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The Autumn Wonderland of Tasmania
The Autumn Wonderland of Tasmania

The Autumn Wonderland of Tasmania

JPYoungJPYoung
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'Elizabetha...ELIZABETHA!'

The bus driver's voice made Terence Fleming awaken in his seat by literally jumping as if he were startled by an electric shock. He looked around to see that he was the only passenger on the bus to the small Tasmanian town on his day excursion from Hobart to view the autumn colours...

He arose slowly, stiff from what must have been a very long nap. The morning mists seemed to be burning off, the day would eventually be sunny and warm.

He put on his black sweater and beret, slung his musette bag across his shoulder, then stiffly and slowly walked to the door of the bus to view a very attractive brunette with sparkling brown eyes dressed in black waiting outside the bus door. She held up the largest maple leaf he had ever seen and presented it to him.

'Welcome to the Autumn Wonderland of Tasmania, Terry.'

'You know my name?'

For the life of him he couldn't remember her; he thought she was so attractive that he couldn't possibly have failed to remember anyone who looked like her.

Her white complexion broke into a radiant smile as he accepted her maple leaf.

'Off course, Terry. I promised I'd never forget you', she laughed. 'You look like you've just woken up.'

'I have. You won't believe this, but I've forgotten your name....'

'Libby! You must've had a memorable night!'

He gasped in surprise, 'I can't remember...'

She laughed like a child.

'There you go! That proves you had a memorable night if you can't remember me!'

'I must've...', he hid his slight panic at not remembering her with a forced smile and a wink.

'Hobart!', smiled the bus driver. He had just finished changing the destination sign on his bus from ELIZABETHA to HOBART.

'That's my cue, Terry. I'll see you later.'

She boarded the bus and went to her seat and waved at him from the window. Like Terence, she was the only passenger. He smiled and waved with one hand as he held the large maple leaf with his other hand. The small white bus drove away from Elizabetha's bus station located in a car park; no other person was around. He shrugged and dropped the maple leaf to the concrete where Libby had picked it up from.

He looked around the parking lot that was full of cars but empty of people. His black faced underwater style watch showed him it was five minutes to nine o'clock. In the distance a large sign over a laneway pointed to the town's shopping centre.

Every autumn he looked forward to coming to Elizabetha and walking its scenic tracks to enjoy the colours of the season. Beyond the river were hills covered in trees surrounding the town. After morning coffee, he would walk the tracks that would lead him back in a semicircular route to town for lunch, then a further walk and then a return to Hobart in the late afternoon.

Still feeling as if he were in a daze, he decided that a strong cup of coffee would remedy that.

He soon found himself on the High Street. Though there were cars parked on both sides of the street, only two vehicles were driving up and down High Street, then turning corners; a white Ford 'ute' or pickup truck and a grey Toyota sedan.

He entered a diner type café with a large semicircular bar facing three men drinking coffee; Ricky Nelson's Poor Little Fool was playing over a sound system. Without a word a waitress dressed in white brought him a long black coffee then walked back into the kitchen. He wondered how she knew what he wanted to drink without asking him.

The three men across from him picked up their cups, took a sip then put their cups back down...all perfectly in unison. The only sound inside the café other than Ricky Nelson was a repetitive loud thumping click that he discovered was the sound of a wall clock caused by the large hand approaching the 12 then going back.

'Time for a new clock.'

The three working men across from him didn't respond. They slowly raised their white coffee cups, sipped, then placed them down and repeated the process without a word. Terence looked at his watch that had stopped.

The bland faced waitress came out from the kitchen as if she was mounted on small railway tracks that took her on an endless circular journey.

'How long has your clock been on the blink?'

She stopped in front of him without looking at him.

'You say the same thing every day, Terry.'

'How much do I owe you?'

'The same amount you pay every day, Terry.'

'Why do you know my name and I don't know yours?'

'You've forgotten again, Terry. Why do we have to go through this same conversation every day?'

