[Camp Fleischer, Central Australia]
Walter Wenke heard Fleischer’s desperate cries. He and the bratty boy stood by the water-hole. The pool was dark, still and devoid of any sign of Amie.
Wenke massaged his hands and entertained a perverse pleasure being alone with the boy. So young. So innocent…
‘What do you want more than anything, my boy?’ he asked. So impressionable.
‘Right now, I want to find my sister.’
‘Well, for that we’ll need to wade across the pool and climb up that cliff.’
‘But it’s dark and the water’s cold.’
‘You want to find your sister, don’t you?’
‘I’ll get my clothes wet and get hypothermia.’
Wenke touched the boy’s back. ‘Take your clothes off then.’
Adam shoved him. ‘No way, you pervert.’
Walter held his hands up. ‘Fine then, you don’t want to find your sister.’ Not so easy after all.
At that moment, Nathan materialised beside the rocky bank near a ghost gum.
Walter hunched over and scowled. ‘What’s he doing here?’
Adam scrambled up to him. ‘She’s not here.’
Nathan, the whites of his eyes glowing, glared at Walter. ‘Com’on Adam, you come ba’ to camp. We have kangaroo for dinner.’
‘I’ll keep on searching,’ Walter muttered as he slunk into the bushes.
Adam, his Dad and Nathan chewed their kangaroo meat in silence. Nathan promised roo for breakfast…tomorrow for lunch…and dinner…and the next day. So much kangaroo meat, that his dad stored chunks of it in the cooler attached to the four-wheel drive. A battery-generator kept the cooler running as well as lighting up the campsite at night.
Dad glanced at the light and then said, his voice wobbling, ‘A light to guide Amie home.’
Walter’s promised return hadn’t eventuated. Adam was glad. The guy grew creepier by the day. He couldn’t figure out why Dad had invited him on this trip. He couldn’t stand the man. He had these beady eyes that followed you everywhere. Adam reckoned he saw him early one morning and he looked like a zombie. True. Adam knew the Indig guide, Nathan didn’t like him. He’d heard Nathan call Walter a “cockroach”. But try telling Dad? Dad just wouldn’t listen.
Adam gulped down the last of his kangaroo meal. He looked up. The Milky Way split out across the velvet sky. Still no Amie. Where was my sister? Adam sighed.
‘Come on, Adam, time for bed,’ Dad said.
‘But I can’t—not when I’m worried for my sister.’
‘Your sister’s fine. She’s probably sheltering in a cave. We’ll find her in the morning.’
‘But I don’t want to go to sleep. What if a dingo’s in the cave ‘n got her?’ Adam looked at Nathan. ‘Do you have any idea what’s happened to her?’
Nathan stared at the fire. The billy hissed and spluttered signalling the water had boiled, ready to make tea.
‘Come on, mate. It’ll be alright in the morning.’
‘But she’ll starve. She might die of cold. Poor Amie.’
‘She alright. She keep away fro’ cockroach man. She alrigh’, okay,’ Nathan said.
Adam took this to mean Amie had purposely run away to avoid any unwanted attention from the wanton Walter. ‘Okay,’ he said, ‘but I’m sleeping by the fire tonight.’
Nathan stretched out on his swag by his personal fire. ‘You sleep Indig style tonight.’
‘If I can sleep, what with Amie lost too,’ Adam muttered.
Walter Wenke crept into camp in the wee hours of the morning.
Nathan heard him buzz around the camp. He opened one eye and saw him hover above the boy and his father huddled by the fire.
The guide leant up on one elbow. ‘You back then.’
Walter jolted. He shuffled over to Nathan. ‘You don’t miss a trick.’
‘I see everything you do.’
‘What’cha going to do? Do your woo-woo magic?’
‘I’m not afraid of you. I could wipe you off the face of this earth right here, right now. And no one would ever know.’ Walter shimmered oily and black. ‘Tell ‘em you gone walk about.’
‘Go on then.’
Walter raised his hand. He pointed his finger ready to fire. While the Fleischer father and son stared through tear-filled eyes at the flames, he was no longer Walter Wenke, but Boris, master of the galaxy. Boris charged up his weapon. He was pleased to rid his world of minor irritations like Nathan.
Boris looked, left, right, up and down. ‘Hey, where did he go?’ The space Nathan occupied was vacant.
The need to annihilate seemed pointless.
Boris with his charged-up weapon eyed the backs of the catatonic Fleischer pair. Fresh meat. Given, he was hungry. But he had superior plans for those two…
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Photo: Lost Way Out West, Blanches Tower © C.D. Trudinger 1981