Hello again! It took a while, but I’ve finally reached the beginning of the major story arc for this season of the serial. I’ve known how this chapter was going to play out for several days, and I was growing a bit anxious as the chapter drew closer. However, I needed to lay some groundwork first. The chapter ended up being really enjoyable to write even if the subject matter isn’t what I typically delve into.
One of the main reasons for starting this project in the first place was to get out of my comfort zone and hopefully have something enjoyable for you guys to read. I don’t entirely know what you guys think of what I haven’t written so far but I hope that these rough first drafts are at least easy to visualise and identify with even if the language is unpolished. Whatever the case may be, I welcome your constructive feedback. Even if you don’t have any feedback to leave, I’d love to learn more about the folks that are taking time out to read my blog posts.
Here’s wishing you an awesome weekend!
It was just after half-past three in the afternoon when Bernard Haney drove up to the bridge in his old white utility to see the back of several emergency services vehicles dealing with some unknown task. Unknown to him, they were working to get Sue Williamson out of her odd predicament some distance past the tree line. He’d heard from a neighbour further up from his own property that Martin had been ringing around all morning trying to find out if anybody had seen his wife or her car. Given that Bernard had worked the afternoon shift the previous afternoon, the best that he could offer was witnessing her briefly drop by the service station to pay for fuel.
He slowed down the vehicle as it moved over the bridge, taking note of Karen as she stood faced away supervising the handful of people assisting, with a large dog standing authoritatively beside her. He had spent his share of time checking out her arse from afar and considered asking out the intelligent and thoughtful single mother on several occasions. Alas, he’d always stopped himself from making that mistake. He knew that he would inevitably be shut down and have to deal with the embarrassment of rejection for months to follow.
As much as he liked her, he knew that he wasn’t what most would refer to as a “good catch”. His hair was grey and thinning, skin slightly wrinkled and blotched from years of working out in the sun. He had a good ten years on her as well. He didn’t have any special interests that would make for good conversation either, the best that he could muster was talk about cricket or the state of origin. He didn’t have any hobbies and interests of his own, work taking up most of his time since his divorce five years prior.
Karen turned around briefly, the dog next to her continuing to stare straight ahead. Bernard saw the briefest of waves with the loveliest of smiles upon her lips. His heart briefly began to beat faster and time seemed to stand still as he lifted his right hand up and down in reply. He considered getting out and chatting, but knew that it would be bad form whilst she was working. As it was, he was already running late for his shift at the service station. He increased speed and continued on, his mind delighting in a mildly erotic fantasy.
When Bernard got to work, he noticed a new employee at the back. The unfamiliar woman was around the same age as he was, grey disrupting her shoulder-length curls of ginger hair. Debbie introduced the pair, and he caught the name, Evelyn Dixon. She seemed pleasant enough and he intended to chat with her again later.
He went to work restocking the shelves and fridges whilst Evelyn was shown around by two of the other girls that worked there. Debbie spoke to her replacement for the afternoon shift and Carla promptly disappeared into the office where she dealt with paperwork where she made last minute phone calls.
After Bernard had finished the first task, he went around sweeping and wiping over counters and tables. He smiled and whistled as he did, which was contrasted by the dull hum of the numerous appliances in the background. He would move between cleaning, restocking and serving customers throughout the next seven and a half hours of his shift.
At several points during that time, he saw Karen and one of the ambulance workers come in to pay for fuel. His eyes met Karen’s twice. She was friendly enough to him, and he tried to not think about how much he wanted to spend time with her. It was a sad state of affairs, but he sucked it up and continued working like any adult should.
When the shift finally did end, Bernard felt his mood drop slightly. He was about to go home to his empty home to a cat that barely offered him the most remote amount of affection. He’d been stuck with the feline after his divorce. It appeared that not even his wife liked the cranky old tabby that she’d adopted as a kitten seven years prior.
He gave polite farewells and walked out into the cold air, his warm breath He walked over his Ute, got in and secured his seat belt. He briefly stared ahead at the grey Landcruiser that he was parked behind. Pulling his keys out of a pocket, he let out a loud sigh.
He didn’t like being alone, but he knew that he had no other alternative. He resisted the urge to scream and slam fists against the steering wheel. He took a deep breath before turning the ignition.
As Bernard began the journey back home, he decided that he needed to make a major change in his life. He didn’t quite know what it was yet, but he knew that he needed to do something. He doubted that it would be something as life-changing as becoming a priest or an attempt to climb Mount Everest, but it would have to be meaningful.
He would need to start out with small changes in his habits first to break up his current routine. Those changes would also need to be geared to a greater purpose. That greater purpose would need to be something fresh and new.
