One Semester.

Date 16 June 2016.
Author Palantir
Subject One Semester.

The author retains copyright (2016) to this story. Reproducing this story for distribution without the author's permission is a violation of that copyright.
This story is fiction.

Thank you Nifty for the opportunity to post this story.


8:30 till 12:30. What a shocker.
One subject for four hours every Friday and only a ten minute break. It was about how computers work and Joel didn't see that it had much to do with his course.
The lecturer was hard to understand because of his strong accent and he was so strict it was like being back in school. He was really clever though and in the last two hours they'd had to open an old computer, make a sketch of the inside, and identify all the main parts.
Joel and Sam worked with the old white-haired guy. He was friendly and interesting and between them they worked out every component.
At twelve-thirty Joel raced to his unit, grabbed his carry bag and met Peter who was waiting outside. There was another rush to get to the railway station as a train left for the city at 12:50 and they'd have to wait almost an hour to catch the next one if they missed it.
Joel watched everything with interest. Train or bus was the way he'd have to travel from now on. What a bummer he'd wrecked his car. In the city they changed trains and went zapping on their way. According to Peter they were on a fast train which could reach 120 km/h.
Martin was waiting on the platform at Geelong and didn't see them till Peter yelled out.

"Big Boy! Over here."

Heads turned from all around to see what the noise was about. Big Boy? What did he mean? Peter was taller than both of them. Martin made a crude sign with his fingers and approached with a grin plastered all over his face.

"Hot Pants! I hope you're ready for it."

This was said from several meters away. God. This again, at a railway station?

"I missed you SO much."

They were together now and Peter gave Martin a full on hug, just a normal hug really but after the innuendo of the emphasis on the `SO' several people were watching to see what would happen. Nothing happened. They turned it all off like a switch. Martin gave Joel a wink and spoke at an ordinary level.

"Are you getting used to him?"


Martin gave a conspiratorial nod and as easily as that Joel felt accepted.
The bags went in the back of the ute and they were on their way again. Joel listened as they asked each other what they'd been doing. Both said they'd done nothing and then talked non-stop for the next half hour filling in details.
At the end of a long, climbing stretch of road, Martin pulled over and stopped at a lookout.

"Neat hey, Joel? I always stop here the first time I come down for the season."

Joel didn't really answer. He was too busy drinking in the sight. God, the sea was so big. Seeing it on TV was nothing.

"Martin, drive us down to Pt Addis. There's a spectacular view there."

"Now? Are you serious?"

"Not the beach. Just the cliffs. It won't take long."

What was the funny look that passed between them? The cliffs were spectacular and the big waves smashing against them even more so. In one direction the cliffs continued and in the other there was a drop-away to a distant view of a creamy white beach. You could even make out the indistinct shapes of people scattered here and there, sometimes on the sand and sometimes in the shallow water.
There was a nudge from Martin and a nod towards Peter.

"Don't strain your eyes too much, Peter."

"Why not?"

"It's perving when you're not game to go down there yourself."

"I'm game. You're the one who always wimps out."

What were they talking about?

"It's a nude beach, Joel. Peter's always trying to get me there so he can gawk at me."


A nude beach? Joel's attention darted back to the tiny figures and there were two bursts of laughter.

"See, Martin. Joel's interested."

"Too bad. We're not stopping. The waves are good and we're teaching him how to surf, not how to perve."

Joel almost started to protest that he wasn't a perve, worked out that was what he was meant to do, and changed his response.

"I'm not a wimp. Let's go."

There was the silence of disbelief then two more bursts of laughter.

"Get in the Ute."

The next stop was the car park for the Anglesea Surf Beach. Peter went to get boogie boards and then Joel was relieved when Martin vetoed it.

"Peter, Joel hasn't been in the ocean since he was little. Give him a chance."

