Dusty and the Seven Kangaroos
Once there lived a young, beautiful girl called Dusty Red, and she lived in the Australian Outback with her father and mother, in a rusty tin house. She had hair as yellow as the sun, and skin as tan as leather. She was far away from any school, so her only friends were the wallabies and kangaroos that roamed the outback. She had a unique talent; she could communicate with animals.
One dark, rainy day, her mother that she loved so dearly died from a fierce infection. Dusty cried for many days afterward, and her father became subdued. After many months of mourning, Dusty’s father found a woman that he loved very much, and soon the two married. The lady’s name was Beatrice, and she was very wicked and vain. Dusty’s father did not believe Dusty when she told him about Beatrice’s wicked ways, as she acted very sweetly around him.
When Dusty was roaming the bush one day, on a beautiful stallion her father had bought her, she came across a handsome stranger, riding his horse through the growth.
“G’day,” he said, “My name’s Will. I’m going to the lake, would you like to join me?” he offered in his deep Australian accent. She accepted happily, and they rode together through the scrub, to the lake that Dusty often visited when she wanted to escape from the evil ways of her stepmother.
Dusty went with him again the next day, and soon the two fell madly in love.
One day, as she was leaving to see Will, Beatrice caught sight of her leaving with the handsome stranger. She became insanely jealous, and called on her tamed rattle snake.
“I want you to go after Dusty Red. Scare her into a clearing, away from her little friend. Then, I want you to poison her. Bring me her locket, of proof that she is dead. She guards that necklace with her life.”
Dusty’s necklace was extremely important to her, as it contained the only picture of her mother left. The rattle snake obeyed, and followed the scent of her smoky perfume. He soon found Dusty and Will, building a hut out of sticks.
“Dusty, look out, a snake!” yelled Will.
Dusty screamed, and ran swiftly to a clearing. The snake was very fast, and soon saw Dusty huddled under a tree. “Please,” she pleaded, “has Beatrice sent you after me?”
“Yessss. Sssshhhe has sssent me to kill you. Sssstay ssstill, little girl,”
“Please spare my life. Beatrice is wicked; she will treat you poorly if you stay with her.”
The snake thought it best to listen to the girl, and find a locket similar to Dusty’s, so that Beatrice would think that she was truly dead. After that he would run away, as he was sick of Beatrice and all her controlling ways.
“I will spare you, on one condition. You must never return to your home in the bush.”
Dusty was miserable at never being able to see her father again, but seeing no other option, she ran right through the bush, into a red, dusty clearing. In front of her stood an old, rusty shack. Feeling very tired all of a sudden, she decided to ask to stay at the shack. She walked closer to it, and saw through a window that the furniture was very big. As no one seemed to be home, Dusty entered through one of the tall doors. There were two doors; one at the front and one at the back.
“Hello?” she called into the shack. Hearing no reply and feeling too exhausted to move, Flopped onto one of the big beds, and fell into a deep sleep.
Dusty awoke to see seven heads staring down at her. She sat up at once, in a daze. She was sure that these were not people- they were kangaroos. And they were enormous.
“Who are you?”
“What’s ya name?”
G’day, who’s this?”
She was barraged with questions. Dusty was not shocked at the fact that they were talking to her. She was quite used to that; it was the fact that they lived in a house, wore clothes, and slept in a bed- just like a person would. It seemed very strange.
“M-my name is D-dusty,” she stammered.
“We are the seven talking kangaroos. I’m Sanders; this is Joey, Grey, Derik, Lewis, Jon, and Pete. Nice to meet ya. What are you doing out here in The Clearing?”
“Yeah, no human has ever been to The Clearing.”
“The Clearing?” she asked, “what’s that?”
“The Clearing is a place where animals are safe from the dangers of the world. We can do what we like here, and no human will ever find out. You see, no human can ever find their way here, even if they tried to find us. Which means, you must have a specialty. That is the only way to get here, by magic.”
“Well, I can talk to animals,” she admitted. She had never shared her secret talent with anybody.
“That would do it. Well, I’m afraid that you can never return to your world now, it is too risky.”
“That’s strange. I actually came here running away,” explained Dusty.
So Dusty began a new life with the kangaroos. She dearly missed her father, and her true love, but soon began to forget about the past. What she didn’t know was that her stepmother also had some magic in her midst, as she was actually a witch in disguise. She owned a purple glass ball that showed her the whereabouts of anyone she inquired, and she could travel there in a heartbeat. When Beatrice saw Dusty Red in the glass ball, she went red with rage.
“How dare that snake betray me? I will get rid of you, Dusty Red!” she yelled. And in an instant, she was gone, into The Clearing. When she became aware of the red dirt under her feet, Beatrice turned herself into a platypus. She dived into a nearby swamp.
That afternoon, Dusty walked by the swamp, and Beatrice, now a platypus, called to her.
“Come, child. Try this eucalyptus leaf. It is said to perform miracles when you chew it.”
Beatrice had poisoned the leaf, and when Dusty bit into it, she instantly fell into a deep sleep.
“Only true love’s kiss can wake her. William has no idea where to find her!” the witch cackled in her raspy voice.
Meanwhile, Will had heard the witch yell at the glass ball, and had rushed to see what had happened. Dusty’s father was out, so Will rushed to the witch’s study. He looked into the strange glass ball, and watched, stunned, the terror unfolding. When he watched Dusty fall to the ground unconscious, he cried out in anger. All of a sudden, Will felt a tug at his shirt, and was pulled into the glass ball.
When he arrived at The Clearing, he saw Dusty slumped in front of him. He had heard Beatrice say that only true love’s kiss could wake her, and immediately leant to kiss Dusty. She awoke in an instant.
The two were so happy, that they married that same day. Will and Dusty stayed in The Clearing, after bringing Dusty’s father to the newfound home, and they lived together happily ever after.
And as for the wicked stepmother, she has decided to set out on a journey through the bush, to look for her lost rattle snake. But that’s another story...
By Madeline Parise, 31/5/13