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A Dark Thirst Unleashed

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THE FUNHOUSE MIRROR COLUMN: And the five-day water shutdown begins, dear reader. Get in the mood for the misery with ‘A Dark Thirst Unleashed’ – a suspenseful thriller where survival is measured in drops … and fear is the deadliest adversary.

Picture: MS Dabbler

By Monty Quill

THE KIMBERLEY sun hung low, casting elongated shadows across the cracked city streets. The air was thick, oppressive, as if the very heavens withheld their mercy. In this arid corner of the world, water was life, and its absence was a slow, insidious death.

Obakeng, a wiry man with sun-baked skin and eyes that had seen too much, stood on the parched porch of his modest home. The announcement had come last month: a five-day city-wide water shutdown. The authorities claimed it was for maintenance, but Obakeng knew better. This was no ordinary shutdown; it was a conspiracy, a malevolent force that crept into every crevice of his mind.

The city had promised that the water supply would be restored after five days, but what if it wasn’t? What if this was just the beginning of a more significant crisis?

His hands trembled as he clutched the letter. The ink had bled, smudging the words, but their meaning was clear: “Prepare. Survive. Endure.” The city would become a desolate wasteland, a graveyard of thirst. And Obakeng, like everyone else, would be left to fend for himself.

The big fear gnawed at him – the primal terror that clawed its way from his gut to his chest. He had seen it before, in the eyes of dying cattle, in the cracked lips of children. The fear of a parched throat, of desperation that drove men to madness. But this was different. This was deliberate. Someone had orchestrated this torment, and Obakeng was caught in its merciless grip.

He had recently started dreaming of dams – vast, endless stretches of blue. He swam in them, gulping down the water, his body weightless. But when he woke, the reality would hit him like a punch. Kimberley would be a desert, and the dam but a distant memory. His mouth would feel like sand and his skin would pull tight over his bones.

Obakeng paced the room, the floorboards creaking beneath his worn boots. The radio murmured in the corner, its static-filled voice a cruel reminder of the impending shutdown. The municipality had promised water trucks, but Obakeng knew they wouldn’t arrive. The city would descend into chaos – a desperate scramble for every last drop.

His mind played tricks on him. The walls seemed to close in, the ceiling pressing down like the lid on a coffin. He imagined the reservoirs drying up, the pipes cracking and the city’s parks and gardens turning to dust.

His wife had left a few weeks ago, seeking refuge with her sister in Douglas. She had begged him to join her, but Obakeng was stubborn. He wouldn’t abandon his home, even if it meant facing this hell alone.

Outside, the sun blazed like a malevolent eye. Obakeng squinted, half-expecting to see mirages – oases that shimmered and vanished when he reached out. His tongue felt swollen, his throat raw. He rationed the last drops of water, sipping sparingly, knowing it wouldn’t last.

As night fell, the city held its breath. Obakeng sat by the window, watching the stars blink like distant memories. The radio crackled to life, announcing the imminent shutdown. Panic surged through him, and he clutched the letter, its ink smearing onto his fingers. The city would transform into a lifeless, arid space – a place where hopes withered.

His mind fractured. Shadows danced on the walls, whispering secrets. Was it the heat playing tricks, or something more sinister? Obakeng wondered if he’d hallucinate, if the thirst would drive him mad. He thought of his wife, her laughter, her touch. Would she ever return to find him – a hollow shell, a man who had lost everything?

The clock ticked, each second echoing like a drop of water falling into an abyss. Obakeng’s pulse quickened. He imagined the streets devoid of life, the guttural cries of the thirsty. The big fear consumed him – the fear of being forgotten, of fading into dust like the land itself.

And so it began. Obakeng tried to cling to sanity, his mind unravelling like frayed rope. The city would run dry, and he would be its witness, its survivor. But survival came at a cost. As the first taps sputtered and died, Obakeng knew he was no longer alone. The shadows whispered, promising salvation or damnation. He closed his eyes, waiting for the darkness to claim him.

Picture: ‘A Dark Thirst Unleashed’ by MS Dabbler
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