There was a moment in the change rooms when Joel put the speedos on and Martin gave him a funny look. Martin was wearing speedos too, bright red ones with a yellow band at each side. Wow, he was tan and fit.
When they topped the sand dune and had the first close view of the breakers Joel stopped and stared. There were people everywhere, lying or sitting on the sand, walking or running where the sand got wet, and swimming.
Off to the right and way out in the water was a clump of surfers on their boards. Down amongst the people they found a spot to dump their gear.

"Let's go."

Martin and Peter were off, jogging at first then sprinting across the hard sand and through the shallows till the water was deep enough for a dive. Joel caught up, adjusting to the cool, then yelled when he was caught by a barrage of splashing. Martin dived under, grabbed his legs and tipped him over, and when he came up Peter was waiting to grab him round the neck and drag him under again. Laughing and splashing they moved steadily deeper, jumping or pushing through the passing waves till the water was roughly chest height.

"Watch the waves."

Joel was watching. One went past, lifting his feet from the bottom and then dropping him again in a strong backwash. The receding wave collapsed to a boiling mass of foam and people further in jumped and yelled. This was great. Joel turned seaward just in time to see Martin and Peter disappearing into a wall.
Holy hell!
The wall fell on him, squishing, lifting and tumbling in a roaring welter of white madness till it passed and left him gasping for breath. When he oriented himself and staggered upright Martin was next to him.

"That's a dumper. You have to watch them."

Joel watched all right. He wasn't interested in going through that again and, with instructions from the other two, quickly learnt the techniques of diving to the bottom or swimming madly to beat the dumping moment.
The day disappeared in a flash, lazing on the sand, watching the surfers shooting the waves, the people on the beach, and laughing at Peter and Martin with their friendly, inane insults to each other.
After a second swim they moved to a more sheltered beach where the waves weren't quite as wild.
Joel nearly died with excitement as he learnt to use the boogie board and plunge with an explosive thrill down the front of a breaking wave then ride it towards the shore.
Tea was a huge feed of fish and chips, eaten in a grassy park with magpies chortling in a nearby gum tree and a whole congregation of seagulls lined up and waiting to pounce in a screeching mob on the occasional chip thrown towards them.

"Where are we staying tonight?"

"How about Pt Roadknight? We could leave the ute in the car park and go over to the back beach, or the other option is to stay at the caravan park and go to the movies."

They both looked at Joel.

"Ah. ...I don't mind. Wherever you think."

"It's your choice. What do you want? Civilisation or the sand dunes?"

It wasn't even a choice as far as Joel was concerned. The Point was the place where they'd used the boogie boards and was much more interesting than staying in the town.

"Point Roadknight?"

"Great. Saves us stacks in camping fees. If we go now we'll have time to make it to the rocks."

The two liter tub of ice cream which Peter has bought for their desert was already melting round the edges and now it disappeared in a greedy competition to see who could eat the most.

"Will we need the tent?"

"Yes, the dew's been coming down the last few mornings."

At the carpark they organised what to take. Martin had a rucksack with the tent and sleeping gear, Peter had a day pack with thermal pads, a groundsheet and other odds and ends, and Joel's carry bag was commandeered for drinks and snackfoods. Martin led the way, through some scrubby tea-tree, over a large dune and down a sandy gully to a spot overlooking the ocean. Joel stared and took in the wild look of it.
Awesome. Off in the distance the sand ended and while he was watching a huge spray of foam crashed up from a clump of massive boulders.

"Hey look, the rocks are putting on a show for us."

The tent was set up and they went quickly on their way as there was only about an hour of daylight left. Joel was torn between the need to stop and stare at the long line of the swells as they arched higher and higher then curled and crashed, and the urge to get closer to the rocks where thundering plumes of spray kept leaping into the sky.

"What would happen if you were on a boogie board out there?"

They were stopped to watch a particularly large breaker.

"Mangulation. See how they build so quickly? That's because there's a shallow sand-bar and it makes them all dumpers."