Feeling somehow ashamed, Terry reached into his left front pocket for his hard rubber coin purse and placed the exact change in coins on the counter. Without looking she picked up the coins and rang them up in the cash register. She walked away along her semicircular path back into the kitchen wearing the same expression that the girls in his high school who refused his invitations to go on a date had worn.

Poor Little Fool ended...then started playing again.

The three men continued their raising, sipping and placing their coffee cups down as the minute hand never reached 12...

Terence walked down the High Street. There were a few pedestrians walking on the street, the ones who passed him said 'Good day' that he responded to. He noticed the same white ute and grey sedan driving down High Street and turning a corner as if they were driving in a circular route.

He looked in a shop window at his reflection. Did he have Alzheimer's disease or dementia? Why did everyone know him and he knew no one? Why did time seem to be standing stupidly still?

He knew his name and that he had come from Hobart by bus to walk around the small town surrounded by a large river and a tributary rivulet that emptied into the same river as it turned towards the direction of Hobart.

He thought that he can't be having dementia, he wasn't that old...or was he? You never were too old until one day you suddenly were, and then that was that. Was today that day?

In the reflection he saw a very clean cut young man across the street looking at him. Once the young man, who looked as if he was a missionary for a well known religion noticed that Terence noticed him, he rapidly walked away around a corner.

As with the sign in the area of the bus station advertising the direction to Elizabetha's town centre, there was a sign on one of the street signs pointing to the rivulet walking track. Terence followed the street, then another sign pointing down a dirt track leading through an attractive grove of willow trees turning yellow. The track followed the rivulet amidst trees in red, yellow and gold autumn foliage and he enjoyed the raspberry bushes on the bank where he sampled their ripe fruit.

'Good day!'

A woman was walking with her happy brindle Staffordshire who dashed away from her owner to run to him. Terence enthusiastically petted the elated dog, the Staffordshire laying on her back so he could rub her stomach.

'She's friendly!', Terence laughed.

'Good day!', she replied.

In his experience, most dog owners would stop and chat, though occasionally an owner would display a neurosis that signified a jealousy that their pet was paying more attention to a stranger than their owner. However, the Staffordshire's owner kept walking up the path which Terence had come without acknowledging Terence or her dog. The dog ran back to her oblivious mistress.

He recognised the long row of poplar trees in their yellow foliage from his yearly visits. Though the pathway was covered with leaves, not a single yellow leaf fell off any of the trees. He recalled in the past that with a good wind it would look like a yellow snowstorm, but even with no wind a leaf or two or three would fall, but not now. Elizabetha was definitely a strange town today...

The day was warming up and he removed his black sweater and placed it into his musette bag and had a drink of water from the bottle he carried inside the bag. He picked up his mobile telephone to find out that it had gone totally dead.

The track passed a deserted sports pitch, another row of yellow poplar trees and then wound into a small forest where he viewed the back of the 1830's Tynwald Hotel that always reminded him of Toad Hall in The Wind in the Willows. Walking by the River Derwent down the track covered with fallen autumn leaves was taking his mind off his memory loss and the strange sights he had viewed.

Though the weather was sunny he noticed a wall of mist along the track, yet the sky above was still the same cornflower blue. He felt himself bumping into an invisible wall with the thick mist behind it. He went into the trees surrounding the track and found the mists and presumably the invisible wall continued alongside it up to the river. Now this was really strange...

He walked back the way he had come. He reflected he usually turned back to walk alongside the track leading to the other side of town about this area of the track anyway, but what on earth was going on????

On his walk down the track he noticed something white behind a copse of trees that he had never seen before in his autumn sauntering.

He went through the trees and found a glade where the white bus he had taken from Hobart was parked. The driver and Libby were motionless in their seats, none of them responded to his banging on the window and shouting. Things were getting weirder and weirder...

His journey on the walking track led through a small marsh then up through some small farmlets where he had previously seen sheep, but no animals were out today. He was now above the mighty river enjoying the splendid views. He veered off the river walk into a side street that would lead back to the High Street where he would have lunch.

