Seven years years, 3 months and 6 days on from the Great Crash, the Great Plague soon after and now the Great storms of Climate Madness. Have no idea why I still mark off the calendar. Friends gone, where? Who knows. Chaos does that. Family? A bit like so called friends, who knows? Up until a few months ago it was Dad always the constant, but old age finally got him just before the triple figures and a well deserved message from the Queen.

I know the kids headed back east but that is it. Stubborn me refused to move. The old broken down but still real loving one eyed dog would not have made the distance. I could not desert the Dog or the garden full of years of sweaty experimentation. The local ocean, so long my soul panacea could not be left.

Humans can be just too demanding. Time has blurred. Was it last year or this that they left? Memories feels like dreams. Only had the mobile phone for contact but they never called and never picked up when I called. Are they still alive? Am I still alive? The Heart still beats. My despair says otherwise. Useless phone ended up in the Ocean not long ago. Tossed or dropped, I will not say.

Dog slipped off the mortal coil not long after Dad. Last desperate bit of happiness gone. Preconceptions of the future died with Dad and the Dog.

Beyond this is grimly desired. Mind is screaming, “Get out, Get out, go beyond these four walls of enforced misanthropy and beyond this toxic suffocating nausea of urban life decay.

Go to where the beyond is still an unknown to be grasped but not firmly until it is reached. How far to and what will be beyond? It will be as far as it is and will be what it will be.

Car hasn’t been started in weeks. Go out and after a couple of attempts of engine cough it revs up. Fuel gauge on almost empty. I trust the spare fuel Jerry Can has a load of fuel. Shake it and half full. It isn’t enough as the bones feel that the beyond may be beyond my reach with this amount. Forget buying any. Last time was $90/litre at the fuel station and even higher on the black market.

There are just over two litres of fuel left in the bank account which takes six application forms to gut the account. No hope there. Every last drop poured carefully in. Check the tank and equivalent to about 200 kilometres range is all. I don’t despair, but feel some hope that at least I will be clear of this place. A change of clothes, whatever food and water that can survive is chucked in the esky, car loaded.

One last look around the garden, hoping for a glimmer of satisfaction of the love poured in over the years, but no all I see is advancing age and too many weeds. It will be left for Natures wonderful wildness to assert its supremacy.

Leave the front door unlocked. Hop in and drive North, never looking back, only forward it can be. Through I drive past decaying sickly bloated suburbia of past glorious mining booms gone bust. Now? Typical boarded up or broken windows, half collapsed For Sale signs, broken cars, furniture and even more broken marriages litter the way. An observable stench of human failure permeates all.

Unrealised, I have accelerated up to 120 km/hr and still in the 60 zone. It doesn’t matter as it is almost ghost town and the law moved out long ago. Is as if the Car determined that it wants to be beyond this as soon as possible.

We are free! Nothing but coastal Heathlands on both sides and not another human in sight. Crank up the beast as far as she will go to about 160 km/hr. Wind the window down reveling in the blast of desert air. Find myself laughing, a deep down belly laugh that won’t stop until the tears come. Now they don’t stop. So long, my personal pride ridden stubborn folly of staying put, loss of contact with the kids, Dad and the Dog deaths had been submerged. Is this finally beyond what had been?

Draining of the past has its consequences just as my maniacal driving has its consequences. A cough, a few splutters rapidly brings the now to sharp focus with fuel tank hovering on E. No more hovering and now silence. Look ahead down a long decline. Place into Neutral and coast along ever slower to the bottom. A car-park beckons and in I roll. Stopped. It is certainly beyond where I was before.

Body and soul have been unburdened over the previous hours. A certainty of lightness of being pervades every part.

This place is familiar. Not instantly recognisable until partly shotgunned Sign remains are deciphered as “The Pinnacles” National Park. Can just see the unique limestone rock sentinels in the distance. Have never stopped before as multiple Tour Buses have always been the scene in the past. Just too many tourists for misanthropic me.

Now? Visitor Centre windows obliterated, peek in with grafitti and sickly sweet aroma of aging faeces greeting me. Nothing else does. Is just me, the birds, rock lizards and the wafting background of a slight breeze.

It is compelling, a mental nudge to go around the building to explore beyond. Is it the relentless whispering wind from behind pushing me inevitably forward? Nothing else matters, car forgotten, water forgotten and food forgotten. can only focus on that which is before me.

Sentinels marking the path to beyond. Twenty five thousand years of silent brooding, observing all that dare to try for the beyond. How many steps to the beyond have been obscured and scoured away by the pervasive shell grit winds? It is moot as all that try now will never see the before. Only the next Sentinel stands as witness to past and future success or failure of those that dare.

Becomes an easy path this Sentinel bottleneck focus to the beyond. Stop and gaze upwards and out to sense this vastness of place, mind diverted from beyond and then swing back to the path of before. Which Sentinel was before me? Surely where I am now is the same as before?

Look back and down to reassuring direction of footsteps from before. The wind, subtle it had been, quietly and lazily wafting grit across the ancient sands. Turn in all directions but the only evidence of where I have been are the all too recent scuffed footprints rotating on the spot where I stand.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is rocks-2.jpg
“becomes an easy path this Sentinel bottleneck to the beyond” (pic: Chris Round)

Impossible to lose what had come before. Five minutes it surely had been from the car park to here. Ten minutes at most. Late morning it had been with the Sun on the right. Mind is fixed, but a harsh shaft of Sun to my left through now broken clouds says something completely different. It’s relationship to an accelerating horizon is unsettling and confusing to a now clouded mind.

Smart phone will save me. Compass, time, all the apps in the World or a simple call will do. Reality of the toss or drop into the Ocean some weeks ago hurts. I am here and came from somewhere, but is nothing compared to what is just beyond.

Eyes cannot remove themselves from the rock lump down to the left as if it is a Pleistocene beast at rest. Reminds me of the Giant Goanna “Megalania”, a personal childhood favourite that had not been in the thoughts since those far away childhood days. Curious that at age 70, this comes flooding back.

Unnoticed, the left arm starts reaching down to touch, to pat and sooth the head of its forever sleep far beyond its life before. It feels right. I know it is sleeping. Any thoughts of age eroded rock don’t exist. With certainty, I will wake it and together we will continue our journey to the beyond. Will be good to have a friend. Body is bending to accommodate the stretching arm that never seems to get any closer.

Further I bend towards the sand below. Always bending but not close enough. The reposing Beast is just beyond until my weary body stretches out fully on the grainy sands. Arm outstretched to finally finger touch the soothing forehead. Eyes close, fingers welded in their touch. Fused to the beyond is all I have ever wanted.

As it has for countless 1000’s of years, dusk horizon engulfs and eats the Sun. Winds from beyond inevitably blow through the Sentinals, finding a new lump to scour and shape to their will. Given time, form it will become and rise from the sand laden floor to bear witness to those of the future that desire to go beyond.

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