Saturday Story Post- Southern Free (7)


  1. Gadchey Gratitude

The boy that opened the door, was about Shadow’s age. He had dark hair and blue eyes under long lashes. There was a look of intelligence around him that seemed to be trying to avoid him, as though it were embarrassed to be associated.  And also an impression of helplessness, making him appear a lot younger than he was, if Shadow presumed him to be Lindsey’s classmate.

Richard, a cool head taller than him, pushed past him into the house, not waiting for an invitation.

“Is Lindsey here, Ben?”

“What – how did you know where to find her?” asked Ben, confused and scared. And he eyed Shadow. “Is that the freebooter your mom has taken in?”

Shadow snorted, suppressing a laugh. Freebooter!

“Shadow at your service,” he announced with a flamboyant bow. That he’d stolen from a circus clown’s performance. “I’m the thug Richard called for reinforcement to force Lindsey to come back home. She needs to go home. You realize there’s a girl-killing monster out there?”

“That wouldn’t perhaps be you?” asked Ben sharply.

“I don’t kill girls,” said Shadow with disdain. It was the truth. “I look for bigger game,” he added maliciously. That, too, was true.

“Shadow, stop intimidating Ben and come help me,” called Richard. He had found Lindsey in a room down the passage and was arguing with her. Shadow pushed past Ben and headed towards where Richard was, and was blocked by a very large woman.

The woman screamed in terror when she saw him. Shadow echoed her scream. She was very large!

“Who are you?” challenged the woman.

“That’s the desperado Lindsey’s mom is harbouring,” said Ben helpfully.

Shadow snorted again. “Pfft! Desperado!”

“Well, then, the homeless bum.”

“The Romany,” Shadow corrected him. “You don’t get those in Southern Free. ’m a hundred percent imported. I’ll settle for ‘that foreign devil’. An’ she’s not harbouring me. ’m leaving already.”

“He’s leaving?” The call came from the room down the passage. Lindsey emerged into view, with Richard following her, carrying her sleeping bag and her school bag.

Shadow, in fact, had already left. He’d found what he was looking for, and that was usually enough. He knew the way back to Sabie, and to Marge – there really was mainly one road. And he didn’t want to chance another drive in the four wheel drive with that madman at the wheel.

A little while later he sat by the Sabie River that was running parallel to Main Road here, using the scissors he’d nicked from Ben’s household to cut that driver’s license into ribbons of a millimetre each. The neolaminene curled back on itself, making helices. He carefully shredded the helices into little pieces no longer than three millimetres each, gathering the whole lot up in his hat. Eventually he was done. He cast the confetti into the breeze and it carried it into the river and bushes, where the tiny white flecks became so nearly invisible that they blended with the surrounds.

Shukar! So that was accomplished. Now there was one mission left: Retrieve Sharktooth. Then, finally, he could disappear. Marge would understand. He had an appointment in Durban, a job waiting.


It was fairly afternoonish by the time he approached Marge’s house from the wildlands for a second time. He heard the angry arguing from a good distance; this time it was Lindey’s and Marge’s voices ringing across the otherwise peaceful afternoon. Here and there Richard dropped a comment.

Once again, Shadow let himself in by the back door. And the effect was the same: Sudden silence.

“Is that slime-ball still around?” exclaimed Lindsey. Marge gasped. “And before you say it, Mother,” added Lindsey scathingly, “I shall never apologize to it!”

Shadow smiled at her.

“Showing others respect says more about you than the person you’re showing respect to,” he pointed out. “Don’t worry, Lindsey. I’m leaving. I’ve got a job…” an apologetic glance at Marge, “in another town. Just wanted to say goodbye. Where’s Lucy?”

“Sleeping,” said Richard with a scowl. “Still. Wonder if she’s catching something.”

Marge looked shocked and moved off towards the inside of the house, to check on Lucy.

“Give her a hug from me,” said Shadow. “And Richard…” He held out his hand.

“Right,” said Richard and gave back Sharktooth. Shadow nodded his thanks. And he turned to Lindsey once more.

“Listen, buzni. There is a girl-killer out there. We were at the poliţia earlier, your brother and Shadow. Someone got killed. Wasn’t you, count your lucky stars. Stay in the house and don’t go anywhere alone.”

“I’m not dof, slime-ball,” replied Lindsey. “I can look after myself.”

“Oh, I don’t care what happens to you,” replied Shadow with a shrug. “I don’t want your mother to be sad. She was good to me.” And he was suddenly gone, like a phantom. Richard stared after the place where Shadow had been a moment back, wondering if he’d imagined things.

Buzni,” muttered Lindsey and took her palm-pad out of her pocket. She connected it and looked up the meaning. “He called me a frickin’ nanny goat!” she exclaimed indignantly. Richard laughed. “You think that’s funny?” she yelled at her brother. He laughed even more.


Public transport didn’t suit Shadow. He was currently on the back of a vegetable truck, his hat pulled down over his face, dozing away the hours. He’d held up the truck and bribed the driver for a lift.

There were a few things jarring him about his stay in Sabie. He liked paying his own way. In his profession he made good money; and he never needed to spend much of it. Currently his fresh cash was in his pocket, waiting to be dumped into his holding account – an account opened in the name of a (fictitious) old lady by name of Samantha Perkins. The banks had all sorts of security regulations, but he’d got around them the Southern Free way. Knowing which individual to bribe at which moment was an art he was picking up with natural ease, as though he’d been born here. He could have bribed his way out of the cells too, last night – if he’d had his cash on him. Damned if he’d let the police know about his bank account!

