Air Conditioned Fever

‘Are you hot?’ I asked nervously, eyes darting around the room. The three other people locked inside the cabin with me all avoided my gaze, faces plastered with boredom and worry. ‘Guys, I think I’m getting a fever, it’s super hot.’

‘Of course it’s hot,’ an older woman in the corner snapped at me. I think her name was Matilda, from seeing her around the cruise ship the last couple of days, but she hadn’t said a word since we were all locked in quarantine together.

‘No need to take the poor boy’s ear off,’ a quiet man beside her spoke up. I was pretty sure I’d never seen him before, and looking at how green he was explained why – I doubt he’d left his room since we’d sailed out of the bay.

‘If he asks stupid questions, I take his ear off,’ Matilda grumbled. ‘That’s been my rule for decades.’

‘You’d think there’d be more bayside cooling,’ said the woman by the window. We all turned to look quizzically at her, but she didn’t seem to notice as she stared out at the ocean, twirling a lock of her hair.

‘Right,’ Matilda frowned. ‘How long are we going to be locked in here, then?’

‘Until they decide that we’re not infected,’ the obviously sick man in the corner shrugged, the quick motion forcing him to quickly press a hand to his mouth.

‘Infected with what?’ I asked, nervously.

‘Whatever is floating around out there,’ he said, after a moment. ‘This is what I get for trying to take a holiday.’

‘I was just trying to get out of my house for the weekend,’ Matilda snorted. ‘My husband organised a local air conditioning service. Cheltenham isn’t too far from where we live so it shouldn’t take long for them to get there.

‘So you came on a… cruise ship?’ I asked her, confused.

‘They relax me!’ she snapped again. ‘Oh, this is so stupid. None of us are sick!’

‘I’m pretty sick,’ the man in the corner piped up, greener somehow.

‘Oh, you don’t count,’ she said –– right as the woman by the window began to vomit.

Plastering Recipe Success

‘I’m telling you,’ I sighed for the hundredth time, ‘I can’t hear a thing.’

‘You promise?’

‘I promise,’ I said. ‘What even is this stuff?’

‘This,’ my brother said with a massive grin, ‘is the future.’

He let the word hang in the air for a few moments. Eventually, I raised an eyebrow.

‘No, seriously Jamie, what the hell is this?’

‘Oh,’ he said, his grin dropping slightly. ‘It’s my new plaster technology.’

‘Your new… your what?’

‘It’s a new kind of plaster!’ he said. ‘I made it myself, in this very garage.’

‘I believe that, at least,’ I murmured, casting my eyes around the filthy, plaster-splattered walls. ‘But what does a “new plaster” even mean? I mean, we found somebody to install an acoustic ceiling, so I vaguely understand the principles, but—’

‘Pfft!’ he waved his hand. ‘Amateur stuff.’

‘Actually, they were incredible professional and hard work—’

‘This is the best plaster on the planet,’ he said, pointing at his half-filled paint can of nebulous white liquid. ‘This’ll put a wall up faster than you could even dream.’

‘You seriously underestimate my dreams,’ I said dryly. ‘What does this have to do with me, anyway? I sell electronics, not plaster.’

‘And you’re very good at selling electronics,’ he said, with a suggestive slant to his eyes. I frowned.

‘Not following.’

‘Money,’ he sighed. ‘I need money to get it off the ground.’

‘Oh, for god’s sake Jamie—’

‘Just a little bit!’ he protested.

‘What sort of interest can I put you down for, hm?’ I asked him. ‘How aggressive should we scale your payment plan?’

‘Uh,’ he scratched his head. ‘I was thinking more of an early Christmas gift type-thing.’

‘Not after the last hundred times,’ I grumbled. ‘No, this time you’re paying me back.’


‘I don’t know,’ I rolled my eyes. ‘Patent it, make it, sell it to a commercial plastering company. Near me, that’s just called business.’

He actually started to pout, his frown deepening.

‘This is unbelievable,’ he muttered.

‘See you at Christmas,’ I waved, starting to leave.

‘Wait, no, Kevin, come back!

Which Suggested Architect 

‘So, Max,’ I glared over the top of my orange juice glass. ‘Have you heard my daughter’s plans?’

‘Her plans?’ he asked me, enthusiastically tucking into a croissant with a knife and fork, too unaware to feel the roiling tendrils of rage seeping off of my body towards him.

