Comments: 1
Edward 7 years ago
"Through the periscope they could see streets of shops shaded with palm trees, a hospital, and trim villas of one storey raised on posts above the ground; there were cars parked in the streets and one or two flags flying. They went on up the river to the docks. Here there was little to be seen except a few fishing boats at anchor up the river, completely normal; there were no ships at the wharves. The cranes were trimmed fore and aft along the wharves and properly secured. Although they were close in to shore they could see little here, for the periscope reached barely higher than the wharf decking, and the warehouses then blocked the view. All that they could see was a silent waterfront, exactly as it would have looked upon a Sunday or a holiday, though then there would have been activity among the smaller craft. A large black dog appeared and barked at them from a wharf.
They had stayed in the river off the wharves for a couple of hours, hailing through the loud hailer at its maximum volume in tones that must have sounded all over the town. Nothing happened, for the whole town was asleep.
They turned the ship around, and went out a little way till they could see the Strand Hotel and part of the shopping centre again. They stayed there for a time, still calling and still getting no response. Then they gave up, and headed out to sea again to get clear of the Barrier Reef before the darkness fell. Apart from the radioactive information gathered by John Osborne they had learned nothing, unless it was the purely negative information that Cairns looked exactly as it always had before. The sun shone in the streets, the flame trees brightened the far hills, the deep verandahs shaded the shop windows of the town. A pleasant little place to live in in the tropics, though nobody lived there except, apparently, one dog.
Port Moresby had been the same. From the sea they could see nothing the matter with the town, viewed through the periscope. A merchant ship registered in Liverpool lay at anchor in the roads, a Jacob's ladder up her side. Two more ships lay on the beach, probably having dragged their anchors in some storm. They stayed there for some hours, cruising the roads and going in to the dock, calling through the loud hailer. There was no response, but there seemed to be nothing the matter with the town. They left after a time, for there was nothing there to stay for.
Two days later they reached Port Darwin and lay in the harbour beneath the town. Here they could see nothing but the wharf, the roof of Government House, and a bit of the Darwin Hotel. Fishing boats lay at anchor and they cruised around these, hailing, and examining them through the periscope. They learned nothing, save for the inference that when the end had come the people had died tidily."