This was a piece originally entered into a competition — the theme was dark and I thought I’d use it to shed light on the senseless murders and torture happening in South Africa as we speak. The world has no idea! Or the world chooses to ignore! Either way, the world needs to pull it’s head out of the hole, and dust it’s eyes and grasp the severity of the situation.
You sleep light when you live in a country where your skin colour and heritage puts a target on you and your families back.
I hear them a mile away, they don’t realize how far whispers and disturbed gravel drift in the dead of night – perhaps they don’t care.
A yelp pierces the quiet. I want to scream out her name — Suzie! My precious Suzie, I whisper to myself and I slap a hand over my mouth. Tears slide down my cheeks, and my heart breaks for my loyal Staffordshire.
I slip from the warm sheets and repeat a prayer of thanks that my husband and children are away. I grab the phone off the nightstand. Switch it to silent mode and text an SOS to Farmwatch. Will they reach our remote station in time? The territory is vast, and our closest neighbors are fifty kilometers away.
Adrenaline floods every blood vessels and bites into my brain. I gear up for action. I sprint down the stairs to the garage and flip off the mains, cutting the power. What now? I should know what to do, but my hesitation gives way to fear and dread sucker punches me in the gut. I morph into a blubbering heap of coward and wait for death.
A quick and painless end is not in store for me. I am a farmer, my heritage is both English and Dutch. This makes me their prey, and their vindictive trophy for a crime I never committed.
Blood lust; their sole motivation.
They are the monsters that truly do make things go bump in the night and they revel in the pain and humiliation of their victims. They ride the wave of discrimination and free themselves of guilt through chants of ‘Kill the Boer, kill the farmer’.
Last month the Van Biljon’s were raped, tortured with a hot iron, and bludgeoned with a cricket bat. Their lifeless bodies, discarded like rubbish on the steps of the police station. There is no help. There is no relief. Our plight never makes the news – only propaganda and hate speech, anarchy and lies. We are of no economic value to the greater leaders who look down their noses at us.
Glass shatters. My nerve endings screech. They’re in the house. Where will they search first? How long will it be before they discover me quivering in the garage?
My phone vibrates. I turn it face down. The glow of the screen will give me away. Can they hear my heartthrob, or the rush of blood as it pounds through my veins? Why should I care? They’ll find me soon enough. Cold sweat drips from my face and trickles down my spine. My nostrils flare. I can smell my own fear – sticky and sweet like fresh plucked Stinking Roger.
I embrace the dark night like a warm blanket; my only comfort. Get up and run, self-preservation urges. I cannot move and cringe as a warm wetness puddles beneath me.
They are going to find me, torture me, and kill me because of who I am. I can hardly breathe; my mouth opens and closes like a guppy out of water, and my limbs begin to shake.
A face long forgotten drifts into my vision. He looks the same as he did thirty years ago.
“Dad?” I whisper into the suffocating dark. He puts a finger to his lips and motions for me to follow. His presence brings a sense of relief.
I won’t die alone.
I stretch out onto my stomach and leopard crawl behind him to the study. In the background, I hear furtive whispers and quiet footsteps. Shadows stretch and squish, against the walls. Their appendages end in jagged curves as they move up the stairwell. They’re heading upstairs. They think we’re in our beds.
I don’t have much time.
The cool of the tiles press through my thin pajamas and my muscles spasm. In the study with only the crested moonlight and dad’s vaporous presence for guidance, I find the cabinet with my husband’s small arsenal locked inside. His hunting rifle, a handgun, and a grenade given to him by my dad, from his time in the border wars.
Terror grips my innards, grinding them to mush. I don’t think I can aim a gun at another human, no matter how vile they may be. I stare at the weapons then look to my dad. He says nothing, but in his eyes I see a strength I forgot I owned, one handed down from ancestors who trekked across dessert and mountains so long ago, in search of a new life.
I must defend myself; I must survive.
With unfortunate gratitude, I thank God I know how to use these tools of destruction. Before I take hold of the weapons, I sit and force a mouthful of air down my seized-up throat and into my lungs.
I need a clear head and steady hand.
Four pickup trucks skid to a halt. Their hunting strobes on bright. I struggle to stand, leaving the weapons in the dirt. My ripped and blood-stained pajamas hang from my shivering body.
Red flames lick the clouds of soot rising into the dawn sky. My house is a shattered wall of fire. Half a body hangs out the front door, another lies halfway down the walkway, and a last one writhes in the dirt, clenching his intestines.
“Found Davie’s grenade, I see,” says the head of the watch. A sad smirk spreads across his bearded face.
“Thanks for showing up,” I say and fall to my knees.