Wet Zebra
Short story
Richard de Nooy
writing analysis
story analysis
plot analysis


plot analysis
Rustum Kozain

The Anatomy of WET ZEBRA

[This story begins with an exchange on Twitter. The author reads a tweet that deeply intrigues him. He has doubts about responding, but can’t restrain himself. He is actually asking @Ntshalie's permission to write the story.]

[The author loves a challenge and decides to write the opening in such a way that he has a trapdoor, an escape route if there's any backlash for taking on a topic that is far beyond the scope of his own experience. He includes @Ntshalie's "Do it" almost as a seal of approval, but also to let readers know what prompted the story's opening tweet.]

The receptionist knew. It was written all over her face. The probing question spelled out by her eyebrows: What kind of woman checks into a lodge alone at Christmas? A young woman, with city flair and expensive hair, towering heels, expertly accessorised. An expert accessory?

[The tweet gets a very warm response indeed. The author smells blood and is emboldened, but he must be careful. He is still writing about a topic he is unfamiliar with. "Write what you know,' he thinks. All he knows at this point is that he is a middle-aged white man writing about the experiences of a young, black woman. Despite his doubts, he writes and tweets the exchange between his protagonist and the receptionist in a matter of minutes.]

"Are you on your own?"
"Yes, I am."
"He's...You've booked a double."
"Have I?"
"Yes. I could rebook you into a single if you like. A suite."
"No, I'll take the double."
"Are you sure?"
The receptionist pretended to smile.
"Is the fridge stocked?"
"Of course."

[Another strong response. The writer is further emboldened. However, he decides to stick with dialogue, because it allows him to steer clear of descriptions of the characters and their surroundings, as well as their thoughts. He knows the race of the characters, but doesn't want to state it explicitly yet.]

Squealing children raced across the lawn in their bright costumes. The boy pushed his sister as they ran. She fell face down in the grass. The boy leapt into the pool, howling.
"They're next door to you," said the receptionist.
"Are they?"
"Do you want the single?"
"Yes, please."

"Breakfast is at..."
"I'll take some fruit to my room, if that's okay."
"Of course."
"What's that smell?"
"There's a funny...strange smell in here."
"That zebra is still wet, I think."
"The hide. There. On the floor."
"It's wet?"
"Still fresh. Not fully dry."

[The title springs to mind immediately: WET ZEBRA, because it raises questions, has a certain ambiguity and is full of symbolism that can be exploited in various ways. The author decides to feed the reader some of this symbolism. At this point he takes a giant leap and decides that his own perceptions and sense of irony will suffice for his protagonist. He has become her, in a sense. Or more precisely, she has become him. Her interaction with the world is, however, completely different to his own. The author is in disguise, as it were, playing a role in the world he has created. This is one of the great joys of writing: living other people's lives.]

She stared at the wavy, bar-code pattern. Spot the ten differences. She saw four almost immediately. "They don't match."
"The left and right sides—they aren't the same."
"Aren't they?"
"No. Did they shoot it?"
"Yes. For the lions."
"The lions?"
"The park isn't very big."

[Before writing the above tweet, the author checks photos of zebra skins on the web, confirming that there are indeed differences between the left and right sides. Having scrutinised photos of game lodge interiors, he expresses his own sense of amazement via his protagonist, bending them to the eye of the beholder and the character he is playing. ]

Trophies lined the walls. Bored to death. Glassy stares. As if they'd stopped to remember where they were going when they were shot. She felt sorry for the receptionist. "Weird this."
"All these dead things."
"You get used to it."
"Like a hospital in a graveyard."

The little girl was kneeling on the grass, crying Disney tears. Her mother came out onto the patio in her bathrobe. She shook her head at her son, who fell back into the pool, laughing. Then she bent forward lithely, regally, and picked a blade of grass off her daughter’s nose.

