Bush

[Bush, 6,126 Words, Genre: Horror]

* Photograph courtesy of Lilith Prins

I.

“Yeah, well, it’s not the first time and it’s not going to be the last.”

Cassie hung up the phone. She was in the middle of organizing a film shoot for her latest project. Cassie was in her early thirties, she was plump, but not fat. She had developed a fair amount of muscle around her. She worked like that, preferring to keep the heavy lifting to herself to avoid complaints from the other people that she worked with. She was always busy doing something, Cassie was. Whether that was working for the local café making coffees for customers as a barista, or organizing her latest film projects, she always had something on the move.

Currently, she was in the middle of organizing a shoot for her latest film project that was a homage to ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’. Peter Weir’s masterpiece featured a bunch of schoolgirls getting lost in the Australian bush. Cassie planned to feature two couples going away for an escape and becoming lost in a similar way. She had already organized the couples from the people that moved around in the same circles. Those that could be bothered spending a weekend away filming with her, without being paid. It was so difficult to organize people without any financial backing. She heavily relied on the good will of others to act as actors within her productions. Most people desired the salaries of the Hollywood stars. It was a ridiculous assumption for actors to make. First, they were working within Australia and the Australian cinematic presence pales in significance compared to the blockbusters that they pump out in Hollywood. Whenever she asked an actor or actress to feature in her latest production she was met with an assault of people denying any assistance. It was absolutely brutal. People’s mentalities. She supposed the old axiom of, ‘If you’re good at something, never do it for free,’ really took over the mindset of most people. However, that same mentality went on to produce actors that couldn’t act, writers that couldn’t write and directors that couldn’t direct. It seemed a lot of overly confident people never undertook the task of perfecting or working on their craft. She didn’t make any money from her own endeavours either. How many times had she been caught up explaining to some idiot that it was all about the journey, the world’s going to fuck you either way, so you may as well spend your time on the planet doing something. And maybe… If you get good enough at something, maybe… Just maybe some opportunity will come your way to make it all worthwhile. She always hung her own hopes on that maybe… That small amount of personal optimism that drove her forward. In the end, it’s not like she had any choice about the matter anyway. She could perhaps concentrate on her skills as a barista. Pumping out coffee after coffee to keep the population caffeinated. All those people getting that extra pep in their step from their skinny soy lattes. In the end there were plenty of people that didn’t want her to succeed. They had all told themselves that there was no hope, and if you challenged that, they hated you for it. Furthermore, any success or commendation that you received for whatever you did with yourself. Irritated, infuriated, and allowed for grudges to grow. ‘Better off to keep yourself busy,’ she had told herself, rather than become one of those people driven by hate that were filled with glee every time someone made an error in their own life path. She had met people along her own journey, developed relationships and friendships. And in a way, that made it all worthwhile to her.

She overlooked her storyboards and scripts for the latest of her productions. Productions. Ha! That was a bit of a joke in itself. The only people that she took with her on shoots were the actors. Nobody else could be arsed doing anything to assist her. It was difficult enough to organize them, let alone any other people. All she needed was her digital video camera and tripod. With that she was the film crew of all of her films. It was a difficult industry to break into. People would always be manipulating each other behind the scenes. Saying that someone’s difficult to work with or that the script doesn’t work. Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! I suppose if she had the money and would be able to sufficiently provide a wage to other people, then the bitching would stop. Or most of it anyway. It was an inside joke of anyone who had worked on a movie set. The highest paid actor or actress is probably the most spoilt brat amongst them. Oh, actors and actresses are definitely important. Big names attract box office records. And being in the spotlight did have the side-effect of attracting the crazies. But there was so much pre-development work that went into the shooting of a film that it wasn’t funny. And Cassie was doing that all by herself.

She just needed to make one more call to the final actor. She had already talked about it with him beforehand. She despised him on so many levels, however, he was keen on the idea, or at least willing to work for free. She dialed the phone number on her mobile phone and held it up against her ear. The phone rang a few times before it was answered on the other end, “Hey buddy!”

“Who’s this?”

