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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Mingle with a Mirror Spirit

The girl with the long, straight, dark hair looked intently at Callum as they sat in the living room. Nervously, Callum fumbled with the remote control as he tried to choose a movie for them both to watch. Callum's mind was hardly on the movie selection though. His mind had a floaty, fuzzy feel about it, and he had butterflies fluttering around in his chest.

The glass window rapped outside of the living room. Callum jolted his head towards the window and saw his brother's face through the glass scowling at him.

"Callum! You have to pack the dishwasher! You promised mum and dad", Callum's brother whined.

Callum flushed red and made a pleading face at his brother. 

His brother rolled his eyes and rapped the window again.

"You promised mum and dad you'd do it! They will be angry!"

Callum looked back towards the dark-haired girl with an embarrassed, apologetic expression.

The girl's name was Quin. Although, the girl had never told Callum her name before. He just somehow knew that her name was "Quin", as if she had telepathically inserted it into his memory. Callum also realised that he had never met Quin before this moment, at least not that he could precisely remember. Callum also had no idea how they had arrived in his parent's living room together, but Quin was so entrancingly beautiful that Callum didn't mind at all and put his memory loss down to his nervousness and having probably smoked too much weed earlier that day.

"I think you should pack the dishwasher, Callum. I'll wait for you upstairs," Quin whispered softly.

Callum shrugged in agreement and went to the kitchen as Quin disappeared upstairs.

As quickly as he could, Callum packed the dishwasher. He hoped Quin would be waiting for him upstairs and that she hadn't decided to leave after that awkward interaction with his brother. He packed the last fork into the dishwasher tray and began to make his way hastily upstairs to his bedroom.

As Callum entered his bedroom he found Quin lying naked on his bed beckoning him to lie down with her. Callum eagerly unbuttoned his shirt and threw it on the floor as he lay down beside Quin. Her soft hands began tracing his chest as she moved her lips towards his. Just as her lips touched his, the room began to vibrate and tremble before rapidly collapsing before Callum's eyes.

Callum woke up suddenly in his empty city apartment.

"Dammit", Callum thought to himself. "I always wake up just as my dreams begin to reach a climax."

Callum lay in his bed and stared at the ceiling, reminiscing on how vivid the dream was and how real Quin felt. How was he able to recreate such a vivid person in his dreams? Quin didn't exist and didn't resemble anyone that Callum knew in his real life. 

Callum wished he could re-enter the dream and be with Quin again. He began to feel very sad when it dawned on him that Quin wasn't real and was merely a figment of his imagination.

As Callum was lost in his thoughts, the bedroom door began to creak open. A lithe, shadowy figure entered the room and began to draw closer to the foot of Callum's bed. It was a figure Callum immediately recognised. It was Quin!

"I've located you", Quin whispered.

Quin lay down beside Callum and they embraced. Quin seductively crawled on top of Callum and began to lick his chest. They were about to engage in love making when again the room began to vibrate and tremble. Callum's body shook in a jolt and he awoke again.

He was alone and Quin was gone.

Callum lay there stunned. He had just experienced a layered dream. Quin had visited him again and, cruelly, Callum had awoken just as they had begun to elope. 

Callum lay there in the darkness of his city apartment bedroom, trying to process the unbelievably vivid dreams he had just experienced.

A ghostly sound suddenly rasped beside Callum.

"haahhhhhhhhhh", a cracked rasped exhale of dead air.

Callum turned his head and saw a black figure sitting crossed legged beside him. 

Frozen in fear and fully awake, Callum's first instinct was shocked disbelief. He reached his hand towards the black figured and clutched its forearm. The figure's forearm was hairy and muscular. 

Utterly paralysed, Callum held onto the figure's hairy forearm as it rose from its seated position and drew closer to him. Callum could see Quin's face in the almost pitch-black room. Her eyes were sunken, beady coals and her face was a sallow and dead looking shade of pale yellow.

