and The Quest to See
Chapter 8 - And she ran away...to see
It was close to midnight and most in the house at 210a Silverglade
Road were asleep: Granny Black in something of a turmoil that kept her
tossing and turning while her troubled subconscious mind worked at
transforming the events of the day into dark dreams.
Louis, unaware of what had occurred, slept the soundest, whilst Henry,
also unaware, yet still bothered by his past discovery and revelation to
Priscilla about their real mother, was tortured by dreams of all kinds:
visions of hangings beneath the great boughs of oaks in the depths of
Robin Hood's hideaway with his Dad Matthew dressed in Lincoln Green
laughing up at him, or prodded on a plank toward shark-infested seas by
a woman with the point of her umbrella, or again, awaiting the final
onslaught of howling red-skins alongside General George Custer. (Who
just happened to look like an older, mustached version of Louis.)
But there were two who were far from sleep. One was Harry, clipping quietly
downstairs, his claws pattering the floor and the steps that led down to the
basement. Of course the other was Priscilla who, when summonsed, drifted out of
bed fully dressed, leaving behind the dummy-blank that represented her,
and thence quietly floated through her bedroom window and up into the
foliage of the great tree that presided over the house like some dark,
mothering creature. Within that leafy canopy perched the abandoned
tree-house, and inside that, the sterile security of the BlackEagle.
A heart-beat away saw the craft alight in the front garden of the house
that was now the home of Monique and her parents, and moments later
Monique emerged from her bedroom window and drifted into the waiting
'Harry told me all about it and of course I am here for you my very best
friend. Let us not waste a moment. Perhaps we can find something that
will help to give reason as to why your Mother did what she did...'
Before Monique could say more Priscilla was hanging onto her and openly
crying. It took a couple of minutes to calm her and get her settled in.
Then the BlackEagle began to move; not only through space, but also
backward, through time.
Lying there upon the couches with shadows of clouds racing by, the girls
were tossed and turned like Autumnal-leaves whirling within their own
vision: colours, textures, fragrances, tastes, feelings, all swirled
through and across and within their minds and bodies and beings. It was
as if they had been tossed into blenders and become smoothies.
And yet, when the roller-coaster ride subdued, the first thing they both
distinctly heard was the warble of magpies. Sunlight spilled through the
BlackEagle viewing ports, bouncing off the interior and diffusing the
'Harry here girls. All good to go?'
'Good to go to the toilet and throw up.' said Priscilla, standing and
swaying until she caught hold of the couch. 'Feel like shi...'
'Warned you. What about you Monique?'
'Not much better Monsieur Harry, but for my friend...'
'Yeah, a'course. Right. Get yourselves steadied up and step outside.
You'll know where to go, and remember, your time is limited, conditions
'You can stuff your conditions Harry,' Priscilla rasped, clutching her
Hand Activator and wobbling out of the BlackEagle onto the gravelly
drive that ran beneath a raised veranda. Monique, following, was sharply
pulled up at the sight before them.
On the veranda sat a slim young woman, whose light-brown skin hinted at
her aboriginal background, working away upon a small, portable
typewriter. She sat sideways to them and straightaway Monique could see
the likeness of her friend in that profile.
But before either of the girls could catch their breath a sudden wailing
cut through the song of the magpies, followed by the sharp cry of
another strident voice. The young woman ceased her tapping at the keys
and standing, opened a fly-wire door and stepped inside.
'Prissy, Prissy, give Henny back his rattle. And no Henny, you are not
to bite. Let your Sister's thumb go. Oh you are such a naughty darling.
Mummy thinks that you need a nap. And away from your sister. She's just
as feisty as you. Wait til your Daddy gets home! He'll give the two of
you the rounds of the kitchen! Alright, Henny has a lie down, and
Prissy, we'll give the birds some meat out the back. You love to see the
magpies come down for something to eat don't you? Then Mummy must get
back to her work for Daddy... Yes, and put away our secret-book too.'
The fly-wire door languidly closed and the young woman's voice, soothing
both the children and their mutual warring, drifted further inside.
'That was my real Mother.' Priscilla spoke the words reverently.
'And the cries were yours and Henry's,' Monique reminded. 'Want to try
to get inside and see?'
'No can do girls. You can't move or touch or alter. You can only observe
whatever is available.' Said Harry, from their Activators.
'Not really anyway,' said Priscilla. 'I know what we look like now, and
dad's got pics of us as ankle-biters.'
Monique was about to enquire as to the meaning of the term
'ankle-biters,' when her attention was taken up by what was left upon
the card-table that Loretta had vacated. 'Cilla, see here, this is a
rough-out shot-list and a work schedule... and here is the beginnings of
voice-overs for individual scenes. You understand such things?'
'Yeah, sort of.'
