“There aren’t any oceans in Malawi or Mongolia, are there?” Callum looked at
the water in front of him. “Is this a lake, or a sea?”
“It’s a lake. There’s no sea smell and no big waves. Look at how junglish it
looks. We’re in Malawi, Africa. There’s no way palm trees grow in Mongolia.
I read a book about Malawi a couple of nights ago, to study up. This is Lake
Nyasa, or better known as Lake Malawi. It’s a big lake.” Elspet looked at
the distant horizon.
“All right, so Malawi it is. What is the stone we’re supposed to find here
and where is it?” Callum turned to Fiona.
“A diamond. As for where it is, hmm.” She closed her eyes and thought for a
few moments. “It’s buried in a town called Livingstonia, on top of an
escarpment. It’s not in the town, but behind a waterfall, Manchewe Falls,
which is near that village. There’s a mission in the village.”
“How do you know all that? Did it just come to you?” Callum gawked in
“No, I read the same book as Elspet,” Fiona said. “Got you, Callum.” She
“Very funny,” Callum grunted.
“How do we get to Livingstonia from here? Where are we?” Elspet shook sand
out of her shoes.
“We’re in a place called Nkhata Bay. It’s a busy fishing port and has a
vegetable and fish market. It’s sort of the central part of the country, but
a little north. Livingstonia is farther north.”
“You remember all that from the book?” Callum shook his head, getting his
hair out of his eyes.
“No, I read that sign over there.” Fiona pointed. “I was talking to Uncle
Angus and his great uncle came to this area in the late 1800’s. Quite a few
Scottish people came here to convert the natives to Christianity and set up
missions. There’s one in Livingstonia and my great, great uncle lived there
for a while. I can’t wait to see it.”
“That’s cool, Fiona. Did he know Dr. David Livingstone?” Callum remembered
Fiona joked. “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” Nobody laughed. “Yes, he did.
It’s named after him, actually. He explored this area. I hope we can get
there by tomorrow. Right now we’d better figure some things out. We’re south
of the Equator again, so it’s springtime here. We’re a few hours ahead of
our own time, so it’s probably early afternoon, around 2 p.m., if I’m not
mistaken. We’re not going to make it to Livingstonia today. The beach is
rather deserted. Let’s walk along and look for signs of life.”
“A lot of people
are fishing on that loch,” Callum said.
“They call it a
lake here, not a loch,” Elspet said.
A group of boys
came running towards them.
“Ask these boys
where a hotel is,” Elspet said. “Do they speak English?”
“This is just a
small village. I doubt if there is a hotel, but somebody will put us up for
the night. I’ve got plenty of money.” Fiona waited until the boys stopped in
front of her. “Hello.”
“Hello,” one of the
“You speak English.
Good,” Fiona said.
“Yes. That is our
official language, though most of us speak Chichewa, which is our national
“What is your
name?” Callum looked down at the six year old boy. “You speak good English.”
“My name is
Masibuwa. What is your name?”
“I’m Callum. This
is Fiona and Elspet.”
These are my friends, Dulani, Sabola, Zikomo and Chimwala, my little
sister,” Masibuwa said. “She is three.”
Their dark skin
shone and made their chocolate brown eyes stand out like huge orbs. Each of
their heads was covered with curly black hair.
said, “could you help us find a place to sleep tonight, please.”
“Of course. Follow
me.” As they walked along the beach, he asked Elspet, “What do you think of
Nkhata Bay? It is beautiful, no?”
She grinned. “Yes,
it is pretty. Do fish live in it?”
“Yes. Most of the world’s aquarium fish come from Lake Malawi. My father
told me that. There are a lot of fish in the lake; mpasa, vundu and tilapia.
We eat a lot of fish. I get tired of eating fish all the time. My father is
out on the lake fishing now. My mother is home with my two baby sisters.
They are twins; Mesi and Mphatso. The word Malawi means land of fire
because sunrise makes the lake look like it is on fire.” They walked on.
“Here you are. This is a small hotel, but clean.” The boys and little girl
waved goodbye and ran off to play in the water.
“All right. Here it
is. Now what? It’s too early to go to bed,” Callum said with a sigh.
“We’ll check in and
that way we will be assured of having a room for the night. After that we
can go exploring,” Fiona said.
They reserved a
room, went to look at it to make sure it was acceptable and after approving,
left their things and went out onto the beach. “What should we do now?”
