With having been away in South Africa and then being very, very busy on my return, I have kept up with my writing, but not the posting up, and so here is a marathon session…
“Jungle Shower” – #171
There was nothing but the gentle humming of the night crickets and the occasional call of this beast or that when they got back to their cabin after dinner. Neither of them had really considered that this trip into the wilderness would actually mean the wilderness; somehow that it was in a National Park had persuaded them that they would be a stone’s throw from hospitals and modernity in general. Not so, in fact after dark they had to be escorted to their room by a member of the ranger staff.
Nandi turned to George as the door closed and smiled at him; they were alone at last, locked up until sunrise in their little bubble of privacy and luxury.
“Come and shower with me in the outdoor one before we go to bed, eh?”
she said, a twinkle in her eye. He nodded and they simply undressed and headed for the door to the shower.
As she stood there in the darkness, her beautiful black skin barely reflecting the starlight, he watched as she stepped under the shower head and began to rub her body with the cool water.
“Miscommunication” – #172
The open plain in front of the camp was hardly teeming with life, but there was a small family group of elephants washing and drinking down at the watering hole, and the odd giraffe was eating their fill on the borders. Every now and again a kudu or a zebra would amble across. This all went to prove to Ernest that he was, finally, in Africa.
Cape Town had been all well and good with ‘the club’ and evening after evening filled with dinners and balls, but now he was finally seeing the real Africa. He was deep in these thoughts when he was tapped on the shoulder by a tall negro gentleman;
“Excuse me sir, but there is someone here to see you. He says that he is owner of this camp.”
Ernest nodded and pulled himself out of his chair. The gruff, middle-aged looking man walking towards him must surely be Mr. deVries, he concluded, and he stuck out his hand ready to greet the fellow.
“Mr. Longfellow, when I hired you to run my camp I did not expect to find you relaxing on the deck drinking my gin; where are the guests?”
“Good Morning” – #173
It was the growling that woke Peter. As he came to, in the early morning light, he remembered where he was, what had happened and then he heard the growling again and felt very much afraid.
He had been out bush walking with Bastiaan and he had fallen badly. The pain was starting to come back now, and he looked down at the bloody, makeshift dressing around his thigh where the femur had broken. That was what had brought the Hyena to him; the smell of his blood. Bastiaan had been right, Peter’s only chance was for him to walk out under cover of night and find help – he would not have lasted long enough to be carried out by just his friend at a slower pace. He had left the rifle and disappeared into the night, all of Peter’s hopes resting on his shoulders.
Peter had tried not to sleep, for fear that he would fall into unconsciousness and then be completely helpless, but in the end he had dropped off, and so now he was struggling towards wakefulness. Three pairs of eyes, that he could see, were watching him closely.
“Aarvaark Hunting” – #174
It had been five hours and still they had seen nothing. They had followed Benedict’s instructions to the letter; they had driven to the spot on the GPS that he had given to them, and parked the vehicle. They had checked that the wind was blowing into their faces when they had turned toward the sunset, and then they had walked a quarter of a mile into the bush, in complete silence.
They had set up the hide, and found the burrow, and were now taking it in turns to watch the burrow entrance with the night vision scope and the tracking camera that offered the same night viewing and filming capabilities. As they waited they passed notes to one another;
“Do you see anything?”
“No; pass me some more water would you?”
They were starting to wonder if they would ever see their quarry. Then, as the half hour mark on the sixth hour ticked by, David saw a snout appearing from the burrow. He realised that he had not switched the camera over to record and scrabbled around trying to turn it on quickly and quietly.
“Samhain Night Satori” – #175
The fire danced gaily as the songs grew bawdier and bawdier into the Samhain night. He found that he actually liked being with others who held similar beliefs to himself, though that brought a wry smile to his lips; there was every stripe and strain of what outsiders might call pagans at this moot.