This recent lot of cash would be deposited in White River. At an ATM. He had never yet feared ATM fraud. Firstly, nobody wanted to mess with him. Secondly, even if they had committed it – whatever. He wasn’t attached to money. He could always make more.

The sun shone down warmly on his borrowed rags. Falling asleep on this lot of veggies was probably a bad idea.

A voice. He listened intently into the droning of the truck, the red warmth of the afternoon sun.

There it was again – no more than a whisper, calling his name. His birth name, that he didn’t intend to share with anyone here in this lazy, peaceful country. He knew the voice. A chill crept over him. The red heat was gone, replaced by a grey grave-cold. And the pale, bloodless face of his sister stared at him from the half-dark.

He felt iron grips around his lungs. He couldn’t breathe.

What are you doing? she asked him. And she spoke his name, which made him freeze in fear.

Don’t say my name, he begged. They are going to find me!

I’m here to tell you, she replied. Remember.

Remember what? She seemed to hesitate.

Katya, what must I remember?

Remember who you are. Her image started fading. Remember your drom.

Don’t go! begged Shadow.

The image of his sister faded away. The clamps around his chest disappeared; he gasped for breath. Tears brimmed in his eyes. Katya, come back, he pleaded, but nothing happened.

His drom; his roads. The gypsy way. She had come to warn him not to forget the romipen? Why? He had been trying to abide by its codes – as much as was possible. And a few codes of his own, by now. Why was she warning him?

Shortly after, Shadow opened his eyes. The truck had stopped. The sun was gone; it was getting nippy – though the Southern Frisbeans still didn’t know the meaning of ‘cold’. They had reached White River.

He jumped off the truck. Now there would be no more open banks to deposit his loot; to find that ATM that took cash? He asked the driver, and got directions.

“Tomorrow I drive to Durban,” the trucker dropped the bait. Shadow took it.

“I’ll come with you,” he said. “Same price again?”

“Same price,” agreed the trucker, obviously happy to make a bit of pocket money on the side. Shadow went off to deposit his money, then started looking for a place to sleep.


Lindsey couldn’t sleep that night. Insulting the vagrant – that had all been cool. Letting him know his place. She had been relieved that he was leaving. She didn’t trust him as far as she could push him.

Buzni. Calling her a goat! It was so mundane that it actually got her attention far more than if he’d called her other, more commonly used insults. It was as though he had carefully considered all of them and found the most fitting. A goat. What the heck?

As she drifted off to sleep, she found herself puzzling over the tenderness he’d shown her little sister. Strange, that. She wondered if there was something in his past, if he’d maybe lost a sibling…


Years later, back in Romania:


Due to be released on 1 November: Nix Romipen – volume 6 of the “Solar Wind” series

Friday Story Post – Southern Free (6)

I was so blown away by the super review Roughseas wrote on the entire Solar Wind series (after already writing reviews on the individual books and posting them on Goodreads) that I totally forgot that it’s Friday!  I owe you a story!


