Dragons Eye II - The Illusion of Order (2)
This is a continuation of the Books about Jon, Kathy and Anthem written a couple of years ago. I will publish new pieces of the story every couple of days...
Copyright Dark Aelf, 2021
By mid-morning, I was frustrated and exhausted. Nothing made any sense. The power was still off and my memory of the recent past had not improved. And, as much as I like Autumn, I don't like raking up leaves.
When my car wouldn't start, I found the battery sitting on the workbench in my shed, ready to be charged - but without mains electricity, I would not be going anywhere fast. Things were missing: my boat, a backpack, my phone, my wallet... a hundred small things that had a bad habit of occasionally getting lost, but never all together at the same time in a coordinated manner. A concerted focused search would probably find them all - I must have left the boat at the marina on Lake Burley Griffin. There was unexplained damage here and there: something had ripped the door off the work shed, but nothing inside was missing. Something had broken the main bedroom window, and the screen damaged, which offered a partial explanation for the spiders (I nuked the room without thinking through the consequences and then spent some time hand-washing the bedding and curtains). There were smashed cutlery near the outside table, but elsewhere the house was neat, neater than I kept it.
Perhaps it was just an illusion of order, created by the gentle fall of leaves, covering all those jobs that otherwise would call my eye.
The black and white cat kept me in sight throughout my wanderings, and occasionally, I gave it a scratch. My cats were nowhere to be seen. I did not disturb the small gravesite in the garden.
The farm is far from everything, but it usually is full of the sounds of birds and stock. Today it was silent, save for the occasional sound of fighter jets flying to the coast. At one stage, I had seen a truck pull up at Kathy's farm, and I half-ran, half-walked over there as fast as I could, but it had gone before I arrived. There was a note on the door addressed to Storm, telling how a couple of horses had been returned to the top paddock, and when I looked, they were grazing with plenty of pasture and water. I knocked on the door, but the house was empty, and Kathy's car was gone.
I arrived back at my driveway sore and tired, with my arm suddenly raw and tingling. Perhaps that is why I didn't see it, standing on the road looking at my farm. But the black and white cat saw and immediately arced. I reacted more slowly, catching only an impression of something black moving impossibly fast into cover before crashing through timber up the hill towards the mountains. I froze in place until the cat settled and looked at me. I broke a sturdy club of solid wood from a fallen tree nearby before following the cat as it guided us to where the beast had stood.
We arrived at the creature's footfalls. In the sand, large paw prints and a fey smell - one that reminded me of the scent I had detected on waking.
We retreated into the farmhouse, securing it before resorting to the kitchen fireplace and opening tinned food for the two of us while I tried to catch my thoughts.
I decided it was probably a runaway or lost farm dog. A big one, unusual, but within the realms of possibility. Likely to be timid, but a danger to stock, both my animals (which I had not seen) and Kathy's horses.
I had schooled myself in being a loner. Comfortable in my skin without the need for others to help or get underfoot. But, at times like this, I needed to talk to someone. On a whim, I named the new cat Breddi. She started to cop an earful. She didn't seem to mind, and I was comforted in being able to watch the turn of her head and her watchful gaze.
We retired to the lounge room, and I set a fire there. I must have dozed off.
A loud knocking at my door woke me. The cat looked at me and put her head back down to sleep. I struggled to the door, hopeful of human company.
Outside were two soldiers. They had seen the smoke and came to check. They spent a moment confirming my identity from their records. Then, they explained that Government had evacuated the area because of "trouble over the coast." As it had dissipated, locals from this side of the mountains were returning home. My observations suddenly started to fall into place.
I told them that I had been ill and missed the evacuation. When I pressed them about the trouble, they became vague. Storm damage, one said. Looting and problems with New Zealand bikies followed, the other added. I didn't ask why the Government needed fighter jets for storms and bikies - and I parked the whole reference to New Zealand for further consideration, possibly with alcohol of some sort. I wondered aloud when the power might be returned and explained I had no transport. They promised to come by and help me get started in the morning. As they turned to leave, the older woman turned back and asked, "Have you seen anything unusual?"
I told them about the dog and led them to the paw prints. As the soldier radioed through the siting, a savage cry from the high ridges was followed moments later by a more distant response.
The soldier looked at the prints carefully, and said thoughtfully, "It was here for a while, watching your farm."
I nodded, "The smell here, I catch whiffs in my shed and around the house. I guessed it was a lost dog, honing in on a farmhouse in the hope of food."
The soldier looked at me and shook her head, "No. Whatever happened over the other side - and we have not been told all the details - we think a bunch of big animals got released in the chaos, maybe from one of the zoos along the coast. We need to track these things down before they do damage. Stay indoors - we will be back."
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