From their advantageous position above the town, Robert watched an engine run two trucks full of dynamite that had standing in the railway station, up to a northern siding. Wise to get those clear of the town.
As he watched, the Boers engaged the engine and trucks about eight-miles from the town, firing on them with field guns. From a distance, he could see the engine moving back towards the town. The Boers continued to bombard the trucks, obviously thinking they were full of soldiers. The dull booming report of their guns floated on the still air.
Moments later, the trucks exploded with a tremendous whirr-rump sound. The enormous sound rolled across the barren countryside like thunder. The two balls of flame that had been the trucks burned with a brightness that Robert couldn’t look at. Dark, oily fumes rose in the air, fanning out into a huge mushroom cloud that hovered above the veld like a malevolent genie in a children’s storybook.
The tiny figures of the Boers scattered, all running in different directions. Out of the corner of his eye, Robert caught Richard gazing in astonished horror at this unexpected inferno. He put a comforting arm around his shoulders. “Go down to the town and tell them what has happened.” The look of relief and gratitude in Richard’s eyes causes Robert’s own eyes to mist up slightly. It is a terrible thing that these young boys have to witness such vicious scenes of death and destruction.
Later that afternoon, Robert was among the men who went out in the armoured train to inspect the damage. A large hole in the ground, surrounded by displaced earth and twisted chunks of metal, denoted the site, but, as the tracks had been pulled up, the train had to stop some distance away. A group of Boers mounted on horses, were gathered around the hole. Robert and his peers proceeded to fire on the gathering with a Maxim from the cover of the train. Two fell from their horses in a shower of red and the remainder hurriedly galloped away towards their laager to the north east of the town.
I have shared this short extracted from the as yet unedited A Ghost and His Gold for Sue Vincent’s weekly photo challenge. You can join in here: https://scvincent.com/2020/01/02/thursday-photo-prompt-fume-writephoto/