Back on High Street he chuckled that the same cars were doing their route. A pedestrian with a glazed expression walked by him saying 'Good day!' but nothing else. He passed a pay telephone box and as he expected, there was no signal.

A young man with blonde hair and beard wearing spectacles dashed around the corner being pursued by three clean cut young men.

Hidden from their view, he heard the cringing man loudly screaming and pleading; the silent three produced an oblong silver device that made the young man scream then go unconscious. A new vehicle, a white panel van came to the site where the three men lifted the lifeless body inside the back of the van, entered themselves and drove off.

Terence sighted Elizabetha's police station and as he figured, it was locked and no one answered his pounding. To be fair, most small town police stations were locked so the police could prowl the highways to issue traffic tickets, however there was no way he could ring an emergency telephone number.

The white ute and the grey sedan did their rounds. The pedestrians kept their walking, he ran up to a pair of them who made no response other than catatonically saying 'Good day' and 'Mate!' as he shouted at them and shook them.

The clean cut young man whose reflection he had sighted in the morning was not in a daze and was intently watching him.

One of the shops labelled La Maîtresse du Gâteau Café, Cakery and Cake Away suddenly had its door open up; a woman's hand slowly and sensually beckoned him to enter. He recognised the strangely comforting music that came from inside the 'Cakery' as the title song of Brigadoon from the 1950s film soundtrack. Brigadoon indeed...

He somehow felt at home as he entered, more than that, he instinctively felt safe and secure and that things were going to start making sense. He just knew it...

The woman who seductively beckoned him to enter was dressed in a bizarre red dress, a more bizarre headdress with a silver diamond with some sort of 'S' and her face was covered with white makeup.

'Are you Kookie Kabuki or the Queen of Hearts who made some tarts?'

He turned to the other woman sitting in the Cakery, 'no offence intended'.

'No, Terry. It's Star Wars Day again, it's Star Wars Day forever unless we stop them...we always dress for Star Wars Day.'

'What day?'

'May the Fourth be with you...By the way, I'm Queen Amidala.'

'Oh...yes...'

He just had to go with the flow. He really only knew the original film with Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing where he had imagined the Jedi Knights as British matinee idols of the 40s and 50s. He had been disappointed with the other films in the series and ceased going to them when they brought a hyper annoying Jamaican jackass in as one of the lead characters. He remembered that...

The Cakery was decorated in a retro fashion that took him back to his childhood, or The Twilight Zone...that now seemed to have been the same thing. He reflected that though he hadn't remembered much at all that day, he somehow vividly remembered his family home's kitchen with its Laminex tables and coloured vinyl chairs with rivets holding the material on the back of the chair. The made up woman gestured that he sit down at one of her tables; there was a pot of tea, a cup and saucer and a glass of water on the table. He felt like the Prodigal Son returning home to Crazy Land.

There was only one other person in the Cakery, an attractive blonde with a welcoming, but very determined look on her face. Sitting in a high stool at a higher table than his, she looked down on him as if she felt sorry for him. She was dressed like a Warrior Woman in a black sweater with a large grey scarf crossed across her chest held in place by a black leather belt. On her left side was a sheathed bolo machete. Green denim trousers were tucked into high black boots. She had a large stuffed dog on her table that she was petting as well as a nearly empty plastic litre bottle of soft drink. She held one of the dog's paws that waved at Terence.

He found himself waving back, 'What's your mate's name?'

'Her name is Defiance...Don't tell me that you've forgotten why you're here again, Terry.'

'I'm afraid I have', an embarrassed Terence looked down and poured himself a cup of black tea then added some cold water. 'I can't even remember your names...'

The Queen rolled her eyes and shook her head.

The Warrior Woman smiled, and rose from her stool holding the stuffed dog and stood over Terence who couldn't bring his eyes to meet hers. She gave a growl and menacingly moved her stuffed doggie towards his face as if she was a ventriloquist doing a rabies comedy routine and spoke in a funny childlike voice.