Quin slowly crawled on top of Callum as he held on tightly to her hairy forearm. Quin then pressed her long body into Callum's and he felt ripples and surges of electricity up and down his body and face. Quin's body began to sink into Callum's as the electricity intensified and he began to shake. Their bodies were merging. As Quin's body became fully immersed into Callum's, a violent jolt brought Callum out of his paralyzed state.

Quin had fully disappeared inside of Callum. He had regained his motor skills and sat bolt upright in bed.

"What in hell just happened to me?" Callum's voice trembled in the dark.

Callum looked down and saw that he was clutching his own hairy forearm. Quin's hairy arm had somehow become his own, and Callum still clutched it tightly with fear.

As he slowly released his grip from his forearm, Callum still felt the traces of electricity rippling up and down his body and face.

Callum turned his head towards the giant floor to ceiling mirror that was position bedside his bed. He looked at his own reflection and intuitively knew that Quin had come from the mirror. The mirror was her gateway to him.

Was he awake this time? Callum jumped out of the bedsheets and immediately checked his entire apartment to make sure that he was alone.

Nobody was there and Callum went back to his bed in silence. He lay down on the mattress and again turned his head to the mirror. He had remembered reading in an old occult book that he owned that in Eastern cultures the mirror was believed to be a portal into the spirit realm and that sleeping in front of a mirror could invoke ghosts.

As Callum lay on his bed, looking at his reflection and for any trace of Quin, part of him felt that she was still there with him, unseen.


Sunday, March 26, 2023

An evening in Mossvale

Driving out to the orchards of the Southern Highlands

With a very naughty passenger

Crossing over

Approaching an old cottage surrounded by pines

A quiet evening in the frigid crisp air of the countryside


Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Darkness Shines by Paneye (music video)

Filmed in Elizabeth Bay February 2023

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Bamboo swamp full of goats

The bamboo swamp at the back of my parent’s house is now encircled with electric fence in preparation for the goats. The goats will feast on the bamboo and shrubs, clearing the land in preparation for a terraced vegetable garden. 


Friday, March 17, 2023

Friday, March 10, 2023

Wattle Valley Shanty Town

The windscreen was covered in golden wattle stems and powdery pollen as the police cruiser slowly pulled to a stop in the valley's clearing. Jasper and his dad had arrived here on a strong tip that the child snatcher was hiding out amongst the wattle valley-dwelling community.

It had taken nearly 3 hours of slow driving down a barely perceptible fire trail, through dense wattle trees, to reach the clearing. The people who lived in this valley didn't want to be found and they hardly ever left this place except on the rare occasion that essential supplies from the nearest township were needed. Having settled here long ago, the valley dwellers had gradually learned to live almost entirely off of the land.

Jasper and his dad sat quietly in the police cruiser for a moment as a short, rotund woman emerged from a thick wattle bush to greet them in the clearing. The woman was dressed in a dirty yellow linen poncho which appeared to have been fashioned out of a bed sheet. Her face and hair were also stained yellow, the same colour as the wattles.

Jasper's dad, Officer Rice, stepped out of the cruiser to greet her.

"Excuse me, Madam. Sorry to intrude but I am here on official police business."

Officer Rice held up a neatly laminated mugshot of the child snatcher as he continued his introduction.

"We have received information that this man has taken up residence in Wattle Valley."

The rotund woman briefly glanced at the laminated mugshot, grunted dismissively and turned back into the yellow wattle bush, gesturing with a flabby arm for Officer Rice to follow her.

Officer Rice turned back to Jasper, who had gotten out of the cruiser and was standing timidly behind his father. 

"Follow me Jas, but stay close. These valley folk aren't like the people back in town. They can be a bit aggressive towards outsiders."

They both approached the wattle bushes, which had swallowed the rotund woman whole, leaving no trace of her. Officer Rice reached forward with both arms outstretched and parted the fronds. 

