“We have to shoot something!”, said The Reporter.
Freelance internet reporter. Short and pale skinned, she wore glasses and a red streak in her shoulder length black hair.
“We’ve driven 500 ks. A dirt road, some spinifex and a nice sunset just aren’t going to cut it.”
The Cameraman, smiled conspiratorially.
“We could get creative?”
“What did you have in mind?”, asked The Report.
“I was thinking I could take my shoes off and go for a little walk through the spinifex.”
“That could work!”
The Reporter composed a tweet:
Footprints! Footprints in the sand! More details in tonight’s Videocast #WTF
The Reporter speaks to camera:
“About five days ago while listening to a radio broadcast, I heard The cameleer speculate about a group of Aboriginal people in the remote Central Australian desert living a traditional lifestyle.
“If you follow me on Twitter you will know that I have been investigating this further and that it has led me to this undisclosed remote location where I can now reveal that it appears their existence is real! I know right!
“Behind me you can see two sets of footprints in the sand. Note they are not shoe prints but footprints! One set is large, perhaps that of a man, and the other much smaller, perhaps that of a small woman or child. They crossed the road not far from here and appear to head north across the plain towards the hills you can see in the distance.
“I can’t reveal much more at this stage, but be assured that I am looking into it further and will keep you updated on my progress.
“This is _____ reporting from the Central Australian desert on the trail of Australia’s lost tribe.”
“Let’s watch it and if it looks good we upload it tonight”, said The Reporter. “Hopefully it gets some interest from the commercial stations and this hasn’t been a complete waste of time and money.”
“Should we camp here?”, asked The Cameraman.
“No, let’s go somewhere a little less out in the open.”
“Good luck with that.”
“You know, Aboriginal people used to light fires when they walked across country”, said The Cameraman. “I think they would carry some sort of fire stick. It was a signal to others that they were travelling through the country.”
“But that doesn’t really fit with the whole spin we’re putting on this story”, said The Reporter. “If they’re avoiding us why would they be lighting fires?”
“Maybe they don’t know about us?”, said The Cameraman.
“But they would have seen cars, roads, dams and fences. They must have decided to avoid civilisation and would have to be careful about being inconspicuous to avoid discovery. It just doesn’t make sense?”
“Maybe it’s someone else?”
“Out here? Not likely.”
“Here you can see I am standing next to a dripping tap at what appears to be a long abandoned Outstation. What’s unusual about a dripping tap? Well, we passed through this Outstation earlier this morning and this tap was not on! And as you can see, the tap is exposed with sand all around it. The nomads must know we are following them now as it looks like they have made an attempt to hide their tracks, sweeping them away with a branch. But a wide search of the area has revealed their footprints leading away from the area and continuing on their journey to the hills in the distance.”
“That’ll do”, said The Reporter. “We cut in the footage of the smoke in the distance as a teaser at the end and upload it.”
The Reporter hooked up the satellite phone and checked her email and Twitter. 167 new messages and 1217 new followers.
“Looks like they’re buying this shit!”, she said showing The Cameraman the computer. “We can probably milk it for a few more days, but we’re going to have to come up with something more compelling to get paid.”
“Hey, do you know how to work the camera?”, asked The Cameraman.
“Good. I’ve got an idea…”
“You just need to keep it out of focus a little bit”, said The Cameraman. “Make it feel like you’re so excited and nervous that you’ve forgotten about the camera and it should be ok.”
“Ok, do you think there are enough coals now?”, said The Reporter. “How much charcoal do we need?”
“It depends, are you still insisting I be full naked?”
“Of course, what would a bushman be doing wearing underpants? And I know how you love to take your clothes off and frolic about in the wilderness.”
“But I’m usually behind the camera! It wouldn’t have to be underpants. We could cut up my shirt and create a covering. The bush people could have come across some clothes somewhere?”, said The Cameraman hopefully.
“No, it needs to be authentic. People will expect them to be wild bush people like in the explorer photos.”
“Ok”, said The Cameraman reluctantly. “What are we going to use for a spear?”
