Chapter 1. Returning home


The car sped across the barren landscape, heading in a northerly direction, on highway R64. Heidi’s stepfather had just collected her from St Catherine’s Academy in Bloemfontein, for the final time. No more classes, or tutors yelling at her; and no more smelly dormitories, crammed full of sweaty teenage girls. It wasn’t that she disliked girls, no, on the contrary, she loved some of them, but she liked her space and there was very little available in their living quarters.

She had just turned 19 and suffered seven long years at St Catherine’s, where she had excelled in sport, but failed in most of the academic subjects. She pushed her yellow skirts between her thighs and lifted her knees, so she could twist in the leather seat and watch her stepfather.

He was strangely quiet and driving faster than he normally did on the rare occasions she was with him in the car. The journey to their farm was over 100 kilometres, but the road to Boshof wasn’t usually busy early on a Friday afternoon, so it was sometimes possible to get home inside an hour.

“Are you in a hurry, Dad?”

He glanced at the teenager. “Not really. Sit up straight, Dee. Didn’t they teach you anything at that damn academy?”

She didn’t move. “I learnt a lot of useful things, Dad, but I doubt if they’d interest you.”

“That fucking place has had a shit load of my hard-earned rand, so you’d better have something to show for it.”

The car’s tyres squeeled when he steered around a slow-moving bus. Heidi had failed all her exams, not because she was thick, but because she lost interest in her studying. There were far more interesting things to do and none of them involved studying!

“Your mother would spin in her grave if she knew about your grades.”

Heidi wished that her stepfather would stop referring to her real mother, because he had never met her. She died giving birth to Heidi, long before he came on the scene. Her real father remarried within a month, to Dova, a tough, surely Zulu woman, who had grown up on the ranch as a servant and became his housekeeper. A wealthy white landowner marrying a black servant, caused quite a stir in the neighbourhood, but the country was changing and so were the neighbours.

Then tragedy struck again when her father was murdered in 1998 - she was only 5 at the time. Dova, who already had two sons, married Sandile (Sandy), also of Zulu heritage. He had two sons of his own from a previous marriage and because they were black and pure Zulu (So they claimed), they lorded it over the others.

The pair became the guardians of a blonde haired blue-eyed white girl, but because Dova’s boys were of mixed race, and she was young, she didn’t feel out of place. Sandy and Dova owned 50% of the Ndosi ranch, a property that had been in Heidi’s family for three generations. She owned 50% of the property, which was left to her in her father’s will. However, she was going to have to wait nearly two years to inherit it on her 21st birthday. Until then, Dova and Sandy had full control of the estate.

She didn’t begrudge them inheriting a share, because after they put her in a boarding school when she was 11, the Operman ranch prospered under their management. They changed the name to the Ndosi farm and expanded the pig farming side of the business. She was jealous of her four stepbrothers, for they had been home tutored to a high educational standard and were helping to run the farm.

Dee clutched the door handle when Sandy crossed a lane and steered into a minor road. The Mercedes’s suspension suddenly had to work overtime to cope with the rougher road surface.

“So, are you gonna tell me what that toffshed has taught you in the last few years.”

“Let’s get one thing straight, Dad. The money for my education has come out of my trust fund, so it was my fucking money that went down the toilet.”

“Watch your mouth, girl. You’re my kid until you’re twenty-one and don’t forget it. So what was wrong with the academy?”

“The teachers were corrupt and favoured the lucky few, mostly white students, who could buy good results and an easy ride. The rest of us and the black students had to put up with endless punishments and constant sexual abuse.”

The knuckles of Sandy’s fingers turned white, where he gripped the car’s leather clad steering wheel.

“You won’t find a South African senior school that isn’t corrupt. Did you learn anything from such a tough experience?”

Dee sat upright, angered by his question. “You knew what I was going through? How I’ve been treated all these years.”

“You had to learn the way of the world. About discrimination. How the privilege few treat us like trash. How they get all the rich pickings. You needed to see and experience these things before you returned to the ranch.”

“It doesn’t bother you that teachers made me remove my panties …”

“Enough, Dee. Spare me the vile details.”

“Black and white teachers beating my bare ass, Dad, and then putting their fingers inside me.”

“Dee, I said, enough! Speak out of line again and I’ll beat you on your bare ass myself!”

She was stunned by his threat and fell silent. Her stepfather hadn’t spoken to her like that since she was little, but then again, they hadn’t seen much of each other during the last few years. The barren countryside rushed by as they raced toward the family estate. Dee stroked her muscular white thigh and noticed it was covered with goose bumps. She wasn’t used to air conditioning, but was enjoying the cool climate inside the car.

A ten-minute silence calmed her down, but she continued to mull over her stepfather’s emphatic statement.

“Things have changed, Dee, since you last set foot on the ranch.”

“I’m not surprised, I’ve been away for nearly five years.”

After entering St Catherine’s, Dova and Sandile often came to Bloemfontein and took her on holidays with them, but never took her back to the Ndosi farm. The holidays were good, even though her stepparents clamped down on her whenever they could. She accepted their strict attitude, because it mirrored the treatment she received at the academy.