When they got to the rocks Joel didn't want to leave. He saw his first sunset over the ocean then they had to jog to the tent before it got too dark. Martin stirred them because they were so slow, but it was really because he was so fit.

"What did you do on the weekends at Tittybong?"

"Nothing much. I worked a lot because they needed me at the farm."

"What's farm-work like?"

"It's okay, but sometimes it's boring. Tractor driving's the worst. Ten or twelve hours every day for two weeks really gets to you."

"Was it an animal farm?"

"All animals are equal!"


"Raving loonies! What's that got to do with a farm?"

They'd used camper's headlamps to collect dried wood for a small campfire and from its glow Joel could see Peter smiling and Martin shaking his head.

"They had about 500 sheep but I didn't have much to do with them."

"What about the weekends when you didn't work?"

"Weekends don't mean much on a farm but it was books and computer games when I had spare time."

"You're as bad as Peter."

There were more questions about farm life and then the topic changed and Joel found out more about Martin. No wonder he was fit. He was into lifesaving, running, akaido and squash, and sounded keen about every one of them.
Peter hadn't been saying much and suddenly stood up.

"I'm going down the beach for awhile."

He slipped his headlamp on and stepped into the darkness. Joel jumped up to follow him but stopped when the Martin grabbed his foot.

"Leave him, Joel. He'll be back soon."

"Is something wrong?"

"I don't know. He does strange things sometimes, but don't worry, he'll be normal when he gets back."

Joel did worry, as he watched for glimpses of the little headlamp in the swathe of darkness. Had they said something upsetting? He cast his mind back over the conversation but it all seemed normal.

"You like him don't you, Joel?"

"Um... Yes."

"He likes you. He's never asked anyone to come away with us before."

"I'm glad he did. He's amazing isn't he?"

"Ha, that's for sure. Does it worry you when he comes on all camp?"

"I'm getting used to it. It's so different to home. If anyone acted like that there, they'd get mashed. Anyway, Martin, you do it too. You called him hot pants in front of the whole crowd of people at the railway station."

"That's self defence. He called me Big Boy."

"What's wrong with Big Boy? I didn't get that."

"You didn't? Boy, you do come from the country. Don't you look at porn?"

"Um.. Not really."

"It means I've got a big dick."

"Oh... I see."

Martin laughed.

"Yes, you will, tomorrow when I put on a show for him."

"A show?"

"Not rude. Just skinny-dipping. I know a good place we can go."

"All of us?"

"Well, you said it yourself yesterday. You'll be a wimp for ever if you don't."

"I didn't exactly mean it, Martin."

"I know, but we'll have fun calling you a wimp wont we?"

"You're worse than Peter."

"I am?"

"Yes, he conned me into the speedos and you're conning me out of them."

"I wondered why you had them. They look good on you."

"You reckon?"

"Yeah, they suit you. They show how you're lean and strong."

"I'm not that strong."

"Don't be modest. Peter says you've got muscles like iron."

"Um... Some of the farm work's fairly hard."

"I'll bet. Anyway according to Peter we're having a wrestling contest tomorrow."

He gave a snort of humor.

"We organise your whole life while you're with us."

"Bossy. But fun."


Joel jumped sideways at the sudden flurry of movement and the forceful expletive, then grinned with delight. Peter was back and Martin was disentangling a large clump of wet seaweed from his head and chest.

"You're dead."

"Not tonight. Joel's protecting me."

Pieces of seaweed went flying after him, continuing when he dodged behind Joel, then returning two for one.
When the melee subsided Peter took them down to sit at the edge of the dry sand and watch and listen in the dark. After that it was drinks, snack food and into the tent where there was more talk, mostly about plans for the next day, and Martin killing Peter for the seaweed dump.
The tent was set up with thermal pads under a double size sheet and on top of that were a couple of sleeping bags unzipped so they could be used as quilts. Joel expected them to keep their clothes on but Martin stripped to his jocks and pulled one of the sleeping bags over himself. His eyes peeped out and he winked at Joel.

