The Perils of Possum Point is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between persons, organisations or events described here and actual persons, organisations or events is purely unintentional.
Summer rolled around again, as, inevitably, it must. Christmas seemed perilously close. John had moved north, taking with him the faithful glubglub, so Ned had established a pond in his back garden, set up a waterfall, and stocked it with a pet of his very own. In other words, he dug a hole out back, ran a hose, and plopped into it one sad and rather bewildered goldfish. "Goldfish don't cause you to roll your Lada," he said to himself, recalling the adventure involving glubglub and his jeep. Now, here was contentment indeed! Picture it--a clear blue sky, gentle breeze wafting,, birds chirping, Ned half asleep in the shade with a book and a Margarita--and the goldfish merrily circling about in the pond, frolicking in the waterfall, and occasionally porpoising aloft in a flash of golden fin. More goldfish were added, to complete this image of serenity.
Indeed, things really did look swell. Much of the damage to the house from the previous year had been repaired, and the new roof wasn't even leaking! Ned began to think that life was not so awful, after all, and he even deigned to forgive those who had trespassed against him. Almost. For, still, when he retreated to his "special place", he could hear the clops and roars which interrupted his contemplations as he walked along the shore.
Now, Ned had discovered an interest in gardening. Not an interest, really, more of a passion. But not a passion, precisely. More of a dementia. A dark and consuming preoccupation, perhaps at any rate, something more than an interest. It had begun with one or two plants, and progressively taken up more and more of the lawn.
Ned had apples and pears and oranges, and limes and lemons and olives. He had grapes and kiwifruit and blueberries. And, there were blackcurrants, and raspberries. There was a vegetable plot, containing several species of broccoli, and tomatoes, peppers and such. There were macadamia nuts and avocados, and there was a potato and onion plot. Ornamentals, such as tea roses and begonias were in one section, and there was a separate place for a variety of cacti. Window boxes held herbs, such as thyme, rosemary and lovage.
All of these plants were watered underground through an automatic system, which wended its way beneath the lawn in a great labyrinth above the power conduit, which took power to the waterfall. Which fed the pond, in which resided the two goldfish, last survivors of ten who had lived there--one large and plump, the other small and furtive, possibly wondering what had happened to the other eight, and doubtless having its suspicions.
The garden was fully mulched with sections of technical reports, product brochures, computer magazines, and software manuals, overlaid with manure and natural bark. The plants seemed to thrive on this mixture, though an amount of fungi necessarily developed.
All of this was in a yard the size of a smallish room in a largish house. It was built up gradually, intricately, artistically, as Ned fussed with this and that, putting in new plants, plugging in more engines, adding lights, and forever modifying the watering system.
The whole effect was rather pleasant, marred though it was by grass which went unmowed, and ever-growing piles of spare parts and equipment rusting in various locations around both the front and back yards.
New Zealand is made up of volcanic islands, and Possum Point resides upon a fault line. It is not too much troubled by earthquakes, but they do happen. Many, in fact, are far to small to actually be noticed. And yet, the earth is shaken, and things do move beneath the ground. Such as, for example, the electrical conduit and irrigation system in Ned's back yard. It was a tiny quake, noted by Ned only because it caused a book to fall off a shelf. It had no other immediate consequences. For, although conduit and piping were married at several places, the pipe was empty, and would remain so until the watering system came on at three in the morning.
Meanwhile, things remained calm. Ned even had a chance to talk to Jason next door about the best way to extend the watering further into the front yard.
"You'll want to make sure that there's enough pressure in the system," said Jason.
"Too right," responded Ned. "I'll just turn the faucet all the way up. That oughtta do it."
"Be careful, though. Pressure's a bit high, you know."
"No worries. It's just water."
With that, Ned returned to his chores, extending the sprinkler pipe, turning up the water and emptying out another filing cabinet out onto the back garden.
The day came to an end, and then came the night. Ned was having some difficulty sleeping, so he pulled the pillow over his head. At this moment, three o'clock struck. The electric valve on the sprinkler system beeped and turned the water on. It shot up the feeder pipe at high velocity, hitting the frayed power cord. There was a blue electric arc at the juncture, seeming to come from out of the ground. The goldfish leapt two meters into the air, and electricity pulsed around the waterpump, which exploded with a splash. Water piping throughout the front and back yards broke, and plants randomly fired into the air, falling all about, some even landing on the roof. The power box inside the house exploded, meanwhile, and all of the electricity went out in Possum Point.
Meanwhile, Ned slept on. It began to grow light, and somewhere, a cow lowed. The waves could be heard rushing up on the shore, and the cannabis-seeking helicopters began to patrol. A dog yowled. A neighbour cursed, and something was thrown. The birds nesting in the eves of Ned's cottage began to sing.
Ned awoke. Something smelled funny, like smoke. He noted a small flame in the corner of the power box, and groggily rushed to put it out. Then he looked outside. The garden was gone, the yard was a mess, the pond was empty, the fish were fried. Vegetation was piled all over, some of it smouldering, all of it wet. Water was squirting from odd places throughout the lawn.
Ned observed. He turned off the water. Silence fell over the place. He took one long surveying glance across the rubble, shrugged. And then, he went back to bed, and fell asleep.
Copyright © 2000 Brian J. Dooley