”
“Only if they have seen the flash of your gun,” my mind adds.
“We have to change my hiding place for another,” my heart bounces the words from under my ribs as the adrenaline rushes through my veins.
“Let’s go,” I command my body.
My body responds by starting to crawl between the rocks and grass patches. I use the strong knee to “leopard crawl” to a new hiding place. I feel how the pain from my left knee touches my spine with cold chilled waves. To me, it is as if my shins have a headache an ache that reminds me of nothing that I have endured before.
Feverish pain now sends a flash of darkness over the bottom of my eyes as if my mind does not want to see anymore as if the vision of the grass should be blurred with the mist creeping up from my mind.
“Come on, it is only a knee,” my mind starts.
“Think it is the loss of….” I think blood but the word does not want to form.
I feel how my mind slips away into the dark.
I stop the story for a while
Bach’s adultery play in Major B minors flat scratch my ears back to the now dim lit pub.
“Fuck,” I said turning my head to “Elvis” and his karaoke setup.
Some drunken prick is singing “I want to ride my bicycle” but I am sure Alvis has some other song’s music playing.
“Oh, my fuckin word, shoot the fucker he is alien,” I mumble in disgust.
John burst laughing while lighting a cigarette, you know one of those from the fruit shop, the tax-free illegal ones.
“Don’t let the fucker suffer shoot him,” I conclude my disgust now loud.
“The DJ or the singer?” John asks between the bubbling smoke from his mouth.
“Anyone, both just do it quickly, painlessly, use the butter knife if you want.”
“So, did you pass out?” John says in an effort to bring me back to the story.
“Fuck yes. The loss of blood and lack of food and water smack me like a wet butchery towel,” I said, “I want to tell you what my mind saw and experience while I was out. But with this background music, it will sound like a holiday around one of those islands where the girls where those flowers around their…”
“Around Hawaii,” John tries to help.
“No around their boobs, boet.”
A large gym induced character start waddling towards us. You know one of those with his life story tattooed like a Sunday comic strip on his arms.
“You oaks have a problem with my friend singing,” he emphasizes with an Afrikaans accent while placing his banana shape fingers on the table.
“You have a friend singing, Margret,” I reply.
“Who the fuck is Margret, you call me….,” he screams but he runs out of vocabulary.
“Your label on your arm,” I reply pointing at the red heart and the black letters Margret on his arm.
“Margret,” he screams while placing his full weight on his arms resting on our table. Surprisingly his muscles flex under the weight.
“I thought you guys pump these things in the morning,” I say, pointing at the flexed muscles
With a flash movement, I rip his hands from the table, grab his head and perform the holy ceremony of marriage between his nose and the pine table. His face punches my draft glass in pieces and embeds it into the wood
“Kiss the bride, lovey,” I conclude.
Muscle Margret stumbles to his feet, the draft glass still neatly embedded in his face.
“My face, my face, look what you have done to my face,” he screams in a now baby like (pathetic) voice.
“Mm, should have placed the glass a little to the left what do you think John.”
“I’ll be back, with my brothers, just wait,” Margret threaten
“Brothers, you mean, your Daddy fucked your mom after you came out, desperate my son desperate,” I conclude before turning to John.
“Where were we?” I ask.
“What you saw in your mind, I think.”
“Oh yes, I say before continuing my story.
“Yes John I sank into this dark room,” I say while my mind flashes back to the room of darkness.
I see the room now unfold in front of me.
My nightmare room.
A room with walls covered in blood and sticky floors that glue my feet to it. Blood runs like spilling paint down the dark green walls.
“Wake up,” I hear my voice calling from the grass fields outside.
“I…,” the only word that I get out slam with a hollow sound against the walls.
Fingers around my heart now capture my eyes and soul, my ears return to the small opening of reality. I can hear the dogs, a hyena laughing at his mate. I turn my eyes and see the back wall of the room. In the wall, I see a candle lit hole, a hole with ant-like insects scattering over it. Marching like armies onto the floor. The room now tilts to the side and my body slides over the sticky floor to the dark back wall. Millions of ants crawl over my injured leg. They feast on the pain, feast on my stress and I can feel how the candle lit hole invites me in. How the ants persuade me to leave the tacky floors of doom. I turn my head towards the moonlit opening at the top and I can see a woman with blond hair, who I do not know, waving at me an invitation that I must come. I become aware of a second figure sitting in the corner of the room.
