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Lost in the Outback

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Summary

Chrystal and David tumble into the cold running water. The two separate. Chrystal loses all sense of up and down as her body rushes along with the current, fuelled by the rain up river days before. Two local children find themselves lost after falling into a flowing creek that carries them over eight kilometres down stream. This sparks an all out search by the locals and local police to find the missing children. On their wild journey the kid's befriend a dingo who ends up saving them on more than one occasion. laugh cry and marvel as these kids fight against dangers on there journey to get home.

Genre:
Adventure / Drama
Author:
Steve Bowker
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
9
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
13+

Untitled chapter

Chapter 1

The sun glistens down as the shadows of the trees dance against the side walk. The morning brings a light westerly breeze down the main street in Downs Creek at seven am. Two small sparrows race from tree to tree as they sing their morning song to each other, one sparrow dives and weaves as it chases the other through the back dock roller door at Actlands grocery store. A white van pulls out of the dock at considerable speeds, and races up the main road as its wheels squeal as it takes its turn left. The car hits the intersection at excessive speed, the car races up the next road narrowly missing the young woman crossing the road. She quickly scurries across the road to avoid being hit, the dark haired women dressed in a blue skirt and white blouse glares at the car. “You bloody idiot.” she screams out as it again takes the right turn at high speed. The white car brake lights shine as the car pulls up out side a white bricked house and pulls into the driveway, and into the garage, the roller door rolls down and the door closes. A man is in his late 30s with a beard and long dark hair gets out of the van laughing, a boy 14 with Sandy-coloured curly hair gets out the other door they move to the back of the van and open the two doors. “That was the great mate easiest fifty g you will ever make in one night like taking candy from a baby, and Chris all this would not have been possible without your help.” “You helped Simon.” The boy adds as he grabs two of the three money bags and takes them to the work bench. “Five months of planning and it went off without a hitch.” Simon smiles as he grabs the other bag from the car. “We have to wait a few months to let the heat die down and before we spend any of the money.” Chris looks up at him as he starts to close the doors on the back of the van. He looks at the bags then over to Simon “Simon you never said anything about waiting, you promised me I would get my five grand.” Simon Grabs the third bag from the car and walks over to the fridge on the other side of the garage, placing the bag on top of the fridge he opens the fridge and pulls out a soft drink can. Chris shakes his head “I want my five grand now.” He says under his breath. Chris opens up one bag and pulls the money out. Simon yells at Chris as he begins to open the second bag, Simon drops his can of drink and races over to him yelling. “Don’t open.” Was all he got out. Chris opens the other bag there is a small bang and Chris’s face, hair and hands are covered in blue dye, Simon has it over his shirt and his boots. “You idiot that money’s no good now, and the cops will be onto you like a seagull on a chip,” Simon runs his hand through his hair as he thinks. Chris stands there not knowing what to say. Simon starts picking up the money on the bench that hasn’t been covered with dye. Chris watches Simon in silence as Simon grabs the money bag of the fridge, after hitting the switch on the roller door Simon gets into the car. “You even think about ratting me out to the cops kid your mum or dad will wish you were never born, You hear me”? He yells over the noise of the roller door lifting. Chris stands there nodding. Simon reverses the car out “Not a word to anyone.” He yells to Chris from the car window. As he reaches the end of the driveway he peels the car around, its wheels spinning and quelling, he throws it into first gear, the wheels smoke up as it sits there and spins for a few seconds, the wheels finally get traction and the car races off up the road. Chris frantically starts looking around the garage looking in boxes and in the grey cupboard next to the bench, he sees a few tins of paint and pulls them out. He then notices another smaller tin with the label thinners on it and he places it on the bench and pulls a box of rags out from under the bench. Removing the lid he pours a heap onto the rag as it pours over the garage cement floor, he begins rubbing the rag against his hands trying to remove the dye. He douses the rag with more and try’s again, now getting more frustrated with every scrub. He looks at the money on the table with the bag and picks up a bundle of blue fifties and starts scrubbing them, he realises that the dye doesn’t come off. Chris scrubs the money harder “Come on.” He yells.

Lost in the Outback

The sun sits high above Lancedale Homestead. the ten minutes’ drive from the small tranquil town of Downs Creek. A slight breeze picks up and brushes against a pair of flowered sheets dangling from a home made clothesline. Situated above a small patch of grass that has managed to grow a lush green in the back yard, that shows no sign of the stress of the dry winter in the Creek. Standing alone in the wilderness is a nineteen thirties colonial style homestead, with its pressed metal ceiling, glistening under the morning sun. peeling green paint flakes coming off the outer timber wall. Updated in the mid sixty’s And in dire need of a new paint job. Four Wooden steps run up a small landing to the back screen door on the rustic old homestead. The door flies open as two small children race out. A girl six Carrying a doll and a book, followed by a boy seven, lanky with brown hair and deep blue eyes, There mother behind them she catches the fly screen door with the basket of washing in her hand as the door flings back. Pamela Armstrong is an attractive woman in her early-thirties, her short brown hair tied back in a bun. Dressed in a navy blue cotton dress covered by a red and green flowery apron. She places the basket underneath the home made clothes line as the children race off to play. Pamela calls to them in a stern but pleasant voice. “David, Chrystal.” The children stop and turn. “Do not go in the chook run it took me two days to get the dirt out of your clothes last time.” In unison “Yes mum.” The children race off smiling. Chrystal with green eyes rounded face and ringlets in her hair laughs as they run off across the small bit of lawn that has managed to grow in the dry June winter. Most of the farmers have been fighting a drought for the past three years. It has been hard for all the farmers with rivers and creeks drying up, and some farmers having to truck in water. Other farms fifty kilometres up the road have had a good winter, their crops have flourished. Not the Same can be said for the Downs Creek towns people who have been on water restrictions for the past eighteen months. Downs Creek shire lifted the water ban after receiving over one hundred and fifty millimetres per day over the past two weeks. Some significant rain falls in some needed areas, rivers, and creeks are running again. Water tanks are overflowing. although the barren land is showing flower life in the area. there are still a lot of property’s in the area who haven’t see rain in over three years. The two children reappear at the wire-caged chook run. Holding her rag doll Missy and her book, Chrystal looks for a place to sit, a ringlet from her blonde hair dangles in front of her face. While placing her book on a log, she brushes her hair from her face, she begins to groom her dolls hair. “Missy,” she says looking at the doll Mum said you are not allowed to get dirty David Throws a stick into the air “Mum was talking to you, silly; sometimes, I think you really believe that that stupid doll is real Chrystal gives David a real hard stare and retaliates. “She was talking to you too, and don’t listen to him Missy you’re not stupid, he’s stupid.” Chrystal places her doll next to her as she brushes at her blue cotton dress Over her black leggings, she stands up Straightening the belt strapped to her waist, which contains a magnifying glass, or as she calls it a spyglass, a torch, a pair of tweezers, a flick knife which she keeps taking from her fathers shed, a notepad, and a pen. After making sure the content is secure in the belt she sits down and picks up the hard cover book. Unsolved Crimes Volume three, and looks for the page she is on and begins reading under the shade of the Boab tree. Picking up another stick David looks around at the huge trees around him. David is a lanky boy but quite fit, David often helps his dad around the property fixing tractors, chopping wood and feeding the few animals on the property. Lancedale Homestead once ran thirty thousand head of cattle and ten thousand head of sheep. The prior owners the Coplins family owned the property for three generations the final heir to the property Gail Coplin died in 1961. The property was handled by Gail’s closest friends Linda and Barry Ludlow the owners of Bedford Downs. Who put a manager on the property until it was sold to the Hartley group in 1967. The Hartley group sold the property to Gina Rundle in 1971. Gena sold all the cattle and the few thousand head of sheep and turned Lansdowne into a cropping farm which did well from 1972 to 1979. The property producing wheat, barley and oats making Gina a cool ten million over her seven years ownership of Lancedale Homestead. Her luck ran out in 1979 three years of drought killed the cropping industry in Downs Creek and Gena sold the property to her brother-in-law Max Skewers a real estate agent in Fitzroy crossing. For two point five million. On Barry Armstrong buying the property with its ten thousand hectors, a few milking cows chickens a few hundred head of sheep a few goats and three working dogs that had been given to Max by Gena. Max having no need for working dogs gave then to Barry as part of the deal he called it his deal sweetener. As the children play out in the back yard David notices a small tennis ball in the scrub behind the tree, grabbing it he calls to Chrystal “Chrystal, do you want to play catch”? Taking her attention away from the book, she looks up at him. “No David I am busy.” David shakes his head, “That stupid book again, you are always reading it, unless you’re looking through your magnifying glass, or playing with your doll I’m sure you have read that book over a thousand times.” David wipes the ball with his Chrystal stares at him “There is more than one series you know, and I am almost up to series four.” David shrugs off her comments “I’m sure.” he replies and turns his attention back to his ball.