“How ’bout the jack handle?”
The Reporter couldn’t help laughing even though she knew it would piss The Cameraman off.
“Seriously? This had better be worth it!”, said The Cameraman glaring at The Reporter.
“Sorry, but you have to admit this is pretty funny. It’s like you’re giving yourself some strange beauty treatment.”
“Look, I agreed to do this for some reason…”
“It was your idea!”
“Ok, but it’s not fucking funny rubbing charcoal on your member!”, said The Cameraman. “And you’re going to have to do my back.”
“With pleasure”, said The Reporter, trying not to laugh again. “You know, it’s a good thing you’re such a skinny bastard! Although, a fat nomad could add a whole other angle on this thing!”
“Just don’t ever tell anyone about this, ok!”
“Does Facebook count?”
“I reckon I’ll shoot this one handheld. It’ll make it more exciting.”
“Turn on the headlights and let’s roll.”
“How’s my face look? Is there any charcoal on it?”
“Today has been an exciting day!”, said The Reporter breathlessly to the camera. “We usually don’t report at night, but tonight we just couldn’t wait. Earlier we shot this footage.”
The Reporter counted out five seconds then continued:
“As you can see, we only got a brief glimpse of the figure and my cameraman, obviously caught up in the excitement, wasn’t able to get a clear shot. But I can confirm that we saw a naked figure standing on the sand dune in the distance. It appears that he saw us and quickly withdrew.
“We’ve had to make camp for the night and now that the nomads are aware we are following them it might be more difficult from now on. But rest assured, we are more motivated than ever to bring this story to you! Stay tuned for our next update.”
“Did you hear that?”, asked The Reporter.
“Hear what?”, replied The Cameraman sleepily.
“It sounded like a helicopter. Do you think…”
“No fucking way. They have no idea where we are.”
“They’ve seen the car! It’s heading towards us.”
The Reporter turned her head and could see the helicopter closing in on them.
“Ok, how are we going to play this?”
“Depends who it is.”
“It’ll be your ex, who else?”
“He can kiss my arse”, said The Reporter closing the flap on her swag.
“I know you’re awake.”
“What do you want?”
“I dunno, I was just in the area and thought I’d drop by for a cup of tea”, said The Producer sarcastically.
“Help yourself”, said The Reporter.
“Look, we’ve obviously been following your story and while we’re not convinced you’re not making the whole thing up, the story does have some interest. So, we’d like to make you an offer.”
The Reporter lifted the swag cover and glared at The Producer.
“You’d like to make me an offer? If I recall correctly, your last offer was to help carry my things out of your apartment! I’m done with you and you’re ’offers’.”
“Look, this isn’t personal. The Network wants the story, and I imagine you could use the money?”
“What use is money out here? We’re on holidays. Until you arrived we were kicking back and enjoying the serenity.”
“You know, this is just a courtesy. I have a cameraman here, we could file the story ourselves.”
“Ok, fuck off then!”
The Producer looked at The Reporter; The Reporter looked at The Producer. The Producer walked back to the helicopter.
“So he’s looking good, lost some weight…”
“Shut up!”, said The Reporter closing the swag flap.
The Reporter started thinking that maybe that wasn’t the best way to handle the situation. But why did they have to send that prick of all people? At least he didn’t seem as pissed at her as she was at him. Hopefully he doesn’t find out the whole thing’s fabricated and expose her. That would really fuck up her new career just as things were starting to look up.
“I’ve been thinking”, said The Reporter. “As much as I hate it, we’re going to have to give him something. If we don’t then when he doesn’t find anything, you know what his story is going to be…”
“Us”, said The Cameraman.
“Yep, how we ’deceived a nation’.”
“Well, you know what they say, ’Any publicity…’.”
“In this case, I don’t think so”, said The Reporter as she pulled out the sat phone to call the Network.
“Hey! These are real footprints. Do you think…”
“Ok, that’s unexpected. Maybe this wasn’t a wild goose chase after all.”
“We might have a real story after all!”, said The Reporter excitedly.
“Shame you just sold it to the network.”