[At this point, the author decides he needs help. He has no idea whether the mother in question, a wealthy, black woman, would come out onto the patio in her bathrobe. He also decides that he needs names for his characters, which will allow him to reveal their race without actually referring to it. He contacts @Ntshalie, who is enthusiastic and not only gives him permission to use her name for the protagonist, but also names the other characters in the story. The author is slightly overwhelmed, but also further emboldened. He can fucking do this! He also decides to steer clear of the predictable. The wife is a beautiful, friendly person and a very good mother. This complicates matters for the protagonist. The issue of guilt and shame can now be raised almost implicitly.]

Fuck. Zero bitchiness. No seething anger or shouting. Nothing. She helped her daughter stand up, checked her water wings and walked her to the pool. When her son started splashing water at them, she simply tilted her head back and waved him away like an errant fly.

“Morning or evening?” said the receptionist.
“Or both?”
“Both what?”
“Both morning and evening?”
“But morning and evening what?”
“The game drives.”
“I don’t have a car.”
“I know. There’s like a jeep.”
“A big vehicle.”
“It can take everyone.”
“Them too?”

[At this point, the author takes the plunge and decides that the protagonist and wife must meet. He also has names for the characters, which means he can bring them into the story convincingly. Names have immense power, especially in this case. You can see this by replacing "Zakhele's stride" with "her lover's stride" in the passage below.]

She froze. Was that the calm confidence of Zakhele’s stride echoing up into the rafters? She took a deep breath, fully prepared, but still nervous as hell, like pre-exam jitters. His aftershave embraced her from behind. “Good afternoon, sir,” smiled the receptionist. “Hello Melanie.”

[The author throws caution to the wind. He decides to play with his own doubts about names and unfamiliar characters by weaving them into the story, playing with the fact that white people often struggle to pronounce the names of black people. He also sets up a sick burn for his protagonist by naming the receptionist Melanie. He can't wait to tweet it, but must develop the plot first.]

“And you must be Nomantshali,” smiled Zakhele.
Her teeth clacked as she closed her slackened jaw to speak.
“Thanks for coming all the way out here,” he continued.
“No problem,” she stammered. “Just call me Nats.”
Zakhele winked. “Nats is a secret surprise for my wife, Melanie.”

The receptionist gaped at Zakhele.
“That’s, ja-no, very nice.”
“Nats will be working as our nanny…”
The FUCK she will!
“…but I don’t want my wife to know. Yet.”
“Of course!” said Melanie. “I love surprises.”
“Great. We'll be exchanging notes, because my wife took my phone.”

Her mind and body chorused: the FUCK we will! But she heard her disloyal mouth mumble: “That’s fine by me.”
“Excellent,” Zakhele winked, handing her a note. “Here’s the first.” “Miss Noshamali is…”
“Nomantshali…” said Zakhele.
“Call me Nats, Melanin.”
“Miss Nats is in Suite 4.”

[Having tweeted his sick burn, the author has doubts as to whether readers will actually spot it. Fortunately, several readers post crying-with-laughter emojis about "Melanin", which the author retweets with glee.]

“Good to know,” said Zakhele. “Melanie will be our post office.”
The receptionist cackled.
Nats watched him stride across the lobby. She’d never seen him in shorts before. They made his calves look thin. And moccasins? What the fuck?
“The game drives are…”
“Let me unpack first.”

[Having described Zakhele without going into detail, the author decides to give a little more attention to the setting. The descriptive tweets prove to be most challenging, because they sprawl and have to be pruned to 280-character format. He eventually spends almost an hour on this tweet, eventually posting it with pride and relief.]

Sweet Jesus floating—this must be the Died-And-Gone-To-Heaven Suite. Towering thatch, leather armchairs, a fireplace, polished infinity spilling out through sprawling glass vistas at the foot of a gauze-canopied four-poster. She flipped as she dove into the croissant of cushions.

[The next tweet is also challenging, because the author has to cram the contents of a note between lovers into a single tweet. He also decides to stir in a plot twist: there are only a few guests at the lodge, which means it is more difficult for Nats to keep a low profile.]