Southern Free

6 : Lindsey

When they were in the car, Richard held out his hand.
“Give me your knife.”
Shadow pulled a face.  “You’ll give it back some time?”
“Some time,” agreed Richard and pocketed Sharktooth.   Which was innocent.  The Stiletto Shadow had used for his fast assault on the target, had been firstly meticulously cleaned; but secondly it hid in a sheath inside his grey gypsy coat.  He’d hidden both the coat and his most precious knife in the bushes yesterday before reporting to the police station for finishing the Barberton Four; but he’d needed it for the job.  That knife he was not handing over!
“Now you tell me, where were you?” charged Richard.
“Working,” said Shadow.  “Jobbing for someone.”
“What kind of work?”
“Was washing their cars,” said Shadow without blinking.  “Rich family, they have five cars.  The smallest is…”  it didn’t even take him a split second to think which vehicles he’d seen lots of in Sabie, “a Sanji 27.  All the others are luxury cars.”
“What is the family’s name?” challenged Richard.
“How should I know?” replied Shadow.  “But while I was washing them, I heard something on the radio…”
“What did you hear?”  Richard started the car and went from zero to hundred in six seconds, regardless that the first three were still up his mother’s driveway.
The reckless driving style of the young gadjo gave Shadow a perfect excuse not to answer.  He was clinging to whatever handholds he could find in the car, looking green in the face.  When they drew up in front of Sabie’s police station, tyres screeching, he was glad to open the door and get the hell out of that death-trap of a vehicle.  He stood bent over for a moment, breathing and fighting off the car-sickness.
Richard’s hand closed roughly around his arm.
“So, come along!  You wanted us to come here, now show me what you had in mind. Jou klein bliksem,” he added for good measure.
Shadow bared his teeth as he was being tugged along.  Several swearwords in Romani jib queued up at the tip of his tongue; but he bit them back, deciding it would provide much more satisfaction to insult Richard in his own language… which was English!  He couldn’t understand why the man kept lapsing into Afrikaans.
Officer Dhlamini gaped at Shadow as Richard hauled him into the police office.
“There,” the young man prompted, giving Shadow a push that sent him flying against the counter.  “Go for it!”
“Mister Robinson!”  drawled Dhlamini.  “It’s good to see you!”
“The same, sir,” replied Richard politely.
There was no politeness left in Shadow though.
“Your sister has gone missing and you make small jib?” he snapped at Richard, and turned to Dhlamini, jumping right in.  “Officer, what’s the story about the girl they found?  This morning?”
“What girl?” asked Dhlamini, his eyes narrowing in suspicion.
“That girl in the rubbish dumpster?” Mpho piped up from the background.  “Shame!”
Dhlamini glared at her.  “We don’t know of any such report!”
Richard had gone as white as a sheet.  He stared at Shadow, and at Dhlamini, and abruptly left the police station.
Wena,” said Shadow quietly to Mpho.  “Itla-mo!  What did you hear?  Asseblief?”
Dhlamini glared at him.  Shadow took some universal vocabulary out of his pocket, the language that everyone understood.
“Just between us,” he said quietly.  “I worked hard for this money, please can you tell me what happened to Richard Robinson’s sister?”
Both Dhlamini and Mpho took a bribe, Mpho for telling him what she’d heard, and Dhlamini for allowing her.  Shadow was growling internally, but that was how these systems worked – here, not in Unicate-riddled Europe.  That small corrupt act alone would have landed him in one of the Unicate high-security prisons.
“They talked about it on the networks,” said Mpho.  “This blonde school girl, they found her dead in the rubbish.  Raped and strangulated.”
“She is in the morgue,” said Dhlamini helpfully.  “We investigated her body – she had no identification.”
“Thank you,” said Shadow and left the station, joining Richard at the four-wheel drive.  The young man was leaning over the car’s bonnet, his head in his hands.
“C’mon, Richard,” said Shadow.  “Got to be strong now.  I hope we’re wrong about this.  Got to check it out.”
Richard looked up, pale as dust.  The sparkle had gone out of his eyes.
“C’mon,” Shadow prompted once more.  He led the way.
One advantage to being the half invisible vagabond was that you got to know a town.  Shadow knew exactly where to lead Richard.
Twenty minutes later they both sat at a cafeteria table sipping hot coffees.
“It wasn’t her,” Richard repeated for the twentieth time, like a mantra.
Shadow was shaking his head, trying to clear the fog from his brain.  He’d lapsed on killing the monster on time, and one more young girl had been murdered pointlessly.  At least it wasn’t Marge’s kid, but still…  she was somebody’s kid.
“Sorry I suspected you, man,” said Richard unexpectedly and punched Shadow’s shoulder.  “No matter,” muttered the gypsy.  “But now we must find Lindsey.  She’s still missing.”
“Right!”  Richard got up, paid for the coffees and urged Shadow on.  “Let’s get back to Mom.”  He gave the young vagabond another sharp stare.  “Thanks for sparing Mom this.”
“Course,” shrugged Shadow.


Marge was out of her head with worry by the time the two returned.
“Was a false lead,”  Richard broke the news before they were even in the house.  “That wasn’t her, that story Shadow had heard.”
“So you didn’t find her?”
“At least we didn’t find her dead,” said Richard.  “Have you called her friends yet?”
“I’ve called everyone I have on my list,” said Marge.  “While you two were out.”
“Have you looked in her room?” asked Shadow.
Marge stared at him as though he’d lost his wits.
“For clues,” he elaborated.  “Sometimes there’s something that gives you an idea…”
Richard was already on the way to his sister’s room, with Marge and Lucy stampeding after.  Shadow trailed behind, wondering.  He had to get rid of Van Vuuren’s driver’s license before it was found in his possession – before the body was found in the first place.  It was difficult to destroy such a license; they were pretty much fireproof, made from neolaminene.  He could bury it, but experience showed that buried stuff always resurfaced randomly when you could use it least.  Someone always found it.  The only real way to destroy that kind of card was to cut it up, into small shreds.
“Ha!” he heard Richard’s triumphant battle cry.  So the man had found something.  He craned his neck to see.
Richard was holding a small envelope, handing it to Marge.
“To Mom,” she read, and ripped the envelope open to fish the note out of it.  “Mom, if I have to live in the same house with that filthy veld-crawler, I’d rather go and live elsewhere.  Wish you didn’t have to trade away your children for some bleeding-heart style charity.  Lindsey.”
Shadow’s face fell.
“She’s actually run away,” said Marge, stupefied.  Richard rifled through his sister’s belongings.
“She’s taken her sleeping bag,” he pointed out.  “And her school bag isn’t here…”  He glanced at Shadow.  “How good are you at finding someone?”
The gypsy bit his lip.  He was actually brilliant at that; but he’d rather not be the one to find her.
“We have to wait,” he said.  “She’s going to come back.”
“Wait?” asked Richard.  “After what we saw there in the morgue?  There’s some monster out there that –”
“Morgue?” asked Marge, horrified.
Shadow spotted Lucy’s terrified eyes and held out his hand to her.
“C’mon, Lucy, I think we must go read some Big Brown Bear.”
She followed him; halfway down the passage she asked:  “Shadow, is there really a monster out there that eats kids?”
The fear in her eyes was genuine.  Her imagination had already spun a whole story about what might have happened to her sister.  Shadow went down on his haunches to get to eye-level with the four-year-old.
“Lucy,” he said, “your sister will be okay.  There was a monster.   But Shadow killed him.  That’s what I do.”
“You kill monsters?”
“And dragons, and zombies,” he assured her.  “Come now.  Let’s go read.”
She took his hand and bounced along on the way to the lounge, very much pacified.  Shadow wished he could give Marge the same peace of mind.

