That night in his room, as he lay in his bed staring at the ceiling, Muzi thought about Goodwill. Perhaps he was mad, like Tabane made out. He thought of the peace that the inmates had so obviously found and he longed for it. He was battling to sleep when he heard the door open. Goodwill crept in. He crouched next to Muzi’s bed.
“Shhhh! Please don’t make any noise, it’s me, Goodwill,” he whispered.
Muzi leapt up. ”What are you doing here?”
“Don’t believe what Tabane told you about me. It is all lies. This place is not a haven as it seems. It’s a madhouse. Didn’t you see them in the courtyard, moving in unison? They are programmed. You must run for your life, Muzi. They are coming for me because I’m a superhero. But I would cover myself with faeces before anyone touches me.” He began to laugh uncontrollably, between mumbling nonsense in the dark.
He was mad. Tabane was right. He could be dangerous too, thought Muzi.
Then the door burst open and the light was switched on. Two big men wearing white overcoats marched across to Goodwill and dragged him from the room.
Muzi lay back down, his heart pounding in his chest.
An hour after the eerie and inexplicable incident, Muzi wondered if he had dreamed it all. Then the door opened again and the two big men came back in. Just as he was about to ask them about the whole ordeal that had transpired with Goodwill, he saw one of them had a syringe.
Muzi jumped off the bed and backed up against the wall. He tried to run for the door but the men blocked him. Then one held him fast while the other plunged the syringe into a vein in his arm. The syringe was filled with a purple serum. He was unconscious in seconds.
“Hey … hey … wake up,” a soft faint voice woke Muzi from deep slumber. It was now almost afternoon of the next day. The room he was in was dark, only a small shaft of sunlight shone through a very small window high up on the wall: he couldn’t have reached it if he had tried.
The faint voice came from the corner of the room. He made out a narrow bed in the dim light and on it the woman with the ravaged face. A terrible stench emanated from her bed and he felt like vomiting. He tried to get up and move further away but realized he was chained to a steel ring on the floor.
“I’m Gayle. You need to help me. I’m dying. My stomach… Jesus forbid. I’m hurting. Help…” she wept. She was shaking and sweating.
“Where are we? What’s happening?”
Anger rushed up and raged inside Muzi. How dare they keep him prisoner? He had been betrayed by the smooth-talking Tabane, by the hypnotic guru. How dare they. He shouted and pulled against the chain.
“Open the door you bastards … come release me … do you know who my father is? You will be sorry!”
There was a clunk as the door opened. He saw a pair of white feet, so pale you could see the blue veins pulsing under the skin. He looked up to see the guru in his long silky white dress.
“I demand you let us go!” shouted Muzi.
With a reassuring, serene voice, the guru addressed Muzi and the young woman on the bed. “Oh my children, you know you have forsaken yourselves, you told me as much. I’m here to show you the light.”
“I didn’t sign up for this … I demand …”
“Yes you did, Mr Radebe … in more ways than one. You signed the consent form did you not? But that is not all. You don’t know it, but our paths have crossed since the beginning of time. We are connected, intertwined. This is your destiny, to come to me for help and salvation. That is why you are here … to find the answers … and I am here to give them to you …”
“I see you for what you are; and this place … it’s a cult,” said Muzi. “Goodwill was right. Do you think I am stupid? You are talking nonsense.”
“Please let us out,” pleaded the woman. “I’m dying in here.”
The guru shook his head as if they were naughty children.
“You’re a danger to yourselves, can’t you see? I’ve held you captive to protect you, my children. The serum is part of the healing. It will bring you insights you would never have thought possible. It will awaken your consciousness. You will thank me. You just need to endure. You just need to be patient. It’s a radical treatment but it works, you just have to believe.”
He slowly walked backwards to the door, stepped out into the passage and locked it behind him. As the door locked Muzi knew he had to try and calm down the woman.
“Gayle. I’ll get us out of here. I just need to figure out how. Goodwill will help us.”
Tell us: Has someone ever asked you to trust them when you were not sure about them? How did it work out?