Sitting around outside on the last night in October does not sound like it would be fun, but the fire was warm and bright, and the stories earlier in the evening had been well told. They had eaten together; a warm hotpot, or so he had been told despite not having detected any meat of any kind. Still it had been filling and hearty and had put him in the mood to sing along with standards and Fairport alike – well that and the mead.
As the hour approached, all quieted down and the leader of the moot took to the podium by the fire to begin the ritual of Samhain as it was observed by this group. All fell silent and as they all joined hands, Hugh felt the connection to the others that he had always worried he would not.
“Bookshop Reflex” – #176
“We regret to inform passengers that the flight, SAA 2887 at 1140h to Durban is delayed.”
Sarah rolled her eyes at Frank and tossed her book down in disgust. Frank just nodded, he was infuriated by it too, but did not see how he could control the situation; they were in the hands of the Fates now.
He looked around at the tribal or colonial splendour of Mpumalanga; it was by far the most attractive airport that he had ever seen, and yet he was fairly sure that locals would have focused on the temporary feel rather than how it looked.
“I’m going to go for a wander, do you mind watching my stuff?”
Frank nodded and smiled at her; she disappeared toward the book shop and Frank’s heart sank as he realised that he would be increasing the weight of his suitcase as the spare space was filled with Sarah’s new books. She had never seen a bookshop that she did not like the look of, and in fairness the South African bookshops are quite nice, even at airports… Anyway at least she was occupied.
“The Road Not Travelled” – #177
There was nothing left to say. The guests were all looking at him and he had nothing to say. He looked at the registrar, with a look of abject terror in his eyes, wanting to simply say the words ‘She’s not coming. It’s off’, but not being able to make the sounds.
The ‘Best Man’, who had brought the news, looked at her feet and tried not to make eye contact with her friend, as her seething rage was hardly going to help.
The silence grew in size and weight until there was nothing left to do but break it, and if he did not, then there was always a chance that someone else would. This might have been his only chance to salvage some dignity from the proceedings.
He turned to the gathered throng, some of whom had travelled inordinate distances to be there in Germany, with them;
“Friends, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but Victoria is not coming. I know that this is going to confuse a lot of you, but it turns out that she can’t go through with marrying me and has decided to not come. Sorry”
There were low mumblings.
“The Listener” – #178
“And so, Agent Kessler, what has your surveilance taught you so far about subject #2218898?”
Dieter shifted in his seat, more than a little intimidated to be reporting directly to the Regional Commander. He had made reports before, to his superior officer, but even though the Stasi was a regimented organisation, those meetings had been far less formal. Of course there were other complications that were making him more than a little nervous as well.
“Well, Sir, at the moment it appears that our fears are unfounded. The Subject does not appear to be involved in any subversive activities, and those of his associates that had initially caused us concern are not only scolded by him for inappropriate conversation in his home, but they also express frustration and disappointment in his stance behind his back in our various concurrent investigations.”
The Regional Commander nodded and seemed to indicate that Dieter should continue;
“Of course, Commander, we still have a further fortnight of close surveillance planned.”
“Pitching Woo” – #179
The candle light was flickering across the table as he looked into her eyes until she could bear it no longer and had to look away. Her mother had insisted that she attend the Duke after he had invited her to dine with him, but she supposed that her mother’s assumption had been that it would be a large affair with many at the table, in the Mauretania’s main dining room, rather than an intimate dinner in the Duke’s large state room.
“Do I so repel you, Sophie?”
She trembled, unwilling to admit that she averted her eyes in order to rein in her desire.
“No, not at all your excellency.”
“I see. Then why do you turn away from me when all that I wish to do is feast my eyes upon your beauty. Surely you must know the effect that you have upon men? That they are drawn not only by your splendour but also by your wit and character? It will be a lucky man indeed who turns to face his bride to find you before him.”
Her heart skipped a beat, of all the ‘catches’ she had met, this one was truly moving her. This one she desired.
