That's How She Planned It

Ezra Azra


Copyright 2023 by Ezra Azra

.Photo by Александр Максин on Pexels.
Photo by Александр Максин on Pexels.
The year was 1966. A few weeks after the assassination of the Prime Minister of South Africa, Dr Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, 65 years old, of Afrikaner and French Huguenot ethnicity.

Dr Klaas Joost and his cousin Dr Wilhelm Naude were sitting in Joost's car on a side street in a strange neighbourhood. It was night. Naude parked his car on another street and walked to Joost's. Dr Naude was a minister in the Government. He was Verwoerd's close friend in the Cabinet.

"Not more than ten minutes, Klaas." "Good." "We're not sure the assassin was on his own. Hendrik was out of control. Some powerful people outside the Government were worried. Hendrik was planning to send troops into Market Village. Incite the Natives to give the soldiers reason to kill as many as possible. Hendrik had secret native agents in the Village who were going to help us."

"Somebody had him killed to stop the invasion?" "Something like that. You need to know this because I dare not try to follow up on Hendrik's offer to help you secretly in your expedition into that native territory." "I understand, Wilhelm. But didn't the Prime Minister say this was not the time to take action against the natives living there? Something about them having a legal contract right to be there?" "Yes. That is what he made out to everybody. Nobody knew he was planning military action within days after speaking to you. Seems as if he had it all planned long before he spoke to you. Your request for help, just gave him one more reason to believe what he was planning was a good thing."

"So, should I postpone all work in that area?" "It's up to you, Klaas. You're on your own, now." "That's not a problem. I was doing the work on my own in secret for months before I asked for help." "I suggest you exercise more secrecy if you want to continue. You might be in danger if powerful people prefer to leave the natives alone." "Okay. I'll go slower, too." "Good. I'll be in touch at family gatherings. Don't attempt to contact me in my office. They might be watching. My days in the Cabinet might be numbered."

He moved to exit the car. "Good luck in your work. Remember, Klaas, the natives are spineless. Pretend to be nice to them, and they will hurt one another for the opportunity to help us. Naude exited and walked away, hurriedly.

Three weeks later, Joost was at the farthest western place of the ravine. The crater-rim appeared to have rammed into the mountain face. That reinforced his hypothesis.

The meteor could be at the bottom of the mountain. He climbed down the one forest slope and up the other. The rim had weathered into a platform, providing a wide surface. He had no trouble walking along it through the trees.

He saw what appeared to be a lake. He decided to climb down the slope. That was not easy. He had plenty of trees and shrubs to grab onto as he climbed down. The angle was so steep in places, he had to allow himself to slip and fall down the decline.

He rested on the ground at the bottom. He checked himself for injuries. Except for sore spots just about everywhere on his body, he was unhurt. He picked himself up to stand. He could not see the lake. He limped along with considerable difficulty through thick forest, in the direction he thought the lake would be. He came to a clearing. He looked around. He noticed the tree-line ended far to his right and left. In front of him, extending seemingly endlessly, was a field of long grass. He limped through it.

After about thirty minutes of limping along, he came upon a well-traveled pathway, wide enough to accommodate about four adults abreast. He had to choose. He chose left. Within minutes along the path, he saw the lake. He quickened his pace. He reached the shore.

Row boats! Six of them, each with its oars inside. He looked around. He called out. "Hello!" A few more times, and he saw someone running towards him along the shore.
A girl. Whiter than ordinary white complexion, pinkish cheeks and lips. No more than 12 years old. Fully clothed in baggy brown shirt and baggy brown long trousers. Her clothes were dripping wet.

Water dripped from her yellow hair that was in a single thick plait hanging down her back. Her ankle-high footwear were the same colour as her complexion.

"Sorry," she panted, as she came up to him and stopped running. "I was swimming." "Fully clothed?" "Uh, well, dunking."

He saw her irises sparkle like polished silver. "Would you like to rent a boat, sir?" "I'm not sure. Where would I go?" "To the other side of the lake. Nobody lives on this side." "This is my first time. I wouldn't know where to start." "In that case you can hire me with the boat. I'll be your guide." "Who will be in charge at this end if you leave with me?" She smiled mischievously. "I'm not the only one at this end, sir. Come on." She walked to the boats.

"How much for a boat and you?" She spoke as she untied one of the boats from its stake. "What do you have to trade?" He hesitated. "Trade? Can't I just pay money?" "I prefer a trade, sir. There is no place around here to spend money. Perhaps a pencil? That will rent you me to show you around and to bring you back here two hours before sunset."

Joost was amused. A few hours work for one pencil? "How about an ink pen?" "No, thank you. They don't last long around here. Something about the air." She had untied the boat and neatly coiled the rope around the stake.

"Climb aboard, sir. You can rummage through your backpack for a pencil while I row you across the lake."
By the time they reached the other end of the lake, he had rummaged, but did not find a pencil. They agreed on a hand mirror. He needed it for only shaving, and he thought he wouldn't be shaving until he was back home in the City tomorrow.

"Has this lake a name?" "Blue-serpent. Hyphenated. You won't see any serpents because I'm with you. Not to worry, sir. They're vegetarian. But vicious-looking. Frightening fangs." "Are there any other colour serpents?" "Lots."

Much later. It was about half-an-hour to sunset. The yellow-haired girl was sitting on the far shore. Joost's backpack was on the ground in front of her. She was taking items out of the backpack, and placing them on the ground. Another girl walked up to her.

In her clothes and eyes, the second girl could have been the first one's identical twin, except for her blacker-than-usual-black complexion, and hair. Her hair was thick, long, and as black as her skin.

"He traded all that?" "Uh-huh." "You won't be able to row him back before sunset." "I know. That's how I planned it."

"Oh? Am I invited?" 

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