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103 22 Superintendent Mbake Javis walked up to the red-walled hut alone towards evening. Levi was still lying just off the door and in view. As the wounded prisoner heard footsteps he raised his head with the full force that his improving consciousness could give him. The sun was going down but its rays were still strong enough to light up the inside of the hut. Mbake Javis halted at the door without blocking the light from reaching the prostrate figure inside. Levi raised his head and looked at him the way a waylaid traveller would look at a good Samaritan, then allowed the head to fall back down on the floor. The Prison Superintendent turned round and looked behind him down the road up which he had come. It was empty. Thoroughly so. He waited for a handful of seconds to see whether anyone – a curious warder or stray prisoner – would appear in sight. No such thing happened. He was all alone with the wounded prisoner on the floor inside the brick-walled hut. Alone. He alone knew as he stood there that Levi Mu’tum was still alive. In that very instant the full weight of his importance besieged his mind. He had the power of life and death over his detainees, and he was now discovering that the frontiers of that power had stretched to include even the house of the dead. A new strength overwhelmed his person and as he looked down at the breathing figure before him he felt himself controlling not only that breath but its rhythm. He could switch it off any time, or then allow it to flow on for a period of time only he had control over. He did not allow the burden of all that knowledge to travel too far or too long inside him. No prisoner ever entered the brick-walled hut and came out again. That was a principle known to be inviolate; and the weekly incineration of content saw to the respect of that inviolability. The sun had now sunk completely beyond the roofs of Sanko. Mbake Javis stepped inside and dragged Levi by his two legs deeper into the hut and dumped him between two other corpses that were beginning to get bad. The other corpse abandoned outside by the fleeing warder he also brought in, then he reached for the thick, specific-purpose iron-bar that stood against the opposite wall. When Sanko woke the following morning a lazy smoke was dancing above the roof of the brick-walled hut, carrying along with it on its journey news of the hut being haunted. ...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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