Mistakes in the backwater
“Jamison, Bower! Get a move on, we’ve still got two miles to cover before dark, you better not of tangle the Gunter’s chain again.” “Gregory, take those layabout labourers, and go find out what they’re up to in the gulley.”
“Right away, Captain Tallow, sir.” “Nicholson, Law, grab your axes, and follow me, Jamison, and Bower seem to of piked on chaining again.”
“Jamison, I mean George. You know we wouldn’t be here in this mosquito infested coastal scrub, chaining these distance again if the dam Old Man had of proportioned the excess the right way yesterday. We’d been three quarters the way home by now, which I bet is where Fry’s crew is right now.”
“Terry, you should’ve been a surveyor by now, if it wasn’t for that mouth of yours around Tallow, and Fry. I think we better get this bloody chain untangled, sounds like he’s sending lanky Gregory down to check on us again. Your end sorted?”
“Yes, try to keep the bloody chain tort this time.”
“George, watch out! Dam snake behind ya,” yells Terry, as he reaches across the bottom of the high-sided gulley to pull his mate across away from the snake’s fierce strike.
Turning as Terry takes hold, the Taipan lets loose multiple strikes, passing inches in front of George to hit Terry about the face, and neck, “George!”
“What’s going on here, Jamison, Bower? What the hell…?” rings out the cry from, Gregory as Nicholson and Law drop their axes, drawing their pistols to let off a volley of shots when it turns in their direction, dropping it before the snake has a chance to uncoil a strike.
Terry lies in the bottom of the gulley convulsing as the Taipan’s venom takes hold, “Well, don’t just stand there you three, help Bower to get up.”
Nicholson, Law, and Jamison move to help Bower up, when Law says, “It’s too late Sir, Bower’s gone.” Bower’s body ceases to shudder, Gregory jumps down into the washout to check.
“Sir, I’ve seen these type of snake before!” comes the call from Nicholson, now back standing on the bank of the gulley. “They run in pairs at this time of year, and I’m not willing to donate my soul to this forsaken land here, just like young Terry did a moment ago.”
“Don’t be stupid man, now get back down here, and help us with the poor lad’s body.”
“Don’t go barking orders at me Gregory, just remember, just remember, I’ve got the gun,” Splutters out, Nicholson, as he is worked up even more. His speech rapidly increases exponential rate, “No, no, Law! Leave it be! The three of you sit down! George, back it up, or you’ll be sleeping like Terry!”
“Nicholson, you keep waving that pistol around, you’re just as likely to blow a hole in your foot, or one in, slow Gregory here,” pipes Law as he chuckles, elbowing George in the ribs. “If we play this right, George, we might be rid of Gregory.”
Don’t think so, Law. I’ll be no party to setting up someone for a hanging, even if Gregory is a slow moving pain in the neck,” says George, as he sits down next to his mate, Terry.
“That’s better, George, stay on the ground. As for you, Law, flinch. Flinch! You won’t be winning no wood chopping at the fair ever again, you never let anyone catch an edge on you, I’d be happy to slow you down… Permanently!”
“Nicholson! Cut the vulgarity, with threats, surrender your weapon, man! Surrender and it stays out here. We all lose it sometimes, but there’s no need to mark yourself for the gaol,” expresses Gregory, as he takes a step forward.
“Get back, get back I say!” Nicholson lets a shot off in Gregory, and Law’s direction.
When Nicholson is hit hard from the side by a crashing charge, then in quick succession the slight, but tall figure lays hands upon rocks, launching them then at such velocity at the drawing weapons of Gregory, and Law shattering them in their hands as the force launches the remains of the revolvers back over their heads. In next, with one swift move the interrupting figure launches to stand picking up Nicholson’s gun, smashing it against a tree while bundling him into the gulley with the others.
Standing up beside a big old Bloodwood, the intruding stranger, her black tangle of hair framing a face that’s has spent the last eighteen months droving cattle mobs along stock routes. “You all stay right where you stand,” says the woman as she picks up one of the axes up off the ground While the revolvers get tossed back into the bush by the three living souls in the gulley.
