I’ve neglected this blog a little bit, but I think it will work out. I read H. Rider Haggard’s She for my November Canon Blast post– which you can find over on my Patreon for just $1/month– and it was a hoot. And I mean that sarcastically, because I really did not like it at all. This little ficlet is a companion story for poor abused Mahomed. Haggard was really terrible to him.
I read The Left Hand of Darkness for December, and there is no companion story because holidays. But there should be one for this month’s Canon Blast, so expect that sometime in February. Or January if you subscribe to Patreon. Again, it’s only $1.
As always, from my fanfiction days, a disclaimer. She and all its characters belongs to H. Rider Haggard (or his estate, I assume.) With that— here’s your She companion story:
Flash in the Pan
The last thing that Mahomed smelled was his mother’s cooking. Not the singe of his eyebrows, or the sweat of the Amahagger holding him down, or even the charcoal and clay of the scalding hot pot that was about to lowered over his head. No, he smelled his mother’s heavily spiced falafel and he longed for home.
He’d left home so many years before that he’d lost count, to seek his fortune as a merchant and a guide in the hazardous jungles of Africa. In the back of his mind, he’d always known that it was a possibility that he’d end up somebody’s meal. The Englishmen had warned him of this from his first day as a trader, though Mahomed had always chalked it up to the superstitions of men who had no interest in learning others’ customs. Now, as he sat, held hostage and about to have a crockery placed on his head, Mahomed wished he’d listened to his instincts and ditched Holly and Leo immediately after the shipwreck.
He also wished that he’d listened to his mother and joined the Mosque instead of seeking his fortune overseas. Mahomed could be sitting in her kitchen instead of a cave, surrounded by the aromatic spices that she used to flavor her rice, and studying the Quran. He’d been a good student as a younger man, with above average handwriting. He could have been a scholar, at least. It was a quiet profession, but he might have excelled, and he was seriously regretting his taste for adventure.
Mahomed closed his eyes and for a moment, he was a child again. He was sitting at the table in his mother’s kitchen, his little sister across from him, challenging him to a race because she wanted to prove that she wasn’t so little anymore. Her face, with her warm brown eyes and dark glossy hair was immortalized in his mind at that age. She’d been lost to disease not long after. His mother’s face was hazy in his mind, her back to the table in the memory, tending to something on the stove, as she frequently did.
When Mahomed opened his eyes, he was back in the cave, a fraction of a second later. Through the blaze of flames in front of him he could see Holly on the other side of the fire, panic in his features. The arms of the Amahagger holding him down squeezed painfully. The red glow of the hot pot entered his peripheral vision. Mahomed suddenly saw the barrel of Holly’s pistol pointed at him, and stopped thrashing. He sent a silent goodbye to his mother, if she was still alive, and a short prayer to Allah, before he resigned himself to his fate.
At least the ugly old Englishman was a good shot.
Author’s Note: Mahomed is the man Holly and Leo hire to be their boat captain, guide, and all around servant during their hike into the jungle, and he’s treated terribly, by both the indigenous people that they encounter and by Holly and Leo themselves. He meets his untimely demise in a cave as a victim of “hot-potting,” although Holly does manage to shoot him before and put him out of his misery. I thought he deserved a little back story, however brief, and somehow I doubt your WHOLE life flashes before your eyes in your final moments.