She watched him go, sighed and pushed away the papers. But he was back too soon, moving purposefully, drawing her concern. Then she saw the knife held down by his right side, the big ugly blade she never wanted to see. Unsheathed, ready for use. Panic hit.
Back into the subject of our Wilderness Adventures (with no house and no amenities) in the Top End of Australia – Just getting onto the 250 acre block was proved interesting – the flat bit was too muddy and the steep bit was too steep, and it didn’t help that there was no driveway or any access tracks at all.
Greg had decided that we needed a backhoe. He thought it would be really useful. Personally, I thought it would be a waste of money and basically a toy he would play with, but he was right and I was wrong. The backhoe turned out to be the most important piece of equipment we could get. We used it for everything, lifting and carrying, digging holes (which saved me a heap of time in bodily waste disposal). It proved its worth on our very first morning, towing the caravan up the steep embankment that would become our driveway.
The backhoe was delivered to our wilderness block. It arrived on the back of a truck, which tilted down to allow the large vehicle off, then the guy and the truck left. It never occurred to us to ask for any instruction. Greg had a truck license and I had a semi-trailer (articulated heavy vehicle) license, and we both rode motorbikes. On the flimsy assumption that we “knew vehicles” we thought we had it figured.
On close inspection, we realized that it wasn’t as clear cut as we had supposed it would be. Never mind all the levers, even the pedal was weird – a three-pronged contraption that we’d never seen before.
There it sat on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, a beautiful backhoe, and neither of us knew how to drive it.
Tires squealing, the body of the big truck trying to push past the cab, promising to jack-knife if he didn’t stay in front, Raoul eased up on the brakes and let his rig promise imminent and total destruction.
The electromagnetic buffer kicked in, cushioning the impact but jolting them violently all the same as he collided with the carrier.
What is it about writers? Take them away from their computers, their notepads and pens, isolate them from their work and – whammo – inspiration will hit every time.
It will be urgent. Words will flow with perfection. The writer will turn to their inner blackboards and capture their prose there, only the mental blackboard really is too small and fills up all too quickly. They’ll run through several of those, then turn to other means, other methods, finally resorting to etching words into their arms and/or legs with anything sharp to hand – fingernails, sticks – anything.
His gaze rose from his notes and focused on nothing for a moment. Then, looking perplexed, he faced her. She met his stare, not knowing what the problem was.
“The Khekarian Empire is the largest ruling force in the galaxy,” he enunciated with deliberate patience, “Do you mean to tell me you really know nothing about our society? Our ways?”
Aleisha forced a brave answer. “It didn’t seem important.”
“It’s extremely important.”
Okay, maybe not so stealthy, but he sounded like he was trying to be – With a hole in the tent wall caused by the fire, a hole big enough for a human to enter, I was very aware of our vulnerability to animal intrusion – We were new to the acreage of wilderness in the Top End of Australia, and innocent as yet to the ways of Nature.
I’m an incredibly light sleeper. Tents are noisy, they billow and flap, they also leak rain when a sagging roof allows for a hefty collection of water – and you don’t want to touch it because that lets the water through. Anyhow, the winds had died down and we were both sleeping well. It was the middle of the night and I awoke for some other reason.
Listening in the dark, I soon discovered what had disturbed me and set my inner alarm off. It was a footfall. Someone was being very careful to keep quiet and was very close to the tent. Out here? The nearest neighbor was literally miles away. But it was a footfall. A careful tread in leaves and grass. Right. By. The. Window.
“Rest up awhile, Stephen, you work too hard.”
“I need another form, here, Charlie. Had an accident out on the highway, got a death to report.”
There’ll be a body.
Charlie fumbled with his glasses, knocking them off his face.