TEARS, SHADOW OF MY PAST……CHAPTER ONE…….
Washed ashore with the bristly sand pricking her skin, Erica awoke with her eyes straining at the fairly lit sky, the sun’s rays hitting her face that she could only but strain her eyes to take in daylight. Whatever had happened for she to wash up ashore? Wait…she could remember….
“Anthony,” she mumbled her throat feeling so parched as if she had been gaggling dry sand all day and night long. The gentle warm water washed over her toes. Her clothes soaked from her very bosom to her feet. Her Long-sleeved sweater pressed to her very skin that its coldness made her shiver. Her sky-blue tight jeans hugged her wet body in such a way that she could feel the squishy feeling when she ran her hand down her thigh. Where were her shoes? Her bare toes partly felt the pebbles hidden in the sand ashore.
“Anthony!” she cried this time audible enough for anyone in clear ear shot to have heard her but besides the rocky view, fair spread trees and bushes, a splash of moss covered rocks, algae and a bush of ferns in the nearby view, it seemed as though she was alone. With her body feeling so sore she dragged her feet with every amount of vigour in her she could muster. If walking hurt that much just what type of a fall did they have? How was she alive to ask? Was she perhaps dead? No, she could feel her heart pumping blood unless she hadn’t the foggiest idea of what if felt like to be dead. One thing for sure was that she was most definitely alive and walking the shores of the Zambezi river with only God knows how they got there. Where was Anthony? Was he dead? She could hardly see him. Why wasn’t he responding to her constant cries?
“Where are you?” she asked more to herself rather as she craned her neck to take in a view of a not so far sight and behold she saw debris of what was previously their speedboat and….
“Oh my God Anthony!” Erica boomed forgetting all the soreness pulling her back and waddled through the water towards a seemingly afloat Anthony looking somewhat unconscious, partly in the water. She could see all the gear they’d had aboard most of it afar off in the middle of the water and some buried in the sand just next to what were the remains of their speed boat.
She eyed his motionless form whilst the birds cooed over her head in the sky and, almost out of nowhere, an eagle flew right over her head causing her to duck before plunging for one mighty grip of a stray fish before taking flight once again not so far from where she and Anthony were. My, she almost lost her head! She’d feared that its very talons were going to sink deep into her face that her adrenaline had already begun to boil. Luckily, the frightfully looking creature had taken its plunge a distance pleasing enough to render both she and Anthony safe and was drifting away. Gazing at the eagle now flying further away, back to her senses, Erica whined as she looked at the man, unmoved at all. Sighing to herself, with all her might she dragged him off to shore and studied his form. He had bruises almost everywhere and one of his legs was bleeding. Fear overtook her upon seeing the oozing blood but tried as much as was possible not to panic. What was she to do? Mouth to mouth CPR? Nothing other than that seemed better than that so she settled for it sucking as much water from his mouth as she possibly could but he wasn’t coming to. She was growing weary. What if he was….
****cough, cough*** were the sounds of a seemingly alive man, though his pulse was still there she wondered why she nearly panicked.
“Er-er-eri-Erica?” were the gibberish sounds Anthony first made as he rested his eyes on her face and smiled somewhat silly before the excruciating pain from his leg caused him to groan in pain, “Argh,” he whined.
“Don’t move,” said Erica pushing him back down by the shoulders and strayed her eyes to his leg as she tore off a piece from her jersey with her teeth, “You must have hit your foot during the fall I only hope it’s not that deep….” She said bringing the cloth to his leg.
“Argh!!!!!” screamed Anthony his eyeballs bulging out, “That hurts, don’t!” he tried to brush her hands off.
“Be a man Anthony!” she pouted tying the cloth hard whilst he screamed some more, “Bite on your shirt if you have to because I have to stop this wound from bleeding.”
“Do as you must….” He spoke wincing, “Yeah, I can handle…..it……aah……” he went with his eyes partly closing.
“Done,” Erica announced sitting back down as she sighed heavily gazing at his face, “How are you feeling though, besides the pain from the wound?”
Anthony had a sweaty brow and in response whilst feeling his injured leg he spared her a smile which immediately faded the moment he caught sight of Erica’s bleeding side.
“You are hurt too!” cried Anthony daring to move with the pain registered in his face and pulled the hem of the jersey up to see the wound which was a clear straight cut beneath her rib but hardly looked any serious at all, “Does it hurt?” he asked eying it for a while.
“A little,” she squinted at it, “Funny thing is not until you mentioned it I barely could feel a thing,” she laughed trying to make light of the situation before her face got grim, “Anthony…”
“Yes?” said he now easing out of his pain a little.
“You scared me. I mean I almost thought you were dead. You were warm but you took time to come to. I didn’t like it at all with the feeling I had thinking I had lost you.”