[Nats has already proved herself feisty, but the author wants to avoid a predictable, vindictive response. He also decides to weave his own doubts about his disguise into the story. This adds depth to the character: she too is playing a role.]

She felt no anger, no righteous indignation, no venomous frustration. As if a spell had been lifted, as if the lights had come on after a spectacular performance. She was still wearing the costume and makeup, but the show was over. She had run out of script. No applause. Nothing.

[The author likes this new Nats, because she offers him more dimensions in which he can incorporate his own thoughts and ideas about her life.]

This was not a stage where she could direct the action. Yes, it was a hotel, with an anonymous bed, much like the others where she’d learned to read his cues, so that she could improvise new ways of fucking his brains out. But this was the real world. She could hear it shrieking.

[Seeking a way to express what Nats is thinking, the author donates one of his own habits. When he wants to gather his thoughts, he likes to fold laundry, almost as if he is ordering and sorting his mind in a physical way. He lets Nats fold Zakhele's note into a fortune teller, which is not only symbolic, but also hints at her youthfulness and vulnerability.]

She needed a new script, a survival strategy for the coming days. She picked up Zakhele’s note, started reading, but then folded the bottom corner up diagonally, flattening the crease with her cherry-red nails. Minutes later she held a fortune-teller in her hands. A folded plan.

She turned the taps on. The hot water sprayed out almost immediately. Impressive. She wiggled her toes on the cool tiles, felt the tightness of her shoes flowing away as she walked barefoot across the polished wood. She heaved her suitcase onto the bed and picked up the phone.

[At this point, the author has decided where the story is going, but he is not yet sure what path it will take. One thing is certain: Nats will be going on the game drive with Zakhele and his family. He has decided how he might arrange this convincingly.]

“Reception. How may I help you?”
“It's Nats. In Suite 4.”
“Oh hi.”
“I’d like to order lunch.”
“Of course. What would you like?”
“A small Caesar salad. With some chicken maybe?”
“Sure. Dressing?”
“Separate please.”
“And what time is the evening drive?”

[The author is not a huge fan of repetitive cliffhangers, but he has urged readers to like his tweets (more love = faster updates), which means he has a self-imposed duty to keep them interested.]

“It leaves at four-thirty.”
“Do I need to book?”
“No. It’s busier than the morning drive, but you’ll fit in.”
“That would be a first.”
“Nothing. I’m running a bath, so…”
“I’ll let them bring the salad in an hour, okay?”
“Perfect. Thanks, Melanie.”
“My pleasure, Nomkomasi.”

[Emboldened by the response to his earlier name pronunciation jokes, the author decides that the running name battle between Nomantshali and Melanie must continue.]

Nomkomasi? Ferfucksakes. More proof that she was back in the real world—the Land of Fokmynameup! Hel-Lo-Mo-Jo. She opened her suitcase and began composing her bush-bae outfit as she got undressed. She'd planned to go full-on Lara Croft, but opted for screw-you-mozzies instead.

[The author is now faced with a major obstacle: he knows precious little about the bathing rituals of black women. He has, however, learned on Twitter that black women are very sensitive about their hair. He also knows that Nats has "expensive hair" (it's in the opening tweet) and he knows that braids are expensive because they require a lot of work. He decides that Nats would never take a bath without ensuring the safety of her hair. But would a game lodge, catering mainly for white guests, have a shower cap? Possibly, but the author is now feeling hyper-confident and decides to go for broke. If it's an unconvincing fuck-up, he can always delete, revise and repost.]

Jesus, you could make a bathful of tea. She turned off the hot and ran the cold on full, checking the toiletries basket for a shower cap. Fuck. She hadn’t packed one either, so she opened the bin, took out the liner, wrapped it around her braids and knotted it on her forehead.

