Ntando berated herself as she walked along the road, gritty with dirt and ice. How’s this going to help? But any time she tried to turn around, the raven would swoop into her face and caw. Once, he’d gotten so fed up with her that he’d landed on her rucksack and tugged her hair.
She didn’t know where she was going. She couldn’t even remember what she’d packed, except for her red shoes and the chocolate eggs. With my luck, I’ll have tossed in a bunch of summer clothes and not a single pack of matches, she thought.
“Caw!” the raven cried.
Ntando sped up.
Traffic was light, but signs of accidents were all around. Stop signs bent, cars abandoned upside down, skid marks criss-crossed all over the slushy tarmac.
This has to be one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done, Ntando thought.
“Caw!” the raven cried.
Somebody hooted. Ntando turned to see a large 4×4 slowing down. It had one of those roof-top tents on its hood. Who the heck camps in this weather? Ntando thought, as the passenger side window lowered.
“Hi-ya,” said a woman with dishwater-blond dreads. “You need a lift?”
Before Ntando could reply, the raven swooped down and tapped her on the head. “Yes?” she said uncertainly.
“Caw!” the raven called, as the woman said, “Lekker.”
Ntando eased into the vehicle and the raven followed. “No,” Ntando said as the woman said, “Aw, what’s your bird’s name?”
Pain in my backside, Ntando thought. But all she said was, “Caw.”
“Caw,” squawked the raven.
The woman nodded. “I’m River and this,” she indicated the driver, “is Forest.”
“Hey,” the man said, turning around. His hair was darker, but also in dreads. “Where you headed?”
“Following a dream,” Ntando said.
“Cool,” the pair said.
The warmth of the car combined with the raven’s soft tug on her braids sent Ntando off to sleep. The land of dreams pulled her into an arid landscape that was crowded with colourful tents and towering sculptures that scraped the sky. She wandered this bizarre place, poking her head into tents, gazing at artwork on display.
“Come to me,” a man’s voice said.
She turned, searching for him.
“Come to me,” he said.
Her eyes finally found a man walking towards her. His hair was ratty and wild, and so was his beard. On his chest was a massive tattoo of a raven. But the bird’s feathers were made up of images – knives, gears, arrows, the silhouette of a man playing the cello, and a compass.
“Who are you?” she asked.
But the man only smiled as the raven on his chest came alive and flew towards her. But before it reached her, the surrounding tents and sculptures burst into a city of flames.
Tell us: Do you have vivid dreams about strange places, like this?