Out Of Time (3.1)

[The continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, 1967, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia…

In this episode (3.1) Letitia meets an old friend…]

The Point of Batteries

Part 1

‘You must come to my place. You must!’ the blonde said.

Letitia glanced around the almost empty street. The crowds had dwindled to nothing in the golden light of the late afternoon sun. Her suggestion was not a bad one under the circumstances.

‘You must come for tea.’ The lady grabbed Letitia’s arm and dragged her along the road lined by warehouses. ‘We’ll grab takeaway on the way home. There’s a lovely little fish’n chip shop just up the road near our place. Remember when we were kids and we used to ride our bikes up to The Rocks and get a three-pence bag of chips? They were the best chips, weren’t they?’ The blonde ferried her up some steep steps.

‘Hmm!’ Letitia tried to remain polite and in the know. Rocks? Riding bikes? Fish and chips? Three-pence? All familiar images that hinted at the nameless friend’s identity. Her fuzzing mind tried to stretch her still frozen memory to capture who this woman was. The harder she tried, the more futile her efforts at name retrieval became. ‘How embarrassing! I apparently knew this lady from childhood,’ she muttered.

The blonde gave a tiny snort of laughter. ‘Gunter loved those chips. Remember? He said they were the best chips in Australia.’ She paused and for a moment gazed over the cove which spread beneath the hilltop vantage point. ‘Poor Gunter!’ she remarked, ‘Boris got him, ya know.’

The sun had crept behind Mount Wellington casting muted shadows over the historic houses, the pebble-strewn beach and the calm waters in hues of purple and blue. ‘Hmm! Poor Gunter!’ Letitia parroted. She paused in thought. Gunter, my half-brother?

Bright, colourful sails of boats dotted the river. The vivid reds, yellows, and whites pitted against the deep blue of the waters almost succeeded in converting Letitia to cheerfulness. However, the reality that she may have left her old world permanently behind, lurked in the shadows of her subconscious and troubled her. Letitia tried to agree to sound as if she knew what the blonde was talking about. She tried in vain to match Gunter with this lady’s elusive name. Perhaps it’s a case of mistaken identity.

How did anyone from the past recognise her? Mirror World and nanobot repair from the burns in her first accident had darkened her skin. Letitia checked her hand. Still the colour of cedar.

 ‘Poor Gunter, we haven’t been able to find him. He left after the disaster, you know, the bombing of our ship. He blamed himself for your disappearance.’ The lady guided her, striding towards the banks of the river. ‘But…it was my fault; I should’ve never…’ She stopped at a corner and announced, ‘Here we are! The Fish’n Chip shop!’

She led the way through the open white-framed doorway to the full-bodied aroma of sizzling oil, batter and chips, tessellated tiles and stainless-steel benches. A few bored customers reclined on a wooden bench seat that lined the shopfront, reading Readers Digests from the 1950’s.

Letitia peered at the magazine of a disinterested patron to the left of her. “Behind the Iron Curtain” the cover advertised. Letitia leaned back to check what that article was all about. The man narrowed his eyes and glared at her. Then, he stood up, marched to the counter, and spoke to the manageress in muffled tones, furtive glances and fingers pointed in her direction.

Letitia’s chest tightened. They’re going to ask me to leave, she thought.

‘Do you want whiting, Letitia?’ her blonde friend, also standing at the counter, called back over her shoulder.

‘Yeah, okay,’ while waiting for the inevitable directive to move outside. After all, it was the 1960’s and Letitia was the wrong colour.

Letitia noticed the blonde make an emphasised gesture in her direction, and say, ‘My friend will have one piece of whiting and I’ll have one piece of garfish with minimum chips.’

The manageress, a woman with bottled auburn waves, and olive-toned skin, looked at Letitia, and opened her mouth to speak.

The blonde cut off her unspoken words and in her best German accent, said, ‘Listen lady, she’s my friend, got it? We’re better than that, aren’t we? That’s why we come to Australia. We are all different, but we are all human beings. Besides, I don’t know why she’s so tanned, but she is as white as me; I know her parents, they come from Europe, migrants from Germany, just as you are a migrant from Greece, am I right? So, just make those fish and chips, okay?’

Something clicked. A key turned in her mind. Letitia studied the blonde lady handing over the cash to the Greek vendor. Frieda. Only Frieda Muller would have the courage to stand up for her rights; human rights. Frieda who tolerated no nonsense. Frieda, who once confided that she’d defied Hitler, and somehow survived. Something to do with being Lebensborn, she remembered. Admittedly the last time she met Frieda, she had become Frieda Thumm and was well into her fifties (give or take a decade or two with the distortion of light-speed travel). Letitia wondered how she could have struggled to recognise her. She who defended her in the fish and chip shop and now stood before her with a newspaper parcel of battered fish and chips was Frieda. But which Frieda? Letitia assumed this world’s Frieda.

Letitia perched on the bench.

The man adjusted his black-rimmed glasses, and with head bowed, walked back to the space next to Letitia. He mumbled an apology which Letitia acknowledged with a slight nod.

Letitia rubbed her hands together and smiled at Frieda. She had retrieved the name. She had found her friend’s identity. At least that was one good outcome from an otherwise less than ordinary day. At least she had one friend in a world and time when she calculated to have few friends. There was Fritz. But where was Fritz?

Frieda strode up to her and she leapt up to follow her friend. ‘Come,’ she commanded, ‘Let’s get to my house before the chips get cold.’

In the lingering late afternoon sun, the sun that refused to go away, the sun that refused to set, the friends wended through the narrow streets of this aged and historic part of town. The roads were steep as they were narrow. Parked cars on both sides, blocked some roadways which had not caught up to the 20th Century. Letitia marvelled at the vintage nature of the vehicles. She had not seen a FJ Holden in decades. The place was cluttered with them. And brand-new Holden Premiers, the luxury version, a collector’s dream on Mirror World. And there, she mused, was a Ford Falcon, more angular than its Holden counterpart; commonly a hoon car on Mirror World (in the eastern states of Australia, mostly). In Mirror Baudin State (South Australia), only Renaults and Peugeots would do. Letitia had to hide the smirk on her face as she contemplated the ugly future of these carbon spewing air-polluting machines.

‘So, Frieda, what may I ask are you doing in this part of the world?’ Letitia ventured to enquire.

Frieda frowned. ‘What do you mean?’

‘I mean…um…’ Letitia hesitated hoping to guess correctly, and whispered, ‘um, um, Hobart?’

‘Hobart? But Letitia, we’ve been here for ages,’ Frieda replied. ‘Thing is, how did you end up here?’ She made a sharp turn at a white rendered wall of a two-story bungalow overlooking the bay.

‘Long story,’ Letitia exhaled briefly, relieved that she had guessed correctly, about Hobart. ‘I mean, are you working?’

Frieda returned a pan-faced expression which read as “are you stupid?” Then she pressed the small hand-held device and magically the gate in the wall opened. ‘Nup, I don’t need to work. I’m a lady of leisure. I’ve achieved “effluence”.’ Frieda’s tongue remained firmly in her cheek.

