The passing minivan hits me with a blast of hot air and dust that throws me further back onto the shoulder of the road. Thanks for nothing, you creeps. I straighten up and try again.My arm’s getting tired from holding my thumb out, while my stomach’s reminding me it’s had nothing since the box of chips and a coke at lunch. The sun is just a glimmer between the paperbark trunks on the other side of the highway. The wind is picking up, it whips into my eyes as I look down the road for the next car. It might even rain.
Hey Kev, where the hell are you? Mum’s freakin out – she’s rung the police…I couldn’t stop her. She did it before I got home.
Geez, Ben, what did she wanta do that for? Look, I’m, down by the beach somewhere. An updraft hit me hard. Got waylaid. Saw the sea when the breeze dropped me down here. I’m trying to hitch home. Not having much luck. It’s a northerly down here. No way I can beat this gale to get back.
Wheels crunching on gravel as the next car slows to stop. Relief. I walk towards the headlights, my hands up to shield my eyes from the halogen glare. My smile quickly fades. No, geez, just what I need – the police.
What the?? Crap, Police’ve showed up. Gotta go.
I turn and run for the bushes by the side of the road. The policewoman shouts, and gives chase. She’s tubby though – too many doughnuts and Maccheeses probably.
Kev. What’ll I tell mum?
Just tell mum anything. Say you think I’m at Matt’s. Gotta run.Talk to you later.
Ignoring the twigs scratching my arms, and the squelching ooze, I sprint into the swampland. I’d have gotten away too, but for the log that reached out and tripped me.
I’m still swearing and holding my ankle when she catches up. Stands over me and shines a bloody great torch fair in my eyes.
Man, she is so full of questions. Fat little nosy parker. On some sort of power trip probably.
‘Get up. What are you doing out here?’
I get up slow and glare at her. My ankle is really caning. She has no sympathy for me of course.
‘Collecting frogs, I’m a biology student.’
‘Why did you run then?’
‘I told you. I was chasing a frog, wasn’t I?’
‘Don’t give me that bull sonny. What frog? Look at how dark it is….You were hitching – thumbing a ride.’
‘What are you talking about? I was testing the wind back there…’
‘You’re that missing boy, aren’t you?’
‘Me? I’m not missing. I know exactly where I am.’
‘Yeah, so where exactly are you?’
(She’s got me there, um…) ‘Here of course, minding my own bloody business. Unlike you, why don’t you go catch some crims or something?’
‘Don’t get smart with me. What’s your address?’
‘Look, I just live around the corner, leave me alone will ya?’
‘There are no houses anywhere near here. This is your last chance. Full name and phone number please.’
I shift my weight to ease my throbbing ankle and lean back against the tree. I guess I got a bit riled with her and gave her some lip.
Next thing, I’m slumped on a hard chair, being grilled again, down at the Police Station.
‘Address please, and no lies this time.’
I give her the silent treatment.
‘You told me you live just around the corner. How can you explain that when Grange Rd is 60 kilometres away?’
(Beeping heck, 60 ks, that’s the furthest I’ve ever been blown off course.)
‘Maybe I hit my head officer, on that log in the swamp, and got amnesia. So you tell me. Which suburb are we in now?’
‘This is Sandgate Police Station young man. You fit the description of Kevin Raven, Grange Rd Brisbane. Your mother reported you missing two hours ago. Now, let’s cut the crap and you can start explaining just why you were found hitching by the highway north. Are you running away?’
I look at her, blank faced, while I try to think of something. Suppose it’s too late to turn on the charm, now….Doggy eyes work good on mum, but not on this cow.
‘I’ll remind you that you are in a Police Station, and there are some lovely bare cells out back, so don’t lie to me.’
The clock ticks in the silence. 7.30 pm and I’m starving. I glower at her. She’s like a bleeding pitbull with a lamb bone. I could see she was not about to loosen up on me.
‘Well? You have ten seconds. I want the truth this time.’
I look down at my hands, take a breath, and sigh.