“Callum, it’s me, it’s Cassie.”

“Yeah, what do you want?”

“Well, about that film I was planning on shooting this weekend.”

“Can’t do it… I’m busy this weekend.” Cassie bit her fist to keep herself from screaming. She had specifically told them all to keep this weekend free. “Wait, will Beth be there?”

Cassie stopped biting her fist, “Yeah, she’ll be there.”

“Okay. Okay. What do I have to do?”

And so Cassie exchanged the details with Callum. The other couple, ‘Sophie,’ and ‘Reece’, would be taking their own car to the location. Cassie would drive and give a lift to both Beth and Callum. They would be filming in the Dandenong ranges. Approximately thirty-five kilometres east of Melbourne. They’d have to all be prepared for an early start. She’d provide them all lunches and snacks throughout the course of the day, but it would take the whole day to make sure everything was going to be filmed. It was only a short film, she explained, no need for more than one day on set.

For the rest of the evening she spent preparing the meals for tomorrow. She busied herself cooking a chicken pasta salad. First she had to cut and grill the strips of chicken. She selected breast meat, because, let’s face it, it’s the best bit. Then she boiled some pasta and while doing so created her own ranch style dressing. She chopped up a few vegetables, strained the pasta and added everything into a big mixing bowl. She made a few different sandwiches complete with deli meats and cheese. The usual things you’d expect. She packed everything in a basket, including cutlery. She held one of the knives out along the length of her arm, pointing it at the wall. Before deciding that she’d need something sharper and selecting another knife from her kitchen drawers.

She went to bed early and got a good night’s rest. As she expected the rest of her film crew to do. When she went to pick up Callum, she found that wasn’t the case. She had already picked up Beth beforehand and they had discussed everything, the film shoot and whatnot… It was obvious that Callum was only willing to help if Beth was there. And Beth was gorgeous. Everyone recognized that. With her red hair cut to shoulder length, her smile that lit up the whole room, if anyone of the actors was going to have any chance of success it would be Beth. And Callum had fallen for her. He wouldn’t be the first, and damn it if he wouldn’t be the last.

So as Cassie drove out to the Dandenong ranges, taking the expressway routes to get there as fast as possible, she listened to the two make awkward conversation in the backseat.

“So Beth,” Callum opened up a line of questioning, “How many films have you starred in so far?”

“There’s been quite a few…”

“Do you get paid?”

“No. But I’m in it for the long game. Out there to get my name known. Work on developing good habits. Keeping myself busy.”

“Huh…”

Callum didn’t seem to understand the concept. Keeping yourself busy. Most people would prefer spending their time binge watching television series rather than actively participating in the fiascos behind the camera. Callum hadn’t known the others for that long. He had been the newcomer of the social circle that Cassie had built up around herself over the years. Beth and Cassie had been close for some time now, sure, they had had their disagreements, but there were some things that they could agree upon.

“So what’s the script all about then?” Callum asked.

“I sent you one to your email.” Cassie stepped on the accelerator of the car. Pushing over the speed limit in a slight little burst at everything that was going on.

“Basically, it’s about two couples who travel up to the bush to go out for a picnic and they get separated from one another over the duration of the film. Kind of like a homage to ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ by Peter Weir.”

After Beth had explained it, Cassie released her foot on the accelerator and kept the car at a steady pace. Beth, god bless her, she was eight years younger than Cassie, but had kept her sane through a lot of the debacles she went through. Cassie turned on the car’s stereo, ‘Everybody hates me,’ by The Chainsmokers was playing. Cassie cringed. But Beth in the backseat snapped her fingers and proclaimed, “Oh, I love this song!” And then she started swaying to the beats and singing along with the lyrics. It made Cassie smile and soon they were all singing along to the lyrics of the song.

Meanwhile, Sophie and Reece were driving towards the destination in their own car. They lived together and were some distance away from the starting location of the others. Reece was smoking a cigarette in the car and Sophie was complaining about it.

“God, do you have to do that in here? Can’t you wait until you get there?”

“When it’s your car, you get to make the rules, but we’re on my turf so we play by mine.”

