“What did you do to save the Endeavour?” Angie asked.
“We stuffed dead endangered species into the hole in the ship,” said Cook sulkily.
“I don’t think this is a good time for that attitude,” said Santa.
“We unwound rope and stuck it to a sail and lowered it under the boat to cover the hole,” Cook said.
“Hmm,” said Santa. “I don’t think that trick is going to work here. I think we might have to swim for it.”
“I can’t swim,” said Cook.
“I once saved a boy from drowning in a river,” said Kelly. “I might be able to save you too. Maybe.”
“It’s a long way to shore,” said Santa. “You might both drown.”
“Stand still,” said Angie, “You’re upsetting the boat. You’ll tip us all into the water.”
“Can you get us off this reef we hit?” asked Santa.
“It is something metal,” said Kelly.
He kicked out and the others heard a clang as his boot hit something metal in the water. They all stopped talking to see what it was beneath them.
“What is it?” Santa asked.
“The miraculous,” said Cook.
There was a creaking and a metal door opened up in the metal thing beneath them. “Quick,” called a voice. “Climb in.”
One by one they climbed off the sinking paddle-boat and into the strange metal thing. “What is this? Where are we?” asked Cook.
“It’s a submarine,” said a voice in the darkness.
“Who are you?” asked Ned Kelly.
“My name is Harold Holt,” he said.
“That name is familiar,” said Santa. “I seem to remember it being on my naughty list.”
“You’re not the first person to tell me that,” said Harold Holt.
It was very squashed inside the tiny submarine and the only illumination was from some dim red lights on the console.
“What’s this here writing all over the dials and things?” asked Ned Kelly.
“It’s Chinese,” said Holt. “This is a Chinese midget submarine.”
“Isn’t this sort of – improbable – being rescued by a Chinese submarine in Lake Burley Griffin,” said Angie. “I mean if somebody were reading it, they’d never believe it.”
“Says the girl with Santa Claus, Ned Kelly and Captain Cook in tow.”
“I’m not a girl!” said Angie. “I’m a woman.”
“Sorry,” said Harold Holt. “But you have to remember, I’m of a different era.” He fiddled with a few dials and things and they felt the submarine turning in the water. “But we’re all of the future now, eh?”
“What do you mean?” asked Angie.
“We’ve been waiting for you,” said Harold Holt. “Well, not you exactly. But those other three fellahs. They’re all a part of the big plan. You, you’re a bonus.”
“What are you talking about?” asked Angie.
“Just hang on a just a little bit longer and you’ll see,” he said.
Craig Cormick is an award-winning Canberra author who has published over twenty book of fiction, non-fiction and short-fiction. His awards include the ACT Book of the Year, a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award and a Victorian Community History Award. His most recent book Uncle Adolf won a 2015 ACT Publishing Award. For more information on Craig and his work check out his website at www.craigcormick.com
Part ten, the final part, will be published on the site tomorrow.