Alayna Johnston, Grade 6
The camel’s hardened hooves thunder across the rocky terrain. Bleak hilltops pierce the red earth, rising high. ‘Pick up the pace, we must reach Bleach Cave before the dust storm sets in!’ yells the leader. I glance warily around a breeze whips grains of sand about. Lurching forward Meko my camel lumbers on. A sudden cry sounds. I whip my head around in that direction. The dust storm. Suddenly I can’t see anyone. ‘Murphy? Georgie? Elliot? Help!’ I shriek. Meko snorts running wildly and blindly. Trying to bring him under control I topple towards the whirling ground. Rolling I tremble to my knees. A dinnerplate hoof strikes me. I scream, my lungs full of dust.
I move my arm shielding me from the sun. Feeling a snuffle, I look up. A camel? ‘Meko!’ I shriek throwing my arms around his neck. Stumbling up I survey the desolate land. Nothing. Leading Meko to a red rock I swing on. Realising my food bag is still attached I rip it open grasping for the map. ‘Come on looks like we are headed to Bleach Cave’ I murmur. We set off.
I dismount at Bleach Cave. Gasping I feel the crusted blood around a cut in my side, ‘We’ve got to move quick, so this doesn’t get infected,’ I sigh standing. Shuffling over I kneel sifting the ash through my palm. I can’t detect any heat. Sighing I look about. ‘There were people here about 8 hours before us,’ I inform Meko. I look at him. Wait what was that? A message, written on the wall with red clay. Zoey we were here, next we will be going to Spindle River… Smiling I re-saddle Meko, riding into the fading light.
Shivering I rub my arms. The squelching mud thrums continuously. Reeds poke through the bank of the river. Murky water mirrors the silvery stars. ‘Whump, hurry up Meko we don’t have all night!’ I groggily stretch peering out into the darkness. ‘More of a bog than a river,’ I mumble. Wisps of smoke blow into my face. Smoke, camel, river… Oh! Jumping off I wind Meko’s rope around a tree. A note tied to a tree twirls. Snatching it I try to make out the scrawled writing. Giving up I slump to the ground, fast asleep.
I shoot back up as sunlight kisses my cheeks. Reading the note furiously the instructions are made clear- Zoey go down the Bettermans Trail… ‘Vamoose!’ I spur Meko on down the narrow trail. In the glinting horizon a town rises from the ground. We come to a river. Getting off I lead Meko through the river to the other bank. Sharp indents of hooves mean that people are nearby. On hearing a gasp of delighted relief, I fall, exhausted, safe again with my friends.