I focus my eyes on adjusting to the dark. The figure gets up, his body is mutilated and I can see the gaping hole of darkness that he now bares. Moonlight from the opening flashes over his face revealing his staring eyes and pale face a face that I know and remember.
“Chappies,” I ask in my confused mind.
He looks straight at me, but he does not answer.
“Chappies!” I ask again.
But nobody answers not even my irritating self. Without saying a word his finger point towards the moon opening. My fingers claw to the sticky concrete and my left leg pushes against the wall in an effort to move. The invitation of a ghost drives me, to the opening filled with moon and dogs that bark, but my body does not move it is stuck, stuck to the wall.
My head now turns towards the ant invested wall. I see how the ants are pulling my injured leg through the hole towards the dim light of a world without the dogs. My aching knee is not sore anymore there is no feeling as the ants remove the leg from my body, as they start carrying the pain towards the dim light on the wall.
Dark corners of the room get filled with the voice of a woman.
“Go to the moonlight”, the words echo and repeat itself over and over again, as it bounces off the blood stained walls.
I turn my head to the light. The guts in my left hand are now dry, dry like leather. The smell of death is now replaced with a sweet unfamiliar smell, almost the smell of roses but not quite.
Through the moonlit gap, I can hear the faint bark of a dog, but my eyes cannot see it. The room suddenly tilts back and my body is freed from the wall. With my one leg, I push myself further away and closer to the moon, to the woman next to the opening of reality. The blood drenched sticky floor holds like long nail fingers around my arms and legs as I crawl. I can now see a rope hanging from reality, lying on the floor, my hand reaches, but I cannot touch it. I crawl forward towards the rope but the rope is moving away like in a nightmare. The back wall is now filled with dark shadowy hands inviting me back, inviting me to the hole where my injured leg has disappeared.
My eyes return to the moonlit valleys of grass and rocks, to the pain in my legs. My hands are filled with pieces of grass and rocky stones that I am clenching between my fingers. Yellow rocks are staring at me as if they want to talk, for a brief moment my lips move to answer but my voice does not form the words.
The dogs are now quiet, the call of a hyena fill the air to announce his hunt.
I peep over my shoulder to see if the blond woman from the dark room has followed me. I can see her shadow figure on the rock. In the moonlight, I can now see the lizard bird on her shoulder.
I forget about the pain and my low blood levels, the dogs that follow me.
I place my hands around my mouth.
“Lady,” I scream into my hands, “who are you, what is your name?” the sound of the words fills the valley around me.
For a moment she looks at me before she waves and disappears from the rock.
“I have traveled quite a distance,” I tell myself as I look back to the rock from where I shot the two shots.
“You call that quite a distance,” my mind interrupts, “you have more than 300 kilometres to go, and you think...”
Before he can complete his sentence I decide to interrupt him.
“Where were you while I was stuck in that….,” my mind cannot find a word to describe the nightmare room.
“The room,” I continue.
“What fuckin room?” he asks
My body crawls on, crawls to the unknown hiding from where I will need to regroup myself. Regroup the senses that I so dearly rely on to fight with the crippled abilities that I have left.
“Nightmare,” I start, “nightmare room,” I say with a question in my voice
“Room, next you will tell me you met this hot blond at the pub,” he replies, “you are in a fuckin bush my son.”
I so want to reply, but I decide to keep my mouth shut and continue with the work at hand.
Hand forhandI progress towards the unknown, dragging the aching knee over the rocks and grass. With only one clear thought in my mind to reach a position of fighting supremacy. “I need the high ground,” I think while my arms drag me through the sod and rocks.
“I need to pick the correct death acre, where I can ambush these dog runners,” I continue the thought
My mind flips for a moment back to the dark, nightmare room.
“Chappies, the blond lady, and her bird,” I say out loud.
I can feel the frown of my internal self upon me, I wait for his reply, but it does not come.
“High ground, I need the high ground,” the words drive me forth on the footsteps that I have left earlier.
“You saw the blond lady?” my mind suddenly replies, with a hint of surprise in his voice.
“Fucked up, I tell you fucked up,” he starts, “you need water and sleep.”
“Do you know her,” I ask
“Yip,” is all I get out of him.
I have never heard my mind so serious and the girl now sends horripilation’s down my spine.
“Her shoulder,” I stutter through the questions.
Questions, that now role like off road tires over the liver bare soil of my soul.
“At least dogs don’t fly,” my mind throws his part into the pot.
