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by Liberty Henwick

When agony aunt and magazine journalist Jennifer Pendergast inadvertently uncovers a crime ring in Johannesburg which leads her into the dangerous world of game poaching, she realises that, as she follows the trail, everything she loves will be at stake in the fight not to become a victim herself. "Sounds interesting!"


‘Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.’ Cry, the Beloved Country, Alan Paton

‘There is...

Book One
Chapter One Johannesburg - A Weekend in Oct 2004

Jennifer Pendergast had twenty two pairs of heels - one pair of shoes for each working day of the month plus two extra. And twenty two different lipstick shades – which she picked not according to their colour but only if they had interesting names. It was her Granny who had taught her to feel she was undressed if she left the house without at least her lipstick on. Besides, she wished to draw attention to her mouth and away from her hair which was red and unruly with curls. In order to tame them s...

Chapter Two
first draft

Pienaar Botha and Greg O’Reilly, the layout and design guys, were throwing teabags around the kitchenette, which used to be the original home’s scullery. Greg was wearing a merlot coloured t-shirt with ‘Evita Bez For Prez’ emblazoned on the front. “Hey how’s Jen the Pen?” Jenni blushed, she wasn’t entirely sure whether to feel proud of her moniker or mocked. The problem was she fancied Greg, so she tried to avoid him as much as possible. Her mumbled respons...

Chapter Three

By lunch time the editorial department had reached fever pitch. Each woman was ducked down in her cubicle, frantically typing and making phone calls. Jenni munched a sandwich over her keyboard. She had dumped the pink envelope in the slush pile for the following month’s edition of the magazine. It was too late for this month. On checking her e-mails, between blowing crumbs off the keys, she noticed there was no reply from Goodlord so she picked up the telephone to call him. She wasn’t sure w...

Chapter Four

The sunset was Armageddonesque – a blend of arterial red and searing yellow that, in a painting would look kitsch, but where it belongs in the sky, was breathtaking. These vibrant skies were not unusual for Johannesburg though, some say the air pollution is good for one thing at least. But the riot of colour was an apt mantle for the violent crime which was part and parcel of life for the six million citizens in the city.

“Ag sorry Abi, not much of a walk I’m afraid.&rd...

Chapter Five

Jenni dreamed she was being tossed on the sea in a tiny boat. Her stomach heaved with the waves and her face was being slapped wet. A familiar male form was sitting with his back to her in the boat, pulling at the oars. She couldn’t decide whether he was Pienaar, Greg, Robbie or her brother, James. The wind appeared to be making a strange whining noise. Suddenly he turned towards her, his face was in the shadow of a flat hat and she jolted in shock, knowing it was the man she’d seen in the pa...

Chapter Six

Looking back on that Sunday, the 10th of October 2004, Jenni’s memories were sketchy. There were key moments, even snippets of conversation that were in clear focus but much of it was hazy or completely lost. It is said that this is common when suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Amnesia.

She could remember the moment she arrived at Cathy’s. Beth came running out the door towards her, all smiles and giggles, Jenni picked her up in an embrace and covered her sweet little face with kisse...

Book Two
Chapter Seven - A week later

15th October 2004

My Story

By S.A. Baloyi

I have many names and I am called differently by different people so that it is confusing to me even, who I really am. My full name is Samson Alhulani Baloyi, and today is my birthday. I am turning thirty years old. It is time to write about my life because I am sure it is nearly finished.

I am descended from Tsonga chiefs. My people call me Alhulani, which is my African name, but the whites call me Sam. Now I am a man with memories a...

Chapter Eight

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to work in the bush and care for animals, to be a part of this land that is in my blood and bones. My father and Grandfather passed on their pride in this place to me. I am formed of the dust of this particular earth and one day I will go back to it. I understand the small things, the tiny creatures that have learnt to hide from danger. My father was a good teacher - when he was happy. He taught me the names of all the birds and insects before I went to school...

Chapter Nine

My mother also worked at Skukuza Camp, she cleaned out the guest chalets every morning while Josephine and I were in class. With some other women, my mother took up weaving and selling baskets to tourists to earn extra money in the afternoons. She would go out early in the morning before work with my sister to collect the long grass, being careful not to stray too far off into the bush, and then in the afternoons she would sit under the shade of some trees with other hawkers selling crafts and curiositie...

Chapter Ten

So anyway, Bossboy was turning 21 and he had a gedoemse 6/6 party planned. He invited everybody we could think of and even some we couldn’t – he had a few important friends we didn’t usually mingle with. Captain Dlamini was there from the local force. He booked a band, he bought us new clothes, Shoes new shoes. Bossboy had plenty money, he bought himself a snazzy gold colour show-off car and he had a girlfriend, Zinzi who liked to lie all over the bonnet of it and all over him ...

