The Lost City, a Short Story

Updated on September 7, 2019
Jodah profile image

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 | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Crocodile warningThe end of the road for the 4x4
Crocodile warning
Crocodile warning | Source
The end of the road for the 4x4
The end of the road for the 4x4 | Source

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.

Source

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.

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Waterfall and springWaterhole at Secret Falls
Waterfall and spring
Waterfall and spring | Source
Waterhole at Secret Falls
Waterhole at Secret Falls | Source

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.

Source

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.

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Rain forestMy MaremmaGarlic
Rain forest
Rain forest | Source
My Maremma
My Maremma | Source
Garlic
Garlic | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Dingo
Dingo
Dingo | Source
Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Wild gardenHen and chickens
Wild garden
Wild garden | Source
Hen and chickens
Hen and chickens | Source

© 2019 John Hansen

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    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      8 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 

      8 months ago from London

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      8 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      8 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      John

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

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

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

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      10 months ago from Tennessee

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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 profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      10 months ago from USA

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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 profile image

      Lora Hollings 

      10 months ago

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • Sean Dragon profile image

      Ioannis Arvanitis 

      10 months ago from Greece, Almyros

      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

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

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

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      10 months ago from Pacific Northwest

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

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      10 months ago from New Delhi, India

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

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

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 

      10 months ago from Jacksonville, FL USA

      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!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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 profile image

      Besarien 

      10 months ago from South Florida

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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 profile image

      Li-Jen Hew 

      10 months ago

      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!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      10 months ago from Beautiful South

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

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

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      10 months ago from The Caribbean

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      10 months ago from Sunny Florida

      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.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      10 months ago from Central Florida

      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.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      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?

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      10 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      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.

    • The0NatureBoy profile image

      Elijah A Alexander Jr 

      10 months ago from Washington DC

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      10 months ago from Southern Illinois

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • The0NatureBoy profile image

      Elijah A Alexander Jr 

      10 months ago from Washington DC

      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?

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      10 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      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!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      10 months ago from UK

      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.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      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 profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      10 months ago

      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.

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