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BlackEagle Girls
and The Quest to See

Chapter 8 - And she ran away...to see

It was close to midnight and most in the house at 210a Silverglade Road were asleep: Granny Black in something of a turmoil that kept her tossing and turning while her troubled subconscious mind worked at transforming the events of the day into dark dreams. Louis, unaware of what had occurred, slept the soundest, whilst Henry, also unaware, yet still bothered by his past discovery and revelation to Priscilla about their real mother, was tortured by dreams of all kinds: visions of hangings beneath the great boughs of oaks in the depths of Robin Hood's hideaway with his Dad Matthew dressed in Lincoln Green laughing up at him, or prodded on a plank toward shark-infested seas by a woman with the point of her umbrella, or again, awaiting the final onslaught of howling red-skins alongside General George Custer. (Who just happened to look like an older, mustached version of Louis.)

But there were two who were far from sleep. One was Harry, clipping quietly downstairs, his claws pattering the floor and the steps that led down to the basement. Of course the other was Priscilla who, when summonsed, drifted out of bed fully dressed, leaving behind the dummy-blank that represented her, and thence quietly floated through her bedroom window and up into the foliage of the great tree that presided over the house like some dark, mothering creature. Within that leafy canopy perched the abandoned tree-house, and inside that, the sterile security of the BlackEagle.

A heart-beat away saw the craft alight in the front garden of the house that was now the home of Monique and her parents, and moments later Monique emerged from her bedroom window and drifted into the waiting craft.

'Harry told me all about it and of course I am here for you my very best friend. Let us not waste a moment. Perhaps we can find something that will help to give reason as to why your Mother did what she did...' Before Monique could say more Priscilla was hanging onto her and openly crying. It took a couple of minutes to calm her and get her settled in. Then the BlackEagle began to move; not only through space, but also backward, through time.

Lying there upon the couches with shadows of clouds racing by, the girls were tossed and turned like Autumnal-leaves whirling within their own vision: colours, textures, fragrances, tastes, feelings, all swirled through and across and within their minds and bodies and beings. It was as if they had been tossed into blenders and become smoothies.

And yet, when the roller-coaster ride subdued, the first thing they both distinctly heard was the warble of magpies. Sunlight spilled through the BlackEagle viewing ports, bouncing off the interior and diffusing the vision beyond.

'Harry here girls. All good to go?'

'Good to go to the toilet and throw up.' said Priscilla, standing and swaying until she caught hold of the couch. 'Feel like shi...'

'Warned you. What about you Monique?'

'Not much better Monsieur Harry, but for my friend...'

'Yeah, a'course. Right. Get yourselves steadied up and step outside. You'll know where to go, and remember, your time is limited, conditions and stuff.'

'You can stuff your conditions Harry,' Priscilla rasped, clutching her Hand Activator and wobbling out of the BlackEagle onto the gravelly drive that ran beneath a raised veranda. Monique, following, was sharply pulled up at the sight before them.

On the veranda sat a slim young woman, whose light-brown skin hinted at her aboriginal background, working away upon a small, portable typewriter. She sat sideways to them and straightaway Monique could see the likeness of her friend in that profile. But before either of the girls could catch their breath a sudden wailing cut through the song of the magpies, followed by the sharp cry of another strident voice. The young woman ceased her tapping at the keys and standing, opened a fly-wire door and stepped inside. 'Prissy, Prissy, give Henny back his rattle. And no Henny, you are not to bite. Let your Sister's thumb go. Oh you are such a naughty darling. Mummy thinks that you need a nap. And away from your sister. She's just as feisty as you. Wait til your Daddy gets home! He'll give the two of you the rounds of the kitchen! Alright, Henny has a lie down, and Prissy, we'll give the birds some meat out the back. You love to see the magpies come down for something to eat don't you? Then Mummy must get back to her work for Daddy... Yes, and put away our secret-book too.'

The fly-wire door languidly closed and the young woman's voice, soothing both the children and their mutual warring, drifted further inside.

'That was my real Mother.' Priscilla spoke the words reverently.

'And the cries were yours and Henry's,' Monique reminded. 'Want to try to get inside and see?'

'No can do girls. You can't move or touch or alter. You can only observe whatever is available.' Said Harry, from their Activators.

'Not really anyway,' said Priscilla. 'I know what we look like now, and dad's got pics of us as ankle-biters.'

Monique was about to enquire as to the meaning of the term 'ankle-biters,' when her attention was taken up by what was left upon the card-table that Loretta had vacated. 'Cilla, see here, this is a rough-out shot-list and a work schedule... and here is the beginnings of voice-overs for individual scenes. You understand such things?'

'Yeah, sort of.'