Having twisted a towel into a white turban, she arched her back, pointed her breasts and raised an admonishing finger at herself in the mirror. “Crawl! Mangy Cur!” The Cleopatra act had been a big turn-on for Zakhele. “Now watch me bathe my ass in this milk. STOP LAUGHING, CUR!”

[The author and his protagonist are now naked. He decides to get sexy, pushing the story to a point where he is literally and figuratively testing the water. How much can his readers take before he is called to order? The game is on.]

The water rose to the rim, sneaking into all her gaps and crevices as she lowered herself into the bath. She lay dead still. The sleek smoothness of soft skin on porcelain had always fed her fantasy, but she’d learned the hard way that water wasn’t the best lubricant for dick.

[Readers are shocked, but also express their love for the story in great numbers. Meanwhile, the author is preparing for his next challenge: a conversation between Nats and the (nameless) black waitress who brings her salad. He wants their conversation to reflect the contrast between the two women, but has no idea whether he can do so convincingly. He writes the exchange and eventually sends it to his favourite ethical beacon, Rustum Kozain. Rustum gives the go-ahead, but the author still isn't sure whether he has got the tone and nuance of the exchange right. He holds back for a couple of tweets, waiting for @Ntshalie to give her seal of approval.]

As she massaged moisturiser into her legs, there was a soft knock on the door. When she opened, she saw an elderly woman in a dark-green duster, with a red-and-white cap on her head.
“I will come back,” said the waitress, nodding at her bathrobe.
“Come in, sister. We must talk.”

 The waitress looked around furtively, as if she expected to see more semi-naked people lounging around.
She put her tray on the coffee table.
“What’s with the hat?”
“It’s Christmas uniform.”
“Jesus wept. I need help.”
The waitress nodded.
“Come knock when the jeep is full, okay?”

[@Ntshalie still hasn't replied, so the author decides to double down and hope for the best. Again, if it proves to be unconvincing, he can delete, revise and repost.]

“You’re a black woman.”
“That’s for whites.”
“There are wild animals there.”
“That’s the whole point.”
“Think of your ancestors.”
“What? Why?”
“They kept the animals out.”
“And you? You work here?”
“This is my life. You can choose.”
“Just come knock, okay?”

[The author holds his breath after tweeting. You can imagine his relief when the first reply is: "Haha, I once had this exact conversation!" Feeling bolder than a baboon on crack, the author decides that he can play with the ancestors.]

The ancestors? Jesus.
The fridge was crammed. Wow. She lined up two miniatures of gin and a bottle of tonic, setting the tray down on the bed to enjoy the view. The ancestors had picked a perfect spot. Overlooking the river. Why go hunting if you can let the animals come to you?

Warm fingers of gin massaged her from inside as she chewed her chicken. Too nice. Maybe she should just stay here. Unwrap one of the books she'd bought for Zakhele to give to her for Christmas. Fuck the game drive. Just lie here reading. Please the ancestors for once. Fuck no.

[Having decided that Nats will be going on the game drive, the author decides to plant the pepper spray on her, just in case she has to extricate herself from some hectic situation. At this point, the author knows that something will happen during the drive, but is not yet sure what it will be, nor who will be involved, nor how they will respond. He is also unsure how sensitive lions are to pepper spray. He knows he will have to check this if Nats decides to use the spray.]

Zipping up her knee-high boots, she listened to the chit-chat out in the passage. The bush hat looked silly perched on her wrap, so she ditched it. Then she dug the pepper spray out of her handbag and put it in her thigh pocket. Come at me, animals! The ancestors would be proud.

She heard Zakhele’s boy sprinting down the passage. The little girl was whining: momma this, momma that. The silence bought in the bush: birdcalls, crickets, a distant hippo honking. She zipped up her suede jacket, slipped on her shades and slung her handbag over her shoulder.

[The author has found a simple way to bring lions into the story. He has already seeded this early on in the story, when Melanie tells Nats that the rangers shoot animals because the park is small. This was a lucky guess based on his knowledge of conservation.]