Having black parents meant that she gravitated toward the black students, who in the main, accepted her when they saw her being ostracized by the white kids. Consequently, she was much more comfortable being in the company of native South Africans.

“We’ve built a pork processing plant, so we can manufacture our own line of sausages. It’s a fully automated process and only needs a small number of staff to run it.”

“So, have you put the boys in charge of that?”

“No, Dova is running that side of the farm’s activities.”

Sandy (Sandile), wasn’t telling her something. “And the boys? What are they up to?”

“They’re helping me with a new development that I’m working on.”

“Development? Tell me more.”

“I will, when we arrive at the ranch. What we’re doing isn’t easy to put into words.”

“So, it’s illegal?”

“I like to think of it as payback for centuries of oppression by the white imperialistic foreigners.”

Dee thought for a moment. If her stepfamily were involved in something shady, involving subjugating white people, she wanted to know all about it. She had suffered for years both physical and sexual abuse at their hands, so wasn’t averse to giving some back. However, she couldn’t imagine what Sandy and the boys were up to.

She let her imagination run wild. “Let me guess. You’re kidnapping Afrikaners and adding them to the pork, to produce a unique flavour of sausage?”

She could think of at least a dozen white students in her year that she wouldn’t have any qualms about throwing into a mincer. Her birth parents were British, so she had a natural dislike for the bolshie whites of Dutch descent.

He took his eyes off the road and grimaced at her. “You’re not wide of the mark, Dee, but that’s not our aim. We’ve branched out into producing human pets.”

“Pets? How the hell do you turn someone into a pet?

“A few minor bodily alterations, prior to giving them a new appearance. After some rigorous training, they’re ready for the market.”

“Christ, Dad. What sort of market is that?”

“Our own market on the dark web. Your brother, Phila, deals with that side of it. You won’t believe what someone will pay for a human puppy and the amount of clients interested in them.”

“No, I guess I wouldn’t,” she muttered. Then a bit louder. “Male, or female? White, or black?”

“There’s demand for every variation and combination, but most of our sales are white females and we specialize in puppies.”

“I can think of a couple of bitches who would be ripe for converting.”

“I’m sure you can, but we cast our net much wider afield, so as not to draw attention to ourselves and the production line we’ve set up here.”

“Production line, Heh?”

As they approached the corner of the Ndosi estate, she immediately noticed that a high security fence had been erected along the boundary.

“That’s new, Dad,” she said, pointing through the windshield.

“Ten foot high, topped with razor wire. All the farms are erecting fences around here, to keep out the thieving rustlers.”

Beyond the wire, in the distance, she could see the familiar domed shelters that housed the farm’s sounder of pigs and boars. A small, one room glass sided bungalow had been built just inside the fence for a security officer, who could be seen sitting at a desk, in full view of the passing traffic.

Sandy tooted his horn as he passed, prompting the young guy to give him a wave. The road ran alongside the fence, but Sandy slowed down when they approached a set of electric gates. A guard emerged from the gatehouse and as soon as the gates had opened far enough, he waved them through. Sandy stopped beside the guard. They exchanged a few words, before he pulled away and headed up the drive toward the crest.

“This security must be costing a bomb, Dad.”

“It’s protecting two businesses and we can’t afford any snoopers.”

Another fence had been erected just beyond the crest, but the gates were automatic and opened as they approached. Sandy pulled into the first of a line of parking spaces, which were bordered by tall hedges. The 8 feet high barrier stood in front of a ring of trees that surrounded the ranch house. Heidi climbed out of the car and looked around the newly formed parking area.

“What do you think, Dee?” he asked from across the top of the car.

A wooden gate bared the way through the leafy barrier. “You no longer drive up to the house?”

“No, only for deliveries; and even then we usually go round the back.” He pointed to a wide gravel track opposite to where she was standing and at right angles to the main drive. Another wooden gate blocked that route. “All the farm traffic uses the service road.”

“Why the double fence, Dad?”

“We let the dogs loose at night between the fences. The dogs and CCTV gives us watertight security.”

From what her father was saying, they had a lot to hide from prying eyes. He had always kept a half dozen Dobermans, but they accompanied guards on patrol, before he erected the fences.

He drummed his fingers on the car. “Dee, I’m warning you now that the next twenty-two months are going to be difficult for you. You’ve got to learn the workings of the farm from the bottom up. The decisions we have made about your immediate future are for your own good. Understand?”

“No, Dad. I don’t understand. Half of this farm is mine and I don’t expect to be bossed about by you and the boys.”

“I aint arguing with you, Dee. If you make trouble, or step out of line, I, or your mother will punish you.” His handsome features looked stern and resolute, so there was little point in arguing with him.

“Do you punish the boys?”

“Yes, we do and I can tell you that we have many methods at our disposal. Now, let’s walk round to the factory and find Dova.”

Dee was disgruntled, but was dying to see some examples of her stepfather’s human pets, so she shrugged the threat off and joined Sandy for a pleasant walk in the hot, early-afternoon sunshine.