Something Wicked This Way Comes
As I sat on my top bunk in my 6 bed dorm, staring at the television playing Fringe with my 5 roommates, I couldn’t help but feel relieved. As the rain continued to thrash the window and the wind continued its test of elasticity of the palm tree trunks outside, I knew that it would end soon. I knew that the last two days I spent harried and frazzled in the midst of the flooding evacuation were but another story to tell; No longer a threat.
It was the first days of February, and after a month of blistering hot weather traveling from Cairns to Brisbane, a storm was due. I appreciate day-after-day of bright yellows and clear blue skies, but I also know that the weather is fickle and when it gets hot, and stays hot, a wicked storm this way comes. And boy, did that storm wreak havoc on Queensland, Australia.
I was couchsurfing in Cooloola Cove, Australia close to Hervey Bay and Fraser Island. I had all the intentions of exploring my surroundings before Graduate school forced me to hunker down hermit style for the next few months. Normally I take the blame for my failed intentions due to laziness or exhaustion, but this time, external forces are to blame. I blame the storm entirely.
As I awoke morning after morning to the sounds of water drumming on the tin roof, by the third day I was feeling caged and anxious. Things were beginning to feel strained between my couchsurfing host and I; 24 hours straight in each other’s company with no respite other than television meant we both felt obligated to entertain, but the as the rain continued to pour down, our moods also began to droop.
On the evening of the third night things changed quickly. We sat staring at the television as the news broadcast images of Maryborough, a city North of us, turned into a river. Cars fully submerged. Along the bottom of the page highlighted in Red were the evacuation orders. One city after the next were warned of imminent threat to their houses, and as the names scrolled by, we both spotted what we hoped wouldn’t happen. Cooloola Cove came across the screen. We needed to leave.
My train was booked for the following night, the yard and roads were looking like a shallow lake. After calling the train station and receiving confirmation that there was a potential train available, he drove me to the station in North Gympie as he drove away to his girlfriend’s house further south. With my backpack in the chair next to me, I sat in the empty train station; just me and the attendant. He questioned my appearance, telling me the train might not make it, did I have an alternative. This was my alternative.
One hour past, I stared at the sheets of rain obscuring visibility of anything beyond. A second hour past, birds were taking shelter in open air station, on chairs and on poles, anything to escape the wind and rain outside. Teeth chattering and nervous shakes crept up on me until even wrapped in my thickest clothing I couldn’t calm myself. A third and fourth hour came and went. Tears welled in my eyes as uncertainty doesn’t sit well with my organized nature. Finally, as it neared the fifth hour, a dark train pulled up to the station. An employee stepped off the train and spoke frantically with the attendant. He pointed at me, the lone stranger, waiting for my rescue train. They told me the train might not make it, the tracks were covered completely by puddles in some sections, I told them my option was to continue to wait or to take my chances. I took my chance.
I don’t know how the train made it. But it did; 6 hours later. I slept through the entire thing.
And so here I am – standing in the middle on Brisbane’s central train station, bleary-eyed, and uncertain of where to go next.