RP5

Burke and Wills Statue

As you reach the Burke and Wills statue, you see that the sky is dark, shadowed with a large flock of birds swarming over the clock tower of the Melbourne Town Hall. You duck and look for cover as birds swoop down and cover the tall steeples of Anglican Diocese of Melbourne to the right of the square. You and the three sages hide on the stairs of the underground Men and Women toilet stairwells on the side of the Town Hall across the road from the statue.

“Here they come,” says Bano, as the birds begin to attack people in City Square.

“We need to get nearer to the statue,” says Belinda. “I can hear the Spirit of Adventure roaring from inside.”

“I’m not going anywhere until those dreaded birds are gone,” says Basanti. “I’ll a-goner with my gammy leg.”

“Ugh, you are such a hypochondriac,” says Bano.

I’ll get rid of the birds,” you say. Adrenalin is rushing through your veins. You know that the birds can tear you apart, but it is a question of your beloved city. You move out from under the steps of the public toilets and run in front of the town hall near the corner of the intersection.

People are screaming at you to take shelter but you spread your arms as wide as you can and declare, “Oh mighty birds, come get me! Devour me, if you wish!”

You feel hundreds of avian eyes zeroing in on you. The birds circle right above you. You are panting, waiting for the three sages to get the chant right. You close your eyes tight and pray. What is that strange sensation – are those the wings of birds just above your head? You dare not open your eyes.

“What should I do to unlock the spirit?” you yell, voice quivering.

“Spin around three times. Quick,” Belinda yells back. Although you are trembling, you still manage to spin around three times, feeling increasingly nauseous as you do.

And then you hear the chant, as clear and soothing as a prayer. “May neither death nor defeat, may neither wealth nor poverty, may neither grief nor happiness ever keep this city from the glories of adventure and exploration.”

As the chant gets louder, so too do the birds’ shrill caws. Your breathing almost stops. You pray for a gentle death.

And then all of a sudden, there is silence – a startling kind of silence. Maybe this is silence of death, you think. Are you dead or alive?

You feel game enough to open your eyes and see Bano, Basanti, and Belinda smiling in front of you, just as Amar, Akbar, and Anthony had been when you first met them.

“We freed the Spirit of Adventure,” says Basanti, gently.

You look around. There are no birds. The streets are empty. You catch a glimpse of a young woman riding away gloriously on a horse. You can’t make out anything about her physical form, only that she looks majestic, even in that brief glimpse.

“Is that the Spirit of Adventure?” you ask the sages.

“Yes, she didn’t have time to wait for you to open your eyes,” says Bano. “As soon as we freed her, she ferried everyone to a safe location.” Your knees get wobbly and you sink to the ground.

“Still some way to go,” says Bano gently pulling you up.

“Really? Isn’t there only one more to go?”

“One more. And then who knows about the future?” Basanti winks at you.

“I can’t hear the Spirit of Wealth properly,” says Belinda. “I think I heard something about a sculpture that represents wealth. I am not sure if I heard right, but I think there are two clocks on the way,” says Basanti.

“Maybe it’s the coin purse?” you say. “But I’m not sure about the clocks. Let me look it up.” Thankfully your phone is still working. You check the sculpture of the coin purse on Google Street View and realise there are two clocks nearby on Bourke Street.

You walk straight along Swanston Street after passing the whole town hall block, cross Little Collins street and turn left when you reach the intersection of Bourke Street and Swanston Street, continuing to walk on Bourke Street.

A thick fog begins to obscure your view with each step, and the wind picks up again, its ferocity making you zig-zag across the footpath. You’re getting goose bumps, and start rubbing your arms to warm yourself. Behind you, Basanti is complaining to the other sages about having to hobble all this way in awful weather. Finally, you see the two clocks – one on the Myer building and one on the Melbourne GPO clock tower. You know that the coin purse sculpture sits at the intersection of Bourke Street and Elizabeth Street.

RP5a