Just before dusk they reached the edge of the forest. They could see The Hills looming menacingly in the distance, a stretch of vacant, bare earth in front of them. It was very unnerving and Lorato didn’t think he had seen anything like it before. It wasn’t like a normal desert with sand dunes that altered their colour with the changing light. Nor was it like the Kalahari Desert with its drought resistant shrubs and bushes. This was a gray flat piece of earth with slithers of what looked like gray rock scattered all over its surface. Lorato didn’t see how anything could survive in this wilderness and greatly doubted the Mokaedi’s story of the Gorfs.
“We will have to do this section tonight,” he said. “We will never be able to stand the heat from these rocks in the day. The darkness will also hopefully afford us some protection.”
Kgatwe nodded. He was very tired but still feeling guilty about his earlier behaviour and not about to complain. Lesedi started to squirm on his back. He had awoken and was feeling much better, especially after he opened his eyes and discovered that he was bumping along on Kgatwe’s back and not bobbing around in a pool of blood.
“I’m fine now,” he chirped. “You can let me down and Kgatwe can go back to normal size and ride in my pocket.” Kgatwe felt greatly relieved at this. He really could do with a bit of a rest.
“No!” said Lorato very definitely. “I don’t think that will be possible.” He was loosening the twine tying Lesedi, enabling him to slide off Kgatwe’s back.
“Why?” said the two in unison.
“There is nowhere to hide on that barren piece of land and Legodu could very easily pick us out with his sharp eyes.”
“But if Kgatwe stays big, Legodu will be even more likely to spot us,” said Lesedi, not understanding his grandfather’s logic.
“If he makes himself even larger than he is now we will be able to hide underneath him and he will look like a giant rock monitor from above.”
“If I get even bigger then Legodu will definitely see me,” said Kgatwe, not liking this idea at all.
“Yes, but he will think you are one of Tsenwa’s experiments and keep well clear.”
“Why’s that?” said Lesedi, feeling very nervous about this idea. The thought of slithering around on those rocks underneath Kgatwe’s tummy was not very appealing.
“Well, from what I’ve heard the last time Legodu tackled one of Tsenwa’s experiments it was an exploding polecat. Not only did it denude him of all his feathers, making him look like a plucked turkey, more the object of jokes than fear, but it also made him smell so bad no one would talk to him for weeks.”
This made Lesedi and Kgatwe laugh. They were both rather scared of Legodu and the thought of him looking like a plucked turkey and smelling bad was very satisfying.
“I don’t know if I can make myself any larger,” said Kgatwe, his mood changing. “It’s a long time since I’ve done something like that, and I might make a mess of it.”
Lorato scratched around in his bag of herbs and roots and pulled out a yellow and black spotted object that looked surprisingly like a mushroom.
“Eat this,” he said, handing it to Kgatwe, who looked at it suspiciously.
“Those things make you sick,” he said.
“They also make you think you are invincible, and once you’re in that mood I am sure you will be able to do whatever is needed.”
Taking the unappetising mushroom Kgatwe swallowed it whole. He could feel it hit his stomach and he immediately felt violently ill. He looked around desperately for somewhere to throw up. Then as quickly as it had appeared, the feeling went away and he felt strong and powerful.
“Wow,” he said, suddenly full of confidence. “I can rule the world!”
“You can do that later.” Lorato smiled. “Now you just need to concentrate on making yourself bigger.”
Kgatwe closed his eyes and concentrated hard on a bigger, better him and then there it was, this enormous gecko. Lesedi gasped.
“Okay,” he said in a deep voice very unlike his own. “Let’s go get ’em!”
“Don’t get too bold” warned Lorato. “You might start making silly mistakes. We have to be very cautious from here on.” Lesedi and Lorato got underneath Kgatwe and they started out towards The Hills.
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