‘You mean, affluence? Lucky you!’ Letitia remarked admiring the fine leadlight birds that framed the light-coloured pine door. She absorbed the unique brisk scent of pine and commented almost involuntarily, ‘Wow! What’s that smell?’

‘You mean the door? It’s Huon Pine. Solid…’ Frieda began to explain before another, fouler odour accompanied by a large darker four-legged creature, assaulted Letitia.

Frieda’s train of thought and keys were lost in her black Labrador’s excitement to greet the unfortunate visitor, namely Letitia. In between the fever of yelps and her face covered in fermented slobber, she could hear Frieda yell, ‘Jack! Off Jack! Down! Down! Sit Jack! Naughty boy! Get off Jack!’ But her commands were in vain. Jack, the dog kept on jumping all over Letitia, and slathering to his heart’s content.

As the torture by dog continued, Frieda’s tone changed from playful to serious and Letitia nostrils were disturbed by a particularly pungent smell that lingered on her clothes. It had that thin weedy, off-meaty, faecal, with a touch of compost aroma about it. She brushed her uniform defensively and shrieked, ‘Ugh! What’s that smell?’ Bits of pitch-black dirt the consistency of sludge clung to her fingertips.

The Labrador gave a final yelp and flung itself after a flying fried fish.

‘Quick, while he’s distracted.’ Frieda pushed her friend through the door and slammed it shut. Once inside in a darkened entrance hall, she exclaimed with disgust, ‘Pooh! What’s that smell? It’s revolting!’

Smeared over Letitia’s lime green pants and top were the tell-tale marks of a dog’s misadventure. ‘Ugh! What is this stuff?’ She choked on the strong stench of sewerage. ‘It’s worse than Boris! When you said that you was “effluent”, I didn’t think you meant literally.’ She pinched her nose with added effect.

‘Oh, gore! The bleeding dog’s got into the blood ‘n bone. Sheisse!’ Frieda’s language was becoming increasingly colourful, and Letitia had no doubt that she was indeed Frieda. She grabbed a hold of Letitia’s arm and escorted her up the stairs. ‘Come on, you better get out of these rags – have a shower – I’ll get a change of clothes – and put these…’ she covered her nose with her sleeve and breathed out a nasal cry, ‘Phew! These into the wash must go!’

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Battery Point, Hobart town behind harbour © L.M. Kling 2016

***

Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Click on the link to my new novel, The Lost World of the Wends

Below…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

T-Team Next Gen–Emily Gap

[In 2013, the T-Team, next generation embarked on their pilgrimage to Central Australia. Purpose: to scatter Dad’s ashes in his beloved Central Australia, in Ormiston Gorge.

Over the next few weeks, I will take you on a virtual trip to the Centre and memories of that unforgettable holiday in 2013, with my brother and his family; the T-Team Next Generation.

This time, the T-K Team visit Emily Gap.]

Lunch With the Ants

Our plans changed. Anthony decided we could take a risk with our fuel situation, and so, since we were in the vicinity of the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges, we would visit Emily Gap and have lunch first before getting the gas for the Ford.

[Photo 1: Emily Gap entrance © L.M. Kling 2013]

‘After all,’ I said to Anthony, ‘it is almost two o’clock, and I’m hungry.’

He just had to reply, ‘Hungry? Unlike you, I can wait till teatime.’

‘Hmm, yet another similarity you have to my father. Only he could fast from breakfast as well as lunch.’

As we rolled into the shady climes of the Emily Gap car park, I remarked, ‘But such a lovely place to sit and have picnic, don’t you think?’ I had already sourced some nuts and chocolate from my bag in case he disagreed with my suggestion.

‘We’ll go for a walk first to see the rock paintings and then have some lunch,’ Anthony grumbled. ‘I don’t want to walk on a full stomach.’

[Photo 2: Emily Gap Rock Formations © L.M. Kling 2013]

While Anthony marched ahead to find the rock paintings before they disappeared, I trailed behind and nibbled my nuts and chocolate. Needed reinforcements to do the walk.

Anthony vanished around a corner. A few minutes later, he appeared, jogging towards me. ‘They’re here! Come look!’

‘Oh, yeah,’ I replied, remembering 1981 when TR baited us with some significant discovery of Indigenous art. That art turned out to be less ancient and more modern.

I followed Anthony. Around the bend, he pointed. ‘Look! There they are.’

Gazing at the entrance to a shallow cave, I said, ‘Oh, yeah! So, there are. They look like giant caterpillars.’

[Photo 3: Rock paintings © L.M. Kling 2013]

We spent some time examining the array of caterpillar paintings and carvings; the totem of the Eastern Arrernte people, we assumed.

‘I think my dad took us to Jesse Gap,’ I said as we walked back to the picnic area. ‘I have never seen those paintings before. When he took us out to the Eastern MacDonnell’s all we saw was artwork of the Western kind, graffiti. When we suggested visiting Emily Gap, it was already nearly dark, and Dad thought there would only be graffiti there too.’

[Photo 4: Shade Creep, Emily Gaps later afternoon  © L.M. Kling 2013]

In the shade of the gum trees in the picnic area, we “shared” our lunch of canned tuna and buttered bread with some inch ants. Had to put our food on a rock and then move the picnic rug, but the inch ants followed us.

[Photo 5: Inch ants © L.M. Kling 2019]

After lunch, we found the BP petrol station that Richard had told us about. And finally, the Ford had its fill of LP Gas. Then on our way back to the Caravan park where we were staying for the night, we swung by the local IGA, where I bought mince, button mushrooms, two onions, shampoo and conditioner. Would you believe that the shampoo and conditioner I had brought from home, had not lasted the distance of our two-week Central Australian journey?

In the golden light of late afternoon, while I helped Anthony put up the tent, I watched another family, pitch theirs. The father sat in his director’s chair and directed the rest of the family, women, and children, how to put up their tent.

But, ah, what bliss to cook tea in the light of the common kitchen. Spag Bog, and plum pudding. Dessert, hot chocolate.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Emily Gap Rock Paintings © L.M. Kling 2013

***

Virtual Travel Opportunity

For the price of a cup of coffee (takeaway, these days),

Click on the link and download your kindle copy of my travel memoir,

Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari. (Australia)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (United States)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (UK)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (Germany]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [France]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (India)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Canada]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Mexico]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Italy]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Brazil]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Spain]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Japan]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Netherlands]

The Lost World of the Wends–Lost in the Dark

[An extract from my recently published novel, The Lost World of the Wends on Amazon Kindle and now in print.]

In the Morgue

A crack and a flash. Then everything went dark.

Friedrich was sure it was his fault. He was always getting smacks or the belt from his father—usually for not polishing his boots perfectly. Or for spilling milk on the floor. But when he saw the blue line in the air, the urge to escape, was too great. This was not the first time he’d ventured beyond the thin blue line under the outhouse. He just had to go through the light—for Wilma…

Then bang. Everything went black…

Friedrich put out his hands and shuffled forward. He groped for a wall, a surface, anything to orient himself.

