Anna yelled and tugged on my garments, trying to wake me up. I responded by reaching out for my sword. She was holding Baby and a beam of light cut through the cave entrance. She continued tugging on my garments, asking me to follow her, so I did.
I led us out of the cave, wondering what had scared her. If only she could hear my heartbeat. Baby made playful sounds and chuckled as we made our way out.
The sun almost blinded me so I shielded my eyes against it with my left hand, while holding my sword in my right. By the time I had a clear view, I could see about a thousand corpses lying outside the cave. Dead bodies of many Puricans were scattered around. I walked slowly and cautiously through the corpses because I was not sure if it was real or a trick.
I asked Anna to stay back. Instead she used her leg to push one of the bodies which lay nearby. It was lifeless, and so I examined the bodies which were closest to me.
They had all been slaughtered during the night. No sign of sword or arrow wounds could be seen on their bodies, only teeth marks. It appeared as though some wild beasts had attacked them. I saw claw-marks and deep canine cuts in their lifeless bodies. Some of the faces had been so badly mauled that they were unrecognisable.
I looked around carefully. Baby chuckled out loud, then we heard a creature growl from a distance; the sound echoing all around. Anna was shaken, so I led us back into the cave. Later, I went back outside, gathered some of the dead bodies, piled them up and covered the entrance to the cave with them, leaving a small opening at the top for light and air to come through. I found it amazing that Baby kept laughing.
I cut off a piece of my garment and wrapped it round the tip of my sword. I made fire and lit the piece of cloth which was on the sword. Holding it in front of me, I advanced into the deepest part of the cave, as I was curious to see what might be in there.
Anna carried the still laughing Baby and followed me along. The cave walls were covered with precious stones that glittered and shone as they reflected the light from the torch. Anna reached out and touched the precious stones on the walls. The colours were reflected on her face like rainbows. I saw her magnificent smile again. It warmed my heart and I smiled back at her.
While we were admiring the precious shiny stones on the walls of the cave, Anna began to sing a sweet song, unlike anything I had ever heard before. I stood there listening and watching as her voice filled the cave and the beautiful colourful lights from the stones shone on her face and the walls of the cave. I was lost in the moment; my heart felt so warm and I smiled. I felt as light as a feather; such feelings I had never felt before.
Her voice was like hearing the stars speak for the first time at night. It was as though there were other humans singing along with her. Maybe it was the sound of her voice bouncing off the walls or maybe I was spellbound by her beauty and voice. It seemed as though the precious stones sang along with her. I quickly shook my head, dispelling the notion, thinking it was lunacy.
While I was mystified and hypnotised by the sweet tone of her beautiful voice, a breeze blew through the cave. I noticed that something had pushed the pile of corpses away from the entrance. I told Anna not to move and I ran back to check what it was, keeping a firm hold on my sword.
On reaching the place where we had slept, I discovered that the fire had been put out.
With great caution, I approached the entrance and to my amazement, I saw some fruits in a small basket outside the cave. I had a careful look around before making a move. I saw no one, but I heard Anna’s footsteps behind me. She squatted and started eating what she could lay her hands on from the basket.
Anna ate like a wild creature and quickly dragged the basket into the cave on her own. I decided to stay outside for a while and study the surroundings, looking for a possible way of escape if it became necessary. I rolled the corpses away from the cave, and then cut and gathered some branches from a nearby tree. I used them to block the entrance to the cave again.
By the time I returned to the cave, Anna had fed Baby and was playing with him. She did not appear to care who had moved the bodies. I saw that she had kept the basket.
I sat down, still wondering about the mystery. Anna brought Baby to me and placed him in my hands. She then picked up some stones and placed them in front of me.
Anna sat before me and tried to explain what she had previously told me while we had been in the underwater cave. This time she poured sand on the stones instead of water. I still could not understand, for she had made me even more confused.