Lost in the Outback

Pamela is busy hanging the last of the washing when a young woman pulls the sheet to one side. Sandy Armstrong 28 years old with short blonde hair, a slim build, around five-foot-eight. “Hi, Pamela.” Pamela jumps with fright stopping herself from dropping the sheet she is hanging. “Sandy,” she yells holding the sheet next to her chest.

“You scared the dickens out of me.” Sandy smiles “Sorry, sis.” Sandy laughs and helps Pamela hang the final sheet. The beautiful spring morning brings a clear sunny day, the slight gust of wind blows against the drying sheets. The crows squawk to one another in the huge Gum trees. A large grey kangaroo with its young Joey by its side, stop along the bush line from the house and look the place over before they continue their journey towards Mount Cummings River. The Mount Cummings stretches sixty-four kilometres and in places can span five meters to seven hundred meters wide, the river stopping seven kilometres past Mount Kinder to the west and fifty-seven kilometres to the east of Crocodile Mud River. From there it swings south west and joins up with the little gold river, and that meets up with Fitzroy Crossing river. When there is a year of good rains. The river runs the two hundred and eighty kilometres. Although with the three-year of drought, the little gold river is just grown over bushland. Mount Cummings River and Mount Kinder have collected the rains over the past few weeks and are flowing over in some parts. Giving property and livestock plenty of feed and water. Two black crows swoop past the cloth line as the chase leads them to the roof of the homestead “Hasn’t that useless brother of mine brought you a decent clothesline yet”? Sandy asks. Pamela looks at the line held up by a post at either end. She smiles to her sister-in-law as she looks at the clothes line. “I quite like this one, and Barry is getting around to it.” Sandy looks at the flaking green paint work on the homestead walls “Is Barry getting to that too, wasn’t he going to paint the whole exterior a month ago”? Pamela smiles,“I wasn’t expecting to see you until Tomorrow.? As she picks up the basket and the two of them head for the house “My boss gave me the day off.”Sandy opens the back door for her sister-in-law. Pamela gives Sandy a surprised look. “Grumpy old Smythers gave you the day off?” “Yes, cool isn’t it”? Replies Sandy “He has a meeting this afternoon and said I could take the whole day off, so what better way to spend my day than with you and help you with Chrystal’s birthday cake.” Sandy turns and looks back towards the clothes line. “Barry does know that Hills Hoist has brought out a proper clothesline right”? Pamela laughs “Come on I will make you a coffee.” Shaking her head “You can be a dag sometimes Sandy.” They both laugh, a small bird strikes at a black crow as it fly’s overhead, the little bird persists with its attack as the crow fends it off the two fly over the children as David and Chrystal walk around the chook run watching the chook’s doing their daily routine of picking up the feed from the night before. The large rooster pecks at a small hen to get it to move on and the rooster begins pecking from where the hen had scampered. Scouring the ground Chrystal holds Missy in one hand and the magnifying glass in the other. Chrystal looks at Missy. “That is the footprints of that fox that comes back every night. I told dad about it but he does not believe me, well now I have proof.” She pulls out the torch from the pouch on the belt and shines it on the prints. David looks around at the boab tree and the rope swing David yells “Hey That is where I left it.” David races up to his red and white backpack lying on the ground under the tyre swing, he rubs the sand off it with his hand and places it on his back. Chrystal frowns at David, screwing up her cherubic little face. Flashback... Chrystal in her x file slippers and rubric cube patterned pyjamas and holding her doll Missy, heads to the toilet hitting the light switch on the hallway wall as she passes to see her way in the dark, as she passes David’s door it opens “Chrystal” He yells as he stands there in his Superman pyjamas holding a baseball glove in one hand and dropping the ball into the glove with his other. “What have you done with my Backpack”? Chrystal stops and stares at him for a moment. As she screws up her little face she removes a ringlet of hair that has dropped in her face and replies “I don’t know where your stupid bag is David.” “Yes, you do.” He replies as he throws the baseball glove and ball onto his Ayrton Senna formula one racing bedspread. “You do so you took it out of my room.” Chrystal laughs and shakes her head. “David I would not ever and I mean ever go into that tip you call a room.” David glares at her. “Well, where is it then”? Chrystal throws her left arm up in the air. “How do I know you probably left it outside with everything else you lose?” “I know you took it Chrystal,” Chrystal enters the toilet shaking her head. David hears her say. “Stupid idiot” as the door closes. “I heard that.” “That wasn’t me it was Missy” she yells back. End of flashback.

Chrystal picks up her doll and puts her torch back into the belt and sits on the tree branch. She then looks over to David. “See I didn’t take it, Missy, I told him that last night.” David runs up to Chrystal but if she is waiting for an apology, it is not forthcoming. “Chrystal I found my backpack.” Chrystal stands and crosses her hands over her chest and looks at David with the foulest of looks, thrusting her forehead at him. “Is there something you want to say to me, David”? David shakes his head and shrugs his shoulders. Chrystal gives him another stare and pouts her lips in anger. “Come on Chrystal I will race you to the river.” Again tossing the ball up and down in the air. Chrystal shakes her head. “Dad said we are not allowed near the river.” She sits back on the log and picks up her book, David gives her a hard stare. “You’re just scared I will beat you, aren’t you”? Chrystal gets Angry. “No I’m not David, I just want to sit here and read my book.” “Yes ,you are.” “Dad said,” Chrystal yells. David baiting her. “Scaredy-cat, scaredy-cat.” “Am not.” “Then prove it,” yells David. “Or are you yellow”? Chrystal looks at him she screws up her little face and places the book on the log stands up and steps towards him. “Don’t call me yellow.” David steps back knowing he has crossed the line. He knows if there is one thing Chrystal truly hates it is being called yellow. In grade three Julie Prichard dared Chrystal to take the chalk of the teacher’s desk, Chrystal said she wouldn’t do it. The two got into an altercation and Julie Prichard called Chrystal yellow. That day Julie was sent to the school nurse and Chrystal’s mum was called to the school. luckily for Julie she only received a bloody nose, although Julie was running around Screaming she broke my nose with blood streaming into her hands. Chrystal wasn’t suspended but her mum kept her home for a week with no books, no Missy and no play time as punishment.