It was such a thick bush that it was impossible to see where she had gone and in which direction, but they pushed forward through the wattles. They were engulfed from all sides and the wattles covered them in a sweet, sticky nectar. Their clothes were stained a golden yellow.

The trickle of a stream coming from somewhere deep in the wattles was an aural map for them to follow through the thick wattle maze. They continued to push through the sticky flowers, towards the sound of the water, until they finally emerged in a large field of bright green grass covered in shiny dew drops that glistened in the sun.

The field was a sight to behold. Running through the middle of the field was the tricking stream, and beyond the stream, hugging it closely, was the shanty town. The tiny shanty town homes were neatly arranged on a grid, with small dirt paths cutting between the square-shaped shacks. The shacks appeared to have been constructed from an arrangement of corrugated iron sheets, mud brick walls and wood. Rope had been strung between the various shacks from which hung rags and dried fish meat. 

The shanty town appeared largely deserted of adults, aside the rotund woman who was standing on a duckboard bridge that crossed the narrow stream. Several groups of young children sat outside the nearest shanty town shacks and were curiously looking towards Officer Rice and his son. The officer immediately recognised the faces of the children as some of the missing kids who had disappeared from the towns that surrounded the valley. Hundreds of children had gone missing in the past several years and Officer Rice had spent many sleepless nights poring over the photos of the missing children, searching for clues.

Officer Rice looked towards the rotund woman. She grunted and pointed further downstream to where a dam and large reservoir had been dug out by the townsfolk. Unattended bamboo fishing rods had been stabbed into the earth and fish lines, attached to the ends of the bamboo poles, had been cast into the water. The reservoir, aside providing drinking water for the shanty town, was also a fish nursery and food source.

Officer Rice and Jasper crossed the duckboards that lay across the stream and began walking towards a shack that was built in a pit below ground level, up against the dirt walls of the dam. This shack was different from the other homes and very unusual as it was surrounded by a leafless thicket of twigs and branches. Hanging from the twigs was an array of hundreds of small doll's heads that had been tied to the twigs by their plastic hair and left to dangle in a ghoulish display.

Tentatively, Officer Rice and Jasper drew nearer to the shack surrounded by dead bushes and doll's heads. The wooden door of the shack creaked open and out hopped a bizarrely deformed woman. The woman had one good leg, her right leg, but her left leg was a dangle of flesh that resembled an ear lobe. She hopped towards them using a homemade crutch that she had fashioned out of a gum tree branch. The crutch was wedged under her armpit. Both of her arms, from her bicep down, dangled in droopy flesh to points similar to starfish arms. The only limb that wasn't deformed was her right leg that she used support her body weight, aided by the gum tree branch crutch.

The deformed woman grimaced as Officer Rice drew closer. She exhaled sharply and then yelled "Hey Daddy! Why you coppers come round here? You ain't gonna find nothing!"

The deformed woman's face was attractive and fine featured, framed with long brown dreadlocks. Her nose had two large silver rings piercing both nostrils and her face was smeared with dirt and appeared to be bruised. 

She began laughing hysterically. Menacingly. Spittle flew from her mouth in the direction of the officer and his son. 

Officer Rice was unsettled. As the deformed woman continued laughing, the officer heard a stir from a large burrow beside the shack. The burrow travelled at a sharp angle into the earth and it wasn't easily noticed because it was covered in large grass stems that partially concealed the circular entrance.

The grass at the burrow's entrance parted and out emerged the large body of the child snatcher. He had the robust body of a miner, wearing a blue singlet, with heavy stubble covering the lower half of this face and unnaturally thick eyebrows covering the upper half. He took one sharp look at Officer Rice, leapt from the burrow and began running up towards the dam, moving at a much quicker pace than you would expect from a man with such a hefty, bulky body.

"See ya, Baby Doll!" The child snatcher called towards the deformed woman. With a final glance towards Officer Rice, the child snatcher took a swan dive into the dam and began swimming at a great speed towards the other side of the reservoir. 