Richard came down the passage to the lounge.  He’d explained to his mother what he and Shadow had investigated earlier.  It relieved and at the same time, upset her massively.  She was off to the kitchen to make some tea now.
Richard took in the scene in the lounge:  Shadow with Lucy next to him on a big armchair, reading from that enormous book that was the little girl’s favourite.  She was leaning against him; as Richard came closer, he saw that she was asleep.  After all the high tension this morning, not surprising.  And Shadow kept on reading to her, somehow unaware.
“Thanks for that, man,” Richard said.  Shadow glanced up.
“You’re good with kids,” continued Lucy’s brother.
Shadow nodded.
“Where did you pick that up?”
Shadow shrugged.  And said nothing.  And realized that it wasn’t going to get him out of answering.
“There are always some chavvies running around in the familia,” he said.  “We say it takes a tribe to raise a kid.”
Richard smiled.  “We’ve got that same saying,” he pointed out.  “In Zulu.  Takes a village to raise a child.”
“Yeah,” agreed Shadow.  “Any clue where Lindsey’s gone?”
“Likely to a friend that isn’t on Mom’s list,” replied Richard.  “In fact…”
“Ha,” growled Shadow softly.  “You know where.”
“Come, bro,” challenged Richard, picking up Lucy from her place next to Shadow without waking her up.  “I’m just putting her into her bed and then you and I go and fetch Lindsey.”
“Richard, I really don’t think it’s a good idea…”
The man was already halfway down the passage with the sleeping toddler.
“And you still have my Sharktooth,” added Shadow under his breath.


Foreign terms:

Jib – talk (Romani)

Wena – you (Sesotho)

Itlamo – come here (Sesotho)

Asseblief – Please (Afrikaans)

chavvies – children (Romani)

familia – family, tribe, clan (Romani)

“Southern Free” is not yet complete.  This is a raw, unedited version.  For more by same author:



Nix Romipen

This book is scheduled to be released on 1 November on Smashwords.

For a preview, click here:

Nix Romipen

Series: The Solar Wind
By Lyz Russo


Romania. A place of harsh contrasts; dangerous and beautiful wilderness; a silent invisible people. This is where Federi was born; and this is where he takes Paean in their breakaway from the Solar Wind, their bid for freedom.

But Federi is hunting big game now. He is going after the Unicate, once and for all. The old gypsy curse of Falco is singing loudly in his blood, and he has to finish it. Whether it meets with Paean’s approval or not. Too many have died; and despite Captain’s politics, the Unicate still exerts its rule of terror in this remote, half-forgotten country.

As he goes after the Unicate, tracing the secret of the Hounds, something larger is tracing him, though. The trip of the Solar Wind into space has alerted some ancient forces. Federi and his best partner, Paean, trade places as he follows Captain back into space while she finds herself in the depths of a Unicate mound, with an unexpected ally, a Unicate “Other”…

For readers who loved the Solar Wind series, this sixth book closes off the first cycle.
I also would like to thank Roughseasinthemed, who has already posted a review of this book on Goodreads.

Here is her review:


Sep 13, 2016 Roughseasinthemed rated it really liked it

This is another great read in the Solar Wind Series by Lyz Russo.

Although the sixth in the series, Russo manages to continue developing the original characters, introduces new ones, and adds unpredictable twists and turns to the plot.

Add to that, the location is always changing, on the earth, on the sea, in the air, in outer space. In Nix, Paean and Federi face their troubled pasts, visiting Paean’s former home in the poor parts of Dublin, and Federi’s homeland in Rumania and try to unravel further what the Unicate is up to as the pair realises their former neighbours’ lives are at risk.

There is, as ever, plenty of tough action, and thoughtful, reflective moments, combined with some lively dialogue.

One aspect that stands out is, who are allies and who are enemies? Who can the crew trust when they meet new people, aliens, immortals, and ‘Others’? But, the doubts and uncertainty just add to the suspense. I decided not to guess, just settled in to enjoy the read.

Russo continues to create a good story with every book and leaves us wanting to read more about the crew of the Solar Wind and their wonderful pirate captain Radomir Lascek. I’d join his ship!

To view this book, click here:


For the rest of the series, click here (first book is free).






Sir Herbert Restaurant

If you’re in Pretoria, you may want to try this place on Justice Mohamed Rd (formerly Walker Street).

2016-10-madibaJustice Mohamed is indeed the Long Street of Justice, previously having been three different roads flowing into each other.  We were on our way back from missioning into town on some errand, when I decided to spoil my spouse a little.  After all he put up with my driving without backseat-driving, not even a little bit.

We missed the sliproad that would have taken us to Peter Pan Park (a.k.a. Magnolia Dell), but he told me that there was a place on Justice Mohamed that he’d been wanting to try for a while.  Right after the traffic light to Brooklyn Rd, he made me turn left, and (to my surprise) into a well-shaded parking lot.

The first thing that jumped to attention was a picture framing shop.  My oldest currently produces paintings like others would churn out pancakes; it would be a very useful skill for her to learn.