“Jesus Christ Reece. You’re such an arsehole sometimes.”

“Look, can we just put this aside. I know you don’t want me smoking and you want me to quit. But we’re going to be around other people today, so arguments aside…”

“I know, I know…. Just let it slide. That’s what I always do.”

“Thank you for your understanding.”

Sophie leant over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. They had been together for years now and they had known the whole routine. Cassie was the one who got things done. All they had to do was read their lines. They attempted to act as best as possible. To portray their characters. But as far as things went… Cassie’s characters were always one dimensional. They were on the lookout for other projects in which they could develop themselves better. Perhaps even with the chance of being paid something. But they both agreed that they had needed a starting point in the film industry if they were going to have any success. Now, Cassie didn’t really know anybody. But she did have her films put up on YouTube. Which meant, if they had to refer to any of their work, they could always show their own portfolio through the referral of her YouTube channel.

When  Sophie and Reece arrived at their destination. A scenic walking trail within the Dandenong Ranges, the others had already arrived. Both Sophie and Reece exited their car and greeted the others.

II.

Cassie was providing instructions to the others who were now all gathered around her. The initial scenes would be shot with their arrival into the bush land and after that a few dialogue scenes would follow. It was quite chilly in the morning and Cassie had produced a couple of thermal containers filled with black tea. Callum complained that there was no coffee and Cassie apologized, but it was the best that she could do under her budget restraints. They all stood around drinking black tea in styrofoam cups, listening to Cassie deliver her set of instructions. She talked about each of the characters, handed out scripts written on paper for each of the actors to review and went into an in-depth rant on the mentality that lay behind each of the individual characters that the actors would play. After all questions and queries were satisfied, they began filming scenes for the short film.

The first scene was one where the car had to pull into the carpark of the walking trail. So they all got in one car, it was decided that it was Cassie’s car that they would use so nobody would complain about petrol use. Reece would be the one driving and all of the others would be seated within the car. The car pulling up and parking itself was done in one shot. But the exiting of the actors from the vehicle took more than a few attempts. All of the actors were giddy and had nerves about being featured in a film that would have a potential worldwide audience. First; Reece tripped while getting out of the car. The second shot; Sophie was smiling and containing laughter about Reece tripping up in the first shot. The third shot; was suitable.

And so they continued filming more shots and sequences. Ensuring that the action was shot from different angles for editing purposes, but at the same times following rules of filmmaking. Such as not breaking the line. Breaking the line was when the camera, or the different shots of the camera, were all kept on one side of an imaginary axis between two characters. Creating a one hundred and eighty degree rule of axis. The digital camera that Cassie was using also recorded sound. She was sure not to use the cheaper options in the selection of her digital camera. That way both audio and visual could be maintained in the filming of her features.

They continued filming different scenes under Cassie’s instructions. There were dialogue scenes and scenes of action that needed to be filmed. The scenes of action were mainly different characters walking through the bush trail and talking to one another. Cassie would first deliver the sequence of action that each of the actors would have to maintain, ensure that the players knew each one of their lines and then begin filming. Sometimes they would screw up their lines a little bit and it would force Cassie into demanding a re-shoot of the sequence. But Cassie was never that pressing in her demands. Her demands were more like favours. Under such softly spoken requests, the actors were only too willing to comply.

After shooting a few more scenes, they took a break for morning tea. They were busy discussing what they wanted from their careers as actors in the larger scheme of things.

Reece was talking to Callum, saying, “Yeah, we know that the Australian film industry ain’t that great. There’s not that much budget in the productions unless you get some sort of Hollywood producer deciding to film within Australia. But if we break into something like ‘Neighbours’ or ‘Home and Away’, we could build up a reputation within working there. And then we’d move to Hollywood to make it big.”

“What do you mean, ‘make it big’?” Callum asked.

“The whole nine yards: everything and anything that we could ask for. All of the money, luxuries and fancy parties that we could handle. Give me and Sophie enough money and we’ll be able to make some big changes to the world.”