“But you didn’t”, he groaned, “Surprising enough that we are both alive.”
“Yeah and in the process of giving you mouth to mouth CPR I nearly hit you,” she took humour in the sudden facial expression he had on and added, “Oh come on you were giving me a hard time sucking out all that water you swallowed if that seemed not to do the trick a good whacking probably would’ve nailed it,” she gleamed as she said that.
“And I suppose you would’ve thought that that would’ve been funny, wouldn’t you?” he said grinning, eying the waves of the river and the ripples around them, “Thanks for saving me love,” he said it with much emotion that he made her visibly blush.
“I just had to,” said Erica hugging her knees as her fairly dark hair rested on her face.
Erica was a fairly chocolate brown in complexion young woman with a face ever so radiant and flawless. She had round shiny eyes that twinkled as she blinked when they sparkled in the brightness of day. A seemingly lovable woman with a physique was she with a slender body and her portray of elegancy was simply breath taking. A woman with charm to sweep off a handsome man off his feet taken aback by the quality of her beauty. Not that she was one to outwardly openly show it with any form of makeup or stylish hairdo, but the fact that even in simple natural hair, even kinky, she was sight to take in, was what made her a sight to behold. She was lovable, tender, gentle and caring.
Anthony on the other hand was a bold, tough man with a physique of one that probably hit the gym occasionally and his smile was enough to mesmerise a damsel eying him without looking where she’d been going. He was tall, well built, caramel in complexion was he with an accent often making others mistake him for a man from overseas. Not much of chatter was he but his outrageous sense of humour was enough to show off the little bits of wits he had. Anthony was a man seemingly hardcore, unlikely to be muchly affected by the pressures and toils of life, his only noticeable weakness being him madly in love with the woman of his dreams. He and Erica had come thus far to let anything pull them apart but just how much was there to make them face the world head on especially after having survived a fateful fall?
“Um…. Anthony…” spoke Erica after what seemed like a moment of mere silence, “What really is going on?” she asked eying him upon getting his undivided attention, “We are fortunate to be alive because God knows what a miracle it is that we survived that dreadful fall but what’s really going on? Who was that man following us? What did he want? Who really was he?” her eyes shined with much curiosity eying the man whom for so long she had dedicated herself to and who clearly seemed to have hid nothing from her. She was still shaken with what had happened hours earlier and so was Anthony who tried as much as possible not to show it.
Studying her face, as bleak as he could’ve possibly been, Anthony replied, “I wish I knew but I haven’t got the foggiest idea of who he was. I’m equally as clueless as you are about everything.”
“Really, you are?” she asked eying him weirdly, “Are you sure?”
“Believe you me when I say that I don’t know him because I don’t.”
“He was after you, why?” she pressed on.
“I really don’t know,” was Anthony’s response.
Erica looked flustered, “Anthony, need I remind you that it was only hours ago that we daringly sailed past the verge of a tributary of the Victoria Falls? One of Zambia’s most visited site for crying out loud! Or should I jog your memory if you can’t remember anything at all?”
“I remember him saying it was a score to settle but really, what did I do?”
“Exactly what I want to know myself!” exclaimed Erica dramatically, “I’d say you finally made someone crack with your undeniably outrageous sense of humour which does get on other people’s nerves if I may say,” she said with a hint of sarcasm in her tone, “But really that isn’t nearly enough to let some deranged man chase you and I around with a revolver, is it? Unless you owed him money overdue for months past, who really would be after you? Like really who would be literally after the Anthony I know and love to want him dead?”
“Beats me”, shrugged Anthony recalling the sight of the barrel pointing at him and his love shortly before the fall, the man holding the gun having a face as nasty as it could be, with a voice as cold as steel. Where do they come from? Anthony was distracted and was only snapped from his reverie by Erica’s grunts and frowning, “What?”
“Doesn’t the whole ordeal move you at all?” she stood up, and walked to him practically towering him, “Anthony,” she sobbed her voice choking with emotion now, “I came here to get a vacation with you, the man I love and wish to marry when everything falls into place. I can hardly imagine my life without you for you complete it. Now, when I decided to come all the way with my man to the Southern Province to behold the most loved Victoria Falls with him next thing I’m discovering is that some deranged man is after his life? My Anthony’s life? Just what kind of vacation were you planning for me? One with a funeral at the end of it leaving me pierced to the soul, huh?”
“Erica,” Anthony tried to rise but the pain in his leg brought him back down, “Please calm down, please. There probably must be some proper explanation to this, there has to be”.
“One that explains that some lunatic out there wanted nothing but to lodge in a couple bullets through your head for the fun of it? How can I possibly calm down knowing that we almost died Anthony, how? Tell me. That sick man is probably roaming the streets scot free gloating to himself thinking he’s accomplished his goal. Just wait till he finds out that you survived the fall. Gosh!”