Officer Rice took off running around the dirt wall of the reservoir, hoping to cut off the child snatcher's escape on the other side of the dam, but the child snatcher swam at the speed of a crocodile and before Officer Rice had circled a quarter of the dam the child snatcher had emerged from the water at the other side of the reservoir and began fleeing into a thicket of wattles at the far edge of the field.

"Stay here Jas! Back-up is already on the way!"

Officer Rice then began yelling into his police radio that he had located the infamous child snatcher and to send all units to Wattle Valley.

Jasper ignored Officer Rice’s commands and began running towards his father. Officer Rice was running as fast as he could, taking great strides towards the wattle bushes that the child snatcher had disappeared into. As he drew closer to the wattle thicket he drew his police baton and held it in front of him like a sword before he plunged into the yellow foliage, wading through the spongy wattles that drenched him in more thick nectar and pollen. His blue police uniform was already stained yellow from pushing through the previous wattle thickets, but by now the wattles had turned his dark hair yellow and covered his face in golden nectar. Officer Rice was now a bright yellow colour from head to toe.

The wattles soon gave way to another field. This field was a long, narrow corridor that was tightly sandwiched between steep, grassy slopes on either side. The grass was cut short and impeccably manicured like a golf course and it covered the steep slopes smoothly and entirely. Standing on top of these perfectly manicured grass slopes, on both sides holding surfboards, were hundreds of children. As soon as the officer emerged in the clearing the children leaped onto their surfboards and began riding down the valley slopes just as if they were surfing an ocean wave. They zigzagged down the smooth grassy inclines and began swooping in front of Officer Rice. The child surfers would slide across the field and then up the opposite slope's walls, like skateboarders on a ramp sliding back and forth. Officer Rice had to dodge and weave between the laughing children to avoid being bowled over. 

The children began calling out to each other in menacing, high-pitched voices.

"Get him! Hit him! Get the old man!"

Officer Rice noticed how sharp the points of these surfboards were and realised that at the speeds these children were travelling he was at real risk of being impaled. Luckily, Officer Rice was agile and was able to dodge the flying harpoons to reach the far end of the field. 

As Officer Rice dodged the final swoop of a child surfer he heard piercing howls of pain coming from the edge of the field. He followed the howls to a tall gum tree and ran around behind the gum’s thick trunk. Behind the tree the child snatcher was lying with his ankle caught in a rusty metallic object on the ground. Officer Rice noticed that it was a large bear trap that had snapped over the child snatcher's ankle, almost severing his foot. The child snatcher looked up at the officer with a helpless and pleading look on his face.

"Get it off me. Please. It's gonna chop my fucking foot off."

Officer Rice held his radio up to his cheek and signaled to the police back-up that the suspect had been detained and the missing children had been located. He then sat down in the grass beside the child snatcher, ignoring his cries of pain, and began wiping the sticky nectar from his face with a handkerchief.

Back towards the steep, grassy slopes Jasper had stopped running after his father and had instead turned his attention towards a small girl who was smiling at him. She wasn't carrying a surfboard and had motioned to Jasper to follow her up the grassy slope.

Jasper was mesmerised by how pretty this girl was and began clambering up the slippery slope, following her to the top.

As if being caught in an unseen current, Jasper felted hypnotised and couldn’t help but be very drawn to the girl, as if she had cast a powerful spell on him and he was now in an inescapable riptide. 

As Jasper reached the top of the slope he found the girl sitting, staring out over the vast yellow valley of wattles.

"It's beautiful here. We can do whatever we want," she said wistfully.

The girl looked towards Jasper with teary eyes.

"Don't let the adults from the town come here. They will ruin everything with their rules."

Jasper sat beside the small girl and they both stared over the yellow valley together as the sounds of police sirens wailed and drew closer in the distance.

In that moment Jasper forgot his father entirely and instead began to feel a deep and longing desire to stay in this yellow forest for the rest of his life. 