“Y’know,” Callum stated, “It’s probably unlikely that both of you will make it. Perhaps one of you might have a shot. I don’t know which one. But I don’t think both of you could do it.”

“I think we both know that. That’s what keeps the relationship tense. But for the moment, or the time being, we’re working together and that’s about all there is. I don’t doubt that if given the offer she would sleep with the first guy who came along and offered her a better deal. But what can ya’ do?”

“Yeah,” Callum looked down at his can of sprite, “What can you do?”

“So what are you planning? Trying to break into the industry like us?” Reece asked.

“Not really. I don’t think acting’s really my thing. I’m just here to help out. Truth be told, I only came along because Beth was doing it. I’ve got a bit of a thing about her. But I don’t know exactly how to go about it.”

Across the park, Beth and Sophie were having a conversation of their own.

“You know we can’t do this sort of thing forever.” Sophie was explaining her perspective to Beth.

“I don’t plan on it. Eventually something has to give and when it does, you better believe that I’ll seize that opportunity and take the bull by the horns,” Beth put forth.

“Not everyone can do this sort of thing, you know that. Not everyone is going to be successful.”

“Yes. But I don’t plan on failing…”

“So we’re rivals I guess…”

“Get used to it honey. Everybody that you work with is your rival. I’m no fool to that sort of thing.”

“Let’s talk about something else…”

“Like what?”

“What do you think about Callum? You can tell that he has a thing for you. He’s always looking at your arse.”

“He’s annoying…”

“All men are…”

“I’m not like that.”

“What do you mean?”

“I won’t sleep with just anybody is what I’m saying.”

And Cassie was busy overlooking the footage that she had just shot and preparing for the next sequence of events that they had to shoot. She was overlooking the script and highlighting different sections of the script. She had figured it out. She would shoot the scenes involving just Beth and Callum so that Sophie and Reece could have a break. It wouldn’t be that long. Maybe an hour or two. She looked over her camera and checked the battery. She had brought plenty of spare batteries if need be, but it looked like she wouldn’t need them as the battery was only half empty. Half full, half empty? Half full! Everything was going well today, so she decided to lean towards the optimistic side of looking at things. The sun was up in the sky, shining brightly and although it was layered with clouds, it didn’t look like it was going to rain.

Callum and Reece were still talking. They had moved on from their previous discussion and were now discussing the quality of the food that they had been served. Seeing as it was their only payment, they felt justified to measure it’s worth.

“It’s absolute crap! Chicken pasta salad and sandwiches… I mean, come on?” Callum had made the initial comment.

“I agree. She should have just taken us to a nearby café or restaurant and allowed us to pick whatever we wanted.” Reece had fueled the fire.

“Exactly. I’m going to go and tell her that.” So Callum went up and confronted Cassie, who was busy checking all of the equipment. “Hey Cassie. Cassie?”

Cassie looked up from what she was doing, “Yes Callum?” She questioned his presence.

“I just wanted to talk to you about the food.”

“Yes, what about it?” Cassie looked at him questioningly.

“I just think… I mean, we just think it would be better if you took us all to a restaurant and let us pick what we were going to eat rather than forcing your chicken pasta salad on us.”

Cassie flared up. It was difficult for her to control herself, she clenched her fist and thought about all the time that she had spent preparing that meal for the others’. She had bought all the ingredients, made sure that none of them were vegan or vegetarian, and spent a good hour cooking everything. She wanted to walk up to Callum and start choking him. Strangling him with one of the electrical cords until he lay there blue in the face, without drawing another breath. She thought about it, but didn’t do it. She took a few deep breaths and calmed herself before deciding to answer. “I’ll think about it.”

“It’s just not good enough, Cass… It really isn’t.”

“Okay, fine. I’ll give you each ten dollars and we’ll drive to a restaurant when we break for lunch.”

“Ten dollars? You can’t afford a sandwich for ten dollars.”

“Okay, fifteen. I’ll give you each fifteen dollars.”

“Twenty?” Callum was negotiating.

“I said fifteen. I can only afford fifteen dollars and that’s all you’re going to get.”

“Fine.” Callum turned his back and walked away triumphant.

