My Short Stories

7.

South Africa in Winter.                              Charlie Dimech.

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When I came out of the woods and into the clearing seeing was believing. Not only had they not left but they had actually come right up to the bay, a distance  of some two to three hundred metres from the shore!  At first I thought they were crazy to venture so close in unknown waters. But having re-assessed the availability of craziness I ventured to assess the situation in a more favourable light to themselves and less to myself. Of course this coast had been charted and they obviously had the maps!
 
Within five hours there were two hundred people or thereabouts on land. I stared in disbelief as they all disembarked, fifty at a time in three boats.
There were picnics going on, people drinking champagne and walking through the bush or having a great old time frolicking in the water, laughing and joking. The buzz of the crowd was so loud it was overwhelming. I raced back to camp. My wife started to cry as she saw I was alone.
"I knew they wouldn't come back." she said softly. I smiled and told her to come with me. Juniour followed.
We were surprised that our castaway friends had not yet arrived as per usual. I thought they would not turn up now until towards nightfall and stay over as they did sometimes.
"Where are we going?" asked Cherrinne.
"To Crayfish Bay." I exclaimed proudly.
Cherrinne fell silent as we wandered through the bush along the seldom used path. Seldom that is, by anyone else but us.
 
When we emerged from the track into the clearing it was not without astonishment for Cherrinne and repeated astonishment on my part. Juniour was amazed even more. This was not with-standing the shock of hearing their voices from within the woods. As for Charlie, his wide open eyes told the story. His dumbed speech reinforced the impression but to my amazement he did not look at all afraid. This also seemed quite remarkable, a miracle in fact. But after all, all his contacts with new people had been friendly and warm and he had no reason to fear up till now.
 
We mingled with the crowd. It was then that we learnt that this passing voyage was on its way to found a new world for themselves, fed up with the old one. We gathered that things had got considerably worse than when we left or were rather banished, but the voyage had been a long time in the planning.
 
Now that the world was truly global new forces, new occurrences and facts of life, not all of which were pleasant have emerged in the global village.
 
This national and international readjustment is in the hands not of selfless internationalists but selfish nationalists resulting in a movement in world affairs not unlike the movement of the 'plates'  of the Earth's surface causing not only friction but actual buckling and 'volcanoes'. - 'eruptions'. The earth itself had witnessed a lot of these timely occurrences lately.
 
These unique voyagers were refugees from the social quakes of a very serious kind which were going on around the world none of which seemed to be for the good. hence the flights of people.
"Boat people", -refugees from social, moral, aided by political,or causing it - who knows, corruption. It was all one.The disease was so immanent no one knew where it started but we all had only one fear - where it would end. The reason for this was the multiplyer effect it seemed to have. Things were no longer getting gradually worse they were getting worse at meteorical speed. They were headed in a direction,  at a pace which allowed for no return. You now had to get out fast or go down with the sure catastrophe which awaited the world in its blindness which was near total.
 
We identified with these people and they themselves thought of us not unlike them because they had been informed of our story the night before. These wild cave people from a different millenium they saw as nothing different to themselves. Our isolation had not changed us a great deal and our identification with them was also a natural process which we did not even  think to analyse or question.
 
They soon provided us with a set of clothes, including underwear which we at first reluctantly accepted. Never look a gift horse in the mouth. However we did not get rid of our normal clothes, that is 'normal' to us; looking on these new clothes simply as a form of diversion but of which we were eventually glad of.
 
We went back on board ship with them at nightfall where we were treated once again to the delights of cooking which we had so long missed. We were like children and only for the sake of Juniour I think did we contain ourselves. We nevertheless had a hearty meal which none enjoyed more than Juniour to his and our great pleasure. Similarly the drinks both cold and hot were inexpressibly delightful but restraining ourselves as much as possible as much for Juniour's sake as well as our own and so as not to offend all the others present.
 
We slept on board before being invited to join them or return to our current existence, on the following morning.
This very gracious offer of a choice without pressure we were very grateful for and we asked to be allowed  to return to shore where we would make up our minds. This we did and we made our way back to camp. We still called it camp even though it had become our permanent, fixed place of abode for many years now.
 
We met up with our friends who had been drawn to our camp by the sound of the ship's horn. They had stayed the night waiting and wondering what had become of us.
There was a discussion about what they should do and we did not make up our own minds in the process. As we were sure the ship would gladly accept our friends too if they wanted to go we assured them of this.
They looked at the way it could go.They and we ourselves joined in this exchange, weighed the pros and risks of this trip and soon they were excitedly making their way along the path to the bay while we remained behind to think about our own life.
 
After about five or six hours they returned loaded up with supplies that were graciously given to them and they returned to their camp to ponder their life. The ship would remain at anchor for three days, till we decided what to do.
 

8.


"Look up, your salvation is at hand!"