Read Shooting Butterflies Online

Authors: T.M. Clark

Shooting Butterflies

SHOOTING BUTTERFLIES

T.M. CLARK

www.harlequinbooks.com.au

ALSO BY T.M. CLARK

My Brother-But-One

MAPS

 

 

 

To Shaun,

My sounding board, and first beta reader. The one who

tries to change my ‘nonsense' sentences into language

that everyone will hopefully understand, and the person

who is always brutally honest with what I have written.

Thank you for not being the stereotypical macho

male, but for being what is perfect for me!

Love you more.

To my mother Carole Wilde,

Because you had a belief in your own

family who I too grew to love.

Thanks for always trying to do the best you could

for us, for your sacrifices along the way.

Love you Mum.

CONTENTS

Also by T.M. Clark

Maps

Part One: The Chrysalis

Chapter 1:
The Karoi

Chapter 2:
The School Yard

Chapter 3:
Imbodla's Race
To
Survive

Chapter 4:
Carnations

Chapter 5: New
Beginnings

Chapter 6:
The Butterfly Theory

Chapter 7:
Shilo's Freedom

Chapter 8:
Getting
To
Know You

Chapter 9:
Love's First Touch

Chapter 10:
Malabar Farm

Part Two:
The Butterfly

Chapter 11: Recce
Life

Chapter 12:
The Pioneers

Chapter 13:
Finding Shilo

Chapter 14:
The Phoenix

Chapter 15:
Reunion

Chapter 16:
Mhondoro

Chapter 17:
Gabriel

Chapter 18:
Mr Brits

Chapter 19:
The Letter

Chapter 20:
The Meeting

Chapter 21:
Memories And Nightmares

Chapter 22:
The
Net
Narrows

Chapter 23:
Stolen Moments At Kujana

Chapter 24:
The
Eye
Of The Storm

Chapter 25:
The Operation

Chapter 26:
The Bush Drum

Chapter 27:
The Trigger

Chapter 28:
Sensory Overload

Chapter 29: Radio Waves

Chapter 30:
Bunkering Down

Chapter 31: A
Thin Line

Chapter 32:
Nyamhika Nehanda

Chapter 33:
Butterfly Kisses

Glossary

Acknowledgements

Fact vs Fiction

About the Author

PART ONE
The Chrysalis
CHAPTER

1

The Karoi

Mission Station Outside Sinoia, Southern Rhodesia

1946

The hunting dogs went ballistic. Their excited howling rang through the African bush.

‘See, told you there were animals here. They have something cornered,' Kirk said as he ran next to Impendla. ‘Come on, run faster.'

Impendla stopped.

‘No,
mukomana
Kirk, we go no further. Call your dogs, bring them back.'

‘What? No, listen, they have something.'

The dogs continued their baying, the noise high pitched and foreign in the bush.

‘We go no further. Bad muti here. Look,' Impendla said as he pointed to a few feathers strung together like a bunch of leaves and hung on a tree.

‘How can you tell that's muti? That looks like just some stuff in a tree!'

‘No,
mukomana.
There is evil in this place. We must not go closer.'

Kirk looked at the tree. Luckily there were no thorns. It was just a leopard tree, its bark changed colour in patches of green and silver. The trunk was slim but solid. The bark was rough beneath his hands, but it made digging the toes of his boots in easier as he climbed up and onto the first branch. He reached downwards, his fingers edging towards the bundle.

‘
Aiwa
, don't touch that. The
Nehanda
, she puts those where you must not go. This ground it is sacred to her, like a church is to you. No one must touch that, the
tokoloshe
will get you. Spirits sent from the
Mwari
.'

Kirk laughed. ‘My father says you natives are all talk and there is no such thing as bad magic. And he says your
Nehanda
and the
sangoma
are lost souls who need saving.'

‘
Aiwa
!' Impendla shook his head. ‘
Mwari
is the one Shona god, the high god.'

‘Impendla, you live in the mission. My father taught you in school that there is only one God, and he's not Shona.'

‘There is muti here. The
Nyamhika Nehanda
, she's a spirit, the voice of
Mwari
, and she said her bones would rise up again. We must not be the ones who disturb her. She can be a
mhondoro
, a lion spirit, and if we disturb her, she can pass into us and then we will hold the spirit.'

Kirk shook his head. ‘That's not true, Impendla. Who told you that?' he asked as he drew his hunting knife and cut the bark twine holding the crude bundle in the tree.

It tumbled to the ground.

Kirk shinnied down the tree and kicked it with his foot. The feathers tied around the bundle parted and it split apart. A strong stench of carrion swamped the boys, and something else, something worse than any rotten eggs Kirk had ever smelt.

For a moment they just looked at it, then Impendla dropped to his knees and hung his head and began to wail. ‘Do you know what you have done,
mukomana
? You have angered the
Mwari
.'

‘Pish-posh,' Kirk said, ‘that's nothing except a bit of powder with a bad smell. The
sangoma
probably collected it somewhere near the hot springs or something. Come on, I'm going to see what the dogs have got us.'

He hitched the rifle higher on his shoulder and strode towards the howling dogs, but realising he was alone, he turned back to Impendla. ‘You coming with me?'

‘
Aiwa. Aiwa
.' Impendla shook his head.

Kirk shrugged and continued to follow the sound of the dogs, smacking the tall grass away from his face as he went.

‘Superstitious native!' he cursed.

The howls of the dogs became more frantic and he began to a run. Hunting for meat rations for the kitchen in the mission station had recently become one of his responsibilities and he took it seriously. His father had told him if the boys didn't get fresh meat, the people would eat only vegetables and
sadza
for dinner.

He hated the vegetables Sister Mary always put on his tin plate, and couldn't understand why he should be grateful for mushy carrots, smelly turnips and a wild spinach mixture that tasted terrible. But since he always felt hungry he knew better than to complain about the food, because his father would make him feed his meal to someone in the sick bay. So he made sure they shot something each day, a rabbit or a fat guineafowl. Sometimes he'd shoot a small duiker and the tender meat would be used to make biltong to store in the pantry.

The thicket of trees and tangled bushes that pressed up next to the grassland narrowed, pushing Kirk forward. He broke through the long grass into a clearing and stopped dead. His father's dog pack yipped and yelped even more now he had joined them, and they knew they would be rewarded for doing their job.

In a tree was a black woman, screeching and throwing bean pods. Although the pods hit the dogs every now and again, they were well trained and kept their prey cornered. As one dog fell back, another rushed to take its place. Their heads swung to check that he'd seen what they'd acquired for him, and they wagged their tails excitedly and yelped a few more times.

‘Heel!' he shouted, and the dogs backed away and came to stand at his side. Quiet but alert, their ears erect, not ready to give up on their prey just yet. The oldest bitch whined. ‘Heel, Mylani!' he commanded.

She rushed closer to his side and sat close beside him, submissive to her little master, but she remained alert and watched the tree.

Kirk stared as the woman climbed down and approached him, her knobkerrie raised. She shouted at him in a native language he couldn't understand. He couldn't even catch a few words, it was gibberish to his ears.

Her chest was bare and painted in white, with dark red stripes and dots across her belly. At her waist she wore a leather thong decorated with strips of different animal skins that had curled as they dried. Many of the pieces of skin flashed different colours as the hair had not been removed from them, and the leather was untanned. But his eyes were drawn to the mummified remains attached to the bottom of each strip. Small cats, rodents and even tiny jackal heads all seemed to look at him at once, their beady black eyes taking him by surprise.

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