When you stare into the darkness and the chill of fear tingles up your spine, it is me that you sense. When you look into the crazed eyes of
the dictator or the murderer, you look into my eyes. When you awake from the nightmare and thank your maker that it was only a bad dream,
you have felt my presence. You may not know my name, but I have many. You have never seen me except in the horrors that haunt your
But I am real and I exist inside all of you.
For I am the Tokoloshe.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Dr James Preston opened his eyes slowly, just a fraction as he adjusted to the bright morning sunshine that streamed through the open
bedroom window. The light, white, and very feminine lace curtains fluttered in a gentle breeze that teased playfully at the frilly net. The
curtains were only one of the new features in his life, lace being something he had never considered before in all of his thirty nine years.
Yet now he found himself surrounded by subtle hints of femininity.
Her warmth next to him made him smile, Ayana, his beautiful Ethiopian wife, his saviour, his lover, his eternal soul mate. Ayana had brought
the gentle and flowery touches into his fiercely masculine world, sporting prints had gradually disappeared from the walls of his apartment
in Addis Ababa old town, to be replaced by colourful yet soothing art. The transformation had taken place while they were still officially
courting and just beginning to adjust to the earth shattering revelations that their recent expedition together had brought, but he had
sighed happily as his bathroom had been filled with powders and potions and lotions and lipstick, she was stamping her ownership on his
place and on his soul, and he had never been happier.
Propping himself onto one elbow carefully so that he didn't disturb her slumber he gazed down on her mocha perfection, he knew his opinion
had to be biased, but he considered her the most beautiful woman in the whole world, how close he had been to losing her, his English
sensibilities had been a straitjacket for his desires and emotions.
Better to love and to lose, he shook his head at the thought. Complete rubbish, he had almost lost, and it had almost destroyed him. Only
their dear friend Helen had saved him from himself. But that memory belonged to the past, and he held a fierce determined to never let her
go again, they had the whole of eternity together, forever.
"Forever." such a small word for something so vast, and a word always used so lightly. Yet for James and Ayana the word held a special
significance. He wasn't sure that the word would apply to their love, only time would tell for that dream, but it did apply to their
existence, their lives, it had become a word that they were more than qualified to use, for James and Ayana were immortal.
Immortality was a concept that he still struggled to comprehend. Ayana had been lucky, she had been allowed to make her choice.
To drink, or not to drink? That had been her question Horatio, James smiled at his own jest even if the quote was grossly incorrect, Hamlet,
his favourite of all the classics, but she had still been able to decide fate for herself.
He had not been afforded that luxury, simply put, he had been very dead at the time.
The Fountain of Eternal Youth had given him back his life, and his future with her so he couldn't complain. Who would complain? he grinned
as he remembered the distress that his rescuer Pedro had displayed.
"Sorry Jim, you had drowned, but I managed to use a magical fountain to bring you back to life... hope you don't mind too much!"
That had been over a year before and so much had happened since. He turned the gold band on his finger, a habit he was developing, the
wedding ring was a constant comfort to him. It matched hers except for it being broader, and the inscription on his read Ayana.
"My second chance to get it right." he laughed softly.
His first marriage had been over almost before it had begun, I was young and had no sense, he admitted to himself. Secretly he understood
that the love had not been deep enough. But looking at the sleeping beauty beside him he understood how love should really feel, the love
that he had for her swelled his heart to the point of bursting. She never left his thoughts, and even after six months of marriage she still
featured in his dreams every night.
"Good morning sweetheart." she murmured with a small smile on her lips as she found him watching her as she opened her eyes.
James returned the smile and kissed her lightly, "Morning darling, did you sleep well?"
Ayana grinned and stretched, her arms above her head, the action almost feline, that particular way a cat will stretch whilst on its back,
long and languorous and sensual.
"So well," she sighed, "What time is it?"
James glanced at the clock that ticked quietly on the bedside table, "Almost 8.30."
"Jim, why did you let me sleep in so long," she cried as she jumped out of bed and hastily tied a silk robe around her slender body, "You
know I'm meeting with the Americans at 9.30."
The long arranged meeting had completely slipped his mind. It would be a job offer but he hadn't needed to worry about work since the
producers of Time Travellers, his formerly shelved TV show, had come cap in hand and persuaded him to present an hour long special to tell
the tale of his adventures, and exactly how a routine investigation into the origins of Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, had led him to untold
riches with the discovery of a huge cache of gemstones.
Both of them had laughed as the royalties cheque arrived, he had enthralled the masses with a modern day treasure hunt but omitted to
mention the real treasures that they had discovered, those secrets were locked away safely in his heart.
"Sorry love, I completely forgot, but it's no big deal is it, I mean, we don't need the work."
"I like working." she responded, "You may be getting close to retirement but I'm still so young and fresh." she joked.
