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fear in the bush
“I have looked at the map, and I think I’ve found a place that we can explore tonight. If it’s a safe place we might camp there,” Paul said with a grin on his face.
“Really? Where?” I asked with a mouth full of kangaroo fillet. He slammed the map onto the makeshift table that was the remaining stump of a tree that had fallen over. “There!” Paul exclaimed, pointing to an area that was no less than an eighteen-kilometre drive north east of our current position. I looked at the map. It had closely spaced contours near it and appeared to have very heavy vegetation, but it looked like there was a clearing with a lake of some description.
“How are we going to get all the way there?” I pointed out, “the vegetation is too dense, and there’s no roads.”
Paul just smiled at me in a cheeky know-it-all way and said, “We walk.”
“We’ll have to take our hiking packs, only pack what we need, but make sure you have everything for an over night stay, cause we’re not gonna make it back here tonight.”
“Are you going to take a spear and knife Paul?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said, “I’ll catch our dinner.”
We set off at six thirty. It was an extremely long walk and we were going to try and aim to get there at eight pm, just before sun down. The closer we approached our destination, the more I started to think that this could be the place to pop the question. I had a clear set picture in my mind of the place; beautiful little fresh water lake with a waterfall slowly and gracefully pouring into it, lush green lively trees, surrounding the edge of a sandy beach. Perfect.
Night was just beginning to fall upon us and we were yet to make it to the desired destination. Paul had estimated that we were about two kilometres away. There was a storm brewing in the distance, far enough away not to have to worry about yet. Even though it was dark, the landscape around us just, didn’t seem right.
“Does this seem right to you?”
“What do you mean mate?”
“This whole scenario, I just have a weird feeling.”
“Let it go mate nothing is wrong, we’re in the middle of nowhere remember, there is probably no one within twenty kilometres in every direction.”
“Ok mate,” but it kept bugging me, something wasn’t right.
The eeriness of this area of bush was abnormal. That was what attracted my attention; there were no natural sounds of animals, birds chirping, lizards and snakes nor little marsupials running around in the undergrowth. There were no kangaroos hopping or dingoes howling, and after two months of living in the bush, when it is dead silent, It really jumped out at me. It wasn’t normal. When we arrived at the little lake, exhausted, thirsty and ready to lie down and get some shuteye, something was very wrong. All of the trees were dead, the lake in the moonlight looked polluted and grubby. It was increasingly strange, and when I went to question Paul about it, he stopped me before I started, knowing what I was going to say, and exclaimed in a worrisome tone, “we’ll talk about it in the morning, right now we need some sleep.” I could see the unsettled look in his eyes. He was thinking really hard about our current situation.
I began to stir early morning, long before the sun was to rise. I just couldn’t sleep as I had nightmares about the weird environment we were camping in. I awoke praying that it had just been my drained, sleepy mind that had warped my vision of the landscape. Disappointingly not, the lake was filthy and polluted, the trees were either dead or dying and there didn’t seem to be any life of any type anywhere near here apart from us. I started to get a little frightened, this just shouldn’t be this way, there are supposed to be all sorts of animals in the middle of the bush.
Suddenly there was a rustle of bushes five metres to my immediate left. I heard the defined snap of a few twigs, I crouched down and start looking around for one of Paul’s spears or a stray branch to use a weapon. Before I had time to lunge for a limp branch next to me, Paul emerged from the bushes puffing and unsettled. A huge sense of relief crashed over me like a tidal wave on a reef. I stood up again laughing it off thinking it was a practical joke.
“Paul, haha mate you startled me!” but he didn’t reply. I looked at him more closely; he was pale, abnormally pale, then out of nowhere he screamed. Not an ‘oh my god a spider!’ scream, but a scream of pure terror. I freaked out, and then he fell limply to the ground. I ran over and there was a huge scratch down his back, god knows how deep!
I freaked out, “is he alive?” I thought, panicking. I checked his pulse, barely being able to keep my hand still. No pulse. Paul was dead. I freaked out,
realizing that I was numb with terror. I pulled myself together thinking; Whatever did this to Paul was big, REALLY big judging by the size of the scratches in his back. We needed a weapon, damn; the rifle was in the truck, which was an eighteen-kilometre walk to get back to.
The truck! I needed to get back to the truck but it was so far away I wouldn’t stand a chance. I grabbed Paul’s spears and his Bowie knife and ran. Suddenly I remembered, “I couldn’t leave Paul’s body.” I ran back and picked him up, slung him over my shoulder and ran.