Thursday Thoughts–Jellyfish and Wishbones

Recent events have reminded me of this little gem I posted way back in 2016. Still relevant today—maybe even more so, as it was back then…and way back 45 years ago when I was in high school. And it seems, while many of us have matured and have an open mind when it comes to opinions and how we view others, there are some who believe that if you tell a lie often enough, it must be true. The recipients who have no backbone who believe these lies are just as guilty. Need I go into detail with examples? Not here. But I may explore this issue in some of my future novels.

NOW YOU KNOW…

Year Ten at high school, and you could say I went to school each day with a big virtual sign on my back that read, “Kick Me”.

Don’t get me wrong, I had my close friends; friends who valued me for me and who saw through the prevailing attitudes of the crowd towards me. I assumed my lack of popularity was spawned from a rocky start in Year Seven—new kid when all friendship groups had been established in a very small school. And then there were those who had made it their mission in life to persecute me. I assumed they spread the rumours about me. Or maybe it was my buck teeth, and awkward way of relating to people…When you are told by your peers over and over again that you are ugly, unloved and no one wants you and you do regularly get picked last for the team, I guess you start to believe what people say.

What kept me together, were my real friends; the ones outside of school, and my friends at school. I also belonged to a fantastic youth group that met every Friday night. A close-knit, loving family helped as well. Most of all my faith in Jesus got me through those difficult early teenage years.

Anyway, at fifteen, my teeth had been almost straightened by orthodontics and I’d perfected the enemy-avoiding strategy of spending lunchtime in the library. I loved learning and my best friend and I spurred each other on in academic excellence. My goal, a scholarship. I had heard rumours that some kids thought I was not so intelligent, a fool, in other words.

At my grandmother’s place, after Sunday lunch, I helped Grandma with the dishes. As I scraped away the chicken bones, I discovered the wishbone.

‘Can I make a wish?’ I asked Grandma.

‘Well, why not?’ she replied. Although a godly woman, some superstitions from our Wendish (eastern European) past had filtered down through the generations. So wishing on wishbones was no big spiritual deal.

Grandma and I hooked our little fingers around each prong of the wishbone. We pulled. The bone snapped in two and I won the larger portion. I closed my eyes and made my wish, a scholarship. Dad had promised that if I studied hard and won a scholarship, he’d buy me a ten-pin bowling ball. So in truth, my aspirations for academic achievement were less than pure.

A month or so later, we lined up for assembly. I suffered the usual torment from a certain teacher who was obsessed with the uniform. ‘Pull your socks up!’ she snapped.

What was it about socks? I wondered as I dutifully began to pull up my socks. For our summer uniform which we had to wear in first term, we wore blue cotton frocks down to our knees and long white socks. Woe betide any poor soul who did not pull their socks up to their knees. The length of our uniform dresses, was another issue that kept certain teachers occupied. And don’t get me started on hair. I tell you, if all the students had worn their uniforms correctly, I think the teachers would’ve quit out of boredom.

So with my socks pulled up, I waited in line to troop into the assembly hall. A tap on my back. One of my friends smiled at me. I remember her simple bob of straight blonde hair; no fancy flicks or curls like many fashion-conscious girls in the 1970’s. Farrah Fawcet flicks were all the rage and drove the teachers to distraction.

‘Good luck,’ my friend said.

‘Why?’ I asked.

Miss Uniform-Obsessed-Teacher glared at us. She had those bulging blue eyes, mean pointy mouth that forced us to slouch into submission, and for me to check my socks again.

One of my foes snaked past and muttered at me, ‘Dumb idiot.’

I shook my head and concentrated on not getting glared at by the teacher. Really, I thought, he’s at the bottom of the class and he’s calling me dumb? What is it with that guy? In his defence, he did come out with a gem once in English class when the students were rioting and so reducing the first-year-out teacher to tears. He said to me, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ So true for my home town.

Once inside the hallowed halls of assembly, we went through the ritual of the school assembly. The principal delivered the talk. There’s a lecture I recall he made, don’t know if it was that particular one—how we were a bunch of jellyfish and we must get some backbone. When he said backbone I thought of the wishbone, and then that guy and his cohorts. I thought of how people believe unquestioningly what others tell them, even if it’s not true. They go along with the prevailing attitude, even if it’s wrong and harmful to others. In some ways, like at school, I was a victim of these jellyfish, and in other ways, I was a jellyfish too. I had an attitude, an aversion against those who bullied me. Did I have backbone enough to get to know them as people rather than continuing to avoid them as enemies?

The principal began to hand out the awards. Ah, yes, that’s what my friend meant. Today was the day of the awards. I watched as various students marched up the front and collected their scholarships. That won’t be me, I thought.

‘And for Year Ten,’ the principal said, ‘the scholarship for high achievement…’

I looked up. What? Me?

I walked to the front, shook the principal’s hand, collected the award, then head down and with a tug of my pig tail, I walked back to my seat.

Afterwards, my friend patted me on the shoulder. ‘Congratulations! Well done! Just like you to win an award and then pull at your pig tails.’