Anna was deep in thought for a while, then she stood up and rushed into the cave, returning with some precious stones. She then emptied the fruits from the basket, gathered some sand and poured it on the ground then placed the basket on top of the sand. She gathered more stones and placed them together with the precious stones. After that, she selected all the precious stones and placed them in the basket. She poured the sand over the basket and the stones, at the same time pushing the basket away from the stones on the ground. While she continued moving the basket away, she poured more sand on the other stones and as they were buried by the sand, Anna fell to the ground and played dead.
Anna stayed motionless until I touched her. She asked if I could understand what she was trying to say to me. I giggled, pointed a finger at her, saying ‘Anna!’ Then pointed the same finger at myself. ‘Buga’ I added.
She became so mad at me, gnashing her teeth then pointing her finger at my head, explaining to me that I had a small brain. She touched my heart and expressed that it was big; small brain big heart.
I laughed and she nodded.
‘Buga!’ I said again as I continued laughing.
I realised that she was trying to tell me to make a ship so that we could run away from all these troubles. I knew how to swim but no-one had ever taught me how to make a canoe or a ship. Even if I were to make one, where would we run to? So I explained to her that it requires many hands to make a canoe or a ship and I lacked the necessary skills to make such a craft. She ignored me and blew a raspberry.
The earth is big, we can go anywhere and settle there. I can protect Anna and Baby from a thousand flying spears and a thousand swords. I am Buga! The drums of war do not make any sound when I pass.
We spent another night in the cave, and whoever had left the basket the day earlier decided to supply another the next morning. We didn’t know who was showing such generosity and kindness to us.
This time around, Anna packed up the fruits and explained to me that we must carry them along on our journey. I suggested that we should stay at the cave a while longer, but she refused. She insisted that we should leave right at that moment. I then agreed to leave. Before we left, she rushed into the cave and fetched some of the precious stones to take with her.
We left the cave and started to walk away. As on the previous day, we could hear a beast growling from afar, the sound echoing all around us.
We stopped for a little while, but Anna was anxious to get going, so we set off again. I followed her, holding my sword in one hand and the basket of fruits with the other. While we walked, I kept a careful lookout for any signs of trouble.
It was a long walk from the cave to the place where Anna was leading us. After we had covered a certain distance, Anna asked if we could rest. We heard thunder and we could see lightning from afar. She handed Baby to me and explained that she would need to bathe when we got to a river. Baby began to cry so she took him back and kissed him. We ate some fruits and got back on our feet as the cloud thickened.
Not far from where we had last rested, I heard movement coming from behind us. I rushed to catch up with Anna. She had gone on ahead, singing to herself while she walked. I covered her mouth, dragged her and Baby away from the path which we were taking. We were lucky to find a good hiding place.
I placed the basket on the ground and held Anna with my left hand, my sword clenched to my right. Anna was in front of me holding Baby. I was taller and broader than her. She looked up straight into my eyes and smiled. I took a quick glance at her and Baby before resuming my surveillance.
Thousands of Puricans marched past us. Anna did not make any sound, but Baby smiled and chuckled. I used my finger to cover his mouth. Anna angrily removed it from Baby’s face and Baby chuckled again.
The Puricans did not see or hear us. They were heavily armed and their weapons clunked as they marched by. We waited there until the last one of them had gone past us. I could not see the chief among them. Then Baby chuckled again and as we were about to move out, more Puricans came by, this time the chief was among them. All were on foot and armed to the teeth. As soon as I sighted the chief, I remembered Mother and what he did to her. My body began to shake. They were not many; I could take them down and kill the chief with ease.
The chief commanded his guards to halt, then he turned to where we were and decided to micturate. He walked toward us and pulled it out right before us. Baby smiled wide and was about to laugh, so Anna covered Baby’s mouth with her hand and stared into his eyes. I used my hand to block Anna’s view as well.
The chief urinated right in front of us but did not notice that we were there. When he was done, he spat on his urine. He farted as he wiped his mouth. He picked out something from in between his teeth and continued walking. His guards followed him.
