No More Road Trips

Road trips are never as fun as they seem to be. Being stuck in a car for five hours at a time with nowhere to get more water or go to the bathroom is exhausting and not something that I actually enjoy doing. I mean, why would I sit in a car for twelve hours to drive not even halfway across the country when I could fly in half the time?

I should have stuck to my morals and not said yes to road tripping with my friends over the summer. I caved and said yes when my friend said she got general servicing at the best mechanic in Raceview. I understand what a car service from that mechanic means and I knew that the safety of the car would be absolutely top-notch. I value my safety a lot and so I said yes in a moment of weakness. I should have also thought about the hours I’d have to spend cramped in a car pumping out recycled air and singing songs that I don’t like. I’ve already mentioned the lack of toilet stops and water, which probably deserves to be mentioned again because it’s so annoying.

Despite the road trip being the bane of my existence, I do have to give credit where credit is due. The annual car maintenance undertaken by the Raceview mechanic was second to none. The car went up so many mountains with tight turns and windy roads with complete ease. Not once did I feel unsafe during the drive and I definitely owe that to the good work of the mechanic. Other than the great condition of the car though, the drive was torturous. 

If any of my friends think I’m getting up at 4:00 am ever again to drive twelve hours away then they are kidding themselves. It’s just not going to happen – whether they like it or not.

Share House Bathroom

Every day that I’m showering in my share house bathroom I wish that I could be showering in my parents’ shower. I’ve told you guys about how incredible it is and I attached pictures of it in my last blog post, so you guys should fully understand why I want to be showering in it instead of in my share house shower.

Why did we think that one bathroom for four girls was going to be enough? For this to be even semi-functional we need serious bathroom renovations. Melbourne homes just shouldn’t come with less than two bathrooms at this point. It’s not functional, especially because the census said that the majority of households consist of multiple people, rather than one person. Where there are multiple people in a house there need to be multiple bathrooms – it’s as simple as that. 

So why am I complaining about the share house bathroom, then? Because it’s disgusting. No one cleans it except for me and the girls take multiple showers per day. That leads to a LOT of soap scum! And apparently, I’m the only person that can see it. I’m not sure how that works.  

I wish I had the money to just commission bespoke bathroom designers to come in and completely redesign our bathroom. I wish I then also had the money to do an extension on the house and add in a brand new bathroom. But alas, I certainly don’t have that type of money and this house is a rental. I couldn’t make changes to it even if I wanted to. At this point, I’m not even allowed to add a hook on the wall of my bedroom to hang up a photo of my family. How sad is that? 

I guess I just need to accept the hand that I’ve been dealt and deal with the fact that I will never have a good bathroom. Unless…

Bender’s Auto Shop

From the local scenery, Maphira could tell this was an auto shop located in Moorabbin. She’d been in the area enough times to recognise some of the buildings across the street, meaning that she didn’t just know the suburb, but she knew exactly which car service shop located in Moorabbin she had been brought to.

They led her to a strange theatre at the back of the auto shop, like a medical theatre where people could watch the procedure except for car repairs instead of surgery. In the seats above her, she spotted a man in dark robes with a gold mask depicting an elephant, along with a few lesser-looking Conclave members. She assumed the masked man would be the Great Mechanist Vai had spoken of – the leader of the Conclave of Mechanists.

“Bring the test subject forward,” said a man who stood by a computer. “Let’s get Project Bender underway. It is time for my child to take flight.”

“Yes, Dr McBane,” said Vai. “Where do you want her?”

Dr McBane, the once-Premier of Victoria? He was the Conclave’s top scientist behind this project? Already, Maphira had learned a great deal. She had to see this through, though. What else could they reveal to her in their arrogance?

“Put her against the wall there, with the chains on, please,” said McBane. “This is no simple car air con regas being done here today. No, it is much more complicated than any mechanical work. Now, bring out Project Bender!”

As they led Maphira toward the wall, she grabbed her radio piece and put it in her ear, ensuring her hair covered it up well. Set to Mr Chowski’s broadcast, which was currently just playing classic tunes, she was ready for whatever the Conclave could throw at her.

