Tuesday, 30 December 2008 - 5:29 pm

No more smart remarks

We were supposed to make it to the hospital today.  We’re on the wrong side of the river now, and I don’t know if Simon is going to make it.  I think his burns are getting infected.


Yesterday, I felt lighter after the encounter with the looters.  Like maybe we were on top of things.  We weren’t even close.  Just when we think we know how bad it is, we’re proved wrong.

Looting and pillaging seems to be the norm in this part of the city.  The group we encountered yesterday was mostly young men and a few teenaged girls.  Today we came across adults and it was completely different.

Again, we heard them before we saw them, but that didn’t prepare us for what we saw when we came around the corner.  I don’t know how many of them there were – a lot, enough to qualify as a mob.  All of them armed with something.  All of them caught up in what they were doing, which was using those weapons against each other.

I don’t know what they were fighting about.  I’m not even sure if it was between two groups, or three, or just a free-for-all.  All I know is that it was awful, and there was a lot of blood and screaming.  Some of it in pain, most of it in anger.  They were dogs, tearing at each other.

There were people running away from the roiling mass of it, and we soon became part of the flight.  The fight was moving down the street and we did not want to get caught up in it.  The little ones were snatched up and Simon was hitched up onto stronger shoulders.

I didn’t know what the popping sound was at first.  It didn’t sound like a gun, but I’d never heard a real one before.  All I knew was that everyone started to run faster and harder, and we didn’t look back.


The only place to go was back to the river.  The noises of the fight chased us, right up onto the riverside boulevard. Whoever was up front turned onto a bridge and the rest of us followed.  It was worse for wear; I think a ship had hit it, snapped it in the middle.  It moved and creaked and shed chunks of itself into the awful water under us.  We didn’t dare stop and we couldn’t go back; the fighting had followed us right up to the end of the bridge.

Liz almost slipped through a crack; Sally and Delaine had to grab her and pull her back up.  I grabbed a fistful of Dillon’s shirt when he wobbled and didn’t let go until we reached the riverbank.  I think he kept me up as much as the other way around.


That could have been us yesterday.  If we had come across a different group, if they had taken what I said a different way.  If the wind had been blowing in the wrong direction.  Thinking about it makes me feel ill.

And now here we are on the wrong side of the river again.  West from the CBD, but close enough that clouds of smoke blow past us every now and then.  We’ve almost come full circle.

I don’t want to go back; I don’t want to complete the circle.  I want to go home.  I want to get the sound of bats breaking bones out of my head.  I want to put my eyes out so that I don’t have to see any more blood and pain and death.  I want the world to make sense again.