The Same Place, Chapter 4: The Journey Begins

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Published on 15.02.10 09:28 Age: 10 yrs
Category: The Same Place

Letters : 11156 Words : 2116

By: Cedar

Kylie awoke the next morning feeling refreshed. Had the events of the past two days been just a dream? Was she really no longer a news anchor? And was she really going on a walkabout? The sight of her fully packed backpack on near the door of her bedroom served to remind her that this had not been a dream. Still, she was happy to be going. A holiday would do her some good.

But then this wasn't really a holiday was it? Sure she might be able to have some fun, but really the primary goal was to produce an exclusive story to win favor with her employers.

At any rate, staying in bed and wondering about things wasn't going to accomplish anything. It would be rude to keep Mungo waiting. This was, after all, his trip.

Kylie took the pack into the kitchen and began to make breakfast. She fixed herself fresh hot coffee, and had it with a bowl of cold cereal and half a grapefruit. The food was enjoyable for the most part, but it paled in comparison to the dinner of the previous night. In hindsight, Kylie wished she had made a breakfast of eggs and bacon. After all, this might be her last traditional breakfast for at least a while.

The pack seemed lighter than it had last night. Kylie was thankful for this. She lugged it outside, put it in the trunk, and set off towards the Koala Bay Bares Resort, where Mungo was no doubt waiting.

It took a bit longer to get to the resort than she had planned, mostly due to heavy traffic in the town. As she left Koala Bay behind her, she was glad to be getting away for a while. She hoped she wasn't going to be too late.

She needn't have worried. Mungo was waiting for her in the parking lot. He had on a happy grin that seemed to suggest he didn't have a care in the world. Zoot was with him. He was wearing a floral print Hawaiian shirt and a pair of Bermuda shorts. To say his outfit lacked any sense of fashion would have been an understatement. Kylie doubted he could look any more like a tourist if he tried. She got out of the car to greet them. "Morning, sorry I didn't get here sooner. I hope I didn't keep you waiting."

"Did ya get a good night sleep?" asked quizzically.

"I did. It was very refreshing." That was the truth.

Mungo went back to being his usual cheerful self. "Then yer right on time."

Kylie turned her attentions to Zoot. "So why are you dressed like that?" she asked trying to be polite.

The incident he was referring to was a trip to town he had made last summer. He had forgotten he was nude when he left the resort, and had received a bit of a shock when he got into town. Actually, it had been a bit of a shock to a lot of people. That incident had served as the catalyst for the Koala Bares to have its Open Day, which in turn had been a catalyst for Kylie to feel more comfortable in her own skin. It had also been a catalyst for the staunch Tex Tyler to receive his comeuppance...

That wasn't what worried Kylie. What worried her was the fact that Zoot would be driving. Zoot's driving was the stuff of legend at the Koala Bares Resort. It was legendary, because of just how bad he was. Kylie had personally seen him wreck a golf cart against a fairly obvious rock. She was not thrilled about the idea of getting into a car with Zoot, but tried to be tactful. "Oh, Zoot, you don't have to drive. I'd hate for you to have to leave and spend the money on petrol. We can take my car, really it's fine." While she was sure Zoot's Beetle would get them to their destination, her car would get them to where they were going in comfort (and also in one piece).

"I insist," said Zoot. "I'll drop you off, and come back at the end to pick you up. That way no one's car gets abandoned at a trailhead for any length of time."

He had a point. There was no getting out of this situation tactfully. Begrudgingly, Kylie got her backpack out of her trunk and loaded it into Zoot's car. "I guess we're ready to go then?" she asked.

"Not just yet," said a familiar voice. It was Loxie. She was leading a large group of Resort-goers towards the parking lot. "We came to wish you a safe voyage."

Kylie was amazed at the outpouring of support. It was a large group of people, maybe even everyone at the resort that day. They were all waving friendly goodbyes and a few people were holding up a sign that read "Bon Voyage!" It was a warming display of support.

Breaking her trance, Zoot suggested, "we should get going."

"Mungo, you can ride in the front seat," suggested Kylie.

"No. I'll ride in the back," he said. He didn't even give her the chance to argue the matter. He got into the back seat. Kylie took the front passenger's seat, and much to her chagrin, Zoot took the driver's seat. As the Beetle began to pull away well-wishers yelled good tidings at the car until it was out of sight.