“Nature’s Blockbuster” – #180
André sat under the veranda, waiting for the rain. The lightning was getting closer and soon the purple summer evening sky would erupt in the powerful downpour that the land thereabouts so desperately needed.
He had felt it coming all day; the slight edge of a little more moisture in the air, the clouds building up on the horizon, it had all been leading to this moment.
There it was again, striking the ground in thick, multiple forks and then sheets too, what looked like a mile away. Of all the spectacles of Nature, lightning was the one that always delivered and never disappointed as far as he was concerned. The awesome power of a storm was more than enough to remind him of his place in the world and yet also delight him with its spectacle.
He felt the moment, held his breath.
DA… DA… DA…
DA DA DA DA DA…
The rain started to fall and the noise it made on the corrugated iron roof made a shiver run up and down his spine. he lit up his cigar and lay back into the rocking chair, to enjoy the show.
“I’m lucky, he’s lucky, you’re lucky, we’re all lucky!” – #181
“So tell me about the movie!”
“Well, it’s called ‘Approaching Magenta’…”
I was cut off by three power-dressed female execs who came bounding up to the table. Gehret put up a hand to stop me in my tracks so that he could handle them. I smiled at them, in the way one assumes a predator smiles at unsuspecting prey, just willing one of them to say something about my ‘wardrobe’. None of them bit; shame.
Soon enough they were gone, and the hand came down again;
“So, as I said, it’s called ‘Approaching Magenta’, and it’s a bitter-sweet comedy about a ‘sad and lonely’ type guy falling for the woman playing Magenta in a traveling production of the stage version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and how he tries to get to meet her.”
Gehret nodded, then after a short pause
“Mostly I like it, but persuade me a little more that it could happen.”
I smiled an inner smile, finally I had gotten a pitch far enough to pull the ultimate proof out of the bag;
“Well Gehret, it happened to me. You’ve met Bronwen, my wife, right?”
“Pattern Recognition” – #182
“Stephen King! Are you having me on?”
I was amazed by the reaction, I thought that at worst she would say something like “I don’t rate him at all”, or similar, but this wide-eyed, borderline anger was way beyond my wildest speculation.
“I thought that everyone liked at least one of his stories. What’s the problem?”
She calmed down a little and then started to look a little embarrassed. After a few minutes;
“Look, don’t take this the wrong way, but this is just a bit of a shock. I mean it was bad enough that you have long hair, wear cowboy boots and feel that Babylon Five is art, but you like Stephen King novels! This is this is the final straw! I am destined to date the same man every time I fall, for the rest of my days! I am like a kind of romantic sisyphus pushing my heart up the hill of corny cult television, fantasy novels, roleplaying games and laughable footwear.”
I tried not to laugh, honest. Some people might have been hurt, but frankly this was not a first for me either; I think she liked Star Trek too.
“Marula” – #183
The dim light of the hut was making it hard for me to see much of anything, but I could just about make out Freya’s father on his haunches at the back, and Freya’s mother next to him, sat cross-legged very much waiting to hear what I was going to say.
How did I end up in a Zulu round-hut on the edge of Pomeroy, about to put my case to two aging white people as to why I was a good choice to marry their daughter? Yes that would indeed be a good question. Zara and Pedro had been very active in the ANC in the bad times, before Mandela and the others were freed, before democracy came, and even though Freya had turned her back on their eccentricities, this one thing was important to her. They had gone to live a simple life in what was now Kwa Zulu Natal, and before she would marry me I had to meet them and get their blessing.
It all sounds a little weird, but that was the deal and I was resolved to stick to it. I reached into my pocket and held the Marula fruit that she had given me before I left and began to speak.
“Back to Blighty” – #184
It was such a relief to Lewis that the sun was shining as he walked out of the Terminal One Arrivals Hall. The only thing worse than having to leave the Southern Summer behind him in Cape Town would have been arriving to the wind and rain one might reasonably expect in November. After flying all night he could imagine Dani breakfasting on their deck, looking up at Table Mountain, the gentle trickling of the fountain by the outside table and the sun kissing her feet. He missed her already; this was probably a good thing, he mused.
