This will probably be the final chapter in this… trio, I guess. I feel like it makes a good conclusion. Tell me what you think! Also, remember that as much as possible I tried to base the plots of these three stories on very ambiguous topics, so that the story could apply to any native aborigine. So bear in mind that all the stories and beliefs discussed by King George are real Aborigine tales from Arnhem Land.
Disclaimer: Still own nothing. As ever.
They had been travelling two months. Two long, simple months, powerful in their simplicity- they were now so far inland that the red land was unbroken and all-encompassing. Nullah finally understood a fraction of its might. To wander the land, seemingly without aim or direction, and meet not a living soul along the way, ever, for two months… that, it seemed, was the land's strange privilege. It had the power to engulf its inhabitants, to separate them, almost as though it were a purposeful action. You would find other people only when the land permitted it- nothing and nobody was beyond its authority.
Yet the land permitted strange things. On the third morning of the second month Nullah was awoken by the sound of gunshots. In the distance they could see two figures, mounted, carrying rifles, firing with wanton abandon, as if in open challenge to the land's authority. Occasionally they would shoot a kangaroo, or some other animal, but they never dismounted. They hunted for sport.
"Why do they kill them?" asked Nullah, to which King George sighed, looking distantly into the sky. "Some people," he said, "don't need a reason."
The pair pressed on. For four days they made steady progress over the semi-arid land. The heat was by this time of year intense almost all the time, and even water seemed scarce relief. In the morning they chewed on insects, more for the water content than the nutrients, and in the evenings they ate whatever small creatures they could catch.
But whatever they did, they no longer did alone, for the two mounted riders were always behind them, drawing steadily closer day by day. At one time King George took Nullah on a detour, down treacherous rugged sloped of earth, then following a tiny stream upwards. Nullah slipped and scraped his arm, leaving his blood on the red earth; it blended perfectly, becoming food for flies, and was soon lost.
The mounted riders did not disappear, but stuck close, confirming King George's suspicions that they were following them. Nullah didn't know what to say to that. The whole situation was strangely surreal. Two men, suddenly appearing on the horizon, followed them, ceaselessly and implacably, firing their guns into whatever came near, spilling blood, cracking the silence with the cold metal of their guns. It seemed miraculous that the land tolerated them.
Then, on the fifth day, they cleared a parched valley, and stopped to look down on a sea of crimson. The base of the valley pulsated in the heat with the fierce colour of thousands of little red flowers, with vivid red petals, centred on a black centre.
"These are the Flowers of Blood," said King George to Nullah. As he looked upon them his face fell into a gaze of both reverence and regret. "They grow only in the place where innocent tribespeople once fell to violence. There was a great battle here in the past- a great massacre. You see, Nullah, we have been killing each other long before the white men came to this land- and we will go on with it once they are gone, just as they will go on killing one another. It seems man has killed so many that even the land has been changed. Now the coal-black centre of the flower will stare at him in reproach forever more."
And with that they made their way down into the valley, heads hung and tight-lipped, under the thousand black eyes of the Flowers of Blood.
That night there was no sign of the white men with the rifles. Nullah thought they had gone, but King George thought on other matters. "Right now," he told Nullah, "we are surrounded by the souls of the dead. There is no escape from anything here. Be careful what you say, and what you think."
Nullah was silent. Hours later, when the night had set in, and the temperature plummeted, King George stood. Nullah opened his eyes from a feigned sleep; surrounded by the red flowers, there was no relaxing.
"You're going to kill them," he said quietly.
"Yes. That is right."
"Because they will do the same to us if we wait." He replied. "They want out blood, our fear, our dying pleas."
"Why do they want these things?"
"As I said; some people need no reason."
And with that King George hefted his spear and left. Dawn approached, while Nullah waited in fearful silence, listening, watching. A sudden crack of gunfire rolled across the landscape, followed by another. Then there was silence.
When the sun was just over the distant horizon, King George returned. Nullah cried out in delight and rushed to meet him. But when he got close he saw that King George's blood was dripping on the little flowers beneath, blinding the coal-black eyes; and his face was grey and shiny with sweat. There were bullet wounds in his shoulder and hip. He staggered a few steps and into Nullah's arms, who lowered him to the ground. There he lay, shaking and groaning. With tears in his eyes Nullah sat back on his haunches with King George's blood on him. The heat was becoming ever more intense as dawn broke; yet there was a chilling hand around his heart.
"Are you going to die?" he sobbed.
King George groaned and spoke. His voice was a raspy whisper, and Nullah bent forward to hear him:
"God… that is what those white men called me. Oh God, oh God, they said, as I plunged the spear home. Oh God no, they said." He smiled. "They called me God, yet here I am. This is reality… the land is tired of my living on it, and I will soon be forgotten amongst the nameless fallen. Another of these flowers, perhaps, if I am innocent enough."
Nullah was crying now. He tried to stem the blood flow with his hands, but it escaped between his fingers in thick red petals.
"God…" murmured King George, his eyes glazed, amused by the term, "God. How do the white people do it? How do they believe in a God who is never there for them? How do they see beauty in a being which has gave them such miseries? No; the land is the only beginning and end that man shall ever know."
"But there must be something I can do to help!" Nullah cried. "You can't die; you are Gulipa, the magic man... you must survive, somehow!"
"No, no… forget all of that," King George whispered. "This is reality. I die or I don't. Be quiet now, and wait with me… we will see what the night brings."