Tomorrow, When The War Began
Chapter 1 Part A
Word Count: 2,200
Wirrawee, New South Wales. Harry had spent his whole life imagining himself away from here, going on wild adventures on the high seas, crusades for a noble cause, all the things he’s now forgotten. Wirrawee is exactly where he wishes he could be now; safe with his family and his friends. Safe is one word little Wirrawee and the rest of Australia cannot be associated with. Harry and his four best friends are caught in the middle of something school never prepared them for, their parents never warned them about and their government wasn’t ready for. His country is at war.
A/N: Here’s the promised update! I didn’t get as far as I wanted, but I need to be somewhere and wasn’t going to not fulfil my promise, so I’ve split this chapter into two, the next should be up sometime tomorrow! Enjoy!
The landrover lurched forward and so did all the boys’ stomachs - Taylor’s Stitch was living up to it’s reputation as only accessible by tank or plane.
“Jesus, Harry! You’re killing us back here!” Louis stressed as he was thrown from one side of the landrover’s seatless back cabin into Liam’s defensive arms, who after catching Louis, spoke proudly,
“You shouldn’t say the Lord’s name in vain, Louis.”
“Sorry, Liam.” Louis fixed himself back into the position he’d previously had, wedged between two boxes of clanking alcohol, desperately holding them to his sides protecting them from the violent inertia of the boulder-jumping Harry was putting them through.
They were only pushing ten kilometres an hour up the incline, but with the two metre drops every few moments, it felt like they were going a thousand - inside a washing machine. The three boys in the back, Louis, Niall and Liam, eventually came up with a mutual support system. All of their legs stretched across the cabin, meeting in the middle in a ‘T’ shape, pushing against one another to fight being thrown around - though sometimes even that wasn’t enough to spare them a headbutt, or heavy bag dropped on their softer parts.
About twenty minutes into their painfully slow climb, Niall looked paler than usual.
“We’ve got a puker!” Louis exclaimed desperately, getting terrified looks from Zayn and Harry in the front, whipping their heads around staring wildly into the dark, the only light illuminating the front of the car was the headlights outside and the dull green glow on the dashboard’s speedometre. Harry came to a screeching, gravelly stop after dropping down one final ditch,
“Out, out, out!” he yelled, pointing to the bushes on the other side of the car.
It was only seconds later that Niall had made it to the bushes, his blonde hair the only visible part of him in the gloom. The light blob in the darkness was bobbing toward the ground, coinciding with the almost painful sounds of Niall’s stomach heaving.
“Well, some poor animal’s going to have a nice breakfast tomorrow.” Louis joked.
“Shut… up!” Niall groaned in the distance.
“That won’t be the last time the lightweight throws his guts up tonight.” Zayn added.
“I’m not a lightweight!” Niall defended, still in the bushes, spitting.
After hurling his stomach’s contents into the bushes, Niall volunteered to walk the rest of the way while the other four boys continued their sickening, yet oddly entertaining ride up the Stitch.
The sun had been down for a few hours by the time they reached the end of the vehicle track. A feisty debate immediately erupted as to what their next move should be. Liam and Niall formed a united front - they wanted to wait until morning before making the effort to get down the perilous Satan’s steps.
“No! We have to have our party down in Hell!” Louis and Harry similarly debated.
“What does it matter if we get wasted up here or down there?” Liam exlaimed, the first time he’d mentioned ‘getting wasted’ since the trip started. The other four boys smiled devilishly.
“Down we go!” The other four bours exclaimed, finally united by their want to corrupt Liam in the most memorable way possible.
“You guys will be the end of me.”
“God will forgive you, Liam! After all, you’re going to Hell anyway!” Louis cleverly pointed out, much to the amusement of Harry, Zayn and Niall. Liam didn’t seem as impressed by the blasphemic remark.
After surveying the descent into Hell, which looked impregnable in the dim moonlight, the boys were all internally condemning themselves for choosing to leave at night, rather than with the light of day above them.
“So, who carries what?” Harry questioned as he surveyed the supplies in the back of the landrover that all somehow needed to find their way down in everyone’s packs, which looked full already. Flashlight in hand, Harry illuminated each of the boys’ bags, stopping on Niall’s - which looked like it was already about to burst at the seams and break it’s zippers.
“Niall… what’s in your bag?”
“What do you mean? Just what Zayn told me to bring. Clothes, a bit of grog?” The blonde boy, looking much better than he did on the journey up, spoke hesitantly. Harry strode to his bag and opened it, causing a pillow, three bottles of alcohol and a seemingly endless flow of junk food to come pouring out.
“Niall!” the boys or choired.
“What?! They’re all necessities!”
A four person committee was formed to sort out Niall’s bag, a committee he wasn’t a part of. His pillow, a few clothes and much of his unnecessary food was left in the landrover and replaced with more alcohol, better food and some supplies they’d need in Hell. The rest of the boys too packed their bags full of the necessary supplies - not without trouble. Some very hard decisions had to be made in terms of what alcohol could fit, what food they’d want and what had to stay in the landrover. Alcohol almost always took precedence over food, which was always rationalised away by agreeing that if they were about to starve, they could just come back to the landrover.
Harry stood on the edge of Hell’s rim, looking down into the darkness. It was about three hundred metres in diameter, and was covered in vegetation - save for a clearing in the centre that looked like it dropped hundreds of metres down. This was a deep crater, there was no avoiding that - they were in for a long climb down. Satan’s Steps, large flat boulders that looked like a giant’s staircase from ages past, looked to be the way down - though intimidating. Harry thought about how interesting it would be to hear the local indigenous dreamtime stories about their formation - he’d always liked aboriginal creation stories like the Rainbow Serpent, and the Three Sisters and he was sure their version for Hell would be an amazing story too.