"Hey... I thought you said age was just a number." he called as she slipped into the bathroom and started the shower running.
"It is," she grinned as she popped her head back around the door, "But your number is bigger than mine."
"So what's the meeting about?" he pulled on his own robe and settled on the edge of the bidet watching her silhouette through the frosted
glass of the shower partition.
"Some investigation, or expedition down on the Zambezi, I don't know all the facts yet," she admitted, "You do know it's supposed to be both
"Seriously?" he replied.
"I did tell you," she killed the shower and groped for a towel to dry the water from her eyes, "I told you two weeks ago, but as you hadn't
mentioned it again I just guessed you wanted me to handle it."
"I honestly forgot... it must be my old man's fading memory," he chuckled, "I'll come if you want."
Ayana dropped the damp towel and smiled, "It would be nice if you came."
Kissing her quickly he dived into the still steaming shower, "Give me five minutes, and after the meeting I will take you to lunch."
Since they had found undisputed proof that Makeda the Queen of Sheba, had been a real historical fact and not just a figure of legend their
post box and email accounts had been flooded with offers and invitations, they had become celebrities and the crazies had crawled out of the
woodwork in droves.
"$10 million each if you can prove the existence of Atlantis." one letter had promised, "Find Shangri la and write your own cheque." offered
another. The crazy offers and requests kept arriving, so quite why Ayana had agreed to meet with the Americans was a mystery. Maybe after a
whole year of inactivity she craved adventure again? Who knew, maybe she just wanted another cause, a new obsession? All that James knew for
sure was that where-ever she went, he would follow.
"So you don't know anything except that it's an expedition somewhere on the Zambezi River?"
Ayana grinned, "Not much more than that, but when I heard the word Mythological, well you know me, I just couldn't resist."
"That's it? just one word and you agree to meet these..." James searched for a word that wasn't crack-pots, nut-cases, loonies, in the end
he just settled for people.
"They might be crazy, but I will have my bodyguard with me," she giggled, "And what's it costing us Jim? An hour of our time, these people
have flown all the way from the States for just one meeting, if nothing else it confirms that they must be pretty committed."
"Or should be committed." he added quietly.
"Well we will know soon if they are crazy or not." said Ayana as she pulled into the Sheraton parking, "If they are, please don't embarrass
me, we just say no politely and make our excuses to leave... OK?"
James gave her a grin and a wink.
"Please Jim, I'm serious." she begged in exasperation.
"Best behaviour." he replied, winking again, "I promise, scouts honour."
Douglas Rutherford (the third) sat alone, and wasn't what either of them had been expecting. Ayana had been responding to his emails, and
from the background he had described she had expected a man in his fifties or sixties. Doug, as he had insisted they call him was an
advertisement for American youth, thirty at the most, clean cut, short blonde hair shaped like the Marines Ayana had seen on TV, very short
at the sides but shaped and flattened across the top, almost square, she knew there was a name for the style but it escaped her. His
shoulders were solid and wide and the tight tee shirt enhanced the bulging biceps and chiselled chest and stomach. James shook hands and
forced his expression to remain passive as the grip increased, he realised Doug wasn't posturing or establishing dominance, the grip wasn't
a statement, merely a young man who didn't know his own strength.
"Quite a grip." he commented as the blood began to return to his fingers.
Doug smiled and nodded, "My Pa used to tell me you can always judge a man by his handshake, but I guess I can be a bit too firm sometimes...
James shook his head and smiled, "No worries Doug, so what is it that you want to discuss?"
"Yeah," he paused for a moment clearing his throat quietly, "Have you guys had breakfast? I got in real late last night and over slept some,
can we talk in the restaurant?"
"Of course." smiled Ayana, "Take your time Doug, we are in no hurry."
A small look of relief appeared to wash over him before he smiled a broad smile and led the way to the breakfast buffet. Doug dived into his
loaded plate as James toyed with a croissant hoping the point would soon be reached.
"Look, I'll be straight with you guys," he began around a mouthful of scrambled egg, "This friend of mine came over to Africa a few years
back, he was working with some charity, or mission or something, I'm not sure what, but the thing is, he got talking to some guys, local
guys, about a strange creature that's supposed to live in the Zambezi River, they say it's a River God." he glanced at their faces and saw
the distance developing. "Well," he ploughed on, "I got to talking with him about it and he told me he had done some research and there are
all kinds of reports...sightings of this thing."
"And how does this involve us?" James had heard enough and began searching for a tactful way to wrap up the meeting.
"Well, you guys are famous, you find the impossible, I read about you both, your experts."
"You want us to find this mythical creature for you?" asked Ayana.
"Not for me," he grinned, "With me."
"I'm sorry you wasted your trip," remarked James as politely as he could, "But you have to understand, that's not really what we do, I'm an
archaeologist, and Ayana is a historian, it's not really our field."
