Figured I would go ahead and post this chapter now.
As he was scouting ahead in the afternoon of the second day of the journey, Michael spotted something sitting in the grass up ahead. Without a thought as to what it might be, he dashed forward to catch it. Suddenly, the thing stood up and fired a dart, just missing his ear.
“Uh-oh,” Michael thought to himself “What have I gotten myself into?” He immediately turned and began retracing his steps back to the main group. As he ran, two more hostile natives jumped up from where they had been hiding and stepped in front of him. Luckily, these were only armed with spears, though they carried several.
As one raised his spear, Michael dove to his left, the side with no one on it. Narrowly missing the spear, he rolled over, jumped up, and found himself behind his attackers. But while all this was happening, he had not noticed that the blowgun carrier had run around behind the spear carriers and was now in front of him again.
Then the spear carriers shifted position, forcing Michael to run to the left, farther away from his intended path. As Michael ran, he spotted a fourth native crouching a few feet in front of him. He swerved to avoid the man, but the native promptly got up and chased after him. When he saw this, Michael realized that he would have to attack at least one of them if he were ever going to escape.
As the natives closed in, they all readied their weapons simultaneously. A little closer, and they all threw (or blew) at the same time! When Michael saw that the blower in front of him was about to shoot, he dropped down flat on the ground. The natives were caught by surprise, as their quarry would typically make a frantic attempt to attack the closest one and be killed. Unable to stop themselves, they fired their weapons when their when their prize had already vanished.
When the weapons had passed overhead, Michael did a forward roll into the legs of the man in front of him, bumped him off balance, swiftly got up again, and ran off in the general direction of the main party.
Several hours later, he staggered into the main group, thoroughly exhausted. He drank some water and then collapsed next to the drinking barrels. His rather abrupt return startled the crew.
When Michael woke up, he noticed something: the sun was in his eyes again. That meant that it was the next morning: he had slept all night. Rolling over to get out of the light, he heard someone say “Mornin’ boy. The rest of the crew have abandoned you, but we stayed behind, appreciating your skill enough to keep you alive.”
Michael got up and sat next his two remaining crew members. “Well, I can’t say that I make a very good Captain. First thing I do with my ship is to run it into the worst storm I’ve ever seen. Let’s get moving and eat on the way, we’ll be quicker.”
“All right, “the men agreed “you’re still the Cap’n, so if that’s the way you want it, we’ll do it that way.”
So Michael set off again with the only truly reformed characters from the prize, which had been renamed the Wild Duck, following the tracks left by the rest of the crew. After about three hours, Michael found a spot where the tracks they were following ended. “Just as I suspected.” He announced “They’ve been ambushed by those natives, who are apparently cannibals.” A few paces farther ahead, he found the rest of the barrels which had been used to carry the food and water. “The natives ignored our food and water! Unfortunately, it’s probably too late to save the crew, so we’re just going to have to take what’s left of the food and water and go. It’s bigger rations for the three of us though.”
Two hours later, Michael and his two followers were working much harder to drag their supplies, hauling them through the seemingly endless savannah. With only one rest since starting, he and his men were too tired to notice when the natives surrounded them.
“Blanco Marzi! (white men!)” The leader exclaimed excitedly “Cornay! Narsto tharma! Narsto tharma ti carno ti cuno basi (come! Help them! Help them to come to our village!) The rest of the men lowered their spears and reached under the arms of the white men, dragging them to their feet. “Tweet ripo (bring ropes)!” the leader demanded, and marched off.
With three in the rear to haul the “ripo”, the Africans set off on the path taken by their leader, jabbering in unintelligible gibberish the whole time.
On arrival at the village, the guides rushed off, only to return with a steaming bowl of stew for each of their visitors. Michael found his share so appetizing that he finished it in two gulps. Aware that he was making an outrageous request, he then turned to his two men and asked if either of them could understand the natives yet
“Yes,” one replied “it was easy to guess what was said when they found us, and I’ve already figured out a few more since that time.”
“Fine,” Michael answered “go up to them and see if you can figure how to ask them if any other white men have come through and if the great water is very far from here.”
Half an hour later the man returned with the news that, unfortunately, none of the inhabitants had ever been out of the area, but they did remember some relatives that had ventured northward, never to return.
“Well, I’m sorry for them, and we’re going that way too.” Michael announced.
His two followers were astounded. “But those men never returned!” they cried “How can you expect to survive!”
That was the last straw. In a flash, the two knives were out and had split the men’s hats down the middle before they realized what was happening. Michael was boiling, as the men saw seconds before they landed hard on the ground, gasping for breath. Stepping over the two to retrieve his weapons, Michael turned and gritted out “No-one – tells – me I can’t – do – something. If that’s what I want, it will get done! You- now you can stay here. But me! I, I have a father who is out risking his life in a war, where I should be, and I don’t care if the whole world thinks I’m going to die, because I’m going to prove them all wrong! Loyal, hah, that’s a laugh. Have a good time being loyal to this gang, nitwits!”
Grabbing the ropes to two barrels, which had been generously restocked by the natives, Michael stormed out of the gate and did an about turn to begin a solo odyssey across the African continent, from South to North.