Loud knocking.
“Miss Nats?” It was Melanie.
“Could you please hurry? Geoff is waiting!”
“Tell Geoff I’m coming.”
“Okay! But come quick. There’s a lion kill!”
She counted down from twenty, took a deep breath, checked the mirror (slay!) and stepped out into the passage.

The jeep was big and open. Very open. In fact, it had NO fucking windows or sides. None. Jesus wept. What fresh, white madness was this? Nats donned her biggest fuck-you smile and waved. Zakhele and his family had first-row seats behind ranger Geoff and his tracker.

[The author decides to bring Zimbabweans into the story, partly because he knows some Zimbabweans have beautifully graphic names, like Justice, which presents all sorts of fun possibilities within his developing story. He also thinks a Zimbabwean tracker might be a perfect alternative love interest for Nats. Someone she can use to get back at Zakhele.]

“Good afternoon, MADAM. Glad you could join us.”
(Fuck off, Geoff.) “Sorry to keep you all waiting! Is there room?”
“Justice will take the hood seat.”
“Justice?” Nats shook the tracker’s hand as he stepped out of the jeep.
“We’re from Zim. You’re my shotgun girl today. Sit.”

Geoff stood up and faced his audience, holding the wheel like a ship’s captain. Nats quarter-turned. Zakhele ignored her by staring at Geoff, who was explaining that he wanted to drive faster than usual, so they could get to the kill before the sun set and get better pictures.

[Hurried driving presents the author with the opportunity to give the readers a surprise. For instance, a kudu breaking out of the bush and coming through the windscreen, narrowly missing Justice and impaling Geoff. The author doubts that it will be convincing. His partner, who is reading over his shoulder, agrees.]

Jesus, the wife was gorgeous. Like a gentle, friendly version of Naomi Campbell. Skin like a fucking airbrushed queen. She leaned forward, smiling, to shake her hand. “Nontokozo,” she whispered.
“And this is Bernice. And Li.”
“Short for Liyanda.”
“Oh, of course.”

[The author is still milking the name jokes. He decides that he needs to develop Nats' relationship with Zakhele's kids, because this is an easier and more logical route to take than developing the relationship between Nats and Nontokozo. Kids are more easily accessible and he knows what questions he would ask. The author has also decided that Nats needs a very good reason to get out of the jeep. A dropped toy and the threat of angry parents seems solid enough. This might also be an excellent opportunity to let readers know what Nats looks like, without actually describing her.]

The kids were exquisite, too. As if they’d been picked from some exclusive catalogue. The boy was playing with a bright toy.
“What’s that, Li?”
“Fidget spinner.”
“Shh,” hissed Zakhele.
“Are you on TV?” asked Li.
Nats smiled. “People always say I look like Lupita.”
“Who’s Lupita?”

[Because he's not sure everyone will know who Lupita is, the author decides to let Li pose their questions.]

“She’s an actress. Did you see Jungle Book?”
“With Mowgli and Baloo and…Shere Khan!” the boy growled.
Zakhele shot darts at her from behind his shades.
She smiled. “She was the mommy wolf. The voice.”
The boy shook his head, flicking the spinner between his fingers.

“There are no wolves here,” said Li.
“Who needs wolves when you’ve got lions?” laughed Geoff.
Nats leaned across to him: “What did you shoot for them today, Geoff?”
The ranger knitted his brow. “Our lions are… Look! Kudus!”
They pranced into the thicket as Geoff slowed down.

[There are those kudus that almost crashed through the windscreen. The author has now used them to give Geoff a means of escaping from an uncomfortable conversation. Geoff has no idea how lucky he is...]

“Buck are boring.”
“Come sit, Li,” said Nontokozo.
“So what do you want to see?” asked Nats. “The Big Five?”
“We don’t have all five here,” said Geoff.
“Warthogs and meerkats.”
“The Lion King,” said Nontokozo.
“Of course: Timon and Pumbaa!”
“Pumbaa is the warthog,” Li eye-rolled.

