It’s cold. Dark.
The floor beneath her naked body is hard – concrete-like. When the harsh light is switched on, she tries to sit up, but her muscles don’t respond like they usually do.
“I…I’m thirsty.” She struggles to form the words; her tongue feels like sandpaper and the headache pounds away in her skull so loudly that she can barely hear herself.
“Get up!” There’s no sympathy in the sharp command.
Then a thousand stars explode in her mind as the hand strikes her cheek.
“Listen, we have to do something. The police have issued a request that the public must be on the lookout for her and her photograph was featured in the TV news. However, if she had been abducted, her kidnappers aren’t going to parade her about on the Waterfront. They’ll keep her where nobody will see her. So, splashing her picture all over the media is just going to make things worse: the perpetrators will be extra careful now.”
“I agree, Gertruida. I think we must go to Cape Town to see what we can find out.” Vetfaan has a determined look as he pushes back his empty glass. “I think we must leave now.”
“But Fanie, where will we look? Cape Town is such a huge place.” Fanny likes it when Vetfaan takes charge of things, but this time…
There are a few reasons why Boggel’s Place is sometimes more successful at solving problems than Oudoom’s church. Of course Boggel serves Cactus Jack and a variety of other social lubricants; but the most important reason is that discussions here are open and frank – and everybody has the right to chip in. Oudoom acknowledges this, which is why he is a regular customer. He says that the message of Love and Faith should not be restricted to Sunday sermons alone.
“Listen,” Oudoom holds up a hand to silence the chaotic discussions taking place. “You know what St James wrote, don’t you? He said faith isn’t enough. He stated that faith should be visible in your actions. It’s what you do that counts, not just you saying the right words. So Vetfaan’s remark is valid. We have to do something…”
As far as sermons go, this is maybe one of Oudoom’s shortest – but it tips the scale of debate there and then.
“Turn to me!”
Miss Katie Malone stands, doubled-up, against the wall. Even with her eyes closed, she can’t shut out the sharp light the man directs at her. She can hear a camera clicking away.
“Why are you doing this? What have I done to you?” She has to overcome her nausea and fear as she struggles to stand upright. The taste of blood inside her mouth reminds her of the power of the man and adds a tinge of hysteria to her voice..
She gets a guffaw as an answer. “It’s not what you did to me, young lady. It’s what you’re going to do for me. Har! Now stand straight, and take your hands away. I want these photographs to be perfect. Come on! Or do you want me to convince you again?”
Under normal circumstances, our thoughts and actions are governed by a logic we base on past experiences. We say things and do things because we judge them to be appropriate under the current situation.
Katie Malone, like all other victims under these circumstances, has no point of reference. The fear and panic inside her are overwhelming and she has to fight her instincts to remain rational. She knows, however, that she must somehow find it in herself to be calm – it is her only chance to survive this ordeal.
Now, alone, cold, hungry and parched, she somehow finds her thoughts straying back to the novel she wrote. Mary, the daughter of King Henry VIII, had been a strong-willed and obstinate young lady. When the throne seemed lost to her, she rallied the men of East Anglia to dethrone Lady Jane Grey who ruled England for only nine days. Although her life was characterised with a certain ruthlessness, earning her the name of Bloody Mary, she fought for her beliefs and her faith.
The thought is strangely comforting. Katie Malone is not going to give up…
The three of them catch the early-morning flight from Upington to Cape Town. Fanny, Vetfaan and Gertruida were voted the best candidates for the job and now they have to find a way to discover what had happened to Katie Malone.
“This place gives me the creeps.” Vetfaan shivers involuntary while he watches the masses of people milling around in the airport. “I’d hate to stay in Cape Town. I even miss Vrede…”
“You can become sentimental later, Vetfaan. We can’t waste time now.” Gertruida scans the faces of the people around them. Where is Gertjie Viljoen? He promised to be here…
Gertruida – who knows everything – has a network of old friends and colleagues second to none. During her time in National Intelligence, she and Gertjie had to create a list of potential enemies of the state (as they were called then). What it meant was: they had to investigate the backgrounds of individuals, assess their political convictions, and report suspicious actions. Gertruida’s end of the bargain was to type the voluminous reports Gertjie had drawn up. His ability to ferret out details was quite astounding. People quite naturally told him anything he wanted to know – he seemed such a harmless creature. His approach was open and friendly…and he was a good listener. It usually only took an evening in the local pub to get the background he needed for the files. He used to call their section the Gertjie-and-Gerty Squad, GG’S for short.
Gertjie is a retired professor of political science now, living quietly in an old-age home in Wellington, where he spends his time photographing butterflies. He was overjoyed to hear from Gertruida and spent a good thirty minutes with her on the phone.
Gertruida almost doesn’t recognise him. The dapper, middle-aged man with the steely-blue eyes and the athletic body has changed into a rotund blob; bald and covered with liver spots.
“Gerty!” He wheezes his greeting and almost trips as he carries his massive weight across the floor at an amazing speed.
“Gertjie?” She recovers in time to receive the bear hug. “My, you look good…”
“Trust an old spy to lie, eh?” He rubs a hand over the impressive paunch. “It’s good to see you.”
They exchange a few pleasantries before Gertruida steers him towards the purpose of their visit.
“Yes, i dug around a little bit like you asked me. Know the woman in charge of the duty rosters here at the airport. A daughter of an old flame.” Gertjie smiles wryly as he wheezes his short sentences. “There were nine Customs officers on duty when Miss Malone’s plane landed. The computer that registered her passport was manned by one M J Schoeman, an employee of the government for thirteen years. Impeccable record. Lives in Seaview Flats, number 3. That’s in Groenpunt. Unmarried, rumoured to have an affair with the wife of Colonel McBride, a senior policeman. Drives a new Polo, silver-grey. So far, that’s what I’ve got.”
When Gertruida praises his efforts, Gertjie’s smile threatens to dislodge his ears.
“Well, that’s the last person who had any contact with her – at least: the last one we know of. I suggest we pay the man a visit.”
Isolated in her dark, cold, room, Miss Katie Malone prays quietly. Please – please! – let this be a dream? Only one thing remains now – maybe two: faith and her desire to survive… Love, hope and faith…except there is no love here…
Fight the fear, Katie… FIGHT!
In his office, the big man tries to sound casual while he’s talking to the sheik. Oh yes, the photographs were taken today… No, she’s not harmed, not at all… Twelve million Rands? For her? Yes, he’ll think about it. He’ll call back tomorrow.
I can get more in Japan, the big man lies, knowing the sheik isn’t fooled.
He replaces the receiver thoughtfully. Just goes to show: there’s no accounting for taste…imagine the sheik taking a fancy in her…? Whistling happily, he fetches a blanket from the cupboard in the corridor. He’s just got twelve million reasons to keep her warm and healthy…