He tripped over some bulk. He fell onto it. It groaned.

Friedrich scrambled to his feet. His mouth went dry. It was like his heart, lungs and guts were in his mouth. Oh, no! I’m on an alien world without light and with groaning monsters.

The thing at his feet moaned. It sounded like a man.

Friedrich gulped. He knelt down. He held out his shaking hand. He touched something soft and greasy. Was that hair under his fingertips?

‘Who are you?’ he asked in his Silesian language. ‘What’s your name?’

The man-thing with hair moaned again and then mumbled what sounded like forbidden words in another language. He’d heard Joseph use such words when angry.

‘My name’s Friedrich,’ the boy said. ‘And you?’

‘Oh, the pain! The pain!’ the man-thing said in that strange language. It did sound like the tongue Joseph and Amie used. They spoke using similar sounds when they were together.

Friedrich presumed the man spoke English. But he knew few English words, so he still hoped the man understood his native language. ‘How are you?’

‘Oh, the pain! My stomach! My head!’

Friedrich traced the head, the shoulders, arms and distended stomach. ‘You’re a man, aren’t you?’ He patted the spongy surface in the middle.

The man groaned and squirmed.

‘You’re a sick man,’ Friedrich said using the word in his language “krank”.

‘Too right, I’m cranky!’ the man straightened up. He grabbed Friedrich’s wrist. ‘And who the heck are you?’

‘Huh?’

‘What?’

‘Huh? What?’

‘What? Huh?’

Friedrich shook his hand free from the man. How was he to make sense of this man in the dark? How was he to make this man understand him? Joseph and Amie could speak his native tongue, Silesian, but this man couldn’t, apparently. Friedrich rubbed his hand.

‘Who are you?’ the man asked. ‘Where the frick are we?’

What was this man saying?

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Bat-Man © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955

***

Want more?

More than before?

Read the whole story,

Click on the link to my new novel, The Lost World of the Wends

Below…

Now available in print

Or…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

T-Team Next Gen–Alice Springs and Things Eternal

[In 2013, the T-Team, next generation embarked on their pilgrimage to Central Australia. Purpose: to scatter Dad’s ashes in his beloved Central Australia, in Ormiston Gorge.

Over the next few weeks, I will take you on a virtual trip to the Centre and memories of that unforgettable holiday in 2013, with my brother and his family; the T-Team Next Generation.

This time, the T-K Team once again return to Alice Springs as they begin their journey back home.]

In Search of Gas

While Anthony packed the Ford, I prepared a “thank you” card for our friends. I found a photo of a rock formation near Mt. Liebig, then I painted a frame around the photo, and finally, sketched Mt. Sonder from memory in the middle of the card.

[1. Painting : Mt. Liebig © L.M. Kling 2013]

After placing the card with gift money enclosed, on the kitchen bench, I joined Anthony to pack the last few items of mine in the Ford.

[2. Painting: Mt. Sonder © L.M. Kling]

Anthony checked his expert handiwork at packing, and then said, ‘Ready to go?’

‘Yep, let’s go over to the FRM store and say goodbye to our friends.’

We bid our Hermannsburg friends farewell, promising to catch up with them when they returned to Adelaide. After more storytelling by P, and some souvenir shopping by us, we were ready to farewell Hermannsburg.

[3. Photo: Just a reminder that Hermannsburg once had a cattle station to employ the locals © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

Following a few more stories from P, then a phone call to my brother who said they were about to leave Alice Springs, we were set for this town.

Except…

‘I just want to check out the graveyard,’ I said.

‘Do we have to?’ Anthony sighed. ‘There’s nothing there.’

‘I just want to see who’s buried there.’

‘If we have to.’

Anthony trekked after me as I trudged over to the graveyard that looked more like a neglected paddock of red sand than a cemetery. We gazed at the iron crosses of the early missionaries such as Kempe, and a sad tombstone of a Latz baby of 10 weeks.

‘Vogelsang, who’s he?’ I asked.

Anthony shrugged. ‘Probably a missionary here, since he’s buried here.’

[4. Photo: Standing where my mum stood.  Funeral of Hermann Vogelsang storeman / gardener at Hermannsburg mission from 1938-1940 © courtesy M.E. Trudinger 1940]

With plans to fill the Ford with fuel both petrol and gas, and then lunch at Emily Gap, we commenced our drive back to Alice Springs.

‘What about we take a slight detour and have a look at Serpentine Gorge,’ I said, with hope in my voice.

Anthony seemed not to hear my suggestion, but pointed, ‘Look! Another cabin car. Must be lots of workmen going out to do roadworks.’

‘So, we’ll leave Serpentine Gorge for another time when there’s not the threat of roadworks.’

[5. Photo: Serpentine Gorge, for another time © C.D. Trudinger 1958]

1pm, we rolled into Alice Springs making a beeline for the petrol station.

‘We must fill up with gas before we start on the journey back to Adelaide,’ Anthony said.

‘Might be a bit difficult,’ I pointed at the LP Gas bowser, ‘it says “Out of Order”.’

Anthony topped up the Ford’s petrol tank and we steeled ourselves for the hunt for LP Gas. We reckoned in a country town such as Alice, most fuel stations lined the main roads leading into and out of the town. So, down the Stuart Highway we travelled, in search of a service station which offered gas. Prophetic of a future without LP Gas, our search proved elusive.

[6. Photo : Farewell to the Governor General as he departs from Hermannsburg © S.O. Gross 1954]

Anthony gripped the steering wheel. ‘How are we going to get back to Adelaide?’

‘I’m sure there’s a station that sells gas somewhere in Alice.’

‘How far do you want me to go? Adelaide?’

‘Don’t be silly,’ I said. ‘Turn around and let’s go back into the town.’

Anthony grunted in protest at where he could safely do a U-turn, then did a U-turn. Approaching the radio station, I spotted a white van with a trailer.

‘Guess who I’ve found,’ I pointed at the van with the T-Team spilling out of it.

‘Do you want me to turn around?’ Anthony asked.

‘Yep, Rick may know where a service station is that sells LP Gas.’

[7.Photo and Feature: Proof. Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip at the opening of the Flynn Memorial Church Alice Springs © S.O. Gross 1954]

We spent some twenty minutes touching base with the T-Team. Rick gave directions for a LP Gas-friendly service station within Alice Springs and we were on our way to this fuel stop of promise, and then out to Emily Gap. Meanwhile the T-Team visited their friend who worked at the radio station.

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

***

Virtual Travel Opportunity

For the price of a cup of coffee (takeaway, these days),

Click on the link and download your kindle copy of my travel memoir,

Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari. (Australia)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (United States)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (UK)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (Germany]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [France]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (India)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Canada]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Mexico]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Italy]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Brazil]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Spain]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Japan]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Netherlands]

Out of Time (2)

[So, continues the development of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia…]

Out of Context, Just out of Reach

As the doors began to close, a flash of white grabbed the lift doors, wrenched them open. The mean nurse, rushed in, huffing and puffing. Letitia steeled herself, half-expecting her to make another comment related to her cleaning ability, but she ignored her. The nurse smiling, instead turned her attention to the tall blonde golfer.