Chapter 11

My cell phone beeped: Nessa - Where you NP? You never said goodbye this morning! Will I see you tomorrow for our anniversary?

I was back home in Skukuza, it was the evening of the same day. I sent my reply: Sorry Sunshine tomorrow will be a problem with work can we do next weekend?

I didn’t get a reply so left it at that.

My mother was stirring the smooth white mieliepap as it plopped thick bubbles in a small pot and I cooked a little wors ...

Chapter 12

As it turned out, I didn’t see Bossboy that night, they said he was away in Mozambique. But Shoes and Unlucky were full of the news about what had gone down and had the newspapers to prove it. Being stuck in the bush meant that we were often late hearing about the world outside the park fences.

The Doctor had been gunned down when he returned home from work late at night. He had stepped out of his vehicle to open the gate of his property when the electric remote control hadn’t done the ...

Book Three
Chapter 13 - Sunday afternoon 17th October

 Jenni sat staring out over the rain drenched sea, slowly stirring her Amarula spiked cappucino. James sat across the table from her, gobbling down a giant slice of raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake in between his sips of tea and non-stop prattle. The sound of the rain on the tin roof threatened to drown out the hum and clink of chatter and clutter. She had flown down to Cape Town the previous evening after her parents had insisted she take a break from work for a few days. N...

Chapter 14

Jenni spent two more days with her parents who spoiled her with late lie-ins and cups of sweet tea in bed but she couldn’t spare any more days off work. As it was she was responding to work messages on her phone while her mum tut-tutted in the background about her not getting a proper break.

Her Dad’s aftershave and laundered shirt smell lingered in her nose as she had hugged him goodbye at the airport. ‘When you get round to it, if you need help choosing a new car let me know.&rs...

Chapter 15

The next morning Jenni carefully applied a dark red shade of lipstick called vixen, which seemed appropriate for her new mood. At work Tumi greeted her with her usual cheerful, yet regal demeanor, ‘Howzit Jen my dear, how’s Cape Town? So divine hey! I’m going down for New Years this year. Is that Mac? Very sexy!’ She was looking at Jenni’s mouth.

‘Oh, yes it’s from an old range, I haven’t worn it for ages.’

Jenni said hi to Sanell...

Chapter 16

After Baas Smit made his threat to me that Monday morning ten years ago my mind was jumping from one problem to the next like a grasshopper on a hot day. I was being pulled every which way by every possible name I have.

My phone buzzed in my pocket, it was Nessa. ‘I’m not ready to let you run away from this baby Impi!’

A little while later was another buzz, this time from Bossboy, ‘NP, I’m back and I have another job for you I’ll see you on the weekend,&rsq...

Chapter 17

Bossboy had a brand new car parked outside Unlucky’s house, it was a black 4x4 BMW and a driver sat behind the wheel. The man jumped out the front when he saw us and scuttled around to open the back door. Bossboy told me to get in and he climbed in beside me then leaned forwards, giving the driver instructions about where to go. The man muttered his reply.

The dusty roads were quiet, there were no people walking about at this time of night and we only passed one other vehicle. We left Shabala...

Chapter 18

A giant of a man answered our knock on the kitchen door. He was almost blue, his skin was so dark - not from South Africa anyway. He as dressed in khaki shirt and shorts, with long khaki socks and quiet soled leather bush shoes – typical houseboy’s outfit. He remained silent as we followed him along passageways through the house into a large room with a desk and chair on one side and carved statues of animals all around the room on the floor and on tables. Along the exterior wall, floor to ce...

Chapter 19

I half ran, half stumbled over the bushy ground as best I could trying to head towards where the road might be from the direction of the moving headlights. The landscape was filled with the dark lumps of small thorn trees and shrubs, rocky outcrops and aloe bushes.

As I wove my crooked way through the land, my nose picked up the faint scent of kerosene and the smell of slightly charred mieliepap, in other words, the signs that here was a house not far off. 

Sure enough the strai...

Chapter 20

Jenni frowned as she replaced the phone in the receiver. It had been the Zimbabwean police on the line. They were just routinely following up the request from Goodlord’s wife to follow every possible lead relating to Goodlord’s disappearance. Indeed, Jenni confirmed that he had written a piece as a freelance journalist sourced by herself for the magazine. No, she denied having had ever met him, only ever corresponding with him via e-mail.

When enquiring as to how she may further assist ...

Chapter 21

When she made it into her flat it was around 7pm, still an hour and a half before her date with Robbie so plenty of time to cook a scrumptious dinner followed by a shower, maybe a glass of white wine and time to get ready. She had a mosey through her kitchen cabinets and fridge then started knocking together a chicken pasta with salad. She uncorked a bottle of Gra├ža and poured herself a generous glass.

While she sat eating her phone rang - another unfamiliar number. (She’d had the sense to s...

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