Story postcard – the experts predict (2)

“Yes. Our London visitor is happy. Have you read the report?”

Rudd raises his eyes. The look on Tonderai’s face warns him not to be dismissive. He clears his throat, and turns back to the computer.

“I’ve read it, and I’m looking. Can’t see anything else yet. No warnings that we need to evacuate.” He scrolls downwards, flicking past headlines, then pauses, frowning. “Here’s something from the Manica Post.”

He reads in silence for a few seconds.

“What does it say?” Tonderai asks.

“Can’t make much sense of it, but at least it’s reporting from this area.”

Rudd starts to read aloud from the text in front of him, skipping sections and emphasising those he is able to understand.

“Manicaland on high alert over Cyclone Ipsos … moving south-westwards … it is expected to start moistening the country’s atmosphere … beginning with the eastern highlands … path and speed can change drastically … we are likely to see some heavy flows … people need to be on the lookout … we will advise the nation through the relevant stakeholders …”

He looks up at Tonderai, who is shaking his head slowly, but saying nothing.

“Doesn’t make much sense. So … presume it’s no worse than usual? Do you have any other forecasts?” Rudd asks.

“No.”

Rudd scans down through several more websites, but can find nothing else that mentions Zimbabwe.

 “Okay,” he says, and switches off the computer. “You know what? Not much we can do. No warnings have been sent to us directly. From what I can see, it’s not clear where this cyclone is going to end up exactly, although it looks like bad news for Beira. You don’t have family in Beira do you?”

“No.”

“Well, that’s lucky. Does not look great for them, but I think we’ll be fine here. So, let’s just wait. Keep our ears open.”

He stands up, and looks directly at his assistant manager.

“Tonderai, thanks for the report. I can’t see any reason to be worried. I think we’ll be fine.”

He pulls his shoulders back, and waits for Tonderai to speak, but he doesn’t say anything, so Rudd, uncomfortable in the silence, steps out from behind the desk.

“Look Tonderai, only report I can see that mentions us is the one you found, and even then we’re only on a map right at the end. So, seems to me there’s no worries. Well, not about the storm at least. Plenty else though, like giving these guys a great wedding, and taking good care of Simi.”

Avoiding the silence in Tonderai’s eyes, he picks up the papers and walks back behind the desk to put them away in the top drawer. Then he walks purposefully around again to the door and pulls it wide. Bright sunlight falls between them and with it comes the sound of car tyres rolling over gravel. The first of the guests have arrived.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

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