‘I’m sorry, doctor, someone must have moved her without our authority. You know this hospital, one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing,’ her apology dripped like syrup.

‘That’s okay. But interrupting my round of golf?’ he sucked in his breath through his perfect set of teeth in a way that seemed unusually familiar to Letitia. She studied him as he casually pointed the butt end of the club towards the door, willing it to open.

‘Oh, I’m sorry for the inconvenience.’ The nurse grovelled. Letitia mused at the dramatic change in her demeanour; she had morphed from ostentatious superiority to humble submission. ‘But Doctor, you will return after your round of golf to assess the patient.’

‘You’ll have to find her first.’ The doctor’s golf club levered the doors open and without a glance behind him he strode out into the ground floor lobby and disappeared through the double doors leading to the outside.

Letitia scurried out of the lift leaving the nurse to descend to the basement. While in the lobby, she pretended to dust and clean the light fittings and fixtures. Once the elevator doors were firmly closed behind her, she ditched the cleaning equipment and raced through the entrance doors in search of the doctor. She had remembered. Was he her IGSF doctor friend, Joseph? Or someone else familiar, from her past? Whoever, he must know where Fritz was. She chastised herself for being so hasty and escaping when she should’ve been patient waiting for the IGSF to sort her situation out.

As she stepped through the double-glazed sliding doors she blinked. Confused. The busy street in a haze of humid summer heat was not how she remembered the station in Antarctica. Classic Holden and Ford cars running left and right roared past her. The tunnel of three-or-four-storey buildings arranged in many shades of grey competed with the brilliant blue sky above. She squinted and strained her vision for a sign and some sense to her whereabouts. A sign at the corner of the street read “Argyle Street”. She could discern the ominous presence of a police station over the road just past the traffic lights. She decided to walk swiftly in the opposite direction. Letitia had no intention of being labelled an illegal alien.

With her head down and eyes fixed on the paving of the footpath, she kept on walking, and walking. Escaping the hospital. Evading the police. But clueless on how to find the golfclub wielding doctor. She pushed herself forward in a random direction vaguely aware of crossing streets filled with people and traffic, until confronted by another set of glass doors. She pushed open one of these doors walked through, almost colliding with a desk.

A lady’s voice asked, ‘May I help you?’

‘Oh, sorry!’ she mumbled in surprise.

‘May I help you?’ the woman shrouded behind the glass pane and counter repeated.

Letitia gazed around. People, men mainly inserted little leather books under gaps of similar glass panes at the people behind them and seconds later collected wads of notes.

‘Must be in a bank,’ Letitia murmured. ‘Er, any chance for a…nah, don’t worry, oh, I forgot my, er-um, passbook,’ she garbled. Memories of her life in Australia in the 1960’s began to emerge as she escaped the bank and into the sunlight.

Letitia wandered along a cobblestone footpath. When she looked up. A fish and chip shop. The kind that offered steak sandwiches and hot cinnamon donuts. The place was hopping with people lining up and spilling out onto the pavement. The aroma of cinnamon donuts freshly formed out of the hot oil, made her empty stomach growl. She dug deep into the pockets of the cleaner’s uniform hoping in vain for forgotten coin. The pockets were deep, yet like her stomach, they were empty. She stood in the middle of the lane and watched with envy the happy contented faces of shoppers as they sat at alfresco near the wharf sipping coffee from paper cups and stuffing their mouths with cake. The seagulls that scavenged nearby were being more well fed than her. Gulls growing fat on surplus chips and unwanted beef sandwiches. She wished she were a seagull. No one would want to feed a stray middle-aged woman dressed in a lime green cleaning suit.

A family of four consisting of mum, dad and two small children organised themselves and vacated a picnic table near Letitia. On the small wooden table flanked by well-worn bench seats, were leftovers. The sandwiches were half-eaten, and the chips slathered with tomato sauce lay discarded in amongst the white wrapping paper.

Letitia darted at the table and greedily planted herself in one of the metal chairs. She began to reach for the sandwich and then thought out aloud, ‘This is ridiculous!’ She then became conscious that a man with white hair and large nose seated at a park bench nearby was staring at her.

Utilising the cleaning disguise to her advantage, Letitia reached down and adjusted the white hospital runners, tightening the shoelaces. Upon completing that diversionary task, she rose from the table and as a cleaner would do, gathered up the barely bitten bread, and half-full cups of coffee and chips with sauce, and purposefully headed for the over-flowing grey metal bin.

Acting as though she was loading the rubbish into the chock-full bin, she instead siphoned the uneaten food into the pocket of her trousers and hid one left-over paper cup of coffee under her arm.

Then, keeping her lips pursed, she casually strolled to a small grassy patch behind an oak tree and under its shade, surreptitiously opened her stash. The beef patty sandwiches were still soft and warm although they appeared twisted and squashed from being jammed in her pocket. She crouched down on the lawn and admired the thin white slices, the limp lettuce, the grilled-on cheese, and the processed beef. In normal circumstances she would not touch white bread such as this. Such food was filled with carcinogenic chemicals and pathological fats. But this was no ordinary occasion. Letitia was literally starving. She had spent possibly up to a week in snow and ice without food and in her stint in hospital, had seen no food. She had been running on adrenalin and now that had stopped, Letitia was famished. Boy, the burnt crust looked inviting!

Letitia bit into the soft slice and savoured the blend of sugar, oil and salt mixed with reconstituted portions of beef, lettuce and cheddar cheese. She sculled the coffee. It was cold and bitter, but she didn’t mind. Too hungry to mind.

She mowed her way through the first “steak sandwich” and greedily progressed to the next. In the back of her mind, she knew that she should not be gorging myself and that she would regret it. However, the wonderful, ecstatic sensation and pleasure of eating was too over-whelming, too powerful for her to resist. Ah, the joys of feasting.

Letitia was so focussed on food that she became unaware of the world around her. All that mattered to her was food; food was all that mattered to her.

A tap on the shoulder almost made her choke on a lardy lump of meat. Her head bolted upright with shock and fright.

‘Letitia, is that you?’ A lady’s voice accompanied the shoulder tapping. Her voice sounded familiar.

Letitia swung around to face this gate crasher to her food party. The tall woman had an oval face, with blue eyes framed by straight golden tresses. The woman’s identity to Letitia remained just out of reach; with the place and time out of context, her name eluded Letitia.

‘There you are, Letitia! We’ve found you!’ She smiled and hugged her. ‘It is you! Fancy meeting here in Hobart of all places! How many years has it been?’

A few weary workers emerged out of the tired warehouses near the wharf and soon disappeared down the street. ‘So that’s where I am!’ Letitia muttered.

This twenty-something blonde fixed Letitia a confused expression. ‘What?’ she asked.

