(so please be kind. I have the ideas, just unsure if I can get them down in a likeable way).
Here be 3 beginnings to the same story, streamed out to loud music, wine and soon whisky, in an hour or so. Literature it isn’t. The genre is thriller / horror. If anyone was to actually read these, I’d take votes.
I left the whisky bottle until last because it wasn’t going to fit, and it didn’t. I crawled out of the tent, which I was also leaving behind. Out of space and out of time. Time to flee.
Kookaburras hooted and hollered from close by. They sounded like a crowd at a comedy festival, but these days you avoid crowds and nothing is funny any more. And I knew it took just two to make such a noise. You’d think knowing the bush should give me a strategic advantage, but not really. It’s not exactly a jungle. You can’t really hide. Knowing which direction I was running, that’s my advantage.
I could hear voices as well. Just loud organising, commands. Not close enough to see me, and they don’t even know I’m here so I figure they are walking. Men, walking. A number of men. Their need is anyone’s guess, but to be out here my guess is that they have heard about my cache. Good luck finding that, and good luck to whoever told them.
I ran hard, zigging and zagging around gum trees every so often, but mostly in a straight line. My phone alerted again, so I would have just triggered another of my sensors. My life-savers. As much as I have been leading a primal life, technology is keeping me alive.
Dreams let me go, and sirens from my phone took over. A perimeter breech. My shaking hand silenced it. Dawn light through the nylon tent walls showed my go bag, an empty whisky bottle, a half-full whisky bottle, clothing, my boots and the heavy blanket I was under. I was facing the wrong way, so that took a moment to get my head around. Then I was dressing, lacing, deciding. No time to pull down the tent. The tent would inspire them. I fled.
The triggered sensor was up hill. I ran down hill. Australian bush is sparse, and easy to run through. But downhill, in leaves, at pace, I had to be careful to stay on my feet. A sprain could kill me.
Dawn breaking and snores catching, Barry was waking anyway. Crashing early and stinking of whisky were signs of a solitary life. The phone alarmed and Barry struggled to find it, he had turned around in his sleep, or maybe he had just felt like a change. There aren’t many opportunities to randomise out here.
Sunlight made the tent feel like being inside a paper lantern. Phone silenced. Blanket rolled and strapped. He struggled into his pack and crawled out through the flap, leaving it unzipped and flapping in the breeze. The kookaburras that woke him were quiet now. Just leaves tinkling softly. Eucalyptus in the air. And a man barking orders at the limits of his hearing. Unmistakably human, and the first human voice he had heard in months. Barry fled.
The forest barely got in the way, narrow tree trunks with high branches and metres apart. Like a guppy escaping a shark net was Barry and he sped downhill at a steady pace that could last him an hour. Don’t leave any trace, and don’t slip and fall in the leaves. That was all he thought about until the next thought: where to next?
The cache won’t be found, and he can return. The Henrys should be warned, but he won’t fight with them. The highway is truly a throw of the dice, and the bush is relentlessly the same for the next 30 miles in the other direction.
Panting heavily, Barry found the door ajar and the Henrys’ house was abandoned. A few worthy items lingered, signalling a hasty exit.
Paths left and right led away from the house but Barry took the stream, slowly, careful not to leave a trace. He took it for a kilometre and then took off his boots and tiptoed across a grassy glade, for several hundred meters and around a corner. The retreat of Mr and Mrs Henry that only he knew about.
Don Henry was aiming his rifle behind and beyond Barry, and saying hey. Exhaustedly saying hey, as if after all the preparation and the years he was ready to surrender to the bone dry grass and rising sun in his sights.