Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: North (05/05/16)
TITLE: A Long Way Out There
By Ellen Carr
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“So far, so good,” said Carol. She rolled the window up to stop the dust drifting into the car.
As the road became narrower and more pot-holed Jason's mood became jauntier and he started singing at the top of his voice. Carol began to relax, and she joined in.
“Good thing no one can hear us,” she said. “We aren't exactly candidates for The Voice!”
They stopped for lunch near a creek which was barely flowing. There was no shade except the shade of the car. Carol was glad of the sandwiches she'd bought at the last store, and the still-cold iced tea. As they headed further north the vegetation grew sparser and they didn't see another car for a whole hour.
“It will take us four hours to get to Mareki River,” Jason said. The thermometer says it's 40 degrees outside so I think we should keep driving, and keep the air-conditioning going. You have a doze if you like.”
There was no way Carol could doze while the car bumped up and down over the corrugations of the road. Yet, despite herself, her eyes closed and she nodded off for a while.
Bang! She woke up to the car careering wildly across the road. Jason was desperately trying to bring it to a stop. He managed to pull up just off the road.
“What happened?” yelled Carol, shaking.
“A blow-out. One of the tires has blown out. We must have hit a very bad pot-hole or something. We're okay. Don't worry; I'll have it changed in a trice.”
The sun shone down relentlessly and flies buzzed about. Sweat poured off Jason as he struggled to jack the car up and get the new tire on.
“It's on!” Jason's face was triumphant. “Let's get moving.” And they were off again.
Bang! Again! Just three minutes down the road the new tire blew out. Jason let out an expletive as he pulled the car into control and to the side of the road. “I should have brought two spares like Robbo said! But, I didn't. I thought we'd be right.” He put his head in his hands.
“We're in big trouble, Carol. Sorry sweetheart. We'll have to wait for another car to come along and then flag them down.”
Carol tried to sound positive. “It's okay Jason. At least we've got plenty of food and drinks. Someone will come along soon. Let's make some shade with a tarpaulin over two of the doors.” They rigged up some shade and sat eating muesli bars and drinking water as they listened for the sound of a vehicle.
“Listen! Something's coming.” Carol heard it first, the distant burr of a motor. “Quick, get ready to flag them down.”
A mirage on the horizon materialised into a battered old jeep . Jason and Carol waved frantically at it as it approached. It juddered to a halt next to them and two men got out.
“Tire blow-out mate?” asked the taller one. “Need some help?”
Jason explained what had happened and Carol stole a look at the two men. They were covered with tattoos and wore huge cowboy hats. She hoped they were good people.
The taller one spoke. “Looks like you'll have to abandon the car and come with us. Car will be alright out here till we come back with the right tire tomorrow. Youse can stay at our place tonight.”
Carol shot a glance at Jason. Should they trust these men? But then, what choice did they have?
“That's very kind of you,” Jason was saying. “Will it be far out of your way to get a tire and bring it back here tomorrow?”
“Two hundred kilometres each way, but that's nothin' up here in the north,” said the short one. “Grab anything that's valuable and jump in.”
Soon they were bumping back along the way they had come, with Bill and Roo who had introduced themselves by now.
Carol stared at the two stickers on the windscreen: Jesus saves and Not perfect but forgiven. How in-congruent. Two tough-looking guys who were religious. But she relaxed a bit. The story of the Good Samaritan came into her mind, a story she had heard a long time ago.
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