‘Oh, er, I meant, of course I remember you! How could I forget? Surely, it wasn’t so long ago.’ Letitia did not want to appear peculiar. She hugged her back. On the other side of her shoulder, she puzzled over who she could be. And how her counterpart in this Out-of-Time World was connected to this woman.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Poatina golf course © L.M. Kling 2010

***

Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Click on the link to my new novel, The Lost World of the Wends

Now Available in Print…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

Story Behind the Art–Mt. Giles

Quest to Conquer Mt. Giles

[Extract from Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981]

Dad sucked on his lemon (a proven refreshment and guard against dehydration). ‘About a-quarter-to-twelve.’ He continued to sit and suck on his lemon as if in no hurry.

‘A-quarter-to-twelve?’ I stood. ‘We’ll never get there. We can’t even see the trig.’

‘Well, um-er, we better get a move on.’ Dad rose and slung his pack over his shoulder. The T-men shuffled up a worn kangaroo track. I took a quick swig of water and bounded after them.

[Painting 1: Mt. Giles—our goal (Acrylic) © L.M. Kling 2010]

We stopped at a three-pronged fork in the trail. Three mountain points stood before us. ‘Now, which way shall we go?’ You’d think Dad would’ve worked the route out before we embarked on this project, using his compass and detailed maps. But apparently, he hadn’t.

C1 (Older Cousin) raised an eyebrow.  MB (My Brother) scratched his chin. C2 (Younger Cousin) shook his head, and I shrugged.

Dad hummed and hawed.

‘We could hike up and down the gully to see,’ MB said.

C2 sighed. ‘That would take too much time.’

‘What about the saddle?’ I asked.

The men looked at me, their eyes narrowed. ‘To which point?’ Dad spoke for them all. For the next few precious minutes, the men bantered about what option to take, cutting me out of the decision making.

‘Ah, well, time’s running out. I guess we can’t expect to reach the top,’ Dad announced with the damning tone of resignation.

I stomped off towards the saddle.

[Photo 1: Mt Giles from the Pound © C.D. Trudinger 1986]

‘Oy! Oy! What do you think you’re doing?’ Dad yelled.

I bolted on southwards and upwards to the spur. Even menacing prickle bushes didn’t stand a chance as I charged through them. Behind me I could hear the Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! as Dad hacked his way in pursuit of me. ‘Come back! You can’t go off on your own!’

Scratched and sore from the fight with the bushes, I stopped. A tight-rope path lay ahead. Not even enough width for my feet on this razor back. I turned and watched the shrubs shake.

Dad emerged brushing seeds and thorns from his arms. He shaded his eyes as he looked up. ‘You’ve taken the correct action.’

‘What?’ I scratched my eye-brows. Dad’s big words confused my exhausted mind.

Wheezing, Dad caught up to me. ‘See?’

He pointed at the nearest mound. ‘See, the trig?’

I squinted towards where the hill met the cobalt blue of the sky. At the highest point, a thin wire shimmered in the heat. ‘Oh, yeah!’

While Dad and I gulped down some water, MB, C2 and C1 galloped past us. ‘Watch your step on the spur!’ Dad warned.

We picked our way along the razor back ridge. I held my breath and resisted the urge to look down past the tight-rope path where I placed each step. Holding my arms out straight either side, I teetered and tottered to the end of my ordeal. When I reached the slope at the other end, an incline with generous girth and no cliff in sight, I collapsed to my knees, then bent over and kissed the sand stone.

[Photo 2: Razor-back Ridges of Giles © C.D. Trudinger 1981

]

However, my rejoicing was short-lived and I rose to my sore feet to push on. After plodding up and down more ridges, more rocky slopes, and more frequent rests to nurse my aching calves, our allotted time to reach the summit by 12:30pm lapsed.

We gathered around Dad.

‘What’s the verdict?’ I asked. A breeze cooled the back of my neck.

Flies gathered on C1’s back. MB slapped between C1’s shoulder blades and clapped the flattened insects from his palms. ‘Twenty.’ He flicked the last of the sticky flies from his palm.

‘Well,’ Dad took a deep breath, ‘We’ve come this far, we might as well go all the way.’

‘We have a full moon, that’ll help,’ C2 said.

C1 waved a pesky fly from his face. ‘Okay!’

‘Let’s go!’ MB slapped his hands together near Phil’s nose and killed that fly too.

‘Alright!’ I said.

Determined to reach the peak, we plunged forward, despite being famished, wrung of perspiration, weary and late. We were so close. Every so often, the trig teased us appearing as we reached a high point, and then vanishing as we dipped into a valley. MB and C1 raced each other.

I climbed over a wall of rock and saw the trig wobbling above the slope in the oily heat. I scrambled upwards. A saddle stretched and rose before me. Damn! Another false top! I struggled over the saddle to face another false top. After staggering over the fifth false top, I saw the trig and blinked. Was it real? Or was it a mirage? I limped up the jagged path, pain shooting down my calf muscles with each step. The trig disappeared behind an outcrop of rocks. We’ll never get there!

[Photo 3: One Ridge After Another © C.D. Trudinger 1992]

I skirted the rocks and saw the trig fifty meters away, bold, rusty, and high. Under the shade of an orange sheet that fluttered like a flag in the wind, MB, C1 and C2 lounged by the stone cairn, packs off their backs, stirring Salvital into their cups of water and then sipping with delight the reward of their labour. The time was one o’clock.

Ten minutes later, Dad dragged himself over the last ridge and limped to the summit. There, he sat on a rock and rubbed his knee. ‘O-o-oh!’ He inspected the damage, red and swollen. ‘I tripped and fell on my knee. I hope I can get down alright.’

‘You better,’ C1 laughed. ‘You can’t exactly camp up here.’

‘You’ll have to get down,’ MB said.

‘Yeah!’ I gazed at the view entranced by the once-ancient ocean bed surrounded by islands of mountain ranges that snaked like the backbone of a prehistoric creature into the haze on the horizon.

[Photo 4: View from the summit—Foreground, the Pound, Ormiston Gorge behind, and in far distance, Mt. Sonder (left) and Mt. Ziel (right) © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1981]

‘Hey, look at these!’ C1 excavated some calling cards from a tin can wedged in the monument to the summit. Our predecessors had conquered the mountain one year earlier to the day. The scribe wrote: “The climb was well worth the effort”. They described ascending to the peak by the southern ridge starting from Giles Spring. This tip gave us the idea to descend by the south ridge and traverse west through the pound to the camp.

We celebrated with lunch of scroggin and copious amounts of Milo and strawberry flavoured Quick mixed with powdered milk and water. We took photos of the stunning scenery and each other as evidence of our triumph over adversity.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; updated 2021

Feature Painting: Trekking towards Mt Giles challenge (Pastel) © Lee-Anne Marie King 2021

***

Virtual Travel Opportunity

For the price of a cup of coffee (takeaway, these days),

Click on the link and download your kindle copy of my travel memoir,

Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari. (Australia)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (United States)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (UK)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (Germany]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [France]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (India)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Canada]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Mexico]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Italy]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Brazil]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Spain]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Japan]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Netherlands]

Out of Time (1)

Land of No Dreams

[So, begins the continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia…]

Letitia did not dream. Had no visions. Only elusive threads of the past few weeks—missing time—that troubled her. It seemed every part of her psyche had excuses, plausible explanations for the conundrum that began to be her life in yet another world that was not hers. Or was it hers? Her world the one she remembered back when she left it in the 1960’s, and this world she was in, seemed the same. How could that be? Surely times, people, places, not to mention décor and colour schemes would have changed in the 50 years she had passed in Mirror World.

