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The Lost City, a Short Story

John is a long-time poet, short fiction, and article writer. He loves story-telling and also has a Certificate in Permaculture Design.

The Lost City, Litchfield National Park, NT, Australia

The Lost City, Litchfield National Park, NT, Australia

The Lost City

Wiping the sweat away from my brow, I slid my backpack from my shoulders and let it fall beside me, then sat down on a boulder and took a sip of water from my canteen. I poured some into a bowl and placed it on the ground in front of Mojo. He looked up at me gratefully, between lapping, with his big brown eyes.

This was quite a hike but Litchfield Gorge had been calling my name for years now. I had planned to explore it a couple of times but the access road (for want of a better term) had been closed, either cut due to the wet season or because crocodiles had been sighted in the vicinity.

After a short rest, we made our way deeper into the forest. Litchfield is a little unique, most of the area being sub-tropical but which seems to change and become rainforest the deeper into it you get. There was no track to be followed now, the undergrowth thick, and the going slow but at least the overhanging canopy offered welcome relief from the blazing Territory sun directly overhead. We pushed on.

I had to leave the 4x4 hidden among some trees at the end of the access road some seven or eight kilometres back. My reserves of stamina were being tested, in fact almost exhausted, when the flora seemed to sympathize and began to thin out, before suddenly parting to reveal the most remarkable sight! There had been many tales of a lost city hidden somewhere in the 1400 square kilometre Litchfield Forest and many had searched for it over the years to no avail. Surely, what lay before me couldn’t be it. I mean, what are the odds that I’d be the one to stumble upon it?

Mojo barked as some small creature darted into the bushes to our right, and I petted him in reassurance, though my eyes were transfixed on the incredible architectural formations before me. In an area probably rivaling a modern small town in size lay the ruins of an ancient city, with sandstone block and pillar structures and a maze of narrow alleys.

the-lost-city-a-short-story

Blog/Journal Entry: Week 1

One week down, and Mojo and I are still here. We were fortunate to find a freshwater spring and waterfall close by and the bush actually has an abundance of fruit, nuts, edible roots, and wildlife. Sustenance: challenging but possible.

The sandstone ruins themselves offer a wide variety of living options and I still haven’t explored every alley, cave, or crevice.

Blog/Journal Entry: Week 2

I have decided to move to the Lost City permanently, to free myself from the materialistic and technology-driven urban lifestyle and actually put my Permaculture qualifications into physical practice. Extreme, I admit, but I have always been up for a challenge. I will need to return to civilization temporarily to resign from my 9 to 5 job, transfer the lease on my apartment to a friend, and sell anything I don’t need.

Blog/Journal Entry: Week 3

Back ”home” from the rat race. Arrangements made, ties broken, arguments defeated. It wasn’t easy but I packed and transported all the essentials I could carry. I had to leave some of it in my hidden 4x4 and make two extra trips to collect it all (including a rooster and hen for breeding, eggs, and meat.)

I have to admit I am not abandoning technology entirely, I brought a solar blanket and lights, and a solar phone charger. Fortunately, despite the remote location here, there is phone reception. Apart from allowing me to write this blog, the phone is basically just in case of emergency. It is good to have that lifeline.

the-lost-city-a-short-story

Blog/Journal Entry: Week 4

I have been using companion planting principles to create a natural food forest by planting the fruit and vegetable seeds and seedlings I brought from town in among the native forest flora. I am surprised how quickly they are growing.

It is possible for me to get by on a near vegetarian diet, but not Mojo. We are already getting eggs, and will have meat from the poultry eventually but that won’t happen over night. I managed to bring some dog food, and hopefully I can capture enough wildlife (kangaroos, wallabies, and smaller marsupials are in abundance) until his natural hunting instincts kick in.

Blog/Journal Entry: Week 5

Most of my time has been spent alternating between gardening, writing, and contemplating the origins of this lost city and what type of society or civilization lived here. Well, it started out that way. I haven’t seen any evidence of previous human habitation, and a closer examination of the sandstone structures leads me to conclude they were, in fact, naturally formed by millions of years of weathering. This was somewhat disappointing, but miraculous none the less.

I saw a dingo yesterday, and also found evidence of their droppings in one of the caves. I will have to be vigilant to make sure they don’t see the hen and rooster as an easy meal, but Mojo is a Maremma, a renowned livestock guardian dog, so hopefully he will keep them safe.

Blog/Journal Entry: Week 6

This is my sixth week of living alone (apart from my faithful companion, Mojo). Solitude is fine, and what I sought … at the moment, but how long can I be happy with no human interaction? Time will tell I guess, and maybe I will resort to inviting some friends to join me. Revealing it to the world, however, would ruin it, so that decision needs careful thought.

In the meantime, my vegetable crops are thriving in the wild garden, the hen has hatched eight chickens, and Mojo has even been catching some of his own food. So, life is good in The Lost City.

© 2019 John Hansen

Comments

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

Thank you, Nikki. Yes, now and then I write a short story, when I need a change from poetry. Thank you for reading. Yes, heights can be scary for some people.