“Just help with your imagination,” he starts, “Flying pigs... get your mind to the dogs,” he screams into my inner ear.
“And you call me cooked,” I say while I inspect the wet guts in my hands.
“They are still wet,” I explain my action to myself.
“Yes wet and frosty,”
“Reeking dumb ass,” he replies, I feel a little dense that I did not grasp the British slang immediately.
With the AKM between my hand’s guts draped over the barrel and the AK47 on my back, my elbows dig into soil dragging the weakened body and soul forward. Every sharp rock leaves me in pain every piece of grass feels like salt in my wounds.
“Something is moving against the cliffs,” I say, “I see the silhouette and the shadow,” but from between the grass my eyes cannot see clearly.
I continue dragging ahead towards the rock where Chappies is awaiting my arrival I can see my footprints that I have left on my way to the rock, the blood drops on the solid areas, on the trails.
“There it is again, the movement I mean.”
“Probably flying spiders,”
“Dogs….hyenas,” I say as I see them, the Hyenas against the yellow backdrop of the cliffs.
“Time….to lose the entrails.”
“Thought you are taking it home,” he utters, “to hang on your door.”
“I have a plan,” I now use the word plan because I can explain it. I wait for my spiritual mind to ask, but he does not.
“See,” I start explaining, “the hyenas will spread the offal smell over the mountain for me,”
“I will stuff my clothes and boots with the intestine and leave it for the Hyenas to carry it across the grassland”
“Rocks against your naked body,” he argues the plan for a moment
“A life body,” I reply.
“You leave everything behind,” he prompts, “next thing you leave me behind too”
“Really,” his voice suddenly sounds sad, as I remove all the valuables out of my hood and place it on the ground.
My finger now fiddles with the belt around my waist.
“Really,” I retort to the silly question, the belt and ammunition are now off and I start removing my shirt.
“So….,” he starts but our thoughts combine as we look at the hyena that is now approaching us. Then the hyena turns and starts trotting towards a mate next to the rocks
“You rather talk to the blond lady, he resumes his thought.
“ThoughtI’m fucked if I see her, perhaps you need some water and sleep.”
He does not reply so I decide to continue
“I can surely do with the break, sleep.” I mean.
The shirt sticks like glue to me.
“The blood,” I explain to myself.
“Not the blood, you have not changed that thing forever.”
“You haven’t shut the fuck up forever,” He does not reply and I start removing the battered boots from my feet.
I struggle to remove the pants from my shattered left leg and decide to use my knife to cut it off.
With my pants off, I start with the shirt again.
My knife cleaves effortlessly, cutting a new bandage and a strip to tie the hunting knife to my wrist. It needs to be tied in such a way that the sharp point will point towards the outside if my arms are lifted in a defensive way. This will help if the hyenas decide to rather take me than the guts; it will also help if the hunting dogs find me during their hunt.
With all the clothes now filled with the stinky guts, I scatter them in a different direction into the grass.
“The trap is set,”
“You are trapped, with your bare ass and feet between the thorns and rocks.”
“My ass, my feet,” I respond.
I quickly cover my genitals with my hands as I see the blond lady standing between the rocks. The dragon-like bird on her shoulder stares with spitting eyes at me.
“What is your name,” I try again.
Her finger point to the cliffs above, but her lips remain in a state of muteness.
“Stay far away lass this bastard rig of guts,” my mind reply.
I see how the evening breeze blows her blond hair away from her face before she disappears like mist into the rocky cliffs.
For a moment I stare into the cliff where she has disappeared before my hands continue with the “black is beautiful” cream that we use to blacken our faces for combat. I rub it now all over my naked body to cover the whiteness that will stand out like a sore thumb between these dark bushes.
Dark shadows are now creeping towards me as the moon moves over the precipice of the mountain.
The darkness is sticky like half dry blood and sticks to my skin.
The moon and the stars above become an invitation to freedom and space.
With two hands I push my body up and stumble along the trail that I have left, towards a section in the cliffs that the blond lady showed me. Where I will be able to hoist my naked body to a ledge that leads to a gap in the steep rocks, A gap where I will fit and hide until the time comes to defend my cave or die like a rabbit hunted by dogs.
Before I leave the trail, I wipe the blood off my feet. The two steps from the trail to the cliff is painful, the rocks cut with sharp edges into my bare feet that were covered with blood-soaked boots for days. They do not have the luxury of knee suspension when the sharp edges force into the soft skin, feet that must protect a broken knee.