“Are we going to race then”? David asks impatiently. Chrystal doesn’t reply as she secures the torch into her pouch, she arranges the belt on her waist firmly, Then the two stand side by side. Chrystal grips Missy hard and takes a stance with one foot slightly in front of the other ready to sprint off. David gets set beside her, after looking deep into her eyes he can still see the anger on her face from being called yellow. David says “Ready, set” Chrystal relaxes her stance and turns to him. “What do I get if I beat you”? David is thrown by the statement and looks into her greenish eyes and laughs hysterically. Chrystal waits for him to stop laughing. “Well”? She asks. Trying not to laugh again David replies. “You’re not going to beat me, Chrystal.” Chrystal looks at Missy smirks then looks up at David. “If you beat me, David, I will do your chores for a week.” Chrystal watches David’s face light up with a broad smile, “But if I beat you, you have to look after Missy for a week.” David laughs. “Like that’s likely to happen.” Chrystal waits for him to stop laughing “Well”? Chrystal asks again and David agrees to the terms with a positive nod of his head. They take up their stances again. “Ready set go.” David yells. The two sprint off like the wind, Chrystal’s little legs doing ten to a dozen and slightly ahead of David as they tear through dense scrub. David begins to catch her, and as he is parallel to her he trips on a tree branch. He hits the ground with a thump and the ball in his hand trickles out and rolls away, the backpack falls over his head. David pushes the pack back on his back and lifts his head to see his sister running like a champion. He gets up and brushes off his jeans and T-shirt, his leg aching a little from the fall. “I cannot let her win; I am not spending a week looking after that stupid doll.” Up again, he races after her. He avoids low-hanging trees and limbs by weaving and ducking. He sees her less than ten feet in front of him. He powers his little legs to go faster and faster, but the pain in his leg increases, Chrystal is just meters away from the Mount Cummings River. She hears the water rushing along. Her legs sore and aching from her run, she pushes herself harder and harder as she hears David looming up behind her. She is too scared to look back in case it slows her down. David knows he has lost. His leg is in pain he cannot get up any more speed. He begins to slow down. Chrystal stops at the large bank of the river. “We did it, Missy we won, we won, we won.” Hysterical over her win, she jumps up and down. David approaches he is not amused by his defeat and knowing he has to look after Missy for a whole week. Puffing to get a breath, his hands resting on his knees, he looks up and sees Chrystal jumping up and down on the edge of the riverbank. The riverbank starts to give way beneath her. David lunges towards her and attempts to grab her hand as she loses her balance. She lets out a scream. “ARGHHH.” David grabs her hand and she falls, taking David with her. They roll over the edge and their bodies tumble five meters down the embankment. The magnifying glass falls out of the pouch Chrystal and David tumble into the cold running water. The two separate. Chrystal loses all sense of up and down as her body rushes along with the current, fuelled by the rain up river days before. Still obtaining a firm grip on Missy, her head goes under only to submerge seconds later. The bank rushes by and she struggles to keep her head above water while searching for any bit of air she can manage. the water is cold and murky. David swallows a mouthful of the murky water and heaves hard for a breath. Now in the middle of the river, he fights against the strong current. waving his arms frantically his legs hit a rock and he goes under once again. He recovers a few seconds later and spurts out for air. He turns his body around and takes stock of his surroundings. He watches the bank roll past. The backpack is weighing him down and again he goes under. Chrystal manages to get closer to the river bank. She makes several attempts to grab hold of the overhanging branches. She Misses and tries for another. The current pusher’s her further down the river she notices another branch overhanging the river’s edge she pushes her body towards it. She puts her hand out and try’s for the branch. Success! Her body comes to a halt as she holds firmly on to the clump of leaves and twigs. Desperately holding on to her doll Missy and fighting to keep her head above water. David comes up again. He coughs splutters and manages to remove his backpack. It floats off. David attempts to manoeuvre himself closer to the riverbank. He turns and notices Chrystal, who is still holding on to the branches. He puts his hand out to her. Chrystal automatically let’s go of Missy. Missy floats away and she is able to grab David’s hand, David gets a firm hold of her hand, but due to the speed and force that the current is pushing David’s body Chrystal loses grip of the branch and again the two float helplessly down the river. Chrystal goes under and David loses his grip on her. David frantically looks around but sees nothing. Fear growing every second when he notices an overhanging branch and grabs it, he looks for Chrystal. There is still no sign of her. David pulls himself along the branch to the bank. He struggles to his feet. Cold and wet, he looks back at the water. Still no Chrystal, His body is heavy and he knows he can’t give up. Water drips from every part of him, and his wet jeans weigh him down. The tiredness shows on his face as he struggles to breathe. his hearts racing, he looks for his sister scared she may have drowned. He shouts as loud as he can. “Chrystal.” David stands on the bank as water rushes past. Except for the sound of rushing water, everything is tranquil. He waits as the seconds pass. Then, Chrystal’s head appears above water. David Calls out again. “Chrystal.” The fear grows on his face, He races up the bank and along the riverbank, weaving between trees and bushes and trying not to stumble. His leg now in immense pain from his earlier fall, He keeps his eyes on Chrystal. Chrystal gasps and fights for air. Although in control, she notices a log floating and grabs hold. David races parallel with her and carefully makes his way down the river bank. He picks up a tree branch and walks along the bank as he holds it out to his sister. On the first attempt, she misses the branch. David is in a lot of pain he struggles to keep up with the floating log he knows that if he stops his sister could drown he has no time to cry, he pulls himself together. “Chrystal.” He calls over the sound of the rushing water “I will try again.” He pushes the branch as far as he can towards her, she reaches her little hand as far as it can go she gets a firm hold this time. The floating log moves down the river, he has her. With what strength he has left, he pulls her to the bank this strength diminishing with every passing second. “No I’m not losing her.” The tears of fear now roll down his little cheeks. “Come on Crystal a little further.” He tells himself, he drags her from the cold water and drops to the ground in exhaustion and hugs her. “I’ve got you, I’ve got you.” He tells her as they both sit on the edge of the river in tears. “I want my mum” Crystal whimpers. Chrystal learnt from a very early age that she didn’t like sports. Pamela tried to get her involved in Tee Ball, Basketball, Net ball, Tennis and Soccer but to no avail. Chrystal steered her mother towards Book clubs, Chess Clubs, Science Fairs and Chemistry Sets. Pamela also tried to get Chrystal into Cooking but after a few months she could see Chrystal had no interest in any of them so she gave up pushing her towards them. Chrystal picked up her first book the Western Australia Police Gazette volume sixteen at four years old. With her mother being an x Police officer Pamela subscribed to the magazine. Chrystal has been collecting them from her mother’s room and has addition sixteen to the latest addition one hundred and twenty Chrystal likes reading anything that has to do with the law and Forensics. Chrystal sits with her brother cold and shivering from her ordeal in the river I want mum.” she cry s again.

