Turning from the H1-6 on to the H15 towards the Giriyondo border post, the road passing Makhadzi, Jeremy found himself driving through widespread flatlands. He could see far and wide and a sense of exquisite freedom enfolded him.
With the car window wound down he inhaled the fresh air deeply, smelled the grass, the moistness in the air and the distinct flavor of wildlife on the breeze.
“Life. Nature. Beauty. Freedom.” He whispered the words as if in a prayer. The feelings inside him, the emotions, were beyond description, beyond mere words. Something about the openness of the scene, the coming together of sky and plains, made him feel so small, brought meaning to the word “infinite”, brought tears to his eyes.
For the next six kilometers, except for more birds, he only encountered a small herd of tsessebe walking alongside the road to who knows where. He stared at them for some time, wondering if he remembered correctly what he had read once that this buck was the fastest antelope on earth. Shaking his head he decided to make a point of it to buy himself a field guide book – and a map book! – when he found himself in one of the Park shops again.
Nearing the Makhadzi stream he slowed down to a crawling pace and scanned the vegetation on the banks. At one particular spot, while hoping against hope for the sighting of a leopard, he perceived a fairly wide open space where only knee-high, waving grass covered the area right up to where the silvery glint of water was discernable. In the centre of this grass line and right next to the stream there was a man standing, gazing up into the sky.
“Huh?” Jeremy questioned himself. “Ce qui? What can this be about?”
He brought the car to a complete standstill more or less in a straight line with the figure to the right and about thirty meters from him. Now he could observe everything with clarity.
Wearing khaki trousers with matching shirt and holding a hard hat in his hand the man was recognizable as a game ranger of sorts, or an archaeologist , but something was out of place. Maybe the uniform which seemed antiquated but very clean.
He was way too skinny, extremely spindly in fact. Also on his face there was an expression of great sorrow.
And he was motionless, stood there like a statue carved from stone.
Only now did Jeremy notice the greyness of this peculiar figure. Arms, neck, face, every exposed part of his body was grey.
“Oh, for heaven sake! Not another ghost thing!” expostulated Jeremy with some anger. “Haven’t seen a thing since the two lovers at Letaba a year ago, and now two in one day…!”
He was about to pull off when the darkness came.
Thick black clouds, evenly spread, fell over the whole scenario, coming down so fast and so low one could nearly touch them. And with it came that prickly, icy cold that set the body quivering.
Astonished he stared at the man who still gazed up into the sky.
Tears were rolling down the grey cheeks. There were such yearning, love, broken heartedness in his facial expression that Jeremy’s throat constricted in compassion.
“Another love story with an untimely end?” he wondered aghast.
Then, as he watched intently, the sorrow left that face and was replaced with great relief.
The next moment the figure collapsed in the grass, started becoming transparent as the darkness began to swallow him up and he was sucked into the blackness of it.
As fast the gloomy thickness, the smothering clouds, disappeared and Jeremy sat there in normal daylight, staring uncomprehendingly at that spot, at the eerie emptiness there, and the only thought that kept turning in his head was that he was busy losing his mind.
To be continued.