Chapter 67 - The Digger Incident

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∞ 67 ∞

THE DIGGER INCIDENT


She got up early the next morning and after prolonging it for as long as she could, tentatively mounted the digger. She still felt shaky, but decided she would go in to the French couple's house after all and then to the doctor's office for some antibiotic. Backwards and forwards a few feet was one thing, but the anxiousness with having to turn and drive the digger such a distance wasn't helping her queasy stomach. Her heart felt like it was pounding a thousand beats per second. She turned the key and touched the controls. The digger chugged forward about a foot, startling Valentina. She pushed another control and the digger chugged backwards a couple feet and then stalled. Somehow it seemed different... She took a long break. Kneading the little piece of metal around her neck for some comfort, she concentrated: the right lever was for forward and the left one was for backward and pushing both up or down together appeared to be left or right. Little by little she backed the digger out of the car port.

All seemed well and it felt like she had the hang of it, but then it suddenly seemed like the controls were again working opposite to how they had been. She was getting close to the dangerous point where the land dropped off steeply for several metres before it evened out to the bottom of the valley. She stopped to clear her mind. She was going to leave it there and phone the man, but knew he would charge her if he had to come and pick it up himself... and it had been raining, so it was even muddier than it had been. She considered calling Martin Martin, but knew she wouldn't manage faking being nice to him. She thought he'd probably just laugh at her anyway. She cleared her mind and started again slowly moving away from the drop off, but was moving in the wrong direction back towards the car port. She turned, changed direction but the back end of the digger was now alarmingly close to the drop off. She concentrated hard: right for forward, left for backward. She tapped the right lever lightly. The digger jerked backwards very quickly. Moving the opposite lever didn't help. The digger kept going backwards. It seemed to pick up speed.

Valentina saw the accident as if it were in slow motion – as if she were outside of her body looking at herself falling. It didn't make any difference if Jerremee had or hadn't put the fences up he said he would, because they wouldn't have stopped a ton of steel tumbling down the hilly slope. Valentina was jerked out of the seat of the machine as it passed a particularly large blackthorn bush which caught onto her. Hanging from her neck, she was still for a moment from the vicious thorns piercing her in every direction and then struggled to free herself. The ribbon threaded through the metal piece she wore around her neck was stuck on the huge thorns and would have strangled her, if it weren't for the weakness of the thin branches. She fell off and tumbled forward down the hill. The digger had stopped and was stuck on a flat outcrop, as Valentina continued to tumble forward. Finally she stopped. She was at the bottom of the valley on flat land. She looked up feebly and as bad luck would have it, the digger was somersaulting towards her. She had been through too much. It felt like... it was as if something was willing her to stay still. She didn't have the energy to move... She knew she needed to move to protect herself. It was as if something was willing her limbs not to move!

The digger had one more flip until it crushed her. She covered her face...


EARLIER THAT DAY:

At Auntie's house, Lucius hadn't been able to sleep and so was up very early. Bibsey brought up tea and toasted brioche. Lucius invited Sander, who was finishing his watch, to stay for the light breakfast. He needed to get some sleep and didn't usually eat before bed, but sensing Lucius wanted to talk, agreed.

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