I nodded. The whole deal of winning a scholarship seemed unreal. ‘I’ll be able to get my own bowling ball, now.’

That guy slid past me. ‘Ooh, what a surprise—we all thought you were dumb.’

‘Well, now you know I’m not,’ I replied.

***

Sometimes we carry our hurt from the persecution from others like a big heavy bag on our backs and the truth is it influences the way we see the world. I realised being a victim had become my narrative and I didn’t want it to be so. As a jellyfish, I had no backbone to stand against this view of myself and how others viewed me. I feared speaking out and going against the crowd in the cause of truth, justice, mercy and compassion. I kept my opinions to myself. Then just recently, when again the baggage of victimhood crept up on me, I read the following passage from the book of Matthew in the Bible. The words encouraged and gave me the backbone to stand out and for the sake of Jesus Christ make a positive difference in the world.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me (Jesus). Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”—Matthew 5:11-12

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; 2023

Feature Picture: Huge School of Water Jelly © iStockphoto

***

Want to explore some more?

Another world? Another place and time?

Escape into some space adventure? Or just delve into some plain dystopian adventure?

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Mission of the Unwilling

The Lost World of the Wends

Travelling Thursday–Sellicks Beach

[In answer to today’s prompt, I have never been to Kangaroo Island. So close and yet, so expensive to get there. One day I hope to travel there. In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Adelaide and down the Fleurieu coast.]

Sensational Sellicks Beach at Sunset

[Part 2 of the K-Team’s adventure on the Fantastic Fleurieu.]

‘Let’s see Sellicks Beach at sunset,’ I said, ‘it’s a perfect day for a sunset on the cliffs.’

Photo 1: Perfect any time when the sun reflects off the cliffs in the afternoon © L.M. Kling 2015

This time, like sheep, the K-Team heeded my voice and followed Hubby and me out from Hallett Cove, and then by car, we made a convoy up Lonsdale Road to the expressway heading for Sellicks Beach.

Photo 2: Hills rising above Sellicks Beach dominate the skyline © L.M. Kling 2018

After the expressway, on South Road, we passed the turn-off to Victor Harbour. I looked back. ‘Um, I can see P1’s car, but where’s your other brother, M’s car?’

‘Behind P1, I think,’ Hubby said. ‘Can’t you see the car?’

I glimpsed something resembling M’s car. ‘I think so.’

Photo 3: Searching of a different kind a long time ago; T-Team and K-boys looking for crabs at Sellicks Beach © L.M. Kling 1995

We reached the road leading to Sellicks Beach and turned. P1’s car turned too. ‘I can’t see M’s car.’

‘Maybe he went to Victor Harbour,’ my husband said.

‘I hope not.’

Hubby sighed as we neared Sellicks Beach. ‘Now where do we go?’

Photos 4 & 5: Down the Ramp to the sand and what’s there? Rocks, shells and sea flora © L.M. Kling 2018

‘Down the ramp.’

‘What ramp? I don’t see a ramp.’

‘Right there.’ I pointed. ‘Turn right.’

He who argues with Sat Nav’s and ignores their instructions, didn’t turn where I told him to, but kept driving on the road above the cliffs. ‘Where do I turn?’ he bleated.

I indicated behind us, but not in a smooth-calm voice that the Sat Nav would have. ‘Back there!’

‘What? Why didn’t you say so?’

Huffing and puffing, Hubby manoeuvred the Ford around making a U-turn. Then he detected a car park on the same level as the road. ‘We should park there.’

Photo 6: View of Sellicks coastline looking north towards Aldinga © L.M. Kling 2018

The thought of trekking up the steep slope to our car after the descent to the beach didn’t appeal to me. ‘No, let’s go to the lower one.’

‘Fine then,’ Hubby muttered and then drove down the ramp to the lower car park. P1’s car followed.

Parked in the lower car park, we waited for M.

Photo 7: View of Sellicks Beach coast looking south. An earlier visit when low tide. © L.M. Kling 2009

‘I think he took the road to Victor Harbour,’ P1 said. ‘He seemed to disappear around the time of that turn-off.’

Hubby pursed his lips and shook his head. We waited and observed cars parked on the beach. Waves already lapped at the ramp leading to the beach. Seemed some drivers had left it a little too late to escape the beach and rising tide. Perhaps the owners planned to camp the night and fish. One four-wheel drive vehicle drove through the surf to climb the ramp back to the road.

Photo 8:  Fisherman at Sellicks Beach © L.M. Kling 2017

‘Let’s have some afternoon tea while we wait,’ I said and then opened up the back of the station wagon. Before I’d finished serving coffee and hot cross buns, M’s car rolled down the ramp and parked beside P1’s car. We gathered around as M and his Swiss passengers stepped out.

Photo 9: Looking south at Sellicks Beach, November of 2017 when the tide was lower. © L.M. Kling 2017

Photo 10: Fishing at Sellicks. That day, in April, the tide was higher, and so not safe to drive on the sand. You can see others with their 4×4 all-terrain vehicles thought differently © L.M. Kling 2017

‘I took the road to Victor Harbour and had to take the scenic route to get here,’ M said.

