Author: Tardis Traveler
Max Brody impatiently paced the length of the deserted car park. It was nearly dawn and he had been walking back and forth for quite some time now... in fact he had already smoked five cigarettes. He was about to light number six when he was interrupted by a tan Land Rover that came roaring into the gravel park screeching to a halt next to his Hummer. The door flew open and a blond man in his mid thirties leaped out and hurried over to a grousing Max.
"Bloody Hell Jack where have you been you lazy bastard? I'm already on my sixth cancer stick!"
Jack couldn't help but laugh in spite of the obvious irritation on the part of the other man.
"Steady on Max... let's not have a row... and since when did smoked cigarettes become an official form of time keeping? Just how long is that in regular time?"
"Too long, and let's just remember whose idea it was to meet here at this ungodly hour anyway... not mine! The least you could do is be on time. I don't even really know why we're here to begin with."
"I am sorry mate for being off schedule. How was I to know Sally would wait until last night to tell me she had to fly to Brisbane for a deposition? I had to wait for her mum to come over to watch the kids. She wasn't too thrilled with the early hour either. I'll have to buy her a few shouts at the pub to make it up to her!"
"That's why I have never tied the knot... no wife... no kids... that I know of... to hold me down. Freedom mate... that's the ticket!"
"Yeah, yeah I've heard it all before. You're just jealous," retorted Jack. "Let's get moving and see if we can make up some time."
"I hear ya mate... let's roll! We can take my H2," chuckled Max.
"Like I ever thought we'd take my Rover! Since you got your new Yank tank toy there all you want to do is show it off."
"Hey, you're lucky I let you ride in this beauty... I should charge you! Oh, and make sure your boots are clean too! Last time I found mud on the floor."
"Oh no! ... mud on the floor. I thought this was a big kiss arse all terrain terror on wheels! What are you going to do when the tires actually get dirty?"
"Funny Jack... very amusing You're gonna eat those words someday because I have big plans for this awesome machine that used to include you, but now I'm having my doubts that you would even be up to it!"
"What ever you say Max, right now the best compliment I can give your new toy is that it is saving me a great deal of petrol money! Let's go... you want to check my boots?"
The two men laughed and strolled over to the shiny red Hummer H2 and climbed in. Max drove about two miles up a narrow service road until he came to a metal gate blocking the road. He stopped and handed Jack the key. Jack jumped out, unlocked the gate, and pulled it open.
Max drove through and then yelled out his window.
"Lock it up again Jack. I promised Ranger Slauson that I wouldn't leave anything unsecured."
"Right," said Jack.
He rewrapped the iron chain around the pole, slipped the lock through the bolt and clicked it shut. Then he returned to the Hummer and they continued their ride to Katoomba Sedge Swamp. They relaxed into a comfortable conversation as they continued their drive.
The two men had met each other six years ago when Jack joined the Wetlands Conservation Core of which Max was a founding member and M.D. (managing director). The goal of the WCC was to preserve Australia's depleting wetlands. Both men had fought hard to see the Katoomba Project approved and for the past four years had spearheaded the completion of the Project. Tomorrow the Katoomba Sedge Swamp naturalist walk would finally be dedicated and opened to the public.
It was Jack who had insisted they meet this morning before the park opened. He wanted to take the nature walks and see first hand if everything was in order. He did not want any surprises tomorrow.
It was a spectacular morning too. The sun was almost up and the sky was a misty blue color. A clean exhilarating breeze was rushing in through the open windows. Jack was bragging about his daughter's football match the previous weekend in which she scored two goals.
Suddenly from out of nowhere a large brown blurry object streaked across the road less than 10 feet in front of them. Max slammed on the brakes swerving to the right side of the narrow road. Both men lunged forward and jerked back when the H2 came to an abrupt stop. It took them a couple of seconds to regain their composure.
"Holy Shit, what the hell was that? Whew! Did you see that Jack? "
Jack was still a bit out of breath. He was looking off to the left side of the road trying to get another glimpse of what ever they had almost collided with.
"Gees Max... what was that?"
Max turned off the Hummer and the two sat there stunned and confused.
"I'm not sure Jack. What did it look like to you?"
"Don't laugh, but it looked kind of man-like only it seemed about 8 or 9 feet tall... big and hairy. Whoa! And I am stinkin sober. What about you... what did you see?"
"That's what I saw. It could have maybe looked like a bear, but there aren't any bears in the park. Hell, I think the largest hairy animal here would be a wombat!"
"Do you want to track it and see if we can get a closer look," asked Jack?
"No thanks, this encounter was more than enough for me. I'll let Slauson know about it and he can check it out... more his department. Do you want to leave or keep going to the swamp?"