'What was the weather like when you left Hobart, Terry?'

He looked up and replied to the stuffed dog,

'I don't remember....'

'What time did you get up this morning?'

'I...I don't remember...'

He was becoming panicked.

'What is the effective range and rate of fire of the F88SA2 rifle, Terry?'

'Ma'am, the effective range of the F88SA2 rifle is 300 meters, and the cyclic rate of fire of the F88SA2 rifle is 680 to 850 rounds per minute!'

Terence couldn't hide his surprise at what he blurted out without thinking.

'What is the effective casualty range of the F1 hand grenade?'

He couldn't stop himself and looked up to the Warrior Woman.

'Ma'am, the effective casualty range of the F1 hand grenade is 15 meters, the lethal blast range is 6 meters...'

'Can you see why we want you here, Terry, and can you remember what you're going to do with us today?'

He stared blankly, with what people who knew him called his 'thousand metre stare'.

She lowered her dog, bent over towards him, held his hand with her free hand and warmly looked into his eyes.

'Terry, we're going down to where the aliens are congregating, and we're going to fuck them up. They've been having their way too long here, though to the rest of the world there hasn't been any change, but here in Elizabetha the 4th of May has been going on and on forever. You're going to be my escort for the afternoon when we take Defiance for her walk and she'll do her business in their building.'

She nodded Defiance's head as she spoke, then she opened a zipper on the dog's derrière and pulled out several sticks of what looked suspiciously like dynamite or a reasonable facsimile.

'I'm sure you usually carry a dog stuffed with high explosives for a good reason, and I'm sure you're competent in demolitions work, but I...don't remember...'

She went back to her stool with Defiance and drank from her bottle of soft drink.

'Of course you don't, they've rigged the game that way so we're playing it their way, until we got together, then we'll play it my...our way. We know your memory goes when you breath the evening and morning mists, but didn't you read the note we put in your pocket?'

'Men!', the Queen whinged in exasperation, 'We're going to have to write "look in your left breast pocket and follow the instructions" on his forearm next to his wristwatch. He'll get here a lot sooner.'

The Queen grabbed his arm, rolled up his left sleeve and went to work with a felt tip pen.

'How do you remember what's going on? Do you bake memory cakes?'

'I'm Wiccan', the Queen responded as she continued her writing on his arm.

'I didn't know that stuff was fair dinkum.'

She shrugged, 'It works for me...'

As she wrote and they spoke he opened the button on his left breast pocket of his light blue chambray shirt and pulled out some folded pieces of notebook paper and began to read.

When he had finished the handwritten text, both women nodded that their knight errant finally knew what was going on and he wasn't going to be errant with them again.

He now recalled their account of what convincingly looked like a government health party who swarmed into Elizabetha, jammed all communications with the outside, proclaimed that a top secret toxic gas had escaped from a crashed military aircraft and everyone had to be inoculated...those few who had not gone into a trance had been killed. Sharon, his Warrior Woman companion had been one of what she called Elizabetha's United Resistance Network, the town's nonconformists, eccentrics and hard cases who refused to do what they were ordered. She had sheltered with Jane, the Mistress of Cakes in her shop that the pair of them lived on top of. Terry's routine walking from the bus and sauntering down the bush paths was so regular that he was assumed by the occupying aliens to have been one of the inoculated townspeople.

The inoculation did not totally work on everyone. Those who openly resisted were killed or taken away. The majority were quite happy to go with the flow and remain alive in comfort, like the waitress in the diner and others who stayed in their homes or businesses. The Warrior Woman remarked that when she spoke to the same zombie every day the zombie would pick up some new words and phrases, like a parrot or a cockatoo does, but would repeat the phrases without understanding them. Terence replied that he hadn't yet met the zombie pedestrians who said her funny jokes and slogans.