The K-Team watched the sunset on the Sellicks cliffs; a regular paparazzi of K-clickers with their cameras captured the sun sinking on the horizon.

Photo 11: Sunset K-Paparazzi © L.M. Kling 2017

Then, with the sun gone, the K-Team wound their way back to our place for a roast chicken dinner.

Photo 12: Sunset on Sellicks Waves © L.M. Kling 2017

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; updated 2019; 2023

Feature Photo: Black and White Sellicks Sunset © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1984

***

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Wandering Wednesday–Camping Hazards near Mt. Liebig

[I have been preparing The T-Team with Mr B: Central Australia 1977 to be ready for publication soon. So, below is an extract from the T-Team’s adventure.

While three of the T-Team faced the perils of climbing Mt. Liebig, a drama of a different, yet equally challenging kind unfolded for Mr. B and his son, Matt as they stayed back at camp.

Extract from The T-Team with Mr B: Central Australia 1977, a prequel to Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981.]

Bull Meets Mr. B

Mr. B and his son, Matt napped under the shade of a bean tree. A southerly breeze ferried through the dry creek bed, spiriting away the father’s snorts. Matt tossed and turned on his inflatable mattress that was exhausted of air resulting from a small, elusive puncture. He imagined the three others of the T-Team, beating a path through the sweltering heat and stinging spinifex in their quest to the summit of Mt. Liebig. Matt chuckled to himself. “Suckers!”

[Photo 1: Mt Liebig at sunrise with bean tree © C.D. Trudinger 1977]

In a nearby tributary, a bull spied the T-Team’s father, son and daughter trekking in the distance, and stamped its massive hooves in the loose dry sand. Once the family had vanished, the bull trotted towards his stamping ground which possessed a gigantic bean tree as a feature in an otherwise dull bed of dust. His quest was to reclaim his territory that the humans had invaded.

“Matt, ma boy, do be careful. Don’t go too far from camp. A bull might get you.” Mr. B squinted in the direction of distant thumping, then rolled over and resumed snoring.

A monstrous brown hulk loomed through a cloud of dust.

[Photo 2: Resident cattle © L.M. Kling 2013]

Matt bolted upright “Dad! Dad! Th-there’s a big- ugly- brown – ugly- big – brown – ugly – b-b-bull!”

“Aw, Matt, stop kidding me.” Mr. B blinked and rubbed his eyes. “That’s enough of the jokes.” A short rumble from behind sent him scrambling to his feet. He flailed his arms while galloping. “Quick! Into the Rover. Now!”

“But Dad!” In the sweltering heat and moment, the boy froze, glued to his air mattress under the bean tree. Terrified, he witnessed his Dad bound over the dirt and fly into the empty Rover parking space and onto a thicket of spinifex. Matt winced. The massif of angry brown trod closer. It paused, pawing the ground, taunting its human prey.

[Photo 3: Cattle Yard © S.O. Gross circa 1950]

After rubbing his punctured behind, Mr. B scrambled for the tarpaulin and rummaged through the baggage. “Er, d-don’t worry Matt. I-I’ll charge this bull before it s-sh-shoots — er — us.”

“But, Dad, the bull doesn’t have a gun.”

“Well, neither do we, we’ll just have to be satisfied with this boomerang and spear, till I find the damn gun.”

The bull stalked, narrowing the gap. The son clambered up the tree and gasped as his father fought with a rucksack that had entangled his legs, while he waved the pathetic weapons above his head.

[Photo 4: Mr. B wishing his nemesis “subdu-a-bull” © S.O. Gross circa 1945]

“But Dad, they’re only souvenirs.”

“Why Matt, how can you say such a thing? Where do you think these genuine Australian artefacts are made?” With all his effort, Mr. B thrust the spear at the beast.

“Yes, Dad, sold in Australia, but made in China.” Matt watched as the menacing bulk of fury stomped the ground, dust billowing into a cloud around it. “Too bad the bull doesn’t know the difference.”

“Don’t be sarcastic at a time of crisis, son.” Mr. B flung the boomerang at the charging bull and ducked behind the tucker box. The projectile bounced off the bull’s hide, provoking it into a tumult of frenzy. Grunting like an eight-cylinder engine, he stormed towards its human attacker, screeching to a halt at the edge of the tarpaulin. As the bull glared down at him, Mr. B could smell its leathery breath.

[Photo 5: Meanwhile, Mt. Liebig in afternoon and more generous ghost gum © S.O. Gross circa 1946]

With a nervous smile fixed on his face, the father edged his way to the bean tree and climbed aboard. The bull stomped and snorted around the sacred bean tree while its victims trembled in the lofty branches amongst the beans.

From this vantage point, Mr. B spotted the rifle leaning up against the tucker box. Unfortunately, the bull sat between him in the tree and the tucker box.

Hours passed.

Father and son sat in the tree.

“Dad my bottom hurts,” Matt whined.

Mr. B sighed, “The others’ll be back soon. They have a rifle.”

“But Dad! I have to go!”

“Hold on,” Mr. B snapped.

The sun edged to the horizon.

Mr. B bit his lip wondering if he’d be stuck up this tree forever.

