Callum ran from the cave. The water spout hovered above him, threatening to
suck him up. He ran faster and jumped onto the beach. Using his hands he dug
a hole in the sand and threw himself down into it. He covered himself up
with the tan granules, except around his nose so he could breathe. Every
time a bolt hit the ground, it sent a ripple towards him, causing goose
bumps and making his head tingle.
massive boom shook the ground and then everything went quiet. Callum pushed
the sand from his face and spat the grains out that had gone into his mouth
and nostrils. Seeing the lightning had stopped, he wriggled until he was
loose from the sand. “That was too close. Hey, what’s that?” He saw a
glass-like tube in the sand. “Wow! Is that what happens to sand when
lightning hits it?” He ran up and down the beach looking for more. Soon he
had a pile of them, delicately stacked.
He heard Fiona and Elspet calling his name. “I’m here, on the beach.” He
waved his arms when he saw the girls running towards him.
“You’re all right. Thank goodness. I couldn’t believe you left that cave.
Are you mad, Callum?” Elspet sat next to him, breathing deeply.
“You left too, obviously. How did you get the lightning to stop?” Callum
patted the sand for Fiona to sit. “Or was it you?”
“We tricked the lightning into burning itself out by sending a huge bolt at
a tree. We got out of the way beforehand. Although I’ll never be able to
hear right again. That was one loud boom.” Fiona stuck her finger in her ear
and wiggled it around.
“What’s that?” Elspet picked up one of the tubes.
“They’re some sort of weird creations that happen when lightning hits the
sand. It is so hot that it melts the sand and forms a tube in the shape of
the bolt. Look at how many I found. I’ll bet there are tons more,” Callum
“I can use my power to find them, unless you want to have all the fun,”
Just then Masibuwa came running toward them with his little sister in hand.
“Are you all right? Did you see that storm? My father was out in his boat
and nearly got taken up in the water spout. He’s never seen lightning so
dangerous before.” The boy’s eyes bulged with excitement.
“Settle down. It was a ferocious storm, but it’s gone now. Say, do you and
your sister want to help Callum look for some of these glass tubes?” Fiona
picked one up and handed it to the boy.
“These are called fulgurites. We don’t get lightning often and it’s never
that bad, but when we do, the bolts sometimes hit the sand and make these.
We have a man who comes once a month from Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi,
to buy these from us. His name is Mustafa Kandulu. He doesn’t give us much
money, but because the lightning was so strong, these ones are perfect. He
might pay us more this time. Some months we have none to sell. May I have
them? I’m sure my mother could sell them and then we can have money for food
for a few months.” Masibuwa’s eyes shone with thoughts of food.
Callum smiled. “Take them all; all but one. I want to keep it for myself.
Let’s go and look for more. Elspet, Fiona, do you want to help me, Masibuwa
“Callum it’s dark now. I’m tired and hungry. You three do it. Fiona and I
will go and see about getting something to eat. Here’s a torch.” She pulled
it from Fiona’s backpack. “We’ll meet you back in our hut. Don’t be too
long,” Elspet said.
Elspet and Fiona headed back to their hut. “What do people eat here anyway?
I hope it’s not bugs and stuff like that.”
“The people here are obviously poor. I don’t imagine they eat well. They
probably do eat bugs in times of drought. It’s a good thing they have this
lake. There will always be fish in it. You know what I’m going to do? I’m
going to walk around the area and see if I can find anything buried under
the ground. Maybe there are some more jewels or oil that they can dig up and
use to build a hospital or school. Do you want to come with me?”
“It’s dark out there, Fiona. Do you think two young girls should be
wandering around alone in a strange place like this?” Elspet pleaded with
“I’ll tell you what, you go back to the hut and have a rest. I’ll turn
myself invisible and see what I can come up with. How does that sound? I
won’t be long. I promise.” Fiona gave Elspet a hug and then made herself
invisible. “Be back soon, Elspet.”
Elspet went to the hut and lay on her cot. She could hear the villager’s
voices and took comfort in that. At least she wasn’t alone.
Fiona wandered around. She closed her eyes now and then to think. “I feel
the presence of amethyst, yellow tourmaline (canary tourmaline which is
electric yellow), Nyala sapphires and rubies named after the Nyala antelope,
which is rare. Well, that’s a wealth of information. They are all right here
in Nkhata Bay, beneath the ground. I know those were rubies in the cave
during the lightning storm. I’ll tell Masibuwa’s family if they promise not
to keep it all for themselves, but to use the money to build a hospital, buy
food for the villagers and medicine, and educate their children. If they
promise to do that, I will show them exactly where to find the gems.” With a
grin on her face, Fiona went to the hut. She saw Elspet lying on the cot.
“I’m back.” She made herself visible again.
“Any luck?” Elspet rolled onto her side.
“Yes. These people are sitting on a wealth of gemstones. There are rubies,
sapphires, yellow tourmaline and amethyst and aquamarine. I know exactly
where it is all buried.” Fiona lay on her cot. “Let’s just lie here until
Callum comes back and then we’ll eat. I’m exhausted.”
“Me too.” Elspet yawned.