This week, flash fiction from an occasional guest blogger; my sister from down under takes you into the Australian Bush.
A shot rings out, a sharp pure crack across the cold night air. It is impossible to tell how far it has travelled, but I know it must be from somewhere within the bush conservation reserve only a paddock’s width away; somewhere within its 3,000 acres. I don’t know how to feel. Glad that someone has killed one of the wild pigs that root around the delicate orchids sheltering beneath the carpet of she-oak needles? Angry that someone has shot a kangaroo, going about its rightful business? Or scared? I have always said I felt safe alone in the shed. A big shed, a home from home, lined with straw bales and furnished with beds and comfortable chairs. It was so isolated, why would anyone come down this road? But they have. They are near and I know nothing about them. Him? It will be a him, I’m sure. Not a her. Just him, or was he with friends? A disturbing thought. No, I’m letting my imagination run away with me. It’s probably just a local farmer, after foxes.
Another shot cracks the air, reverberating through the darkness. Stay calm, of course it’s a farmer. It all goes quiet and stays quiet. Ten minutes go by, nothing to worry about. Go back to sleep I tell myself, and I do.
Then, suddenly, I am awakened by the sound of tyres on gravel, not just driving, but ripping into the gravel, tearing around a corner and onto the road, my road, and coming nearer. I hear whooping, with the wildness of the inebriated, a sound that conﬁrms my worst fears. This is no farmer, this is a group of men, and they are drunk. The most frightening animal on the planet, the human male, drunk and hunting in a pack. I lay still, like a frightened rabbit, as if they might hear me if I move. I tell myself to not be stupid. All the lights are out, they won’t be able to see the shed on this moonless night. Or so I thought, but the sound of the revving, roaring engine comes ever nearer, too near to be on the road; they have turned into my driveway. I remember the solar powered garden lights that line the long driveway, like runway lights, guiding a plane in to land. And now it is guiding them inexorably towards me, until I see another light splitting the darkness, the spot light ﬁxed to the roof of the car, the spot light they use to dazzle their prey. Then the skid on the gravel as the car comes to a halt. They spill out with raucous laughter and joking. One. Two. Three voices.
‘Here’s a place to stay!’ one shouts, and then the ﬁnal act that completes my terror. The door handle moves. They are here. And I have no escape.