And now, finally, she’d get to see just what this Project Bender was all about. With any luck, maybe she could stop the whole thing before it even got started.

Into the Sewer

Maphira made the decision early that if she was going to be hauled through the sewers, she would be as annoying as possible about it.

“You seriously never played any Minimon games?” she asked Vai, her voice echoing through Melbourne’s dank and putrid sewer system. “Never even heard of them?”

“Nope,” answered Vai, her voice strained, likely already irritated at Maphira’s constant talking. “Should I have?”

Although Vai couldn’t see it, Maphira gave her former partner a shocked look through the darkness. “Of course, you should have! Minimon is the global sensation that took the world by storm in 1996, with the release of the first video games, Minimon Red and Green versions. Short for Miniature Monsters, Minimon sees you take on the role of a young boy about to start an adventure. You collect different monsters and use them to battle against other monster trainers, taking on difficult challenges such as the vile Team Rocketship and the country’s elite monster trainers. You put together a team of six—”

“By the almighty Lord Garthablog the 27th, just shut up.”

Maphira held her tongue for a moment. Just long enough for Vai to think she’d actually follow the demand.

“You know,” she started again, “I think Melbourne really should do better with its sewers. Why not get a good, professional drain plumber down here to clean them out a bit, you know? I think it would do the city a world of good, especially since we all seem to be down here so often.”

Vai groaned. “You idiot, we obviously paid off the premier to keep people out of here, so that we could use the sewers for secret travelling. It would do us no good to have regular drain cleaning. Around Melbourne, most people don’t go into the sewers, and that’s just the way we like it.”

“Wow,” Maphira said, “that’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. Must have been a real moron who came up with that one.” Just in front of her, Maphira noticed Vai clench her fist.

“It was my idea,” Vai said.

Maphira could only grin.

Now We Wait

I stepped back and looked at my car, my pride and joy, the cherry-red apple of my eye… wrapped around a lamppost.

         ‘Well that’s not very good, is it?’ chuckled the tow truck driver, crossing his arms next to me.

         I turned, very slowly, to glare at him. He put his hands up in mock defence.

         ‘Oh, don’t mind me, just got a job to do.’

         ‘And yet,’ I said. ‘Here you are.’

         ‘Well, I’ve gotta wait for the coppers, don’t I? Can’t go shiftin’ evidence around before they get here to decide just how much trouble you’re in.’

         I turned away from him, glaring at my car instead.

         ‘So what was it?’ he asked. ‘Bit of the drink? A little too much candy?’

         ‘A duck, actually’ I turned back to him. ‘I swerved to miss a family of ducks.’

         ‘Right, right…’ he nodded. ‘Well, I hope those ducks know a good mechanic around Bentleigh, because I don’t know that your insurance are gonna be too happy to pay for all that.’

         ‘Probably not,’ I sighed. ‘They’ll probably just pay me out and scrap it.’

         ‘A right shame, that,’ he shook his head. I could only nod.

         ‘What is she, a ’79?’ he asked. ‘I hear the electrics are a beast in those. ‘I have a buddy who does auto electrical repairs, near Bentleigh actually, and he–’

         ‘Sorry, could we not?’ I asked. ‘I’m actually still going through a lot, right now.’

         ‘Oh yeah, too right,’ he apologised with a slight bow. ‘Because she’s a ’79?’

         ‘Because I was in a car crash.’

         ‘Oh yeah, gotcha, spot on too, that,’ he nodded, sticking his hands in his coveralls. ‘Did you need an ambulance, or…’

         ‘I’m fine.’

         ‘Yeah, yeah, no doubt, no doubt…’

         I took a deep, shuddering breath, wondering how exactly this man had given me more of a headache than my airbag had.

         Then the sirens arrived.

Conveyancing Captive

Maphira had been dragged around the city of Melbourne for days on end. From buyer’s advocacy to buyer’s advocacy, the Conclave of Mechanists had moved their captive on a daily basis – often more than once a day, even. She was starting to get whiplash, and she was also starting to suspect that the Conclave had run out of buyer’s agencies to take her to.