[The author has children. They can be annoying little shits. This is familiar territory for him. The feeding habits of lions are less familiar, but he suspects that a hungry lion will not attack, unless some other animal tries to take its food. He is up shit creek without a lion. But then he remembers that young lions are often chased away from a kill. That means he has FULLY-GROWN FUCKING LIONS THAT ARE HUNGRY AND PLAYFUL! This is turning into a walk in the (game) park. He also decides to give Nats some freedom by letting her break up with Zakhele on the spot.]

“Don’t be rude, Li. Come sit,” said Zakhele.
Nats smiled. She felt more relaxed now that she’d broken up with him.
The radio crackled: “Look out for the youngsters.”
Geoff shouted to Justice in Shona.
The tracker gave a thumbs-up.
“Who was that?”
“The jeep from the other lodge.”

[Of course Li is totally disinterested in the kill. The author once spent four days driving around the Kruger Park with two kids reading Donald Duck in the backseat.]

“Ee-uw,” said Li as they drew up to the kill. The lions were feasting on the zebra’s organs in the paling dusk. Everyone looked on in awe, taking photos with their phones and cameras. The lions were fucking huge. You could hear them gnawing. Nats felt a tap on her shoulder.

When she turned, Li pointed at his fingers and then at the grass outside the jeep. He’d dropped his spinner. Nats rolled her eyes at him. Li eye-rolled back at her. Everyone was focused on the kill. Nats stepped out of the jeep. She smelled the lion before she saw or heard it.

[Bugger. The author has already mentioned "youngsters", which means there are at least two. This complicates matters somewhat.]

Not one, but two lions. They were standing up against the jeep like dogs, staring at Li. And Li was staring back, his eyes and mouth gaping in mute terror.

[At this point, the author has already decided that no one will die, but he wants to toy with his readers emotions, so he runs a fucking poll on Twitter, partly because he already suspects what the outcome will be, but also because he knows he is going to do exactly as he fucking-well pleases.]

The lion closest to Nats leapt up nimbly and grabbed Li by his shoulder, as if it was picking up a cub, pulling the boy out of the jeep like a rag doll. Only then did Li scream, causing pandemonium to erupt. Nats responded as if she did this kind of thing for a living.

As the lion dragged Li towards the thicket, screaming, Nats ran forward like a warrior princess and dove onto the beast’s back, wrapping her arms around its neck, locking her fingers into the bracelets around her wrists. The boy gazed at her in terror, then fainted.

The second lion, loping alongside them, turned its bloody maw, looked Nats in the eye and licked her face. Its rough tongue pulled her lip up and she tasted the iron tang of raw meat, the warm stench of zebra innards. When Nats roared, the lion licked her face again.

As they ducked into the thorn thicket, Nats buried her face in the scruff of the lion’s neck, gagging at the scent of piss. Thorns and branches grabbed at her scarf and jacket and legs, as the lion dragged them further into the darkness of the lair, where it lay down, panting.

[The author decides he wants to keep the other characters as close as possible. He doesn't want the lion to drag Li and Nats too far, leaving them to their own devices. Darkness ensures that Geoff can't take the risk of taking a shot at the lions. Win!]

Nats listened to the lion’s laboured breathing.
Torchlight searched among the thorn branches.
She heard Nontokozo screaming: “Liiiiiii!-Liiiiiiii!-Liiiiii!”
Close, but so far off.
Geoff shouted: “Peter! PETER! It’s the fucking youngsters. Get in there, Justice!”

[Time for another name joke, just to take the edge off the tension. This is also an ideal moment to get Justice involved in the action, increasing his potential as a love interest. The author decides to weave his own doubts into the story by having the characters ask and answer questions that the reader might have.]

