Sunday 26th December 2032, 08:31
Anel slowly opened her eyes, the world around her was blurry and the voices she could hear sounded unnaturally deep and distorted. She blinked several times and tried to move her jaw as she emitted a low groan. Two blurry shapes in front of her had been having a conversation but they stopped to look at her. Anel’s nostrils flared as her acute sense of smell identified all of the aromas around her. She could smell urine, faeces, blood and most notably fear. The entire room was bathed in fear, but it wasn’t her fear, it was the fear of the two who were nervously watching her.
She blinked several more times and tried to move her head, but she couldn’t; something was tightly secured around it, holding it in place. She carried on blinking until the world started to come into focus. One of the blurs that she could smell had moved to the far side of the room to pick a telephone handset off the wall. His voice still sounded deep and distorted but she could make out what he was saying, “Tell the Mistress that this thing’s awake now… Eish, I don’t know, just tell her! … We want to get the hell out of here, this is the scariest one yet! … Will you just go and tell her already, did you see what it did to Shadrack? He was built like a brick shit-house and it killed him with one hand! … Ah voetsek.”
She heard the handset get slammed down and she watched the owner of the voice walk back to his companion. The two of them were starting to come into focus now and she was aware of a long line of drool that was hanging from the corner of her mouth down to her chest. The two men watched her as they continued to reek of fear. She recognised them now, they were two of the regular guards who had watched her while she was in the cage. She tried to move her arms and legs, but they were secured as well.
Each one of the guards was armed with an AK-47. The one who hadn’t been talking on the phone walked up to a drip that was fixed in her arm and he adjusted the flow from the IV. Telephone guard said, “Not too much dammit! She’s coming now; if we put it back to sleep then she’s gonna be pissed off!” The drip guard replied, “Chill out Baba, I’ve seen the Devil do this a hundred times, I know what I’m doing. Besides she’s starting to move and I don’t want to end up like Shadrack!”
The guards fell silent again and Anel could feel the cold solution run up her arm after the adjustment. Her vision started to blur again, but she fought the effects of the morphine and carried on blinking the world into focus. After a while she heard the screech of metal grating on metal as a large door was wrenched open. Her nostrils flared again as the aroma of the room began to change; now she could smell perfume, soap and shampoo.
Precious entered the room, followed by Kgosi. She walked up to the guards and asked, “She’s awake?” Telephone guard nodded and replied, “Yes my Mistress.” She tersely asked, “For how long?” The other guard replied, “Only a few minutes my Mistress. I adjusted the drip to keep her calm.” Precious’ eyes started to bulge out of her head as she screamed, “YOU DID WHAT? Kgosi, put him in the box!” Kgosi whistled, three more guards entered the room, quickly disarmed the offender and dragged him out, kicking and screaming.
Precious walked up to Anel and looked into her yellow eyes; the stench of Precious’ perfume nearly overpowered Anel’s keen sense of smell. She spoke softly to Anel, “You were a very naughty girl Anel, poor Shadrack won’t be coming back.” Anel just carried on looking at Precious, she was acutely aware that despite the fact that she was bolted to wall of the cell, she wasn’t scared anymore. Precious spoke again, “Anel? Anel, can you hear me? Do you understand what I’m saying to you?” Anel could sense that Precious was getting irritated and that made her smile, more drool ran out of her mouth and down her chest.
Precious’ eyes narrowed and she continued, “You do understand me, don’t you?” Anel just looked at Precious and carried on smiling and drooling. Precious shook her head and said to herself, “That idiot must have opened the clamp too much, Kgosi bring in De Wet.” Kgosi nodded and quietly left the room while Precious stopped the flow of morphine. Anel could immediately feel a warm sensation creep up her arm and the world around her almost immediately came sharply into focus. She slowly and carefully started to clench and unclench her unnaturally long and clawed fingers.
The aroma of the room changed again, this time Precious’ perfume was diluted with a mixture of boiled cabbage, beetroot and body odour. Anel’s eyes focused on the doorway as De Wet Kruger entered the cell and her heart started racing. She was looking at the man who had kept her and Alice in cages, designed to hold dogs, for months on end. The man who had strapped her to a rusted and filthy operating table while he had experimented on them and changed them into the creatures that they were now. Anel’s heightened metabolism was quickly burning through the morphine that remained in her body. Her brain was flooded with pure hatred and rage as she glared at Precious and De Wet.