Lost in the Outback

Pamela removes the sponge cake from the oven and places it on the table to let it cool. Sandy sits at the breakfast bar and browses through a cookbook. Referring to the picture in the cookbook “Is this the icing you’re putting on Chrystal’s cake, Pamela”? “Yes, both Crystal and Barry likes it.” Pamela closes the oven door and walks to the pantry. Sandy laughs “Barry likes anything sweet, he would put sugar on his chops if he knew he could get away with it Pamela lets out a laugh “So what did you get Missy for her birthday”? Sandy asks as she flips through the pages of the book and waits for Pamela to return from the pantry. Pamela returns from the pantry holding a canister of sugar. “I got her those pyjamas with the x on them.” Pamela tries to remember the name of them. Sandy looks at her with a confused expression. Pamela removes the lid from the jar. “You know they have the X”? Still unsure “X men, Ex-stream, X to the power of Y”? Sandy replies throwing her arms in the air smiling. Pamela shakes her head “No what’s that show she is always watching”? Pamela asks. “Oh X files,” Sandy says laughing. “Yes X file I got her the X-Files bedding and pyjamas, she has the slippers and she has been pestering me for months, every time we go into Andrea Climes store she sees them then its mum, mum, can we can we”? Sandy rocks on her chair laughing, “I cannot wait to see the look on her face when she opens them.” Pamela tells her. “She will flip Pamela.” “Do you want to know what I got her”? “What”? Pamela asks as she grabs a mixing bowl from the overhead cupboard. “I brought her.” She pauses and smiles “No I am not going to tell you, you will have to wait for her birthday.” Pamela measures out the sugar into the bowl on the brown laminated bench and looks at her grinning. “Sandy what did you get her tell me”? Suddenly Pamela stops pouring the cream into the bowl. “You did not get her that Laptop did you”? Sandy stares into the book a huge smile covers her face. “Might have.” Pamela smiles and leans over the bench, almost knocking the sugar canister over “Sandy that is over eight hundred dollars.” “Well, she is my niece, and Smythers gave me a bonus for all the extra hours I have been putting in so it is not like I can’t afford it, that’s if I did get it.” Pamela smiles and opens the kitchen drawer and pulls out a whisk, looking at her sister-in-law still smiling in utter dismay. “You are spoiling her Sandy.” Sandy’s smile is enough for Pamela to confirm she bought the laptop. Sandy looks up and raises her slim line eyebrows. “Has Barry brought Chrystal anything yet”? Pamela returns to the pantry and replaces the canister. Pamela Yells from the pantry. “He is getting it today.” Sandy Nods and smiles “You hope.” Pamela returns to the bench. “I told him I would go and get it for him but you know what he is like, fiddling around picking things up and putting them back down. He is like an old woman, but he informed me he was quite capable.” Sandy throws her a smile. “I know he is hopeless isn’t he”? Sandy flicks through the book. “Oh, Pam listen it’s my Horoscope” Pamela gives her a blank stare as she begins to whip up the cream and sugar in a bowl with the hand whisk. “You don’t believe those things do you”?

“Not really,” Sandy tells her. “But every now and then, I like to see what they say, anyway, Taurus can expect, well because I am Taurus.” She adds proudly. “Can expect their boss to understand their absence this week.” She laughs. “Like of course, he understands he gave me the rest of the day off.” Pamela listens with a mild grin and whisking away at the cream. “Taurus can expect to be burning the candles into the late hours and will find themselves sleeping in a strange bed.” Sandy Laughs. “Well I know that’s baloney there is no way I will be burning the candles all night and I will most definitely not be in a strange bed.” She laughs. Pamela throws her a placid smile. “I do not think Sam would be too happy if you slept in a strange bed.” Pamela grins, Sandy laughs. “Wouldn’t that get a few tongues wagging around town”? Pamela stops whisking and gives a faint smile and frown. “I am kidding.” Sandy puts in. “Pamela do you want to know what yours says”? Pamela stops mixing again. “No” She reply’s in a stern voice. “Yes you do look I can see you trying to hide that smile.” “No Sandy.” “Come one it won’t hurt to listen.” Pamela shakes her head and smiles. “Oh, all right but only because you won’t give me a minute’s peace if I don’t.” “Ok Cancer you’re going to get a job offer.” Pamela laughs. “Like that’s likely to happen.” Sandy flaps her arms in the air. “No wait it gets better, your love life is going to blossom this week, Oh, look out Barry.” Sandy yells out laughing, “Also it goes on to say, friends will rally around you in support this week.” Pamela shakes her head “What a load of tripe these people who make these things up should get a life.” “You never know Pamela Paul at the pub might offer you a job as a topless barmaid.” Sandy rocks on the seat laughing. Pamela points the whisk full of cream at Sandy. “In his dreams.” they both laugh.

Lost in the Outback

The Downs Creek hotel Arms bustles with activity, smoke encases the room. Constable Sam Haywood, a tall physically fit Sandy-haired man in his late 20s enters the hotel dressed in his police uniform. He makes his way to the bar, the wall to his left holds cricket memorabilia photos of Rod Marsh and Dennis Lilly shaking hands in the middle of the pitch after Marsh reached his fifty not out at the SCG. Caption on the picture reads Rod Marsh slams an easy fifty and it goes on to say March hits top run rate in that match 178 not out against West Indies. Sam continued nodding and acknowledging friends as he makes his way to the bar. On the other side wall is a picture of Ron Barassi from Melbourne Football Club kicking a Premiership goal for Melbourne against Richmond at the MCG. The crowd holding up the Demon flag and dressed in red and blue, and next to that a plaque of the names of the Downs Creek football team and their captain Max Peters. One of the local Constables in Downs Creek. Then a plaque of the Downs Creek cricket team. Sam smiles as he passes a picture of a woman in a black karate uniform with auburn frizzy hair surrounded by students, the caption reads Kathy Healed local police and citizens club 1982 regional karate championship. Sam notices a dark-haired man sitting alone and heads to the table. He walks over and takes a seat on an empty chair opposite him. He places his hat on the table. “Hi, Barry” Barry Armstrong a heavy-set man in his 30s with brown hair. He is untidy and unshaven and his big hands are rough, from working at the old saw mill. “Hey Sam I hear congratulations are in order,” Sam smiles. “So you finally popped the question, I hear she is a good sort.” Sam takes a seat grinning. “Well, she is your sister.” Sam finally puts in. Barry smiles from ear to ear. “See I told you she was a good sort.” They both laugh. Sam notices a large bag sitting beside Barry. “What have you found there mate”? Barry grabs the bag and pulls out a big pink teddy bear with a bright red ribbon tied around its neck. “What this little ripper its Chrystal’s birthday present, she turns seven Tomorrow, do you think she’ll like it mate”? The pride on Barry’s face for his little girl says it all. “She’ll love it mate” MARK Gazzanoph, known around town as Gazza, is a medium-built man in his late 30s. He is a bit of a stirrer and likes to be noticed, which is not hard with his broad nose and his constant complaining. Mark grew up in Downs Creek his mother was born in Greece, and his father born in Turkey. Gazza’s Parents arrived as immigrants and arrived in Sydney Australia in the early fifty’s. Edward Gazzanoph was a carpenter and picked up solid work in Sydney, the contract moved him to Downs Creek in the mid-sixties and his wife Phillis opened a restaurant a few years later. the restaurant fell on some hard times in the early seventies and with the death of her husband they turned it into a bakery. Gazzas two brothers Anthony and Warren run the bakery now, Gazza doesn’t want to be stuck in the bakery business and he told his family that. Gazza married a local girl Stefanie Mills they tried for kids but she never fell pregnant. They were married for four years then split up due to Gazza’s constant drinking and bad temper. Stefanie works out at the bakery now and is living with Brendan Hopkins who owns Down Creek real a state. Gazza never remarried he currently works at the saw mill. Gazza looks over to Barry and Sam. He notices the bear and taps one of his drinking buddies on the shoulder. Gazza turns on his stool facing Barry and Sam. Gazza yells out over the rowdy crowd “Hey Barry, who’s your date”? Gazza’s drinking mates laugh.