Adjacent to the framers there is a restaurant / tea garden, “Sir Herbert”. It is almost more an art gallery.

Left to right & top to bottom:

  1. Tea garden.  2. Friendly waiter. 3. Intriguing horse statue (looks as though it depicts an ancient Mongol king.)  4. The entire restaurant inside is a gallery. 5. This painting intrigued us…  a love story of two trees on the ocean!  I would love to buy it…  6.  Cheeky wall plaque

I have to add here that I have never yet been fussed over as much by a restaurant and its staff.  Their service was far beyond tops!  They whipped up scones – freshly baked – just because we ordered them, even though they were not on the menu before!  Their iced coffees were real continental iced coffees and not – like so many places here get it wrong – coffee milkshakes.  Right at the end, when it was time to pay, we learned that they actually didn’t even open before 12h noon!  They had been giving us royal treatment all the way, and here were we, not even wondering why on Earth we were the only patrons at such a lovely restaurant, at 11h am on a Friday morning (when more disciplined people work for their bosses). :-D  Trust gipsika!

They have some fun special offers and progams on.  Sir Herbert has an app in the Google Play store; if you download the app, not only do you get updates about their agenda (typically, this weekend Helena Hettema is giving a performance there and they do live music every now and then); but you also get a free dessert simply for downloading the app!

And, significantly, they are planning at some point soon to host Hubbs’ Irish band, Trad (of the Isles).




We’ll keep you posted when this happens!

Friday Story Post – Southern Free [5]



It was the early hours. And yes, it was cool by now. Shadow was thankful that he could curl up in his father’s grey old coat that made him nearly completely invisible under the bushes where he was lying, and catch some sleep.

The target was in his house. Shadow had known which escort agency to stake out; he’d recognized the man by the description Ina had given him. That monster – Hal Vandeventer van Vuuren was the name, and in his daytime life he was a lawyer – had been drunk. He would have quite a nasty head by now, after a night of drinking, ‘escorting’ – Shadow gave a little snort at that euphemism – and plying his trade. Of pushing high-class drugs and painstakingly selecting the next victim. Because this was the monster’s style: He first dated the girls, making them feel special before luring them to who knew where, raping them, killing them and depositing their bodies in a garbage dumpster. Where Ina’s younger sister had been found. Engela had only been seventeen to Ina’s twenty. A burial in a dumpster. Could he imagine a worse death?

Actually, he could. But he had said nothing and accepted the job. Payment wouldn’t follow; she had given him the deposit in cash, but he had read in her eyes that it was all she could rake together. Well, he wouldn’t allow her to go into debt. He’d waive the rest of his fee and let the target pay it himself. The job was halfway towards a ‘cause’.

He must have closed his eyes, because when he opened them, the sun was shining. It was still very early in the day. Honest people were on their way to work; Sabie’s rush-hour meant a line of cars waiting at the traffic light. And honest kids were on their way to school. He smiled in sympathy at the thought.

He found himself a place in front of the police station, leaning against the wall there with his floppy hat pulled deeply into his face, waiting for the traffic to subside. Night time wasn’t always the ideal moment for his job, but when working in the day, he had to be careful how many people saw him.

And he heard two of the police officers yak as they came up the stairs. Nomvhulo, he remembered, and Mpho. They were jibbing excitedly in one of the many Southern Frisbean languages that were on his list for learning; but unexpectedly, one lapsed into English.


“Can you believe it,” said the other one, “in a garbage dumpster!”

“Shame, shame!”

Shadow lifted his head just enough to establish that it was Mpho making the “shame” comments and Nomvhulo bringing the story.

“And?” asked Mpho. “Was she…”

“Yes, raped, and killed, hau, shame! Just like the other one. Choked to death. Cause of death, asphyxiation,” Nomvulo added punctiliously.

“Another whitey?”

“Yes, a school girl. With blonde hair. They all, those victims, they all have blonde hair.” And Nomvhulo lapsed back into that very fast yak in her home language, punctuated with Mpho’s “shame!”.

And the police chief came along and chased the ladies into the police station. He cast a suspicious glance at Shadow but then ignored him further.

Shadow felt rather cold at this moment. He’d had a lovely evening with a warm gadje family, and as a result another young woman lay dead in a dumpster. No: this mission couldn’t wait.

When precisely had this monster got that right? Van Vuuren must have returned to the clubs after his dread crime. Possibly right around the time Shadow had faced down that hunting rifle of Marge’s son.

He gathered himself together and wandered down the road, looking aimless. Pointless and drifterish. He knew that the motorists were staring at him; some, who’d just heard on the news about the renewed case, this one right here in Sabie, would be looking at him wondering if he were that monster. They’d want to arrest him, just for being different, a foreigner.

They’d never dream of arresting Hal Vandeventer van Vuuren, the respectable lawyer owning his own legal firm. ‘VVV Prokureurs: Vandeventer van Vuuren en Vennote’. Shadow had gleaned enough Afrikaans by now that he knew that ‘vennote’ could be ambiguous. It could mean partners; but it could also mean accomplices. It was one of those useful trivia he had chatted out of shop owners.

Shadow drifted apparently aimlessly out of central Sabie and down the road towards the property where Van Vuuren lived. It was a large plot, curving down from the road the same way Marge’s did; the house half-hidden behind those wonderful jungle giant trees of Eastern Province.