“Hello?! Miss?! MISS NONCHEMALE?!”
She heard Zakhele say her name. They were that close.
“Miss Nats?” It was Geoff again. “If you can hear me, try to lie completely still. We’re sending someone in? Try to stay calm, okay? Try not to scream. They’re youngsters. Learning to hunt.”

Learning to hunt? Jesus. They’d just snatched a seven-year-old out of a fucking jeep. How much more did they need to learn?
“They’re good at catching, but not killing. They’re playing.”
How very fucking comforting, Geoff.
“Just lie still. I’m going to fire a couple of shots.”

Zakhele expressed her thoughts. “Are you fucking crazy?!”
“I meant warning shots. In the air. To scare them off.”
Jesus wept. She had a fucking lion chilling on her arm. What if it panicked and bit her face off?
Ever so slowly, Nats reached for the pepper spray in her thigh pocket.

[The author still has no idea how the lions will respond to pepper spray, but he wants to fucking use what he planted. As Anton Chekhov so succinctly put it: ""If a gun is on the mantle in the first act, it must go off in the third." Those are the rules, people.]

If she was going to be lion dinner, she would be fucking spicy. Edging the spray out of her pocket, she heard Zakhele arguing with Geoff. Other guests started chipping in, offering advice and opinions. What the fuck?! Were they going to vote? Just shoot, ferfucksakes!

Her lion yawned and leaned back. The other seemed to be licking something.
Li moaned, as if he was having a nightmare.
Why were they still fucking talking?
“I know what I’m doing,” said Geoff. “They’ll run. Then Justice will go in.”
She decided to save the spray for the shot.

Muscle exploded all around her when the shots rang out. She heard the lions crashing through the thicket. She rolled over on top of Li, leaning on her elbows, aiming her spray at the lions’ line of flight. Then the jeep’s headlights came on. Shadows moved in the tangle.

“My sister?” It was Justice. He was somewhere near her feet.
“This white madness is going to get us killed,” she said.
“Oh yes, sister.” She could hear him smiling. “Where are the lions?”
“I heard them running off. Take the boy first.”
She guided the tracker’s hand to Li’s ankle.

As they inched backwards out of the thicket, Geoff called out: “There’s a chopper coming. How’s the boy?”
“We cannot see,” shouted Justice.
“It’s fucking dark in here, Geoff! ”
“Glad to hear you’re okay, Miss Nats!”
There was laughter.
“I heard him moaning just now.”
Relieved chatter.

[The author is already trying to work out how he can get rid of Zakhele in a convincing way, so that Nomantshali and Nontokozo can have dinner together. Wouldn't the mother go with her son? Probably, but not if she is terrified of flying. Problem solved. And it doesn't even have to be discussed. Also, there's Bernice who needs to be looked after.]

She heard applause as Justice pulled Li out of the thicket.
“My baby, my baby, my baby…” Nontokozo said over and over again.
The applause swelled as Nats crawled out and stood up.
She turned, shielding her eyes from the headlights.
Geoff wrapped a blanket around her shoulders.

[So now there are lights? Of course, they just didn't want to use them, because they weren't sure how the lions would respond. Ace. Now the author just had to get rid of Zakhele and bring Nontokozo back.]

Her bravery was praised in multiple accents as the helicopter hovered over the zebra kill, bright spotlight searching, its rotors gradually drowning out all other sound.
Guided by the rangers and trackers, Zakhele and Nontokozo carried their children through the rising dust.

Was the chopper too small? There was some debate. Then the paramedics hoisted Zakhele and Li aboard. Nontokozo was escorted back to the jeep, carrying Bernice. Dust clung to her regal cheeks. She bowed her head and leaned against Nats. “You are a lioness, sister. We must talk.”

[The author wants to end the story here, because he knows how much work it will take to write a convincing dialogue between Nomantshali and Nontokozo, but his readers evidently feel this will be a walk in the park for him. He decides to write a piece explaining the amount of work and thinking that goes into a story. This is that piece.]