This was written a good few years ago, and was never published but the author, who wishes to remain anonymous, sent it to me, feeling inspired. It will bring back many memories to those of us who fought the fires. – editor
Letter from WILDFIRE the DRAGON.
To the people of Cape St Francis, St Francis Bay and the Greater St Francis area.
My name is Wildfire the Dragon…
I was born on the 23rd of January 2016 in Sea Vista. I remember my mother was wearing red and yellow, and we were at a rally in the township. Eish, but me, I was not planned. I was an unwanted baby, born on the grass at the side of the road; my mother left me there and ran away. I was all alone, and a few of you already tried to kill me. You thought I was dead. But while I was scared and small, I was still warm and dry, and that is when you underestimated my power…
Some of you looked at me as you drove past, but you did not stop to kill me. Your apathy let me live. So that night, I grew, and I grew fast. I still had no name; I was still just a fire. But I had a game… already I could be seen from far and wide. I glowed in that Saturday night sky, getting bigger and stronger by the hour, and still, you did not recognise me. Still, you did not want to know about me.
On Sunday, when I had grown big and strong, I went through the farms and back to your village. Only then did some of you see me for who I was; only then did you begin to challenge me. But it wasn’t enough for me.
So that night, I crossed the road to Cape St Francis. By then, I was enormous, ubiquitous, big enough to fight you from every direction. Like a ninja, I attacked you at night. I was everywhere. I tried to break into your houses and scare your children; I blew fire in your gardens and roofs; I filled your lungs with smoke and your eyes with ashes.
I wanted your full attention. I took it out on Rebelsrus; I didn’t mean to do so much damage. I was a raging inferno, and things got out of hand. I was wild with anger, hungry and looking for attention.
I did send smoke signals to warn the animals; I’m sorry tortoises don’t run fast (it seems to be a design fault), and everyone knows snakes don’t listen well. But most of the animals were clever enough and fast enough. They have instincts. They saw me coming, and they did not hesitate, they did not take pictures, they did not pack… They just left.
But you… You did not leave. So on those days and nights, you felt my anger, witnessed my hunger, and heeded my need for attention.
I got lots of attention after that! I felt like I was on the red carpet. You were all in awe of me, your faces glowing in the heat of my radiance. You were screaming and shouting, climbing on roofs get a look at me. You were taking pictures of me and filming me from every angle, like the paparazzi. You were all talking about me, and that really built my confidence. I was on the TV, in the newspapers, and all over social media. I was in a firing frenzy; you made me feel like the rocky coast star.
But I definitely had you scared; I scared you so much that you named me…. I was Wildfire the Dragon…. I was a wicked fire-breathing monster of staggering proportions. I grew bigger and bigger.
The more I braaied, the more I ate; it was like hells kitchen out there. I got fat and greedy and fast. You’ve got to admit I gave you a good fight, a taste of war, and made you stand up together and be counted. I tested you hard, over and over.
Grovesnor CSF regiment. Hats off to you; you boys are a credit to the CSF force; it was like special ops down there, undercover tactics, spies and secret communications. The camaraderie was outstanding; you boys are tight! You had allies, old friends and local knowledge; you had ex-military, airforce, anonymous arms suppliers and vigilante troops. You had it all!
Everyone was representing CSF; one night, your secret agents tried to lure me in with my twin flame. What was her name again? Miss Backburn… Oh wow, she was big, beautiful and smoking hot. I almost fell for her when you sent her after me.
Night after night, you tried to beat me into the ground; you even drove me underground. But I kept escaping your clutches and jumping up again. I threw shots from the east and west; I loved catching you by surprise. You never knew where I was coming from.
For 8 long days, I pushed you hard. Night after night, under darkness, I tested your patience, boundaries, and airfield; hey, I even melted your boatyard. But you didn’t back down; you stood firm against me, shoulder to shoulder, and defended your village; it was amazing how you pulled together.
You put together an army of masked ninja warriors. You had tanks, choppers and planes. You had strategists, researchers and spies. Some of you really showed amazing bravery, strength and skill. You fought me day and night, tooth and nail, with everything you had.
Men and women, young and old, all races, colours and nationalities, fighting alongside each other against me. Taking care of each other against me. You were all Ubuntu at that time. United as one against a common enemy. You were almost a cliche. That was me, Wildfire the Dragon. I did that…
You had each other’s backs, and this is the lesson I taught you.
Your differences fell away for those 8 days… nothing mattered anymore…not material objects, work, money, or school; everything came back to the community. Strangers spoke to each other, and rich men and poor men fought alongside each other.
Blood, sweat and tears were shed along with status and colour. For a moment, you were all equal and never gave up. Some of you on the frontline did not sleep for a second. Only pausing to lean on each other.
Your village was under fire, and your warrior crew of hundreds were up in arms, on red alert guarding their posts with the tenacity of a honey badger.
St Francis Bay was quite the war ally. Man! You guys were like United Nations.! You had fire trucks, ambulances and specialists. You had food, photographers, reporters and transport. You had mattresses, masks, medicine and updates. You almost drowned the troops in sarmies, cool drinks and eyedrops!
There was nothing you hadn’t thought of, nothing was too much trouble, and you put your money and your time where your mouth was. Even your children drew pictures to boost the troop’s morale. I mean it seriously; the humanity you showed was truly mindblowing.
You guys didn’t need a government; in hours, you became your own government, a government made up of “people”. You took back your power, took control of your community, planned, organised, fought and funded everything by yourselves, and it worked.
Your real government were too far away, and they were grounded for much of the fight; they had so much tape around them that even their chopper blades could not cut it. The irony burns, doesn’t it? Those army airforce boys were only allowed to take a few shots at me, and I was close to my last dragon breath by then!
Yes, you did fight amongst yourselves a little; some proper tempers were lost, but what good family doesn’t have a blow-up sometimes? And yes, on occasion, there were too many Captains. Alpha males and females bump heads and jostle for control. But some true leaders rose to the surface during that time and took charge.
We had heroes and action, drama and comedy. It was a horror and a thriller all rolled into one. All the players performed their stunts, and no special effects were needed. It was all live and unscripted. There were plot twists, some fast-and-furious driving, and romance.
Anyway, the final scenes eventually came, and like all good movies, you, “the good guys”, won. Good overcame Evil. You ultimately figured it out and slayed me. “the bad fiery dragon”. You bought those angry birds and bakkie cookies? – I mean, what even is that thing? Some kind of “Boer maak a plan” effort? Well, it worked as planned. You drowned me into a soggy ashy mess. I am barely alive to fight another day.
So I will leave you guys to pick up the tab for that 8-day drinking binge! Those chlorine shots were deadly and expensive. You made me drink too many of them, and I don’t even like chlorine! And that rancid one from the pond by the tip! Cheap shot, boys! Gees, what was that stuff?!
So anyway, I know you have more hangovers to recover from, and you’re probably feeling a bit “drunk verdriet” by now.
Good luck with the mop-up. So much mess everywhere!
Eish! But don’t worry, mother nature mavis is coming. Soon it will be all clean and green again. And she will put some pretty flowers out to cheer you all up.
I’ll pull in and see you chaps in a few years, and we’ll go all out again.
The moral of the story….. don’t play with flares. You might find a dragon inside. And as we know, It’s all fun and games until somebody sets fire to your village.