De Wet was looking at the ground as he uncomfortably shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He was still reliving the horrific events of the previous day and he was absolutely terrified of Anel. Precious gently cooed, “Oh come now De Wet, you know that I was just joking about putting Matron in the box yesterday. I couldn’t be happier with what you’ve made for me. Didn’t you and Matron enjoy your cake last night?” De Wet didn’t look up or say anything, he just nodded. Precious continued, “De Wet look at her, look at your beautiful creation. She’s perfect De Wet, you’ve done it, you’ve made me so happy. Aren’t you glad that you’ve made your Mistress happy?” De Wet carried on looking at the floor and shifting his weight but he eventually mumbled, “Yes Ms Precious.”
Precious smiled and sternly said, “De Wet! Look at Anel!” De Wet reluctantly tore his gaze away from the floor and locked eyes with the terrifying creature. Precious persisted, “Isn’t she beautiful?” De Wet pulled his eyes away from Anel’s and he proceeded to look over the creature’s entire body; eventually he noticed that the drip had been stopped. His eyes widened in fear and he started shaking uncontrollably. He pointed a shaking finger at the drip and lisped, “Who stopped it? Why did they stop it?”
Precious looked confused as her eyes followed where his trembling finger was pointing. She answered, “Why I did of course, I wanted her to be awake for us.” De Wet’s voice jumped up several octaves as he started to scream in a shrill voice, “It must be sedated! It must always be sedated! I’ve enlarged its amygdala and increased its cortisol production! It must always be sedated! It knows only hatred, anger and RAGE! Start the drip, start the drip NOW!”
Precious’ eyes widened as the understanding of what De Wet was saying dawned on her. She lunged for the drip as Anel ripped her head and leg free of the restraints. She was able to wrap her leg around Precious and sink her teeth into the megalomaniac’s shoulder. Precious had just been able to grab the IV clamp and release it, morphine began to flow back into Anel. While the morphine was taking effect she kept her teeth buried in Precious’ shoulder and De Wet looked on in horror.
De Wet had kept his latest breakthrough a secret; the osmium had unlocked a revolutionary new biological catalyst using coordination chemistry. Black Mamba DNA, in conjunction with his Naked Mole Rat gene therapy had been the key to Alice and Anel’s success. De Wet knew that both creatures had fangs hidden in their mouths, he just didn’t know if these creatures produced any venom or not. If they were indeed venomous he had no idea what that venom would do to a human being…
Sunday 26th December 2032, 19:22
Tanisha blinked and the five creatures vanished, she shouted, “Surround the building NOW! Make sure that they’ve got nowhere to go when they get down here! Bongani, cover the entrance and make sure to keep in line of sight of each other!” Her team of scavengers ran off to surround the building. As Ncube was about to follow the team she stopped him and spoke to Mandla, “Can we get out of here now?” He knowingly eyed Tanisha, Ncube and the group of soldiers before replying in afrikaans, “Not in the dark in this place. I wouldn’t risk it, we haven’t been here long enough to know the lay of the land.”
Tanisha nodded and said, “Thanks Mandla, please watch the entrance with the Bongani.” He nodded and walked over to where Ncube’s son was nervously standing alone. Tanisha walked over to the soldiers again and tersely asked, “What the hell was part of your team doing up there the whole day? We thought that there were only the six of you left?”
Jack spoke quickly and urgently, “That’s what I wanted to tell you, those things aren’t with us! We found them here.” Tanisha shook her head, “What do you mean things? Who did you find here?” Priyanka cut in, “Sis, there is some weird and hectic shit going on here, untie us, you NEED our help!” Tanisha shook her head saying, “I can’t do that yet, my people are armed and alert now. They’ll kill us all.”
