Barricade 053 Live

BARRICADE

I woke with a jolt, my movement stirring Jay but not quite waking him.

Unsure how long we’d been asleep, I ran my fingertips along Jay’s arm, quietly murmuring his name. He shifted, muttered in his sleep, but didn’t wake.

“Jay. Wake up. Come on.” I raised my voice to normal levels, anxiety spiking my stomach.

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The beginning

 

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If the trucks stopped…

truckies I don’t know if this is 100% accurate, but it does really highlight just how much we rely on our truck drivers to transport goods from A to B.

The message being shared behind this picture is to give trucks extra room, being aware of their blind spots and just being generally courteous. I already do all those things (I mean, if for no other reason, trucks are a hell of a lot bigger than most of our vehicles), but it did get me thinking about trucks in the Barricade world. To this point, Charlie and Jay have been relying on looting food and supplies from abandoned houses. While that’s feasible in an environment where so many people have been wiped out, it also has to end soon.

And this is where being self-sustainable comes in to play. Having your own garden, having your own means to grow and harvest food. If things really go sour, though, you also need the ability to protect it from both human and beast. A simple picket fence is going to do little to keep anything that’s hungry out.

All of this is not just rambling, it’s also in line with what’s about to happen to Charlie and Jay…

Barricade 052 Live

BARRICADEThe final showdown we may have wanted didn’t come. The late afternoon set silently around us, the house betraying no other presence beyond the occasional settling creak.

“I guess we’re alone.” Jay said finally, as he stood and stepped over our packs. “I’m going to have a look around.”

He didn’t ask me to go with him, and truthfully, I wanted to be alone. He was rough, angry – and we were both grieving. We had lost Annie all over again, and now we were adrift.

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The beginning

 

Characters Behaving Badly

My favourite book is one I read as a kid – called Ariel, Zed and the Secret of Life by Anna Feinberg. Without giving too much away, it’s about a young girl named Ariel whose mother is an author.

The story has a slight magic twist, however, because the characters she writes about come to life and stay with Ariel and her family. Sometimes, the characters refuse to behave, and authors send them off to the mysterious Island.

Ariel is, by all accounts, a bit of a misfit. She’s at an awkward age and nothing is really working for her socially or at school. In some ways, we’re all just a little bit Ariel.

first draft Anyway, this image and memories of the book always give me a frustrated smile when my own characters aren’t behaving. It’s strange how your own characters, the ones you’ve brought to life, can gradually stray off course until one day you’re thinking about where your writing is at and you just think “Wait a minute… What?!”

Writing Barricade has been a whirlwind, crazy unplanned kind of adventure. The book I was writing before zombies infiltrated my world had a lot more planning, down to pictures, maps, sketches – the whole lot. So in a lot of ways, Barricade has thrown me off track a little bit.

I hope, though, that it gives it some… Charm is definitely not the right word, but something genuine that adds to the frenzied feeling of their environment – crazy, rushed, dangerous. Panicked.

Still, even in that hurried state, I sometimes find myself ‘looking’ at the characters and wanting to ask them, “Why have you done this to me? This wasn’t the plan!”

Giant goanna busted scaling houses in NSW

An unmistakably Australian headline hit a few days ago:

‘It was a big bloody big shock’: Giant goanna busted scaling side of NSW house in Thurgoona

Now, I’m not going to lie. As an Aussie, I’m pretty used to sharing my space with different spiders, lizards, grasshoppers, etc. The conversation at our house usually goes:

Me: “Is that a dangerous spider or an OK one?”

Husband: “That one’s OK.”

And then the spider gets left alone to craft its web, or carefully escorted out to the garden. I’ve found myself apologising to spider for accidentally crashing through their web and destroying their hard work.

But this…

Honestly, this would have me a whimpering, terrified wreck. So the story goes this guy in New South Wales had been working in his shed when he spotted a 1.5 metre goanna scaling his house.

For the non-Australians, a “goanna” is a member of the monitor lizard family. They have a prominent place in both Aboriginal mythology and Australian folklore.

And, coincidentally, a prominent place in my nightmares. Just take a look at this guy and imaging him scaling your house:

Goanna 1

Oh hai guys

When I was a kid, we used to have family BBQs at this national park, which featured massive goannas and just for added fun, giant moths all over the bathroom doors.

As a fully grown adult, I may or may not have locked myself in our Jeep and ate my lunch after hear rustling in the bushes behind me and realising it was a goanna (much to the other campers’ delight at my antics).

Goanna 2Just in case this guy isn’t terrifying enough on his own, guess what can happen if you lock up in fear and make the terrible mistake of standing still?


“Alarmed goannas can mistake standing humans for trees and attempt to climb off the ground to safety, which is understandably painful, as well as distressing for both man and beast.”

…Nope!

Confessions of a Jeep Girl 001

Jeep

A few years ago, when I was still only dating the man who would become my husband, he said something to me that made me laugh – a lot.

“Jeep gets in your blood,” He said, “and once it’s there… it’s there forever.”

I was driving a little Suzuki which at the time, I thought I loved. It was my first car and I was overly precious about it, parking it lovingly underneath whenever it went anywhere, leaving the biggest space possible between me and every other vehicle… Keeping certain things out of it in case the scuffed or scratched my interior.

To hear someone talking about a brand of car getting in your blood was just inconceivable to me.