"Watch out for the midnight groper. He goes hunting as soon as your eyes close."

"You asked for it, Big Boy, and anyway that doesn't make sense because it's only eleven o'clock."

"Watch out for the eleven o'clock groper, Joel."

Peter stripped the same as Martin had, so, wondering if it might be some kind of camping etiquette, Joel did the same. Peter was watching and did his Hot Dog routine.


Under the second sleeping bag, since Martin had hogged the first, Joel felt very strange with his side touching against Peter's. The covering was big enough. It was having three bodies in a two-man tent that kept them so close.
After Peter reached an arm out and clicked off the headlamp Joel felt a soft nudge in the side of his ribs.

"Have you had a good day?"

In the same soft voice, Joel answered that he'd loved it.

"I knew you would."

Some time later Joel woke. Peter was on his side, pressing close, with his top knee resting on Joel's thigh. Whoo! What to do? Should he push it away? Too bad, it could stay there. And anyway it felt nice.


Kookaburras woke him first with their morning cacophony of laughter, but he was used to bird noises and dozed again till Peter sat up then disappeared outside. Joel opened his eyes and Martin was looking at him.

"He's always up first. Have a good sleep?"


"Did the octopus get you?"

"What you mean?"

"Was he all over you? He does it all the time."

"Um... Just once."

"He doesn't mean it. He doesn't even know."

"You don't say anything?"


Later on Joel wondered about that. Martin sat up and asked the time.

"Hm, see if you can find him. We should get going."

Peter was sitting on the Marram grass looking at the ocean.

"Hot Dog. What's up?"

"Hi, Martin wants to get going."

"About time. I'm starving."

Half an hour later they were sitting in a cafe which, according to Martin, had the best value and taste. After eating two pancakes with extras Joel agreed.

"Surf's first before the waves die down and then we're going to Lorne this afternoon."

"Lorne? Last night you said Torquay, so we could see Bells Beach and Jan Juc."

"This is better, Peter. It's something I haven't showed you yet."

Joel was getting used to the plan changes. Both of them organised everything beforehand then did whatever they felt like when the time came. They surfed at two beaches, had a look at a lighthouse, walked out a long jetty at Lorne and then had hamburgers for lunch.

"What's this place we're going to?"

"The Erskine River. It's got neat pools and waterfalls."

"Where they have the big Music Festival?"

"That's further up the river. We won't have time to go that far. Joel, you better use my reef sandals so you don't wreck your good runners."

Joel was expecting a walking track but Martin headed straight into the bed of the river. It was beautiful, with crystal clear water, boulders everywhere and big tree ferns which Joel had never seen before, clustered at the sides wherever the river course went through a shady gully.
Wow! There was a pool of deep water stretching ahead for nearly twenty meters.

"We're not stopping. There's a better place further on."

The better place was exactly that. The river water tumbled in three silver ribbons from a slightly overhanging wall of rock, splashing and bubbling into a natural pool formed over time by the force of countless floods. The base of the rock wall was eroded inwards making a low shelter where you could sit on a rocky floor and look through the falls at the pool and its surrounds.
Martin led the way. With an exuberant yell he jumped, trod water, then moved to the smallest of the three ribbons and stuck his head under.

"What are you waiting for?"

Joel wasn't really waiting. He was taking in the situation, enjoying the wildness. Peter leapt, Joel followed and took his turn under the pounding water. It was exciting. You had to kick hard and work your arms to keep the water pressure from pushing you under. Martin swam to the sunny side of the pool, climbed onto a platform of rock and beckoned.

"Sauna rock. Come and try it."

It really was warm, and it stayed warm, overcoming the cool of their wet clothing and soaking in wherever their bodies made contact.

"Hey, Joel. Are you going to wimp it?"