“I think you are over-reacting a little,” pouted Anthony.
“Make light of the situation by adding a little humour dear love but I need answers,” she said drawing closer than she already was that with one simple glance Anthony could see just how serious and frightened she was, “Just tell me who exactly that man was and what on earth he wanted that would’ve resulted in him wanting to kill you!”
Eying her with utter shock, lips quavering, Anthony was at a loss of words. Erica’s face was shining and her eyes resonating as she literally glared at him. He loved that woman to the core and only when she looked at him with that kind of look did he feel so little and powerless. But what was he to say?
OVER NINE HOURS EARLIER, THAT MONDAY MORNING……
“Oh my God it’s so far down there!” exclaimed Erica taking a daring look at the sight of the jumping area whilst Anthony fastened her bungee jumping cord to her waist, a man in charge of the place giving out instructions to both her and him, “Do we really have to do this?”
“Uh, yeah because you wouldn’t stop whining about never having the fun of this kind in your life!”
“I was only joking and besides this is scary,” she hid her face behind her palms like a baby, “Uh, uh, I don’t want to do this, no, I won’t do it!”
“Come on you can’t chicken out so soon!” he laughed rising to his feet from his bent pose, “You will whine all your life if ever I listened to you changing your mind about this. You need it for the thrill”.
“Anthony, I don’t…Ah!!!!” Erica shrieked when someone jumped off scaring her silly sending a series of laughter to Anthony whom she hugged dearly for life, “Baby I can’t do this,” she shook vigorously like a leaf, “Nah, uh, if at all you love me you will not make me do this, you won’t, right my love?”
“Sure”, Anthony replied smug on pulling her to the edge she fighting to stay on solid ground practically whimpering like a baby that the one conducting the sport smiled at them, amused by the whole show Erica had been putting up, “Come on, you are better than this, just look!”
“No”, shrieked Erica but her love urged on and she dared to look again almost jumping atop him, “Baby no, no, I can’t do it!”
“You are next!” boomed the sport conductor smiling broadly and Anthony literally pulled Erica’s hand dragging her along with him.
“Babbbbbbyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!” screamed Erica aloud atop her lungs crying her eyes out as she went down dangling before bursting into laughter, “I love you……woooooo hooooooo!!!!!!!
“Of-course you do and I love you too!!!!!!!!” cried back Anthony as they both dangled on their ropes.
“Wow!” cried Erica as they walked back to the motel, “That was fun but don’t you ever do that, ever!”
“I won’t!” Anthony smiled and caught sight of a well-built man dressed in thick clothing passing for some game range looking back at him. He felt weird eying him, and when Erica noticed she wondered what was wrong, “Nothing love. Let’s go it’s getting chilly out here,” he said kissing her brow.
Back at the motel, Anthony kept thinking he was seeing the same man almost everywhere. In the lounge, the lobby, the restaurant and weirdly enough at the nearby partly hidden in between some thickets of bushes not far from his bedroom window aligned by well put together stone walls which were practically what the entire place was made of actually. For some strange feeling It was as though he was being watched, spied on rather, by that very sinister looking stranger.
“Baby are you okay?” Erica asked Anthony catching him off guard as he got out of the shower and hanged his rob on the towel rack before buttoning up his T-shirt. He was in cargo pants now and she in a long light sweater and a pair of jeans.
“Yes, why?” he said pushing her to the wall and kissed her passionately as he lost himself in her gaze, “You are beautiful Erica, very,” he said playing with a strand of her loose hair.
“Don’t make me blush!” she said breaking away and plopped on his bed. Her room was straight down the corridor not far from his, “I’m glad you brought me here, to keep our minds off the stress out there.”
He smiled as he sat on the bed beside her, taken by her smile and sparkling dent but there was the same man staring from afar fairly seen through the curtain partly hiding the rest of the view of the room. Anthony clearly couldn’t help but wonder if at he was just imagining things or not. He smiled silly like a child as he gazed back at Erica, she staring quizzically trying to guess whatever was the reason for his sudden portray of excitement.
“What’s that face for?” she pouted him but he pulled her arm, “Hey, why you pulling me?”
“Let’s go for a boat ride,” the look she gave him was too good not to laugh at but instead he went, “Come on let’s go!”
“But we just showered and my hair, my hair will get all wet and frizzled,” she tried to pull back, “No baby maybe next time.”
“Come on, let’s go, I insist,” his adamant behaviour was none to argue with and in the end, both found themselves slipping into shoes and running along the rocky pathways to the boats afar off, thickets of bushes everywhere.
“Baby slow down, why the rush!” cried Erica as Anthony literally pulled her hand.
