28 Jan


Sandy was woken by the over powering smell of smoke. She opened her eyes to find herself still strapped to her chair in the middle of nowhere with the debris from the plane scattered all around her. She tried to stand but found her hands were strapped down too. She panicked.

‘Help!’ she screamed at the top of her lungs.

‘Mum!’ she looked around her for any movements. There was none.

‘Dad!’ this cannot be…this cannot be happening’ she struggled to undo the strap but her fingers won’t get to the release button. A fire burnt nearby and she saw her hands were covered in soot. Her denim as well as her sneakers had soot on them too.

She began to sob as she took a careful look around her. It looked like she was on some kind of grassland or plateau. What she could not understand was why her hands were strapped down with the seat. Was she someone’s captive? She tried again to reach for the release button and then she heard it.

It was faint at first and as she held her breath it became clear. It was the sound of someone or something moving. Sandy took another frightened look around her. She could hear the wind teasing her, a telltale sign that there was a large body of water somewhere close by. Was this a forest in Africa? The Americas? Europe? What if that was a wild animal approaching? This could be the wild jungle for all she knew. Then she got quite angry with herself, how could she have slept through a plane crash?

‘I shall never touch alcohol again’ she promised. ‘Just get me out of this alive’.

The sound drew closer and closer and she could see the source of the sound. She breathed a sigh of relief as she recognized her seating partner. She looked quite disheveled but it was her alright. Her perfectly coiffed hair had lost its pins.

‘Over here!’ yelled Sandy

The old woman looked in her direction recognized her and hurried towards her. ‘My child, I am so glad I found you’.  Apart from the disheveled look she appeared unscathed by the crash. She stooped awkwardly to undo the strap.

‘Where are the others?’ asked Sandy.

The old woman did not reply at first. She helped Sandy up and dusted her denim. ‘It’s just you and me kid’.

Sandy stared at her incredulously. ‘You can’t mean that…’ she said staring around as if expecting someone to pop out from behind the trees. ‘Where is my mum… and my dad?’

The old woman walked slowly up to her. ‘We really have to support each other kid’.

‘Where is everybody?’ wailed Sandy. ‘Even if they are dead, we should see their bodies. They could not have simply disappeared’

‘Vapourised is more like it,’ answered the woman matter-of-factly.

A terrifying scream pierced the air and it took a moment for the woman to realize the scream came from Sandy. She cupped Sandy’s lips to stifle the scream. ‘Do you want to get us killed?’

‘I just want my mum and dad back’ cried Sandy.

The woman held her to her bosom and let her cry. Sandy cried for a while and gradually her cry died down to sobs.

‘We must get a move on, this kind of scenes often attract predators’ she suggested.

‘By predators you mean wild animals right?’ asked Sandy.

‘Man eaters actually’.

‘Do you know where we are?’ Sandy asked scared.

‘I have no idea. But we are somewhere in the heart of Africa.’ She turned to Sandy, ‘you came on tour of the Zambezi right?’

Sandy nodded

‘We might as well be there’ she continued. ‘We were nearing descent when the crash took place.’ she gave Sandy her hand and Sandy took it. ‘Together we shall find our way out of this jungle or swamp or desert…whatever it is.’ she smiled at Sandy. ‘Are you ready?’

Sandy smiled in spite of herself. ‘Just one tiny aspect that we have left out’.

The woman looked at her enquiringly.

‘We have not introduced ourselves. I am Sandy Simpson.’

‘Nice meeting you Sandy. Do you mind if I call you Sandy girl?’

Sandy shook her head. ‘Not at all.’

The woman made to move and Sandy held her back. ‘Are we not forgetting something?’

‘You don’t have any luggage, do you?’

‘Your name… I would like to know your name’.

‘Just call me Illuminada’.



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