The other boys were fiddling and sorting their packs and preparing themselves mentally, and physically in Liam’s case, who was stretching, for the descent into Hell. Harry took the time to stare at the sky, a multitude of stars he’d never seen before laid before him. Wirrawee wasn’t a big city that blocked out the stars like Sydney, New York, London or Rio, but Harry noticed that here, a few kilometres out of town, the amount of stars visible, free of pollution, was exponential. The universe was presented in all’s it’s magnificent glory. Harry felt his chest tighten, his eyes widen and his lips pull into a satisfying smile. It was beautiful.
His eye was caught by a flash of red light over in Cobbler’s bay, a few kilometres in the opposite direction to Hell. Usually the protected bay was empty, perhaps a fishing boat or so. A large trawler-like ship was in the bay, and a couple of smaller ships around it. Harry shrugged it off and returned his attention to the group of boys behind him, who had organised themselves and were beginning to gauge the descent, Zayn was climbing down the first step, his hands disappearing as he let go and fell the remaining distance.
“Urgh! Why did we do this in the dark, Harry?!”
“I don’t know! I didn’t plan this alone, Malik!” Harry replied, yelling into the darkness.
Zayn, being the only one descending a minute later, yelled back up, his flashlight shining into Niall’s face, “Come on, lads! This isn’t Narnia, a path isn’t going to magically appear before your precious feet!”
The rest of the boys followed, their packs hanging from their backs like growths, burdening their every movement. Most of them immediately threw their packs off and lowered them down to Zayn. A large clatter rung through the crater as Niall’s back dropped to Zayn’s arms and send him to his backside with a thump.
“Damn, Niall! I almost took the quick way into Hell!” Zayn looked judgingly up to the rim where an apologetic Niall stared down at him.
Together, they slowly worked and helped each other down the steps, finding trouble every time overgrowth presented itself as a problem, blocking their path with rotting logs and vines that occupied their paths with intricate patterns, almost like thick, green spiderwebs. Niall took the lead eventually, jumping down with the light of Zayn and Harry’s flashlights guiding him through the thicket and past the obstacles. They’d gone down about one hundred metres from the top of the crater, the moonlight was struggling to reach them through the overgrowth. Measuring his next step, Niall slipped and slid down, smacking his backside on the hard granite step, being saved by a quick thinking Zayn who dived and grabbed his arms underneath the shoulders.
“Whoa, easy buddy.” Zayn whispered, patting his shoulders as he lifted Niall from hanging tediously over the edge.
“Thanks Zayn.” Niall spoke gratefully, clapping Zayn on the arm affectionately, “maybe you ought to go first, hey?” Zayn took the lead again and dropped down to the next step. The whoosh of air after he let go lasted a lot longer than normal, with the thud coming seconds later.
“God damn it!” Zayn’s voice echoed from the drop.
Liam mumbled something about God’s name in vain next to Harry, the rest were far too worried about Zayn.
“Are you okay, Z?” They called down.
“I think so… it’s just a lot further than it looked, think I jarred myself.”
Niall took the chance and lowered his bag, which was gently caught by Zayn below and placed beside him, followed close by Niall himself, who lowered himself, holding on to the edge of the step above them tightly. Harry, Louis and Liam were all on their stomachs supporting his arms, just in case he slipped. Niall felt Zayn’s arms gently grip his sides as he dangled over the edge,
“I got you, Ni.” Zayn tightened his grip, “let yourself go. I’ll catch you.” Without word, Niall let himself drop and was immediately secure in Zayn’s arms, tightly wrapped around his waist and holding him in the air before gently putting his feet on the granite below.
“Thanks,” Niall spoke a bit embarrassed, glad for the darkness that covered his blushing cheeks.
When the rest of the boys had been likewise lowered down, the last being Liam, who wanted everybody down there to be able to catch him if he slipped, their flashlights were turned to the brush behind them. The beams of light broke through the formerly impenetrable thick, showing a clearing and a glistening stream beyond that.
“Running water!” Zayn spoke, aghast.
“We won’t be drinking water tonight, Zayn.” Harry spoke cheekly, his hand brushing across Louis’ next him as they both moved to shove Zayn into the clearing. The dark boy fell forward, taking the obstructing overgrowth with him as he groaned and clanked to the ground, his heavy pack squashing him.
“Thanks, guys.” Zayn breathed out as he was helped up by an overly eager Niall, appearing at his side in moments.
After some brief exploration, the boys realised there was a great deal more of the descent to go and they’d not even made it half way. A small path winded in a general downward direction and they all piled down it, single file, excited to start their drinking and relaxation before school. The path wound around, bringing them back to the Satan’s Steps and all the way again. They traveled the path with minimal conversation, Zayn and Harry’s flashlight spots leading the way and also captivating the attention of all five boys. Louis, who was last, slipped and took all four boys in front of him out just as the reached the bottom and the ground flattened out. It ended in a pile of boys groaning and moaning, some punches were thrown, some insults hurled, apologies made and then finally, a collective gasp as they saw the full extent of the clearing. This was perfect, this was where they could make their memories.
The clearing was totally flat, save for a few small grassy hills and surrounded on every side by thick bush - the only exception was the connecting granite that was attached to the Satan’s Steps, now fifty metres above them. The top of the clearing, and the circle of stars was much smaller than it was at the river, but still let a thick beam of moonlight to drench a spot of the clearing.
Harry clinked two vodka bottles together as he smiled cheekily, illuminated by Zayn’s flashlight, “Right. Tents up, drinks out, fire on, let’s get this party started.”