Every story starts somewhere and for my novel, Mission of the Unwilling, the tale begins in South Australia, Sellicks Beach.
[Painting 1: Crabbing at Sellicks © L.M. Kling 2009]
Situated a thirty-minute drive from our home in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, the beach has become a regular haunt for walks and exploration in all seasons. And of course, my camera is my constant companion. The lonely shoreline and rugged cliffs sparked my imagination. Would this be where an alien space craft might land unnoticed? Young people go missing? A cockroach called Boris lurking in a cave just around the corner?
And where young 17-year-old Minna begins her unwilling mission in the war against Boris?
So, Minna’s space-adventure commences, in Sellicks Beach, in Mission of the Unwilling…
[an excerpt from Chapter 1, as told by Minna Thumm]
I slowed as I approached the turn off to Sellicks Beach; one second of distraction, and it slips past. A feeble sign flickered in the beam of my headlights metres to my right. The car bumped down the narrow road to the beach at high speed. A small fish and chip shop signalled the turn to the ramp. A blanket of night covered the sands, the cliffs rose like shadows. By day these red-brown cliffs looked like a Martian landscape.
[Photo 1: Cliffs of Sellicks beach © L.M. Kling 2017]
As my Mitsubishi sedan crept over the hard sand left by a receding tide, I went on alert for hoons who hacked the shores with their “raps”, “wheelies”, “donuts”, “handbrakies”—and the promised bonfire. Gate-crashing? I wasn’t gate-crashing. I’d been invited, hadn’t I? John would be there. Liesel from my English class might be too. She’s a year older than me having spent a year in Venezuela on a student exchange. She’s fun, she likes me, I think. And Monica—perhaps she’ll be there. And maybe—him. Oh, I hope I didn’t get that note wrong. Cross fingers and toes. He could be the one…
[Photo 2: Cars on the beach at Sellicks © L.M. Kling 2013]
My car rocked over upturned sand; I hunted for signs of raging. I reached the southern end barred with a continuum of jagged rocks. No signs of life. I turned the car around and retraced my tracks, mindful to keep up a consistent speed so as not to become bogged.
I saw a patch of churned up sand. They were all gone.
Confused, I parked, opened the door, and then stepped from the car. The November chill struck me. Motionless, I surveyed the scene illuminated by the car’s headlights. A wave surged over the sand, the smouldering fire and empty stubbies.
I scrambled onto the jagged rocks. In rebellion against the silence, my radio-cassette bleated out the world’s injustices.
Oh, God they’ve deserted me!
Smack! Smack! What’s that? The sound rose above the lapping waves, and music. I peered in the direction of the disturbance. Nearby, a figure crouched and moved on a rock. I ran towards it. “Hello? Is that you?”
[Photo 3: Fisherman at Sellicks © L.M. Kling 2017]
The smacking volume increased.
“Gunter, is that you?”
Lightning flashed. The music stopped. “Oh, I wish I was!” Wally perched on a boulder and licked his fat fingers.
“Ugh! It’s only you!”
He was hardly a friend but always hanging around our youth group. Although seventeen, he was in Year Eleven, having failed Year Eight. His mum lived in Sellicks Beach. I don’t know if his dad was around. But during the week, he stayed with Monica’s family and attended the same college as my friends and me.
[Photo 4: Pair of birds in flight towards Aldinga Beach © L.M. Kling 2017]
Wally ripped a drumstick out of the bag and shredded the meat with his teeth. He smacked his lips together.
I watched the performance stunned.
“Oooh, you’ve got a boyfriend!” He laughed through a mouthful of barbeque chicken. “What does he think of your Raggedy Anne hair? Ho! Ho! Ho! Does it turn him on? Does he like dogs?”
“Shut up!” I shuddered as Wally gnawed at the chicken leg again, snorting and grunting.
“Where is everyone?”
“Dunno. But they left the chicken.”
“Oh, come on, you must know?”
“I dunno. Maybe they’re abducted by Martians. Ho! Ho! Ho!”
“Don’t be ridiculous!”
A cold gust fanned the goose bumps on my bare arms. I looked skywards. A flash startled me. Where did that come from? Another flash. A bolt of lightning hit the sand.
I jumped. Where’s Wally? The rock where Wally had been sitting was empty. Beside it, half-eaten chicken stuck, planted in the sand. On the cliff above, his mother’s voice cried in the breeze. “Wally! Wally! Time for bed, Wally!”
[Photo 5: Sunset at Sellicks © L.M. Kling 2017]
Bang! Sand flew in all directions, stinging my legs. I flinched but couldn’t move them. My arms too, stopped swinging. They hung, frozen. Pressure beat on me, and every particle in my body began jiggling up and down charging into a billion hyperactive fragments. Colours swirled and blurred into rainbows. Then pressure, crushing me, hammering my head, pounding, pounding, —pop!
Stars. Lightness. Floating.
Drifting into darkness. And ringing in my ears.
Excerpt from Mission of the Unwilling © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2015
Feature Photo: Fog and Cliffs of Sellicks Beach © L.M. Kling 2018
Launch into the adventure with Minna and hop onto Amazon.
Mission of the Unwilling is available for free on Kindle until Sunday, October 7. Click on the link below.