Two women dressed in simple lime green uniforms and wearing white pannikins on their heads, conversed in hushed monotones.

What is this? Letitia pondered, Variations on the flying nun?

‘Do you think she is an illegal alien?’

‘Who knows. She looks like one.’

‘Does she speak English?’

‘I don’t know. She hasn’t woken up yet.’

‘You better get the Department of Immigration onto it.’

‘Hmmm. We have to have a psychiatric report first. We don’t want to happen what happened last time.’

‘No!’ The other agreed. ‘Still these illegals can be pretty cunning. Antarctica! How the Dickens did she end up there?’

‘Where is that Doctor? He was supposed to be here half an hour ago!’

‘Oh, Thumm, he’s always late. Once they get as high up as him, they think they own time.’

Letitia lay on the bed, eyes tightly shut, pretending to be unconscious. Alert. Lucid. No longer coughing. Chest clear. She had an impression that the nanobots in her system had aided her speedy recovery. Who needs Vitamin C, or Flu vaccinations with nanobots? Carefully, she opened one eye to spy on the talkers. Their backs were facing her.

Stealthily, she reached for the medical report that was slung at the end of the cot, pulled it towards her and scanned the details. She trembled. My goodness it really is 1967! she thought. With hands shaking, she replaced the chart on the hook, and resumed her unconscious repose, hoping that her racing heartbeat would not alert the two nurses to her altered state of consciousness.

Then, without a second thought, she pulled out the plug to the monitoring system to be sure.

The two nursing ladies seemed less concerned with the void of monotonous humming from the machines, than they did about their tea break.

‘Tea break?’ asked the taller one.

‘Why not?’ the shorter dumpier one replied.

With recess on their schedule, the two disappeared out the door and left Letitia. Two thoughts troubled her. First, that she might in their world of 1967, be an illegal immigrant. Well, she hoped that was what they meant by the “alien” reference. Secondly, and more disturbingly, the idea, that she might be crazy. At all costs she must avoid that doctor. She must get out of this place.

Letitia assumed she was in the depths of the South, surrounded by Antarctic snow and ice. Still thought this even though the sun shone brightly and warmly through the window. Air-conditioning had taken the sting out of the heat, and she assumed that the cool climes of the medical facility were the direct result of the frozen world beyond; that the technicians had done a good job of warming up the joint. Hastily, she ripped the IV tube from her arm, abandoning the funnel to drip clear fluid onto the white tiled floor.

She tottered down the pastel green passageway—why did the décor fixate on green? —in her hospital gown; not a good look and would not get far endowed thus with the back of it open to the hospital corridor breeze. The little blue flowers on the bubbly cotton irked her. She wandered to the end of the hall where the elevator existed. Surprisingly, no one seemed to notice; no one seemed to care. All too busy. Never-the-less, she could not go around like this, with her posterior exposed to the elements. She had to find some clothes, and fast.

She ducked into a ward where an old lady slept. A dressing gown hung in an elongated cupboard. Begging: “Pick me!” With only the slightest measure of guilt and hesitation, Letitia took the bright pink velvet padded gown and wrapped it around herself. The extra layer flushed her with heat, but she tried to ignore the beads of perspiration dripping from her temple.

A nurse robotically strode into the room.

Letitia dashed into the nearby bathroom and hid behind the shower curtain. Drops of water from a recent shower caused her to slip. As she teetered, she grabbed the curtain. Satin green, of course. She clung to the curtain, fearful of stumbling over the commode. Water seeped between her toes, tempting her to release the curtain and land bottom first on the damp floor tiles (tiny green square ones, of course). She eased her body onto the commode, rubbed her feet and waited. The pastel green wall tiles and shiny dark green freeze didn’t escape her notice.

The nurse seemed to be taking forever. Papers rustled, blood pressure machine pumped, wheezed, and beeped while the nurse chatted with the old lady.

Letitia spent the waiting time constructively, planning her escape. She puzzled over how crowded the medical quarters had become and assumed that she was not the only survivor from the plane crash.

What happened to Fritz? She wondered.

Finally, silence on the other side. She slipped out of the en suite. The damp corners of the dressing gown slogging against her shins.

‘Who are you?’ the old lady stared at Letitia in an incriminating fashion. She wore this purple rinse in her thin curly hair and her piercing brown eyes marked her intruder’s every move like a hawk.

‘Oh, er, I’m your room-mate,’ Letitia said.

Baring her nicotine-stained buck teeth, she spat words of accusation at Letitia. ‘I have this room to myself. What are you doing here?’

‘Oh, haven’t you heard? There was an air disaster. The plane crash. They’ve had to double up.’

‘But there is no bed for you.’ She pointed a wiry finger at Letitia. ‘And why are you wearing my dressing gown?’

Letitia glanced lovingly down at the velvet chords and stroked the soft fabric. ‘Oh, is it? What a coincidence, I have one exactly like this!’

The old lady leant forward and indignantly replied, ‘How could you?’ Then in measured words, ‘That – gown – was – an – exclusive – from – Harrods – London.’

‘Really? Well, I guess salesmen, even Harrods ones, will do anything for a sale.’

The aged lady glowed bright red. ‘You mean…How could…what you…?’

The lady groped for the panic button.

‘I’ll go and see where the extra bed has got to,’ Letitia stammered before dashing from the room. She made for the nearest door that resembled a closet.

Letitia squatted in the cleaning cupboard surrounded by squeeze mops and buckets, and the stale musty smell that accompanied them. The fumes of antiseptic spray and wipe mingled with chlorine overwhelmed her. A lime green uniform was slung on a hook on the back of the door. Again, without too much thought, she donned the tunic-cut dress and dark green pinafore and slipped some available white sneakers onto her feet. ‘Don’t think too much about who wore those shoes before,’ she muttered with a shudder. The sneakers were a little tight and had a damp, cold feel on her bare feet. A surgical mask hung by its elastic on the hook that also held a green gown (pastel green, naturally). She took the mask and placed it over her nose and mouth. The fumes had been making her eyes water and she had begun to feel dizzy. The mask gave slight relief from the vapours as well as acting as a disguise.

‘Pity I’m no longer invisible,’ she muttered as she pulled open the door.

Fully dressed as cleaner with trolley laden with mops and buckets in tow, and vacuum cleaner barrel trailing behind her, she left the storage room. Eyes down, Letitia hoovered the short piled grey carpet. The nurses ignored her as cleaner. Domestic staff were unimportant to them. They were stationed in life and employment above cleaners.

‘You missed a spot there.’ There’s always one pompous nurse who had to be the exception. She had to make it her business how clean the med lab was to be.

