This story is based on real life, with a significant amount of embellishment because I’m a supreme bullshitter. And for comedic effect. Names of all people and places have been changed, so no one can get upset because technically I’m insulting the mayor of The Valley, which doesn’t exist. Thank you.
I’m one of those weirdos who still hang out with their high school friends because, despite high school being a sinkhole of disillusionment, I actually lucked out with my friend group. Took me seven schools but hey, you gotta kiss a lot of frogs when you’re forced to “just make some friends.”
Because we actually enjoy hanging out with each other, in October we all had a movie night. ‘Movie night’ means ‘fuck around and do anything but watch movies’ as, by 6pm, we had spent 5 hours playing Carcassone, chatting, and doing everything that wasn’t watching movies. It was then that my phone started buzzing.
Severe Weather Warning for your watchzone
Well that’s not comforting.
Severe Wind Warning for your watchzone
Well that’s not comforting.
Severe Storm Warning for your watchzone
Well that's not comforting.
Mild Flood Warning for your watchzone
Oh, that’s fine.
I went back to what I was doing. Okay, to explain my reasoning a little bit:
What up. I’m Jocelyn, I’m 19, and I never fucking learned common sense.
We get wind warnings all the time in winter. I swear. It’s not a big deal. Sure they’re not ‘severe’ but Vic Emergency’s always going off. Don’t look at me like that.
This was just after all the floods. I was used to severe or moderate flood warnings. We hadn’t received something as nice as a mild flood warning in a couple weeks. So it was probably gonna be chiller than the last few days.
Okay so this wasn’t just after all the floods. This was during all the floods. And yes, during all the floods we decided it was a good idea to meetup. At Sophie’s house. An hour and a half away from an ambulance. While our firefighters were out of town.
Don’t even suggest the police by the way. I walked into the police station a few weeks ago to get a police check and said:
“Oh, hi! I wasn’t sure when you guys were in.”
And the officer responded: “Me neither.”
None of us can drive and buses come hourly. Hourly. Except for my bus, which comes 3 times a day.
This is just becoming a list of why this was a recipe for disaster.
15 minutes after ignoring all the warnings, I received a call from Mom.
“Yeah, what’s up?”
“Have you not been getting the notifications?” Maybe… “BOM just came out and said there's a giant thunderstorm.”
“Jesus. Another one?”
“I thought Sophie’s parents told you. There’s been a broadcast everywhere.”
“I don’t think they’ve heard about it yet. I’ll tell them. When’s it hitting?”
“In a few hours.”
“Cool, I’ll start packing up–”
“No. It’s better if you stay there. At least there’ll be running water.”
“Nah, it’s cool. I can deal with the porta-potty.”
“I’ll be less stressed if you’re not there.” Ouch.
I walked back into the living room. “Hey, have you guys heard about the giant thunderstorm?”
Petrova stopped mid-anecdote, “The what?”
“No.” Sophie, got up, ever ready to spring into action, “The weather was supposed to be okay?”
Bella quietly pulled out her phone.
“Yeah my mom just called, she says there's one coming in a few hours though she could be wrong.”
Sophie went to respond.
“Yeah,” Bella looked up, “there’s a huge thunderstorm.”
“Shit.” Sophie perfectly encapsulated.
“Yep,” I said, “I know.”
“I’ll go talk to my parents, see if they know.”
“Yeah,” Petrova said, “I should call my dad.”
“Cool.” I nodded, “Cool. Cool. Cool. Cool. Cool.” Jake Peralta may have had a negative influence on me.
After they’d consulted with their respective legal guardians (love being a 19-year-old, still responsible for our actions, but having to “check in”) everyone came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a big deal. It was just a thunderstorm and only a mild flood warning. It was fine. My mom was, unsurprisingly, being over anxious.
Of course, I didn’t tell her that. I had survival instincts. All I told her was that Sophie’s parents were cool with me staying.
Good. Set up the porta-potty. Crossing fingers don’t have to use it.
