Thomas was bored. He was down on his stomach and elbows in a shallow ditch scooped from the side of a dune, his R4 rifle aimed at the border. He was supposed to be watching for terrorists but his eyes were on the only cloud in the sky, a little cotton swab high over the heat and sand of South-West Africa.
‘Hey, bru?’ he said, without looking away from his cloud. ‘Want to smoke a joint?’
‘Shut up, surfer boy. You’re not on Miami Beach.’
Thomas turned and squinted up to the lip of the dune. There, silhouetted against the sun like the periscope of some buried U-Boat, was the head, shoulders and rifle of one Pieter ‘Skeletor’ Venter. He was in the same nutria-brown uniform as Thomas and topped with the same standard-issue bush hat, but his uniform was free of creases and all the floppiness had been starched from his hat.
‘You sure?’ Thomas had been brought up to be polite. ‘It’s Durban Poison.’
Skeletor said nothing. He was obviously too busy looking for something to kill.