"Goodbye, Mungo!"

"We'll tend to your garden while you're gone."

"We'll look after Oscar to when he gets back."

Slowly their cheers became less and less audible as the vehicle drove away.

The next half an hour was a nightmare for Kylie. True to form, Zoot's driving was as terrible as always. If anything, it had even gotten a bit worse. It was as though he had intentionally practiced how to be a bad driver, and had honed this craft to perfection.

Zoot would take turns way too fast, forcing Kylie to lean to keep her balance in the seat. He drove too fast, and overtook cars in a way that Kylie could only describe as reckless. He took one bump so hard he even caused the radio to skip. The radio? Was such a thing even possible? Sure Kylie had managed to cause a tape or CD to skip in her own car, but the radio? Was he trying to get them all killed? She wanted to ask him to slow down, but each time she looked over at him, he seemed to be in such a good mood, so she kept silent.

As the drive wore on, she began to feel queasy, perhaps even motion sick. She was afraid that she would vomit all over the interior of Zoot's car. Kylie rolled down the window in the hopes that some fresh air would help steady her stomach. She glanced back over her shoulder to see how Mungo was doing.

Much to her surprise, Mungo looked blissfully happy. He was intently gazing out the window with a look of almost-childlike wonderment. It was as though he had never outgrown the fun of being a child in the backseat of a car while on holiday.

This caused Kylie to wonder about his past. Did Mungo ever take car trips as a child? Probably not. It was rare to see Mungo in a car. In fact, in all the time she had known him, she had never seen him in a car. Sure there had been the time he drove around in a buggy with Tex Tyler in one of the wildest chases Kylie had ever seen, but that was different than a car. She had to wonder if this was his first trip in a car; probably not, but there was no real way to be sure.

Still, Mungo was enjoying himself, while she was not. Kylie endeavored to try and relax a little bit, to not worry about the drive. It worked. The less she worried, the more fun she seemed to have. At length, she engaged Zoot in conversation as they drove. She had never really gotten to know Zoot all that well before, and though she certainly approved of Loxie's choice in husbands, she still didn't know Zoot all that well. That changed as the car drove along. Soon she and Zoot were swapping stories and laughing at jokes as though they were old friends.

Mungo, sat in silence in the backseat. Both Kylie and Zoot had tried to draw him into their conversation, but he had said he was comfortable to just enjoy the scenery. He stared out the window lost in thought. Kylie had to wonder if he could even hear any of her and Zoot's conversation. He seemed to be off in his own little world.

After a while, Zoot pulled off onto a dirt road, and then into a gravel parking lot at the end. There were probably twenty other cars in the parking lot. Kylie glanced at her watch. It was now noon. The drive had taken almost an hour and a half, and while the first bit had seemed like an unpleasant eternity, the last leg of the trip seemed to fly by. "We're here already?" she asked.

"Yeah, I know," said Zoot. "Where does the time go? I was enjoying our chat. At least you too don't have to drive back by yourselves," he commented. He put the Beetle in park, and got out. "Anyways, we can continue our conversation when you get back." He popped the front hatch of the Beetle, and helped Kylie with her pack. He helped adjust the straps so the pack fit her better. With the pack on her back and properly adjusted, it seemed lighter than ever.

"I guess this is it," he said. "Have fun you two. I'll see you when you get back." He gave them brief hugs, then got into his Volkswagen, and drove off leaving the two hikers at the trailhead.

Kylie's stomach began to rumble. It was, after all, well past the time she would normally have lunch. Something to eat would be nice, but she didn't want to be a burden on this trip. For now, she wouldn't say anything, but she hoped they would have at least a snack before dinner that evening. And dinner! That was another matter entirely! Mungo carried a small pack with skins for holding water, and other various things. Kylie seriously doubted that pack contained a three course meal for dinner that evening. He had said he would "provide" food, so what was he going to "provide" this evening?

Pushing thoughts of food to the side, Kylie began to survey the area. It was a lush forest filled with tall eucalyptus trees. She wished she would have paid more attention on the drive over here, but the conversation with Zoot had been both engaging and distracting. She had no idea where they were currently. "Okay, Mungo, where are we?"



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