It was a banging scene, back in the day. Before Cadman came out of the shadows, touting his weird black shit.
Back then it was all colour and sound. Everyone off their bone, grinning like nutters, sweating and gurning and losing it to the lights and the tunes. Lasers slicing the dark. Bass beats kicking up from the floor. Fractal lead lines like living things, like creatures of light that danced the sound, that danced the rush that was all of us. It was like another world. A magic kingdom.
Fucking La La Land.
I’d tell Mum I was staying round Dog’s, then we’d catch the bus out to Tescos carpark. The warehouse was always this big secret—the flyer in my pocket didn’t say nothing more than a time and a place for all the ravers to meet. No one knew where they was going ’til the lead car pulled in and everyone drove in convoy to the night.
Me and Dog was too young to drive, so we had to be there in time to cadge a lift. We’d go early and slip into the bog before the supermarket closed. Sometimes we’d roll one. Other nights we’d sniff whizz off the bog seat, come out sipping Strawberry Ribena, breaking the seal on a brand new pack of Benson & Hedges. Then we’d strut out between the cars, looking for mates or a friendly face, grinning and bobbing, blowing smoke rings into the cold, still night…
Read the full story for free in Issue 21 of Dimension6.
It used to be our favourite lookout. Our hangover lookout, Sallie called it.
We always got trashed the night we arrived and, the next day, would roll out of the cabin before dawn, woken by kookaburras and the first crystal shards of hangover. We’d slog our way through the rainforest, sweating poison, Sallie forever in the lead, boasting how she’d walked this track since she was a toddler and couldn’t I keep up. At the top, we’d stretch out on the coarse rock and share the same, unchanging picnic: crackers, cheese and cucumber sliced with a knock-off Swiss Army penknife, all rinsed back with the warm dregs of last night’s bottle of white. And there we would lose ourselves, gazing out across the canopy and the hazy blue exhalations that rose above it, into the deeper blue of the sky.
It could never be the same without her; I knew that. But something had drawn me back here, to spread out that same simple lunch and stare blankly at those same treetops…
Read more in the AHWA anthology, In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep.
Or listen to the full story on the Tales To Terrify podcast, read by Dan Rabarts:
“Look, Dad,” says Mika from the back. “Look at the faces!”
Scott adjusts the rear-view mirror. The last he checked, Mika was slumped in a chaos of Lego, two minifigures squabbling inches from his face. Now the boy is fully upright, forehead pressed to the window.
“What do you mean? What faces?”
“In the trees,” says the boy. “Bubbly heads poking out of the bark. Look, Dad, can you see?”
“What’re you talking about, retard?” Ashley is scooched way down in the passenger seat, semi-foetal with her toes on the glovebox. Scott would think she was asleep if it weren’t for the dance of thumbs over the screen of her phone.
“They’re probably galls,” says Scott. “Some trees grow them in response to bacteria, insects, that sort of thing. It’s a kind of symbiosis: the trees grow galls to protect themselves, but the galls also protect the wasps, or the greenfly or whatever, by drawing them in, growing around them.”
“Ha,” says Mika and smiles, stares out at the milky light strobing through the trees. “Galls.”
The car climbs, clings to the narrow snake of highway, winding upwards, out of the rainforest and the stop-motion fireworks of ancient tree-ferns, up into the dry alpine region and the edge of the burn zone…
Old Growth won the SQ Mag Story Quest Short Story Competition 2016 and the Aurealis Award for Best Horror Short Story in 2017.
Read the full story for free online in SQ Mag Edition 31.