‘Sorry!’ Letitia bleated while rubbing that corner of the corridor with the vacuum nozzle for some extra few seconds to satisfy her.

‘And don’t forget to empty the bins in the toilets – you forgot yesterday, and they are overflowing,’ she said.

‘Yes, ma’am!’ Letitia replied not actually looking at her. But silently she mimicked that particular nurse behind her surgical mask, then continued to vacuum away from the nasty nurse.

A few meters down the passageway, she glanced back. The nurse had turned away from her and had busied herself with a pile of clipboards, thank goodness.

Letitia worked her way to the large green and white “exit” and “lifts” sign at the end of the hallway. So far, so good.

Standing before the metal doors of the lift, Letitia expected them to open on command. She had forgotten that these lifts reinforced with an ornate brass gate, were not the sensor-lifts of the advanced Mirror technology. Mirror lifts are intelligent. They automatically sense the presence of an individual and whether the person is intending to go up or down. ‘Of course, this is 1967, on this world; lifts are not intelligent. I s’pose I have to press the appropriate button,’ she muttered while gazing at the lift. ‘Now, where’s the button?’

A man endowed with a yellow and blue striped polo shirt, baggy grey shorts and wielding a golf club waltzed up to the lifts and poked the “down” button. The fellow, tall, blonde hair receding, and dark blue eyes, appeared familiar, as if she had seen him somewhere before and long ago. The doors opened and Letitia joined the golfer in the lift.

A petite lady in a pale green mini dress smiled at them, and announced, ‘Going down? Going down?’

‘Er-oui,’ Letitia replied behind her mask. ‘I mean, “yes”.’

The golfer glanced at her and raised a blonde eyebrow.

‘Oops, habit,’ Letitia muttered and turned from him. Hoping she hadn’t given her “illegal alien” status away.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Aurora Borealis Icebreaker, near Battery Point Derwent River, Hobart, Tasmania © L.M. Kling 2016

***

Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Click on the link to my new novel, The Lost World of the Wends

Below…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

T-Team Next Gen–Tnorala (2)

[In 2013, the T-Team, next generation embarked on their pilgrimage to Central Australia. Purpose: to scatter Dad’s ashes in his beloved Central Australia, in Ormiston Gorge.

Over the next few weeks, I will take you on a virtual trip to the Centre and memories of that unforgettable holiday in 2013, with my brother and his family; the T-Team Next Generation.

This time, the T-K Team continue their venture out West of Hermannsburg to explore Tnorala (Gosse Bluff).]

Big Day Out West (2)

Afternoon

After eating a snack, we walked the designated paths, taking care not to stray from the designated paths. Off track, the land was reserved for revegetation, and it certainly had revegetated since 1977. Then, the crater had been a barren wasteland. In 2013, green and full of native bushes and trees.

[Photo 1: Inside Tnorala © L.M. Kling 2013]
[Photo 2: Back in 1977, T-team with Mr B © L.M. King (nee Trudinger) 1977]

Upon completing the various walking tracks in the crater, we trekked back to the Ford, and then trundled out and off the unsealed part of the Mereenie Loop Road continuing north along it towards the road to Glen Helen.

[Photo 3: Aspects of the Walk in Tnorala © L.M. Kling 2013]
[Photo 4: Re-vegetation © L.M. Kling 2013]
[Photo 5: Views on way © L.M. Kling 2013]

But not for long. Roadworks rendered the road unsealed, so, more crawling. Until we reached Tylers Pass Lookout. Hence, in the mellowing sunlight of mid-afternoon, we supped on our cheese and gherkin sandwiches which we had bought from the store while feasting our eyes of the panoramic view of the Gosse Ranges and the MacDonnell Ranges.

[Photo 6: View of Tnorala from the Tylers Pass Lookout © L.M. Kling 2013]

‘Well, time to get going,’ Anthony said. ‘We don’t want to be driving in the dark.’

‘No,’ I replied. ‘Although, just one more photo.’

‘Well, hurry up.’

[Photo 7: View of MacDonnell Ranges from lookout © L.M. Kling 2013]

I snapped a few more photos and climbed into the Ford. Anthony was drumming the steering wheel. After I’d fastened the seatbelt, Anthony turned the ignition.

Nothing.

‘O-oh!’ Anthony muttered and tried the ignition again.

The Ford started, then shook and shuddered.

‘Oh, shoot!’ Anthony snapped.

He turned off the protesting Ford. Extracted himself from the car. And looked under the bonnet. While I sat like the queen in the car, he spent some time “working” and exclaiming at intervals, “We’re stuffed!”

I jumped out and joined him in the under-the-bonnet examinations. By this time Anthony was in the process of attaching the air-filter hose back on the air-filter. ‘We’ll see if that works,’ he said.

[Photo 8: On another memorable occasion of car-fail way out West © S.O. Gross 1941]

We resumed our positions in the Ford, sent up an arrow-prayer, and Anthony turned the ignition. The engine ticked over smoothly, and we breathed out our sighs of thanks to God. Anthony, then climbed out the car again to close the bonnet.

Just at this particular time, a pair of tourists in a ute, drove into the viewing area.  They noticed the bonnet up on our car and called out, ‘You need some help?’

Anthony, with a tone of pride in his voice replied, ‘Nah, we are fine. All good.’

They waved, then drove past us to find a park and take in the view of the Gosses.

Late Afternoon

On our return, we passed a group of stranded owners of the land, kids waving. But Anthony kept driving. I guess, he wasn’t going to push his luck with mechanical prowess too far. In that way he was different from Dad who would’ve stopped and bantered in Aranda with them. And back then, in 1981, we had Richard, our mechanic.

By the time we reached Glen Helen, the fuel needle sank to less than a quarter of a tank, the gas-guzzler that the Ford is. We filled the tank there and then, now that we were on bitumen road, glided along enjoying the golden and purple hues of the MacDonnell Ranges in late afternoon. These I captured on my camera, with frequent stops, some with Anthony’s prompting.

[Photo 9: Namatjira Country © L.M. Kling 2013]

Sundown

Ellery Creek languished in shade when we arrived there. In the cooling shadows, we walked down the path leading to the water’s edge. Just as I remembered, Ellery Creek offered a big pool of water in which to swim. In fact, it’s the go-to place for swimming for the locals. In fact, as we walked the track to the pool, we passed a German tourist clad in bathers and hair wet from a dip.

[Photo 10: Ellery Creek—Go-to place for swimming © L.M. Kling 2013]
[Photo 11: Tree Reflections at Ellery Creek © L.M. Kling 2013]

As we drove westward to Hermannsburg, Anthony squinted at the setting sun glaring through the windscreen, and whined, ‘I can’t see a thing!’

‘Do you want me to drive?’ I asked.

‘No, no, I’ll be right.’

Just then, a kangaroo darted across the road. Anthony slowed and we watched the kangaroo and its joey tagging behind her, skitter over the verge and disappear into the bush.

‘That was close,’ Anthony sighed.

