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Once, life was a fun distraction.

Entertainment and sensationalism overlayed truth. It did not matter, nothing truly
mattered, as long as I enjoyed myself.
Movies thought for me, music felt for me, and media lived for me.
Perfectly unaware of my self, hedonism stole my personal unity, and I wanted more.
But, of course, that was not to be.
I was enticed, yes, by the Devil himself.
Nobody can resist the Devil’s temptations.

Boredom took over pretty badly as university holidays progressed. No new games to play or news
to gossip with my like-minded acquaintances. Inside myself there was an unease, seething to the
surface, a discontent, a sadness. Its form I could not properly decipher, but I knew that it
contained an important message.
Tired from irritation, I collapsed abed and pondered the mysterious emotion… until my
phone rang. Without thought I lifted and answered it.
“Yo, buddy.” Herb’s voice flared with an uncertain kind of enthusiasm.
“What-”
“So, mum like got these tickets to America.”
“To Am-”
“Yeah, more specifically to the Contemporary Film festival taking place on Manhattan
Island.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Because she got two tickets, and now cannot go. She said, ‘you’re twenty-one now, why
don’t you go with a friend? Spend a week abroad.’”
There was a moment, my final moment, and then I realised what he said.
“Are you serious? Your mum got us tickets to New York?”
“Yeah.”
“When?”
“Friday.”
“You mean this week? That is only the day after tomorrow?”
“Pack a bag, man. I’ll pick you up at what, nine o’clock tomorrow morning?”
I did have pretty important plans with old friends at noon, but plans change.
“Uh, yeah I guess.”
Herb hung up leaving me to my boredom.

Frantically, I began packing. A suitcase and a back pack. Few clothes in, few essentials, then I
got tired. Maybe it would be wiser to do this in the morning when I am rested, I thought.
Into bed I crawled and attempted to settle the strange mix of confusion, tiredness and
excitement that overwhelmed me. To no avail. I settled into a flat emotion, that did not undulate.
I did not wake, nor sleep, did not feel comfortable or uncomfortable, I just lay there.
Until I noticed the sound of insects fade away replaced by the singing of birds, and
realised that I felt truly exhausted.

Awake and restless, I abandoned bed and went to the window. On the way, I noticed that
the air was cold, that the light was bright, and that there was noise coming from an electronic
device nearby. All these things annoyed me.
“Okay Google,” I said, and heard a beep. “Set air temperature to twenty-two Celsius.”
The chill died away.
“Okay Google,” I said, and heard a beep. “Turn off all roof lights. Turn on the desk-
lamp.”
The lighting was better.
“Okay Google,” I said, and herd a beep. “Pause all audio.”
And there was silence.
Outside, the city was waking up. Night lights faded as the city lights glowed, stars faded behind
city lights. Visually, it was very mesmerising, especially in the grey glow of dawn bleeding in
from the east.
Instead of becoming tired, I was stimulated and immediately my mind began to spin.
Sickness formed into my core, one that was faint and ignorable. I ignored it and went back to
bed.
Sleep did not come, only a kind of resignation as my consciousness attempted to escape
the wakeful world.
At eight; forty, my phone rang. I opened heavy eyes and felt the weight of a sleepless
night. Quickly, I rose and showered, grabbed my semi-packed bags and headed outside.
Herb was waiting, the station-wagon packed up neatly with all sorts of travelling
necessities. “You even got anything?” He half laughed out the window. “Doesn’t matter, I can
see you’re tired. Not to worry. We are not departing from Launceston Airport, but Hobart…”
All I heard was: you can sleep in the car on the way.
Excited, I dumped my bags inside and sat down in shotgun.
“…but I’ll be stopping by dad’s when we’re there, so I guess you can grab some stuff there
if you need.”

The Tasmanian roadways are very picturesque, especially in the springtime when the trees bud.
The Tasmanian air is very fresh, especially after rain when the atmosphere is fragranced with soil.
The Tasmanian outback sings a silent song, especially far away from towns where only the wind
carries a voice.

Inside the car, directions mattered more then scenery and smoke clouds were more immediate.
Inside the car, we lit incense and shut the windows almost fully.
Inside the car, we blasted rock and roll.

Last moment I remember is watching Herb dance. Then I looked up and saw a turn in the road,
but the car did not turn.

First sensations I remember were not what I had expected after a potentially fatal car crash.
Somehow, out of the car I crawled, to a patch of green grass that was thick, seemed to be
untrammelled by humans for ages. The sun came out from behind happy clouds and cast shine
upon my face. The warmth, the freshness, the comfort of the grass; I was happy and at peace
without even a thought of Herb.
After an extremely refreshing sleep, I awoke some hours later. It was perhaps late
morning. Awake, I sat upright and looked around. This is what I saw – the car was broken. Its
contents seemed okay. Herb was folded in a slumped position at the base of a thick tree. He
looked to be breathing, so I figured he was probably okay. Around him, there was a little camp
set up. A roof made from 4 fallen branches were placed between the trees the car had hit.
Backstory: Herb’s dad enjoys fishing.
There were many tarpaulin sheets in the trunk left over from past camping adventures,
Herb had apparently fashioned one into a wind breaker.