The curtains were drawn in all the rooms. Shadow silently cursed the fact that his Allen keys had gone missing. He investigated the motor garage and found toolboxes in there; among other useful gadgets, a set of minuscule screwdrivers. Those he pocketed, along with some very small Allen keys to replace his lost set of lock picks. And he found the back door and very carefully, very quietly, picked the lock.

He stood outside and listened for a moment. Nothing seemed to move behind that door. He opened it a crack and, staying on the outside, hid behind it, his jack-knife open. Sometimes this trick lured the target out. But nobody emerged, so after listening intently a few more moments, he peered into what turned out to be the kitchen.

The room was empty, in the half-dark of closed curtains. He let himself in and sneaked through to the other side, the pantry. The floorboards were wooden and old, he had to step carefully. Ha! Of course, someone like Van Vuuren would have creaky floorboards as an early warning system.

Shadow heard a low growl coming from a corner and glanced. There lay a completely emaciated dog; a large dog, on a chain. It could be a Doberman or a street mix; Shadow wasn’t all that clued up. The animal was clearly too exhausted to get up, but did its duty by warning Shadow.

The gypsy’s heart ached for that poor wreck. He went down on his haunches, carefully stretching out a hand and observing with anger how the dog flinched and bared his teeth.

“I’ll come back for you, buddy,” he promised under his voice. “You hang in there, Rikono, alright?”

The dog calmed down, as animals tended to do around him. The tail gave a half-hearted wag. And Shadow got to his feet and followed his gut instincts into the depths of the house.

The whole place was quiet but chaotic. That Van Vuuren didn’t think of clearing up ever, did he? The basic things one needed for living – if you were a gadjo – were strewn about at random. Dirty dishes littered the place, dirty clothes lay around on the floor. Shadow listened out for rats.

There was a soft sound of someone breathing. With a small edging of a snore. Shadow followed the sound and found the origin. It emanated from a well-dressed hulk of a man; tall, clean-shaved, and dead to the world. He hadn’t even bothered to take off his fancy expensive shoes. Though they were dirty. And he reeked, to Shadow’s highly honed gypsy senses: Of smoke, alcohol, dirt and sweat. And some other slightly sweet smell that was not entirely familiar, and perfume. Male perfume. Which mingled badly with the other odours.

The Tzigan was nothing if not thorough. He had learnt through bitter experience not to stage random hit-or-misses. It didn’t work; it was a double fail in that an innocent came to grief and the target got away and was that much more difficult to track afterwards. So he had to be sure.

He reached carefully into the man’s jacket pocket – the inner one where pub-going gadje kept their driver’s license. He angled that document out of there and compared. Yes, this was most definitely the target.

The rest happened so fast, by the time Van Vuuren was half awake and realizing that whatever mosquito had stung him in the small of his throat, had meant business if the bucketfuls of blood on his hands were anything to go by, Shadow was already out of the back door.

The poor dog had got to its feet and was now barking mournfully.

“Shoosh, Rikono, Shadow’s not leaving you alone!” hissed the young gypsy under his voice. He wished the dog would shut up so that he could hear what was going on in the house.

There was a loud thump. That was probably an indication. Shadow got up from his hiding place next to the wall and re-entered the house to investigate.

Van Vuuren had made it as far as the dreadfully disgusting living room. There he lay on the floor, by now rolled onto his back, studying the ceiling with glassy eyes. Shadow hunched down to ascertain that the man was indeed dead. And he nabbed that driver’s license as it had his fingerprints on, rifled for and found the man’s cash stash and looted that, and grabbed a cloth, using it to pick the lock on the dog’s chains. He opened the fridge with that same cloth and found some raw meat which the dog ate hungrily, and then he removed himself, watching from a distance how the dog left the kitchen with a chunk of meat in his jaws. And he escaped, through the garden, through the adjacent piece of wildland at the back, to disappear from Sabie.


Maroela Lodge was in uproar when Shadow approached the place from the wild forest. He heard voices shouting, arguing loudly; Marge and Richard. Little Lucy’s loud wails were audible inbetween.

He’d returned here to say goodbye to Lucy, and to Marge. And to pay Richard for the old jeans, because he had his pride! And he couldn’t care less about Lindsey – that silly goose. But hearing them in a shouting match like this worried him. He hurried up to the back door and entered the house at the kitchen.

“There he is!” shouted Lucy and ran to catch him around the knees. He ruffled her hair and stared at Marge and Richard who had both gone silent and were looking at him as though… as though he’d committed some sort of crime.

Which he had, of course. But not against them!

“You must help us!” squeaked Lucy. “Lindsey is gone!”

He stared at them all, his eyes stretching wide. “Lindsey is gone?” There was another block of ice forming in his stomach. What he’d heard at the police station… “Stars, Marge, we have to find her!”

“We thought that you’d maybe know where she is?” probed Richard.

“That I know?” asked Shadow. They thought that he… “I don’t know! I was fetching my coat.”

“You took a bit long with that,” Richard growled.

Marge was more astute. “Why, Shadow? What do you know? What are you not telling?”

Shadow shook his head in stress. “Heard a police report,” he muttered. “Marge, we have to look for her right away!”

“What police report?” she pushed, now grey with dread.