Barry places his index finger in the air cutting into the smoke-filled room. “Up yours, Gazza.” Barry turns his attention back to Sam. “Look, I better get going or Pamela will wonder where I am, Hey why don’t you come out to the house Tomorrow we’re having Sandy over for tea”? “Sounds good mate.” Sam rises from his seat and grabs his hat. “Say eight o’clock”? Barry tells him picking up the bear. Sam nods and walks off. Gazza yells out to Sam. “Hey Sam, what is up your sergeant’s”? Just then, someone drops a glass shattering beer and glass all over the light brown stained carpet. Several men at the bar yell out. “Call him a cab” The pub erupts in a roar of laughter. Gazza keeps talking. “He picked me up and slapped a red sticker on my ute.” Sam smiles. “Well, it is a bucket Gazza,” Sam informs him. The other men sitting next to Gazza laugh. “Yeah, but I need it to get to work” “Then fix it,” “Well you tell Sergeant Holiday he’s a.” “Fix it.” Sam yells cutting him off. Sam smiles to himself and moves on to his colleague playing pool. Constable Tom Parker, twenty-seven, five feet eight with black hair hazel eyes and known around town as an eligible bachelor. He places his cue next to the table and grabs his drink. “What’s Gazza’s problem”? Constable Parker asks. Sam places his keys on the table with his hat. Constable Kathy Healed lines up the eight ball for the middle pocket. “Holiday slapped him with a red sticker.” Sam watches as Kathy lines up her ball on the huge table. Constable Kathy Healed is a young woman of twenty-eight. Before taking her shot, she moves her short brown frizzy hair from her pretty face. Her sky-blue eyes find the ball. As she bends over the table, her height gives her the move ability to reach right over the table. Gazza and his buddies stop to gaze at her rear end as it wiggles side to side in her tight blue uniform. Gazza and the clan let out a wolf whistle. “Hey, you mob.” Parker puts in pointing his finger at them. She hits the white ball and it taps the small black ball. The ball rolls to the middle pocket and drops she ignores the men laughing. Kathy smiles and looks up at Parker. “That’s it three straight Tom your buy.” “I think you are sneaking in here after closing time every night and practising,” Parker tells her as he heads to the bar. “You haven’t told him about Brenda’s pool table I take it”? Sam put in “Shush.” She tells him as she makes sure Parkers out of ear shot. “It will teach him for telling everybody at Jean and Peters party last week he could kick my ass in pool, I’ll beat him a few more times then I might tell him.” Parker places the three beers on the table. “Julie has asked if we want to go with her and Dana to that cat show in the Crossing next week”? “Cat show”? Sam asks. Kathy shakes her head. “It’s not a cat show Tom it is Andrew Lloyd Webber s Cats.” “I don’t care who owns them I’m more of a dog person.” Sam laughs. “Parker it’s the ballet She tries to explain. “I don’t get it what’s that got to do with cats”? “Parker.” Kathy yells frustrated. “Just, just go tell Julie yes we will go with them.” Parker returns to the bar. Sam’s in stitches from laughing. “He can be such a dill some times,” Kathy tells him.

Lost in the out back

Pamela is starting to worry about the children; she goes through the back door calling for them. “David, Chrystal.” She walks around the chook run where the children usually play but finds no sign of them there. She decides to head back to the house she sees Chrystal’s book on the log Unsolved Crimes volume three, she picks it up and looks at it. Flashback... Chrystal and Pamela race across the busy road in Fitzroy Crossing. The shops are bustling and the people are shoulder to shoulder on the side walk. The street is loaded with buses and trams congesting the main street. Fitzroy population of approximately 1,500 with a further 2,000 or so people living in the 50 Aboriginal communities scattered throughout the Fitzroy Shire, along with the 5000 tourists the town caters for in the summer and Holiday season, makes Fitzroy Crossing a very happening place. “Slow down,” Pamela yells as she chases Crystal into Brendan Bishop’s book shop. Chrystal races straight to the crime section of the shop and parks herself in front of the shelf and starts flicking through the shelf of books. The store is busy and Pamela has to fight her way through the cue, that Chrystal had quite easily slipped between. “Pamela Armstrong.” Comes a burly voice from a well-dressed elderly man in his mid-sixties, Pamela stops and smiles at the clean shaven gentleman. “Hello, Mr Bishop.” The man gives .” The man gives Pamela a hug, the two look at each other smiling. “Don’t tell me that was little Chrystal that just ran past me”? Pamela’s smile broadens. “Yes, she’s not so little anymore.” Shaking his head “They grow up so fast, it seems like only yesterday she was there and getting her first book.” “How is Mrs Bishop”? “Good, good doctors had her in for a cat scan last week.” Pamela waits to see if he is going to continue then realises he’s not. “Oh, all good I hope”? Yes, they didn’t find any cats.” Pamela looks at him and burst out laughing. Then playfully nudges him on the arm. “Yes, you just Missed Margaret she has just popped over to the chemist.” Chrystal runs up to her mother. “Mum, mum I found it I found it look.” Pamela looks at the book Chrystal hands it to her and she reads the title. “Unsolved Crimes Volume three.”

End flashback. Looking at the book in her hands Pamela looks out towards the bush a tear streams from her eye. She wipes it away with her hand and heads to the house. She calls again for the children. “David, Chrystal.” But gets no response.

Lost in the Outback

Sandy checks around the old shearing shed, the smell of sheep dung still engulfs the shed. Sandy hurries through the shed to escape the pungent smell of sheep manure. Sandy calls the children “David, Chrystal time to come home children.” But gets no reply. She looks out over the bushland and at the huge trees heading towards Mount Cummings River.

Sandy wasn’t a local to Downs Creek, she worked as a receptionist after finishing college in Sydney. Eight months after starting at Andrews and Andrews a prestigious law firm. Flashback…