Jack pondered the question for a minute before saying he thought it would be safe to continue. Max agreed, so they resumed their journey in silence for the next few minutes.
Max broke their reverie.
"Jack, don't think I'm crazy, but could that have been a Yowie?"
"A what," asked Jack?
"A Yowie... you know, a Yaser or as the Aborigines call it a Naroonah... a big hairy man... Big Foot."
"A Yowie, yeah I know what that is Max, but they aren't real... are they? They're just legends... folktales... myths. They don't really exist... do they?"
"Who says they aren't real... or couldn't be?"
"Um, sane people Max!"
"I'm sane Jack... so are you. Then what did we see? Come on, I am sure that you have heard about Yowies before and wondered if they really existed. In fact, if I remember correctly wasn't there a guy in Gympie several months ago who swore that he saw one. Yes, I heard it on CNN."
"And you probably thought the guy was a mad slack!"
"Okay, maybe I did, but that was then Jack... seeing is believing."
"Well, we don't really know what we saw Max. Besides isn't a Yowie supposed to shun people?"
Their discussion ended abruptly when they arrived at their destination. Max reached in the back seat and grabbed two notepads with a small topographical map of the swamp walk area at the top of each. He also took out two water slings and two pair of binoculars.
"All set," asked Jack?
"Almost," replied Max.
He walked around to the passenger side of the vehicle and removed a small silver rectangular object from the cubby box. He held it up for Jack to see.
"Camera... just in case!"
The two men looked around and then began their hike. The incident had unnerved them and it took a while for the two to relax and stop looking over their shoulders or jumping at any sudden noise.
Eventually, however, nature won out and they succumbed to the tranquil beauty that enveloped them. The stone walkway inched slowly upwards following a swooshing gurgling stream almost hidden by the lush foliage. Kookaburras laughed cheerfully in distant treetops and huge green ferns literally dwarfed the two men. Rays from the wakening sun filtered down reflecting off the dew covered bushes and flowers.
Periodically Jack stopped and wrote down a note or two. He tested the stone walk way which served as the trail and was molded from crushed stones. Max was totally mesmerized by the beauty around him and was engrossed in taking pictures for future presentations.
"This is even more spectacular than I remembered," stated Max. The walk way seems very sturdy and is great looking as well... wow; look at those orchids over there! That's worth a picture."
"Yes, I can't believe there could be anyone on the board who wouldn't give this project an A+," replied Jack.
They continued following the walkway for another ten minutes and then it diverged into two paths that both ran parallel on either side of the now swiftly flowing stream. Jack suggested that they split up and meet at the top. He would stay on the left side and Max on the right. Max didn't really like this idea, but his ego prevented him from complaining.
Max had lost sight of Jack some time ago; he was nervous. He couldn't shake the feeling that someone or something was watching him. His walk up the stone pathway was now slow and deliberate. All of his senses were tuned in to detect the slightest thing out of the ordinary.
He kept glancing around searching the dense brush for any signs of life. A couple of soft crunches and rustling leaves made him stop and listen... ears straining to pick up even the tiniest sound.
<Come on Max old chap... get a grip. It's just your imagination.>
He climbed about twenty more feet when a louder noise... like the snapping of a branch shattered the silence.
"Jack, is that you?" he shouted. "Jack!"
He turned to face the direction of the sound.
"Okay, enough is enough... I know bloody well that there's someone in there... so come out!"
The silence was deafening. Then his blood ran cold when he heard what sounded like a low guttural growl. Max stepped back very slowly trying to decide in which direction to run. Just then Jack emerged at the top of the walkway.
"Christ Jack, that wasn't funny," cried Max.
Jack looked genuinely puzzled and started heading down towards Max.
"What are you yelling about? I just got here. I heard you shouting my name and came running"
Jack was about five feet away now when another growl emerged from the brush.
"What the hell," yelled Jack!
He launched himself in the direction of the sound. Before he could even leave the walk way, Max had jumped into the brush and ran smack into two huge hairy creatures that had been hidden by some tall leafy ferns. All four of them were startled. They stood frozen for a brief moment... just staring... then they all screamed in fright.
In an instant Max and Jack turned and raced down the trail never looking back. As they stumbled to the bottom of the walk way Max tripped over his swiftly moving feet and crashed onto his side.
"Ow," cried Max as he rolled onto his back clutching his arm.
"Max... you okay? Can you get up?"
"You bet I can ... I think my arm's broken, but there's no way I'm staying here!"
Jack helped him up and they resumed their retreat to the H2. The two befuddled men didn't stop running until they reached the safety of the Hummer...their hearts racing and their lungs burning from the exertion. Max gave Jack the keys and he had the H2 speeding down the road in record time!