No one knew who or what the aliens were, whether they were extraterrestrials from another planet, ultraterrestrials from another dimension, or fun loving demons who lived in the dark mists. No one knew how or why they arrived and what the reason was for their coming. Did their ship crash or have a mechanical malfunction they had to repair? Were they choosing a small obscure part of the Earth for experiments, or was it just an extended camping trip or a biological field trip from one of their schools?

'You do the exact same walk when you come here every day, and you naturally look exactly like a zombie so you must have fooled them...no offence intended.'

'Touché.'

He had now been brought up to date with his coming in the Cakery. When the women discovered that he had a military background they saw their chance to set things back as they were by destroying the aliens who were inside the decontamination suits who inoculated the town, killed some, then impersonated them.

'My brother nicked a SCUBA aqualung and face mask from the sports shop to spy on the old asylum where they're located. They put some kind of stuff in the usual mists that puts everyone to sleep and takes away their memory, so we have to plug up the doors and windows until morning when it clears. Once Steve arrives he'll lead us up there to the old asylum where they have their power source and with you riding shotgun we can shoot our way in, plant the charges and have Cracker Night.'

'Does your brother have blonde hair and wears spectacles and a beard?'

'Yes...'

'Do the aliens look like young Mormon missionaries?'

'Yes.'

'Three aliens got him on the street and stuck him into a white van and drove off with him. I don't know if he was dead or alive.'

Her supreme self-confidence vanished, the Queen went to her and held her. The Warrior Woman buried her face into the standing Queen.

Terence asked,

'Think you can lead us up to what he found? We can look for your brother after we plant the charges.'

'I'll make you a cup of tea, Sharon', the Queen went behind her counter.

The door of the Cakery opened to reveal not only the young Mormon looking individual who had been looking at Terence on the High Street, but two exact clones. One of them held up the same metal oblong device that he had viewed them hold on the screaming man in the street.

The Warrior Woman snapped out of her grief and held up her stuffed dog's head then began to loudly growl, that made them visibly startle. Whether they were terrified of being bitten by a toy dog or they were frightened by coming face to face with a madwoman was yet another unanswered question.

'Good day!', Terence intoned.

For some unknown reason Terence began to loudly laugh as the three of them turned to him as one.

The lead of the trio spoke in a high voice without his lips moving, Terence had to admit he was more adept at ventriloquism than the Warrior Woman, but not as much fun.

'What are you doing here?', asked their leader.

'I don't remember', Terence lied, then he went wild eyed, 'Don't you know????'

The Queen hit a switch that started a sound system that began playing The Viscounts' Who Put the Bomp in the Bomp Bomp Bomp. She began to smile and danced to the music as the three of them turned to her and tried to fathom her arm gestures, mischievous facial expression and swinging hips as if it were a form of non verbal communication telling them The Secret of the World...

'Everyone feels better when they've had a good laugh, Terence', soothingly said the Queen.

He had no idea why, but she reminded him so much of his dearly loved deceased wife...

'Why don't you ask me, why I'm here?', asked the Warrior Woman.

'Woof woof woof!', she barked for her dog.

All three of the visitors turned as one to the smiling Warrior Woman.

She proudly and loudly sneered, '"I'm going to pick a fight!"'

The Queen ramped up the music to a deafening level, the sound made the three intruders hold their heads. She continued to smile and ecstatically and expertly danced one of the early 1960s dances in time to the Viscounts' song as if she was born to the go-go girl cage.

Terence spun one of them around and shot a right cross between his eyes as the Warrior Woman quickly snatched a red and white checked tablecloth from an adjoining table and threw it over the head of another of them. The human face Terence punched was like a ceramic mask that broke like china revealing a reptilian type face before it crashed lifeless to the floor. The one under the Warrior Woman's tablecloth struggled helplessly. The Queen reached to the large smiling teddy bear resting on the counter she was behind. She opened the back of the bear and pulled out, then threw a green Austyer rifle to Terence who caught it as the terrified third intruder attempted to open the door to run to the street. Terence grabbed the plastic soft drink bottle off the Warrior Woman's table, placed it over the rifle's muzzle and fired a relatively quiet suppressed round into the back of the Mormon impersonator who fell to the floor.

