Lost World of the Wends (65)
Meanwhile, back in Central Australia…
The sound of faint juddering jerked Dan awake. The sun cracked through the clouds low on the horizon bathing in tangerine the mountain’s grassy summit and the spine of the MacDonnell Ranges to the east. The campfire dwindled to a few smouldering coals.
Dan hugged his bare arms and shivered. The bus was still there—caked in white. Was it frost? Or ice? Some Germans, like Lucie now revived, and her husband had crawled back in the vehicle—not satisfied with the level warmth afforded by the fire. Dan stared at them all bunched up on the back seat of the bus and shook his head. He couldn’t stop them. The rest rugged up with whatever clothing Wurst found for them in the baggage and they huddled together by the flames which Dan nursed. Carol Fleischer and son were wrapped together in a large coat, probably Wurst’s. It was certainly large enough. Jakob and his wife snuggled under a pink parka near the campfire. They must’ve sorted out their differences, Dan mused.
The hammering sound was getting louder. Dan jogged along the summit in search of more firewood. More fire, more visibility. He hoped, no, he made the assumption that the juddering was a helicopter. He squinted and surveyed the horizon, east—west—south—north. Nothing…but the “dja-dja-dja” continued and grew louder and louder.
With a handful of twigs Dan sauntered back to the group. He dumped the sticks on the fire. Pathetic, really. The smouldering coals would eat them up in no time. Did Arthur make it? Did he call for rescue?
Adam sat up and rubbed his eyes. ‘Are they here yet?’
‘You need more firewood, Officer,’ Adam said.
‘Yeah, I know.’
Adam unwound himself from his mother. ‘Mum, I’ll go and get some more wood.’ He then strode along the path between the spinifex.
‘Be careful, my son.’
Adam disappeared into the scrub. Dan squatted by the miserable fire and held his hands over the feeble flames.
Dan glanced at the sky, no longer salmon coloured but clear blue. No dots. Just the juddering. He sighed. Hurry up!
Adam bolted through the grass. ‘It’s here! It’s here!’ he cried and then stopped at the campfire. He waved his arms. ‘It’s here! We’re saved!’
Carol, his mum yawned and stretched. ‘Calm down dear, don’t get your hopes up.’
‘But it’s here!’
‘I can’t see anything.’
‘Look!’ Adam pointed at the ranges to the east shrouded in the glare of the risen sun.
‘Can’t you see it?’
‘What?’ Jakob stared to the east. He stroked his wife’s back. ‘I don’t see anything.’
‘Can’t you see it? The helicopter? Are you blind?’
‘Manners, Adam,’ his mum snapped. ‘Show a bit of respect.’
‘Yes, mum. But it’s there, coming up from the clouds to rescue us.’
Dan shaded his eyes and examined the clouds lined golden with sun. Dja-dja-dja! Dja-dja-dja! If he concentrated, he could just make out a tiny dot hovering like a mosquito, tracing the spine of the mountains, searching.
The policeman jumped up and down and waved. Joy had never been so pure…
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018
Feature photo: Dawn On the MacDonnell Ranges © L.M. Kling 2013
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