Sep 25, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

SHORT STORY: Run, run for the truth

It was dusk and she walked among giants. In the rapidly falling darkness, Greta could just make out the tops of towering trees, covered in wispy lichen and damp moss, rising straight into a sky dotted with the first stars. She walked steadily, almost slowly, marking her path, feeling the rough bark of the trees, enjoying the slick of wet moss on her fingers, and tasting the sweet forest air as she made her way to a place she had been many times before was before.

As a crescent moon broke through the trees, bathing everything in a silver glow, Greta reached her destination, swung the heavy backpack she was carrying onto the damp earth, pulled out a shovel, and began digging vigorously at the roots of an old, gnarled, massive fig tree.

“Where have you been?” Isla’s voice dripped with suspicion, her eyes hungry for gossip as she surveyed Greta’s disheveled state.

“I went jogging,” Greta murmured, pushing past her nosy roommate toward the bathroom. She was having a big day and in her condition, with twigs as accessories in her thick hair, she would be late if she didn’t hurry.

“All night?” Isla’s eyes narrowed and her pretty mouth curled into an irritated pout as she stared offended at Greta’s retreating back. They always told each other about their dating antics, so why was Greta so tight-lipped now? “Well, some guys were looking for you last night,” she called out, hoping to stop Greta before she closed the bathroom door, and her trick worked.

“What guys?” Greta gasped around the heel, her face ashen, but her voice composed: “What did they want?”

“I told them you weren’t there.” Isla didn’t like the concerned look of her friend’s eyes: ” Greta, are you okay…”

But Greta was already closing the bathroom door and a moment later Isla, a pretty but absent-minded person, was distracted by a song on the radio and as she danced and lip-synched with her eyes closed Greta slipped out unnoticed and went to work.

Her palms were clammy. Her heart was tight in her stomach, each thundering beat dizzying her and threatening to render her unconscious. Greta couldn’t believe it was time. She had waited two years, working in secret, fearing every second of being discovered, and yet here she was, at the finish line she never thought she would cross.

“Good Hello and welcome to the morning briefing, I’m your host, Greta Kanini,” her heart dropped to her feet and for one sickening second the whole studio started spinning before her eyes, but as fast as the feeling came, it did away; left only adrenaline and a razor sharp focus.

“As you know, I’ve been a journalist for several years and my integrity has never been questioned,” she paused, ignoring her frantic wave at the producer as she wondered why Greta deviated from the script, “and that’s why I urge anyone who wants to know the truth to log on to livingcorrupt.com, where I’ve released hundreds of classified government documents.” Her producer literally jumped up and down , waving her clipboard and arms in the air wildly, muttering expletives while Greta hastily continued, “We’re going down the river and this land will be sold to the highest bidder…” Greta’s microphone suddenly cut out as the transmitter shut down; and as her producer rushed at her, foaming at the mouth, Greta jumped to her feet and headed for the door.

Dawn gave way to afternoon, a friendly sun peeking out from behind frothy, milk-colored clouds. It was such a pleasant day but all Greta could feel was the danger of a storm brewing, a dark cloud following her so closely the hairs on the back of her neck all stood to attention. And for a good reason. As soon as she brought her car to life, a car with opaque tinted windows followed close behind her without even bothering to hide. But Greta drove so impetuously that she arrived at the edge of the forest at the city limits minutes before her attackers. And minutes were all it took.

She had practiced this hike, she had often walked with her heavy backpack, so now she was flying through the trees, unencumbered by anything. Sunspots seeped through the treetops, forming golden pockets in the lush green landscape where tiny specks of dust and pollen danced magically in the air.

Greta could hear the heavy breathing of everyone who was behind her, and as she died Finding where she had buried her backpack the night before, the irregular breathing got closer and stronger.

Greta yanked her bag out from under the dirt and continued at a run, hopping like a gazelle over gnarled tree roots and duck under twisted vines and leaves so dense they form curtains of green.

Greta slowed gradually, listening intently. There was nothing but the rustle of the leaves, nudged by a gentle breeze and her own heavy breathing. She camped, hid a bit and finally faced the music.