Meanwhile, Cassie sat there amongst her cords and cables defeated. They complain about everything. No matter what you do, no matter what you offer them or how good you are. Even when you’re doing your best job. Beyond your best job. They still complain. It was always one thing and then the other. People. People are farked! They never stop and consider all of the effort that you put into all of the work that you do. Everything that you provide them, they’ll still always be asking for more. ‘Can I have this?’ or ‘I want this!’ Honestly, they’re children, they really are. All of them expect so much, but give so little in return. She felt like she was going to cry, a lump in her throat was starting to become apparent. This was what it meant to have dreams come true. What a load of shit that was. And still, she was taking part in that. Wanting to be part of the film industry. The same industry that shoved a bucket load of lies down your throat. Like swallowing a glass full of draw pins. She wanted to be a part of that? I mean really, what was the point. She pulled herself together and started telling herself that she had to do something with her life. She couldn’t just sit there glued to the television and watch the rest of the world work while she did absolutely nothing. Some days she felt like doing that, but at the end of the day she had to pull together the broken pieces of her life and find the motivation to try and do something with her time. She couldn’t just lay back and relax while the world went around, she had to be one of those people who kept the world turning. Otherwise, what was the point? What was the point of it all?

Cassie gathered her strength and called out to the others, “Hey guys! Morning tea’s over, come over here and I’ll tell you all what we’re doing next.”

The others all heard her, but they all took their time in organizing themselves. Slowly, they came walking over to her as she waited patiently for them all to be within earshot. As soon as they were, Beth was the only one who appeared eager, and asked, “So Cass… What’s next?”

“I’m glad you asked. I’m only going to need Callum and Beth for the next hour or two. I’m going to shoot a lot of their dialogue scenes and individual parts. Then after that we’ll swap over and Sophie and Reece will be with me.”

“So what are we meant to do until then?” Reece asked.

“Well, you can hang around or you can go for a walk. It’s a lovely day. It’s really up to you.”

Reece and Sophie looked at one another. “I guess we’ll go for a walk then.” Sophie stated.

III.

Reece and Sophie picked one of the walking trails nearby. There were quite a few of them and they all had their estimated walking time written on the bush trails. The path itself was layered with dirt. Every so often there would be some rocks buried deep into the soil that would jut out of the path’s surface. There would be leaves and bark that had fallen from the nearby trees, they would layer into the path and create a mulch that was forever in a process of decay and renewal. They both took with them a bottle of water and then set off on their journey down the walking trail.

As they walked down the path, placing one foot in front of the other and taking it step by step, they started talking.

“So I was talking to Beth…” Sophie started.

“And I was talking to Callum.” Reece interjected.

“She’s not into him.”

“I know. I didn’t have the heart to tell him.”

With that cleared up there was a period of silence where they didn’t talk to one another. Instead, they just concentrated on walking. Walking and taking in the different variety of flora. There were also birds that could be sighted flying from tree to tree, making the local area their home. They looked to the treetops and breathed in the fresh air. The sun was shining through little gaps that were created in the foliage above. It was all rather peaceful. And then they started talking again.

“I got a lead.” Reece stated quite plainly.

“What do you mean a lead?” Sophie asked.

“I got a lead role in a feature film. They’re going to pay me.”

“A lead role in a feature film!? When the bloody hell did that happen?”

“It’s not exactly the lead role. But it’s a lead role, if you know what I mean. Plenty of dialogue. Not the main character, but one of.”

Sophie was reclined in her need to celebrate, “That’s great.”

As they kept on discussing the nature of the role that Reece had received. The fact that it was going to be filmed in Sydney and that he would have to move there as part of the natural course. It became apparent that their relationship was coming to an end. It had been for quite some time now. They had had all of these smaller arguments and disagreements leading up to this moment and now this moment had arrived. Neither party was that upset about splitting ways. However, Sophie was quite jealous of the fact that Reece had landed himself a paying gig. They kept on walking and taking in the scenery.

“Can you hear that?” Sophie asked.