You know how it feels when you a dead tired, hungry, being berated by some idiot female and feeling thoroughly pissed off about it? Far worse any teacher tirade at school. I just wanted her to get off my case and let me alone. The urge in me just welled up and before I could stop. I just blurted it all out.
‘Look, lady, I was a bit late coming home from a friend’s place so I decided to take a short cut and fly. Only I took off from the crest of a hill and the wind was too strong, so I got blown way off course. And that’s the truth.’
Some chicks can’t see the truth when it’s right there in front of them. This one should’ve had enough experience surely to tell a truth from a lie – but no, she just flies right off the handle at me. Maybe I shouldn’t have called her a lady. After all she swore quite a lot more than mum does while promising to teach me some manners. Then she took me by the arm and started to lead me towards the cells.
This wasn’t going good at all. Not quite how I planned to spend the night.
I was that furious, I decided to show her.
She was still mouthing off and punching the keypad in the cell door when she realised the arm gripping me was going up in the air. She looks up, screams, and lets go in shock. I’m hovering above her head by then. I began to drift off down the hall towards the front door. Not that easy indoors, cause there’s no breeze to help.
Kev, we’re having dinner now- Lasagne, your favourite – want me to keep you some?
Mum’s worried sick.
Hell, Ben, give a break will ya. I’m trying to get outa here right now.
Anyway, I’m just drifting past the toilets when the door opens and knocks me flat on the lino floor. Last thing I saw before I passed out was a burly copper standing over me, tucking his shirt into his pants and shouting orders.
That’s how I ended up in this dumb facility, being poked and prodded by dumbass geeks. I reckon my arm has seen more needles than any junkie. Hardly let me any blood for myself. They told my mum I’m being that I’ve gone off my rocker on drugs and she can’t see me yet. That I’m being ‘psychologically evaluated’. Load of crap.
I know I’m their latest science experiment.
Never tell anyone you can fly.
Better still, never try to prove it. No matter how much you are tempted to.
Don’t go on about start at the beginning. I hate explanations.
Me, I like to cut to the chase.
All I know is most people dream about flying while I can do it.
Doesn’t matter why or how. It’s not like I got dipped in some toxic vat of goo or anything. I just can, ok?
I’m sure getting sick of this bare cell they’ve put me in. No tele even, let alone Playstation. They say only when I cooperate. They can go to hell first.
Ben’s trying to figure out where I am, and then he’ll bust me out.
Pity they drove me here at night; I can’t remember many landmarks to tell him. Not to forget the concussion headache.
Maybe they even drugged me. Wouldn’t put it past them.
Luckily these dweebs don’t know about the telepathy, eh. And they’ll never find out either, if I can help it.
I sure hope I haven’t ruined it all for us. After all these years. Well, 17 to be precise. For me, that is. Ben is 12, going on 50.He’s the cautious one. Me, I guess I like to take chances. Hey, why not? Only young once, aren’tcha?
You’ve gotta understand. When you fly, it’s the best thing. Nothing beats it. We sneak out the bedroom window into the sky at night. Dad planted so many trees between us and the neighbours, it’s a forest – no one ever sees us take off.
The neighbours’re TV addicts anyway. Sit there every night being hypnotised by the blue glow. Reality TV. Get real! We see so many houses at night, all lit by blue glows. It’s magic for us really, because it keeps everyone indoors and we get the night to ourselves.
People in cars, well, they don’t tend to look up much do they?
The dogs bark, but the owners tend to blame the cat next door or something. Sometimes we sit on roofs and chuck rocks at the dogs to get them really going off.
It’s all ours. I just think up, and then fix my eyes on somewhere, and off I go.
Up there, riding the thermals like hawks, feeling the cool in our hair, the soft noise of your clothes flapping against your skin. No traffic. No hassles. No-one telling you what to do or where to go next. Looking down on the city, the glowing lights are our maps…what can I say? It’s freedom man, freedom.
And no damn stupid scientist geek is going to take it away from me.
Beginning to a story that I literally dreamed up last night….hmm, what will happen next?