He’d run. He’d run for his fucking life. There’d not be a second chance. And when the tribe found out …… the manhunt would go mad. And they’d not give up. They owed his hide to their gods.
Nguana? He’d not given him a first thought. Korak had to get away. He had to put as much distance between him and the tribe. This was their territory, they knew every nook-and cranny. Korak was not out of the fire yet. And if they caught him ……
Give Nguana a first thought? Korak had got into this mess by coming to rescue him. Make that mistake twice? But truth-be-told …. It hadn’t occurred to him. Not even a passing glance .. at what might happen to Nguana …. Only one thought in Korak’s head. Save his own damned skin.
Would be ever be free of this guilt? At leaving Nguana to fend for himself? Korak had tried to persuade himself that Nguana had brought this all on himself. His rashness had landed then both in it .. up to their sweating necks. When Korak had turned down the challenge to climb the forbidden mountain, Nguana had gone off by himself.
Korak had not once thought his friend had got taken captive, he’d thought he was injured on the mountain.
There’d been no choice. Korak had to go find his friend .. bring him to safety. Nguana’s rashness .. his showing-off, bragging .. climbing the mountain and disappearing …. Nguana had left Korak no option, he had to rescue his injured friend. Nguana would have done no less for him.
And then Korak too had been caught up in that living hell.
And when the chance came .. after Korak had realised he was building his own torture frame .. it was taking off again, no let-up for him .. then there’d been no option either. Korak couldn’t hang around searching for his rash friend. It was every man for himself. It was life or death. And a very painful protracted death at that! Korak had grabbed his chance. And run for his life.
But Korak wouldn’t have wanted to be in Nguana’s shoes when the tribe found out. The torture frame was near-ready. It would soon be put to use!
That very night Korak had come awake dowsed with sweat. He awoke clutching his belly ablaze with red hot pain. The fires of that evil goo in his innards was alive still in the muscle-memory. It could still singe when he woke in the night .. even now .. weeks later.
Sweating with his nightmare, Korak could imagine Nguana, like himself, forced to lean forward, belly extended by the angle. Having the hell beaten out of his guts. Korak was strong in the belly. Numerous brawls and fights had proved that. His stomach muscles had always served him well. That strength a match for many brutal attacks.
But those hits .. strung-out at an angle .. they had torn into him with such ferocity. Struck him in the belly with body breaking force. No stomach muscle could be match to that attack. It hadn’t taken too many blows and Korak’s efforts to fend them off were nothing. And immediately following each strike .. the wind already blown out of his throat like hot vapour .. something profoundly evil happened. Korak could not explain it .. even now .. though he’d had nightmares about it numerous times …..
The sting of leather took his breath away. The force of the blow send his body reeling. But before he could gasp air back in ….. it was like a sharp spear was dragged across his belly .. from inside. Slicing him open. That evil concoction they’d filled his guts with! A blade red hot straight from the coals was scored across his burning belly flesh .. inside.
Korak had screamed. No holding anything in. Empty of wind, gasping for air, muscle pummelled and battered. Then some butcher inside his guts had come along and sliced him open. Red-hot. Razor sharp. Cutting him in two.
Was that what Nguana was getting now? Hot and sweaty from his nightmare, Korak shivered for his friend.
When the chance to escape came, there was no holding back. Not a second thought. Korak took his naked arse off and fled for his life. It would be a manhunt like no other when news got back. Korak had run for it. By luck he’d found the entrance to the cave, the way out. Recklessly he’d scuttled over slippery rocks back down the waterfall. He’d hit the river with a splash. And kept on going.
Korak got to the other side and never looked back. He was running for his life. Five days he kept going. He guessed they’d not give up. He had to put as much distance as he could between him and the tribe. He had to lose them in terrain unknown to them. Even now, weeks later, he could wake up in a hot sweat. Shaking from the nightmare that they had found him. Hunted him down. And taken him back. To face their gods.
Was that where Nguana was now? Still alive? Still in their hands. It didn’t bear thinking about. What they’d be doing to him …….