The child lay in her habitual position under a slab of concrete, the remains of a tiny dam wall, blasted to smithereens in a long ago argument between neighbours.
Sheltered from the mid afternoon sun, her cheek against the cool, damp sand, she heard the man long before she saw him.
Tired beyond caring, lame and injured; desperate.
She heard his leg drag along the ground with every step; his laboured breathing.
The bank leading to the stream was fairly steep, the path cutting deep ruts, boulders holding the red soil alongside.
Watching him stagger into view she propped her chin under the palm of one hand.
Sitting on the soft bank, his bleeding feet trailing in the current, Julius drank with huge slurping gulps. The water, gushing down his throat, soothed him, filling his empty stomach.
He had to push on, his tired mind screamed, although he wanted to curl up and sleep for eternity.
Splashing the cold water on his face, he breathed deep, striving for energy and when he finally forced his eyes open, found the wide, dark gaze of the girl on him, less than two metres way.
She was a white child, he could see that much in the shade of the overhanging concrete. Eight, maybe ten years of age. Thick, straight hair, dark in the shade of the overhang, framed a pointy, pixie face.
Dread hit him square in his core; his immediate thought, “Oh no, not another one. Not another child…”