A crescent moon provides the prompt for this week’s #writephoto offering. This is a rising moon in the photo below, although this week we have a setting crescent moon sinking below the shadow of the tree opposite my front window! The prompt took me much further away, though, and back to old friends…. it’s 600 words.
She waited till they had taken their lamps and their gear, and headed off in single file behind their guide, Mboi. The things they’d left lying around the campfire! Such wasteful foreigners, so easy for them to throw away items that had use. She sighed, gazing up at the crescent moon, just clearing the topmost branches of the baobab tree. It was a good marker for their camp: if anyone got lost, they could see this for miles on the grassland. Even in darkness, it showed dark against the silvery stems that rippled under the starlight.
Three days they’d been with this group now.
Mboi would not let anyone get lost. Not unless the loud one, Carruthers they called him, continued to irritate him by deliberately yelling ‘boy!’ at him. He clearly thought it was a huge joke. The others seemed to defer to his knowledge of the bush. He knew nothing.
He’d made a joke about the hurried argument she had with Mboi while they were eating supper. Just a few words of frustration, not an argument. Mboi knew what he was doing, or so he said. He usually did.
She reset the tripwires around the camp, leaving the gap on the track Mboi would use to come back with his guests. Any unwelcome visitors would find it difficult to approach the camp silently.
Tonight they had headed for the waterhole.
‘Just to take photographs’ the visitors had said.
That was what Mboi did, took photographers on a unique trip into the depths of the protected area. When there were no photographers, he took his gun, and watched for poachers.
Just before midnight she heard a shot, then three shots, then a deal of yelling.
There was little use in rushing to their aid: they were a good way off and sound travelled far at night. It could spook you into thinking faraway things were nearby, or lull you into a sense of false security.
She reached for her own gun, and stood listening.
Now she could hear feet, and hooves. Both were heading in her direction. Voices raised above the sound of feet, and Mboi’s voice telling them to be quiet.
Mboi stopped as he reached the gap in the wire under the tree, and made sure they were all through before he set the last part of the wire. The sound of a herd of buffalo or zebra passed by the camp a little way off, and receded into the night.
She counted as they came into the camp itself, and fell about around the fire, now glowing gently to provide a little warmth, and a little light. Their pale faces seemed even paler. One was missing.
‘What happened?’ she asked Mboi quickly.
‘The loud one found the crescent moon too much of an attraction. Talked of the new moon in the horns of the old. Walked around the waterhole away from the rest of us. Buffalo.’
‘He shot with his own rifle. They charged. He will not be coming back. I will check in the morning, but there were lion pads at the edge of the water. They may find him first.’
‘But, was he dead?”
‘He was. The doctor who is his friend said so. No hope.’
She thought about the man they called ‘the doctor.’ She suspected he was no friend, but said nothing, and turned to pour strong drinks for those who had returned. They would need it to steady their nerves.
The crescent moon looked down on them, shedding little light on the matter.
The bush was a dangerous place.
© J M Pett 2020