Ogilvie High School student BELLA YOUNG continues the never-ending story, starting part four with more on the encounter between Johnny and Eliza and the mysterious Rourke at his campsite, 20 minutes’ walk from where the plane crashed.
A SUDDEN shriek escaped from Rourke’s monstrous crow. It began to flap and caw, anxiously snapping its beak in the man’s face.
“Don’t cry sweetie, we’ll be all right darling. Don’t cry,” Rourke crooned to the feathered mass, stroking the crow’s breast nervously.
The crow’s squawks echoed round the bushland, ringing away into silence.
The company looked at each other, masked with curiosity on the children’s part, waiting.
Rourke’s face contorted into a fearful grimace and he began to shake and swear under his breath.
Several seconds passed, a reply could be faintly heard, and all of a sudden the party was surrounded by what soon grew to be a cacophony of growling crows’ voices.
“What’s happening?” Eliza whispered.
“They heard, damn, they heard US… I need to go… Hide before they find you!” Rourke’s eyes reflected his fear like a hunted animal and turning on his heels he staggered out of the clearing whispering to himself like a mad man.
“Wait, we never…” Johnny’s voice was drowned out over the growing babble of crows and he turned to face the girls.
Alice stared past him into the dim, enclosed path Rourke had taken into the darkening forest.
“We can’t…I can’t follow him, I don’t like that space,” she cried, promptly sitting on the ground, head buried in her hands.
“Well, what are we going to do? Eliza?” Johnny looked as lost as Alice, pale-faced and tear-filled eyes, crows’ calls echoing around him.
“I don’t know what to do,” he faltered.
Eliza glanced up at the dying sky. They needed to get help. They needed someone to help them! “GPS,” she murmured. “In the plane there must be a GPS phone, or a radar or something!”
“What? Alice can’t go back in there. I won’t.”
“I can,” Eliza replied and took Alice by the hand, helping her to her feet.
Johnny paused, and then followed the pair back through the tunnel of eucalyptus and wattle. Throughout the trek Alice watched as several crows landed on nearby trees, staring at her through glassy eyes.
Johnny tried picking up bottlebrushes and throwing them, but it did little to disconcert the birds.
As the trio left the scrub the sun’s last rays outlined the shore. The tide was out and they could finally get a full view of the coastline.
Dozens of large pieces of welded metal and greying plastic lay half exposed on the sand – the skeletons of planes revealed only at sundown and dawn.
They gasped in horror at the revelation and their hopes diminished like the fading light.
Their plane lay several metres away at an askew angle, the emergency exit repelling them with a sense of dread.
Johnny held Alice and they sat down on the shoreline, the young girl staring stubbornly at the gritty sand, the crows calling disconnected and far off.
As Eliza walked, almost timidly, towards the plane, she remembered the sickening feeling of falling through the air and the sudden loss of her senses.
Her breath caught in her throat, the ominous wreckage enticing a forgotten fear.
Johnny called out to her but she didn’t turn. She was determined to face the horror that she’d left only hours before.
But, there were no bodies, no blood, nothing. It was as if the crash had never happened and all that was left was the shell… the memory.
Eliza blinked and rubbed her eyes, this couldn’t be real. Johnny and Alice were calling again. She left the plane in a dream-like trance.
“Listen,” Alice whimpered.
“What? I can’t hear anything.”
“That’s what I meant,” she said, “They’re here.” Eliza looked out into the distance, feeling the gazes of the birds without needing to see them.
“This is eerie, why don’t we go into the plane; in there it’s as if none of this happening in the first place. The bodies are gone.”
Johnny and Alice hesitantly followed Eliza into the wreckage. Upon entering the craft, Alice covered her mouth, eyes wide as saucers, and bolted out.
“But they’re not gone, Eliza.” Johnny wavered, and went to console Alice.
Seated on the fallen log a lone crow perched, one gleaming eye watching the children from afar.
To be continued
First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on March 27, 2012
FOUR students from Ogilvie High School’s Grade 10 writers’ workshop made the short-list for this week’s chapter of Lovesong of the Crow. Teacher Jan Hunt said the whole class tackled the task with excitement and it had been difficult making the cut. The work of Bella Young was selected for publication and it sets a cracking pace for the next student writers to follow.
Each participating school has a week to complete its task and for Bella and her peers, this was shortened by a public holiday, swimming carnival and preparations for the annual Taste of Ogilvie. Bella and her classmates certainly got the feel of meeting a deadline under pressure.
A keen debater, soccer player and pianist, Bella is enthusiastic about everything she puts her mind to. She loves words and finds the English language so descriptive she even likes to read the dictionary. Bella likes playing around with words, in both spoken and written form, and would love to write a movie script or direct a film.