This is a translation of the story “Dust Red As Blood”, which you can read by scrolling further down the page or by following this link.

Storienota: hierdie verhaal is oorspronklik vir die Cracked Flash Fiction-kompetisie geskryf en het daardie week gewen. In die kompetisie word jy die eerste sin van jou storie gegee en moet jy die storie in 300 woorde of minder voltooi.

Grond so rooi soos bloed

Arek grawe met sy vingers in die droeë grond. Rooi grond koek onder die priester se vingernaels en klou aan die bloed wat sy verrimpelde hande vlek. Sy trane verwring die wêreld om hom tot ’n wasige, rooi poel. Hy stoot nog grond uit die vinnig gegraafde graf, vee oor sy gesig en laat sy gelaat besmeer met strepe rooi grond, trane en bloed.

’n Entjie van hom af, naby die Sluier wat gewoonlik vir sterflikes weggesteek is, staan een van die Bewakers van die Sluier. Haar ligblou mantel vorm ’n sterk kontras met die donkerbruin leer wapenrusting wat sy dra. Haar gesig is agter ’n sluier weggesteek en haar regterhand is om ’n spies geklem. Sy staar uit oor die uitgestrekte vlakte met sy klein nedersettings. Agter haar lê Khalne Alima se heiligdom gebreek en verbrand.

“Hoekom het jy my nie gevat nie?” skree hy vir haar. Sy draai ’n erstige gesig na hom en frons.

“Ek is die een wat vandag die heiligdom moes oppas. Jy moes my gevat het!” skree Arek.

Sy beweeg nie en hou aan om vir hom te staar. Agter haar skitter-vloei die Sluier asof dit, ook, deur trane beskou word.

Arek staan op en steier na haar.

“Asseblief, laat ons plekke ruil,” pleit hy. “Galeun is te jonk. Hy moes nooit daar gewees het nie.”

“Jy het dadelik gekom toe jy die vuur by die heiligdom sien. Jy het nie aan jou eie welstand gedink nie,” sê sy kortaf, asof sy nie daaraan gewoond was om te praat nie. “Jy vra vir my iets wat ek nie vir jou kan gee nie.” Die Bewaker steek haar wysvinger uit en wys na iets agter die man. Hy draai om. Op die grond, langs die seun, is sy eie liggaam, geskend van die wonde wat hy ontvang het.

Ana Filipa Neves

Dust Red As Blood

Arek dug his fingers into the dry ground. Red dust caked beneath the priest’s fingernails and clung to the blood staining his wrinkled hands. Tears turned the world to a blurred, red puddle even as he pushed more of the dirt from the quickly dug grave. He wiped his face, leaving it painted in streaks of red dust, tears, and blood.

Some way from him, standing close to the Veil usually hidden from mortals, was one of the Guardians of the Veil. Her light blue cloak stood in stark contrast to the deep brown of the leather armour she wore. Her face was veiled and her right hand hand was clenched around a spear. She stared out over the flat plain dotted with small settlements.

Behind her the shrine of the Khalne Alima stood broken and burnt.

“Why did you not take me?” he shouted at her. She turned a solemn face towards him. A frown pulled at her brow.

“I was the one who should have guarded the shrine today. You should have taken me!” Arek shouted.

She did not move and kept on staring at him. Behind her the Veil glimmered as if it, too, was seen through tears.

Arek got up and staggered towards her.

“Please, let us trade places,” he pleaded. “Galeun is too young. He was never supposed to have been here.”

“You came as soon as you saw the fire at the shrine. You did not think of your own wellbeing,” she said. The Guardian’s words were clipped as if she was unused to talking. “You are asking something of me which I cannot give.” The Guardian pointed over his shoulder and the man turned around. On the ground, next to the boy, was his own body, disfigured from the wounds dealt to him.

Story note: This story was originally written for the Cracked Flash Fiction competition and was the winner for the week. In this competition you are given the first sentence and have to finish your story in a maximum of 300 words.

To read more of my flash fiction, go to Hersenskim Fiction .