Lesedi couldn’t sleep anymore and as first light started to appear he slipped out of bed and quietly got dressed, being careful not to wake the others. They were all still sleeping soundly after their ordeal of the night before as he slowly opened the door and darted down to the river where the mekoro were kept. The village was quiet with only the odd rooster winding itself up to greet the day. He found his small mokoro, which his father had helped him carve out of a sausage tree. It wasn’t very straight and some of the older boys made fun of it, but he was very proud of it. None of them had tried to make their own mokoro—they used their fathers’ old hand-me-downs. He pushed off and poled towards Mampharing Island. The mist was rising from the water and he soon disappeared into it. Reaching the island he hid his mokoro in the reeds. There was a narrow muddy path leading through the reeds onto the firm ground of the island. This path was normally used by a rather grumpy hippo, and Lesedi was hoping he wouldn’t meet her as she made her way back to the water after her night of foraging on the island. As he came to the end of the path Lesedi stopped, staring in horror at what he saw before him, all thoughts of the grumpy hippo forgotten.
Someone or something had been there. It must have been a something because “someones” never came to the island. His little reed hut had been totally destroyed and all his precious possessions scattered everywhere. Lesedi’s immediate reaction was anger, but then as he stood there he had this creepy feeling as if someone was running a cold finger down his spine and he started to feel just a little bit afraid. He moved forward cautiously, suddenly very aware of the squishing noise his toes made in the mud. It was all very eerie and quiet. Where was Kgatwe his gecko friend? He was normally there to greet him when he arrived. Suddenly there was a PLOP, and something landed on his head. He leapt a good foot in the air, grabbing at his head in horror.
“Hey, stop it! You’re squashing me!” came a high-pitched voice from inside Lesedi’s hand.
Lesedi opened his fingers quickly. “Kgatwe!”
The gecko was not very large, about the size of an adult’s hand. He looked a little bit like a lizard only chunkier. His little feet all had five toes with adhesive velvety pads underneath, which enabled him to climb up almost any surface and even go upside down across the ceiling.
“What are you doing? What is going on here? Why are all my things scattered everywhere? Why did you land on my head? Why…” babbled Lesedi.
“Hold on! Hold on!” said Kgatwe, slipping into Lesedi’s top pocket as he usually did. “Legodu, Bosula’s eagle is here. He caused all this chaos.”
“But why?” said Lesedi. He knew who Bosula was. He was the powerful evil presence that lived in The Hills to the west and surrounded himself with armies of strange creatures for protection. He was believed to have a mad scientist working for him who experimented with these creatures, trying to combine all their most destructive elements into one being. It was starting to be rumoured that The Hills were becoming barren due to lack of water, something Bosula with his large armies needed to survive, and that he was now looking for more fertile, well-watered land like the Delta where Lesedi lived.
“When did Legodu come and where is he now?” asked Lesedi nervously, not knowing whether to move further onto the island or turn and run.
“He came just before first light, screeching and making a terrible noise. He was holding that snake he always hangs around with and he dropped it in the middle of the island, sending everyone running including grumpy hippo. She ran down the path to the river and tripped over a log, landing flat on her tummy! I would have found this very funny except I was rather scared myself and hid in the crack in the fig tree.”
“And then what?” said Lesedi nervously, edging over towards the fig tree for cover.
“Then Legodu proceeded to smash your hut and go through all your things, scattering them everywhere. He was obviously looking for something.”
“Did he take anything?”
“Then I wonder what he wanted…” Lesedi started and then stopped, suddenly remembering the Ivory Palm Nut. His eyes darted across to Mrs. Noto’s nest. The nest looked the same untidy mess it always did. Mrs. Noto’s head had popped out of the entrance and she looked rather agitated. Suddenly the sky darkened and the air went cold.
“Quick, into the fig tree!” shouted Kgatwe.
“How do you expect me to fit through that tiny crack?” Lesedi was starting to feel desperate. Kgatwe, who was now on the ground, nipped his ankle.
“Ow! What was that for?” shrieked Lesedi. Suddenly everything changed around him. He was in the middle of what looked like tall grass; it reached way above his head and he was waist deep in some rather muddy water. He thought he must have somehow been thrown onto the edge of the river and he hoped that grumpy hippo or Kwena the crocodile weren’t around. He wasn’t sure which was worse, evil eagles or grumpy hippos and crocodiles. Then he got another fright. Just above him on the edge of his muddy pool was Kgatwe and he was enormous!
“Quick, grab a toe,” he shouted, sticking his foot over the edge.
“Kgatwe, how did you get so big?” yelled Lesedi, grabbing gratefully onto the gecko’s toe with both hands. Kgatwe lifted him out onto the edge of the puddle.
“Come get onto my back. We must get into the fig tree.”
Lesedi scrambled onto his back and he went scuttling off to the crack in the fig tree with Lesedi clinging on for dear life, trying to make sense of things. Out of the corner of his eye he saw some strange creatures moving in a long line. If he didn’t know better he would have sworn they were ants, except they were huge and ants didn’t get that huge.
“Kgatwe, we’ll never fit into the crack in the fig tree! You know that. What are we going to do?”
There was a loud thud very close to them. Kgatwe ran faster and Lesedi closed his eyes and clung on. “Shew! That was close!” panted Kgatwe, screeching to a sudden stop and causing Lesedi to topple off his back. “Legodu has just dropped that dreadful snake and the size we are now, one swallow and that would be it!”
Lesedi opened his eyes. It was dark and damp wherever they were. He could see a slit of light coming from the far side… That must have been where they came into this…cave? Or was it a cave? It didn’t feel like a cave… It felt sort of woody… Woody! That was it! The fig tree! They were inside the fig tree! How? Suddenly the penny dropped. Kgatwe hadn’t got bigger, he, Lesedi, had got smaller!
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