'Chicago silencer!', laughed Terence without knowing how he knew that or why an enthusiastically dancing cake café owner who dressed as a Star Wars character and acted like his dead wife kept a loaded, locked and cocked army service rifle inside a giant teddy bear and why everything was suddenly so bloody funny, but it just was...it just was!

He fired another round with another empty bottle over the muzzle into the creature's forehead when he kicked it over with his foot.

Braveheart smiled, 'Why use two, when one will do?' as she held her struggling alien beneath the tablecloth.

'Gracious living', he replied, then beckoned at Braveheart's captive alien. 'Is it worth interrogating?'

* * *

The town of Elizabetha was created in the early 19th Century and was named after the wife of then Governor Lachlan Macquarie. Settled by convicts from a remote penal island. the town made its name when Van Dieman's Land set up what was originally named an idiot's asylum, but with feelings that the name was too harsh, the large complex was renamed the Male Idiot's College. Various other names such as Lunatic Asylum, Hospital for the Insane and Mental Defectives Home came and went before the series of buildings closed and the occupants were released to the streets. He thought the place was still some form of Crazy Acres as he was back in action with an army service rifle accompanied by a woman who quoted Braveheart, dressed in a science fiction movie costume and carried a toy dog stuffed with high explosives on their date with destiny with alien invaders. Life just doesn't get any better than this...

'Refresh Crazy Man's memory. Where did you learn to use explosives?'

'After obtaining a degree in Chemistry, I went into the mining industry. It was fun until the Greenies killed it. And it was my brother who brought the army rifle home when he nicked it from an Army Reserve camp. None of us really knew how to use it.'

'Your little brother's kleptomania pays off...'

'I accept him as he is, and I accept you as you are.'

'"I yam what I yam"', he responded in a Popeye impersonation. 'You know, Braveheart, I was shit scared when I walked into the Cakery then once I talked to the both of you I knew everything was going to be all right.'

She turned to him as they walked, enthusiastically smiled, moved Defiance to her other hand and warmly squeezed his arm,

'Terry, that's exactly the way we felt until we met you!'

'We'll get your brother back, then we'll make them pay.'

He moved the teddy bear containing his newly cleaned and reloaded rifle to his other arm and they held hands as they walked. He began singing The Teddy Bear's Picnic and she accompanied him and they began skipping like children.

'Tickle Me Elmo', as Braveheart the Warrior Woman called their prisoner gift wrapped in the red and white chequered table cloth had been of limited help when Terence encouraged it to answer their questions. Terence discovered that he really wasn't a he-man movie star who could kill with one punch; the ceramic type face mask the alien creature wore to resemble a human doubled as a protective mask to allow it to breath the atmosphere.

Terence's military experience of attracting the attention of, imparting information to and extracting information from the terminally recalcitrant had so impressed the captured alien that he apparently died of fright.

Once the alien's ceramic suits were broken or penetrated, they rapidly and unfragrently decomposed. Fortunately the shop had large rolls of heavy plastic sheeting they could wrap the aliens' remains in.

She joined him in singing 'We're off to kill the lizards, the horrible lizards in Oz' until they reached their destination.

The former insane asylum of Elizabetha was a giant complex that by its size and amount of buildings must have supplied mental defectives to all of Australasia and perhaps the rest of the British Empire. Terence and Braveheart concealed themselves to see nothing out of the ordinary, except that they noticed the same pedestrians walking back and forth and the same two sedans driving back and forth.

'With all these buildings, it will take days to find what you're looking for. Where shall we start?'

Braveheart pointed at the nearest one. He checked his rifle inside his teddy bear that had an empty plastic bottle on the muzzle so his first shot would be a silent one.

The buildings had been turned into an antique market centre with the grounds being a junkyard for old cars and farm machinery. The rusted vehicles parked around one of the buildings looked like a car show for the wrecks farmers kept on the front of their property.

