It had been a long and tiring day.
Marnie had been backpacking around Australia for the past few months.
She was feeling a little homesick and was missing her family, although she regularly kept in touch by sending photos and texts home to her mum.
Today, she was leaving Hopeville and was heading to the next town over, Fern Valley.
She had booked a room in a local guest house named Oak Villa and was looking forward to a nice hot bath when she arrived.
The weather had been very unpredictable for the past few hours.
She had been told by locals that a bad storm was coming.
On arrival at the local bus station the owner announced that all buses were now cancelled as roads were hit by flash-flooding and it was much too dangerous to travel.
Marnie couldn’t afford to lose her room booking as she was on a tight budget.
She had no choice but to set off on the 10km journey.
After walking for 3 hours in torrential rain and howling winds she was soaked, exhausted and frozen to the bone.
Up ahead she spotted a burnt-out, run-down, derelict filling station and she decided to take shelter there for a while.
Marnie was totally alone and felt a little scared as the night was rapidly drawing in and it was becoming dark.
Suddenly, she saw an old battered truck winding it’s way up the dirt track that ran alongside the filling station.
As it drew closer she saw an old couple in the front, they stopped and called out and asked if she needed any help.
Marnie cautiously approached them and told them where she was headed.
They offered her a lift as they were also going that way.
Whilst on the journey Marnie messaged home to let her mum know she was safe and had got a lift with a lovely couple called Agnes and Walter Miller.
Marnie even took a photograph with them for her holiday scrapbook as a reminder of their kindness.
On the journey they happily chatted, told funny stories and advised her of local places that she must visit.
Soon, they arrived in Fern-Valley, they dropped her off at the guest house.
Marnie thanked them both and waved them off on the rest of their journey.
Matilda Buckle the guest house owner was waiting for her.
“Oh my dear, you are soaked to the skin! Come in quickly”, she said.
“I have hot soup, plenty of hot water and fresh towels ready.
Follow me and I will show you to your room”.
As they walked to the room Matilda asked Marnie about her journey as she knew the storm had caused travel problems.
“How on earth did you manage to make it here in that horrendous storm? Hopeville is all of 10kms away.”
“Well, I was very lucky and after walking some distance I took shelter in a burnt-out filling station.
“A lovely couple named Agnes and Walter Miller stopped and gave me a lift.”
Matilda looked shocked!! “What did you say their names were again?”
“Agnes and Walter Miller, Marnie replied”.
“Agnes and Walter gave you a lift from the old Miller filling station?”
asked Matilda in a panicked voice.
“But you’re wrong! It couldn’t possibly have been them, you must be confused.”
“No”, said Marnie, “those were definitely their names, I’m sure”.
“But that can’t be!” Matilda gasped.
“There was a terrible accident many years ago when the Millers’ filling station was destroyed in a massive gas explosion and the Millers tragically both lost their lives.
Marnie looked terrified.
“But I don’t understand! I was talking to them, they were real!
“Look I even took a photograph with them, here let me show you.”
Marnie opened her bag, took out her phone and opened her picture gallery.
She hurriedly scrolled through her holiday photos. She clicked on the very last photograph she had taken – the one of her with the Millers.
The colour rapidly drained from Marnie’s face and a look of shock and horror appeared instead.
The photograph she opened was just her own face smiling back at her. No one else was in the photograph!
Name: Alanna Davis