‘The house she intends to build,’ I nodded. ‘Alone.’

‘Woah,’ he nodded, grinning widely like a dog. ‘That’s awesome, babe. Super chuffed!’

My daughter smiled at him as she came back out onto the patio, and shot me a suspicious look.

‘That didn’t take you long,’ she said, cocking her head.

‘It was an innocent question,’ I said, only thinly trying to hide my intentions.

‘Right,’ she nodded with a smirk. ‘Maxy, baby, you want to help me pick out one of the best architects operating in Melbourne to build my dream home?’

‘Hell yeah,’ he mumbled around a large bite of pastry. ‘Sounds like a date!’

‘You know,’ I said quickly, ‘I used to know a lot of people in the architecture game, back in in the day.’

‘Woah, no kidding,’ Max nodded, wide-eyed and completely enraptured.

‘I kid you not,’ I said, smiling thinly at him. ‘Point is, I might be able to introduce you to some people.’

‘Let me guess,’ my daughter said with a sigh, dropping into the seat next to Max and opposite me. ‘These were corporate-type guys, yeah?’

‘Well, I suppose they could be—’

‘So,’ she cut me off, ‘they probably only work for commercial architecture firms, right?’

‘I guess I couldn’t say where they are or aren’t—’

‘So they wouldn’t be the best bet for me,’ she continued, pressing a hand to her chest, ‘a residential owner who needs an architecture firm who is familiar with the wide range of residential-specific guidelines, laws and regulations, no?’

‘I guess not,’ I grumbled, sipping my juice. ‘Point is, I know some guys, okay?’

‘Noted,’ she said, with an icy grin.

Plumbing Reflections

Driving the old sedan through the apparition of the Mornington Peninsula, Redman couldn’t help but feel more than a little spooked. He’d come from there, after all, before the collapse of society on the surface. His family had tried to stick it out, living in a bunker underneath their Red Hill property. Eventually, though, supplies had run out and they had to make for the rumoured underground haven.

So he knew exactly what the Mornington Peninsula had looked like in the last days. It was nothing like this illusion. Add a few hundred giant cockroaches and some scorched earth, then maybe it would be more accurate.

His father had believed that as a professional plumber, he could take on the giant roaches and get them to safety. Unfortunately, he was little more than a senile old man at that point – one who hadn’t done a commercial gutter cleaning in over a decade, let alone dealt with a cockroach infestation. Redman wasn’t even sure if plumbers usually dealt with cockroaches. That seemed more like a job for someone in pest control. It was no real surprise when the cockroaches tore his father to shreds with their forearms, then flew off before the rest of the family could even land a hit on them.

These days, if you needed hot water repairs close to Melbourne, you certainly wouldn’t be asking for Albert Redman.

The memory was a painful one, causing Redman to exhale deeply. Why did the passcode have to involve commercial plumbing services? Why couldn’t it have been anything else?

As he drew closer to the property of 35 Boulevard Drive, Redman kept a close eye out for anything suspicious. Mavis’ note had been distinctly out of character for her. As a result, he had to be prepared for the possibility of this being a trap of some kind.

Better to be suspicious and have there be nothing to worry about than to walk into a trap without expecting it.

Ocean Pals Talking

The designer man listened as I spoke about all my favourite things to do with the ocean. We talked about the pull of the waves and the sound they made as I drifted off to sleep each night. We talked about how much I loved the curve of anchors and how I often drew them on my own paper when I had downtime on the ship. We even talked about whales, and all of the magnificent whales I had seen on my travels. I decided that the designer man was right, and it would be nice to include all of my favourite things in my boat side decal.

Although it wouldn’t be as intimidating as my face to other boats, it would still be a representation of me. If we designed it just right, it would signal to passersby that I knew the ocean better than them – better than anybody – and I was not to be messed with. I watched as the designer man sketched out a picture of my ship according to my specifications, and then began inking the design in the space where the hull was. It was fascinating watching his expert hand move across the paper. He was almost as talented at design as I was at thieving from rich people. It was so strange that he didn’t know I was a pirate, yet he was still able to capture my personality so well in his drawings. Because he had so much experience with fishing boat graphics, he understood how to properly draw fish and waves without using a reference.