Sandy finishes the final paperwork on her desk and is on her way to the alleviator when she is stopped by Kim Higgins. Kim a solid build young man of twenty three with a boyish look and deep blue eyes, dressed in a dark blue suit. Kim had started with Andrews and Andrews a year earlier and he took Sandy under his wing in the first few months, showing her the ropes and they got on well together. Kim is single and lived only a few blocks away from work. “Sandy.” He calls to her. Sandy stops and turns. “Oh hi Kim.” Kim flashes his pearly whites at her. “Hey a few of us are going to the Cats Claw tonight do you want to join us”? Sandy smiles. “Sorry, Kim not to night I am beat all I want to do tonight is go home have a nice warm bath and crash in front of the Television.” Kim laughs. “Sounds like bliss.” “Sandy.” Comes a call from an older man in his forties in a grey well dressed suit. Sandy turns to see her boss. “Can I see you a minute”? The alleviator door opens and Kim steps in “Ok I Will see you on Monday.” Kim informed her. Sandy smiles and turns to her boss “Yes Mr Andrews” she walks over to him. “Just wanted to say great job on the Pearson case.” “Thank you sir.” “You have done good work since you have been here Sandy, come see me on Monday and we will see about getting you an office.” Sandy smiles. “Thank you Mr Andrews.” He smiles and walks off. Sandy is delighted with the prospects of getting a new office and turns to press the alleviator button when the doors open and her sister Helen hops off the alleviator. Helen is 26 blond hair tied in a bun dressed in grey slacks, green blouse and high heel shoes. “Helen I didn’t know you were picking me up”? Helen smiles and her brown eyes sparkle along with her ruby red lipstick. “I thought I would take my little sister out on the town.” “Oh I don’t.” Helen gives her a look Sandy has seen many times before, Helen then leans against the alleviator wall and fixed her cream hi heel strap “Don’t be silly Sandy she snaps cutting Sandy off, “A night out is what you need and I’m taking you to the Cats Claw nightclub it’s time you got your self a night life and where else except for the heart of Sydney, clubs, dancing and liquor.” It was that night Sandy met Sam Haywood who was on three weeks leave and was staying with his sister Joan in Sydney. It was Joan who had brought Sam to the Cats Claw the night Sandy and Sam met. Sam spent the remainder of his three weeks off in Sandy’s company. The two travelled every opportunity they got to spend time with each other. With Sandy’s brother Barry living in Downs Creek that meant she had somewhere to stay while she visited Sam. Sandy quit her job a year later and moved to Downs Creek, it was Pamela that spoke to Smythers and got her a job and Mr Andrews glowing reference. End flashback. Sandy checks the nearby paddock, before returning to the house, on her return she finds Pamela sitting at the kitchen table. “Well, they are not in the shearing shed.” Pamela gives Sandy a look of concern “I found Chrystal’s book, now I am worried Sandy, she would not just leave her book lying outside.” “I will check the chook run,” Sandy tells her “I already have.” Sandy looks at her sister- in- law and can see the worry on her face. “They are probably just off playing somewhere and left the book why they are playing, I would say they have forgotten about the time. You know what kids are like, they get caught up playing and forget all about time. Look there is still half an hour of light they will see it’s getting dark and race home.” Pamela agrees with a nod of concern. Pamela still clutching the book close to her chest. The two hear a car door and race to the front door. Barry reaches the veranda. He is clutching the bear and hands it to Pamela. He kisses her on the cheek. Barry smiles as he reaches the front door. “See I didn’t forget, Chrystal will love that took me a long time to find it. Had to go to half a dozen different shops, I was ready to give up when that caught my eye.” Barry pleased with his purchase moves into the lounge. The room is nicely decorated. The lit fireplace gives the room an earthy warmth, as the heat makes its way through the homestead. The polished jarrah floor glistens from the reflection of the heat coming from the flames. “Hey Sandy, what are you doing here didn’t think we were going to see you until Tomorrow night”? He places his lunch box on the table in the lounge. “Oh, before I forget, I asked Sam over for tea Tomorrow night, you two can spend a bit of time together if you know what I mean.” Smiling broadly he nudges Sandy’s arm, then notices the expression on their faces. “Hey, what’s the matter, You two look like you have just lost your last two bucks”? Pamela puts the bag containing the teddy on the teak leather lounge and looks at Barry with concern. “Barry, we cannot find the kids, and Chrystal left her book outside, you know what she is like with her books she would never just leave this outside.” He laughs, “Hey, what do you mean you can’t find the kids”? He studies Pamela and Sandy’s facial expressions. “They’re probably just out the back playing.” He rechecks their faces before he heads through to the kitchen and out the back door where he stands on the wooden landing looking out over the property he yells. “David, Chrystal, David, Chrystal, dad’s home David, Chrystal.” Pamela stands behind him. One hand holding the book the other hand covering her mouth. The pain and anguish apparent on her face. Barry looks out over the property well aware of the ten thousand hectors of bushland and of the dangers. He looks at the sun as it’s slowly setting over the hills the magnificent glow as the sun sets to rest its head over the Rangers for the evening. He runs his hand across his mouth. “Look love, they are probably in “The chook run, I will go have a look.” Tears stream down Pamela face “I’ve checked there Barry they are not there.” “The shearing shed”? He asks, she nods, “Don’t worry love, we’ll find them. Won’t we Sandy”? Sandy looks at Pamela and nods. “If they are not back in half an hour.” again he looks out at the sun setting, “I will ring Sam he will still be at the pub he will come out and help us look.” Looking over towards the trees. “They are probably just off playing and forgot about the time you know what they’re like the little buggers are probably on their way home now.” Pamela manages a smile and looks at the book then out at the bush worried. A small plane fly’s over the house and west toward town. It’s low and the engines scream as it flies over the town. Many on the main street look up as it’s that low. A young man opens the car door for his girlfriend to get out they both look up. “Gee he’s low.” The young brunette says as she throws the green scarf around her neck. the young man dressed in a clean shirt and dinner jacket nods. “Crop busting again.” Comes a cry from Chris Mathews a brown haired young man of twenty two. Dressed in a T-shirt that his huge biceps are bulging out of, and wearing a pair of shorts and thongs. “How are you Wendy”? “Good thank Bully” She reply “How is your mum and dad”? He asks. They watch the Cessna fly just over the pub and head back out of town, “Good thanks.” “And your sister”? “Karen’s Good to Bully.” “I didn’t think they were allowed to fly that low”? The young man asks. “He’s not Stuart, old Miller has been warned about a dozen times about flying low over the town, I think he does it to get up Sargent Holidays nose.” “Holiday is not the type of person you really want peeve off.” Stuart tells him as they make their way to the arms hotel. “You’re not wrong there mate.” Bully tells him as he grabs the door. “You should come round the house one night I’m sure mum, dad and Karen would love to see you”? Bully smiles with a nod and opens the pub door. The pub is rowdy and full of smoke. Some men talk at the end of the bar as the young girl a 20-year-old brunette races from one end of the bar to the other serving drinks. “I said wait bill I will get to you in a minute.” She yells out “Mitch was that two tonics and ice”? She asks juggling a bottle and three glasses trying to fill them. The young man throws two fingers into the air in reply. Paul the owner stands at the end of the bar talking with a few elderly men. “Julie could you go any slower”? Bill calls to her. Bills an older gent in his 60s he has a bung eye that he got as a kid when a friend accidentally turned around swinging a stick and took bills eye out. Julie turns to Bill and gives him the look of death. What the local patrons call the Julie look, the bar goes quiet,“Do you seriously want me to come over there and rip that other eye out”? Bill doesn’t answer. the whole room goes deadly quiet. “Do you”? She screams. Bill hesitates to answer then finds the courage to spit the words out. “No” “Then shut up and wait.” Toby Williams twenty five with greying hair laughs. “She would do it to Bill, it’s that pommy in her, and I think her mums Irish.” “And you can shut up an all Toby bloody Williams.” She put in using the pommy accent, the bar roars with laughter. Toby looks around the bar. “What did I do”? Bully finds a couple of mates and joins them. Over in the corner sit a couple of pool tables and a couple of round tables and chairs to the side of them. Two police officers in uniform play on one of the two pool tables. Tom Parker misses yet another easy ball and the frustration shows on his face. “You do realise that you haven’t won a game all night Tom”? Kathy informs him. Sam sinks the number three ball then looks up at Parker. “Well the way you play mate it is no wonder she beats you, Your problem Tom is that you are so worried about trying to win you’re losing. Loosen up and enjoy the game.” Sam tells him grabbing for his drink. Kathy smiles and sips from her glass. She replaces the glass on the table and looks up at Sam “Have you brought the ring yet Sam”? Sam stops from taking his next shot and looks up at her. “Yes.” “Oh can I have a look”? She asks with excitement. “Does it have a big rock”? Sam lines up his next shot. “I don’t have it here it’s in my room and no, I didn’t get one of those big bulky things it’s a nice little one Sandy will love it. Well I hope she will it cost me a bucket of money. Seriously Kathy what is it with women and big chunky engagement rings”? Parker taps him on the shoulder playfully. “Soon mate you’re going to be under the thumb, you can kiss your pool night’s goodbye.” Sam lines up his cue stick and hits the white ball, it rockets off the cushion and collides with the number seven ball and it rolls into a pocket. “See Tom, it is that easy.” Parker looks at Sam. “Bloody fluke that was mate.” Kathy laughs. The bartender Yells over the crowd. “Constable Haywood phone.” Sam hands his cue to Tom. Parker laughs, “That will be her now telling you to get home.” Sam moves to the bar ignoring him. Kathy walks up to Parker. “Tom Sandy’s not like that she knows Sam spends Friday nights playing pool,” Parker gives Kathy a severe look and cuts her off in mid-sentence. “I know Kathy I was joking, gee you take things so literally.” Sam spends a few moments on the phone then hands it back to Paul. Sam passes Tom and picks up his hat and keys. “Barry’s kids are Missing.” “David and Chrystal”? Kathy asks “Yes.” The barman overhears the conversation. “Julie, take over here.” He throws his apron to her. Julie gives Paul a hard stare then looks around the cluttered pub as she pours a beer Protesting. “Take over you haven’t been doing anything, hey where are you going we are packed you know”? Paul grabs his coat and walks to the other side of the bar. “Barry Armstrong’s kids are Missing.” A few other drinkers hear the conversation. Toby Williams turn to Mark Tilly. “They’re only young ones, aren’t they”? Brontie looks at Toby. “Well, what are we waiting for”? He yells as he sculls down his beer. Ten minutes later two police car pull at Lancedale Homestead followed by three Ute’s full of people. Sam looks over the men and women then at Gazza. He smiles and makes his way to Barry standing next to the clothesline. The crowd line up five feet apart holding torches. Sam looks over their faces, there are a lot of locals and some others he doesn’t know Brontie, Gazza, John Taylor, Jean Thompson, Mark Tilly and his brother Scott, Old Bill, Anthea Climes Ted Morgan, and Phillis Heart, Toby and his sister, doctor Dana Williams in her late twenties long blond hair and light blue eyes. Matthew Haig young fit lad and Bully. “Okay, if you find something yell out. Most of you know the kids. For those who do not, the boy’s name is David and the girl is Chrystal. The kids are out there somewhere. They are probably cold, hungry, frightened, and tired they want to get home. Constable Tom Parker and Constable Kathy Healed have two-way radios, so if you find anything at all, get hold of them or me. Also, I want you to pair up we don’t want anyone wandering off on their own. Okay, men let’s go.” They head off with their torches scouring the bush as they go Jean Thompson and Anthea team up and move off. “I hear you and Peter are going to Fiji next month.” Jean smiles. “Yes we have been planning it for some time Peter is getting a month off and the banks allowed me four weeks so we’re all set.” “I loved Fiji.” Jean tells her, “I went there as a teenager with Anna Pike, Gloria Tullup and Susan Ruke.” “Susan Ruke didn’t she have like a hundred kids”? Anthea asks. Jean smiles again “Thirteen I think was the last count. I remember we had to stay at the airport before leaving for Australia something about a bomb threat we had to wait two days before we could leave, back then the airline covered the motel room for those two days so we had some where to stay.” “Hang on.” Anthea laughs. “You Anna and Gloria were arrested for streaking naked down the main street”? “No it was Susan, Gloria and me, Anna chickened out at the last minute, we weren’t actually arrested we were questioned and released under the proviso we left on the next available plane, once we got back to Down Creek we were all dragged into the police station.” Jean pauses as she scours the bush with the aid of her torch. “Holiday read us the riot act on cultural behaviour and made us watch a documentary on social correctness.” Jean looks at Anthea as they pass a clump of trees. “I didn’t even know such a video existed and boring, Anthea it went on and on and on showing all these countries and the way which women integrated into each culture it was as boring as bat shit. But for six long hours we sat there in silence, seriously I would rather have done three months of community service than watch that crap. Sargent Holiday sat there with us and you know Anthea that man would not even let us take a bathroom break.” Anthea gives her a look of horror. “I know right and Poor Anna who wasn’t even involved in it was dragged in from the pub, that very afternoon we were pulled in now Anna had already had a couple of cans of Carlton cold before she was dragged in, so she was busting for the loo. But Holiday said no one moves till it finishes.” “So was it worth the trouble of streaking naked down the main street of FIJI”? Jean laughs “Every Minute Anthea, and I reckon we would do it.” Was all she got out as she suddenly trips and falls hard to the ground she yells “AAAAH” and grabs her ankle. “Jean are you ok”? Anthea shines her torch at her, Jean screams and holds her ankle. “No” she screws her face up in pain. “It’s my ankle.” Anthea shines her torch around the scrub then back on Jean. “Hold on I’ll go get the doctor.” Jeans face changes from pain to fear. “Anthea” She Screams “Don’t you dare leave me.” Anthea sees the fear growing on Jean’s face. “I won’t Jean will just call out for help.

