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.

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.

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.

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.


         ‘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.


         ‘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, 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.

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.

Cold and Awake

I groggily blinked my eyes open. I’d been having such a lovely dream – alone on a beach, a beautiful waitress bringing me drinks. Then, all of a sudden, my serene beach had been interrupted by a blizzard that had swept through and ruined my cocktail.

         ‘Wha-what’s… my daiquiri…’ I mumbled.

         I heard a laugh from next to me and opened my eyes fully. Julie was grinning, even as she wrestled with the air conditioner.

         ‘Sorry,’ she laughed. ‘The cooling broke again. Now you should go back to sleep.’

         ‘What’s the point,’ I pouted. ‘I’ll never get that kind of service again.’


         ‘What?’ I repeated, trying to rub consciousness back into my eyeballs. ‘Where are we?’

         Amused at how quickly I’d changed the subject, Julie pointed to a sign. ‘Just outside of Adelaide.’

         I nodded, then frowned.

How long had I been asleep?

‘We might have to get this looked at though,’ she said, gesturing at the air conditioner. ‘Neither of us can sleep when we need to.’

‘I’ll look up somewhere that does cooling system repairs,’ I yawned, pulling out my phone.

‘Make sure it’s one of those decent, general mechanics,’ she added as I typed it in.


‘Well you’ll never believe this, but this car is due for a service,’ she laughed.

‘But we just got it!’

‘We did drive 770 kilometres last night,’ she shrugged.

‘Still…’ I grumbled. ‘We shouldn’t have to pay for that.’

‘Feel like taking a chance on another engine exploding?’ she asked, eyebrow raised.

I rolled my eyes. ‘Fine. I’ll look for a place that does air conditioners and log book services near Adelaide. Happy?’

‘Of course I am!’ she beamed. ‘I love road trips!’

‘This one is starting to wear on me,’ I frowned. ‘And we’re so far behind schedule–’

Pffft,’ she scoffed. ‘Who cares about a schedule!’

‘I do,’ I said. ‘Clearly, I do.’

‘Well,’ she said with a smile, ‘we’ll see if we can fix that.’

Lost and Alive

‘So if we’re here…’ I traced my finger down the map as Julie craned her neck to see passing road signs, shouting them out to me. ‘Then that means the next turnoff should be…’

         I slammed my finger down on the page triumphantly. ‘Whittle’s Creek!’

         ‘Nice work honey,’ Julie grinned at me. The car flew along the freeway, the turnoff approaching. We both leant forward to read the sign.


         ‘Or we’re completely lost,’ I sighed, slamming the map shut.

         ‘Hey, it’s an adventure,’ Julie beamed, trying to cheer me up. ‘Who knows where we’ll end up! I love that!’

         A reluctant smile tugged at my face. ‘I guess you’re right.’

         ‘Of course, I’m right!’ she laughed. ‘Besides, what else could actually go wro–’

         The engine cut her off with an enormous bang and we both squealed. She grabbed the wheel and wrestled the car back under control, gliding it safely to the emergency lane.

         ‘Are you alright?’ she asked me, wide-eyed, cutting me off as I tried to ask the same thing. We both nodded that we were okay, and leant back in our seats.

         ‘Well, looks like we’ll be finding a mechanic operating in Ringwood,’ she laughed.

         ‘Just find me a Ringwood burial plot too,’ I groaned, putting my head in my hands.

         ‘It’s just a little bump in the road–’

         ‘Oh, Jules,’ I sighed, ‘this whole trip has been a disaster.’

         ‘I’ve had a lovely time!’ she protested.

         ‘We don’t even know what state we’re in!’

         ‘Why do we need to?’ she asked with a smile.

         ‘Well, for starters, we need to know if this is a Ringwood mechanic that does RACV Inspections.’

         She rolled her eyes and laughed. I chuckled with her for a second, then squeezed her hand. She squeezed it back.

         ‘Well,’ I started, stretching my shoulders. ‘Feel like coming for a walk?’

         ‘I’d love to,’ she smiled.

Summer Beach Heat

Now that it’s summer, I’m spending a lot of time at the beach. We live in the city, so my friends and I usually pack our gear into one of our cars and make a whole day out of the trip to the beach. We’ll usually leave in the early hours of the morning, stopping off at a cute cafe along the way to grab some breakfast or brunch. Then, we’ll drive to whichever beach has taken our fancy on that particular day. We like to switch it up for the sake of variety, roaming around to both Melbourne’s most popular beaches and best-kept secrets.

Sometimes, it can be a problem not knowing where we are heading off to until we actually leave. For example, one day my friend was driving when we noticed her vehicle needed a car air con regas. Not a single one of my friends knows anything about cars, so when the air conditioner stopped working, we were very confused. It was a hot day, and we were already sweltering beneath our piles of beach towels and spare clothes. That would have been bad enough, if it weren’t for the fact that we were in the middle of nowhere, with absolutely no clue where we were, and no knowledge of where the nearest mechanic would be.

After a few minutes of arguing, we decided to use our phones to find the best car mechanic Moorabbin had to offer. According to the directions given to us by the app, we happened to be in the suburb of Moorabbin at the time, so it seemed like the most logical option for us. We rolled down all our windows and tried to construct makeshift fans with folded pieces of paper, but the heat was pervasive. It ended up being about a five minute drive to the mechanic store, and we luckily all made it there without fainting from the heat!

Grieving the Workshops

Charlie had been back in New Hobart for two weeks now, but she still hadn’t seen Fred. She’d spent most of that time in bed, because apparently, she had been badly concussed after the attack at Cambridge. It must have been a delayed concussion, though, because she’d managed to get through two whole conversations on the radio just fine.

Then again, Charlie didn’t really know that much about concussions. 

It was hard not to feel down about how much the Ivory Skull had lost in the attacks by the Little Men. The old car mechanic near Brighton was in ruins, so far beyond repair that it wasn’t funny. They’d lost so many numbers. People, too. They’d lost a lot of numbers and a lot of people.

It made Charlie want to head out and start hunting these Little Men, or Little Devils as she’d started thinking of them as. She knew it would be foolish to do so – there was no chance she’d survive. Regardless, something had to be done. It kind of felt like they were just waiting for the Little Devils to finish the job. They were sitting ducks.

Charlie gazed out the window, watching the twinkling lights of New Hobart. It really was a beautiful little bastion of humanity. Maybe the Little Devils would recognise that and leave them alone.

She sighed. Oh, how she’d miss that old Brighton auto repair shop. She would have vengeance for what those Little Devils had done, one way or another. Charlie simply hoped that the rest of the Ivory Skull would join her in hunting them down.

Perhaps it was time she took matters into her own hands. Fred Bentleigh had been busy since her return – that was fine – but if he wasn’t going to take the time to see her, she’d have to get proactive. She’d waited patiently long enough. It was time to storm into his office and demand to know what he thought about this business. 

No more pretending to be mechanics working in Hobart between them. Things were serious now, and she needed to start treating it that way.