âIts not a joke, Henny,â Mike said, âthe reputation of our horses being able to run through fire and enter any building is legendary, and one day fear of these horses will be the only thing that stands between you and certain death. The superstitious tales of our horses with glowing red eyes will save you from that death as some ter craps in his broekies when he sees them. Donât underestimate the black mind that believes in magic.â
âI know, Corporal, but to me, itâs still silly that they believe in demonsââ
âYou are young. Youâll learn there is more to life than what you know at nineteen. Now you and Zack stay here,â Mike instructed the two youngest of the group. âIf anything happens to us, get the hell out of here, and keep riding until you get back to the trucks. Donât look back!â
âYes, sir,â the two youngsters said.
Buffel shook his head. âAh, to be young and indestructibleââ
âProblem is, they havenât leant yet that bullets donât bounce off you, they hurt. Letâs try keep it that way!â Mike said, then he clicked his tongue, and the four older menâs horses broke into a canter together. They thundered down on the building before splitting up. Mike took point, riding up the steps of the church and in through the once humble doors now hanging on their hinges.
Buffel took the left flank to circle around the outside of the back of the church and funnel anything there towards the church. Nick rode hard to the right and behind the missionariesâ houses, while Enoch rode further right to come around the back of the school rooms.
Buffel could hear Bengaâs laboured breathing as she jumped nimbly over another body. He didnât need to stop to check for life signs. Anyone with eyes could see half the piccaninny âs head was blown off. There was no way he was alive.
He continued his search. He entered the back of the chuch building through an archway in the rear side. He rode towards the back of the altar.
He stopped Benga and stared at the sight in front of him.
There were twenty-five children, ranging in age from about three to fifteen. Every one had been executed by a single shot to the head, then laid out next to each other. He stared at them as he dismounted.
A blinding rage tore at his heart.
They had killed the orphans.
Innocent children, who had no one but the priest and nuns to care for them, had been executed.
Slowly he checked each one was dead, then he joined their hands together, so that they were no longer alone in death.
His mind thought back to when he was just ten years old and how the children who died had been laid out next to each other. Each body had been so small, including Impendlaâs. Someone had joined their hands.
He racked his memory to remember who.
But he couldnât remember. It was a dark time. A time when his father said Satan was winning and he needed to believe more in God to banish the devil from their mission, their home.
Buffel shook his head, trying to dislodge the sudden memory.
He didnât normally remember anything about that day, other than Impendla being dead. His mind had blanked it out. His fatherhad said Godâs angels had touched his head and helped him to forget so that he could live a normal, healthy life in the service of God.
The mission worker had said Mwari had spared him, but now he owed Mwari.
He didnât believe either.
Looking at the massacre of the children, he knew that as an adult, he still didnât.
Having grown up under the strict rod of the Christian God with the influence of the Shona peoplesâ gods and superstitions, he thought perhaps he was closer to agnostic. He did believe in souls and an afterlife. He believed in something , just not what was being preached at that time.
He remounted and looked around. Mike was still sweeping for terrorists, pew by pew
Adriana Hunter, Carmen Cross