Lost in the Outback

The sun has been down for an hour the light from the half-moon replaced the light that shines over a young adult dingo as it playfully chases a rabbit through the grass. The dingo waits for the rabbit to hop a foot in front of him, and then pounces inches from it. Again the rabbit stops its nose and tail twitching. Again the ding patiently waits. The rabbit try’s its escape again, and the dingo pounces in front of it. The rabbit pulls back and sits. Suddenly the tawny dingo notices something next to the tree and breaks off the pursuit with the rabbit. After David pulled Crystal from the river they sat cuddling under the big gum tree. Cautiously the dingo approaches, It stops suddenly when a night owl lets out a cry. The dingo waits, its ears pricked. It looks around again the Rabbit sees its chance and scampers off into the bush. The dingo slowly moves towards David and Chrystal.

Lost in the Outback

Sandy comforts Pamela at the kitchen table she passes her a cup of coffee. “They will be all right, Sam will find them and home,” Sandy adds with a sincere smile. Pamela tries to smile but can’t bring herself to do it, as she stands at the back door with her hands enclosed around the warm cup she stares into the darkness. “Pamela Do you have any candles”? Pamela walks into the kitchen she runs her hand through her hair trying to recall where they would be. “Um yes.” She finally replies, “They are in the bottom drawer to your left.” Sandy retrieves four candles and finds some candle holders in the drawer, she places the four candles in their holders and walks over to the stove and grabs the box of matches, on opening the box she notices the box is empty. Pamela

Immediately snatches the box from Sandy’s hand. “No not that one.” Pamela removes a box of matches from the second draw gives them to Sandy who lights all four candles. Pamela places the empty match box back over the stove. Sand turns to her sister in-law. “They say if you light candles and put them in your kitchen windows that people who are lost can find their way home,” Sandy places the last lit candle on the window sill, Pamela walks up and hugs her. “They will be fine Pamela there tough little buggers.” They are interrupted as the back door swings open Jean is being carried in by two men followed by Anthea and Doctor Dana Williams. “Are you all right Jean”? Pamela asks as the men place her on a kitchen chair. “She has sprained her ankle.” the doctor explains as she slowly moves Jean’s foot from one side to another. She lets out a scream of pain. “Ow ow ow ow” “It could have been a lot worse we will have to get her to the hospital for some x-rays.” Dana Informs them, “I am sorry Pamela I should have been looking where I was going.” Pamela manages to throw her a smile. “Don’t be silly Jean it could have happened to anyone.” Dana looks at the two Gentlemen. “Can we get Jean to my car please”? The two men pick up Jean and head to the front door. “Jean will be alright won’t she Dana”? “Yes Pamela” She informs her with a smile “If it a fracture we will plaster it for her,” Sandy walks up to Pamela and they watch as the doctor heads to her car. “I feel so bad like it’s all my fault.” “Come on I will make you a cuppa Pamela hey she will be fine she’s in good hands.”

