A long look between two faded yellow curtains into the glare outside. Sweat formed on Pete’s forehead like small clear pearls and his hands grew muggy.
The coast seemed clear?
One thousand, nine hundred and sixty-three running steps to the shearing shed. His body tensed ready as he reached for the old brass door handle, layers of white then green paint eroding to reveal the shiny surface below.
Then with the door flung wide he raced head down over the bare grey boards of the veranda, one, two, three, four, five steps…over the sad patches of green grass his mother laboured over so much, six, seven, eight, nine…over the red dust and bindy patches, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen…
At fifty paces he dared to raise his head, despite the bobbing of the trees they seemed bare, uninhabited.
Fifty-one, fifty-two…over the dry paddock, the shed still small in the distance.
At six hundred and twenty his lungs started to hurt, thinking; shit, not even half way.
At eight hundred his laboured pants and thumping blood drowned out the creak of a paddock gate as he scaled its façade, caught his shoe and rolled over the top, landing with a hard thump into the dry grass on the other side. It was a hot day, well into the forties despite it being still morning. The sun stared down, daring the sprawled figure to look it in the face.
Peter pushed himself up, fuck! A bindy in his hand. He tore it out and a drop of blood immediately sprang from his palm, then with a quick wipe on his pants and a quick check of the trees, he was off racing again.
As he continued through the dry grass he started to notice the forces in league, the hot dry wind pushing against him, the tangles of grass and weed around his boots, the dust rising up in swirls and the sweat running into his blinking eyes, it didn’t bode well and he expected a visit from the sky at any moment, eight hundred and sixty-three, eight hundred and sixty-four…
With a mere two hundred to go a shadow raced along the ground in front of him. Pete stopped, curving his hand against the sun, searching the sky for the shadows creator. Then with a caw the big black crow descended directly at him. Pete was off again, a race to the finish.