A year or so on, we sold my Suzuki – and his car – and bought a JK. I didn’t have a lot of passion for it – primarily it was his Jeep, and although I enjoyed driving it and appreciated its reliability and “go anywhere, do anything” attitude, I never grew completely attached to it.

And while I had been sad handing over the keys to the Suzuki, I didn’t really miss it once it was gone.

We did beach trips – sometimes without a roof or doors – we went camping, we saw dingoes and bumped over anything that could be bumped over.

She was a good Jeep, and she did everything we asked without so much as a hiccup.

A few years later, the new Grand Cherokee was coming out, and we were tempted. On paper, it ticked every box, and then some.

The JK was coming up to 100,000k’s and we decided it was a good idea. We traded the JK in on a brand new Grand Cherokee.

Once again – she did everything we asked. She gave us 1,000km’s – easily – on a single tank of fuel. Her interior was spacious and comfortable enough to sleep in (something we did several times over long road trips).

What I hadn’t known, though – and what he had forgotten in the excitement of a new car that ticked every imaginable box – was that for us, it wasn’t just Jeeps that got in our blood. It was, specifically, Wranglers.

By that stage I had a little car of my own to run around in again – a $2,000 Mitsubishi that was old but mechanically flawless.

After one too many near misses with bigger cars, who appeared to not even see the admittedly tiny Mitsubishi, I started thinking about an upgrade. A salesman at the Jeep dealership suggested I try driving an ex-demo, two door Wrangler they had on the lot.

It was love. Love at first drive.

Nothing was going to stand between me and that Wrangler. I’d named her before we’d signed a single scrap of paperwork!

I’d had her for maybe six months before my husband couldn’t handle it anymore. Combined with this wistful look he gave every Wrangler he passed on the road, and the fact he had to come home and look at my Wrangler – well, it didn’t take long for him to crack.

We said a guilty goodbye to the Grand Cherokee – who had, after all, done everything perfectly. I told it, “I’m sorry, but you’re just not a Wrangler”, and the deal was done.

Finally, we were a two Wrangler family.

Until…

I made our second mistake. It was actually only about a year ago. I test drove, purely by chance (driving it to someone else), a zippy little European number that was beautiful, fun to drive and… Much like the Grand Cherokee, ticked every conceivable box.

Letting logic guide me (for once!), I had gone through every step of handing over my Jeep in exchange for the European beauty. At the eleventh hour, I called my husband nearly in tears.

I didn’t want to go through with it.

knew I was making a mistake.

“It’s too late,” He told me, “you’ve signed and it’s all gone through.”

I hung up and drove home, dejected. With no choice, and with logic taking a massive step back – too late! – my only choice was to grin and bear it.

And I enjoyed her, for a while. She was quick, comfortable. Much like the Grand Cherokee, she gave me 1,000kms for every tank of fuel.

It probably lasted six months. For six months I was able to convince even myself that I was happy with the choice I’d made. I took good care of her. But, much like my husband before me, I soon found myself eyeing off other Wranglers on the road.

Every little thing that was ‘wrong’ with my car screamed at me whenever I got in to drive it, or thought about it.

Or, as was becoming the norm, every time I thought about a Wrangler.

I devoured car sales websites for weeks. I used every trick I knew to convince my husband. (I did have, after all, an effectively brand new car sitting in the garage at this point.)

Probably the worst day – and I’m still slightly embarrassed to admit how emotional I became – was the day I found my old Jeep for sale at a used car dealership. I watched it like a hawk all day, I booked a time to go and see her, and I drove my husband crazy until he agreed to drive the ~45 minutes for me to take a look. (Don’t tell him, but I was ready to jump the gun and get her again, then and there.)

Sadly, when we got there, they hadn’t taken great care of her. She was covered in rust in spots that only rust if you don’t look after them properly. They’d missed chunks of sand when detailing the body – and they’d smoked inside, too.

Disappointed, we left. I couldn’t justify getting her back in that condition, and I felt terribly guilty for ever letting any of that happen.

I went back to car sites, and forums, and whatever I could find, with my husband quietly not saying, well, much of anything about it.

Finally, after driving me crazy for a few weeks, he said, “It’s me. I get it.”

I took that as a green light and test drove two brand new Wranglers – a manual and an automatic. On the day of the test drive, I’d been in meetings that stretched over two days. My head was killing me (I get monster headaches) and I was just so under the weather I wanted to climb under a blanket and never come out.

The automatic rolled out of the lot first, and I jumped in. It was so familiar. It was even the same colour as my previous Jeep.

Fifteen seconds into the drive and I was grinning from ear to ear.

I’d come home.

It took a day or so for the figures to come through – what I would pay, what they would pay for the little European number – but when they did, I couldn’t reach my husband.

Too high on excitement and thrilling panic to wait, I gave the salesman the go ahead and still unable to call my husband, sent him a single text:

“Please don’t kill me :)”

What he’d said to me, all those years ago, had finally come to pass for me too. I’d known it with my original Jeep, but instead of listening to that inner voice when I was able to back out, I’d waited until the last minute and lost my chance.

I still regret that, in a way. That Jeep will always be special because she was my first Jeep.

But now I have my very own brand new Jeep, and I’ve put every k on her (nearly 2,500 and I’ve only had her a few weeks – I might have a problem!).

There is nothing on the road like having your very own Jeep. In our case, it’s Wranglers. My husband’s Wrangler of choice is a 4 door. I prefer the look and feel of the 2 door, and honestly?

Every time I see her – I smile. And that’s worth more than getting 1,000kms to a tank.