My Short Stories

Atlantis or Earth?

by  Charlie Dimech.

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I pulled on the rope of the outboard motor .. nothing.
I opened out the choke and retried...again...again...
After several minutes, in exasperation staring out across the river, I noticed the fishermen were just returning with their days catch.
It wouldn't be much, I reflected. Probably just enough to keep them in pocket money.
The Hawthorne had been fished out years ago. It was a wonder the government hadn't placed a moratorium on  it for a while.
The 'mother' up the river, she ran the 'Travellers Rest', a converted boatshed with about twenty old iron beds, rusted by the salt air which blew in from that part of the river., and covered in mattresses which had seen about twenty years go by... had no doubt heard the motor cough and die.
I rowed out into the middle of the river, hoping to catch the receding tide to take me down river - aided by the slow movement of my oars. I had a train to catch - but it wouldn't be tonight, I thought.
I arrived in Clarendon next morning and  moored the boat in a shed rented to me by a man who hired out old fishing boats with in-board put-putt engines. I waited for the train at the nearby station .... then a one and a half hour train ride to Evandale where my friend would be waiting for me for our journey to Central Australia.
 A geologist, out here two years from the USA ,and claimed to have discovered the famous Lasseters Reef. He had confided in me because it was I who had told him about the reef in the first place two years previously.
American gold deposits still contained about thirty percent of the original gold, including even known deposits, but the difficulty of extraction did not make it an attractive proposition.
Here, however, a tale of a 'mountain of gold' was 'almost to good to be true' .....
He had spent two years planning and searching fo the reef and it had finally paid off , he claimed.
When I arrived in Evandale I walked the one and a half miles to his house.
The strange foreboding I had on that one and a half mile walk was resolved when I arrived... He was dead.
He had suffered a heart attack approximately three hours previously, the excitement of his find perhaps, who knows?
In any event the curse which had plagued goldseekers for over sixty years, which had claimed the life of Lasseter himself  and ended in disarray hundreds of expeditions subsequently in search of the reef had finally caught up with him.
His American imperviousness to a 'foreign superstition' he thought, perhaps which had enabled him, as he claimed to go so far as to find the reef, could not hold out. As with Lasseter himself, he died alone.
That was three years prior.
I  moved to Queensland soon after, where I still grow mangoes, avocadoes, and bananas on my property at the base of the Daintree National Park.
I live with my wife Beth and our two beautful children Ruth, aged 11, who is excelling in her music studies and Deborah, aged 6.
We work the farm ourselves, with occasional help from seasonal workers.
It is peaceful and quiet. Our only battle is against crop pests and diseases, and .... getting Deborah to go to school.