As they approached the locked gate, Max yelled, "Don't stop... keep going... I'm not getting out to open it!"
<Okay Max, I'm not getting out either. So here goes nothing... sorry about your Hummer mate!>
Jack stomped down on the petrol pedal and the Hummer lunged forward crashing through the metal barrier. To his surprise it kept on moving and so did they!
If the two terrified men had dared to look back they would have seen that they were not being followed by anything. The two giant hairy Yowies had convulsed and fallen to the ground. They writhed and shook violently and then their bodies stilled. Seconds later their corpses glowed and dissolved into nothing!
<Sorry children, can't leave any evidence behind. Hmmm, not bad though for a first trial, but still they were discovered... need to make a couple of minor modifications and adjustments. A retest... umm, yes I think perhaps a retest is in order, but all in all it was a great success!>
Three attractive, carefree, tanned young travelers casually strolled through Saleya Court admiring the colorful and exotic flowers. A stunning strawberry blond named Tara, and a flaming redhead named the Doctor each carried parcels containing cheeses, fruit, freshly baked French croissants, water and a bottle of Chablis. A second blond with longer hair named Ace had a stuffed back pack slung over one shoulder.
The trio idly chatted as they exited the market place and joined the other early morning strollers on the Promenade des Anglais. It had become a daily ritual to begin their mornings at the market and then follow the Promenade, which paralleled the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, down to the beach. A warm sea breeze teased their hair as gulls flying overhead in the clear turquoise sky squawked and then plunged headfirst into the water hunting for their breakfast. To the casual observer the women would have merely appeared to be tourists... sightseers... travelers.
Indeed, they were travelers, but most unusual travelers! It had been over five months now since Romana had left them on their own. So far they had done what any other human in their place would most likely have done. They traveled, using the Tardis as an upscale motor home.
Doctor Willow wasn't quite sure what to do after Romana had left. So she, Tara, and Ace all did a little more practicing and reading before they felt confident enough to move the Tardis on their own. When they all felt ready, Dr. Willow suggested they each get five pieces of paper and on each slip write a place they would like to visit. Tara and Ace thought it was a great idea, so that was what they all did. They took turns randomly selecting a new slip every three to four weeks depending on how well they were enjoying their stay. This was their fourth week in Nice and they were still having a fantastic time.
Once they got to the beach they rented an umbrella and located a secluded spot which wasn't difficult to find at this hour of the morning. Ace pulled their towels, blanket, and picnic supplies from her pack and they proceeded to prepare their spot for breakfast. Soon all their delicacies were spread out on the blanket and they were toasting a new day!
They leisurely enjoyed their repast watching the gentle waves dance on the shore and the sun climb higher in the dazzling sky. Tara was feeding her love the last juicy "la fraise" (strawberry) when Willow pulled a hidden flower from her bag. She smiled at her wife and then slid the blue carnation into Tara's hair before giving her a sweet kiss.
"I just had to get it for you... it looked so much like the blue of your eyes."
Tara blushed and softly said "thank you" before returning the kiss.
"Okay you two... is this going to be the day we truly become Europeans," interrupted Ace?
"This could be our last day... it's now or never. Who will be the first to go "au naturel"... is there no brave soul here?"
Ace looked hopefully from Tara to Willow. Willow and Tara returned her look and giggled a little in embarrassment.
"Ace I've already told you. The only person who gets to see my naked body is Tara... so forget it. Besides, I really can't imagine the Doctor running around the beach without his clothes on!"
The three women paused a moment to picture that and burst out laughing.
"Eow, now there's a picture," groaned Ace. How about you Tara? Are you ready to take the plunge?"
"No she isn't," shouted Willow. I'm the only one who gets to see her gorgeous body... right Honey?"
Tara, who was now a lovely shade of red, was interrupted a second time before she could answer.
"That's not fair Doctor! She is free to make her own choices isn't she?"
"Well, yes," admitted Willow. "But she is MY wife so I should have some say over who gets to see her naked. I mean it's not like she is dating or trying to attract another woman because she has me and she is mine and I am hers and I don't want people ooooing and ahhhing my wife. I'm the only one that gets to ooo and ahh Tara."
"Sweetie, Willow, we get the idea... calm down... you're turning blue," teased Tara.
There was a short pause before all three started to laugh.
"Relax Darling; my body is safely in your hands... oops," she giggled, "sorry for that really bad pun! I meant, I don't intend to parade around naked in front of anyone but you Sweetie! Okay?"
"Very okay Baby... not to say you aren't as beautiful as these French women because I think you are the most beautiful woman in the universe!"