Perhaps happiness was a warranted feeling, for the only thing seemingly busted did not really
matter too much.
Over to Herb I went, kicked him awake, he woke with glee.
“Oh! You’re alive! I thought you dead! So happy to see you standing!”
“What? – oh.” Other people have perspectives, and from his, my glorious sleep looked
like rigor mortis. “Yeah.”

“Damn,” a disappointment fell across his face, “I was keen for a solo adventure.”
“I best fuck off then,” I laughed.
“Yeah, nah. Let’s figure this out.” He went to the makeshift tent and sat down. “We’re
not going to America. All our electronics are out of battery now, we’re out of range anyway.
Uh… well firstly I am hungry, and… thirsty. We should eat. Pretty sure the food-bag is alright.”

While Herb found the bag, and organised destroyed things from still edible materials, I set about
gathering wood and clearing an area away from dry materials. When only 1x1 metre of pure soil
was left, I set a circle of stones, and within them placed logs and above them, branches, above
them twigs and set a small fire using good old red-head matches. Herb returned with the bag of
roast chicken. “Hey, it’s still hot. A bit mangled, but hey, whatever. There’s also some vita-
wheats and one avocado that semi-survived.
We dined and drank iced coffee and Fiji water.
“Uh, so,” I began between mouthfuls, “We have got to get out of this situation
somehow.”
“Yeah, we’ve just got to get back up the hill to the highway. Which is…” He glanced all
around. There were many hills and steeps around. The car had rolled and perhaps twisted, and it
was lodged at an awkward angle. It was confusing to plot the cars destination from road to tree.
“Fuck, where’s the road?”

“Well, okay. Let’s think logically. That way must be West,” I pointed, “because the suns
sort of travelling that way. I… do you hear that?”
“I… maybe? I smell it.”
“Let’s go find it.”

We followed the direction of the sound and smell and came upon a stream of water.
“Is… would this be that river?”
Very clearly, it was a river.
“Yeah, this is probably the Macquarie River. It is flowing south – if that is West – then
it’s going towards Hobart. Meaning we came from… that way. Maybe.” I pointed North, “unless
the road bent weirdly, it’s hard to say.”
“Is the water here clean?”
“I think it’s partly fresh, but if we were to drink it I’d want to boil it at least five times
first.”
“Okay, well, so, we sort of know where we are.”

We went back to the car and applied what we learnt. The situation made even less sense then,
there wasn’t really a hill directly north, not a close one anyway. Despite this, we decided to set up
a very good camp over the night, get really good rest and sleep and hike North as far as possible,
until a roadway or a house was found.

Once more, we ate – some fruit and nut mix – and a banana each. Then set a fire after clearing
the pit and just accepted the moment for what it was. The bush was a bit scary at night. The
movement of animals scurrying about in the darkness was unnerving because we could not tell
what, where, or how fast they were or in which direction they travelled. Prepared to fight the
Bunyip, should it appear, we wrapped sticks in old cloth and rags and drenched them in
deodorant and liqueur and intensified the fire for better visibility. Emotions that I had never felt
surged through my body. An alertness and concentration, precision of sensory stimulation and a
heightened sense of aliveness, of survival, of fending off an unknown predator in the grass. Some
giant reptile ready to kill me at any moment I drop my defences.
My thoughts did not drift towards home, and I was not bored. Instead, absolutely
integrated in the moment before me. The fact that I was outside, at night, in the bush, with only
one friend, near a river, where the Bunyip or crocodiles lurked. Mechanical my thoughts became,
strategizing and efficiently processing situations to enhance the chance of getting home.
What a thrill! What a way to teach me how to be a man, that no video essay or class room could
teach me. What a history lesson on humanity, that no school could properly address. This is what
life is like without humans, I realised. Dusk bled the sky. Nature’s paradise. There was not a house,
or cabin, or hut in sight besides the car. No power lines or street lights.
Bugs filled the night, and it became so bad as we sat and watched the world darken
around us, that we resorted to creating flame throwers. Pouring a bit of lighter fluid into pop-top
bottles and we splashed the bugs with thrown flame. It did not work, burnt us more than it did
then, but we thought it worked at the time, and we might have had a little bit to drink.
Our situation became so bad and so painful as the fire died away because a humidity
filled the air and the mosquitos ate us to death. Together we relit the fire, and fixed more
tarpaulin. After smoking the bugs out, we fit a better roof (not really) and clambered into the car
to sleep.

Another blissful rest, that night full of vivid dreams.


