The Charm – Chapter 29


Jemma looks up into the tree the dead man’s bone’s lie beneath. A knotted rope hangs up there, swaying slightly in the breeze. She wonders why a man would buy a brand new Landcruiser for the sole purpose of driving into the bush to kill himself. The thought is quickly banished. They could worry about ownership issues after they escaped this nightmare.

She runs to the car, hesitating at the faint, ghostly aura surrounding it before reaching for the door. Touching cold hard metal is so relieving it shakes her. She’s incensed by the fear that controls her.

The door opens smoothly.

The key is in the ignition and the cabin is spotless. A new car smells wafts out.

Jemma smirks shortly at the little girl in her giving an unbidden warning to believe, believe as hard as you can or it may disappear. The words echo in a recently vacated space her rational mind used to occupy. The notion is swept aside as she concentrates on being thankful the keys don’t have to be retrieved from the corpse.

A long, drawn out cry in the distance reminds her of their peril. She runs to Traci who is groaning about the difficulty of sitting up. Jemma helps her stand and they walk towards the ute in a tortuously slow shuffle. Traci climbs into the driver’s seat where she sits uncomprehendingly behind the wheel.

“I don’t think I should drive…”

Jemma runs out of patience and shoves Traci hard towards the passenger side, careful to avoid the charm as it swings towards her.

“Move over!”

The rough treatment brings Traci further out of her daze.

“Ow, watch out, you’re pushing me into the gear stick. Hey, I don’t wanna go in this. That dead man owns it.”

“SHUT UP! He doesn’t need it. Lock your door and put the seatbelt on.”

Jemma fumbles with the key and gets the singularly terrifying response of nothing. She twists the key several more time in quick succession. With great reluctance she addresses the Charm’s monster hanging around Traci’s neck.

“If you really aren’t a figment of my imagination, you better help out here.”

The Charm breaks its brooding silence and emits half an eerie tone that dies sickly. The engine stutters then bursts into life. Jemma is suddenly very sure all is not as it seems in this world. Contemplation of this epiphany is short lived.

“Are you talking to me? That’s odd. This charm thing got really warm and then went cold.”

“It’s weak, Trace. Obviously it has some power left. I think we came to an arrangement while you were out of it, but we have to get rid of it before it starts feeding on you again.”

“It’s not feeding on me…”

“I’ve seen its mind. Whatever that thing is, it doesn’t think like us, it reacts to our needs instinctively. When we needed transport it lead us to this car. When it got too weak, it tried to take your energy. When you took it and I threatened you, it called a pair of maniacs for backup.”

“I don’t really know what you’re on about but I feel something bad is coming. Fast.” Traci is looking into the darkness through her window when Mark springs out of the night and hit her door hard enough to rock the ute’s suspension. Both girls flinch and scream in shock.


Mark punches and head-butts the glass, wrenching at the locked door handle. Traci continues screaming, staring into Mark’s sweat and blood slicked face. He is agonised from hard running. His voice contorts with rage.


Jemma reverses fast. A thump of something heavy hitting the tray makes her brake by reflex. She twists around to see Terry staggering up from the blow. He recovers his balance and grips the tailgate, vaulting into the back.

Jemma very deliberately pulls down her seatbelt and releases the clutch. She drives straight at Mark, accelerating while staring into his eyes.

Mark has no intention of getting out of the way. He runs straight at them. Illuminated by the headlights he looks every inch the madman he’s become. Screaming insanely he crumples over the bull-bar then climbs onto the bonnet to slides up windscreen, smearing it with blood. His face is a mess but the pain is shrugged off. He holds the wiper arms in a death grip, crazed eyes riveted on Jemma’s while she wrenches hard on the steering wheel, taking them in a wild zigzagging path around the camp. Chunks of dirt and rocks rattle and hiss underneath. Terry slides and tumbles around behind the cab but won’t be thrown out. Traci stops screaming long enough to grab for the seat belt she hadn’t yet fastened.

Jemma gains speed and deliberately drives blindly into the thick scrub, hoping to dislodge her unwanted passengers. Mark presses himself harder against the screen, whipped mercilessly by branches. Jemma can’t see where she is going. She winds the window down to stick her head out and finds the track leading away from the camp. Mark’s clawing hand bats at her head.

Traci has a better view through her side.

“Look out Jemma, the van!”

Jemma can’t look at anything. Terry is pulling her out the window by her hair.

Blinded with tears of pain she accelerates instead of braking. The ute bounces hard across the same huge rut that has swallowed their van. Terry’s hand is torn free and she jerks her head back inside still hard on the throttle. The ute slams into the already broken van. The sound of crumpling metal and shattering glass fills the cabin.

(Chapter 30)

Published in: on Thursday, 18 December, 2008 at 2:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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