The girl entwined her soft fingers in Jasper’s, stood up and began leading him into a particularly thick wall of yellow wattles. As the wattle’s sticky fronds engulfed Jasper’s body, he held on tightly to the girl’s hand as the dense golden forest swallowed the sounds of the police sirens and the outside world.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Flooded Childhood Streets

The park they were in was enormous, with gently undulating grass that was soft and spongy when they walked on it. Will and Johahn had strolled over to the thin, concrete bike path that snaked through the park, crossed it, and had reached the place where Johahn would film Will’s music video. It was a flatter area of the park where the grass was especially soft. Johahn had chosen this particular place because it would allow Will to fall down on the spongy grass from great heights without hurting himself.

Will walked away from Johahn in preparation for the first shoot. 

"Ready?" Will called to Johahn. 

"Okay go!" Johahn shouted out to Will, while clutching her camera.

Will began running fast across the green grass and took a giant leap into the air. He flew high into the sky and began doing a series of back flips, side flips and front flips before landing neatly on his feet. Will felt a sense of wonder. He had no idea he could jump that high, at least 10 meters high or more. It was super human and he stood there stunned in his landing position for a moment.

With wide eyes Will walked over to Johahn.

“Did you see that? Good lord! I had no idea I could do that"

Johahn shrugged and winked, "Yeah of course you can." 

They both looked at the camera and watched a replay of the scene. Will flying high into the sky and performing a complicated series of twists that made him look like a comic book hero. 

Will and Johahn both agreed that they had captured the scene they wanted and it would make a perfect addition to their music video project.  

“Let's go for a walk and check out Shark Beach. It's a nice day,” Johahn suggested. 

"Okay, but I bet it's crowded today." 

They began their walk across the park and towards the coast.

It wasn't a long walk to the beach but the sun was burning brightly in the sky which caused them both to sweat profusely. 

As they arrived at the beach, they walked along the sand and up towards the rocky cliffs at the far end of the bay. Drawing closer to the cliffs, Will turned his head and glanced out at the nets that ran out to sea in a semi-circle around the beach. The waters here were infested with bull sharks and the council had decided to erect the nets after several dogs were eaten by the bulls. Owners would bring their dogs down to the beach and throw sticks into the sea for the dogs to retrieve, like an oceanic game of fetch. As the dogs paddled out to the floating sticks the sharks would eat them in an explosion of salt water and yelping.

"I told you the beach would be crowded today," Will said, turning to Johahn. 

Johahn was gone.

“I feed on your sadness like a cockroach feeds on dead skin cells.”

Will looked down and his clothes were all gone. He was stark naked on the crowded beach, surrounded by families with small children. 

Will stood stone still as panic welled up inside him. He felt the sun burning his naked body. Surely someone was going to call the police for indecent exposure, but to his surprise no one on the beach appeared to notice. It was as if he wasn’t there at all. 

Taking care not to draw extra attention to himself, Will began to slowly walk up and away from the beach towards the large boat shed that sat in a picnic area, away from the crowds by the shore. As he walked towards the boat shed, the beach dwellers went about their business and appeared to hardly register him. 

“Should I cup my private’s with my hands or should I just walk completely exposed?” Will thought to himself. 

“Perhaps no one is registering my nakedness because I’m not acting like I’m naked. If I just walk normally and don’t try to hide myself, maybe they will continue to be blind to my exposed body?”

Will decided to appear outwardly unfazed and walked at a steady pace towards the sanctuary of the boat shed, away from the public’s potential gaze and alarm. Part of him felt that the herds of people at the beach must be so entranced in their hypnotised minds that a naked man walking amongst them was totally invisible. It reminded Will of his experience with the elevators at his apartment complex. Almost every time he pressed the elevator button at his apartment building, the doors would slide open and a glazed-eyed person would walk out, register they were on the wrong level, apologise and return to the elevator like a zombie. Will would find these frequent encounters with glazed-eyed people disturbing, but for once he was grateful to be surrounded by these blind and hypnotised entities. 

