The Soap Bubble - Episode 9. Into Africa

Wandering around the Red Bubble tm can be a very pleasant experience , there are both nice and unusual things to see wherever you go. However this can be upset by the occasional wayward photographer with an angle, photoshop or filter disorder, which can result in a feeling of deja vu where you become certain that you have seen something before.
Having left the Macro village filled with a dizzy high brought about from success (meeting my first muse – Catherine Doherty ) and an a caffeine buzz (from the extra strong coffee she made me drink), I had wandered off into the night feeling pretty pleased with myself! The feeling soon disappeared as the caffeine began to wear off and nearly 24 hours on the go crept up behind me with a big mallet. Just after dawn passed (what she passed I’m not sure but it smelled rather pungent) the exhaustion that had been creeping up on me mugged me, I had to crash now, my body wouldn’t go any further. The village was long gone, and I was out in the wilderness, I’d expected the dirt track I’d been following to meet up with a real road, in the half light of the coming day I could see it meandering lazily through fields filled with tall grass , wheat , or barley I supposed. Off to the side of the road stood a thicket of tall trees , sleep was calling me so with no signs of a house or anywhere else to seek shelter I decided that the trees would be an ideal place to stop and rest. I closed my eyes and fell asleep to the tuneless lullaby of distant tinkling bells…

