Story postcard – wet as mangoes (1)

 “Wait!” Jacobus’ shout swings Rudd around. “Wait, man!” he shouts again, as he strides to the door. “We have to shift this.”

Rudd hears voices calling outside. He, Tonderai and Jambee rush to help. They arrange themselves around the stove and begin to pull.

“Hurry … wet as mangoes … here …”

“ … is Fred …?”

Torchlight beams in around the side of the door.

“Hey, you’re blinding us with that thing,” Jambee shouts.


“Hold on. The door’s jammed this side. Won’t take long,” Rudd yells, as they grapple with the stove.  

The metal is slick, and the water higher around the base than when they’d first forced the stove into position. Crouched awkwardly, they shove and pull again and again, and at last the stove begins to swivel, slowly releasing the door until there’s enough of a gap for bodies to force through.

First in is Hansie, his torch flashing between them. “Eish … still tipping it…,” he says, wiping the wet off his face as Sal squeezes past him, calling for her uncle, urgency changing to relief when he replies.

“Where’s Jen?” Jacobus asks.

“They’re in Rudd’s old room down there. Their room now. Looks safe and dry. Said they’d stay. Katania did not want to come out in this again,” Hansie says, moving further to one side, to leave more room for the others.

“Sure they’re okay?” Jacobus asks.

“Ja. All looked good when I saw them. Not sure how long ago. I checked on the others, then came up here to look around when this storm started again.”

“They should be fine,” says Rudd. “They did a good job when they refurbed those rooms.”

“For sure,” says Tonderai.

“And Caralee?” Jambee asks.

Hansie reaches an arm around his little brother’s shoulders. “She’s fine hey. She’s in the room with Jen and Katania.”

Jambee nods, his relief silhouetted briefly by the torchlight, as they bend together to close the thrashing door. With the added weight of Hansie, the stove moves easily back into position, leaving only a slim, screaming gash at the top.

Rudd winces as Hansie slaps him on the back. “Good cave this.”

“Agreed,” Rudd says, rubbing his palms together, as they head towards the fire. Voices joke around them.

Eish it’s lekker and warm in here …”

“How come you got the fire?”

“Any tea for us?”

“Might be some biltong if you’re lucky,” Jacobus shouts from his post by the door.

“Now you’re talking.”

“Good to see you two,” says Hansie, looming briefly over Fred and Bernard, en route to a seat of his own.

Rudd watches as the incomers arrange themselves along the far bench. He counts twelve, and recognizes a few, but not all. He sits and listens to the chat as bodies warm, Marybelle pinging questions into the thick of it, as she sets a fresh pot of water on the fire.

 “Swimming-pool’s just a flood.”

“Steps down to the bedrooms running like Vic Falls.”

“How’s the squash court?” Tim asks.

“Okay, but something hit the roof, and rolled off … maybe a tree …”

“Like a stampede of mombies on top of us. Just crazy.”

“I swear those walls are bending.”

Rudd throws in a question. “Anyone missing?” he calls.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

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