Shadow cursed himself for saying anything in the first place.

“Marge,” he said, “you must wait here with Lucy. Lock yourselves in, be safe. Richard must drive with me to the poliţia, and then we must look for her.”

“The blasted police only allow one to file a missing persons report after twenty-four hours have gone,” said Richard angrily.

“Doesn’t matter,” insisted Shadow. “We go now.”

Richard armed himself, with both the hunting rifle and a small hand-held gun. Shadow watched with wide eyes, making mental notes. Time to get himself guns.


(C) Copyright by Lyz Russo 2016

More by this writer:


What a day…

…between packing and unpacking boxes, sanding down and revarnishing shelves (because if that doesn’t happen now, it never will…), moving things around in a non-stop perpetual motion… clearing up, cleaning things…  wondering why I feel so disinclined to write.

Been thinking about the Solar Wind’s crew a lot, and about P’kaboo.  But even more urgently I need to organize the Studio Concert and some things regarding the violin exams.  Tomorrow then.  Ayayay, moving house keeps one busy!

Later, Bloggies.



About an abandoned blog and the second missing Friday Story Post

Dear Bloggies

First let me apologize about missing my commitment with the Friday Story Posts.

Yes, we’re currently moving house.  Yes, yes…  but it isn’t an excuse, I’ve always found time for writing when I wanted to write.  That’s not the real reason.  It’s that I haven’t been taking time to edit.  Or to write. I’m out of stories to present you with (short of reblogging scenes from the free “The Mystery of the Solar Wind”).   My mind is tired.  I need a fresh approach.

So, for now, no story posts until further notice.  All my stories need to be worked over, anyway.  The ones that are already published, are at these links:


To find out which ones are for free, follow the links.

Have fun.

Calling Bullsh*t – human embryonic cells in food flavourings

Here are two links that claim that if you consume mass-produced foods from a large number of companies, you are effectively

Cannibalizing aborted babies, and committing a “satanic ritual”.

Where I’m concerned, sticking money in the pockets of the world’s worst monopolies is already an act of satanism in itself and all of us are guilty of it.  We all are guilty of having a bank account, to begin with, and of shopping at supermarket chains, etc. All of us who are online are pandering to the large computer corporations, which are in turn owned by those self-same billionaires that test food flavourants on fetal cell lines.

But concerning the “cannibalism” story above:

Note the careful wording.

Using aborted babies in flavour additives” is already bordering on an outright lie (unless we have genuine evidence that the actual baby cells end up in the food?).

“Using aborted fetal cells for producing flavour additives” is dangerously misleading.

I’m really sorry Snopes have bombed out on themselves; we could have used an honest site revising such stories.

Here’s the actual scoop:

(eww!  I hate it when puns creep up on me!)


Companies like Kraft, PepsiCo, Nestle, have reportedly been working with Semonyx, a California-based company that uses aborted embryonic cells to test fake flavoring chemicals. According to GOP The Daily Dose, the  aborted human fetal cell line is known as “HEK-293,” and it’s used to find out how the human palate will react to synthetic flavors.

“What they don’t tell the public is that they are using HEK 293 — human embryonic kidney cells taken from an electively aborted baby to produce those receptors,” said Debi Vinnedge of the pro-life group Children of God for Life. “They could have easily chosen animal, insect, or other morally obtained human cells expressing the G protein for taste receptors.”



So that’s it?  They have obtained (probably bought) foetal aborted tissue from abortion clinics (probably with the ex-pregnant un-mother’s implied consent, most definitely without the foetus’ consent), cultivated a cell line in a petridish from the parts, made it grow in the labs, and then used it for testing flavours.

None of the cells actually goes into the flavouring; so forget about “cannibalistic”.  You’re not eating human cells or even human protein.

Instead, a small sample of the flavouring is presented to (possibly painted onto, or injected into) the cell lines.  This sample is never reused for anything else; imagine the effort of re-extracting it from the cells?  All they are seeing, is how these cells react to that chemical, so they can synthesize more of the same chemical which then gets stuffed into the “foods” they produce.

The cell lines never leave the lab.  The chemical that gets into your food never touches the cell lines.  It’s as simple as that.  (Not that synthetic chemicals in your food are exactly good for you…)

So the “satanic” question comes in exclusively about using abortus tissue cultures for anything commercial.  Or, for that matter, abortion itself, and the selling of the abortus tissue to commercial companies for commercial uses.

Disgusting and unethical?  For sure!

Cannibalistic?  Oh please!!

And “satanic”?  Oh my hat…

This is where it becomes very transparent which agenda pushes this deliberate skewed information.

The trouble with the entire abortion debate is this.

People who don’t want to agree fully with the “pro-choice” mainstream, are instantly labelled “pro-life”. 

(Little detour into semantics here.  How can “pro-life” be something negative?  “To life, to life, l’chaim!” sang the whole company of “Fiddler on the Roof”.  I’m 100% for life and not against it!  It’s on a level with calling someone who digs deeper than the media indoctrination, a “truther”.  The truth was something good to look for, last time I heard?  I find some of these “insults” hard to understand.)

“Oh, so you don’t think girls should use abortion as a free way of contraception?  You pro-lifer!  You must also feel that girls who are raped have no right to abort the rapist’s spawn!”