Elspet reached for her camera. “I won’t go anywhere with out this.”
“I wonder when trap
number one is going to bite us!” Callum took a deep breath. “Will it be in
Livingstonia or before we get there? I remember learning that Malawi was in
the Great African Rift Valley.”
“The what? Who
cares and who knows! Callum, you tell us such nonsense some times. I’m not
going to let worrying about traps ruin my day. I want to spend some time
seeing what it’s like here in Africa. I like the palm trees,” Fiona said.
“My mum told me once that she wanted to come here and go on a safari to see
lions, giraffes and animals running wild in the savannah.”
“I don’t think Malawi is the country to do that. I think Kenya is a better
place for safaris. Wow. Look at the sky. Do they get storms here in Malawi?”
Elspet pointed to the sky as they walked along the beach. She took a few
photos of the grayish-green clouds.
“I guess. Every country has storms. Why do you ask?” Fiona’s pinched face
“Before we checked into our room, the sky was clear. When we came out, the
sky was filled with black clouds. Now they’re really dark and some parts are
olive green. It is too weird looking.” Elspet pointed.
Lightning flashed across the sky, going from north to south in huge fingers
of electrical charges. A boom sounded, shaking the ground. “I would say the
answer to your question is yes, they have storms here,” Fiona said. “We
should take cover. We’re too far from the village. Maybe we should run into
the jungle. Some of those plants have giant leaves. At least we wouldn’t get
“This wouldn’t happen to be a trap, would it? I mean, if it is, then I’d
like to know so I could be more prepared.” Callum had no sooner said that
when a lightning bolt hit the sand near their feet. He went flying. “Whoa!
There’s my answer. It is a trap!”
The other two didn’t wait around. They darted down the beach. Bolts of
lightning hit the ground right behind them. One after another, after another
crackled and shot arrows of lightning into the sand.
“Help! The lightning is following us. The storm is trying to kill us!”
Elspet put her hands over her head and rushed into the bushes. Fiona and
Callum followed. A lightning bolt hit the tree next to them. It exploded
into a million pieces and made a deafening roar. Bark, tree pulp and leaves
pelted them, stinging their arms, faces and legs. “Ouch!”
“We’re not safe here in the trees. It could kill us if a tree falls on us,”
“Where can we go?” Callum squatted in the sand as a lightning bolt hit right
in front of him; the odor of the electrical charge hung in the air. “That
was too close. I’ve never smelled lightning before.”
“Follow me.” Fiona saw a pile of rocks up ahead on the beach. Zigzagging
from side to side, they bounded towards safety. Lightning flashed and boomed
around them. Their clothes smoldered as sparks jumped on them. “Just a
little further…” Kaboom. A bolt hit so close that it threw the three of them
into a cave. They crashed into the rocky wall. “Quick, put your back against
it and suck in your bellies as much as you can.” Fiona set the example.
Outside the cave the lightning continued. “We can’t stay in here forever,”
“We won’t, but at least we’re safe for now. Let’s just wait it out.” Fiona
sighed and slunk to the ground. Her bottom landed in the sand.
“What are those things on the walls?” She stood and walked over to see.
“They look like rubies. That’s interesting.” The lightning continued for
hours. Even as darkness arrived, the lightning kept booming right in front
of the cave.
“Fiona, this is never going to stop. We can’t sleep because it’s too noisy.
Say, lightning can’t come inside, like in a ball, can it?” Callum watched
the flashes. “I read once that a lightning bolt is hotter than the surface
of the sun. I don’t want to be fried.”
“Uh, I’m not sure. I’ve never seen it do that, but that doesn’t mean it
can’t,” Fiona said.
“What about your powers, Fiona? You can control weather,” Elspet reminded
“I’ve tried to command it. This is one powerful spell. It won’t listen to
me.” She thought about things. “I can transport myself to other places.”
“What about us? We can’t do that.” Callum whined. “Why are we having a trap
anyway? We just barely got here and we’re not even anywhere near the
diamond. You said it was in Livingstonia, not here.”
“I’ve wondered that myself, Fiona. Why is it happening so early?” Elspet
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s because we’re after the eleventh stone now and
there are more dangerous traps. Maybe whoever made the traps doesn’t want us
even to be near Livingstonia. Have you thought of it that way?” Fiona
“I guess it could be that. At least we know there are only two more, if we
get out of this one,” Callum said.
