New Town High School students Marley Sar’i, Matt Trenham and Josh French present part two of the concluding chapter of the never-ending story…
JOHNNY closed his eyes tightly and saw his mum and dad, smiling proudly at him. He realised two things: that they loved him dearly, and he was never going to see them again.
“Johnny, where are you?” yelled Andre as he climbed down the side of the cliff. When he got to the water, there was no sign of Johnny. The crow’s lifeless frame lay in the shallows, its wings twisted at odd angles and the alpha-crow bone still lodged firmly in its beak.
“Poor Johnny,” said Andre, freeing the bone and pocketing it as Johnny had done just days before. “I will finish what we started!” Andre threw the final bone into the fire. Nothing happened.
Desperately, he undid the flask and held it upside down above the dancing flames. One drop of blood dripped into the fire, which then exploded with a bang into thick black smoke.
Andre was unsure exactly how weakened the crows would be, or for how long. He fished the pocket knife out of Johnny’s bag, snapped a straight branch off the tree next to him and started to sharpen it at both ends.
When Andre was finished, he had a double-ended spear. He took a deep breath and crawled back through the hole in the wall.
The cave was unusually quiet. When he and Johnny had first entered, they heard the birds cawing to each other, but now… nothing.
Andre snuck around and saw some crows asleep on a perch. When he got to Eliza he looked around to make sure the coast was clear. The place was full of crows, but they all appeared to be asleep.
Andre unlatched the cage door and removed Eliza’s gag. As he knelt to untie the knot around her ankles, his spear clanged against the bars of the cage. The siblings looked up and their eyes were met by the piercing glare of hundreds of pairs of beady crow eyes glaring back at them. They were surrounded with no way out… they were goners thought Eliza.
“BANG!” Suddenly a bird fell to the ground. The twins looked around and saw Johnny with a shotgun in his hand. “I thought you were dead?” said Andre. “Me? No. Not yet anyway,” smiled Johnny as he shot down
another crow. “But let’s not push our luck all the same – run!” yelled Johnny and they all escaped out the tunnel. “We will be coming for you soon,” one of the crows cawed, shifting into its human form.
“Where did you get a gun!?” asked Eliza. “After falling off the cliff I woke up, washed up on the beach. I found scrap metal, ruined luggage and then it hit me! I was back at the beach where our plane crashed.
“The gun was in a case washed up on the sand. Most the stuff looked ruined but this gun was one of the useful things left so I picked it up and came looking for you guys. But I don’t get it – I didn’t recover the third bone, so how was the crow weak enough to be killed?”
A smile appeared on Andre’s face. “Johnny, I found the bone at the bottom of the cliff after you went over. I took it back up and put it into the fire. It must’ve worked!”
Eliza was keen to keep moving. “Guys, we have to think up a plan otherwise the crows are going to get us soon. Who knows how much longer they’ll be weakened for; I want to be out of here!”
“I”ve got a plan!” said Rourke, flying in from above. “This might not work but it”s all I’ve got, OK, so here it goes. Johnny can use the gun to shoot down some of those rocks above us. Hopefully, this’ll cause an avalanche of sorts, cave-in the entrance and trap all the crows inside.”
Johnny smiled enthusiastically. “That might just work!” The others stood back as Johnny took aim at the rocks balancing high above the entrance. He spent all the ammunition he had, but only a few pebbles fell.
Then Andre came up with an idea. He told Rourke to take his spear, fly up to the top of the cliff and use the spear as a lever to loosen the rocks. Rourke flew up there and stuck it in so hard that the shaft nearly snapped. With enormous strain, he gave one final almighty effort and the boulder
was nudged loose from its position. It tumbled down, starting the avalanche they needed. When the dust settled, the entrance to the crows’ lair no longer existed.
“We did it!” yelled Eliza as she did something else she never thought she would do and kissed Johnny. “What was that for?” asked Johnny. “Because you saved my life,” replied Eliza happily.
“OK lovebirds, time to go,” said Rourke. “Where?” asked Eliza and Johnny in unison.”To the boat!” “What boat?” asked Andre. “The Lovesong of the Crow, of course!”
“But it was destroyed,” said Eliza. “Who said we were going to use it?” Rourke said in a tone that made him sound smart. “We’re going to use
the flare gun.”
“Won’t it be soaked?” asked Eliza with a face full of confusion. “They always come in waterproof casing just in case you capsize,” said Rourke. “Or if someone gets stranded with mutant crows that are out to eat you,” cracked Johnny.
“Hang on,” interrupted Andre, “why haven’t you used it already?!” “I was never going to leave without my wife. Besides, the crows would’ve stopped me somehow.”
Eliza swam back to shore from the sunken boat, half-dressed and fully soaked. “Got it!” she shouted like she’d just won the Person of the Year award.
“Shh, SHHH,” hissed Rourke. “Can you hear that?” “Hear what?” asked Eliza, wiping her face. Johnny fired the flare and a long red trail of smoke flew into the air and exploded in a bright red flash high in the sky.
The faint sound of helicopter blades became louder and louder. They screamed and waved from the beach below. “Johnny? JOHNNY!”
Johnny screamed at the top of his lungs, “MUM, MUM!” As the rescue chopper landed, Eliza, Johnny and Andre hugged in happiness and relief. But there was no sign of Rourke. He was gone.
As the helicopter headed back towards Hobart, Johnny and Eliza looked back to the shore behind them to the place where this unbelievable adventure that had almost killed them had started.
What appeared to be a large black cloud began to form over the beach.
Their hearts dropped; it was the crows.
First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on December 11, 2012