It is nearly three months since our last visit to the Land of Nadir under the aegis of the late Malcolm B. Duncan. Time, methinks, for another sojourn in that fair and mysterious land.
(Image Credit: Prince Caspian Movie Trailer)
An election was looming and the children had decided to leave politics altogether rather than face either defeat or bleak years on the Opposition benches. Little Johnnie was staying on and things were looking increasingly dismal. They’d tried children overboard, they’d tried the mortgage rate scare, they’d tried the no-one votes for the fat bloke anyway (and even that had now been taken away from them), and now it was looking like bipartisan support for old growth forest logging and nuclear power. Short of manufacturing a major terrorist attack in the lead-up to the election, prospects didn’t look good and – since the job of manufacturing was Brendan’s responsibility, given Brendan’s recent experience with manufacturing which made the fat man’s Collins submarine deal look like nothing more than a delayed delivery because the address got smudged in the mail – things were starting to look very grim indeed.
As they sat on the platform at Canberra Railway Station, gold passes in hand, they realised that they were the only passengers waiting for the train. After all, members of the public not only had to pay for the children’s travel but for their own as well which rather priced them out of the market really. The only other object on the platform was a piece of rail freight which had been waiting to be transported from Canberra to Goulburn since 1946. If only the children had known that it was a crate of mothballed Bren guns with 30,000 rounds of ammunition, they could have supplemented their anticipated super quite considerably as well as helping Brendan out.
As they waited and waited and waited (they were waiting for a train after all) and the hours turned into days and the vending machine was slowly running out of goodies, Alexander decided on one big stock-up. Then it began: not like the rush of wind from an approaching train or the increasing sound thrumming through the rails; rather it was a tugging like iron filings being drawn to a magnet. As the children were drawn into that familiar circular pattern that your old science teacher used to demonstrate with a piece of paper and explained was the magnetic field (and let’s face it with the current drought, a magnetic field was about the most productive anyone could get), Little Lucy said, “It’s as though we were being drawn away somewhere.”
“Yes,” said Amanda, “I can feel it quite strongly.”
Peter explained the inverse square law and gravitational attraction while Alexander rather unkindly, as was his wont, said something about gravity and mass.
“You should talk you, you, you … fat boy,” Amanda said.
“Now, now,” said Little Lucy, “It’s probably just the Adelaide water. Although Malcolm did say that at this rate there won’t be any water in Adelaide come Easter. Ouch,” she exclaimed suddenly. [Although this is a children’s story, the author is trying to discourage the use of exclamation marks as being entirely unnecessary even if Jane Austen did use them.]
There was a sudden popping sound and the platform disappeared.
The children found themselves, minus luggage and, most mortifying of all, without their gold passes, in a dense forest where, in spots, an incredibly harsh light shone down through the leaves. The humidity was unbearable.
“Where are we?” asked Little Lucy in a stunned and apprehensive voice.
“My guess,” said Amanda “is that we have just been magically transported into Book the Second.”
“Does this mean I can’t commute my super?” asked Peter petulantly.
“Looks like it,” said Alexander. “I think we’d better explore.”
The children set off through thick forest and finally came to water from which, they could see, in the distance, a facing shoreline.
“I wonder if we’re on an island,” said Peter.
“I’ll look after affairs in the region thanks,” said Alexander.
“Well, as long as there are no boat people,” said Amanda apprehensively.
She didn’t know how prophetic her words were to be.