On this festive Christmas week, I’m hosting author, John Holland.
John Holland grew up in the Australian outback. He has been a stockman, miner, roadworker, professional hunter, newspaper columnist and media officer for a politician.
His poetry and fiction are about life and the question of where we fit into an uncertain universe.
Left of the Rising Sun
~ Ten-year-old Buck Brown is the sole survivor of a plane crash in the interior of Australia’s Northern Territory. Watching the plane sink into the murky water of a remote outback billabong, he remembers the pilot saying they had been flying off-course for hours. Search parties will never find Buck, he decides. There is only one way out, to walk several hundred kilometres home.
With grim resolve, Buck sets out on a trek that will require resolve, knowledge, and ingenuity, a journey that will test his strength to the limit. He will be a participant in the elemental struggle for life and survival.
Buck’s gruelling trial will also teach him surprising lessons about friendship and loyalty. If he is successful it will be a trek that leads not only back to his family and home but also to a maturity not always achieved in a full lifetime. ~
Here is an excerpt:
~Buck took inventory. He was wearing a light shirt and drill shorts. The nights shouldn’t be cold, though, so he wouldn’t freeze. He also wore new sandshoes and short socks. All he had in his pockets were a handkerchief, which might come in handy, and his beloved “army knife—” a Christmas present from his family. It wasn’t really an army knife, but it might be even handier. It was a folding knife with two cutting blades of different lengths, a serrated blade you could saw with, a tiny pair of scissors, and a tiny magnifying glass. The magnifying glass interested him the most. He should be able to use it to start a fire!
It was early afternoon, and the sun was still high. With the sun where it was, he could work out the direction he should take. Well…pretty closely anyway. Buck pointed himself along his chosen path and aimed for what looked like a gap between hills in the far distance. He knew enough to pick out a landmark and adhere to that direction.
Each morning he would have to pick out a new landmark to aim for that day. Home should be roughly east north-east. If he faced the first light of the rising sun each day and spread his arms directly outwards, his left hand should be pointing north, and his right hand pointing south. Bring his left hand around halfway to the sun, and that should be north-east. Bring it from north-east halfway to the sun again and that should be east north-east. Maybe that wasn’t the exact direction to head, but it would be pretty close. To make it easier he would just steer each day’s walk to a landmark picked out on the horizon not too far to the left of the rising sun.
Fortunately he would be travelling through mostly savannah country with quite a few hills. These would make good landmarks to steer towards if the hills were close enough to his chosen direction.
Daylight dimmed as Buck neared the first hills. He started looking for shelter and found a small waterhole near the foot of a hill. Time to stop before darkness made it impossible to keep to his path.
The water tasted like washing-up water, but it would do. He drank thirstily and then picked up some wood and grass as well as dried leaves, which he took up to a spot where the rock of the hill was slightly undercut and gave some overhead protection.
The afternoon sun was low and sluggish, but he might still have time for a fire. After crushing dry leaves and dead grass to a powder with his hands, he focused the beam from the magnifying glass on them. He concentrated hard to make sure he held the glass the exact distance from the powdered grass and leaves. When smoke started to curl from the powder, his heart lifted. After a few tries, and by using his breath to fan the smouldering pile of powder, he was rewarded by a small lick of flame. Quickly he fed it with dry leaves, grass, and twigs until it caught, and he could use the bigger sticks of wood he had gathered. Success! He could make fire!~
Louisa Publishing: http://poetrysansfrontieres.weebly.com/louisa-publishing.html
Amazon link: http://amzn.com/1502861933
John and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.