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Byron Shire
February 26, 2024

Here & Now #45

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Image S Sorrensen
Image S Sorrensen

S Sorrensen

Larnook. Monday, 6.30am


It’s early morning. I’m lying under the mossie net in bed in my shack under the cliffs, alone in a tumble of sheet and doona. And I’m running my hand down my inner thigh.

Oh, titter if you must, dear reader, but this is serious, not recreational. Something is hurting me.

I’m really sensitive. Children’s choirs make me teary. Sunlight makes me nauseous. Synthetic shirts make me itch. Polluted aquifers make me sick. People who pollute aquifers make me angry.

This new day, heralded with a tone-deaf rooster’s morning song, and the bellbirds’ deathly ringing, is already hurting me.

I feel a sting. Left leg. Ow. And a lump. Right leg. Ow.

There’s a radio babbling beside me on my bed, right where a woman would be. I like to wake up to someone’s voice.

There may be no body beside me, but lovely Fran from RN is talking to me in her cool, articulate way, her voice blanketing the raucus rooster and the forest death knell. But this morning she’s not muttering sweet nothings – about city festivals or new films – in my ear. Fran is telling me that a coal seam gas mining company has polluted an aquifer out in the Pilliga scrub. With uranium and other toxins.


I often wake up with Fran and I enjoy sharing first light with her. Even though I know she shares herself with others, I believe we have developed a certain intimacy that transcends her promiscuity. But this sort of distasteful early morning intercourse is just hurtful and depressing, Fran. So, it’s over. No more dawn discourse. From now on it’s just uplifting cock-a-doodle cacophony and the happy tinkle of bell miner dieback. I’ll have my nightmares when I’m asleep, thank you.

But I can’t turn her off just yet. I hate to be alone – especially when I’m hurting…

Something is biting me. Ow.

Throwing off the doona/sheet tangle I expose myself to the new day. It’s not a pretty sight: Nasty looking little red spots cover my lower torso. They weren’t there when I went to bed. They’re not spider bites. They’re not grass ticks. They can only be…

Apparently, Santos knew about the polluted aquifer for years. During that time the corporation has been going on and on about how safe CSG mining is. Everyone knows it isn’t but the deceit was supported, and development fast-tracked, by the state government.

Look, l know we live in a culture whose time is done; in an empire whose peak is well behind us; in a civilisation overrun by a corpoarte barbarism, but, really, have we slid so far that money is the only morality? That men and women, entrusted with your children’s future (and funded by you), will lie directly to your face? That honour is traded for dollars? That humanity is the enemy? That a society is so compromised, pollution of ground water is a tolerable consequence of profit for the already rich?

Bed bugs! Bloody bed bugs! I’ve been attacked by bed bugs. Ow. I recoil from the infestation.

The world is changing. Bed bugs have invaded my shack. Corporate vandals have invaded the state. It’s too much. I’m too sensitive for this…

Fran’s dulcet voice calms me. Santos has been fined.

Good. Maybe there is some justice left in the quarry. And maybe a good dose of tea tree oil will kill the bed bugs.

But, dear reader, there is no justice. Santos was fined $1500. (Wow, that’ll teach them.)

I lie back down on my bug bed and pull the doona over me. I’m not getting up.

Let the bed bugs bite. The parasites have won.


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  1. Just sprinkle some borax powder around the room, that will kill the bugs without harming other beings, but the gas mining thugs problem is a little more difficult to stop I’m sorry to have to say.

  2. Thanks Colin. Someone who knows about buggy things has suggested that these bugs may be bat bugs, not bed bugs. Very similar apparently, but bat bugs would be there because micro bats roost in my bedroom. Bat bugs are partial to human blood as well as bats’. So I should get rid of the micro bats – but I like the little fellas. Anyway, I’ll give the borax a go. In the meantime I have moved out of that room and am enjoying sleeping on the verandah.


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