Wednesday, April 21th, 1982
Wednesday, April 21th, 1982
The clock had barely struck two in the morning when I jolted awake. Beads of sweat flew from my forehead as I gasped for air. Another nightmare… my muscles were tense. My hair, wet, poked insistently at my eyes. Brushing it away brashly, my breathing slowed, shoulders carefully dropping down as a sense of calm came over me.
It was then that I noticed something in my other hand. Something cool and smooth. I curiously look down to it, a soft red glow emanated from between my fingers. It was the stone. Dropping it in fright, I lurched backwards, hugging the wall as if a huge spider had dropped down in front of me.
I couldn’t bear to look at it. The memories of the terrified Occulite flashed in my mind. I shake my head, trying to dislodge the thought. Suddenly the room feels tiny, like it is shrinking. My chest is tight. I can’t breathe. Grabbing at my throat I wildly stumble out of the room, down the hall. The air is heavy, the only sound I hear is that of my heart beating faster and faster. Onto the veranda and then out into the cool night air I go. Gradually my breathing ceases its shuddering and I notice the earth between my toes. Wiggling them deliberately, eyes closed, I breathe in deeply, arching my back, head tilted to the heavens.
When my eyelids part, the velvet black sky is gracefully revealed. A shimmering fabric of time and space. A light breeze catches the sweat on my forehead, sending a satisfying chill up my back. The stars, tiny pinpoints of light, shining down on me from afar. The Southern Cross emblazoned in all its glory, hanging there with pride. Somehow instilling courage. Instilling peace.
It takes a while, but curiosity of the stone begins to creep into my mind. Looking back to the house – a silhouette against the moonlight, the curiosity grows and by the time I reach my room again, I feel an unnatural pull towards it, glowing softly in amongst my doona.
Carefully taking the stone into my hands, I peer down into the window. It is still daytime in their world. The swamplands I saw last time are covered in a mottled light, insect-like creatures flitting to and fro. The drooping tree branches sway softly in a breeze. Everything is calm and tranquil… and utterly beautiful. The flora is similar to earth’s, with green reeds dotting the landscape. I crouch down to get a closer look at one of the insect-like creatures and am pleasantly surprised with how close I can get.
A single, large, deep yellow eye darted left and right. Its slender, elongated body, brown and rough, like bark on a tree. Its wings reflected the rays of light, glittering a brilliant blue. I try to move around to see it better from the front, when all of a sudden I can hear frogs croaking loudly and the wind in the trees. Startled, I drop the rock. The sounds stops instantly. Could it be? Could I have actually heard the other world?
I picked up the stone again, caressing it in my hands… nothing but the faint sounds of our own frogs and crickets outside. I think carefully, turning the rock in my hands. For a brief moment, the sound comes flooding back. It must be the way I was holding it!
Slowly and deliberately I turn the rock in my hands, trying different angles and positions. After a few minutes, the stone was resting in the palm of my right hand. The thumb and forefinger of my left hand nestled in against the side of the rock and the sounds surged back. A cacophony of nature. What sounded like an entire army of frogs sang out, the soft breeze rustling through the reeds, sending delicate ripples across the pools of shallow water.
None of the frog calls were familiar to me. Some were close to what I had heard on Pa’s land, but always slightly different. One in particular sounded out loudly. Resonating through the air like a Pobblebonk Frog, but deeper and more alien.
Suddenly a flurry of mud is sent flying as an Occulite bursts forth from hiding. I couldn’t be totally sure, but I thought I saw a long tongue shoot out of its mouth, ensnaring one of the large insect-like creatures. He must have caught it, because after landing, I could hear the Occulite chewing. Crunching like it was eating Cornflakes.
The flick of a light switch and the soft thud of feet down the hallway echoed into my mind. Pa must be up! I panic, shoving the stone under my pillow before far too eagerly throwing my bedroom door open.
Startled, Pa grabs at his chest. “Good lord Darwin! You scared the stuffing out of me mate. What do you think you’re doing?”
Trying to look innocent, I leant against the door frame. “Couldn’t sleep – sorry about the noise Pa… I…”
“What noise?” Pa cut me off, his brow furrowed.
He really hadn’t heard it? Wow, that was lucky I thought to myself.
“Oh, nothing. Was just going to get a glass of water. Thought it might help me sleep.”
Pa sighed. “Me too actually mate. Tossing and turning all night. Must have too much on my mind.”
As we stood in the kitchen drinking our glasses of water, it was the first time that I actually wanted to tell him about the stone. And the creatures…
“What’s wrong?” asked Pa as he placed his empty glass in the sink. “Looks like you want to tell me something.”
I paused for what seemed like a very long time.
“I’m glad you’re here Pa.” I said hugging him tightly.
I could sense the smile on his face as he hugged me back. “Me too Darwin. Me too.”