“Dad! I really have to!”

Mr. B turned to his son who was now rocking.

The distant hum rang through the golden landscape. Mr. B adjusted his grip on the branch.

The hum became louder. An engine.

The bull rose and sauntered out of the campsite, then disappeared into the bush.

“Just wait, Matt,” Mr. B said. He scrambled down the tree and grabbed the rifle.

Matt’s voice floated down. “Dad, it’s too late.”

As the sun disappeared below the horizon, the rest of the T-Team returned to find Mr. B clutching a rifle and pacing the clearing. Matt remained lodged high up in the bean tree.

“As you can see, while you’ve been climbing your mountain, we’ve had a not-so-welcome visitor,” Mr. B remarked.

[Photo 6: Mt. Liebig at sunset © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

“Somehow, I think the B-family will be taking a guided bus tour next time they go for a holiday,” I muttered to Rick.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019; updated 2023

Feature Painting: Mt. Liebig in watercolour © L.M. Kling 2017

***

Dreaming of an Aussie Outback Adventure?

Click the link below:

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981,

To download your Amazon Kindle copy of the story…

And escape in time and space to the Centre of Australia 1981…

Catch a Ride for Free–The Hitch-hiker

The Hitch-hiker, Free…

[An excerpt…]

More silence as the Kombi trundled along Main North Road. Was this the trend for the road trip? Long awkward silences. Two brothers sitting side by side, itching to punch each other. Liesel itched to lay hands on Fox who squashed himself against the car door. And Minna opposite Günter, tried not to make too many calf-eyes at him, as well as trying her best to not nibble her nails. Was this what grown-up young people do for fun? Where was the excitement? The pillow fights? The Coca-Cola? Things go better with Coke, so the commercials say. And things in this mobile can did require better going.

A man dressed in brown walked on the roadside. He hunched over and stuck out his thumb.

Fox slowed down the van. ‘Oh, a hitch-hiker. Why don’t we pick him up?’

‘Are you crazy? No way!’ Liesel batted his arm.

Fox eased the Kombi to a stop. ‘He looks like he needs a lift. What the heck.’

‘What’re you doing?’ Liesel raised her tone.

But Fox continued to pull over to the side of the road.

***

Read the whole story.

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© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2015; post updated 2023

Wandering Wednesday–Brachina Gorge, Flinders Ranges

T-Team: Young and Restless in Brachina Gorge

It could’ve been Good Friday; most probably was. One thing was for certain, it was the Easter long weekend, when throngs of city folk in South Australia head for the outback to camp. My brother and I joined our youth group friends on a camping trip to Brachina Gorge, Flinders Ranges. Ah, those were the days!

[Photo 1: Road to Brachina © L.M. Kling 1983]

Another thing was for sure. We had reached Brachina Gorge after a long day of driving and everyone was, let’s just say, less than civil with each other. At least no kangaroos had been slaughtered by car, no copious amounts of beer had been drunk in the car, and thus no unfortunate accidents causing us to escape the car had happened either. Not like some Easter in the future when the T-Team explored Chambers Gorge.

[Photo 2: Approaching Brachina Gorge © L.M. Kling circa 1983]

So, late Good Friday afternoon, we stopped in Brachina Gorge just before the track became too suspension-crunching rough.

B Calm sautéed his dehydrated rice on his personal gas cooker. He wasn’t grumpy.

I peered at the sizzling stubs of rice and deliciously smelling onion. ‘What are you doing?’ I asked.

‘Cooking,’ B Calm replied.

‘Looks good.’ I mused how B Calm could settle down and cook his dinner. The rest of the crew bumbled about the narrow sandy rise above the riverbed, searching for a decent-sized patch to plant their tents.

[Photo 3: In search of a tent site in Brachina Gorge © L.M. Kling 1983]

Storm bowled past B Calm. ‘This place is rubbish! Can’t we move on?’

B Calm ignored Storm and continued frying. The cliffs of the gorge shimmered salmon-pink in the late afternoon sun.

[Photo 4: Brachina Cliffs late afternoon © L.M. Kling 1983]

Storm paced in front of B Calm. He moaned, ‘There’s nowhere to put a tent up! Who chose this place?’

The culprit, my brother, also ignored this feedback. He hovered over the rock pool, searching for his tucker tonight. Yabbies.

[Photo 5: Tributary Creek in Brachina © L.M. Kling 1999

]

‘Any luck?’ B Calm called.

‘Nup,’ Rick replied. ‘But I just caught a tadpole.’ He then tipped back his head, opened wide his mouth and popped the tadpole in.

[Photo 6: Rock Pools in Brachina where yabbies and tadpoles thrive © L.M. Kling 1999]

‘Ew! Yuk!’ the girls, Summer and Autumn screamed. ‘That’s disgusting!’

Triv sniggered.

After a gulp, Rick shuddered. ‘A bit too salty.’

Storm stumbled past. ‘This place stinks!’

‘Find us a better place then,’ Rick replied.