[Photo 12: Approaching dusk, Ellery Creek © L.M. Kling 2013]

We arrived back in Hermannsburg at around 7pm. I rang mum while waiting for tea. After a tasty meal of Chow Mein, we relaxed watching a video, and enjoying fellowship with our friends.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Gosse Bluff at sunset © S.O. Gross 1946

***

Virtual Travel Opportunity

For the price of a cup of coffee (takeaway, these days),

Click on the link and download your kindle copy of my travel memoir,

Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari. (Australia)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (United States)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (UK)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (Germany]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [France]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (India)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Canada]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Mexico]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Italy]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Brazil]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Spain]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Japan]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Netherlands]

Choice Bites–The Survivor (4)

Hope

[The final episode in an extract from another of my little projects in the War Against Boris the Bytrode Series…]

She pulled the old jacket around her arms and grimaced as she drew in the damp mouldy aroma that accompanied it. At least it was warmer. A large lopsided figure lumbered through, parting the sea of the dozen or so bowling competitors. Black balls skittered in all directions onto the concrete floor and the white ball snuck irretrievable under the bar fridge. Imagine, a fridge in the coldest continent on Earth! In chorus the crowd cried in protest, ‘Oh, Fritz!’

‘Oh, sorry, sorry!’ the hairy awkward form mumbled as he thrashed his way through the maddening mob. As some of the group sank to their hands and knees in search of kitty and bowling balls, the klutz continued to apologise oblivious to the search.

Maybe I can pretend to be part of the crew, Letitia thought as she slithered to a table in the corner. She perched on the edge of the seat and observed this peculiar group of people undetected.

‘I’ll sus them out, and when I have worked out what’s going on, I’ll make the right impression before hitting them with the fusion bomb of bad news,’ she whispered.

The clumsy man had his back to her and was standing on the green carpet. The group of bowlers were furious, ‘Get off, Fritz! We are playing, Fritz! Get off, will ya? You’re in the way!’

As if only half aware of his surroundings, the man of all feet and no grace, turned and stumbled towards the table. Behind his crooked glasses, his eyes grew wide.

Letitia gasped. I know him. He’s the Chief Physicist from the IGSF (intergalactic Space Fleet).

Fritz his face pale as if he’d seen a ghost, pointed at her.

‘Fritz!’ she stammered. ‘I mean, Professor Grossman.’

‘Letitia? W-what are you d-doing here?’ Fritz collided into a nearby metal chair causing it to clatter onto the floor.

She shrugged. ‘Er—I don’t know—just sorta thought I’d drop in.’

‘You’re alive.’

‘Yes.’

‘After all these years…’

‘Yes, um, Boris ya know.’

Fritz adjusted his spectacles and then rubbed his eye. ‘We never gave up. Nathan never gave up. He’s been looking for you. He sent me here, to look. He kept me working—worm holes, parallel universes, you name it, he kept on searching for you. Everyone thought he was crazy.’

‘Nathan?’ she asked, the words choking in her throat. The 1960’s—he’d been so right for her—they’d been so right for each other—except at that time, the world-view their relationship as so wrong. The 1960’s, on Earth, in Australia, when tall, dark Nathan had been classed as “fauna”. No rights to vote. No rights to own a house. Yet, in the ISGF, Nathan and Letitia as an item, had been accepted.

Letitia wiped a tear from her eye. ‘After Boris attacked our ship, I thought I’d lost him forever.’

‘He never gave up,’ Fritz said.

‘How did he know? I was involved in a plane crash—Boris—he said he was sending me to another world. I think I’ve just arrived.’

‘Oh, there was a plane crash about a week ago—somewhere—over there.’ He waved his hands about. ‘Some other station…far away from here…’ His voice trailed off into uncertainty.

‘When did you arrive, Professor?’

‘About a week ago.’

‘He never gave up, Nathan…’ Letitia frowned. ‘But, why would Boris do that? Why would he be so kind?’

Fritz shrugged.

She bit her lip and avoided the obvious conclusion that someday, some time, Boris would demand her to return the favour.

The calendar of 1967 with the not-so faded photo of the Central Australian rock troubled her too. ‘What’s with the calendar? Has no one pride in the place to change it? Update it in—I know it’s Uluru—memories of a warmer clime.’

Fritz glanced at the glossy time device. ‘Oh, that. Tacky, yeah, I know.’ He saluted the calendar half-heartedly. ‘At least they have the year right. Pff!’ He looked again. ‘Oh, yeah, and the month’s right too. It’s January, isn’t it? We’ve just had New Year’s a couple of days ago. Some of the crew are still recovering if you know what I mean.’

Letitia shook her head. ‘Hmm, Boris, he did send me to another world.’

‘Yeah, well, it’ll be alright,’ Fritz said.

He stood and offered his hand.

‘Will I see Nathan?’ she asked taking his hand.

‘Hopefully—soon. Listen, you need rest. I’ll organise the transport.’

Fritz pulled Letitia to standing and then guided her out the common room and to the dormitory.

As she snuggled into a thermo-sleeping bag, she drew the hood over her head and asked, ‘Do you think you can keep the others from noticing I’m here?’

‘What do you mean? I thought that’s what you were doing—I mean using your invisibility skills.’

‘Invisibility?’

‘As I said, Nathan detected your presence.’ Fritz fiddled with his spectacles. ‘These glasses use sonar to detect things that are cloaked. Like you. It may just be this world.’

‘I’m invisible?’

Fritz patted the hood of her sleeping bag. ‘Get some sleep. We transport back to Earth in the morning. Nathan is looking forward to seeing you.

‘Fritz? One more thing.’

‘What?’

‘I have a daughter—Jemima. She’s Nathan’s…’

‘Huh? Jemima? You have a…?’

‘Yes.’

‘Oh, Her! Yes, she’s been helping us.’

Letitia nodded and closed her eyes. Her head spun. Nathan…Jemima helping…And the thought that crept up behind her and caught her off-guard. What arrangement had Jemima made with Boris?

Fritz returned with chicken noodle soup in a flask. He set it on the small tin cupboard beside her bunk.

Letitia sat up and sipped the soup. She tried not to think about the deal Jemima made to save her mother from certain death on Mirror World. And maybe, the driving force behind the gesture—the need for a daughter to find her father.

Snug in her cocoon, stomach filled with soup, her heart content with anticipation to see her first love again, Letitia thanked God, and then drifted off to sleep.

King of the Springs

In an exclusive club on the edge of this desert town, Tails positioned himself on the stool at the bar and prepared to down an ice-cold beer. Nothing like a chilled beer in the middle of a hot summer in the Centre of Australia. He raised the schooner of amber liquid and savoured the moment…

A commanding figure strode into the bar. Walking in his direction…

Tails’ eyes narrowed. He spat out an expletive. Then muttered, ‘They’re after me!’

Appetite for his beer lost, he abandoned the full and frothing glass. Alighted from his barstool. Scuttled from the bar, through the Pokies Parlour. Into the melting heat of midday.

Packing up the boys and escaping south, to Adelaide foremost on his mind.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Mt. Wellington summit © L.M. Kling 2009

***

Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Click on the link to my new novel, The Lost World of the Wends

Below…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling