Poo Mountain, the hate name Maurice called the cattle town her parent’s hailed from, was the last place on earth where Maurice Darling wanted to die. Gloucester nestled in the scoured foothills of what was once green valley country, grassy pastures were now cracked, rocky earth. Walcha was at the top – the end of the world as far as things went with this urban urchin. This retreat to home ground was far from a surrender to an inevitable end for Bex.
Maurice knew all the stories of how mum and dad roamed the grazing pastures and bush land, hunting endangered species, pretending to be endangered species hunters, saving them from predators, a.k.a, the human race mostly. This was where it all started – their scientific research, their love, their passion for the environment, their quest, their obsessive-compulsive belief in Luck and the feud with The Consumer. Her mother still believed that the ranges here were magical, lucky. The gap between what was said and what was being done worried Maurice. What surprises lay ahead?
“Where is your Luck now?” Maurice scoffed, as she rode her bicycle towards an abandoned, petrol station.
Secretly, Maurice feared that she had inherited a madness gene but, so far, she felt sane … most of the time. Her olds invented The Deviation Principle. It was different from her own Deviant’s Deviousness Principle. Deviation means you avoid being stuck in the middle of nowhere on a stolen bike when the world is about to end by deviating, choosing not to listen to the ravings of your lunatic mother. Deviousness is the tactics used by said deviant.
Deviation is based on The Uncertainty Principle, which was a law of existence, so they said. Some cat named Schroder, or Schrodinger or something, said you could be both dead and alive in a box. Maurice had a feeling that you didn’t need to be in a box. And she had a bad feeling Schroder had failed to take into account the possibility of being half dead, half alive – sort of like the glass being half full for some people but half empty for others.
Sometimes, on days like today, Maurice had an inkling that she wasn’t fully alive, and yet neither did she feel completely dead. Unexpectedly, her cosmic imagination interrupted her serious inklings. She imagined Schrodinger’s poncy cat, Schroder, being turned into a moth-eaten, stuffed animal in a museum. Schroder was a repeating motif in her frequent, horror dreams.
The ultimate problem, she felt, was that the world still didn’t believe all the hard evidence about the existence of The Consumer. Not only didn’t they believe it, they pretended nothing was wrong. It was too problematic for Maurice to think about for too long because it meant that her parents were not crazy after all, like everyone said.
Tears welled in Maurice’s eyes as she thought about how her father died trying to prove them wrong. The world ridiculed Professor Murray Darling. They scorned his research, just like she scorned her half-wit mother now. Guilt churned her gut over. They were right, all along. The Consumer, as Professor Murray Darling called the species of moth he had discovered as a kid in Walcha, was indeed slurping our energy off the planet, possibly out of the galaxy. And no one knew what she did with all that energy.
As Maurice approached an abandoned service station, a shadow flickered over her face and fluttered away towards the setting sun. She slowed down and lingered at a safe distance away from the spooky shack. When Bexley caught up she proceeded straight in and started a generator at the back of the garage. She checked the tank and pulled a fraying chord. To her delight it rumbled to life. The puffs of stinky, black smoke horrified Maurice.