[Photo 7: In search of Camping Paradise © L.M. Kling 1983]

Storm stomped down the road that led further into the gorge and disappeared around the bend. The sun, by this time had slunk below the horizon to light up other parts of the Earth. Twilight lingered, dusting wisps of cloud in shades of crimson.

[Photo 8: Sundown in Brachina © L.M. Kling 1999]

B Calm glanced in the direction of Storm’s venture. ‘He’ll be back.’

Sure enough, as the twisted bushes on the neighbouring ridge turned to ink against the fading sunset, Storm returned. ‘Still reckon this place is a dump,’ he muttered.

[Photo 9: Silhouettes of sunset in Brachina © L.M. Kling 1999]

For the rest of us, the ancient mystery of the Brachina cliffs had convinced us to stay put. Tents lined the banks of the creek. And our small group of friends gathered around the roaring fire, sausages sizzling in frypans and billies boiling for a cup of tea. Brachina, and the campsite Rick had chosen, was more than good enough for us.

[Photo 10: Campfire of content © L.M. Kling 1983]

‘Maybe we’ll move on in the morning,’ Rick promised; more to allay any remaining discontent, than a firm promise.

[Photo 11: Ancient mystery of Brachina Gorge © L.M. Kling 1999]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2020; update 2023

Feature Photo: Sunset on Brachina © L.M. Kling 1999

***

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More Holiday Reading–Free, Free, Free

Thumm Christmas (part 2)

The Ants Pants of Christmas

When the backyard was clear of interfering adults, Wally’s harassment of the girls, particularly Minna, intensified. It began with vicious name calling, progressed to pinching and poking, and then escalated into soda warfare. Wally collected an arsenal of soda bottles which had come courtesy of Dad’s Christmas present soda machine, and after shaking vigorously, he assaulted the girls with the sticky fluid that spewed forth. No matter where Minna and Holly ran to escape, there lurked Wally, and the spray of soda. Not even freshly laid eggs from the hen house collected by Holly, and catapulted so accurately at Wally, deterred him from his soda campaign. It only stopped when the soda ran out. Grandma was not amused. ‘Them was good eggs,’ she lamented. She didn’t care about the soda.

Then came the stoning with pebbles from Grandma’s driveway. Wally rounded up the troops, all male, and barely pubescent. They scraped up the gravel by the tee-shirt full and set about pelting their female victims with the stones. The war of the Thumms had commenced; boys against girls. Holly and Minna cowered behind the corrugated iron bins and used the lids as shields. Grandma’s garbage was no match for gravel.

As the girls weathered another stone shower in the warmth of the Christmas Day twilight, Holly looked over at Minna. ‘Are you thinking what I am thinking?’ Holly had an uncanny knack for reading thoughts, especially Minna’s.

‘Yep, I think you are, Holly,’ Minna replied, smirking.

‘Well, then, what are we waiting for. Let’s dack him!’

‘Good thinking, Holly. There’s just the technical details to work out. Right?’ Minna ducked as a hail of pellets descended on them. ‘So how?’

‘Well, we could…’ Holly was full of brilliant ideas, but had trouble executing them.

‘I know, John, I’ll get my brother, John on our side. He’s an expert at dacking.’

‘Yes!’

Moving together, Holly and Minna held onto bin lids and side-stepped across the lawn to where John was fielding in another eternal game of French cricket. A spray of stones followed. Annoyed John hollered at the culprit, Wally, ‘Hey! Would you cut it out!’

‘Do you want revenge, John?’ Minna asked.

‘I’m playing cricket.’ John snapped.

Holly batted the tennis ball with her shield. ‘Won’t take long.’

‘Hey, I could have caught that.’ John sniffed and rubbed a pimple on the side of his nose.

‘See that over-sized baby, over there. That excuse of a boy called Wally?’ Minna pointed towards Wally as he gathered up more of the driveway in his tee-shirt. ‘Doesn’t he remind you of your worst enemy? Here’s your chance. You could dack him for us.’

‘Dack him yourself! I’m playing cricket.’ John replied while Holly batted another ball away with her shield. ‘Hey stop doing that!’

‘Only when you’ve dacked the Wally,’ Holly said. ‘I mean, look what he’s done to the drive way! And think about when you next mow Grandma’s lawn.’

John rolled his eyes. ‘Alright! But you owe me, cousin!’

Minna spotted Wally, again lurking, this time in the shadows, by the side of the house. She whispered to her big brother, ‘He’s just behind you, John.’

As Wally raised his hand to hurl stones on their unprotected bodies, John swung around and with one graceful and swift movement, drew Wally’s trousers, ants pants underpants revealed. Simultaneously in that split second, a flash lit up and interrupted the cricket match.

‘Yes! Good one!’ Minna congratulated John on his skill.

‘Thanks boys, that will make an excellent photo.’ Aunt Sophie announced, oblivious to the R-rated nature of her snap.

‘Yes!’ Holly sang. ‘Revenge is sweet!’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018; updated 2023

Feature Photo: Christmas in Australia means cricket and beach © L.M. Kling 2007

***

Treat Yourself to Sci-fi Adventure this Holiday Season

Want more? More than before? Don’t just listen to the rumours of the war on Boris, read it for yourself. Find out how and why this war began.

