I am standing with my back to the coffee shop in Thibault Square the clock tower ahead and the only earthquake building in the CBD to my left. Harsh, rugged and uncompromising, it rises like a brutal insult to the sky with workers huddled in its shadow, smoking, avoiding the huge gusts of Cape midwinter storm that is tearing the few battered trees into shreds and scattering the leaves into cold vortexes that threaten the hurrying commuters who huddle against the wind, the rain and city grime.

I stand still with the wind driven commuters scurrying past. Calmly I set up my tripod and my "splash proof" camera, select video and start panning across the square, starting at the rusting sculpture and swiveling slowly around the square, watching the live feed as it picks up the changing winter storm. I make it to the head of St Georges mall and start to pan back, I am nearly back to the rusty sculpture when I realise I have just swiveled passed a complete anomaly. Blame it on the winter, the wind, the storm, the noise, whatever. I missed her as I panned passed her.

She stands alone, spectacular in her complete isolation. Black high heels, stockings with seams running up to a miniskirt which holds a tight blouse in place. Her long blonde hair reflects the sunlight and whipping in the wind. I stare at the image in my live view, stunned. She is not only isolated by the phablet in her hand, she is in a column of sunlight, she is dry, untouched by the storm, her hair whipping to a southeaster rather than the north wester that is threatening to up end me and my tripod. I am about to look away from the screen to see if I have lost it completely when she starts to struggle against an unseen force. Something is trying to rip the phablet out of her hands, then the bag hanging over her shoulder begins to pull her backwards. I can see where the hand ought to be, the indentation is clearly visible but the hand is not. She screams, silently, mouth agape, rage and, losing the phablet she strikes out, hand clawed, slamming downwards. The hand hits an invisible obstacle, but keeps on moving down. The bag strap snaps and is gone. She steps back, now frightened. Suddenly two blood stains appear on her back, her hands grasp at emptiness and then she collapses on the ground, blood streaming.

I suddenly realise that I cannot stay filming, I must do something, I leap away from my camera which immediately crashes to the ground. I take two steps toward the woman on the ground and realise that she is not there. Only the cold wet concrete and the hurrying commuters. I stand mouth agape till I hear a voice behind me;

"My lanie? Hulle gaan you kamera steel."

I look around and see a scruffy street person holding my camera and tripod.

I must have looked completely mad because he hands over the camera and tripod without the hit for being helpful and hurries away muttering.

I stagger away, holding back on my nausea and end up in the shelter of the coffee shop, leaning on the counter. The owner, whom I know slightly looks at me and raises an eyebrow in query but I am completely speechless. I point at the whiskey bottle up on the shelf and hold up three fingers.

He takes down the bottle and pours without measuring. I drink a full two thirds of the glass before coming up for air.

He stands motionless while I regain my breath.

I turn and look out the door, then back at him, speechless.

He sighs, shakes his head sadly.

"You've just seen our Sara haven't you?"

I am still speechless.

"Blonde hair, short mini, white blouse?"

I nod.

"Sit down before you fall down. I will charge you extra if you puke on my floor."

I sit, head hanging, whiskey glass clutched in my hands.

He sits opposite me, sighs again.

"Cut a long story short. Sara was a regular. Worked in the building above us. For years she came in. Talked mostly to my wife and so we followed her through new job, new boyfriend, fiance, wedding pics, children. She left here one day." He trailed off.

"You saw."

"What happened?"

"A mugging. Two guys stabbed her for a phablet and a handbag. Robbed the kids of a mother for what? Nothing. They say she should not have fought. Slashed the hell out of one guys face so he stabbed her."

His eyes go blank, far away. "I got to her first. She died in my arms." He shakes his head.

"They catch them?"

"The cops? Arrived too late. No one stayed around to be questioned. The bergies saw nothing, the commuters equally, the smouses on the other side were deaf, dumb and blind. Nah. Nothing. We even offered a free breakfast for a year for anyone who would give us something. Nothing."

I remember the video camera. Switch it on and start replay. The panning movement goes around to the St Georges mall nice and smooth, starts swinging back, equally smooth, stops, jerks back, stops. Focuses on, on, emptiness.

"She was there. I saw it all. On the screen. She was. I saw it all."