Baby then pushed Anna’s hand off his mouth, took a strange look at Anna and chuckled again.
We were both panting. Anna could tell that I was enraged at the one who stood before us, even though she did not know what actually happened or what I had lost in trying to protect her and Baby. As I looked in her eyes, I saw sincere gratitude.
It seemed as though she felt that this was going to be the end for us both, so she took the little time we had left to show her appreciation with just one look. She had no hope that we would survive. My nerves calmed and I bent my head low as they passed. It looked like the entire tribe of Puricans were out looking for us. I would get my rough hands on the chief’s neck someday.
After they had all gone, Anna turned and faced me. She had tears in her eyes. I wiped her tears with my other hand and we waited for a while before leaving the hiding place.
Anna later explained to me that we needed to take a different path. She was right even though I had no idea where she was taking us.
We changed course through the valleys and up over the hills in the cold. Baby was well covered and only Anna’s face was exposed to the harsh conditions. As for me, I was on alert and thinking of Mother. The thought of killing the chief warmed me constantly and gave me courage to go on. The thought of taking his life was my only opium. I know we will cross paths soon and even if we don’t, I shall make it my duty to find him and rip his heart out when this all ends! I thought.
Maybe his heart would be the first meat I’d taste. I could imagine its taste and the joy it would bring to know I that would be swallowing the heart of my greatest foe.
When we got to a certain place, Anna began to sing again. Her song sounded beautiful as she walked through the forest and didn’t show any sign of exhaustion. I could not understand the words of her song but I loved her voice. I imagined myself swimming under water and hearing such a voice guiding me. She sang so beautifully and Baby continued to chuckle as we walked.
The clouds above us had cleared and the sun warmed us a bit. However, on one side of the sky, the clouds appeared to be thick with the threat of oncoming rain.
Anna saw a particular small tree and explained to me that we should rest for a while. She instructed me to dig under the tree for roots, which I did.
She gathered some big leaves and laid them on the ground and used the same leaves to construct a covering for Baby which looked like a small temporary house.
I had never seen such plant before but it looked like fruit, so I broke it in half and decided to take a bite. However, I quickly spat it out of my mouth.
Anna laughed at me. Maybe the humans and my kind need different varieties of food to survive. Of course, my kind hunted her kind for food, I worried.
Anna handed Baby to me, so I gave her what I had uprooted and waited to see what she would do with it. She laughed at me again as she dug the earth to create a hole big enough for the root to fit in. She placed the root inside the hole and covered it with sand. She gathered some dry stems and some shrubs then placed them on top of the hole and lit it.
She stood up and walked to a nearby stream. I wanted to follow her but I had to stay to look after Baby.
I heard a splash and thought that she had jumped into the water to escape. I rushed for my sword and went down the stream but I found her singing and playing happily as if she were in the water with someone else. By the time she saw me, she invited me but I declined and walked back with Baby.
Anna later came and checked the fire. After some time she quenched it and unearthed the root which she had buried. She peeled it and served it to me. I first watched her eat before I took a bite of it. It tasted good, not as it did when I bit it fresh and so I yearned for more of it. After eating, we both went down the stream and drank from it.
Anna fetched some leaves, stuck them to some sticks and made a small span covering. Anna strapped Baby to her back and used the covering like a roof above their heads to shield themselves from the sun and the rain.
Anna amazed me with her intuition and how she would improvise quickly. She led the way, confident that she knew where we were headed. I just followed her.
We covered a long distance before we arrived at a place that looked like an abandoned human settlement. I made an attempt to warn Anna but she kept moving. I had a bad feeling about the place so I called out and she stopped, turned and smiled, insisting that we should keep walking.
She proved to be stubborn. As I took the next step, my right foot landed on a trap and I was swept off my feet. Before I could do anything, something hit me on the back of the head and I fell to the ground.