The heat beating down through the trees was unbearable, sweat dripped from Mumba Nkusa’s head wrap into his eyes making the grueling task at hand even more difficult than it already was. He dared not move to wipe the sweat away for fear that the men with guns would accuse him of lax behavior resulting in a severe physical assault or worse. Mumba was his birth name, born in a village far from where he was now men from another land with white skin gave him a different title. Though he would acknowledge it he would never betray his family by giving up what was passed down from his grandfather to his father and then bestowed on to him.
He did not know the exact amount of days since he had been with his wife and children, but it felt like an eternity. The last images he held were burnt into his mind- images of his wife dragged off into the night yelling his name as he was thrown to the ground helpless to protect her.
The invaders slaughtered those who tried to fight,grabbing the women by their hair pulling them away from their crying young ones or even violating them right there for the children to see. The lucky ones were killed immediately without having to suffer the anguish suffered by the living.
The night they came Mumba awoke to the noise of the imminent invasion, he quickly awoke both his children and hurried his wife to the back of their home giving instructions for them all to run to the woods and not to stop.
The four made the futile escape to the outer part of the village at the edge of forest before shots were fired at them from behind. Running hard his wife was thrown to the ground by a man on horse, his young daughter trampled to the dirt pounded by the steed’s charging hooves. Mumba quickly stopped running and turned to see his daughter’s lifeless body face down in the dirt. He called her name uncaring to imposing danger when his legs were hit hard forcing Mumba to the ground. He looked up at the man on horse yelling orders to the men dragging his wife away unmoved that the bronco was on the body of a little girl.
After the screaming stopped and the dead were tossed into a pile, all the able body men were lined up with their backs against the embers of their burning homes.
There were six white men on horse back wearing white uniforms and their numerous soldiers had red and blue uniforms but had the same skin color as Mumba and his fellow villagers. They were told in their own language that they were now the property of a far away empire with new names and new places to live. Their families would be cared for only if they did as they were told, and not to dare defy the men in uniform or great harm would come to them and their families.
Despite having a broken ankle Mumba was chained to another man and they were responsible for cutting down a large section of the forest then directed to burn what remained. His job was changed days later to an expanse of trees, each tree had a good amount of distance between another and Mumba was told by a fellow slave that the white men valued the insides of them. Throughout the day a man working with him would take a knife cutting a deep laceration from the middle of the trunk down to the roots. White fluid would leak out and Mumba was told to place buckets at the base of each tree to collect the sticky white liquid that flowed out of these cuts. After these buckets filled he was instructed to collect them and pore the liquid into a large funnel on a cart and then repeat the process again. One day when the pain in badly heeling ankle was extreme Mumba tripped and spilled the bucket of liquid on the ground. A black soldier the white men called Charles came over to Mumba and began to berate him.
Charles pointed at the bucket and told Mumba that he would be working extra long today to make up for the wasted liquid. Continuously ordering Mumba to get up Charles took a thick rod with a Rhinoceros tailed attached at the end and hit him on the back. Mumba held himself on the ground unable to control his cries of pain as the man hit him over again opening large bleeding slashes in his back. Finally the man stopped and two other slaves Mumba knew from his village came to his aid and helped him onto his hobbled feet, picking up the bucket one of the men gave it to Mumba then assured the soldier Charles that they would help him make up for what he lost.
The following day Mumba’s back was in excruciating pain and he attempted to work through it trying to double his efforts to make up for the bucket he spilled the day before. Charles walked up to Mumba taking something out of a pouch at his side tossing it at Mumba, he looked down at the object unsure what it was. Bending down to pick it up he was shocked to see he was holding the severed hand of a small child. Dropping it immediately he began to shake, Charles with an vile grin told Mumba that they took it off of his son and the next time would be his wife’s head. A group of other uniformed men gathered at a distance listening, all waiting for Mumba’s reaction. Mumba humbled his rising anger, he bowed his head forcing a nod of understanding then turned his body to continue his work.
Throughout the day he tempered his emotion, pushing the image of his poor son’s hand away from his thoughts. He wanted to believe it was not his son’s and that they took the hand off of a corpse to illustrate their point, but his heart told him they were not lying and that hell was full of repulsive truths.
Escape was a dangerous concept that entered his thoughts more than enough times to be considered offensive to his family’s survival. He once saw a man from his village run for the woods, he was caught within minutes and they chopped his arms off at the elbows. Now he has a large shackle around his neck and pulls the wheeled device for holding the collected liquid.
A breeze moved through the crops of rubber trees, the cool air offering a moment of gratifying relief. Mumba felt a moment of bliss from the wind when he noticed an unnatural hush in the forest around them.
The days were always filled with the sound of busy work and the men in uniforms yelling at the slaves or even at each other but there was always the background noise of the forest around them, even the nights were filled with screeches of monkey and insects buzzing. The muted atmosphere was not only noticed Mumba but the other men working along side of him as well, everyone even the uniformed forces stopped to look around when the silenced was destroyed with an momentous noise. Mumba immediately though of thunder breaking the ground directly behind him, he turned to look but was hit hard by something black driving his back against the tree next to him. Mumba opened his eyes,laying on his back with impaired vision all he could make out was blurred colors and shapes in the sky. He tried to get up but a pain drove him back down stemming from his back moving down to his hip. Despite the fact he couldn’t see he could clearly hear screaming and gun fire along with what sounded oddly enough like trees cracking and slamming to the ground. Chaos ensued unseen around him, he wanted to get up and run but the upper portion of his body was filled with pain.
A horrific roar echoed and a large shadow loomed over him. Mumba was only able to identify the circular object was a foot the moment before it bore down on him smashing his head to pieces.