Unlikely Band of Three
Nathan drew in the night air. He sounded like the Walter he used to know. And he didn’t smell like the other Walter. Maybe this Walter, maybe he’s telling the truth. ‘Okay, I get you out.’
Nathan braced. He clutched the handle and yanked it clockwise. No joy. He wrenched it anti-clockwise. Still no success. ‘It’s locked. Who locked it?’
‘Who do ya think? The stinker who put me in here,’ Walter shrieked. ‘Can’t you ram it or something?’
‘Oh, by the way, you’re not him are you?’
‘No, it’s me, Nathan. Do you think I’d be ramming down the door to get you out if I had the key?’
‘True, you have a point, mate. Stupid question. Been locked up here too long, ya know what I mean?’ Walter said. ‘Hurry up before the cretin comes lookin’ for us.’
‘All right then, stand clear!’ Nathan paced back a few metres and then rushed at the door. He bumped against it, barely making it move. Rubbing his sore shoulder, he said,
‘Hold on, I’ll be back.’
Nathan raced to the workshop. He pulled the switch for the light. The shed glowed amber. He hunted for something heavy. A pole. A wooden beam. Anything. The expanse was so neat and tidy. Typical, just like a museum.
‘There must be something,’ Nathan muttered.
He studied every corner of the shed. Nothing. ‘I’ll get the ute and ram the whole building with that.’ Nathan was desperate.
He turned to leave the shed. Leaning up on the wall behind the door, a pick-axe. Nathan smiled. That’ll do.
He lifted the pick-axe lugged it back to the morgue.
He faced the door. With all his strength, he hoisted the tool to chest-level. ‘Get back!’ he warned.
Nathan charged at the door.
Crack! The door splintered.
He paced back. Then raced at the door again.
The lock splintered from its mounting and the door flung open. Nathan and the pick-axe charged through, hitting the slab with a clunk. There he collapsed over the concrete table gasping for breath and rubbing his shoulder.
‘Hallelujah! You took your blankin’ sweet time.’ Walter slapped Nathan on the back.
The boy held out his hand and rubbed his eye with the other. ‘Danke Schone! Bitte schone!’
Nathan straightened up and with a blank expression, stared at the boy with white hair that glowed by the light of the full moon. ‘Ghost boy!’ he cried. ‘The spirit boy of the Precinct.’
Walter hugged Nathan’s arm. ‘Come on, mate. Better get out before smelly pants gets back. Oh, did I mention I was abducted by an alien and he locked me in here?’
As they stepped out of the morgue and into the soft moonlight, Friedrich’s eyes fixed on Walter. He recoiled, his eyes as wide as saucers.
‘What’s wrong?’ Walter asked in German.
‘You! You look like him—Boris!’ Friedrich pointed at Walter. ‘How do I know you’re not Boris and you are just pretending to be a nice person?’
Nathan glanced at Walter who, even in the dim light, had a face that glowed pink. ‘What’s he jabbering on about?’
Walter shrugged. ‘Thinks I’m some bloke called Boris.’
‘Boris?’ Nathan asked Friedrich.
Friedrich looked at Nathan, his mouth agape.
Walter translated for Nathan who then asked, ‘Who exactly is Boris? Why do you think I look like him?’
‘He’s that evil cockroach man, you know, the one we were talking about in the—the dark smelly room. You know, the stinky one we are trying to escape because he locked us in there. I told you, the one who made me eat his cockroaches and gravy.’
Again, Walter conveyed the meaning in English for Nathan.
‘Oh, that one!’ Nathan nodded and then leaned over and sniffed Walter. ‘He doesn’t smell. This Walter’s not evil Boris cockroach man. He just looks like cockroach man. But he’s not.’ He was beginning to connect the dots in the whole messy picture. So this big-bad creature Boris must have taken on Walter’s form and locked the real Walter away in the morgue. He puffed out his chest like a rooster and grinned while Walter continued with the translation. Then his smile vanished and he stared at Friedrich, who appeared to glow in the dark. ‘Are you the ghost boy?’
‘He thinks you’re a ghost,’ Walter said in German.
‘Ghost? I’m real,’ Friedrich held his hand out to Nathan. ‘See, touch me. I’m real.’
‘Touch ‘im,’ Walter said.
With a sidelong glance, Nathan nudged Friedrich’s hand.
‘Is he real enough for ya, mate?’ Walter said, and then explained, ‘I think the bad man caught him too and locked him in the morgue like me.’
‘Well, at least that’s one German tourist from that bus found,’ Walter said.
‘Right.’ Nathan led Walter and Friedrich out the Precinct and to the main street. ‘We need to find the Fleischer and the Smith family. They are lost too now.’
‘The Fleischer’s were here?’ Walter smacked his head. ‘Ouch! Crikey! How long was I gone?’
‘You must be the real Walter,’ Nathan said. ‘They’re all gone. That bad smelly man pretending to be you, has got’em. We must look for them.’
As they babbled, Friedrich trudged behind them until they reached Dan’s patrol car. Behind them all, the dingo sniffed their trail and followed.
[…to be continued]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Feature Photo: Edge of Day © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955