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debbie come by lately up this way

The Northern Rivers.


36 inches of rain in two days …. all the roads cut, creeks overflowing, bridges down, no power, eighty knot wind gusts …. Debbie was a big one. Flood water levels still rising, people missing in the hills, homes washed away, cattle drowned. Fences down, dogs loose, seas apocalyptic, beaches ravaged, centuries old trees uprooted, culverts jammed with debris and carcasses, rivers thick, brown and fast. Hundreds of shops and homes inundated, snakes on the roof. Farms abandoned, thousands of acres of water where grazing lands once were. Horses dead, entangled in barbed wire.


An old woman living alone in a house with water up to her knees, no phone, no near neighbours. She’s eighty-five. If she leaves the house she will be swept away, if she stays inside she will drown, if she climbs the roof she will fall. Three days now.

What else is there to do but sit in the dark and cast about for a suitable subject to write about when the internet flicks back on. Something to ease the tension of the past few days. Did I say the rum ration was depleted? The booze cupboard bare? The refrigerator coloured with mould and full of ruined food? No dry matches?

Only five candles left.


It’s in every drawer, every wardrobe; all the clothes are damp, the bedsheets and blankets. Mosquitoes whine in and out of the doors and windows when they open and shut, dozens of small cockroaches crowd the walls at night. No power for the water pump, ergo no showers, a puddle of muddy water in the sink. Everything is festering in the damp. Somebody in the house is coughing incessantly, someone else is sneezing. Both dogs have disappeared. There’s a litter of wren nests under the wall, the crows are out. And a pale goshawk, flying like a ghost.

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