Tara gave Willow a rather stern look and raised an eyebrow.
"Oh? Just how many of these French bathing beauties have you been checking out, Sweetie?"
"Huh? None Baby, I'm not looking at anyone... well, I mean sometimes you can't help but see them... I mean we are at the beach and you know they walk by and stuff. "
Willow was feeling a bit threatened and flustered by the turn of the conversation and tried to switch topics.
"So Ace that leaves it all up to you! Are you going to be a brave "au naturel" European gal? I mean let's be honest it wouldn't be a big leap... that bikini of yours doesn't leave very much to the imagination."
Willow turned towards Tara who was all poised to make a comment, so she attacked. She leapt onto Tara and in lighting speed located two choice tickle spots. Tara squealed with surprise and laughter as her wife teased her.
"Don't you dare try to tell me that you haven't noticed the same thing about Ace's suit!"
"Okay, okay," howled Tara. I surrender! Okay, yes I have looked and it is skimpy."
Now they were both laughing and tickling each other. They stopped when Ace coughed loudly.
"You two are terrible! I thought married couples weren't supposed to do those things."
Tara and Willow were now looking like two naughty kids caught looking at mom's Cosmo magazine. Tara felt she had to defend them and correct Ace's assertion.
"No, you've got that wrong Ace... it's okay to look... just can't touch. Got it?"
Ace now laughed and gave them both a loud raspberry. Then they settled down and returned to relaxing and enjoying the beach sights and sounds. Willow and Tara cuddled together under the shade of the giant umbrella while Ace was stretched out on her tummy. Soon it was past midday and the conversation once again returned to nakedness.
"Almost time to go," commented Tara. If someone is going to go all wild and nude they better do it now."
She and Willow both sat up and looked at Ace who was pretending not to hear her.
Willow reached over and playfully tugged at the tiny tie that held Ace's top in place.
"I could help you Ace... all it would take is one gentle pull and you'd be half way there. What do you say?"
"I thinking, I'm thinking... you just keep your hands to yourself Doctor! "
"Alright... no hands on your tie but look at all the other... Oh my god! Whoa! Goddess look at that woman! She must..." cried a startled Doctor.
Ace's head shot up and her wide eyes followed a young jogger as she went by.
"Wow, oh mamma those must be 44's at least!"
Tara covered her wife's eyes, but she too was captivated by the endowed nude jogger.
"Willow, she scolded, trying hard to sound truly upset. What's the matter with you... you're almost drooling. Stop it! That is so insulting... and humiliating!"
Willow squirmed free of Tara's hands and quickly turned to her wife with a big pout on her face.
"I am not drooling. I was just making a scientific observation... that's all!"
"A scientific observation," mocked Ace and Tara!
"Yes, I was trying to... um... I was... err... you know wondering... a, um, a... how she could run like that without injuring herself. She could get boob whiplash or something."
Willow was beet red now and they all burst into laughter at the same moment. They giggled until they were all red faced.
"Wow, we're acting like college students on spring break," laughed Ace!
"Well, I am a college student," interjected Willow.
"Is that so? Well Miss College Coed you are going to be wearing a blindfold if you can't keep those wandering leering eyes of yours off the sexy beach babes and on your wife instead! Is that clear?"
There was more teasing than sternness in Tara's voice. She seldom got to get the better of her wife so when she had the chance she milked it as much as she could.
"Oh, yes Dear, that is perfectly clear... I was not leering either! Like you and Ace weren't looking at her too."
Tara looked a little sheepish, flashed Willow a beaming smile and then admitted that she did take a peek.
"Well, after seeing "super boob woman" it makes me want to put a full length coat on! There's no way my top is coming off after that... I mean do you think she gets back aches holding those up," asked Ace?
Laughter erupted again until Tara declared that she thought it was time to depart. The other two agreed, so they gathered up their things and slowly walked back up to the Promenade. Once they were there they turned around and gazed back at the beautiful blue water of the Mediterranean. They leaned against the wooden railing and lost themselves in the view and in their thoughts. Tara's hand found Willow's as did their gazes and they both thought their wife was the only thing more beautiful than the scenery before them.
On their way back to the Tardis, Willow insisted that they make a final visit to the center of town. She had fallen in love with the magnificent fountain there that depicted Triton and some of his denizens of the sea. After admiring the statues and the shooting water they returned to the Tardis.
At their evening meal, the happy trio laughed and reminisced about their lovely time in Nice. They each vowed that next time they would go "au naturel" for sure and gamble at Monte Carlo too! Without saying it, each woman knew that this had been their last day in Nice. In the morning a new slip would be selected and a new adventure would begin.