What? Joel knew, before Martin's shirt was dumped to one side, what was happening. Martin removed his shorts and jocks then stood there waiting. God he really was a big boy.
Peter stripped next and now both of them waited. Joel could see countless echoes of "wimp, wimp, wimp" for the times ahead, gleaming in their eyes. They wouldn't be saying it though, and thankful that Martin's warning had given him time to adjust to the idea, he pulled off his shirt.

"The waterfall, Martin."

Peter tugged on Martin's arm and jumped into the pool. Joel was totally surprised. Instead of a laughing hot-dog comment, Peter was making this easier. Martin gave another of his quick winks then dived after Peter. Taking his shorts and jocks off was no big deal, but getting into the water naked was definitely a strange sensation. Two grinning faces were waiting for him in the middle of the pool and as soon as he got close they yelled in unison.


It must have been preplanned and warranted the biggest splashing effort Joel could manage. After the fight-back Martin headed for the falls for another round of his shoulder massages. Joel thought it was more like being pounded continually with rubber hammers.
Peter certainly got his show, as Martin called it, as they stayed for well over an hour, alternating between mucking around in the water and soaking up the warmth of the sauna rock.
Getting out of the water the very first time was awkward but they gave him so much cheek about the Hot-dog he couldn't help laughing. After that it didn't matter.

"You must have tried skinny-dipping somewhere, Joel?"

"Not with anyone else, and it was in a dam with a muddy bottom. This is different."

"It's beautiful. I wish I had my camera phone."

"Hah, he wants to get porn pics of us, Joel."

"No I don't. Nude's not porn. You look beautiful when you're naked. So does Joel."

Sheba! He was really serious. Joel didn't know what to make of it and neither did Martin by the look on his face.

"I'm... Don't you mean handsome?"

"You're handsome when you're dressed up. Nude, you're beautiful... Know what I mean?"

"Sort of. Do you know what he means, Joel?"

"Well... Um, I think so. Like the statue of David. Beautiful sounds right but handsome doesn't. If you put good clothes on him he might be handsome."

"He looks ridiculous when I try to imagine him in any kind of clothes."

"That nude bloke? He doesn't look handsome or beautiful if you ask me."

"You're so macho Martin."

"I know."

"Show us your muscles then. Stand up and pose like David."

"Pose? I know, so you can gawk at me."

"Gawk? As if. ...Seeing that great python flopping all over the place would make anyone freeze on the spot."

Joel had an instant vision of Medusa's snakes being transported to Martin's anatomy.

"Come on, Joel, we'll both pose like this David so he's got something to wank about when he gets home."

It was fun trying to pose like David, but Joel became conscious of Peter looking at him.
Maybe he really would wank when he got home? Joel suddenly had a mind picture of himself and Martin as the poster guys while Peter watched on his bed. Whoo! It was time to head for the falls.
By the time they'd driven back to Anglesea along the incredible Great Ocean Road, they were all starving, and because Martin said he was in the mood for a steak they visited the supermarket and bought a six pack of T-bones plus half a dozen eggs. Peter bought the usual tub of ice cream. They drove to one of the free barbecues in the grassy park and felt very satisfied when the food was all finished.
Next priority was getting their camp set up so they could walk to the rocks again. Joel was delighted because he'd thought all day that they might want the movies instead. The movies, about surfing, did sound good, but the wild feeling of the back beach and the rocks was much better.
Peter was in high spirits, attacking them both and then complaining about their strength when he got dumped.

"How come I get stuck with a sadist muscle freak and a bully farmboy? It's a conspiracy to mangle me."

"Conspiracy? Big word, Peter. D'you even know what it means?"

"Just because you don't, Martin. It means you and Joel have got it all planned out to squish my stomach through my backbone."

"Yeah, we conspirated every time you gave us cheek."

"I never give cheek."

"That is so funny. What do you call it when you say Joel's a bully farmboy then?"

