I hardly recognised the mort. If I scrunched up my eyes, it almost looked human. It was wearing a pair of baggy shorts and a clean blue t-shirt. A baseball cap covered its bald scabby head. Mama must have let Levi raid the spare clothes bag at the clinic. I realised that it no longer smelled bad. Levi must have given it a bath.

“Look, Meka,” Levi said. “Beyoncé’s been helping me with my chores.”

As if it knew what Levi was saying, the mort moaned and lifted up the watering can my brother must have slung over its arm.

I sighed. “Levi, seriously, it can’t help you with anything.”

“Yes, he can,” Levi said. “And we’ve been playing all morning. He says he likes it here.”

My phone beeped. I pulled it out of my jeans. Another message from Zanele:

hey grl y the silence?

I texted back:

tell u ltr. seriusly i wnt 2 DIE

I looked up. The mort was standing a couple of metres in front of me. It was holding a mielie up to its ear. Its mouth moved as if it was talking into it, like a child pretending to make a phone call.

I shuddered, backing away from it. How could it remember what to do with a phone?

“Nyameka?” I turned to see Mr Cele making his way towards me across the yard. He was watching the mort, a strange expression on his face. “Is everything all right? I came to see if there is anything I can do to help.”

Keeping my voice low so that Levi wouldn’t overhear, I told him about the Collectors.

Mr Cele nodded as if he had expected this. “If the Collectors won’t do their job then we will do it for them. My brother has a bakkie I am sure we can use.”

“You mean take the mort to the camps ourselves?” I asked.

“Yes,” Mr Cele said grimly.


Do you think they should take the mort to a camp? What will happen to it there?