Nikki Khan from London on November 01, 2019:

I didn’t know, you can write a story too John. Keep it up, this is quite good. I loved all the adventure through this hiking. Can’t imagine in real though, I’m so scared of heights. Lol.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 21, 2019:

Well, Lawrence,I knew someone would ask that question. Let me just leave it hiding for now until I figure out if I need to return to the outside world. I know it will need starting now and then to keep the battery charged. Though maybe I can hook up some solar panels.....hmmm.

I’ll let you know haha. Thanks for reading.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on October 21, 2019:

John

What an adventure! One question, what are you going to do with the 4x4?

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 12, 2019:

Hi, Jo. I am glad you enjoyed this story. I do intend to continue it soon. Thanks for the great comment.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on September 12, 2019:

I love this, John. Riht up my alley. I hope you continue the story. It was fantasies like this that brought me to my little plot of land.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 10, 2019:

Thank you for some ideas Flourish, I like them. I also have a couple of my own that may surprise the reader. I just have to work out a few details.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 10, 2019:

You should continue this one. I see conflict in the future as things get a little more challenging and dramatic out there all by himself. Maybe he has an accident or gets attacked, finds out he’s not alone after all, etc.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 09, 2019:

Lora, I thank you for reading this and am glad it took you back to the tranquil meadow of your childhood. The last place we lived before moving here was on a 50-acre property where there was a rocky ridge full of caves to explore. I have always been drawn to such places. Thank you for enjoying the story.

Lora Hollings on September 08, 2019:

Ah Jodah, you have written a very imaginative story in a very secluded setting that appeals to our native roots. It reminds me of a meadow that I used to go to as a child pretty far from my home that I would love to explore, and pretend that it was my very own place- and that no one could find me there. After reading your story, it brings back a strong desire to go back to this tranquil place. I really enjoyed going back to this magical place through your writing! Thanks for such an enjoyable read.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 08, 2019:

Haha, Sean, it seems I have written a few articles about running away from society to seek a simpler more basic lifestyle. I am glad I convinced you I was there. It seems you have added to the opinion that I need to continue the story. Thanks, my brother.

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on September 08, 2019:

Well, well, well... I think I have to inform Kathy about your runaway thoughts! Ha! Ha! Vivid! I am sure you were there, you've convinced me! And that's talent, my brother! Thank you for this "window". It was pleasant to read! I think is not ended though.

Let us see God in every being and place!

Sean

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 07, 2019:

I Lori, I am please do you enjoyed the story and experience it. Yes, I had a wonderful time.

Lori Colbo from Pacific Northwest on September 07, 2019:

What a great story, John. I could see, smell, and feel it all. Beautiful photos. Looks like you had a great time.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 07, 2019:

Chitrangada, I greatly appreciate your comment. It is good to be told that any fiction I write is “believable.” That is my aim, so it means I succeeded. I don’t write short stories often but enjoy the change of genre now and then.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 07, 2019:

Quite an engaging story with believable words and pictures. It’s no surprise that your creative mind combined your holiday pictures, into a wonderful story.

I enjoyed going through. The title sounds mysterious and attracts the reader.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful story.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 07, 2019:

Mary, thank you for reading and your interesting suggestions for a sequel. Glad you enjoyed the story.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on September 07, 2019:

This, perhaps, is what I'd call an "alter-ego" story. Fun.

I too have an interest in permaculture and forest gardens, even tree houses. My version of a rain forest, however, differs slightly from the photos. I'd call this a subtropical forest.

What would really be fun would be to read a sequel wherein you are transported in time back to the age of the aboriginals who lived in the city. Same format maybe with your observations and experience of interacting with the inhabitants.

I enjoyed the read. Blessings!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 07, 2019:

Hi Besarian! Thank you for reading and leaving such an interesting comment. My permaculture studies actually encourage growing food crops in the native growth forests or at least use companion planting techniques..as opposed to the norm of mono-cropping.

I think this story does give me the opportunity to continue it and expand further. Cheers.

Besarien from South Florida on September 07, 2019:

Hi Jodah! I love your creative take on a holiday photo album! Litchfield looks amazing. It is hard to believe that those walls of a lost city are natural structures. They look very purposeful for the products of erosion. Having recently started my own little food forest in the native growth at the south end of my property, I am intrigued by your fictional one. I'd love to read more of your back to nature adventure someday if your muse is willing. It reads like the perfect start to nearly any genre of storytelling.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2019:

Hello Li-Jen, I have written a few short stories but not often. Sometimes, I just have the urge to write something other than poetry and this was one such occasion. Oh, yes I can imagine actually being in a lost city.

