Published today on Amazon and available as an eBook and a paperback, ‘The Warnings’ is a novella set in Zululand, South Africa. A copy of the eBook cover and an extract from the book follow just below.
‘There is no hillside without a grave.’
Meaning: Death is unavoidable and will find you wherever you go. (Old Zulu proverb.)
No one visits the old property anymore. They dare not. The locals keep away and tell children and newcomers to do so too. It is a place inhabited by some of the worst demons they have ever known. Those ones that can live in a rock, a tree, a bird, a buck, and even a river. These things may look innocent, as if they are simply part of the everyday, but they are not. What could be living within them is too terrible to contemplate. When people talk of what they believe happened and is still there, waiting on the farm that is no longer a farm, they look at the ground and speak in a barely audible voice. They tell of the black presence that is felt but not seen. They warn against taking the dusty paths amongst the thorn trees that lead to the deserted property. Evil is waiting there, silent and hidden, and it can come out at any time and in any way. You could quickly be gone from your world into another, snatched into a realm from where the wicked ones come and go in ways that you would fail to understand. The farm that was once called ‘Valley View’ by those who owned it, is now to be left alone.
The sugar cane died long ago and the fruit on the citrus trees remains unpicked. Over-ripe oranges fall from the trees and rot in the rank grass. The baboons and the monkeys, as well as a few buck and several smaller creatures, have ‘Valley View’ to themselves. Those who have seen and heard them, as well as those who haven’t, say the baboons on ‘Valley View’ are large and aggressive. The baboons see the property as now belonging to them and chase away anyone who comes near with loud barks and bared canines. Their teeth, so the rumour goes, are longer and sharper than those of other baboons.
It has happened before that a person will not come back from visiting an area such as this, and it will happen again. There are bad ones amongst the world of the living dead. They will take you for their evil purposes if they catch you. Do not cross the boundaries which separate this forbidden farm from the other farms and wild spaces nearby. You could end up in a realm of bad spirits and swallowing blackness.
The worst of things could occur if one wondered alone here at night. The umthakathi, the witches that ride baboons and hyenas, could smell you out and come galloping through the dark. They could roast your flesh and eat it, or they could enslave you in the hidden places visited only by the living dead. You would never return.
It is because of what the local people say, though they do not like to talk about it, that what was at one time a magnificent homestead now lies crumbling amidst the encroaching bush veld. Much of the roof has caved in. A lot of the windows are missing and so are the front and back doors. They were carried away years ago by those who did not know of the turmoil that ended everything on what was a farm called ‘Valley View’. Had they known, they would not have touched the items they thought they could take from what they believed was simply an abandoned farmhouse. As it is, when they were spotted carrying them a while later in the veld, they dropped the doors and windows and ran off sweating and screaming into the dust and heat of a particularly hot day.
At one point during its long years of desertion, the roof of the stone building tilted inward and then crashed down. Grass and weeds flourish among piles of cement, old bricks and rotten beams. A stunted thorn tree now grows just to the left of the ruins. A grey loerie often rests on its crown of twisted branches, small leaves and long white thorns. When it is there, its distinctive call of ‘’Go way! Go way!’ rises loudly from its feathered throat. Long moments after, ‘’Go way! Go way!’’ echoes from the otherwise silent valley.
© Andrew Pender-Smith, 2018 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GLTMH69