A photograph from the inspirational bin – 13

I came across this photo:

This is like so many roads off in what is known as the Gold Coast hinterland, that tract of land between the ocean and the mountain range that runs along the eastern side of the country, known as the Great Dividing Range.

This is the road that runs behind where friends of ours live, and runs on down into a valley where a river runs, and when the rains come down, floods.

It’s hard to imagine that a few hundred years ago all of this would have been tropical jungle, and intrepid explorers would be making their way north or west, just to see what was there.

I imagine in another 100 years, all of this will be gone, given over to housing, shopping malls, and factories, and anything that resembles country living will have been moved out to far beyond the mountain range and towards the what is called the ‘red’ centre.

Or over that time there is a reckoning with mother nature, and if there is, I know who I’d put my money on.

But, as for a story…

It was quite literally the road to nowhere.

You just had to follow it until it disintegrated into a dirt track, and then for another 20 miles before you finished up at a rusty gate attached to a dilapidated fence that surrounds the a house that was cleverly hidden behind a grove of trees, the only place I knew as home. We had no phones, no television or radio, no real contact with the outside world.

Until, one day, my fairy godmother came and rescued me.

Yes, it felt like that.

Little had I realized that there were any other people in our family, and it took until the death of my parents to find out I had grandparents, and a much larger extended family.

There had been, according to my father, no reason to leave. Or for anyone else to come, and the few that ventured to end of the road, found there was nothing to see, and no reason to stay.

For all intents and purposes we didn’t exist, and, oddly, I was content with that.

Until I decided to venture further afield, run into two people, a man and a woman, both of whom said they were related to my father, and ask me to take them back with them to meet my father,

A bad choice, but I didn’t know it at the time.

Not until my father ran them off at the point of the gun he always had with him.

He knew who they were, and it surprised me to see the change in him, from the strong silent type, to a man greatly afraid, though he would not tell me of what.

He just told me to lock myself in my room, and not to come out for anything.

I heard him leave, but not come back.

It took three days before I left that room, to find I was completely alone in the house. Outside, it was a different story. There, half way between the back door and the barn were the two people I’d brought home, both dead. A little further away were my parents, also dead.

And another man, who was leaning over my father.

I stopped when he looked up in my direction.

“You must be Jake.”

How did he know my name? I nodded, warily watching him in case I had to run.

He went from body to body, checking to see if they were still alive, then stood and turned around to look at me.

“Do you know what happened?”

“No.”

“Do you know who the other two are?”

I assumed he was referring to the visitors.

“No. The man said he was a relative, asked me to bring them here.”

“How did you…”

Escape? “My father told me to hide and not come out.” If this man was associated with the other two…

Perhaps he saw my trepidation.

“I’m a friend of your father’s, a policeman. You were supposed to be safe here.”

We were, until I brought the harbingers of death. “Not any more,” I said.

© Charles Heath 2021

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