“I don’t know all the answers. All I know is this lightning is a trap. I’m
thinking, Callum. Be quiet for a minute.” Fiona snapped at the boy. “I can’t
control that storm, but maybe I can come up with some weather of my own to
counteract with it.”
“What does that mean?” Elspet put her hands over her ears as thunder boomed.
“I have no idea. It sounded good. What I mean is I can command a waterspout
to circle around the lightning and carry it away.” Fiona put her finger to
“Will that work?” Callum had his doubts.
“It’s worth a try. Otherwise we’ll be stuck in here forever,” Fiona said.
She moved to the entrance of the cave, keeping her back against the wall.
She commanded the wind to whip across Lake Malawi and form into a water
spout. “Make a circle around the lightning bolts outside this cave. Don’t
stop until it is burned out.” She ran back to Callum and Elspet. “I did it.
Now, let’s see if it works.”
They heard the wind blow from the southern end of the lake, moving toward
the water. It gathered strength and started whirling around. “Come and see
this,” Callum said. He’d moved to the other side of the cave so he could see
the lake. “The wind is turning into a tornado and moving down to the water.”
The lightning continued to flash. Soon the tornado touched the water and
started sucking it into the funnel. “Wow! That’s cool to see.” Elspet had
only seen things like this on the telly. “It’s huge and it’s starting to
move our way.”
“We’d better move to the back of the cave. I don’t want to be sucked out,”
They curled together in a huddle under a ledge. “There are more of those
rubies back here too. I find it odd that none of the villagers have ever
noticed them before,” Fiona said.
“Fiona, how can you think of rubies when our world is falling apart around
us,” Elspet said. The swirling water moved toward the lightning storm. The
sound was deafening, like a train running through their heads. All three of
them covered their ears. The water spout collided with the lightning,
flinging bolts of electricity into the trees and into the air. Fiona and
Elspet screamed in terror as a bolt entered the cave and crashed into the
wall where they had stood only minutes before. The cave filled with smoke,
“I can’t stand this. We’re going to die.” Callum took a deep breath and ran
out of the cave.
“Callum! No!” Fiona called after him, but he disappeared into the blackness
of the African night.
“He’s running into
the suck zone. He’s going to be carried off to Oz, or dropped in a tree with
a piece of straw through his eyeball.” Elspet went into hysterics.
“Elspet, calm down.
Maybe Callum has the right idea. We’re stuck in here. Now that the storm is
preoccupied, maybe it is a good time to get out of here. Come on.” Fiona
pulled a reluctant Elspet by the hand. Avoiding the lightning and the water
spout, they ran into the jungle, hoping to get away from the danger.
“Maybe we need a
lightning rod; something really tall that will attract the lightning instead
of us attracting it. What is really tall around here?” Fiona looked around.
“The trees. That
tree over there is really tall. If we go and stand by it, we can lure the
lightning and then jump out of the way and let it hit the tree. Maybe it
will burn itself out if it puts all its energy into one strike.” Elspet was
proud of herself for coming up with the idea.
“Let’s try.” They
ran toward the tree.
under the spell and still as strong as ever, blew the water spout apart. It
dissipated and the water fell to the ground. The winds died down as the
lighting storm moved after Fiona.
“Here it comes.”
Elspet clenched her hand around Fiona’s arm.
“You’re hurting me,
Elspet. Let go of my arm.”
rolled across the sky, bubbling and churning, building up for its fatal
strike. Fiona and Elspet stood at the bottom of the tree, waiting with
patience until the last second. Flashes streaked through the clouds, tinting
them red and orange. “Get ready,” Fiona said. “I can sense it is about to
happen.” She counted to ten. “Run!”
Just as they leaped
out of the way, the clouds let loose all the energy of a massive bomb. A
bolt shot out, wider than a house. It roared from the sky to the earth,
hitting the tree with such ferociousness that the tree and everything around
it disintegrated into dust. Fiona and Elspet made it to safety, though they
felt the bottoms of their shoes heat up. “It worked, Fiona! The storm is
ending. It used all its energy. We made it. We didn’t die!” Elspet took
Fiona’s hands and they danced around a palm tree, laughing for joy.”
“Where’s Callum? I
hope he wasn’t near that area. Callum! Callum!” Fiona shouted and knew her
voice could be heard now that the storm had ended.
He didn’t answer,
so they ran down to the beach, hoping he’d gone back to their hut.