“No. Hear what?” But before any conversation could ensue. Sophie found herself wandering away from the walking track, into the surrounding bush. It was almost as if she were hypnotized, putting one foot in front of the other in a trance. “Sophie!” Reece called out to stop her. “Sophie!”

But she did not listen and continued walking into the bush land. There were all sorts of native varieties of plants and trees. There was dwarf sheoke, a small shrub that lay on the outskirts of the path that Sophie had to step over. There was hop wattle and silver banksia trees that made up some of the vegetation. And around that more native plants and trees. As Sophie entered the wilderness of the bush, Reece began to follow. Reece was frightened by whatever had possessed Sophie to enter the surrounding area. But never-the-less, he followed her anyway. Into the unknown.

After walking for fifty meters into the wild terrain, Sophie came to stop before a great and giant tree. It was a large swamp gum and along its trunk there were large cuts in the giant tree. And a large opening that appeared in a hollow. There seemed to be a form of reverberation in the air, and it was all emanating from this great tree. It seemed as if an echo was coming from beneath the Earth and escaping from the soil through the tree. As Reece came to meet up with Sophie, they both stood there and stared at the great tree. Now, upon witnessing the tree, Reece too was hypnotized by its magnificent presence. There was this invisible sound that only they two could hear.

‘Aaaoooo’ The silent voice released sounds almost akin to a high wind drifting through the bush land, ‘Aaaoooo’. And then from within the hollow of the swamp gum, emerged red meat. Red meat that was minced. It emerged from the hollow in the tree and seeped out. Like a meat grinder, the minced red meat poured out and onto the soil in front of the tree. And from amongst the minced meat, there was a severed black human hand that fell out of the tree’s hollow.

And like lightning, something possessed both Sophie and Reece. Reece grabbed the ends of Sophie’s hair and pulled her head back. Then they began kissing one another in a passionate embrace. They desperately fumbled amongst the buttoning of their clothes to unclothe themselves. Then they were naked amongst the cool air of the wilderness. Reece seized Sophie’s waist and forced her to the floor. He began gnawing on her neck, producing small bite marks, but never piercing her flesh with his teeth. Then pulling her hair, he forced himself upon her and inside her. They were in some form of wild embrace, bucking one another’s hips together. Pulling at her hair and gnawing at her neck, as Sophie clawed at his back with her fingernails. Her fingernails dug into his flesh and drew blood. After some time of savaging one another’s bodies, they both called out and climaxed. Their bodies holding a high tension and then falling into one another like putty.

For a while they just lay there. Recapturing one another’s breath. They looked back to the swamp gum, the red minced meat had been sucked back into the hollow of the tree, as was the severed black hand. The tree was shaking in the wind. It almost appeared as if the bark was alive and breathing. They were released from whatever spell that the tree had put them under. They quickly gathered their clothes that they had ripped from one another’s bodies and ran back towards the walking trail.

When they were within a safe distance from the tree and back on the walking trail, they put their clothes back on.

“What the hell was that!?” Reece asked.

Sophie giggled, “I don’t know. But fuck it was wild.” Then they both began laughing.

Then they calmed down, “No, really. What the fuck was that?!” Reece asked again.

“I don’t know.”

“What the hell… I mean what the hell was that?!”

“I said ‘I don’t know’.”

“Did you see that shit? There was meat spilling out of that tree. And a hand.”

“I saw it.” Sophie began shaking her head, trying to shake the horrible vision of what they had witnessed. “And then we fucked.”

“And then we fucked…”

They both made haste to the beginnings of the walking track. The experience was one mixed with horror and pleasure, but both of them were now frightened. They ran down the walking track, now ignoring the beautiful scenery. They felt as if they were being chased by someone or something. A mysterious force that took on no apparent form or feature.

Eventually they found their way to the start of the walking track and then went back to meet with the others. Cassie was busy filming a scene with Beth and Callum. Reece and Sophie ignored the fact that they were filming and interrupted the scene.

“There’s some wild shit going on in the bush!” Sophie called out.

Reece stood back and simply muttered, “I’ll say.”

