Today is the day! I can feel it. We decided to settle who would go outside by lottery. The four of us – we had turned Jeremy into boerewors long ago – all stood under the gecko nest in the Wendy House and waited for the first one to fall. It landed on me! Can you believe it?! My sister was very upset because she had only heard of the outside world through the stories Ouma told on The Youtube.
I had to get ready for the journey ahead. Going outside is a big deal, what with all the dangerous things there are! Dad had been giving me karate lessons in the living room for when my time came. He is very good at Karate, having made it to Yellow Belt when he was fourteen. He showed me both moves. Mom had also been teaching my sister and I how to use the hand sanitizer gun. It has three settings; squirt, squirt-squirt and off.
I was dressed in the family clean suit, complete with Shoprite bags for shoes and a talisman of Riaan Cruywagen for eternal health and youth. Before leaving the house, the rest of the family blessed me with our heirloom African potato (Blessed Be Spirit of Manto, Healer of All, Stealer of All, May Clean Hands Be Upon You). That potato has been in the cold-cupboard for weeks, along with the family pet fungus. His name is Rory and he has a temper.
Before I left, Dad gave me what was left of the family savings; four squares of toilet paper. “Now be careful with this,” he said scratching his bum, “you will need it for The Woollies.” I understood what he said when he looked at me with his sad eyes. What he was really saying was, “Be careful and wash your hands.” Dad was, in the old days, a very fancy doctor. He studied really small buggy-things that made people sick and people stopped giving him business because they found out everything they needed to know from Karen and The Youtube.
Dad removed the pallet furniture crossbar on the gate and lowered the pallet furniture gantry over the pallet furniture moat. Breathing heavily into my scarf which was lined with rosemary, lavender oil and vicks; I stepped outside for what felt like the first time. The streets were barren, with the exception of the roving packs of Vervet Monkey’s which had recently gained sentience. I noticed a large clan of them ahead, their leader stood out in his three-piece suit and monocle.
As I walked to The Woollies, I noticed that there were several other pilgrims who were also undertaking the trek with me. We stayed far away from each other of course. One made the sign of Dettol and ran away when he realized there were more than five of us on the same street.
It was very hot. I don’t know if it is because my clean suit was actually a K-Way two piece that had been passed down from previous generations or if it was because there was this big glowy thing in the sky that looked like a lamp but… I don’t know… bigger? Anyway, I checked the map mom had given me to The Woollies and realized it wouldn’t be much longer before I was there.
More and more people joined the pilgrimage. It was clear that the ceremony today would be a big deal. We were all in our clean suits. Some even had masks over their faces! I recognized the one mask from the Historical Record our parents taught us: Shrek Forever After.
I finally arrived at The Woollies. I could not believe my eyes! There were so many people! There must have been at least fourteen! We stood in front of the glass doors and waited for the Priestess to begin the ceremony. Eventually she arrived and stood in front of us. She must have been very important because she was wearing more toilet paper than I had ever seen in my life! She raised her hands up towards us and began the benediction:
“Travellers! Welcome to The Woollies!”
We applauded the ceremonial way, by shouting into our elbows.
“Today is the day of the solstice!” She continued, “And today the Great Dettol has been kind to us! Blessed be this The Woollies, for we, we, have on offer at this store today…”
She lifted up a cloth that had been covering a stand next to her.
“… an apple. I will start the bidding at two squares of two ply…”
Before I could even raise my hand there was the unmistakable noise of katty-fire. The Police! We were too many in one place! The priestess quickly covered the apple with her cloth and vanished into The Woollies. Myself and the other pilgrims ran away blindly as the policemen descended upon us. Most of them were armed with Standard Issue Brooms. The one managed to get in front of me, but I remembered what Dad had taught me and I breathed on him. He fell down to the ground and covered his face with his hands, allowing me to escape.
As I walked home alone and empty handed, I wondered to myself what life must have been like before all of this. Did people go outside all the time? Were they always so scared of each other? They couldnt have been as smart as us, what with all the precautions we take that are so necessary. I was so lost in my own thoughts I didn’t see the Vervet monkey slavers sneak up behind me and throw their net. It didn’t take long before my hands were tied and I was stripped to my Springbok undies.
A collar was placed around my neck and I was tied to a whole bunch of other people in the slave caravan. There was a monkey on a horse that was leading us. I recognized him and his three-piece suit. As we were dragged behind his horse, I looked up at him and asked, “Where are you taking us?”
“To Koeberg,” he said, “For the hamster-wheel.”