Check out my novels on Amazon and in Kindle. Click on the links below:

The Lost World of the Wends—Free on Kindle until tomorrow January 3, 2023.

***

Discover how this War against Boris all began in

Mission of the Unwilling (2nd edition)

The Hitch-hiker

A New Year’s Gift–The Lost World of the Wends

Roast Cockroach

[An extract from my novel, in the War Against Boris series: The Lost World of the Wends]

The seven sat around the dining table in silence. The roast steamed in the centre. Candles either side guarded the meal. Thunder rumbled over the hills and mountains. Lightning flashed.

Boris nursed his ray-gun hand and then he placed it beside his knife; a reminder in case any member of the group chose not to cooperate, Joseph assumed.

‘Oh, I’m going to enjoy this,’ Boris purred. ‘Thank you, Herr and Frau Biar, for inviting me. I do apologise for not being at the service this morning. I had a little business to take care of.’ With an evil twinkle in his eye, he glanced at Amie. ‘How was the service?’

Amie gulped.

‘Boring,’ Friedrich said in a sing-song voice.

Frau Biar and Herr Biar tightened their mouths. They frowned at Friedrich and shook their heads.

Wilma piped up. ‘Joseph and Amie are in love.’

‘I know,’ Boris looked at Herr Biar. ‘Well, aren’t you going to do the honours? Cut up the chicken. I’m sure you’re all dying for the roast.’

A black bug crawled out of the chook’s orifice. Everyone watched as it meandered across the tablecloth.

Boris drummed the table. ‘Come on! I’m hungry!’

Herr Biar sighed. He sharpened his knife and sliced off some chicken breast.

‘No! No! A proper cut! Cut the chicken open!’ Boris rose and stood over Herr Biar.

Herr Biar jabbed the knife in the centre and flayed the roast.

Cockroaches teamed from the cavity and over the plates, cutlery and vegetables.

Joseph flicked them as they sauntered over his plate. Amie shook them off her dress.

‘Come on! Cut the meat up Biar!’ Boris raised his voice. ‘We want to eat.’

Herr Biar served portions onto the plates. Boris helped. He scooped up the black stuffing and slopped a spoonful on every plate. The stuffing reeked of a rancid stench that filled the room.

‘Now, the vegetables,’ Boris said. ‘Frau serve the vegetables. We must have our vegetables.’

Frau Biar lifted with fork and knife, the roast potatoes garnished with cockroach entrails and plopped them on the plates. Then she added the steamed peas and carrots mixed with bugs.

Six stunned people studied their portions of festering food, not daring to touch it. Boris presided over the group. He grinned from ear to ear, imitating the Cheshire cat from “Alice in Wonderland”, as he poured lumpy gravy over the chicken on each plate.

‘Go on, eat up,’ he urged. ‘Oh, and by the way, Amie and Joseph, I have your families—just where I want them.’

Joseph tracked a couple of roaches tumbling in the gravy.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

     Feature Photo: A good spread © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955

***

A Gift for the New Year…

Travel to The Lost World of the Wends

For Free

From today December 30, 2022 until January 3, 2023

Click on the link to my new novel,

The Lost World of the Wends

Tis the Season–Hurry Last Few Hours

Christmas, Thumm-style Down Under

[A Christmas special as a spin-off from my novels The Hitch-hiker and

Mission of the Unwilling.]

Christmas was encumbered with a monumental family gathering. Every family member imaginable plus a few ring-ins congregated at Grandma Thumm’s for the occasion. What was a logistical nightmare for Minna’s parents, aunts and uncles, was joy for Minna as her favourite cousin Holly visited from Switzerland. But she cringed on spotting Wally. (Grandma had felt sorry for his mum and her older teen charges Wally and Monica). That sense of pity didn’t extend to Minna as that dreaded ring-in, and one time school bully, scowled at Minna. Monica had escaped the Thumm Christmas. Home with a migraine. So, without Monica to protect her, Minna avoided Wally, and concentrated her attention on Holly.

Aunt Sophie, Holly’s mother, rounded the Thumm troops for the traditional family photo in the back garden in front of the grapevine. 

The camera got Minna thinking. I wonder…She became quiet and gazed up at the cobalt cloudless sky.

‘Is something wrong?’ Holly snapped her out of sky-gazing, then chuckled. ‘Oh, I know! You’re thinking of some boy.’

‘No!’ Minna shouted. ‘Not boys!’

‘Dinner time!’ Mum called. She rang the bell.

Like lemmings the Thumm clan trooped into Grandma’s kitchen.

As the elders settled around the antique 100-year-old oak table, with a spread of roast turkey, silver and the best china on white linen, Aunt Sophie beckoned to John, Minna’s older brother, ‘You can sit with us, dear, I want to hear all about that telescope you are making.’

Minna sighed, and followed the kids to the “kindertisch” on the back verandah. ‘My luck I’ll end up next to Wally’, she muttered to Holly as they heaped their plates full of the crispiest baked potatoes in the southern hemisphere.

