So this is it. No water. No food. Nothing.
The endless sand dunes stretch away to the heat-shimmering horizon. Somewhere out there, maybe a few hundred kilometres away, people are sitting down to dinner. It could be that-a-way. Or more to my left. I don’t know. What started out as a dare – to drive across this stupid stretch of sand in a day’s time – has now become a life-threatening situation.
The night will be cold, I know. With nothing to build a fire with, I’ll have to make do with my old jersey and the threadbare blanket I cover the back seat with. Maybe they’ll start searching in the morning, when they realise I didn’t make it. The wind is strengthening, however. By morning my tracks would be gone.
A movement at the crest of the dune makes me sit up straighter. Several small, yellow men are coming my way. They seem friendly enough. As they approach, I can see them carrying bows, arrows and sharpened sticks. Four men and a woman – of paler skin than the Bushmen I know. A hunting party? For what?
The next half-an-hour is confusing, to say the least. They seem docile enough, but are insisting I must accompany them. Of course, talking doesn’t help – I don’t understand the clicks they make and they have no inkling of the three languages I try. With no other option to speak of, I follow them through the dunes.
It takes hours and I lose track of time. Day is dawning when we reach a sandy outcrop. My travelling companions chatter away in excited clicks as they lead me around the hillock to the other side, where – to my great surprise – I can see the opening of what seems to be a deserted cave.
The opening is just enough for one man to squeeze through. At their rather insistent motions, I follow the woman through the opening. Her movements are voluptuous, daring, as she waits for me to make my way inside.
Then, in the dim light, I notice the white of the bones against the back wall. I want to make sure my impression is correct, before allowing panic to set in. I mean, I am a doctor and should be ablle to recognise human bones, shouldn’t I?
But I don’t get to opportunity to have a closer look. The heavy clunk of a rock closing the opening coincides with the sudden and complete darkness inside the cave. .
And then I hear her coming closer…