Ntando plodded forward, crunching snow beneath each step. A gust of wind pushed against her face, and on its back were the words, “Help me.” It was a low, sorrowful groan of a plea. The sort that is uttered by someone who has lost all hope that anyone can hear their cry.

Ntando straightened her back and called into the wind, “I’m coming!”

But the wind shoved her words into the past.

“I’m coming,” she said, again and again, with each step. The snow was getting thicker, starting to swallow her shoes. The poncho was keeping her upper body warm, but the ice was forcing its way through her socks and melting against her toes. Her feet were cold, clammy and rapidly headed towards numb.

“I’m coming, I’m coming, I’m coming.”

She stumbled over a snowdrift, and sank to her knees. She yanked out a leg – but her shoe didn’t come with. She yanked out the other leg – but her shoe didn’t come with. Tossing her head up into the grey, unforgiving sky, she released the frustration from her lungs, “Gaaaaaaaaaaah!”

But the wind shoved her words into the past.

“I’m coming,” she said, stepping forward in her wet, ice-crusted socks. “I’m coming, I’m coming, I’m coming…”

Darkness held her, as she keeled over. The wind cried out, calling to all those that had ears to hear.

And out of the frozen bush, came four dirty paws, large and deadly. With a roar, he scared the snowflakes back into the sky. As he bounded towards her fallen body, heat radiated from his flesh.

He stopped and gave the young woman a sniff. She didn’t move. He opened his mouth wide, revealing large, sharp teeth. With a mighty exhale, he released hot breath across her frozen form, breathing life and warmth into her limbs. Her hands moved before her brain caught up, clinging to his mane. She gripped it hard, as his mighty head helped her stand. With a firm nudge under her knee, he flipped her onto his back. His body heat seeped into her bones, saving her limbs from frostbite.

With a roar, he began to run, towards a cave where The Lady waited. He’d crossed an entire kilometre before Ntando’s brain caught up: But there are no lions left in the Northern Cape.


Tell us: Have you ever been so tired your body gave out and you couldn’t move a centimetre more?