By pushing a person who doesn’t agree 100% with you, into the opposite camp, all you do is kill the conversation.  And by killing the conversation, you allow those same unethical, disgusting companies to continue making their profits out of other people’s misfortune.

Sadly, the “other camp” – the “pro-lifers” – while they do contain sensible, rational and questioning people who would like to put abortion clinics under investigation for selling off foetal body parts (to whomever for whatever purpose), nevertheless the loudest voices in that camp, and the ones attracting most of the attention, are the unscientific, emotional religious fundamentalists who base their judgement and battle cries on a book not all of us agree on.  The effect of their propaganda (like for instance this example of distortion of the facts to make a point about “cannibalism” and “satanism”) is so off-putting that it actually plays right into the hands of the mainstream, “pro-choicers”.

“You want to investigate that abortion clinic chain for unethical practices?  Do you really want to be called a pro-lifer and be associated with those loonies?”

We need to stop making everything into only 2 camps. 

Imagine having to pick one of these two statements as applying to you:

  1.  “I am always right.”
  2.  “I am always clueless.”

Which one of the two (there is no third option) would you pick?

You see:  The problem is that there is no third option!

Yes, we do want women to be allowed to abort their rapist’s spawn.

No, we don’t want teenagers getting into the fornication habit and using abortion as a cheap way of contraception.  Actually, we want them to learn responsibility before they start fornicating.  We want them to understand the consequences and be able to choose sensibly, not just be carried away primitively in the moment at every party.  We wouldn’t agree with them going to the toilet on the sidewalk, either!  And if they can’t say no to sex, will they say no to drugs when offered?  How about teaching delayed gratification, and choice versus consequence?

(Look again at semantics:  How “pro-choice” has been corrupted into meaning “pro-instant-gratification-plus-easy-abortion”.)

And:  No, we don’t want corrupt clinics to make stacks of money selling the body parts of aborted human foetuses!  Think of the logic:  The girl, if given the same money that her abortus is making for the clinic, would probably have opted to raise the baby herself instead of aborting!  Most abortions are driven by fear – existential fear of not being able to feed that child. How is that “pro-choice”?  Most girls who choose abortion feel they actually have no choice at all, as the alternative is destitution and death.

But concerning the “cannibalism”:

TBH:  Testing chemical flavours on animals is a lot more cruel than using a human tissue culture.  It’s not as though the already-dead foetus can feel anything anymore.  Morbid, sure!  Safer and less cruel than animal testing:  Too.

Why actually do we need synthetic flavourants?  The best tomato ketchup on the shelves here is made with tomatoes, vinegar and salt.


The idealist in me recommends to everyone to grow your own food and go off the grid in order to sabotage such huge, disgusting commercial giants.  But then – oh shucks – you won’t be able to read my blog posts anymore!  What to do?


Evil Internet

Recently an Austrian teenager sued her parents for the baby pictures of her that they posted on Facebook over the years.

I’d say, that is the tip of the iceberg.

Most of us who use Facebook were lured into it by the catchy promise that you “keep contact with your friends and faraway family” that way.  Some of us (especially authors) were lured into it because “you have to be on social networks” to put yourself “out there”.  And Facebook (and Myspace, years back, and Ning, and various other networks) was an easy forum to share updates and developments in our lives.

Here’s the thing.  People don’t understand (or consider) the dangers.

Facebook, as you may have noticed, insists on a cellphone number for every new account.  Once you have innocently given Facebook your cellphone number (and there are various ways in which this can happen), one of the tricks they do unless you are aware of it and change your settings forbidding them this,  is to mine your cellphone for all the numbers on it and match them to your friends, family and contacts.  As you see, your number can get onto Facebook without you ever having given it.

Whatsapp:  This is an offshoot of Facebook (did you know this?).  Whatsapp, once you activate it, immediately links your cellphone to your Facebook account unless you know they are going to do it and forbid them.  Example:  My son, after receiving a smartphone from a well-meaning and by now regretful relative, joined Whatsapp for a family group.  If I’d known, I’d have told him to leave that alone.  He is 14.  He received a Facebook invite on his Whatsapp from a total stranger who “likes” his profile.  My son’s very sensible response to that:  He blocked the stranger, and then went and deleted his Facebook account.

Don’t whatsapp me.  I don’t have Whatsapp and am not intenting to get it.  Send me an sms or an email, or don’t bother.

Here’s how it works:

People who are your genuine friends may or may not see your kiddie pictures, and they may or may not click “like”, and they may or may not comment.  That’s not the point.  Instead, paedophiles, perverts and people in the human trade, in other words criminals, stalk the net to discover kiddie pictures that they like.  Then they have various choices.

Some pretend to be a teenager too, sometimes even a cute teenage girl (pictures they’ve stolen elsewhere), and approach your child (if your teen has a profile).  They make friends with your child and get themselves invited, and the next thing, crime, abduction, rape and death.  (There was a particularly bad case in Cape Town some years back where the sixteen-year-old invited her “friends” to visit while parents were not home; ended up raped and murdered, and they cut off and removed her arms (probably because she had defended herself and got some of their blood, i.e. DNA, under her fingernails).

Some, on the other hand, never contact your child.  They use hacking techniques to find the cellphone number of the child, then use the cellphone to determine where that child is (did you realize every cellphone is a tracking device by its very nature?), and abduct the child from school or wherever else.

Still in the mood for advertising your child online?