Minna’s words came a reality as she perched on a foldable deck chair at the “kindertisch”. The only seat available for Wally, was next the hers. When he approached the table, paper plate laden into a V-shape from piles of poultry and potato, all the other kids had closed the ranks with their chairs, ensuring no Wally-sized gap existed. Minna, who had been busy discussing the method of making crunchy potato with Holly, had failed to register the Wally-approach. Too late, Wally squeezed his frame between her and Holly. Minna cringed. She would have preferred two Grandmas with wings on either side of her than to be seated next to him.

Wally spoiled what would have been a most pleasant Christmas dinner. As he hoed into his potato salad and smacked his lips together, Minna remarked, ‘You know, you remind me of Gomer Pyle! Where’re you from? Cornball Mississippi South?’

‘Shut up buck tooth Loch Ness Monster!’ Wally replied spraying a mouthful of spud over her plate.

‘Oh! Yuk! Creep germs!’ Minna cried. With that, she tipped the tainted contents over his lap.

‘I’ll get Boris onto you. Or better still, his cockroaches. Ha-ha.’

‘Whoever Boris is. Anyway, you’re one big cockroach.’

‘You dog!’ Wally scraped up a wad of potato and flicked it in her face.

‘How dare you contaminate me!’ She knocked her cola over his trousers. ‘Oops! Looks like someone’s had an accident. Ha! Ha! Wally’s peed himself!’

All the cousins laughed.

‘You cow!’ Wally squealed. His voice cracked and squeaked as if he were a pig.

‘Come, come! What’s going on?’ Grandma poked her head out the back door.

Wally pointed at Minna. ‘The dog did it!’

‘Now, now, that’s not a nice thing to say about your cousin.’ Grandma chided. ‘Dear me, what happened to your pants, Wally?’

‘It was an accident.’ Minna chortled. ‘Wasn’t it, Holly?’

Holly nodded and giggled into her napkin. She had no time for the loathsome Wally either. ‘Yeah, Gran, he had an accident, he peed himself.’ She guffawed.

‘What? Minna threw the drink on me!’ Wally yelped. He brushed the stain with his holly decorated napkin.

‘Now, now, Wally, calm down!’ Grandma reasoned. She waddled her wide-girth body to the table and put an arm around Wally’s shoulder. ‘You must treat girls with respect. You don’t go calling them names like that. Now you say, “Sorry”.’

Wally scowled and muttered, ‘Sorry!’

Satisfied, Grandma went back to her job of hosting the adults who were by this time popping bon-bons and laughing out loud at the lame jokes discovered inside them.

Holly and Minna tittered as they observed Wally move away and seat his slimy self all alone at an extra tiny card table. The paper hat sat crookedly on his greasy scalp.

Minna giggled and said, ‘Hey, Holly, with that salad bowl hair cut and pasty complexion, he looks like the dork from Oz.’

‘Shut up!’ Wally menaced as the girls continued to snigger. He hurled the bone at them. The girls dodged the missile and it landed with a plop in dried up plant pot.

‘Oooh!’ Holly jibed. ‘Respect the ladies, didn’t you hear what Grandma said?’

‘You’re no ladies,’ Wally mumbled.

His mother poked her nose out the window. ‘Wally?’

‘Nothing,’ her son muttered, and with head down, he played with a chicken wing on his plate.

 […to be continued]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018

Feature Photo: Christmas Table © L.M. Kling 2006 

***

Treat Yourself to a space adventure this Holiday season

Want more? More than before? Don’t just listen to the rumours of the war on Boris, read it for yourself. Find out how and why this war began.

Check out my novels on Amazon and in Kindle. Click on the links below:

Mission of the Unwilling—Free for the next few hours.

***

Or check out Holly’s adventures in

The Hitch-hiker 

Mission For Free–A New Beginning

A New Beginning

Where to start? That is the question and challenge for every author as they embark on writing that “Great (insert your country of choice) novel”.

For years my first novel, Mission of the Unwilling has languished on the virtual shelves of Amazon mostly unread, unloved. Why?

So, I asked the team at Indie Scriptorium to have a look at the story and give feedback. Elsie commented that some scenes were too confronting and caused her to have nightmares. Boris can have that effect.

Mary apologized and said that I needed to rewrite the first chapter as there wasn’t enough information to keep the reader engaged.

So, for me, the work began…and a new chapter, a new beginning evolved. Oh, and some of the more “silencey of the lambs” bits were toned down. It worried me that Boris might be giving my readers nightmares.

Anyway, it will cost you nothing to download a copy of Mission of the Unwilling (second edition). It’s free on Kindle from today (23 December) until Tuesday 27 December.

[Extract from Mission of the Unwilling (2nd Ed)

PREAMBLE

ABDUCTED…ALMOST

October 1986

Minna: reflections from her diary

One Friday night in late autumn, I ventured up the dimly lit path of the university grounds to North Terrace and waited to cross at the lights. The air, although well into spring, October, in fact, still had a bite in it. Not that the chill deterred me from wearing a cotton plaid mini dress that I had discovered in my mother’s wardrobe. I often dipped into her 1960’s collection of fashion icons, especially when she’s away on one of her frequent business trips. I like the 1960’s. Although I’ve flirted with the buffed up and permed hair of current fashion, I’ve reverted to my natural long straight blonde locks. Günter likes my hair “natural” as he puts it.