He tried to think about some major goal to work on for several minutes as the new moon stared down at him blankly from above. He wondered if he should learn something new or work on his health. Both posed their own unique challenges as each encompassed numerous options. That was when it occurred to him – he could finally learn carpentry.
Though he’d always wanted to learn how to make his own furniture out of metal and wood, numerous things had cropped up over the span of his life that had kept him from moving towards that end. He’d learnt a bit of metal and woodworking in high school, but he’d put those interests aside when he’d met Mary.
Mary had become the centre of his world for more than thirty years. They’d had three children during that time. Both of his daughters were now married with their own children, but the frequency of their calls had decreased after Mary had abruptly left one day. As for their son, Jacob still called but his Doctorate now took up the better part of his existence.
Bernard no longer had nagging concerns about children wandering into a workshop and getting injured. He also didn’t need to support a wife and three children. It occurred to him for the first time since Mary had left that he could now spend money on his own interests. He smiled at the liberating thought.
With that, he decided to start working toward that goal by finding some good woodworking books on the next day that the library was open. He would drive to Mackay on the next weekday to visit some hardware and bookstores. The plan seemed perfect. What could possibly go wrong?
Bernard had been travelling up the gravel road towards his property for several minutes when his Ute abruptly sputtered to a halt. He tried to turn over the engine a couple times before pushing himself back into his seat and thrusting cold fingers through his hair in annoyance. He tapped the thumb of his other hand on the steering wheel for a moment before testing the lights. They burst to life, lighting up the road ahead. He breathed out a sigh of relief before pulling out a torch from the glove box and getting out.
He moved to the front of the car, shielding his eyes from the headlights. He reached under the bonnet and unlatched it with a satisfying click. He was soon inspecting the engine for any obvious clues to what was causing the problem. It didn’t have fluids leaking or anything else untoward, leaving him at a loss. He did a quick calculation of how far from the property he was and considered whether he should walk.
“Bugger all that walking!” he declared before pulling out his mobile phone and phoning the local RACQ for an assist. He got back into the warmth of the car and switched off the lights.
He’d been waiting in the car for several few minutes when he first heard a growl to the left side of the road. It was deep and loud enough to shake the entire the entire vehicle. He looked out but saw nothing.
“What the hell?”
He turned on the headlights again. It was then that he heard numerous thuds coming from the same side. Moments later, a mass of kangaroos moved in front of and over his car, their tails slapping against the ground as they did. There was a momentary break in the stampede, during which time he heard an animal cry out in pain and the sickening sound of bones breaking. His heart began to race as fear gripped him. He wanted to drive away from whichever monster was lurking about, but he knew that it was impossible.
Not long after the last of the stampede hopped past, Bernard Haney heard the growl again. This time, he knew that the creature was getting closer. It was then that something very large landed on all fours on the front of his car, the bonnet buckling under the impact.
Amber eyes stared back at him, blood dripping from a long canine snout that was big enough to swallow him whole. Pitch black fur met at ridges from the back of its neck, running all the way down its spine. Its body was stocky, more than half the width of his car. Wicked claws dug into the metal. It closed its mouth then cocked its head, mouth twisting into a Joker-like smile.
Bernard looked back in terror at the beast. He knew that it wanted him to run, but his body was unable to move. He disliked the feeling of helplessness, but he knew that he had no chance against it if he ran.
The Black Dog was quickly growing impatient. It wanted to chase a human being, the woman from the previous evening getting away due to a meddling Moon Dog. It was determined to eat human fear tonight.
It lifted its front right paw and extended its claws. Bernard watched as claws cut through the metal of the bonnet like butter. Then it growled again, activating the flight mechanism.
He opened the door and started back down the road towards the highway with his torch in hand. The Black Dog chased the man, devouring emanations of fear as his legs pumped frantically. He was relying on adrenaline now.
They ran for what seemed like an eternity. That was when the man felt the road change from gravel to bitumen. His legs kept pumping. Then, his body flew up in the air. It was in the brief moment as his pulverised body moved upward that he noticed that he’d been hit by a truck.
As he lay on the cold bitumen, the face of the Black Dog wandered up to him. It still had that same wicked expression on its face. This time, though, it decided to drink more than his fear. It dug a claw into his mashed chest and bit into his head.
Some distance away, Jaspar White awoke in his bed. He sat bolt upright. He knew that something unnatural had occurred moments before. He watched as the air around him swirled about in sickening green, blood red and pitch black.
Somebody had passed on before their time and their soul had not been able to move on. Rage began to surface at the profane act. He needed to track down what had done this horrific thing and end its existence. However, he knew that he couldn’t do it on his own.
He would need to find the Moon Dog.