Li-Jen Hew on September 06, 2019:

Hi Jodah. I enjoyed your short story. It's nice to see you write short stories besides poems. I like that you included weekly blogs and the technology bit. Imagine if you were really in the lost city. Lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2019:

Thanks MizB, it sounds like your son and his wife are living their dream. It sounds like I have to continue this so I will keep you posted.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on September 06, 2019:

John, by all means, continue this story. I was enthralled. I'd like to try it...for a week. It sounds so much like something my son and his wife are doing in a remote area of East Texas. Except they don't have to worry about dingoes, just wild hogs. Not razorbacks, huge fat wild swine. So I'd like to keep posted on how your alter-ego fared.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2019:

Many writers seek a certain degree of solitude I think MsDora. Thank you for reading this and for your comment.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 06, 2019:

I covet some aspects of your story for myself--solitude, writing and a pet for company. Might find something different to contemplate on at another time in another place. But altogether, I love the mood of the story.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2019:

Thank you, Pamela, for reading my little adventure story. Many of us dream of getting away from it all for a time but maybe not quite to this extent. Yes, the dog “Rolly” was a beautiful animal. I appreciate your comment as always.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2019:

Hello, Shauna. Thanks for reading my first foray into short fiction for some time. I have been feeling guilty about not writing an article of my recent road trip but I was also itching to write a piece of fiction. This was a way of combining the two ( to an extent.) Thank you for your synopsis on what may occur in the future..a woman? Maybe lol.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2019:

Thanks for such a kind comment Linda, I am glad you got immersed in this. I actually lived in a tin shed for two years with my only power coming from a generator and car batteries, with a camp shower and grew all my own fruit and vegetables, but nothing quite this remote. I’ll see what I can do about another story, or continuing this one.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2019:

Glad you enjoyed this adventure, Eric. I knew you’d be able to relate in some way. Cheers. Dingoes...coyotes....pretty similar I’d say.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2019:

Maybe I was preparing for Armageddon. I had previously lived off the grid for three years, but a little closer to civilisation. I have picked up some skills that will be necessary to live a sustainable lifestyle. We shall see.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 06, 2019:

I really loved this story John. Having a lost city all to yourself, and being able to live quite well is such a great idea for a story. I love your pictures as they add a "real" feel to the story, and your dog is so cute. I know some people to strike out on their own, at least for a period of time, to escape the daily grind. Living with nature sounds so good.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 06, 2019:

John, this is such a creative way to feature some of the photos you took on your 2019 excursion. I love the story. I felt the narrator's excitement at having a lost city all to himself, creating additional food sources, and making a life for himself and Mojo. I also felt his consternation once he realized he'd have no human interaction unless he either, 1) shared his discovery with others, or 2) give up his life of solitude and returned to the life from which he came. I can see him going mad if he chooses to live the rest of his life in what is now his paradise. Unless, of course another wandering soul happens upon the Lost City. A woman perhaps????

Well done, my friend. I always enjoy your short stories.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 06, 2019:

John, this was so totally believable--you were there, and you brought us along. But I knew it was fiction; I can't imagine you being isolated for so long.

Pardon my whining, but please tell us another story. Just one more, please?

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 06, 2019:

I just dropped to a knee and raised fists and yelled "YES". This is so cool. I could not even imagine. Well maybe. My days above Sedona Arizona growing up kind of sound like this. Coyotes.

Elijah A Alexander Jr from Washington DC on September 06, 2019:

Well, John, If you join me in Armageddon in about 3 or four years when we come out it will be like a prehistorical world with no historical places to return to, maybe you were preparing for that.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2019:

Well, Ruby, you are the second one to suggest I continue this. Lorna did as well. So, it looks like I have no choice. I haven’t written a story for a while so it should be fun to keep this going.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on September 06, 2019:

I hope this is just the first installment in an adventurous story. You now have everything to survive with the garden and chickens, and of course, Mojo.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2019:

Believe me, Elijah, I would like to go back and spend a lot more time there. I have never been anywhere quite like it. I felt like I was in a prehistoric world. Thanks for reading.

Elijah A Alexander Jr from Washington DC on September 06, 2019:

Am I supposed to believe that you actually did that, John, although it is believable? I like it. Why not go back and live it for a much longer time?

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2019:

Yes, Mary, an imagination is a wonderful thing and I think we writers have more vivid imaginations than most. I am glad you have a similar desire. Thanks for reading.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 06, 2019:

An experience I, too, desire. I am sure it will remain a desire but to go to it once in a while in one's imagination is alright for now.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2019:

Hi Bill, I am sure I could handle it for awhile. I am quite comfortable doing my own thing, but I would need at least a dog. I’m not sure how long I could maintain it though. Glad you enjoyed the story, and thanks for the company . Cheers.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 06, 2019:

I was right there with you, buddy! I'm trying to imagine "going it alone," and I can't. Being with just me for company would be a frightening experience. lol Love this story!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2019:

Wow, thanks Liz for the great comment. I am glad my writing was convincing and that I offered some food for thought. I have been to the place in the photos but I didn't stay there.

Liz Westwood from UK on September 06, 2019:

This is so convincingly written that I am half of the mind that you have actually done this. There's plenty to think about here like the benefits of disconnecting and getting away from it all, as well as our environmental impact. Great illustrations and evocative writing.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2019:

Hi Lorna. thank you very much for being the first to read this and for the generous comment. I wasn't originally intending for this to be ongoing but the way it developed I think I have to. Thanks for the encouragement.

Lorna Lamon on September 06, 2019:

I love the way your story took me from the exploration into the decision to live, there by way of a survival blog - an Australian Robinson Crusoe, although he did want to be rescued. I am enjoying you account of life in the 'Lost City' John - to be continued I hope.