They looked for any signs of a rescue crew.
December 28, 2013
A VG Serial: Dark Continent Continental
Dave was finishing up some paperwork on his desk at Austin Homicide headquarters when his vibrating cell phone indicated he had a text from Skeeter—the first message he, or anyone else, had gotten from them since they had left for Africa.
“Holy crap, Justy! Come look at this.”
When Justy arrived at Dave’s desk, Dave showed him the text: “Hi! We have arrived in Africa, but things did not go exactly like we planned. Our plane crashed into the side of a mountain (see photo) and Angus was attacked by a lioness that was getting kind of hungry. (see photo) Other than that, things are fine and we hope to be up and moving around in Garissa tomorrow after a short period of down-time. We are now behind schedule one whole day, with the clock ticking away. Hope you desk jockeys are having fun.–Skeeter (see additional photos)”
Dave went through the photos again as Justy stood speechless, hunched over the cell phone.
Finally he was able to ask, “This is their plane? Crashed into the side of the mountain?” He eyed the tilted tube of metal, partially covered by vegetation.
“I guess. Doesn’t look like the plane they were supposed to be on.” Dave answered.
“Look at that—unbelievable!” The two detectives gawked and gawked at the photo of a lioness lying lifeless on the baked dirt. Its mouth was open displaying two full rows of gleaming teeth. Its tongue hung out limply, like a Salvador Dali clock.
As they examined the photo more carefully, they noticed a big scarlet stain on its tawny fur—the back of the beast—at shoulder blade level. They also noticed what appeared to be a coup de grace shot to the head.
The last photo was of Angus’ bare back with two sets of gashes, deep red scratches, about ten inches apart. There were four on each side. The next shot showed a grim Angus holding his shirt up, the blue sky showing through the slashes the animals claws had made. The detectives looked at the photos again and again.
“Think we should show these to Sullivan?” Justy asked.
“Yeah,” Dave answered, peering into Sullivan’s office to gauge the situation. “Let’s think about it for a minute. Can you think of any reason we shouldn’t? Let’s not go off half-cocked.”
“Hmmm! He would want to see these. I don’t think Angus and Skeeter would mind. Yeah. I think we should show him. He will explain the advisability of showing them to anyone else. I think we should hold off on broadcasting it.”
The two homicide detectives started for the office of Captain Tyrone Sullivan.
* * *
Angus had been knocked down at such a great rate of speed that he was completely disoriented. In addition, the wind had been knocked out of him when his diaphragm impacted his shoulder bag which swung around in front of him as the lioness leapt onto him from the acacia tree.
Nigel and Buziba turned at the sound of the gunshot. When they did, they saw Angus on the ground on his stomach, Skeeter with her arm extended, still holding the gun. Water was oozing from the old mailbag Buziba was hauling for her.
They then focused on the problem. A lioness was thrashing around on the ground, stirring up dust, mortally wounded. Nigel and Buziba went to help Angus to his feet. When he gained his bearings, he realized the gravity of the situation.
“Skeeter hollered, “I think I should finish her off, but she is moving around so much, I can’t get a good shot.”
“I’ll do it!” Angus un-holstered his gun, took careful aim at the animal and shot it in the head. It stopped moving.
Buziba and Nigel gazed down the savannah for signs of a rescue crew. Nigel then pointed to the mail bag. “Look, Skeeter. Your shot passed through the lion, ricocheted off that rock over there—he pointed again—and punctured one of your water bottles in the mail bag.”
“The magic bullet.” Angus announced.
“Buziba’s hands danced all around in the air, fingers splayed. “Close call! Close Call!” He looked at the mail bag then frowned at Skeeter.
“Thanks a bunch, Skeeter.” Angus said with genuine appreciation.
Chapters of Dark Continental by Sara Marie Hogg will be published on Saturday and Sunday.