I woke before Herb and decided to go to the river. It was a very beautiful morning, a bit
cold and fresh. White dawn. I paddled in and sat down. Letting the water drench me entirely.
Floating – I felt a feeling. Something slimy and scaly… something moving under the
water. There were fish! How interesting. I crept towards the shore and found a nice sturdy branch
that from a tree that seemed to be dry. Broken off, it formed a sharp point, and I used it as a
spear. Back into the water, still, patient, waiting, watching, until… strike!
I missed! Damn it! Retry… strike! Missed again! How did the native people do it? Strike!...
for the sake of fu-
This continued for about twenty minutes until eventually I stabbed one perfectly centre
body. Triumphant, I returned to Herb who had awoken.
“Start up the fire, we don’t have time to worry about scavenging our own groceries.
We’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
He did not laugh but told me to go find a rock or something. I did, it had a flat and
smooth surface not unlike slate. I put flame to it and put it to water, and repeated this process
several times and scrubbed it with old clothing until I was pretty sure I had scoured it clean.
Then, we fashioned bricks out of rocks and stacked them up to lay the larger flat rock over the fire
put which we lit and which got extremely hot. Then, we used the knife skin, gut and behead the
fish. Pulled out bones and cooked the flesh on the hot rock. The colour went from milky white to
a nice yellow when the fat started to fry, and eventually going a blackish outer colour as it began
to crisp edging towards burnt. At this point we removed the fish and ate it carefully. Never before
has any meat tasted so real.
With our fast broken, we dismantled the camp and locked the car. We filled bags with
snack food and fruit, brought water and found large sticks. With these we began the trek through
the Tasmanian bush in search of a road.

For half a day, perhaps due to our slow pace, we found nothing but secrets of an undisturbed
Earth. We followed and forged trails, making sure to continue North and only North unless
something familiar emerged. We found pathways, but were they recent? Where did they lead?
We did not follow them but continued north. The bush sounds rang, as birds sang and
mammals hopped. The wind made the trees dance, and that made me wonder. How can an
invisible force create so much sway in a trees physicality? Then I remembered emotions exist.
Invisible forces are strongest.

There was a clearing up ahead. Maybe another campsite? We diverged from our northward way,
when we found what was definitely a path that definitely had not been trodden in at least one
hundred years. There was nothing nearby but a formation of boulders, where the path seemed to
lead. Curiously we followed it, paying close attention to the sorts of bushes that were nearby and
looking for any tyre-marks or footprints. At the front section of the nearest boulder, there was a
crevice quite low to the ground. We entered and found what could only be explained as an
ancient bedroom. Perhaps belonging to someone of importance. Inside, were piles of bones, and
bones that had been made into tools, crafted with rock. On the walls were carvings of human
figures, plants and animals. Very rudimentary carvings. I felt possessed, something demonic or
angelic appeared within me and forced me to my knees. Herb sat as well and silently we prayed,
or meditated, or rested. I don’t know what we did, but we did it and I found peace.
Embracing the place, we left respectfully as we found it and continued on our way north.

Time seemed to disappear. Minutes, hours were hard to distinguish, and they did not seem to
matter. The sound and the smell returned, and abandoning the path once more, we went to the
shore. Still lost, we paddled for a little while and sat contentedly in the cool river.
“Imagine if this was life.” Herb said, “no money, no job, no time. Just wake up, make a
fire, talk to people, find fish and eat plants, boil some water, fry some fish, and explore the place
for one hundred years?”
“Sounds like paradise.” I smiled and looked around me. “Looks like paradise. Fuck it,
let’s learn what is and isn’t poisonous and let’s just live here forever.”
“Yeah alright.” Herb said without thinking. He wasn’t serious, neither was I, but at the
same time we were both deadly serious.
“There’s a boat there.” I said and pointed.
“What?” Herb said. “Damn, well, we might as well get rescued then.”

Together we waved and yelled out. Our voices carried and were heard. The boat steered towards
us. On board were a few men sipping beers and holding fishing lines. A man with a big bushy
beard chucked us a can each without saying a word and raised his can.
“Yo!” I called out, “we’re a bit lost.”
“Yo?” The man looked confused. “Lost? What do you mean lost?”
“Well, we were driving down to Hobart and crashed the car, and have been walking ever
since. That was days ago.”
All the men laughed raucously.
“You’re kidding,” said Mr Black-Mustachio “how are you lost? Are you like brain
damaged or something?”
“They can’t be brain damaged,” said Mr Clean Shave, “look how good they look.”
“They look like they’ve been having a good time. Probably got too drunk while partying.”
Said Bushy Beard.
“So, if you walk like two hours that way,” Mr Black-Mustachio said, “you’ll find
Powranna town. Just over there, like five minutes, you’ll find the road” They looked on in utter
disbelief.

“Maybe they are lost,” Mr Clean Shave chuckled, “and like Tom said, they might be
brain damaged. Drive up to them.” They approached, “Welcome aboard.”
“Alright, let’s go find your crashed car that is so terribly far away.”

Five minutes on the river and the smoke from our morning fire cold still be seen billowing softly
upwards, probably still burning in coals.
All aboard laughed hysterically. “Days” became a meme. We had crashed about one
hundred metres from the road. It really wasn’t too far. The friendly strangers helped us gather our
equipment, lock the car again and call our families and the police to come and investigate the
incident and help clean up the mess.

Honestly, I was not glad to be rescued. On that boat, a black anger burned under my skin. Away
from the world of what is real, back to the land of what is manmade.

Think I’ll go to Alaska next year, think I’ll crash a good kilometre away from the road to try and
not be found, that experience of pure nature made me feel more human than all of the impressive
accomplishments found in my home.

Xbox isn’t fun anymore.