He joined the taxi queue and before long was secured within the soft bower of a London Cab, racing towards Chelsea, his employer’s home, and his own sumptuous breakfast if previous visits were anything to go by. This was the part of the journey that he enjoyed the most, feeling the changing character of the environment as he spotted the Chiswick roundabout and then the Fullers brewery…
As the cab pulled into Flood Street he almost had his ‘London Head’ back on; like riding a bike.
“Grandmama?” – #185
The half-light made the grove of cypress trees more than usually eerie, as James sat waiting for Emily. He had grown up playing amongst these trees, camping out in them each summer with his friends at first and then with Emily once they were older, but even so there was something about this place that was not familiar to him in that moment. Certainly he had never ventured out here during twilight this late in the year, at least not that he could remember. Maybe that was it.
He felt around in his pocket for his smokes, and was just finished lighting one when he heard an unfamiliar voice on the edge of the grove;
“James? Is that you?”
It was soft and frail, like the voice of an old woman, and faintly familiar. He just could not quite place it, and it was adding to his general disquiet as no one should know that he was there.
“James? You are here, as you promised my grand daughter that you would be, aren’t you?”
He breathed a sigh of relief and stepped from the shadows;
It was not who he expected at all.
“Good Eating” – #186
“This is good, eh?”
The biltong was unbelieveably good, there was no doubt. It had been worth the blind and frankly over the top panic that he had suffered all the way back from Joburg, worrying about getting the stuff through British Customs. In all honesty it was not as though there were drugs in his suitcase, and being British he could have just shrugged and said;
“It’s not allowed? Oh sorry. I had no idea.”
but even so he had driven himself crazy with worry about bringing it back. It had been a fit of craziness when with two days to go before the end of the holiday he had realised that he had not eaten enough biltong and droewors and he HAD to take some home. Besides André had brought some back for him last time; André deserved his thoughtful gift of South African meat.
They sat in quiet contemplation, quietly ruminating on the leathery but flavourful meat, and he closed his eyes and thought about the Kudu running wild before it became food; oddly it seemed better than cows in the UK and their simple lives.
“Decision Making” – #187
Since they had arrived in Goa, all Frank had talked about was learning to scuba dive. Now on day three, Stella was almost ready to stab him with her breakfast spoon if he mentioned it again in his dithering, indecisive, ineffectual way. The previous two mornings at breakfast and indeed throughout the days as well he had umm-ed and ahh-ed about the pros and cons until she had been ready to agree to do it with him if only to shut him up.
As far as she was concerned it was a simple question, like whether or nor to take an umbrella when leaving for work on a day that looks like rain; do I want to stay dry? Frank had clearly already decided that he wanted to learn how to dive, but he was caught up in the minutia of the standard he would be asked to reach, PADI being the certifying body, as compared to the BSAC course that he was told was offered at another hotel a short taxi ride away. Then there was the pontificating about the impact of taking up another expensive hobby. She wished he would just get on with it.
“Mistress” – #188
“On your knees. Sit on your hands.”
Silently and without taking my eyes away from her gaze I went down onto my knees as she commanded and slid my palms between my thighs and calves, arching my back slightly to relieve the tension in my arms.
With her left hand she gestured that I should look nowhere but her eyes, and I strained, head back, to do as she commanded. I stared intently into her eyes. I heard her right hand begin to explore the wetness between her legs, all but a few inches from my face, but forbidden to my sight. As she became more aroused I began to detect the beautiful, musky perfume of her pussy. It completed the tension which she then maintained with her steely gaze; a rope around my will. My eyes flashed away, I was desperate to see her arousal, and it was beautiful indeed; wet and pink, turning a deeper shade before my eyes. I so wanted to taste her…
Her free hand struck me across the side of my head;
“Look into my eyes! That is not for you.”
My head throbbed and I looked where I was told.