Although I mostly let him do his thing, I occasionally guided him to place a particular symbol where I wanted it. For example, I really wanted the anchor to be the main feature of my design to show how I connected to the sea. That way, maybe when I became the most feared pirate on the ocean I could print out business cards with an anchor logo.

A Mechanic’s Patience

I stood back from the engine block, wiping sweat from my brow and cracking my neck with a groan.

‘Does it get easier?’ I asked the mechanic who had taken me in. He frowned at me from behind his wrinkles.

‘Does it look like it gets easier?’

I sighed and wandered over to the door, staring up into the dusk sky.

‘You do that a lot you know,’ the mechanic called out to me, fiddling with a clamp on the engine’s main drive.

‘I miss it,’ I said, kicking the roller door. ‘And you said we’d be done fixing the Isadora by now.’

‘No I didn’t,’ he chuckled. ‘I said I hoped we’d be done.’


‘Also, I was lying.’

‘I figured.’

‘It’s not often an old man gets an indentured apprentice to help him out in his shop,’ he chuckled, standing up to take a tray of parts to the machine washer. I couldn’t help but smile too – but only once his back was turned.

‘If you’re not careful, I’ll get my log book service from a mechanic near Lockleys,’ I jabbed at him. He snorted.

‘Good luck. It’s a long walk, and you’re not borrowing my speeder again.’

‘A long walk would do me good,’ I said, stretching out my back. ‘I’ve spent too long cooped up on this rock – my bones have started aching.’

‘Oh boo-hoo,’ the mechanic rolled his eyes. ‘Your poor, juvenile bones.’

‘You might be old, old man,’ I countered, ‘but I’m literally not built for this.’

‘You’ll get used to it,’ he sighed. ‘Just like everyone asking how to find mechanics who do electric car repairs – you get used to it.’

‘I don’t want to get used to it!’ I balled my fists up. ‘It’s been months of people telling me that I need to get used to it! I want to get back to my old life!’

‘It’s waiting for you,’ he nodded serenely. ‘You just have to be patient.’

‘I’ve never been good at patience,’ I sighed. He cracked a wry grin.

‘You get used to it.’


Roadside Revelations

‘Wait, he did what?’

‘I’m telling you, Lacey,’ I nodded at my sister, keeping my eyes on the road. ‘He said it. To my face.’

Lacey made a gobsmacked expression, like she’d just lost her phone in the ocean.

‘Your face?!’

My face,’ I repeated, nodding vigorously. It was becoming harder to see the road through the tears.

‘What a monster,’ Lacey slowly shook her head.

‘A monster,’ I agreed, alternating my hands on the wheel and dabbing at my cheeks.

‘Well, you don’t need him anyway.’

‘Never did.’

‘He was holding you back.’

‘Dead weight.’

‘Who cares if he was the best car mechanic near me.’

‘What?’ I turned to look at her, frowning.

‘Who cares if he gave me a decent rate even before he knew I was your sister and let me borrow his car for a weekend once because he wasn’t able to fix mine as quickly as he said he would,’ Lacey nodded. ‘Doesn’t matter. He said that to you? To your face?’

I didn’t reply, my frown turned to the road.

We sat in silence for a few kilometres, staring out our respective windows. Finally, I couldn’t contain it any longer.

‘So when you said… when you said he gave you a decent rate…’

‘Yep, super decent. The monster,’ she quickly added.

‘Yeah, right, sure,’ I shook my head. ‘But that was before he knew who you were?’


‘And how decent was it?’

‘Was what?’

‘The rate,’ I clenched my grip on the steering wheel.

Lacey frowned like she was trying to remember.

‘Uh… pretty good, I think. Can’t remember any specifics, but it was—’

‘And did he ask you to get a private car air conditioning service near Frankston?’

Lacey’s frown deepened.

‘Uh… could be ringing a bell? Let me check my—’

I wrenched the car to the side of the road with a shriek, slamming on the brakes just before we hit a tree.

You’re the broken-air-conditioner girl trying to steal my boyfriend?

‘I can explain!’ Lacey stammered, trying to unlock the doors.

Storms and Internet

There have been some pretty crazy storms recently. Last night when they began I was initially asleep but the wind was so loud that it woke me up. It sounded like a genuine tsunami outside – the windows were all shaky, the bricks seemed to rattle, and bits of leaves and smaller branches were falling from the trees and scattering themselves all over my roof. It was actually a little bit scary. Although, the scariest part would have to have been when there was a large gust of wind that completely shook my house and caused my television to fall off the wall and break on the ground.