I glanced at my watch. 6:00pm. The car traffic was at its peak, but the university student mass had begun to peter out. I smiled. That’ll be me, next year.

As it’s Friday night shopping, I anticipated the shops in Rundle Mall to be open. A chance to scout around the city’s dress and record shops before heading home and then off to a night at the movies with my friends from youth group, Monica and Liesel.

I sighed. The only problem with movies is that we can never decide what to see. As almost graduating high school students, Liesel and I would be hankering for a racy adventure or science fiction and Monica, who’s four years older than us, would be the ultimate wet blanket wanting to see only soppy love stories.

To my right, a voice with a distinct German accent, ‘Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?’

Ah! Günter, I thought. Voice doesn’t sound familiar, though. Not Günter’s warm deep voice.

I turned abruptly intending to give my standard closed response, of a sharp “No!” However, on closer inspection, this owner of the lame line appeared familiar. But who? Dressed for power. Styled in an Italian-made dark business suit, up and coming, right and ready for money-making, and to impress the ladies in town. The finely cut features of his face and neatly cut ash-blonde hair made him an ideal candidate for a fashion magazine or David Jones catalogue. I gathered the impression that this familiar man was trying to be the world’s most eligible bachelor. However, despite all the familiarity and fine appearance, something about him was not right. I was suspicious. But not so suspicious to be unfriendly to him.

‘Now isn’t it amazing that we should meet, on a day, in a place at such a time as this,’ the model man said.

‘Perhaps,’ I replied whilst staring straight ahead. The pedestrian lights turned to “walk” and we strode over North Terrace to Pulteney Street.

‘We must have coffee and catch up. Why, I haven’t seen you since, um, since um…’

Instead of saying, “No, I have to go,” like a lamb to the slaughter, I meekly followed him down below street level into a nearby wine bar. The atmosphere was neat, clean, and the lighting dim. Although near Rundle Mall, I sensed a seedy darkness, as if downtown Hindley Street.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature Photo: Sellicks Beach © L.M. Kling 2017

***

Continue to feast on this story over the Christmas season.

A treat for all my friends and followers.

Download for free (from December 23-27) from Kindle

Click here on Mission of the Unwilling (second edition).

On a Mission–Refined and Revamped MOU2

There’s this WP prompt here to list my top 5 grocery items. So, here’s mine: Sour dough bread, milk, super berry juice, crackers, and chocolate. No need to buy meat, we buy it bulk, and have it delivered straight from the farm. And vegetables we grow in our garden. Eggs come from a friend who has chooks.

Now, when I’m not shopping for bread and milk, I’ve been working on the second edition of my first novel, Mission of the Unwilling.

If you are tired of the mundane and are wanting space adventure, and the mischief and mayhem that alien cockroach Boris creates…

A Taste from Mission of the Unwilling (2nd Edition)

Avoiding Monica’s Playroom, (I thought Maggie might be lurking there), I headed for the Driver room. Would Günter zap back to a Grey and be piloting there? Or would just his apes be in the Driver room? I approached the junction where the right passage led to that room of monitors and Günter. I sensed someone sliding along the wall behind me and looked back.

A lump lodged in my throat. Not the Grey Nurse again!

‘Where is he?’ She tugged at my collar choking me. ‘You go to him—get him. I want him.’ Does she ever give up?

‘If you’re that desperate, find him yourself.’ I veered the other way, ducked around the next corner, and lost her.

I headed for the Engine room. I had to see John and talk to him about all my troubles. And warn him Boris might be back. What I liked about John was he didn’t talk much; he just sat there and listened.

I entered the maze of towering machines, pumps, and raw veins of bound wires. Anxious, at every sound of a swish behind me, I checked my back. Every wheeze, and I slammed myself up against the closest engine cowling, flattening myself for cover. I reached John’s small office and lurched through the entrance.

Hands gripped around my eyes. Darkness, even darker.

‘We must leave here,’ a deep voice said. ‘Now.’

‘Why?’

‘It is not safe; there has been an accident.’

‘Günter, is that you?’

He pushed me, guiding me. Something oily underfoot made me slip. He held me. Then carried me out.

In the light of the corridor, I blinked. Günter appeared pale. His forehead was covered in beads of perspiration. And as he held me, he trembled.

My shoe stuck to the floor. I lifted my foot. On the tiles, a bloodstained shoe print.

‘W-what’s going on?’ I asked.

‘I-it is J-John…’ Günter rasped. ‘I-didn’t want you…to see…’

‘John? Is he…no, not John…he can’t be…’ I moved to enter the engineering room.

‘No danger.’ Günter pulled me back. ‘He is…he is gone.’

Günter cradled me in his arms as we both wept.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature Photo: Mission of the Unwilling cover © L.M. Kling 2022 (UFO © Liz Maxted)

***

Continue to feast on this story over the Christmas season.

A treat for all my friends and followers.

Download for free (from December 23-27) on Kindle

Click here on Mission of the Unwilling