I think wekas are gross. They have shiny bodies and long, stick-like legs with hooks on the ends, and they wave their feelers about all the time. Plus, they live in dark, damp caves.
Dad told me not to worry about them. He said they were harmless. They made good pets, he said. How disgusting!
You'll never get me making a pet of one.
But Dad and I had come for miles and into the bush to look at insects. I'd better point out that I didn't come for that - I came for the fun of camping. It was Dad who came for the fun of picking horrible, creepy-crawly things up with his fingers, and scribbling notes, and taking photographs, and all that sort of thing. He was mad about them.
We were quite close to the mountains on the third night. Dad found a flat bit of ground and put the tents up, then he lit a fire. We got into our sleeping bags because it was so cold. I tried to read a comic with my flashlight but I couldn't concentrate.
Creak, creak. What was that? Something in the trees? A possum?
Rustle, rustle. We were being watched.
"Nothing to worry about," said Dad, reading my thoughts.
I didn't sleep very well that night. I woke, hours before dawn, and looked at the dark bush. I thought I saw someone walking about. It was just shadows and dark shapes in the night. Leaves stirred and twigs snapped, like someone's feet were moving over the forest floor.
"Dad? Is that you?"
I heard Dad's quiet snoring.
No, it wasn't Dad. Maybe I was imagining things?
I tried to stay awake from then on but sleep is pretty strong stuff when you're tired out.
When the morning came, we saw the marks. Something had messed up the charcoal in the fire; something had pulled the side of my tent up. Something had tried to take our food. There were also a few bags of dried fruit missing, and all the biscuits were gone.
"Probably possums," said Dad.
I wasn't convinced.