Their conversation was cut short by the distant sound of gunfire; Tanisha and Ncube brought their weapons to the ready and scanned the environment around them. Leigh had stayed close to the soldiers after the scavengers had run off, but she’d only caught the last bit of the conversation. She piped up with, “They aren’t lying War Scavenger Kumeshnee. This is where the Mistress keeps the Tokoloshes. Jabu used to talk about them in his sleep.” Tanisha and Ncube gave Leigh a confused look and Ncube said, “Tokoloshes? What the hell are you talking about? Do you mean those people on top of the building?”
As soon as Tanisha heard the word ‘Tokoloshe’ her eyes widened and she quietly said, “Operation Tokoloshe…” Leigh, Ncube and the soldiers looked at her quizzically and Jack asked, “Do you know about these things?” Tanisha shook off her reverie and said, “No, I overheard the phrase once. I was outside the Mistress’ private chambers as a door was opened.” She looked at the ground uncomfortably and blinked her eyes several times.
Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack… …AAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHH…
Ncube asked, “What happened? The Mistress usually doesn’t like people knowing anything about anything.” Tanisha had shaken off her discomfort with the emotional strength that only women seem to possess in times of extreme difficulty. She looked at him with pure steel in her eyes when she said, “She doesn’t like that at all. I was put in the box for three days for standing too close to the door.” Ncube whistled and said, “Oh shit.” Tanisha’s steely stare didn’t falter when she said, “Oh shit indeed. You know what Kgosi’s like and I know that you were also put in their during your early days with them.” Ncube and Leigh shuddered simultaneously.
Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack… “MOVE, MOVE MOVE!” …Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack…
Tanisha looked at the young woman and said, “I take it you also know about the box?” Leigh nodded with tears in her eyes. The soldiers had watched the entire exchange in confusion and with mounting concern. Ncube looked at Gloria and asked, “Do they serve Chakalaka in the military canteens?” Gloria looked confused and said, “Not for a few years, why?” Ncube shook his head and said, “Thank god and nevermind…”
Jack gave Leigh a sidelong glance, it was obvious that she didn’t know exactly who Tanisha was. He tactfully brought the conversation back to the pressing topic, “War Scavenger Kumeshnee, the five things you saw on top of the main building are not human. From what we can surmise they are some kind of genetic hybrid between humans and something else.” Tanisha looked worried when she asked, “What else?” Cecil answered, “Our best guess at this point is naked mole rats.” Tanisha and Ncube looked at him incredulously but Priyanka backed him up, “Yes, that’s our current working theory. Just look in that body bag if you don’t believe us.” She jerked her head at the body bag lying next to Jeff.
Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack… “SHIT I’VE GOT TWO ON MY SIX! PATRICK! HELP!”
Tanisha looked in the general direction of the gunfire. The fire fight seemed to be going on for ages and everything was getting very dark, very quickly. She moved over to the body bag and unzipped it. The stench that emanated from the decomposing body felt like someone had punched her in the gut. The oxygen deprived environment in the basement of the facility had slowed down the decomposition process. Unfortunately baking the corpse in a black body bag, in the forty seven degree heat of a Rustenburg summer for eleven hours had jumpstarted it again, with a vengeance. Tanisha suppressed the urge to vomit and opened the body bag, the sight of the conjoined tokoloshe-twins made her jump back in fright and yell, “What the fuck?” Jack said, “Exactly! This is what we’ve talking about!”
Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack… “WHAT THE HELL ARE THESE THINGS?” …Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack… “OH SHIT! GODFREY, NOOO!” …Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack… “FREDDY RUN! CATHY COVER ME!” …Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack…
The entire group at the vehicles watched as the Scavengers came sprinting back around the main building of the facility. Every few meters one of them would turn to fire off a few rounds and then carry on sprinting back towards the government vehicles.
Gloria firmly said, “Ncube, switch on the perimeter lights around the camp, we’ve lost daylight.” Jack spoke directly to Tanisha, “Tanny, cut us loose and give us our weapons, this is going to be a long night!” Ncube ran to the communications terminal and flipped several switches to turn all of the perimeter lights on. Tanisha turned and used the knife that had been taken off Priyanka earlier that day to cut her sister loose. She gave Priyanka back the knife and quietly said, “Get your people ready Sis…”
(I usually use free stock imagery for my images but I found this one on www.pinterest.com. I am not presenting this image as my own work.)