6 The gift
It was kicking off. This ferocious duel between right and wrong. Fierce combat between deceptions and the truth. A fight that Nkonu meant to prove that lies could prevail.
Tarzan thought the stud was full of himself. Saw himself as god’s gift. He couldn’t be wrong. Perfection itself. His body living proof of that.
Nkonu had fed him the lies. Filled his belly with hate. Regaled him with stories of his glorious father .. that cattle-thief, that rapist. Painted the picture of the mighty warrior-chief, larger-than-life. The image to follow .. to shape his son’s sculpted body. The model for his life. His mind had been warped. Nkonu had filled him with the urge to avenge.
Whittled into a tool. The deadly blade to settle Nkonu’s scores. Honed into his lethal instrument of revenge. A willing hand to squeeze the living fire out of that enemy. Crush him. Break him. Destroy the apeman. Before Nkonu took pleasure in putting out Tarzan’s lights.
Tarzan knew the peacock was still breathing down his neck. The show-off had just released the yanking grip on the back of his head. A head-jangling punch to his skull had knocked Tarzan forward. Angered Tarzan was starting to twist around and thrown him his own punch when again he was surprised. Tricked by a lightning-fast move.
A hand slid around the side of his neck, the edge of the hand cutting like a knife across the front of his throat. In the blink of an eye, Tarzan’s throat was locked by the press of the muscle-stud’s forearm. Pressing on his throat .. starting to choke him. Tarzan’s hands went up, going to shake off the vain fool, break his grip.
Nkonu watched, curious. Amused he saw his old enemy had been ambushed, his head still ringing from that blow. Automatically Tarzan’s hands went up. Fighting the arm locked around his throat .. his face determined .. his jaw set hard for this fight.
Nkonu again had reason to smirk .. his nephew’s arm, locked on Tarzan’s neck, grabbed his other upper arm. Tarzan’s head was crushed between the muscled hardened strength in young Mwale’s grip. Almost comically popping out between two massively peaked biceps. Good trick, nephew, Nkonu thought. Makes the apeman look like a fool.
Angry Tarzan’s fingers clawed at the arm choking his breathing. But young Mwale was strong, his ambition to win was equally ferocious. The force on Tarzan’s breathing tightened. The more he tore at the crush on his throat, the more a teeth-gritted Mwale put on pressure.
Tarzan jarred his skull sharp backwards. He felt his head crack against the chin behind. He’d surprised his attacker, he felt a lessening of the squeeze. Pleased, he gave it another go. Tarzan quickly jerked forward and then jarred his skull back again.
But it didn’t work. He felt Mwale’s hand now on the back of his neck. Fighting him back. Mwale was pushing forward with his hand onto the back of Tarzan’s skull .. stopping the blow backwards into his face. And that hand .. in the base of Tarzan’s neck .. starting pushing forward. Mwale’s hand was forcing Tarzan’s neck closer into the crush on his throat. His throat .. pressed from behind, crushed from in front .. squeezed into the immovable, inescapable solid rockface of Mwale’s forearm. Crushing his windpipe. The clutch on his breathing tightened. The grip on his throat squeezed. Closing off his air.
Realising the danger, sensing a rising panic, Tarzan squirmed. His shoulders wriggled. His torso writhed. His back pressed murderously tight into young Mwale’s front twisted .. fighting like mad to break free. But the grip just held on. Tarzan shook, he jarred. But the crush on his windpipe clung on. And slowly Tarzan felt Mwale pulling back. His shoulders leaning backwards .. squeezing the choke around Tarzan’s throat murderously tight. He couldn’t breathe.
Nkonu was mesmerised. He’d never seen anything like this. Tarzan was locked in his nephew’s grip. He struggled with his hands. He’d tried to wriggle free. But Mwale had him trapped. Where had his nephew learned these things? Was this his father’s blood coming out in a fight?
And astonishingly Nkonu could see it .. with his own eyes .. a look of panic on Tarzan’s face. The shock that had seized hold of his body. Tarzan knew what was happening. He was fighting to break free. But he couldn’t, Mwale had him. Nkonu spotted a rigidity in the muscle when Tarzan realised .. Mwale was choking him.
Tarzan saw the world changing. The light was shifting. The village was losing colour. His head wasn’t getting any blood. His brain was deprived of air. He heard nothing but his eyes saw people screaming. Tarzan heard no sound. Villagers jumping up and down, the village .. everything was turning to black-and-white. A pressure in his head .. like his skull was being forced apart .. his senses filling with a stinging gas. Pain in his eyes. Like an unstoppable pressure was popping them out of his head.
A groan escaped. But he gave no sound. The pressure on the front of his throat was crushing on his voice-box. The pain there was mind-numbing. Inescapable. No sound was heard. But Tarzan felt his whole being singing with weakness. He heard voices of dismay. He was passing out, he knew. Light-headed. Fuzzy. Nothing he could do. His legs felt empty. His vision swam. The whole of the village .. it was disappearing down a swirling tunnel before his eyes. He couldn’t breathe. The light was going. He couldn’t hear. He was blacking out.
Tarzan knew he was going under. His brain starved. Every effort he’d tried .. desperately clawing at the grip cutting off his air .. FAILED. He felt himself weakening. He’d struggled, he’d fought. He was fainting .. trapped in this monstrous clutch. Losing strength. WEAK. Everything against this crush on his throat had failed. He was passing out.
Mwale hissed down his neck. His hatred poured vengeful poison into his ear.
“Two days, apeman.”
He jerked hard on Tarzan’s neck. Crushingly tight across his throat. Making sure Mwale still had Tarzan’s attention.
“Only two days .. you hear ……?”
Incredibly his hatred found the strength for more of a squeeze. Impossibly he crushed even more life out of Tarzan’s throat. The murderer never heard the rest. Mwale felt his legs loosen. He knew his strength and given way. He hung lifeless in a murderous choking grip.
“Better make the most of it ……….”
Young Mwale let go. His arms flashed upwards. The powerful physique that had broken the apeman stood triumphant on display .. arms raised above his head .. solid chest up .. an effigy of muscular conceit. His muscled body preened. Arms up, chest high .. victorious manliness in perfection. Around him in the torchlights people were screaming. Hailing the wonder of his greatness.
But Mwale had eyes for only one thing. Beneath him. The hated body had slithered down his front. The air around lit up at the sight. A tumultuous roar burst up at the darkened sky. The whole tribe was screaming. All the people roared.
But Mwale never heard them. He saw the only thing that mattered. His father’s murderer lay crumpled in a heap .. unconscious at his feet.