An attempted military coup goes wrong when a journalist stumbles across Elephant poaching funding it.
Behind the Rainbow
by K.J. Jones
An African adventure, an attempted military coup goes wrong when a journalist stumbles across poaching of Elephants report emanating from Tanzania. She discovers that the poaching is funding the attempted coup. Her investigation takes her into the citadels of power and her life is placed at risk. The closer that she gets to the truth, the more menacing the threats with the ultimate result being carnage.
This book is a novel that describes what could have happened in South Africa or possibly still could. The huge gap in lifestyle between the white and black population is still an area of conflict. The new black government has passed laws on black empowerment and insisted that businesses employ minimum quotas of black employees at every level of management. This has led to conflict between the groups, as young whites cannot find employment. This is exacerbated when the ANC appears to use black empowerment to their own ends by limiting business opportunities to those closely associated to their cause.
Sergeant Khubeki returned and said, ‘The bull is well hit, and there is a blood trail even old Konko could follow,’ referring to a blind man back in their home village.
‘Cover the cow with brushwood,’ Captain Khumalo said.
Corporal Mnini started the task, and Sergeant Khubeki assisted. The old cow’s one tusk was blackened with age and valueless. They had no intention of cutting it out.
‘What do we do about the old bull?’ Sergeant Khubeki asked.
‘We wait until the wounds stiffen his limbs and then follow him. We will have to wait about an hour and, with a bit of luck, he will be dead by then,’ said Captain Khumalo. Inwardly he hoped it would be dead by then, as it was no mean task following a wounded elephant in deep bush.
‘Make the area as secure as possible,’ commanded Captain Khumalo. ‘Corporal, remain behind and ensure no follow-up, then track us, as we follow up on the old bull.’
The old bull ran for well over an hour with the muscles now stiffening. The blood had stopped flowing and the wound covered over, but he knew he would not see another season. A tear formed in his right eye, and was quickly followed by another in his left eye. He knew he was going to die. He had hatred in his heart, and he had to stay alive if he was to exact revenge.
He was now looking for cover to ambush his tormentors. He knew that they would come, and that now he could not escape. He found the perfect place for an ambush; a thicket that would give him perfect cover, but was close to the trail they would follow. He ambled a further 300 metres down the trail, leaving firm spoor on the game trail. The old bull then reversed back down the track, walking backwards using the exact spoor when moving up the track. He backed into the bush, leaving no trace of the movement off the game trail. He stood perfectly still and would wait with the patience of the injured animal, totally focused on his hatred, and would not move until his quarry was in sight. The hunter had now become the hunted.
Captain Khumalo followed the blood spoor, which was clearly evident on the game trail. He could see the blood trail for a full fifty metres ahead. He knew he could not be ambushed from this distance. The stories of elephants waiting and hiding in the bush were legion; but he did not believe the stories, as he doubted the animal had that much intelligence.
The game trail wound through the bush, and they moved cautiously, whenever the game trail took an acute bend. They followed the trail for well over an hour, with the blood spoor slowly but surely diminishing. The foot spoor was not difficult to follow, as the elephant was protecting his right side, and thus walking heavily on his left front leg.
Captain Khumalo walked with the rifle loaded, and at the ready; he was not going to be taken by surprise. He felt real fear, and his mouth was dry; it had never been this bad whilst tracking the terrorists. He stopped at regular intervals to listen to the bush around him, but heard nothing. It was as if the world had stopped turning and breathing. There was an incredible tension created by the total silence.
He felt extremely nervous, and jumped backwards, with a cry, as a francolin exploded from the bush adjacent to him.
The old bull heard the cry and gathered himself for his last charge.
Corporal Mnini waited the customary hour, and could see that there was no follow-up by rangers to indicate that the shot had been heard, and an anti-poaching unit was in the area. He cleaned the area as best he could, but with a dead elephant lying there it was impossible to hide their presence at the scene.
He moved off at a steady jog, which would eat up the kilometres, to catch up with his colleagues. Their jogging speed is deceptive, and their unit had often covered fifty kilometres at a time, without a break. It took less than an hour to catch up to his colleagues. He had not even broken out in a sweat, even though the midday temperature was now 35 degrees; such was his fitness.
On closing with his colleagues, he gave the low whistle to indicate his presence. They were aware that he was coming, and had taken cover in the adjacent bush.
The old bull had seen the men coming down the game trail, and stood motionless in his hiding-place. They stopped twenty metres from him, and disappeared in the bush. His anger was now acute, and the need for revenge paramount, but he stood and waited.
He heard the low whistle, and saw the men reappear from the bush; they relaxed their guard for a fraction of a second, and that was all the old bull needed. He burst from his hiding-place, screaming with rage, and caught the man with the rifle, and flung him deep into the bush. The second man he gored with his tusk, and pinioned him to a tree, between his tusks; he felt the bones crack and collapse. The third man ran into the bush, and he followed him with a focus born of revenge, caught him with his trunk and tried to pull him down, to crush him with his feet. The third man was lucky, as the old bull, due to his injuries, overran him and did not complete the killing blow.
The bull’s internal wounds were so severe that his trunk was full of blood; he was too weak to continue, and he fell onto his knees. He tried to trumpet defiance, but all he did was spray blood on the surrounding bush. He rolled his head from side to side, to try to remove the blood from his trunk, but he only succeeded in forcing more blood into the portion cleared. He felt himself close to death, and his mind wandered to better times. He laid down his noble head, which rested on his immense tusks. The pain now racked his body as he contorted in the last throes of death. He wanted to move and follow his instincts to die near water. He growled in frustration as he felt the blackness approach, and tried to stand; his once powerful legs would not support him. He died, and finally rested from his tormentors, knowing that he had exacted some revenge.
I started writing my first book, Behind the Rainbow, a dozen years ago, it was whilst living in South Africa and seeing the changes taking place in the country. There was a swell of optimism now that the transition had taken place, and we all hoped for new beginnings. Yet at that time there was an indication that conservatives in the country were far from happy and the old army personnel were still a strong group. Behind the Rainbow reflects what could have happened at that time.
I didn’t write anything else until I returned to the UK where I started the James Smythe series, Shaiton, Flames and Femme Fatale all based in the UK and the growing threat of terrorism. In Femme Fatale, James Smythe is shot and he recuperates in Botswana with old friends who were the main characters in Behind the Rainbow. The book Predator, Killing for pleasure, covers Smythe’s recovery and his sudden involvement in the anti-poaching unit where he brings his old team together to help bring to justice the mastermind of the poaching gangs, Moosa, but this turns out to be far from easy as Moosa is more than capable of defending himself and he has numerous corrupt government officials, across most of Southern Africa, in his pay. Predator2, The Killing Ground is nearly complete and deals with the arrest and prosecution of a mercenary who works for Moosa. And Predator 3, The End Game, that continues the fight against Moosa, will be released in mid 2024.