Chapter Eight ~ Part One

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Snake proof boots.

Check.

Mosquito repellent.

Check.

Deodorant, sun cream, moisturiser and band aids. Check, check, check and check.

With a mixture of nervous excitement and anticipation, Mac had been up since five a.m. packing and re-packing her bag several times over. Just when she thought she had everything she would need for the three day camping trip that they were about to embark on, she’d think of another necessity and have to take it all out and start over again. Although Felix had pointed out to her that this was the outback and multiple changes of clothes really weren’t necessary, Mac still insisted on filling her duffle with an array of outfit choices.

“Did you remember to let your Dad know that we’re going away for a few nights?” Felix called down the corridor from the kitchen.

“I tried phoning the house first thing this morning but there was no answer, so I sent him a quick email and said we’d call as soon as we got back,” Mac shouted from behind her bedroom door where she was desperately trying to jam a roll of toilet paper into the side pocket of her already overstuffed duffle bag.

Earlier, whilst on her laptop, she had also sent a message to Holly along with several photos of the homestead and its gardens, telling her their itinerary, and promising to catch up properly with a video call as long as she came back alive. Besides a couple of school trips where she’d stayed in the relative comfort of a log cabin, Mac had never been camping before. It was difficult to believe that she had made it to thirty years old and, not counting the one night in University where she’d gotten so drunk that she’d fallen asleep in Hyde Park, had never slept under the stars.

“OK, Well I’m ready whenever you are,” Felix’s voice trailed outside.

“Coming!”

Lugging her bag over her shoulder Mac checked herself one last time in the mirror, not really knowing what for, then trotted down the hallway and out through the kitchen to the carport where Felix had loaded the truck with various pieces of very old and very random camping equipment that he had found in the shed where the aeroplane was housed.

If after their return she still believed that all of this was a good idea, then Mac would need to approach her father for a serious injection of cash. Just starting and ending the camping safaris with a night’s accommodation at the homestead wouldn’t be enough to class it as ‘luxury’, no, she would need to pull out all the stops if there was to be any hope of persuading the investigators that she really meant business and hadn’t simply made the whole idea up on the spot. Even though that was precisely what she had done.

“Are you quite sure you have everything you need in there?” Sat in the truck waiting for her, Felix raised an eyebrow as Mac heaved her bag in to the space behind their seats and climbed in beside him.

“Yes thank you very much,” she stuck her tongue out at him and pulled her sunglasses down over her eyes as he reversed out of the shade. “Shit! No wait! I forgot my bloody camera.”

Slamming the brakes on, Felix rolled his eyes and laughed as Mac threw off her sunnies and jumped out again.

On letting herself back in to the house, Mac couldn’t find the camera in the kitchen or on the dining table, as had been her first thoughts, and so she ran down the corridor to check her room, perhaps she had left it on the dresser with her laptop? No, it wasn’t there either. Nor the verandah, coffee table or back in her ensuite bathroom. She must have packed it in her bag after all.

Her bag!

From the hook on the back of the bedroom door, Mac, out of breath from running around the house, grabbed her handbag and rummaged in it’s depths for several frustrating seconds before giving in and up-ending the entire contents over her bed. Debris scattered everywhere. A pair of chopsticks, several broken hair ties, countless receipts and a complete set of un-boxed tampons littered the covers, while numerous pens with no lids, an unused lipstick in a disgusting shade of browny orange, that Mac had bought on impulse, and her purse, all bounced off the bed and clattered to the floor.

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