I pause the camera, move the screen back and forth. Nothing. Just winter. She is gone.

Hours later I sit in front of my video monitor and inch across the last frames of the video. Nothing. I cannot believe that nothing had been deposited on the ccd. That it was all in my imagination.

I start fiddling settings, darkening, lightening, slowing, speeding up.

Suddenly, with the brightness set to overload I start to see movement. I write it off to noise at first, but as I scroll backwards in time, the noise stops. Move forward and there it is. I stare at the vague outlines until they start to jump and move of their own accord. Tiredness and imagination throwing things out of sync but the basic noise signature is still there. How do I get rid of the picture and amplify the noise. Everything I try stymies me.

Desperation forced me into my next action. I picked up my phone and phone someone who I avoid except when I am completely at a loss. The cost of his help is far too high for me. He is eccentric as the Marquis de Sade, but this time I reckon I have a temptation that he is not going to be able to resist.


"I need a favour."

"Of course you do, you only phone when you need something."

"If you were not such a miserable, arrogant, aggressive person I might make social calls occasionally, but I suppose you are losing it and cannot help me in any case. It is way above your capabilities."

He laughs. "What is it?"

I tell him the whole story.

"Ghosts? You seeing ghosts? What you been smoking? Your socks?"

"She is wearing black stockings. Seams. All the way up and I am sure I saw white panties."


I wait, patiently. He is calculating.

"Ok. Dropbox it. All of it. Not just the porn."

"It's a big file?"

"All of it."


I dispatch the file to Dropbox and I wait. Nothing happens. No word, nothing.

One day, two, three. I am beginning to think I am never going to hear from him again.

On the fourth day, an email arrives.

Subject: You lied. Black not white.

The email contains a link to a Dropbox file and the words "Fourier Transform. How can you do this to a good atheist? I will kill you if you ever tell anyone that I did this. Don't call me, I'll call you." I download the video file and watch with amazement and horror. The scene I saw through my video camera screen, plays out on the screen. Grainy, jumpy, indistinct at times, sepia not colour, but undoubtedly what I had seem.

But more. There is another face visible. Her assailant flickers into frame, gets slashed across the face and pulls away, she falls to the grown and then it seems as if a pale translucent Sara rises up and surrounds the mugger as he disappears out of frame. I sit and stare at the screen for a long while, completely bemused and eventually I do throw up. Retching, agonisingly deep spasms.

I concoct a story about finding a hidden file on a security camera somewhere and hand the file over to the coffee shop owner leaving him to talk to the police. I get an SMS some days later. "Please join us for breakfast, at our expense." When I arrive the coffee shop has a large "Closed for staff training" sign up. I tap on the window and am let in. The room is empty except for the proprietor, his wife and a very large policeman

The cop dumps stills from processed video on the table between us and looks at me for a long while.

"Where did you get this video? And don't come with some kak about security cameras. Our bright boys say it was a a Sony video camera that is normally used by semi professionals. That all the actual footage has been removed and the noise enhanced. They used some long words about transformers and reversed images. They even managed to get back the original video, or at least bits of it. You took the footage didn't you?"

I nod.

"Not good to lie to the forces of law and order you know? Also your eccentric friend is a lot more honest than you. Phoned his cousin, who phoned a friend, who phoned a friend, who phoned me."

I nod miserably. "Yes. It was me. I. I could not believe it was true, but I couldn't take a chance of it not being true."

"That is more or less what your buddy said. Thought your were playing a joke on him, but he wasn't certain."

"Did you identify the attacker?"

"Yes. He was immediately identifiable."

"You knew him?"

"Anyone who works in the force knows about him right now. He was a troubled man and he ended up in a mental hospital with screaming nightmares, serial suicide attempts and a voice in his head tormenting him continually. Eventually in desperation the shrinks called the church. His own first but the DRC don't do exorcisms so they called the Catholics. The Catholic priest did better. He said that it was a very strong woman who had invaded him and driven him mad. She told the priest she wanted the thief dead. The Catholics tried to intervene, placate her, exorcise her, all to no avail and he died under their tender ministrations, still screaming. This video merely confirms that it was Sara. Case closed. Glad I never got on the wrong side of her."