“Come on!” piped up Anthony and amidst the excitement for Erica proved to be stubborn, rooted to the ground that he had to drag her, the bushes parted. They laughed like kids too distracted to notice a figure move out of the bushes till a tall dark man stood face to face with them. The motel had been up a cliff with a rocky view and quite close to the Zambezi River. From afar one could see the boats but where both Anthony and Erica were, was isolated from the crowd. It was a long route to the water and only a countable number of strollers would be spotted some time and again. At that moment the couple was clearly alone with the stranger who oddly enough eyed them like a ravenous creature preying his dinner. Anthony looked rigid as both his and Erica’s excited voices died down and they eyed the man before the moment with utter confusion.
“Um…” Erica eyed her love, “What’s going on? Who’s he?”
“I don’t know,” he replied then cleared his throat, “Excuse me but may I help you?”
The man snarled and a simper stretched up his crooked looking face.
“I noticed you have been following me…” Anthony said. Erica seemed startled to hear that but he went on, “Almost thought that I was seeing things but I wasn’t. Do I by any chance know you?”
In response the man produced a revolver and Erica nearly shrieked had it not been for Anthony silencing her, “Pleasure is mine to meet you Anthony. Probably the last meeting we’ll both have rather”.
“Who are you and what do you mean last meeting?”
Constant questioning ensued but the stranger took humour in the state of ignorance his target was in.
“It doesn’t matter,” the man said the bullets getting into position, “It’s not like you will live to find out who really it is after you but rest assured it’s all about settling a score!”
“What score?!!!!!” Anthony bellowed pushing the man’s arm away a bullet narrowly missing his head and fled with Erica seeming too dazed by the whole thing to think straight, “Run Erica, run!” he cried looking back seeing the man chasing them firing at them, bullets coming out but otherwise no sound of gunfire! He had a silencer! “Run!!”
“What’s going on?” Erica asked as they ran and ducked all the way to the river where Anthony led her into a boat and hurriedly tried getting the engine running, “Who’s that man, how does he know you and why’s he firing at us?”
“I don’t know….” Anthony replied his words straying off as he pushed her head low without preamble, “Get down, he’s firing!!”
“Where???!!!” she tried to look daringly.
“There!!!” he pointed cautiously in the direction the firing came from whilst trying to get the engine running but for some reason it wasn’t working, “Come on, come on, come on!!” he cried, the strange man only steps away and then, “Yes!” the engine roared and the boat sped off but only a little too late for without difficulty the man in pursuit of them had had his running in a jiffy and the game of dare began!
The firing ensued with an astounded Erica looking befuddled barely keeping her head out of danger whilst Anthony stirred the wheel. Their boat kept on speeding moving faster and faster towards a shallow cliff of a seemingly emerging waterfall of a tributary of the actual water falls only it being smaller falling not much of a distance down below but otherwise fateful….
“Anthony look out!” screamed Erica atop her lungs as Anthony in his wildest mind to manoeuvre the incoming boat and dodge the unseen bullets was warned a little too late and the boat sped off the waterfall sending the two flying down the river below. One last bullet seemed to have aimed for Anthony’s head slightly before their fall downstream.
“Saves you right!” muttered the man under his breath eying the smoking barrel of his revolver and tucked it I his belt immediately, seeing the tumult arising from the whole scene beheld from afar, “At least it paid off”, he spoke to himself and sped away.
BACK TO THE CURRENT SCENE……
“See? that’s all I know and believe you me I don’t know who he was and just what score he had to settle with me,” spoke Anthony upon filling in the blanks.
Erica eyed him for a while before sighing, clearly confused by everything but was too tired to argue, “Okay”, she said bending down to help him up, “Whatever it was he wanted I think he’s probably behind bars by now seeing what a lousy stunt he put up chasing us the way he did.”
Together they left the shore Anthony wobbling every way as they approached a bushy village setting.
“Anthony,” Erica asked heaving every step she took with his arms resting atop her shoulders, “Do you by any chance have a clue as to where exactly in Livingstone we are?” she asked.
Carefully scrutinising the scenario taking in every bit of it in, Anthony shook his head in utter shock, “Um I don’t think we are in Livingstone of Southern Province, let alone Zambia for that matter.”
Erica looked puzzled as they walked in the bushes treading upon leaves, twigs, broken branches and what looked like charred wood, “Why?” she asked.
Hearing the distant yells and stamping of feet, there suddenly came a swooshing sound of a spear which dug deep into a heap of soil beside them. They both froze eying it with fear registered on their faces afraid to think of what exactly was to follow next.
“No, either that’s not a spear I’m seeing and that’s not an angry looking savage of a man gazing our way we are definitely not in Zambia!” he cried his eyes locking on the bare chest of a very dark-skinned man with beads, bangles on and paint all over his body glaring at them before making a dash for them with a dreadful yell, “No we are definitely not in Zambia!”
“But where??” Erica asked as the wild man raced for them with another spear in hand poised to attack.