Forgotten Minds

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Chapter 14: Foot Prints In The Sand

During the past few months, I trade my slithering lifestyle for my healed legs. I also broke into a house belonging to a soldier and stole his uniform and boots. Still, cripple with my broken knee I keep my movements in the shadows during the day and cross the tree-less areas during the night. I estimate that I have covered three hundred kilometers during these months. Leaving me with more than a thousand to go.

My greatest enemy at the moment is small military camps and vehicles patrolling the area.

I know that one mistake will make me the hunted again.

My little dog “Pipes” is still following me, and he learned how to stay close and how to hide with me when I do.

Dusk is announced with the winter-sun has started his spectacular color show over the horizon. Edging the bushveld thorn-trees against the small hills in the back off.

A small buck is running across the footpath and stop for a moment to look at me before he continues on his way to find his friends and family. I am standing sideways and close to the tree to avoid human lines. Blending the new camo uniform as much as possible into the trees. I am waiting for the sun to set so that I can move forward without detection, move towards the dry riverbed that I have seen from the hill this afternoon. Pipes my little cross breed dog is sitting tight against my leg waiting for me to move. He waits patiently for my signal to hunt and find food for the day.

“We are very close to camps and everything we eat tonight will have to be raw,” I talk to Pipes as if he became my mind.

Pipes prefer it like that, but I do struggle to chew through the toughness of the raw meat.

My water bottle is low and I know the two of us will have to fill it somewhere. We have to find the riverbed and look for water under the sand, but all of this in good time.

Dancing sun rays on the small thorn tree leaves have now come to an end. It announced the beginning of the night.

For the first time, I will advance towards the enemy camp that I saw last night. My approach must be simple like that of a normal citizen with no military precision.

“I have to be where no one in his right mind would be, like the criminal that hide on the steps of the police station,” I remind myself

“I need to slip into a vehicle that is carrying provisions South, hide between the loaded boxes. Replace the guard if there is one and use my enemies to transport me closer to home.

I remove my boots and socks hanging it around my neck with the shoe laces. Now I can walk in the in the dark footpath, a footpath that is used by the local women who walk bare-feet down to the river bank. During the morning I observed their movement, packed it into my memory banks so that I can mimic their patterns during the night. Make prints that will not look any different in the softer areas of the sand.

“As I get closer to the camp I will observe, I will get into the heads of the guard, and with my boots on I will mimic their steps accurately during the nights. I will move through the security, and the camp like a ghost who do not make his own prints. But before I get there I will need to be the ghost of the water ladies.

“Leaving only the memories without prints.

Like I have left it in the sewer systems of the city.” I explain softly to myself as if I do not understand the procedure.

My memories slip back to the sewer systems and I see;

Pipes is on my lap. The little bundle of love that accompanies me, the little hunter that assists with the evening hunt. His eyes that care for me like that of a baby for his mother. Darkness in the rest of the pipe is thick and sticky, stickiness that sticks to my skin. To the flower dress that has now changed to a muddy stinky mess.

The small opening to the world supplies us with light from the surroundings of the street. Through the hole, I can see how the moonlight has colored the buildings around us. These buildings tell me that I have now arrived in the city. The light exposes the litter in the streets, the puddles of sewer water that wait for the tires of a car or the footprint from a man to travel from their home.

My hands lift Pipes to the opening, to the world that have food and water to drink. My head follows to expose the rest of the street to my eyes.

“I will search for opportunities to feed to drink and to feed my new friend,” I think.

My eyes meet the quiet streets the lost sight of nothing riding on the memory of fear of street gangs that might rule the streets. Gangs that will have weapons that I will need in my quest for food and survival.

With a searching finger, I find the grip that I need to pull my lifeless legs through the opening. Legs that will follow my every move as I conquer the streets and dustbins. Dustbins that might feed me.

With my hands now dragging me between the sidewalks and the tar, the section where cement form down runs the path for water leading into my pipes. My eyes search the buildings and alleys that separate them, dark alleys that will be the home of rubble and that of rats, cleaner rats that I can eat.

Pipes are now following me on the broken tar. At some places, he leaves my side and runs into the dark alleys. Into the darkness where I cannot see.

Fear fill my heart while he is running out of sight, fear that I will lose my friend and companion in the dark underworld. I now hear his little bark, and follow by pulling my chest over the sidewalk dragging my legs to the alley. The darkness of the alley swallows my body. Swallow my eyes as the shadow of the buildings push the light away. It takes a short while before I can see again. I see the dustbins on the side, the little dog that runs in and out behind them, barking and calling me. My arms drag my body towards Pipes, towards the dustbins and what they hide.

On arrival, I see the body of a man lying dead between the dustbins and the walls. My eyes search over his feet, search for shoes, but he has none. I now crawl closer to the search his body. To remove the clothes that I can use, fingers on my hands start fiddling through his pocket. Fiddling with the two buttons left on his blood-drenched shirt. My fingers find a knife pouch around his waist, but the knife is gone his pockets are empty like the stare in his eyes.

With difficulty, I remove his shirt over the stiff arms. I remove his pants before I strip the flower dress from my body. A dress that has served me well over the kilometers in the pipes. But now there are more holes than material left.

Once again I have to rub the shirt. My fingers need to break the cold solid blood on the shirt. Soften it a bit so that I can fit it over my bruised and battered body.

New clothes decorate my body now as I slide to the dustbins to see what we can find, food that we can eat.

My hand rub over the small body of Pipes, congratulating him on his find, his tail wag before he gives a little bark and runs a few circles around me…

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