Texting The Void


Scene: The Outback. Near Fossil Creek.

Leader of the Opposition TONY ABBOTT and local Aboriginal entrepreneur IAN CONWAY, his "guide and guru", are sitting beside two four-wheeled motorcycles. Contrary to reports, the men have not been separated. They are evidently tired. They are waiting for the return of their guides who have gone to find water. CONWAY is looking a little worried while ABBOTT looks strangely manic. 

TONY ABBOTT: (Self-satisfied tone.) Yes, I think this is the most awesome thing I have done by far. By far, Ian. Did you see how the rare native animal species scattered when we came through here on the four-wheelers? (Laughs.) They were shit-scared! I feel like Clive of India or something. (Grave tone.) The stalwart missionary, venturing into the heart of —

IAN CONWAY: I’m tired, Tony. We’d better go back.

ABBOTT: Wait, wait: how many Aboriginal sacred sites have I discovered today, d’y’think?

CONWAY: (Offended.) Um, "discovered"? I’m your guide, Tony. (Sarcastically.) So I’d say … hmm, let’s see … right about … none.

ABBOTT: (Under breath.) Long shot of sunset over desert. Heat haze permeating everything. Cut to: low-angle close up of me atop my four-wheeler, revving throttle madly, sweat seeping through lycra motorcycle outfit, ripped abs highly visible beneath shirt, priceless Aboriginal artefact clutched triumphantly in hand to strains of Elgar’s Pomp and 

CONWAY: (Sighs.) We’re lost. Admit it.

ABBOTT: Not lost. Not lost. Just … exploring.

CONWAY: Why the hell did you bring us out here anyway, Tony?

ABBOTT: We still have plenty more mysterious, exotic, long-lost Aboriginal sacred sites to discover, Ian! I’ve still got five of these little novelty Liberal party flags left to plant on them. They’ll like that, I think: it’s a gesture of respect and dialogue. Whaddaya think?

CONWAY: Right. Sacred sites. Yeah, right. (Mimics Abbott.) "Hey, everyone — I’m Tony Abbott! I show respect by trampling sacred sites beneath the wheels of my quad bike! Vote for me, I’m a compassionate conservative!"

ABBOTT: (Joining in enthusiastically.) Yeah! Not like that other bloke! He’s a compassionate wuss! Ruddy’d be much more comfy on a trike than a four-wheeler, dontya think Ian?

CONWAY: (Shrugs.) Whatever.

Hours pass. Sun looms oppressively overhead.

ABBOTT: I think we’re going to die.

CONWAY: We’ll be fine. The other blokes are —

ABBOTT: Don’t worry. ASIO will be here eventually, Ian.

CONWAY: Okay, Tony. Okay.

ABBOTT: Ian? ASIO will be here eventually, Ian.

CONWAY looks alarmed.

ABBOTT: ASIO will be here eventually. ASIO will be here eventually. ASIO will be here eventually,

CONWAY hits ABBOTT with frying pan. ABBOTT blacks out, waking up hours later.

ABBOTT: I didn’t think it would end like this. I thought there’d be more … angels.

CONWAY: It’s okay, Tony. I brought a satellite phone.

ABBOTT: Give us it. (Excitedly snatches phone.) We can message for help!

CONWAY: (Wryly.) Brilliant. I was going to use it to start a fire.

ABBOTT: Well, that’s why I’m the Leader of the Opposition and you’re not. I’m gonna tell everyone what I think of them. They’ll be sorry. Where’s the space bar on this thing?

CONWAY: Doesn’t appear to have one.

ABBOTT: Oh well. (Messages.) WERELOSTNEARFOSSILCREEK. (Hysterically.) Werelostnearfossilcreek! Werelostnearfossilcreek! OhmyGod. OhmyGod.

CONWAY: It’ll only be a matter of time now. Try to relax.

ABBOTT: (Calmer.) I can finally tell people what I think of them.

CONWAY: But we’re going to see them soon. Don’t burn your —

ABBOTT: Not much chance of that, Ian. This is God’s plan. He meant us to die out here. It’s some kind of test. ( Assumes Charlton Heston Ten Commandments tone.) Beneath the searing yet purifying heat of this sunburned land, the martyr’s bleached bones remain for hungry eagles to pick on, fire engulfing all —

CONWAY: (Mutters.) I should have ripped the Book of Revelations out of his Bible before we left.

ABBOTT: Time to settle some old scores. Nothing to lose now. (Texting.) This one’s for you, Kevin. WUSSYLITTLEKEVINCOULDNTEVENDOATRIATHLONLETALONEANOUTBACKADVENTURE.
That felt good. (Cracks knuckles.) Yeah!

CONWAY: Mate, I don’t know if you should be —

ABBOTT: (Sternly.) There’s only room for one outback survival guru here, Ian. I watched the first series of Bush Tucker Man before I came, so that would be me.

CONWAY: (Shrugs.) Sorry mate. Knock yourself out.


CONWAY: These guys aren’t going to be too happy when you get back.


CONWAY: (Relieved.) Here come the other blokes, with the map. We’re going to be fine —

ABBOTT: (Not listening.) Julia, I’ve waited so long to say this.
God, I really feel like a weight has been lifted. Take me, Lord. I’m ready. (Laughs maniacally.)

CONWAY: (Soothingly, to ABBOTT.) It’s okay, Tony, it’s okay.

CONWAY: (To GUIDES.) Tie him up, boys.

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