Earlier today I had to go through the whole long and complicated process of finding one of the best TV wall mounting services Melbourne has to offer, so they can install a new television for me. After talking to one of the representatives over the phone, I learned that the previous installers must have done a pretty shoddy job. This is such a rare occurrence that can only be caused by poor installation practices. I’m definitely going to ring up my previous installers and give them a piece of my mind.

Something else I have to start thinking about is contacting a commercial phone line and broadband expert. My internet has been crazy slow since the storms last night, and I don’t even have any reception on my phone at all. I had to go to my friend’s house several streets away from me to borrow her phone to contact all the installation services. It’s so unfair that my house has no power but she barely noticed the storm at all. I’m not sure how I’m going to afford all of this. Hopefully, insurance covers most of the costs of the storm’s damage, but I do have a pretty low level of insurance so I might have to pay out-of-pocket.

Friendly Tattoo Designs

My friend really wants to get a tattoo. We’ve been friends for ages – our whole adult lives, in fact, which means we’ve been through a lot of each other’s decisions. Yes, all of them, including both the good and the bad decisions. I can’t help but feel like my friend’s longing to get a tattoo is actually a pretty good decision. He’s wanted one for a while and has already done a lot of research to find a number of designs he likes. Next, he wants to find a local tattooist in the Brisbane CBD  in order to discuss his ideas with an expert. I’ve already given my friend some advice, and he’s listened because he respects my opinion. He specifically wants a tribal tattoo, which is something you do have to go to a specialised artist for if you want it done properly. It includes swirling lines and patterns, but is quite a strong and masculine design overall due to its origins in tribal art. At first I wasn’t sure if he should get such a design, since my friend himself has no heritage in that area, but after doing research with an actual tribal tattooist, it is seen as alright with some people so long as you show the proper respect. That’s why he’s going to a tattoo artist who specialises in tribal tattoos. We have been searching online for artists who fit this description, and thanks to the wonderful wonders of the internet, they have been quite easy to find. Some of them have put beautiful pictures of their designs on their social media in order to get new customers and build a following for their art. I also spent some time looking at reviews to ensure the tattoo studio is hygienic and clean, but especially that the artists themselves are encouraging and friendly professionals. I know that tattoos can be kind of painful to get done, even though I have none of them myself. Apparently, the way that artists treat you can make a big difference, so I want to find the best for my friend.

Sky-High Service

Alert. Alert. Malfunction detected. Serious leak detected. Immediate attention req—

‘Yeah, yeah,’ I fumed, punching the console, cutting the voice off. ‘I’m aware.’

If the red lights and the alarms weren’t enough, the smoke filling the cabin would have been clue enough that something was seriously, seriously, wrong with my engine.

I flicked on the auto-drive and slipped out of my seat, running to the other end of the vehicle. I grabbed a wrench off the wall as I ran past, hoping it was the right size for whatever I was about to do.

‘What I wouldn’t give for an engine analyser to diagnose my vehicle right about now,’ I muttered. Taking a deep breath, I opened the door to the engine room, and was immediately blinded by smoke.

Hacking and coughing, I desperately tried to bat it away with my arms.

‘Computer!’ I called out. ‘Activate the exhaust fans!’

Nothing happened, and I remembered that I’d turned her off back in the cabin.

‘Dammit,’ I swore. I glanced around and saw a pair of safety goggles, dangling on the end of a drill. I quickly slipped them over my eyes. Breathing was still touch-and-go, but at least now I could see.

It didn’t take me too long to diagnose the problem: my engine was on fire.

‘Definitely should have gotten that log book service near Adelaide last month,’ I sighed, reaching for my fire extinguisher. I pointed the nozzle at the engine block and squeezed my eyes shut, pulling the trigger.

Nothing happened.

Why was nothing happening?

         I remembered with a start and a groan, slapping myself on the forehead. I’d used the extinguisher up on the last engine fire.

I swore again, and sprinted out of the engine room, back at my dashboard and its hundreds of blinking lights. I whipped the radio out of its holster and pressed it to my mouth.

‘Mayday, mayday, this is the Isadora, driving in the blind with my engine on fire, repeat, my engine is on fire.’