Captain Tallow surprises the tall girl grabbing her from behind while dislodging the axe to the earth, “That’s it struggle all you want! Quick, help me men!”
But it’s too late, the wild mystery girl twists, slamming her left elbow into the side of Tallow’s head, “What the dam!” With all the pugilistic skill she possesses, the dark haired girl beanbags Tallow with a heavy hitting combination of punches, “Don’t you move!” roars the voice of Kara, a girl born to the backwater country.
“You, you, you’re, um, um! Kara from the Palmer River country!” shouts George, as he can hardly contain himself. “Whose boxing tent was it you travelled with again, um, um? Doesn’t matter, it’s me, George Jamison.”
“George, how are you, it’s been a few years now, and what’s going on here, what’s with all the shooting?” “Honest, I’d not of intruded, but your friend was wielding his revolver about.” “You stay on the ground!’ shouts Kara at Tallow, while she picks up the axe slinging it over here shoulder, as she places her hand upon a pistol fastened to her belt of which its use still has not been warranted, for the unnecessary engagement in shooting is abhorrent to Kara. .
“Law here is a bully and a showman,” replies George. We’re been doing a boundary survey here the last couple of months, we should have been heading home yesterday, but Captain Tallow up there made mistakes with his calculations, so we had to run this section again. My mate, Terry, he was killed by a Taipan, Nicholson over here lost it, and started waving a gun around, saying he wasn’t going to help us with Terry’s body, and that’s it.”
“Excuse me, Miss. Now that you know our precise predicament, might we be allowed to emerge from this tick infested gulley with the body of Bower?” inquires Gregory as he stares at Kara’s now torn shirt from her struggle exposing a tattooed shoulder, and collar from the fight with Captain Tallow, who’s still lost for words prostrate on the ground.
“George, what do you think?”
“Gregory’s okay, a pain, but he’s okay. I think Nicholson’s had time to settle down, you’re okay,” George looks at Nicholson while speaking..
“Yeah, I’m good.”
“Captain Tallow’s up there, he’s a hard task master, he makes mistakes often, but always has good intentions,” says George, with a bit of a smile.
“Okay Captain, you can get up now, go and give George, and the others a hand with your man. If George says you’re okay, then you’re fine with me. Sorry, for the miss understanding, but I won’t be apologising for the defence of myself against your men, and you. For cattle thieves frequent these distant parts, and having been away the last eighteen months droving, I suspected you all for being such. But since you’re not, you’re all welcome to come up to the station house for a day or two when done here.”
Slowly climbing to his feet, Tallow responds, “I won’t be obliging you on account of self defence, we be under strict orders to record all events which cause loss of life, or injury by either natural means, or from assault in any form. Article two of our contract, and instructions from the Surveyor General’s office, states it as protocol, and in no way will the matter of record in such loss of life be negotiable, being subject to state laws.”
“George is right, you are a hard task master, though I understand, you got to sick by all your government rules, and regulations. Out here in the distant backwater country, life is a lot tougher, with life being more about surviving the elements, and crooks. My father when he lived, became a part of your government, but your lot sold him out, even plotted his death, and final demise. So I hold no love for the machinery of government, but as we are far from the strongholds of such agencies, you are all still welcome to spend a few days resting up at my place if you all so wish to follow later.”
The challenge to produce a 1,400 word story over seven days. The task came with a few rules, some were made to bend or disregard, but one other was in escapable. The first rule, a word (or variation) randomly selected from the dictionary by the challenge’s protagonist, King Midget. In that, we have to use the word in the day’s efforts on the story challenge.
The optional rules came as:
• Limit yourself to exactly 200 words per day. Why? So you have room to adjust based on each day’s new word. Plus, you’ll realize when you get to 215 words and go back to squeeze 15 words out that you had some excess that could easily be edited out.
• Write your story entirely in dialogue. (When I say entirely, I don’t mean absolute; speech tags and some minimal description is OK.) Why? For the challenge of trying something different.
The robust words which flowed across the seven days came as: proportion, donate, exponential, pugilism, beanbag, scantily, and protocol.
Above all I had some fun with the story, the characters came with all their flaws, challenges, and mistakes.