“Oh, now you’ve gone and fucked up shooting the scene!” It was Cassie. She lowered the digital camera and ceased filming. “What’s going on in the bush? I don’t understand.”

“Neither do we,” stated Reece.

“I’m sorry Cass… But we can’t do it anymore. At least not today. We took a walking trail down one of the bush treks and there was this crazy tree. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.”

“So, you’re safe now. Don’t worry about it.” Cassie said.

“Look. We can’t film anymore. If you want to go and check it out for yourselves, then fine, go ahead. But we’re leaving.” And with that final statement from Reece, Reece and Sophie got inside their own car and drove home. Leaving the others there, unable to shoot the rest of the film and unable to do anything else.

After that had been said and done. Cassie went and retrieved a knife from the food and cutlery that she had taken with her, then said to Callum and Beth, “I suppose we better go check it out.”

IV.

Cassie, Beth and Callum found the walking track that Sophie and Reece were talking about. And then they ventured down the path. As they walked through the bush terrain, Cassie gave complaint about Sophie and Reece’s behaviour, “It was a pretty pathetic excuse. A crazy tree! I mean really, who gives a fuck!”

Callum laughed, “Well, we haven’t seen the tree yet. Maybe there’s something special about it.”

“They still shouldn’t have left like that. I mean, how am I meant to film the rest of this stuff?” Cassie asked.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And I’m sure you’ll find a way.” Beth was attempting to give hope to Cassie. She knew how difficult everything was for her.

And they continued walking down the trail. Every so often they’d all stop and point out some tree, thinking that it was the same tree that Sophie and Reece had been frightened of. They kept on walking and were in good cheer. That’s when they came to the same area as Sophie and Reece had before. Beth wandered up ahead and the same thing happened. It was as if Beth were put under a spell. She just started walking off the dirt trail.

“Hey Beth!” Callum called out, “Where are you going?”

But Beth didn’t answer. “Come on, let’s follow her.” Cassie instructed.

And so Cassie and Callum followed Beth through some of the other trees. Making sure to step over the dwarf sheoke. And then they came to the tree, the same swamp gum with the hollow and the scratches carved into the bark. Fifty meters off from the walking trail. Beth stood before the great tree and was undressing herself.

“What the hell is she doing?” Callum asked before something overcame him and he too was put under a spell. He walked up to the tree and then stood next to Beth. There he began undressing himself. Cassie looked at the two wondering what the fuck was going on. Then she saw the great swamp gum. The same thing that had happened before was occurring now. Red minced meat was coming out of the hollow, like a meat grinder in one of those factories. This time, instead of a black severed hand, there appeared a black severed foot. It came out amongst the red minced meat and fell to the soil in front of the swamp gum. Beth was now standing topless before the tree. Then a wet patch started to develop in her pants. She was urinating herself and the stream of urine slowly spread from her pant leg and out onto the soil.

That was when the same spell overcame Cassie. She had the knife in her hand and came up behind Callum. Then grabbed him by the scruff of his hair. Pulling back his head and exposing his throat. Then she slit his throat. Blood sprayed all over Cassie and she was pattered with blood spray. Her face was marked with his blood. Callum fell to the soil as a now lifeless corpse. He gave no fight.

By this time Beth had taken off her soiled pants. She lay down on the dirt floor and spread her legs. Cassie got down before her and began to perform cunnilingus on her person. Cassie’s blood splattered face, smearing blood amongst Beth’s crotch. They stayed there for quite some time before whatever had taken over them released its hold.

 

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Arie de Bruyn Born in Sandringham, Melbourne, Victoria (Australia) on the 15th January 1987. Son of Alison and Dirk de Bruyn. Youngest sibling to Kees and Abram de Bruyn. Diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 22. Holds a bachelor degree from Deakin University in Arts (Media & Communication). Attended several high schools. Has lived and worked internationally in New Delhi, India; and Thailand. Currently resides in Geelong, Victoria, Australia. Written several books and self-published them (Check out products and downloads page). Works jobs to earn himself a livable wage. contact: firstofkin@hotmail.com twitter: @firstofkin

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