After all, she was currently being held at the offices of a fine conveyancer based in Brighton, which was certainly a first. She wasn’t really sure what the point of moving her around so much was, but then again, nothing the Conclave of Mechanists did seemed to make sense.

Someone opened the door to the small room Maphira had been confined to, throwing a sandwich wrapped in plastic over to her, then quickly shutting the door and locking it. The sandwiches were always the same; peanut butter and strawberry jam. They’d always been Maphira’s favourite, but she pretended to hate them. When they’d first taken her captive, they had given her a cheese toasty, but when Maphira had expressed delight over the taste, they’d given her another sandwich the next day. It seemed they wanted her to be miserable. Perhaps they were trying to break her spirit.

Part of Maphira wanted to blame Rylee for putting her in this situation. After all, she wouldn’t be stuck at a property conveyancing firm if her sister hadn’t betrayed her. But Maphira knew that she only had herself to blame. If she’d just told Rylee the truth about Cole all those years ago, she wouldn’t have been in this situation.

Surely the Conclave had something in mind for Maphira. Vai had mentioned Project Bender, but that was weeks ago now. How much longer would they drag her from conveyancing firm to conveyancing firm? Or maybe she’d be back at another buyer’s agency again tomorrow. At this point, Maphira had no idea what fate had waiting for her anymore.

Owed A Favour

‘You know, I have no idea what the aircon actually looks like.’

         I glanced over at Drew in the passenger seat, slowly chewing on a brownie. He’d asked me to pick him up from a dental appointment, and I still owed him for helping me move a couch a few weekends back.

         ‘What?’

         ‘The aircon,’ he said, pointing at the vents in my dashboard. ‘I don’t know what the whole thing actually looks like.’

         ‘Well, it’s…’ I frowned as I realised I had no idea either. ‘It’s just a standard aircon, I guess.’

         ‘But you don’t know,’ he pressed. ‘None of us do.’

         He took another bite of the brownie.

         ‘I’m sure that mechanics would,’ I rolled my eyes. ‘We could stop in at one of the car repair shops near me, if that would help you?’

         ‘What if they’re lying?’ he whispered.

         ‘What?’

         ‘The mechanics.’ His eyes flared wide. Another bite.

         ‘Why would the mechanics… what are you talking about?’

         ‘You know, I heard of a mechanic near Adelaide who regasses air conditioning systems in cars,’ he nodded, more or less having the conversation with himself at this point.

         ‘So?’

         ‘So, what gas is it?’ he asked, fixing me with a conspiratorial stare. ‘What exactly are we breathing?’

         ‘Air, you moron. It’s air.’

         ‘But what kind of–’

         ‘The breathable kind!’ I snapped, stopping slightly too hard at a red light. ‘The gas is just the refrigerant. It just needs to be repressurised every now and then to make sure the system is working right.’

         His eyes widened even more, as he pressed himself against the door.

You,’ he hissed. ‘You’re one of them!’

‘A mechanic?’ I frowned.

Before I could stop him, he’d unclipped his seatbelt and thrown open the door, running as fast as he could through the intersection, away from me.

‘Drew!’ I called after him, shaking my head. With a sigh, I reached over and pulled his door shut. 

As I leaned back, I noticed he’d left his brownie on the seat behind him.       

I shrugged and took a bite.

Bathroom Design Ideas

Do you know what it’s like to live in a house with fifteen people? It’s hard, let me just say that. Between my immediate family (me, my three sisters, two brothers and parents), and seven other random family members and friends we have decided to house, there is rarely any space left for me to relax. Even moving about through hallways and the kitchen can pose a challenge when everybody is home at the same time. And although dinners are always fun, they’re also a hassle. Everybody chips in to buy food, since that’s what makes it a little more fair, but ultimately it’s difficult to cook for fifteen people every day.

