The Unknown Children


Hwy A3 – Botswana – Google maps – 2012

Six-year-old Otilia cried herself to sleep every night for the past two weeks, ever since mother sold her to the man. The man took her and four other children in a truck, hiding them in big boxes. Now she was at her new home, the mansion of a rich man in Gaborone.

The maid gave her a bath and new clothes so she could meet him. He was sitting behind a desk in a big library when the maid took her in. Otilia stood in front of the desk. The maid left and closed the door.

He was a big man, and his voice was booming. “You look like you’ll make a fine domestic.”

Otilia was supposed to call him “Mr. Mlalazi,” but she was too scared to talk as he stood and walked toward her.

“First, your initiation, though.” He unzipped his trousers and cold fear gripped the child.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google maps location and image and use them as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Botswana in Africa. Botswana is a big country with a long history, so I had to find a way to narrow things down a bit. I finally looked up current news stories and found one on child trafficking. As it turns out, human trafficking in Botswana is an enormous problem. All I had to do was read a few sentences and I had my story.

I called this story “the unknown children” because we hardly ever hear about this astonishing tragedy from western news agencies. Someone has to tell their story.

To read other tales based on the prompt, visit