Yep, the porta-potty was a staple of my life. I think most of Mom and I’s conversations during the floods mentioned it. She hated it.
Apparently, that night was really loud; the thunderstorm definitely hit us. I personally didn’t notice, despite the numerous attempts to wake me up. What can I say? I’m super good at ignoring things. Comes with having a sister. Being that everyone else was exhausted in the morning, we all ended up heading to the bus stop around midday.
“Wow.” I said, looking at the fallen trees and general chaos around us, “That storm must’ve been bad.”
“YES. WE NOTICED.”
Before you think I’m emotionless, I did check in with my mother. She was fine. The porta-potty wasn’t even necessary. Overall, there were fallen trees but no harm, no foul.
That was, at least, until it was 12:45. 30 minutes after the bus should’ve arrived.
Petrova searched the highway again. “It could just be late.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time.”
Sophie raised a brow at me, “30 minutes is a bit ridiculous.”
“When I was in Germany a bus was a full hour late. They’d broken down apparently. I was so late for that dinner.” Petrova said.
“If it broke down, wouldn’t they send another bus?” Bella asked.
“The bus depot is just up there, right?” I asked.
Sophie considered it. “Yes.”
“What if it was just like 15 minutes early and we missed it?”
“We were 15 minutes early.” Sophie argued.
I waved a hand. “You know what I meant.”
“It’s probably the only option.” Bella said. I don’t know why that seemed like a challenge.
“Not the only one, I mean, they could’ve… gotten lost.”
Sophie smiled, “They were driving down the highway and thought ‘this goat track is the way to go.’”
“Hey, there are other roads!”
“Maybe they saw a goat.” We all looked at Petrova, “Like a hurt goat. And they had to take it to the vet.”
Bella starts, “Wouldn’t they just call animal serv-”
“No” I interrupted, “Go with us here. There's a poor hurt goat. Of course, the driver calls animal services, but the driver carries it into the bus so it isn’t so exposed. And to- to clear the road! Right? And suddenly, the goat starts shaking. And out pops like the alien shapeshifting thing from The Thing! Kills everyone.”
“Wouldn’t someone would call roadside assist because there's a bus blocking the road?” Bella said.
“No,” Sophie began, “Because the Martians abducted the bus.”
Petrova groaned. “Not the Martians again.”
I turned to Sophie, “The Martians are working with The Thing?”
“New info the Russians sent.”
“I think they were attacked by ibises.” Petrova theorised.
“Like The Birds?” I said.
“Yeah. Like completely destroyed and then all the pieces were carried off.”
“I don’t think that’s ibis behaviour,” Bella said. “Buses don’t look like bins.”
“Bower birds on the other hand-”
We snapped to the voice. Sophie’s parents pulled in front of us, her mother leaning out the window, “The bus isn’t coming.”
“How could the ibises do this to us?!” We giggled. Sophie’s parents, meanwhile, were wondering when ibises became fate-controlling beings.
Turns out, rather disappointingly, Woiwarryn highway, the highway leading to civilisation, had collapsed. There was another road out, but it was too small and dangerous for the buses.
“Not too dangerous for locals though.” Mom said on the drive home.
“Well none of us have the money to sue them. PTV does.”
So now I know you’re thinking, why didn’t anyone know there were no buses? And about the broken road? They would’ve had to tell us, right? Well, of course our mayor did, at the bottom of a Facebook post. A Facebook post that went as follows:
If you’re planning on visiting Woiwarryn today, please note that Woiwarryn Highway has been closed.
Vic Roads is diverting traffic onto Old Woiwarryn Road and out onto Park Road, Woiwarryn.
Motorists are advised to remain cautious of compromised road conditions following our recent floods and intense periods of rain.
Please be kind and show patience to our crews, SES, VicRoads staff and any other service providers as they attend these sites.
Buses are cancelled until further notice.
So glad ‘visitors to Woiwarryn’ had been warned. Wouldn’t want to lose their patronage.
[It should be noted that, upon publishing this piece, the road is still not fixed. But the water park is! So everything’s fine!]