The first building was a giant antique boutique with a sales clerk and customers walking in circles who could only say 'Good day' or 'Mate'. Braveheart confided to Terence that some of them had the same limited vocabulary skills before they became alien zombies.

Looking at the back of the building revealed the white van that Terence had seen carry off Braveheart's brother.

They made their way to the vehicle and opened the back to see her brother on the floor. He was barely conscious, but he was alive.

'Terry, like you said we don't know which building to start with to find the power source I want to blow up without Steve's knowledge. I think we should get him back to my home, and we'll come back and do it again when we see you the next day. We'll have his knowledge and an extra person to come with us.'

'Why do I have to leave?'

'They're used to you catching the bus back to Hobart. If you're not there they'll sense something's wrong. We're risking enough with three of them wrapped in plastic in the dumpster.'

'Tomorrow it is...Let's get Steve back.'

It must've been around three o'clock when they brought Braveheart's slowly recovering brother back to the Cakery The temperature began to dramatically turn cold. He placed his sweater back on.

'You've got to get on your bus back to Hobart! It's leaving shortly. Don't worry about me, I'll see you soon. Get out NOW!!!!'

Terence threw his teddy bear containing the rifle to the Queen who caught it.

'We'll give 'em hell tomorrow and Steve can pay them back!'

They all warmly embraced each other as he thanked them for their kindness and patience with him.

He dashed across the High Street with its two moving cars and ended up in the bus station as the white bus reading ELIZABETHA pulled into the designated area.

Libby smiled and got off the bus.

'Libby! Are you all right?'

'Do I know you? You look familiar but...'

He realised that she had arrived in Elizabetha like he had, without a memory, but had her memory back when she boarded the bus in the morning.

'I'm Terry. Promise you'll never forget me! My name is Terry and I'll be back for you!'

'Hobart!', smiled the bus driver, as he changed the destination sign of the bus and took Terry's fee.

Libby was the only passenger who got off the bus, he was the only passenger on it. He didn't see any pursuers.

The bus left the town and was back on the highway with its HOBART 35 sign. He wondered if there was a path in the invisible wall that would take him back to Hobart. He relaxed and removed his beret and sweater, placing them in his musette bag as he drank some water from his bottle.

'Bloody foggy again', Terence remarked to the driver as the mists came in and grew darker.

The bus suddenly pulled off the highway and drove down a leaf covered dirt road as the driver electronically opened the windows letting in the dark mist.

'Where the bloody hell are you going????'

Terence began to feel stiff and couldn't rise from his seat. The bus was stopping in the glade he had seen it at in the morning when Libby and the driver were unconscious...Looking up out of the window in the sky, he saw the mists briefly dissipate. He viewed a red glow and the strangest of all the strange sights that he had seen on this perpetual day of days...it was probably the strangest sight anyone had ever seen in their life.

He now realised that the town of Elizabetha was no longer on the planet Earth, it had been transported to another world or dimension where it was viewed like an ant colony or a living diorama...it was a literal terrarium.

He had to write this down but he could no longer move. His eyes shut...

* * *

'Elizabetha...ELIZABETHA!'

The bus driver's voice made Terence Fleming awaken in his seat by literally jumping as if he were startled by an electric shock. He looked around to see that he was the only passenger on the bus to the small Tasmanian town on his day excursion from Hobart to view the autumn colours...

FIN

Author Notes: I am the author of three Extra Dimensional/Ultraterrestial military science fiction novels MERCENARY EXOTIQUE, OPERATION CHUPACABRA and WORK IN OTHER WORLDS FROM YOUR OWN HOME! as well as two travel books THE MAN FROM WAUKEGAN and TWO AUSTRALIANS IN SCOTLAND (all from Lulu.com). I live happily ever after with my wife in paradise (coastal Kiama, NSW Australia).

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JPYoung
JPYoung
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15 May, 2021
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