“Oi Will!” 

Will turned his head to see a group of his old work colleagues from a company he had worked at long ago. They were sitting under a tree by the boat shed. 

“Will. Where are your clothes you funny fucker? You’re bloody mental, man!”

Alex approached Will with a huge grin on his face. 

“Come into the boat shed, mate. We have a bag of your clothes in there that you left behind at the office when left the job.”

Will thought this was strange. How is that possible? Will hadn’t worked-with or seen Alex in a long time. Why would Alex have kept a bag of his clothes? It had been at least 10 years since he left the job. Besides, why would they be in the boat shed? 

Nonetheless, Will followed Alex into the boat shed. It appeared to have been converted into dormitory-style rooms on the inside with beds, clothes and squashed cans of beer littering the hallways. The doors of the bedrooms were ajar and Will could see beer bottles and dirty bongs on the floor. 

“Is this where you live Alex?”

“Yeah mate, it’s a party house innit,” Alex said in his London cockney-style accent. 

“Wait here mate!” Alex went into a room and sure enough emerged with a bag of Will’s old clothes. Will thanked Alex and hurriedly changed into shorts and a t-shirt. Alex handed him a pair of old sandals. “Here mate you can keep these. Come out the back and check this out!”

Alex led Will out to the back of the boat shed where a rusty old dinghy was mounted on wooden blocks on the floor. 

“Lovely isn’t she, Will? Have a seat mate. It’s really comfy.”

Will climbed into the dinghy and sat on a little pillow that cushioned the dinghy’s metallic sitting bench. 

As Will sat in the boat he felt the entire boat being lifted from behind and carried towards the back entrance of the boat shed. Will turned his body and saw that Alex had lifted the entire boat off the floor and was running with it. How Alex could possibly be that strong was a mystery. The boat with Will inside it must have weighed over 200 kilograms. 

“Will, we have to get out of here man!” Alex panted.

Will heard the voice of what sounded like an old man coming from somewhere inside the boat shed. 

“Hey! You bring my boat back here right now! You bastards!”

The old man was yelling as Alex carried Will and the boat out of the back entrance’s double doors, and into the forest behind the boat shed.

The forest was cold, with a light dusting of snow on the ground. The sunny day had transformed into a pale, grey sky with fine snow falling in a powder. The forest was alpine and resembled the snowy forest of Narnia when Lucy entered the wardrobe and emerged near the lamppost. 

“How is this possible? It doesn’t snow in Sydney!” Will exclaimed to Alex.

Alex ignored this and instead muttered “We have to find a stream so we can paddle away from that old git.”

Alex carried the boat and Will through the forest and sure enough a little river appeared between the fir trees. Sliding the boat into the water, Alex clambered aboard and they began floating down the river, away from the calls of the old man. 

They sat in the boat in silence and allowed the river to carry them through the forest. Before long, the trees began to thin and large houses began to line either side of the river. These were Victorian-style terrace houses that are common in the city and inner western suburbs of Sydney. 

Will peered into the river water and noticed that the river was actually a flooded asphalt street. The boat had entered a flooded Sydney suburb which Will recognised as Newtown. This was a suburb where he had spent an early portion of his childhood, back in Newtown’s bohemian 1980’s and early 90’s period. 

As the boat began floating down Pearl Street, a street where Will had once lived, the huge Victorian terraces loomed over the flooded road casting long shadows over the water. Will wondered how this once thriving and busy suburb had now become flooded and empty. Will turned to Alex to ask him how this had happened, but Alex had made himself comfortable at the back of the boat and had already drifted off to sleep. Will smiled and looked up at the Pearl Street houses and began to enjoy the solitude and soundlessness of his submerged childhood street. He decided that the flooded emptiness of this place was an improvement and that he hoped it remained this way forever.