'But look at this. This is something else that your Mother, Loretta, is,
was, also attending to.' Monique was pointing to a small bound book that
lay open beside the typewriter. The two girls began to read a continuation
from the proceeding page:
'...heads off. It makes me feel uneasy. Lonely out here, even in
daylight. I'm glad when Mathew and the crew get back at night. I feel
better with everybody about. It's just the days here when I don't go out
with them. Only the kids and me.
Matty... I think he somehow suspects that I'm edgy but he doesn't know
why and I can't bring myself to tell him. It's hard enough to write my
thoughts down. I still have the nightmares. Mathew's kind of used to
that by now. I tell him I've had them since I was a kid. That's true
enough. I say that it's because I was always scared of the dark and of a
terrible attack by a crocodile that nearly got me when I was a little
kid. He laughs off my dreams and says he's here to protect me. He'll
fight the crocodiles for me.
But will you win? I ask him.
Dear man. I trust him.
That's not always so easy. Trusting.
But surely you should be able to trust your husband?
Never take anything for granted. I learned that years ago when it began.
There are times when I feel so...'
'She kept a diary! Just like me!' Priscilla cried, wringing Monique's
hand. 'That kinda explains why I have the urge to write stuff too!'
'But Cilla, did you take notice of what she was writing about? Read it
'Uh, yeah, she's scared and it's not only because of being here alone
with us kids, it's about something in her past. Something she doesn't
want Dad to know about... Like how bad can it be? Is she ashamed? Or is
it just too scary?'
'It must be worse than being eaten by a crocodile... So frightening that
she abandons the two of you and...' Monique paused as Loretta appeared
around the corner of the house, a child of perhaps two years of age,
wearing a white dress with red polka-dots, perched on her hip. Behind,
whirred a pair of black and white birds, followed by the squawking of a
less distinguished, grayish creature that was probably their chick.
'You've had all you're going to get Collingwood, you and your Missus and
Bubby. Go find some bush tucker. What will you do after we go? Can't
live on lamb and beef tit-bits forever. Go on, nick off! Get a drink of
water out of the tank over there where it's leaking.'
'Me! That little kid in white and red is me! And earlier on Mum called
'Don't get all misty right now Miss Priscilla, You're both here to
observe.' said Harry, via the Hand Activator.
'Harry is right Priscilla,' urged Monique. 'Watch!'
Loretta, still clutching her child at her waist, flipped the small,
bound book shut and picked it up in her free hand. Then, without a word,
she stepped off the porch and strode across the gravel, right between
Priscilla and Monique, and into an old shed that once might have housed
chickens at one end and farm tools at the other.
'Come along quickly Cilla, we have to see what she does with the diary!'
Monique urged, starting to drag Priscilla behind her.
'Wait Moni! Look!' Priscilla was pointing toward the raised platform
that supported the two corrugated-iron water tanks. Only moments before,
the magpie family had been strutting beneath them, pecking at the wet
soil where moisture seemed to perspire from tiny pin-holes in the tank
'What? What is it Cilla!'
'Not sure... The birds seemed to be scared off... See... They flew up
into that gum tree...'
Monique, squinting against the bright sunlight, shaded her eyes. 'A cat,
or wild animal perhaps? Oh but quickly Cilla, the diary!'
No sooner had she hauled her friend closer to the shed, than Loretta and
the two-year-old Priscilla emerged.
'Ohh! Now where did she hide it?' Monique cried in consternation,
peering inside the darkened area as the young woman and her child passed
them by heedless of their invisible presence.
'That doesn't matter now Mon, look at my Mum and me!'
Priscilla was pointing back toward the receding figure of her mother and
herself as a small child, whilst Loretta gained the steps of the porch
and again entered the house through the screen-door. 'Does she look like
a mother who's about to leave her kids and go off on her bike to kill
'Non! That is puzzling... But perhaps she has the... what is called "The
Brain Snap". After all, she did say in her secret book about being
lonely and having nightmares and a fear of something... Perhaps it
altogether came too much for her and in one sudden moment she completely
lost control of her mind...'
A scream, that abruptly halted, shattered the quiet of the day.
Priscilla, thrashing herself loose from Monique's grasp, shouted,
'That's Mum! Something's happening to her! She's going crazy!
Priscilla leaped forward and suddenly everything jolted into
slow-motion: Monique reached out and missed her arm. Priscilla took two
lunging bounds before feeling herself being drawn slowly backward by a
force she was powerless to combat.
'It's Harry here girls! I warned you not to attempt to interfere. You
can't change the past. I know it's painful, and I want to spare you
whatever is to follow. The BlackEagle will bring you to your homes. You
need to rest and recover. Tomorrow we'll talk. It's been a difficult
time. Think about all that you've observed!'
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