"The truth. Anyhow it must be a conspiracy because I'm the only one who gets mangled."

"That's because you need it. Joel doesn't, he's kind and gentle."

Joel picked up Martin's pattern and went with it.

"And Martin's thoughtful and friendly and generous."

"I'm going to vomit... Tell him he's a muscle-bound macho jock... Go on, try that."

"... Martin, you're a muscle-bound, macho jock."

Martin nodded agreeably as if Joel had just paid him a great compliment.

"Hopeless... Now you tell Joel he's an ignorant country hick."

"Joel, you're an ignorant country hick."

"Thanks, Martin.. That's really thoughtful and generous."

"More vomit.. And that proves it's a conspiracy. You give each other cheek and nothing happens. I give cheek and I get mangled."

"You never give cheek though."

"See, Martin. The country boy agrees. I don't give cheek but he still mangles me. It has to be a conspiracy."

Peter was loving this. Well, Joel and Martin were too. It was their response to Peter's own conspiracy with the big strength contest between them he'd been pushing for all weekend. Of course he knew very well they were holding off as a stir.
Back at the tent they followed a similar routine to the night before, a search with the headlamps for firewood, the talking, mucking round, munchies and drinks, but because of the long active day they moved to the tent rather earlier. Once again Martin hogged a sleeping bag, leaving Joel and Peter cramped side by side underneath the other. The headlamp clicked off and again came the friendly nudge. Joel was more than half expecting it.

"Another good day?"

"It was the best."

"Which bit did you like?"

All of it, was the answer, but Joel knew what Peter meant.

"The falls."

"Me too."


There was another friendly nudge and Joel said his own soft good night.
The octopus was active, once with the knee on his thigh again, and the second time Joel woke with Peter's hand resting on his chest.


In the morning they all wanted the pancakes again but decided against it because they'd been spending too much money. Luckily the supermarket was open early and they bought a carton of milk and a big packet of breakfast cereal. Peter was laughing because Martin's favorite wasn't there and he had to spend ages checking the ingredient lists for the best mix of protein, sugar and carbohydrate.
As they walked back to the Ute they passed a surf shop where wave conditions were posted on a large display board, and after reading it they decided Torquay sounded like the best place for boogie boards. Torquay was back towards Melbourne, so Joel would now be seeing the places he thought he was seeing yesterday.
Bells Beach was interesting, watching from the cliff-top lookout as the riders caught the big swells, but that made them eager to get in and do their own surfing and they didn't linger long.
Torquay beach was shockingly crowded but it didn't matter once they were out with the waves.
The time passed too quickly. Joel had caught on and could use his body board as well as Peter, maybe even a little better. Martin was a different story, way ahead in skills and experience. After their third long session they relaxed on the sand for half an hour and Joel stared at all the people and their activities. Some of them didn't look very fit. The lifesavers sure did. Most of them gave a friendly wave and a few stopped to talk, recognising Martin's red speedos as the Anglesea club uniform.

"Ready to go?"

"Go? For lunch?"

"No. Home. I've got things to do."

"He means Dani, Joel. He hasn't seen her for a whole week."

Danielle was Martin's girlfriend. Everything was packed in the back of the Ute and a lazy trip back to Melbourne got under way. Well, lazy for Joel and Peter who dozed most of the time while Martin did all of the driving.
Back at College Joel hardly had a chance to thank Martin who basically just dumped them at the residence car park and disappeared.
Peter disappeared too because Second-year courses started the next day and he reckoned he wasn't organised enough.
Joel unpacked his gear, had a quick shower and started his laptop. That didn't last because with all the events of the weekend racing through his mind he couldn't settle. How was he going to say thank you to Peter? He'd have to try before seven o'clock when they were looking at the photos from the camera phone on the desktop monitor. Enders Game came out. Gosh, he'd hardly even looked at it, and he lost himself in that till he dozed off.


The end of Chapter 4.
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