Sometime later, I guess it was just before noon, I awoke with a start, it was so hot I could barely breathe, the sound of tinkling bells could still be heard, but I couldn’t make out where from! The sun blazed from high above turning the field into a shimmering sea of heat haze and superheating the air so it felt like I was breathing in the air from a blast furnace, wait a minute those cows over there look odd, as do the horses with them . Where the hell am I! It looks like Africa, It can’t be, Red Bubbles Africa tm is on the other side of the Bubble tm from where I was yesterday, something screwy is going on! Sweat ran into my eyes, rubbing it away I saw a sign nailed high in the trees I had slept under. ‘Welcome to Africa, please stay on the road’ well what could I say or do? My plan had been to follow the shortest route between the muses and apostles and be all done and home in time for tea. This was one hell of a spanner in the works, fortunately a couple of names sprang to mind, there were two names on the lists that resided in this furnace. Firstly from the list of muses was the big game hunter Sharon ‘The Bishop’ Bishop , I’d heard about her before as one of the best hunters out there! Heaven knows if I’d ever find her in this barren land of flies and heat. Second to find was Melinda Kerr , from the list of Apostles. I had never heard of her although with a name like that she sounded more like an extra from that sixties tv show Bewitched than an Red Bubble tm apostle.
Well the sign said stay on the road so that’s what I’ll do, where are those bells coming from? Sweat poured off me as I trudged down the dirt track , it felt like I’d walked for hours, the long grass and heat haze made it difficult to see very far at all. Suddenly the track stopped, not in a turning circle or farm or anything like that but at the edge of a large crystal blue lake , to tell you the truth I didn’t notice it at first the glare of the sun made it hard to see (where were my sun glasses, oh that’s right the Bubblettes had blown them up) and rather than stop on the bank I found myself half in the water, I would have climbed out but there was a rather angry looking crocodile lying on the bank really close to where I had stumbled into the water, he winked at me! Did you see that he winked at me! It’s surprising how quickly the sweat on your neck can go from hot to cold, all you need is a skin full of terror. Plop, he slid off the bank and like a torpedo a track of bubbles began to race towards me. “ohmygodohmygodohmygod!” I walked backwards into the water trying to put as much distance myself and the curious crocodile , the water now at mid chest level made it hard to move, and the crocodile got closer and closer. All of a sudden a hand grabbed at the back of my shirt and I was lifted from the water and dropped unexpectedly (and rather unceremoniously I feel) into the bottom of a small boat. I turned to look at my saviour, there at the rear of the boat wearing long khaki shorts, a khaki shirt and an enormous pith helmet (I said PITH you mucky buggers) was a swarthy looking woman, She smiled at me, not quite as scarily as the crocodile had but it still left me on edge “Afternoon mush, planning on being lunch for a croc was ya?” without waiting for an answer she grabbed a camera from by her feet, it had the biggest baddest lens I had ever seen in my life! She swung over the side and screamed at the crocodile “Get some” and proceeded to shoot her camera at 5 frames per second at the surprised animal. The small boat rocked mightily as she jumped around taking picture after picture, so I decided to stay put in the bottom of the boat . “Yeeehaaa, You want some? Come and get it you sonhuvabitch” her camera sounded like a machine gun as she took shot after shot of the now quite embarrassed crocodile (I found out much later that most wildlife is in fact camera shy and doesn’t appreciate being treated like a slab of meat in a studio). She put the camera down and started the rather large engine to this small boat and we moved off across the lake.
So this is what a big game hunter looks like! I was expecting… I dunno someone taller? She grinned pulled out a cheroot, lit it and blew a smoke ring , a hard feat indeed when driving a small boat at 10 knots. “Mush, what the hell do you look like? Like a bleeding mudlark that’s what! What were you thinking? You don’t go near the water unless you have a deathwish” her accent was odd, it sounded like an off-key cockney who had lived in the bush for a long time, unusual to say the least. Again she grabbed her camera dropped into a firing crouch and fired off a volley of shots at a flock of flamingo’s and a basking hippo , I remained huddled and damp in the bottom of the speeding boat certain that my slightest move would cause us to capsize, again I could hear the sound of tiny bells. I knew her shots were all perfect, excellently composed, focused and all with a straight horizon. Again she put the camera down and turned back to me, and seeing the fear in my eyes said “It’s okay mush, I’ll get you safe and sound before you know it, trust your old pal Sharon !” I stammered back, “ Sharon … like Sharon ‘The Bishop’ Bishop ?” that received a laugh and the reply “the one and only, big game hunter and now life guard too!”
She chatted for a while longer about the various wildlife around here, then without a pause the conversation turned again “What I don’t get Andrew is what the hell are you doing all alone on the wrong side of lake ‘Imbulunga ebomvu’ (you might be asking where did he come up with that name now, but it’ll make you smile if you go and look it up okay its in zulu). “well I followed the dirt track from the Macro village” I replied, the sound of the bells was getting louder. “Mush I ain’t never heard of anywhere called that and I know for a fact that there are no dirt tracks on that side of the lake” she paused for a minute and suddenly cut the engine (I wish she hadn’t because the boat rocked something fierce) and stared at me, then she whispered “ the locals have a legend about a traveller who one day will come from the land of the ‘big little things’ looking for the ‘Ingelosi’ and the ‘Umlindi’ but that’s just a legend told by the old folk around camp fires.” I must admit it sounded far fetched but I questioned Sharon further “what does ‘Ingelosi’ and ‘Umlindi’ mean? Anything like apostle and muse?” again she looked shocked well a bit I guess although the translations are slightly different! Maybe there is something to the legend after all…so who is this muse you’re looking? Maybe I know them.”
“It’s you Sharon , I replied, you are the muse!” I wished right then that my camera wasn’t waterlogged the look on her face would have made a fantastic picture. It took a while for Sharon to regain her composure enough to drive the boat to shore, as we pulled up to the berthing pontoon the tinkling bells became even louder and I realised that I was the only one who was hearing them, I looked at Sharon , the look of a concerned parent crossed her face “I think you’ve had too much sun on that crazy head of yours mush, hang in there I’d best get you to a doctor pronto-tonto”. She sounded distant as she said this and as I looked at her the world seemed to become monochrome “Oh shit…” was the last thing I heard before the darkness took me, all that remained was the tinkling of tiny silver bells.


The Soap Bubble - Episode 9. Into Africa

Drew Walker

Joined July 2007

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