Monday, 5 January 2009 - 9:25 am

Catching up

I’m so behind on everything.  It took us half a day to get out of the café, between getting the truck working, collecting supplies and packing them into it, and then squeezing everyone inside. 

It was slow going.  I hadn’t really noticed before, but there are vehicles all over the road.  Some crashed when they were fried, some just stopped, some were obviously picked up and tossed.  I suspect some of them used to be in different streets entirely; they were carried to their resting places by the blast, like toys, like Dorothy’s house.  In amongst all of it is a hefty serving of debris from shattered buildings.

We had to inch around the obstacles, and a couple of times, the guys had to pile out to shove a car out of the way and open a path.  I lost count of the times we had to backtrack to find a clearer way.

At one point Ben just gave up and scraped past a car, exchanging paint and teeth-edging screeches.  We winced and he shrugged – why protect a paintjob anyway?  It’s not like aesthetics matter, and now it seems strange that we had been so careful before.  It’s silly when I stop and think about it, and yet it was second nature to us. 

I don’t know if this is really faster than walking.  It still feels better to be driving, though.  To not be kicking at the ground any more, to feel like we’re actually making progress.  To give our feet a rest and be going somewhere at the same time.  To not be holed up somewhere like rats who have no idea what to do about the sinking of the ship.


We stopped about mid-afternoon and looked for somewhere to take shelter.  The sky was thickening – it’s still orange, still huddling low above us.  It seems to be some kind of cloud cover, but one that the wind isn’t able to tear apart.  I have yet to see a glimpse of blue, and as a passenger in the truck, I did a lot of looking.

The sight of that sky still makes me nauseous.  It taints the sunlight and it robs us of the moon and stars at night.  No blue, and no clean, spangled black either.  It glows red in the mornings and seeps everything ruddy.  It makes me want to scrub my eyes, but they’ll never come clear.

There’s less smoke-scarring up there now; I think the rain has put out the fires.  So it’s good for that much, at least.  We had only just settled down in our shelter when the rainfall started again.  It seems that the cluttering up of the clouds into a thicker, darker mass is a sign to take cover, after all.


The next day – yesterday – was more of the same.  Painfully slow chugging, shoehorning our way through the mass of debris.  We’re making our way westwards along the river – we looked at the bridges to the east, but the one we came over on is broken, and the next one is too close to the CBD – it’s the one we fled over to get out of there.  If it’s still standing, it’ll be near impossible to get to. 

West is the bypass tunnel under the river.  We didn’t know if it was open, or clogged, or collapsed in on itself like a broken windpipe.  It was the best one to try, so that’s what we did. 

We were about a block away from it when we got caught out by the rain.  It was spotting on the windscreen before we realised that the clouds had thickened, and Ben yanked the wheel around.  The truck bounced off the road and right through the front of a clothes store.  A mannequin bounced off the bonnet, its head ricocheting into a rack of pants.

I think that shook him up a bit.  For a heartbeat, it looked like a person, ploughed through like tissuepaper.  A couple of us cried out in horror at the sight of it – I think I was one of them.  We almost laughed when we realised what it was.  Ben didn’t look like laughing, though.


There’s not much chance of us getting the truck running today.  We’re not going to get it out of the store, and the roads here are too thick with dead cars to have room to bump-start it.  It was almost out of gas anyway.  We’re close to the tunnel, so we’re going to take a look before we try to find another vehicle.

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