I’ve spoken to my parents about a number of different bathroom design ideas that we could potentially implement to give us more space. Our bathroom at the moment is cluttered with dozens of different products that have been haphazardly strewn across the counter, in the sink, and on the floor and bench space in the shower. It’s not fun at all. I’m quite frankly sick of maneuvering about with so many things that don’t even belong to me taking up all the space. Even something as simple as an extra cupboard would do wonders. The main hitch in my bathroom design proposal is that for many bathroom renovations, Melbourne designers have to adhere to certain requirements. Often, these requirements have to do with safety, but sometimes they also dictate the cost. My family isn’t very wealthy, so we won’t be able to afford anything new and flashy. However, I am excited to see what sorts of ideas we can come up with using only our limited budget. I know for a fact that there are many things we can do. We just have to be creative and not waste our budget on things that aren’t completely necessary or don’t maximise space in the best way possible.

A Wild Ride

‘You know, I’m glad we did this,’ I smiled at Julie. She smiled back at me from the driver’s seat, seemingly endless trees whipping past her.

         ‘Me too,’ she said, squeezing my hand. ‘We managed to have fun in the end.’

         ‘And all the way to Toowoomba!’ I laughed.

         ‘The whole country,’ she smiled, sadly. I noticed her expression and frowned.

         ‘What’s wrong?’

         Her knuckles tightened their grip around the steering wheel, as she took a deep breath.

         ‘I’m just… is it really over?’

         She looked back at me with damp eyes, then quickly ducked her head to play with the air conditioning instead.

         ‘Jules,’ I started, reaching over to touch her shoulder. ‘We’ve been on the road for four weeks.’

         ‘I know,’ she sighed. ‘I know. I’m just… I’m not ready for it to end.’

         I nodded, knowing how she felt. We sat in silence, watching the trees. Suddenly, I had an idea.

         ‘Oh god, can you believe it?’ I half-shouted at the windshield. She looked at me, confused.

         ‘Believe what?’

         ‘The engine!’ I cried, winking at her. ‘I can’t believe it just exploded like that!’

         A slight smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. ‘I guess this car must be due for its log book service!’

         She was playing along!

         Still smiling, Julie slowly checked her mirrors to make sure we were really alone on the road, then carefully pulled the vehicle to the left, into the emergency stopping zone.

         ‘Damn it!’ I grinned as we drifted to a light stop. ‘This is gonna ruin our plans!’

         ‘We’re gonna need to find a good mechanics near Toowoomba!

         We burst out laughing, holding each other’s hands over the gearbox. ‘I wouldn’t want to break down with anyone else,’ I smiled at her.

         ‘Nobody else,’ she nodded.

         We sat there, in that perfectly functional car, for hours, waiting for an imaginary tow truck and reminiscing about just how wild a ride it had been.

Sewer Ambush

Through the oppressive darkness of New Hobart’s sewers, Charlie spotted a figure in white up ahead. It was hunched over, snatching at something just at its feet.

They’d travelled for almost an hour through the sewers, seeking dark little creatures that had taken a large chunk out of the Ivory Skull’s numbers. It was time for some revenge. Could this figure be one of the two foes they sought?

Right then, they were travelling along a tunnel adjacent to an infamous blocked drain. Oakleigh Road’s terrible drains had become a nightmare for the entire city, but dealing with those would have to be a problem for another time.

Charlie sent four members of her strike team down another tunnel. Although the instructions recommended they continue until the series of blocked drains around Thornbury Drive, she figured the tunnel would meet back up with them. If this really was one of the Little Men, better to flank the creature.

They approached through the darkness, attempting to make not a single sound. As they drew within fifteen feet of the figure in white, it slowly glanced up at them.

The creature wore a mask that covered its entire face, depicting a snake’s head. Through the eye holes, Charlie could see only dots of yellow. It stood a handful of feet tall. She’d seen one of the Little Men before, back when the monsters had attacked Fort Cambridge and the Brighton base for the Ivory Skull.

There was no mistaking it. This was, indeed, one of the Little Men.

She didn’t think; just charged forward, spraying projectiles like a madwoman. She had friends to avenge, and dammit, she was going to get justice for them today.

The Little Man was too quick for her, dodging out of the way and sprinting for the wall of the sewer. As if he defied gravity itself, he ran along the edge, headed straight for the rest of her team.

And that was when Charlie spotted the second of the Little Men behind her squad. As it turned out, they were the ones to be ambushed.