'But look at this. This is something else that your Mother, Loretta, is, was, also attending to.' Monique was pointing to a small bound book that lay open beside the typewriter. The two girls began to read a continuation from the proceeding page:

'...heads off. It makes me feel uneasy. Lonely out here, even in daylight. I'm glad when Mathew and the crew get back at night. I feel better with everybody about. It's just the days here when I don't go out with them. Only the kids and me.
Matty... I think he somehow suspects that I'm edgy but he doesn't know why and I can't bring myself to tell him. It's hard enough to write my thoughts down. I still have the nightmares. Mathew's kind of used to that by now. I tell him I've had them since I was a kid. That's true enough. I say that it's because I was always scared of the dark and of a terrible attack by a crocodile that nearly got me when I was a little kid. He laughs off my dreams and says he's here to protect me. He'll fight the crocodiles for me.
But will you win? I ask him.
Dear man. I trust him.
That's not always so easy. Trusting.
But surely you should be able to trust your husband?

Never take anything for granted. I learned that years ago when it began. There are times when I feel so...'

'She kept a diary! Just like me!' Priscilla cried, wringing Monique's hand. 'That kinda explains why I have the urge to write stuff too!'

'But Cilla, did you take notice of what she was writing about? Read it again.'

'Uh, yeah, she's scared and it's not only because of being here alone with us kids, it's about something in her past. Something she doesn't want Dad to know about... Like how bad can it be? Is she ashamed? Or is it just too scary?'

'It must be worse than being eaten by a crocodile... So frightening that she abandons the two of you and...' Monique paused as Loretta appeared around the corner of the house, a child of perhaps two years of age, wearing a white dress with red polka-dots, perched on her hip. Behind, whirred a pair of black and white birds, followed by the squawking of a less distinguished, grayish creature that was probably their chick.

'You've had all you're going to get Collingwood, you and your Missus and Bubby. Go find some bush tucker. What will you do after we go? Can't live on lamb and beef tit-bits forever. Go on, nick off! Get a drink of water out of the tank over there where it's leaking.'

'Me! That little kid in white and red is me! And earlier on Mum called me "Prissy."'

'Don't get all misty right now Miss Priscilla, You're both here to observe.' said Harry, via the Hand Activator.

'Harry is right Priscilla,' urged Monique. 'Watch!'

Loretta, still clutching her child at her waist, flipped the small, bound book shut and picked it up in her free hand. Then, without a word, she stepped off the porch and strode across the gravel, right between Priscilla and Monique, and into an old shed that once might have housed chickens at one end and farm tools at the other.

'Come along quickly Cilla, we have to see what she does with the diary!' Monique urged, starting to drag Priscilla behind her.

'Wait Moni! Look!' Priscilla was pointing toward the raised platform that supported the two corrugated-iron water tanks. Only moments before, the magpie family had been strutting beneath them, pecking at the wet soil where moisture seemed to perspire from tiny pin-holes in the tank above.

'What? What is it Cilla!'

'Not sure... The birds seemed to be scared off... See... They flew up into that gum tree...'

Monique, squinting against the bright sunlight, shaded her eyes. 'A cat, or wild animal perhaps? Oh but quickly Cilla, the diary!'

No sooner had she hauled her friend closer to the shed, than Loretta and the two-year-old Priscilla emerged.

'Ohh! Now where did she hide it?' Monique cried in consternation, peering inside the darkened area as the young woman and her child passed them by heedless of their invisible presence.

'That doesn't matter now Mon, look at my Mum and me!' Priscilla was pointing back toward the receding figure of her mother and herself as a small child, whilst Loretta gained the steps of the porch and again entered the house through the screen-door. 'Does she look like a mother who's about to leave her kids and go off on her bike to kill herself?'

'Non! That is puzzling... But perhaps she has the... what is called "The Brain Snap". After all, she did say in her secret book about being lonely and having nightmares and a fear of something... Perhaps it altogether came too much for her and in one sudden moment she completely lost control of her mind...'

A scream, that abruptly halted, shattered the quiet of the day.

Priscilla, thrashing herself loose from Monique's grasp, shouted, 'That's Mum! Something's happening to her! She's going crazy! Priscilla leaped forward and suddenly everything jolted into slow-motion: Monique reached out and missed her arm. Priscilla took two lunging bounds before feeling herself being drawn slowly backward by a force she was powerless to combat.

'It's Harry here girls! I warned you not to attempt to interfere. You can't change the past. I know it's painful, and I want to spare you whatever is to follow. The BlackEagle will bring you to your homes. You need to rest and recover. Tomorrow we'll talk. It's been a difficult time. Think about all that you've observed!'


Chapter 9 next

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