Author note: For those readers who have not read “part one” of this short story I strongly suggest you “click here” and read it before proceeding.
Happy Valley | 1980: A Mid-Summer Nightmare
Chynna and her mom were in a real fix. A dangerous panga gang had broken into their home located in an isolated part of Nairobi. The two were locked up in the “safe room” (the master bedroom) while the gang ravaged the rest of the house. The telephone was out-of-order and the embassy two-way security radio was inoperable. The security siren didn’t function as the gang had turned off the electricity. When they had begun hacking at the wooden bedroom door with their long knives the two women began to pray…
A light had beamed from the front drive and lit up the row of Italian Cyprus outside the rear window. They heard the purr of an engine as the panga gang had quieted.
“Thank god,” mom cried out, and added, “Yell out!”
Chynna screamed at the outside world, overwhelmed with relief. They dared not leave the room, though. The panga gang could still be inside.
In the moment of quiet Chynna closed her eyes and listened to the automobile pause. When it turned through the car park her fears returned. She opened her eyes and continued to scream. The reflections of the car’s red tail’s lights slowly dimmed against the rear patio wall. Her mom’s shocked face told it all. The guard supervisor didn’t see the guard, nor did he hear their screams, so he drove back up the hill. It didn’t matter that the guard would get reprimanded or fired tomorrow.
The hacking noise against the bedroom door continued. Chynna followed her mother into the closet, leaving a small crack to see the door. She gritted her teeth and said, “We’ll make it through this, Mom. The steel door will block them.” Her mother, in shock, made no reply. Chynna pulled a blanket over her.
She watched a small hole in the wood door quickly grow larger until a pair of ghoulish eyes dangled in the dark. Chynna shivered with fright.
A torch lit up the door that now showed a hole big enough to crawl through. Chynna had seen the Gunny Sergeant use the torch a few days ago while repairing some part of his automobile. It wouldn’t take much time to melt the steel grating. “Mom, the furniture,” she whispered. She hurried out of the closet and pushed the heavy clothes dresser in front of the door. Then mom joined her to push the big bed against the dresser. They wedged two the nightstands between the headboard of the bed and the wall.
“Good idea, Chynna. That should slow them down,” her mom’s jittery voice declared.
“I told you we would make it.”
The glow of the blowtorch on the other side of the dresser suddenly went away, replaced by the dull glow of the full moon. There was a brief silence as Chynna and her mom listened intently. “What are they doing now?” Chynna said. She gazed at the bedroom window. It was too high for the gang to gain entry along with its solid steel bars, both on the inside and outside.
While removing the VHF radio from the nightstand Chynna had heard some background noise. The batteries were fully charged. She adjusted the squelch control and heard the rush of noise. She lowered the volume and whispered to her mom, “Its not getting signal.” She knew that the cable connected the radio to the rooftop antenna. She removed the candle from her pocket. “Mom, I need more light. Can you strike a match?”
Out of the darkness her mother’s trembling hand waved a burning match at her nose. Chynna lowered her hand and lit the candle. “Mom, please hold the candle here, above the radio.”
The cable was frayed where it connected to the radio with a metal screw on connector device. “the electrical wires must be shorted.” She unscrewed the connector, exposing a center wire coated in plastic, surrounded by braided wire. She pushed the center conductor into the radio antenna connect center and held the braided part against the screw-on hardware. “Mom, lift the microphone.”
Chynna heard conversation in the background. “It’s the marine guard at the embassy. Key the microphone!”
She took a deep breath and said, “Net Control this is Happy Valley. We are under attack. Please send—”
The cable had been jerked out of her hand. But mom still had a hold of it. Chynna reached for the broom handle on the floor. She rammed it through window near the opening near the cable entry. A panga gang member cried out in unintelligible words. The ladder smashed down on the patio. They heard a thud.
“Mom, hurry! Hand me the microphone!” Her mother fed the cable to her. Chynna blindly pushed the cable into the radio receptacle. “Key the microphone.”
“Net Control, this is Happy Valley…Code Red…Code Red…Please respond!”
The radio cable had gone limp. The gang had cut it. The torch glow resumed around the hole in the wooden door. It wouldn’t be much longer. Chynna and her mother returned to their dark corner in the closet and held on to each other. Chynna again had left a crack into door to watch the progress.
A piece of steel clamored as it hit the floor. Chynna felt her mother’s breath stop. “We can’t give up,” she said. Her life had just begun. It wasn’t fair. Mom’s grip tightened on her hand.
BAM! BAM! BAM! The pounding noise occurred in perfect cadence—BAM-one, two, three—BAM-one, two, three… The piled on furniture—a huge shadow—heaved toward the wall. The ramrod was working. The small nightstands next to the wall were breaking apart.
Chynna joined her mom and closed her eyes. The furniture inched across the floor. The panga members only needed a few feet of space to crawl through the hole and into their domain. If only she had reported that the radio wasn’t working last week after the weekly radio test. If only…
Sitting on closet floor in a daze she heard what sounded like gunshots echoing in the forest. The panga gang must have found the Gunny Sergeant’s revolver hidden in the duplex. They could shoot them through the bedroom window. Chynna pulled her mother to the end of the closet and shut the door fully. She prepared for the unthinkable violence that would soon overcome them. “I love you, Baby,” her mother said. “I love you, too, mom. May God bless us.”
“Mrs. Lane, Chynna, are you there?”
Her mind was playing tricks on her. The panga gang wanted her to believe that the Gunny Sergeant was calling her before they ended her life.
“Chynna, it’s the Gunny!” her mother cried out.
“Don’t worry, we ran off the bandits who were left,” the Gunny said.
“We’re so glad you came,” Chynna said.
Her mother added, “We almost gave up,” as she squeezed Chynna’s hand.
“We got your message on the two-way radio,” the Gunny said.
“It worked,” Chynna said weakly, and then roared like a lion, “The radio worked!”