The following day there was more light coming in through the window. It must be bright and sunny outside, Muzi thought, and wondered if the tranquil exercises were going on with the inmates on the grass outside. There was not much hope for him and Gayle. His body felt terrible. He suffered constantly from muscle spasms; his sweat glands shot liquid like small bullets out of an automatic assault rifle. He was nauseous; and felt cold and warm simultaneously; he itched as if he’d slept on green grass for a year, but he couldn’t scratch because his hand was chained to the ring.

He wailed to the heavens for aid; he vomited onto the floor next to him.

“It will get better Muzi, hold on,” Gayle pleaded. “I am feeling a bit better now. I think I’ve weathered the storm … I’m from Eldorado by the way. I won’t give up. I’ll fight. I promised my daughter I would be a better mom and get off the heroin and tik. I’m through with that life …” her voice trailed off.

“I’m from Westcliff …” he told her, “I’m just a spoilt brat really. I don’t know what I truly want from life. I’ve always danced to the tune sung by my parents since childhood, you see. When I’m on the cocaine I am invincible. When I’m off it, I’m invisible…”

He vomited again. Gayle started to pray out loud. Time did strange things in this room cut off from the outside world.

The next morning the two muscular men that had injected them appeared again. This time the serum in the syringes they carried was red.

Gayle and Muzi knew what was about to happen to them. Muzi was still too weak to put up a fight. After they were injected, some fine powder was swiftly blown into their eyes. They were unchained and instructed to wash. Muzi felt a strange feeling overcoming him. He felt as though he was floating outside his body. Like everything was happening in a dream.

The men led them outside to where the guru was waiting for them on the grass, surrounded by his followers.

“Ahh … my children. You have been cleansed and purged of all your evil. Do you not feel relaxed and calm now? I told you the serum works miracles. Now that you are clean, inside and out, you are ready for the ceremony.”

The guru beamed at Muzi and Gayle as they joined the group. Muzi looked round for Goodwill but could not see him in the crowd. The rest of the inmates clapped and hummed. They then began to shout the guru’s name in unison.

“Baba Sedaya! Baba Sedaya!”

As they sang, as if summoning spirits from the other world, the guru looked into Tabane’s eyes. His eyes were piercing: “It is that time, my right hand!” he told him before he turned to address Muzi and Gayle.

“My children. Today you’ll be cleansing each other of both your sins. The substances that I’ve concocted for you speak with the universe directly… You will be made new. The last step is the consummation. Two bodies becoming one, joining in communion. Through this act your spirits will be united with mine.

The Guru stepped towards Muzi. “Hold out your hand,” he said. Part of Muzi resisted but he was too drugged to escape what was about to happen to him. He searched in the crowd for Goodwill but could not see him.

The guru was handed a knife by Tabane. He sliced into the skin on Muzi’s palm and drops of blood oozed into his palm. Then the Guru sliced his own palm. The inmates chanted as the Guru mixed their blood together:

We’re all one and all is one.

Muzi felt light headed. He turned to Gayle who was holding out her palm. But instead of cutting her skin the Guru led her away, back into the building as the inmates began to chant:

Your seed will be sown. We’re all one and all is one!

One by one by one they started to take off their clothes until every one of them was naked.

Muzi felt dread as he knew what was about to happen to Gayle. He tried to cry out but his legs buckled and Tabane caught him as he lost consciousness.

***

Tell us: In this story, the crowd has been brainwashed. Sometimes, in a crowd, people seem to lose their morality. Do you think crowds are to be feared?