"I can pay you," added Doug quickly, "Money isn't an issue."
"Honestly Doug, this isn't about money, you would be better talking to a biologist, or even a big game hunter, it's just not our area of
Doug looked crestfallen as he carefully placed his fork on the plate. "From what I've been told there is a link between the creature and
Great Zimbabwe, the ruins, that's mainly why I contacted you, that's archaeology right?"
"What connection?" asked Ayana ignoring the gentle kick James gave her under the table, he was looking for a way out yet she was starting to
"I'm not sure, that's why I need your help, all I've got is my friends notes, and they mention a link between the ruins and the creature,
the River God, I hoped they might make some sense to you."
"Have you got the notes with you?" Ayana sensed James groan silently, and again he gave her another kick, not quite as gently as before.
"Sure," replied Doug with a grin, "In my room, hang on, I'll get them."
"You cannot be serious." whispered James in disbelief as he watched Doug weave between the breakfast tables as he hurried to his room.
"It doesn't hurt to take a look," she grinned, "And he's come so far, it doesn't seem fair to just run away without discussing it."
"Mythical Creature, River God... come on baby!" he groaned.
"And what's so far fetched about that?"
"Seriously, can you even hear yourself?"
"You thought I was crazy for believing in Makeda, yet look at what we found, the Garden of Eden, the Fountain... No, it's not different
Jim." she added forcefully as she pre-empted his next statement, "It's not different at all, I see he has conviction, he believes in what
he's saying, the least we can do is listen with open minds."
James sighed and gave a small shrug of resignation, "OK, letís listen."
"Open mind." she reminded him, "And look at it this way, we both have plenty of time... all the time in the world."
James smiled, "You want to do this... don't you?"
Ayana responded with a coy smile, "It sounds like an adventure, and I'm not saying I'm getting bored... because I'm not," she added quickly
hoping he wouldn't jump to the wrong conclusion, "But since we couldn't tell the world about what we really found, well, I've been dreaming
of another wild idea to follow and prove... come on baby, it isn't going to hurt us to take a few weeks off from doing nothing, and it could
be quite romantic, a long river cruise, sleeping under the stars again, cosy tent for two?" she gave him a cheeky wink and started to
"Damn," he cried in exasperation, "I've got to learn how to say no to you."
"So you agree?" she smiled sweetly.
"Do I have a choice?" he replied with a chuckle.
"Not really." she grinned before kissing him.
"Mamlambo... that's what the locals call the creature," announced Doug as he flipped through the frayed pages of a small journal, "I did
some research myself and some say it's just like a dinosaur that was supposed to go extinct millions of years ago."
James choked on his coffee but kept quiet as Ayana shot him a don't you dare laugh look.
"Like the Loch Ness Monster," he added, unable to resist having a little poke at the ridiculousness of the situation, but his comment
appeared lost on Doug who simply smiled.
"Yeah, I guess so," he replied seriously, "They could be the same, you never know."
"So what is the connection to Great Zimbabwe?" James asked attempting to match Doug's seriousness.
"There is some inscription there, and the translation mentions Mamlambo... according to the notes." he found the correct page and passed the
journal to Ayana.
The notes were messy and disorganised, more jottings of ideas and theories, like the contents of a crowded mind quickly transferred to
paper, there seemed no logical linkage to the thoughts, just erratic rambling. Attached to the page with a rusted staple was a faded and
water damaged photograph of a solid stone wall, and in the centre an elongated circle had been drawn in red ink, a line joined the circle to
another on the blank page, and in the second circle the word Mamlambo had been written in the same hurried and untidy script.
"OK, I can't see what's circled on the photo but I presume it must be Mamlambo, so that is the link?"
Doug nodded enthusiastically, "That's what I guessed too, but I won't know for sure until I get there."
James handed back the journal, "What else have you got?"
"Every page is crammed with information," indicated Doug as he flicked the pages, "But I'm not really any good at working out clues, I don't
know what's important, and what's just doodles if you know what I mean, that's why I thought of you two, I mean you followed all those clues
until you proved the truth about the Queen of Sheba, you'll probably be able to make more sense of it than I ever could."
"OK Doug," James looked him in the eye and caught a hint of desperation for a second, "This is what we will do, give us the journal, or
copies of the pages and letís us have a few days to take a look." relief washed over the young face, "We're not promising anything yet," he
added quickly, "But let us have a few days to do our own research, then we will give you an answer."
Doug nodded but the haunted look remained, "Sure," he replied quietly, "Take the journal with you, I'm gonna stick around here until you
decide." the look of anguish crystal clear as he passed the notes to Ayana. "This is real important to me guys."
"Don't worry, it will be safe with us." replied Ayana, but only James grasped the real meaning behind Doug's last statement.