Lost in the Outback

The rising sun peeks its head out and brings light to Downs Creek, the trees have been alive in town for an hour with Kookaburras singing away to one another. A lonely street sweeper makes its way past the local police station, inside Constable Max Peters and Constable Brenda Jones stand in line as they do every morning. Sergeant Robert Holiday parades in front of them like a drill sergeant. “How are we supposed to run with efficiency when half the members are not here”? Again a Kookaburra lets of a chorus coursing the Sargent to pause. ROBERT PETER Holiday is 51, a solidly built man with a face full of dimples. He is a tough yet fair man. A stickler for procedure. He walks over to the station door and closes it muffling the sound considerably he then returns to his Constables who are now trying to hide a smile as the muffled Kookaburra finishes up. He stares at the two Constables, aware of his authority over them. No one speaks. Sergeant Holiday raises his voice. “I run an efficient office, and at eight-thirty on Friday morning I expect to see all my officers.” abruptly he is interrupted. Constable Brenda ELAINE JONES, age 24, stands in line. Her sable hair is hidden under her hat, but her attractiveness beams from under the brim. She towers over her sergeant at five feet seven, her gaunt body fits comfortably into the neatly pressed blue police uniform. “But sir.” Realising her out burst she stops her self. Holiday stops pacing he looks hard at Constable Jones. “Excuse me, but did I hear someone speak”? His eyes meet hers. The silence is deafening “I do not remember asking anyone to speak.” He puts his face meters from Constable Jones, making her uncomfortable. Jones knowing that if there was ever a time you could turn back time by only a few seconds this was it. Holiday stares into her brown eyes. “Well Constable”? He asks. Jones looks into his dimpled face and at his huge eyes. Her heart is saying speak her head is saying don’t, she knows it’s too late damned if I do damned if I don’t. Brenda knows if there was ever a time for that Kookaburra to start off its next falsetto it was now, But that was not to be, she musters up the courage to speak “All I was going to say sir was that the others are out looking for the two missing children.” “Oh yes, the missing children.” Holiday moves away from Constable Jones and she breathes a little easier. “The missing children.” he repeats turning and picks up a sheet of paper from the desk behind him, he waves it frantically in the air. “Constable Peters, you were on duty last night”? This being more of a statement than a question. “Yes, sir.” comes a nervous reply. Constable MAXWELL Peters is 25, with cologne-drenched brown hair peeking out at the back of his hat. At five feet nine, he towers over all his other colleagues. He is well-built, physically fit and easy on the eye. His hazel eyes follow the slip of paper that his Sergeant carries. “Did you receive a call about two missing children”? “No sir, but” comes a quick reply “No sir but.” Now the Kookaburra lets rip. Brenda rolls her eyes. The Sargent looks at the Constable. “I am very interested in that but Constable Please don’t let the local wildlife stop you. I am sure Constable Jones would be very interested in hearing it.” The two Constables eyeball each other without twisting their heads. Three years with Sergeant Holiday, they know what’s coming next. The Sergeant places the sheet of paper back on the desk and turns slowly back to the Constables. “What is the procedure for missing persons Constable Peters”? Peters swallows the lump that has formed in his throat. “To um, to take the report and after 24 hours, if the person or persons are still missing.” He pauses for a second. “Sir they are only children.” He informs his Sergeant. The Sergeant turns and scowls at the young Constable and bellows. “I am well aware of their ages thank you Constable”? Peters looks at him then continues. “And if the person or persons are still Missing after the 24 hours we take a report and investigate.” Holiday walks up to the Constables and looks them over. “Sorry what was that last bit Constable”? “We take a report and investigate.” “We take a report and investigate procedures are put into place for a reason we might not like them, but we took an oath to uphold the law. Well at least I did, and that means even if we do not like it, we still follow procedure.” He looks hard at the two Constables. Peters and Jones both reply in unison “Follow procedure,” Holiday looks around the room before turning his attention back to the two Constables. He shakes his head and looks up towards the ceiling. The Constables do not speak or move. Holiday walks up to the desk and reads over the missing person’s sheet. He takes a deep breath and turns back to the young Constables. “I realise that both of you have only been here for three years and sometimes there are others. Holiday stops and again takes a deep breath. “Others here that like to do things their way. This is my station.” Again he pauses and takes a deep breath and composes himself. Brenda looks at Peters but neither move. After another deep breath Holiday continues. In a calmer tone. “This is our station we are a team which means we work as a team, now I’m in charge of that team and that team has to work within the guidelines.” Holiday closes his eyes and breathes hard, the Constables look on with uncertainty they had never seen Sargent Holiday get so riled up. Yes he yelled at them, he dismissed them in the middle of their sentence, he ignored them at times but this was different this had got to him as they had never seen before. “Things are going to change around here either we work as a team or you’re gone.” Holiday shakes his head and dismisses them. Holiday disappears into his office. The two Constables relax. Jones looks over to Peters. “What is his problem”? Peters shakes his head as he moves to his desk. “I have no idea.” Sergeant Holiday sticks his head out of his office. “Jones my office now he barks.” “Yes sir,” She quickly replies and heads to his office. Holiday’s office is no different from any other office with filing cabinets, book cabinets, a cluttered desk, a framed photo of his wife and two daughters rest on one corner of the desk. A photo on the back wall of his cadet year with all his police buddies, taken when he was in his twenties. He shuffles some papers on his desk then looks up at Jones. “I want you to go see Mr Actland, at the Actland grocery store. There has been a burglary. Then call in and see Mr Crow at Crows Timber and Hardware. He phoned this morning to report a burglary.” She waits for more Holiday looks at her. “Go” “Yes, sir. “She leaves his office Holiday opens another file and looks through it before he places it on his desk leans back in his chair and takes a deep breath. He picks up the phone and dials, after a few moments. “Josh it Robert, mate I need air rescue up here how long will it take”? There is a pause. “Great see you in an hour.” Holiday replaces the phone on the receiver and picks up the file again. Sam, Kathy, and Parker enter the station tiredness apparent on their faces. The three of them are spent and nearly dead on their feet. Peters moves to the front counter. “Any luck”? Sam shakes his head. “No we are going back out again we just come into get more help and more two ways radios.” Holiday pokes his head out of his office and in a stern tone. “You three my office now.” The three enters his office the door slams behind them, Peters can hear the Sergeant yelling. After several minutes, the door opens and the three exit. Holiday calls Sam back to his office. Holiday points to the seat, Sam, and the Sergeant both sit. Holiday looks over his tired face. “You are a good officer Sam and I understand the importance of finding the children. But saying that I do not make the rules, although we are expected to carry them out. I guess, under the Same circumstances I would have done the Same thing.” Holiday’s tone changes from a gruff bellowing tone to a sincere lighter one. “I’m not a monster Sam, I know the most important thing is the safety of those two children, but if I don’t discipline you in front of them, they will think they can do whatever they like whenever they like. Then I will lose control of my offices.” Sam sits saying nothing. Holiday stands and points to the photo on the wall. “See this photo it was taken at my graduation from the Academy. These men they were a great bunch of guys, and although we weren’t perfect, along the way, we all took it upon ourselves to ignore the system. Bugger the consequences we thought.” As Holiday talked Sam could see the pride in his Sergeants’ face as he looks at the picture. “Yes, we had Sergeants breathing down our necks when we messed up. Every action we took had a reaction which we expect.” The Sergeant tells him as he retains his seat. “All I am saying Sam, is next time at least try to follow procedures. Before I took up this posting three years ago, I got a chance to spend some time with your last Sergeant.” Holiday searches his mind for the name “Sergeants Moody” Sam puts in Holiday nods. “He told me you’re a good man Sam, and when you first arrived here seven years ago he said you were a green young ambitious rookie, you’re dedicated honest and above all reliable. However, he also told me you have a tendency to go around the rules and guidelines. I believe you got that from the time you spent with Detective Jackson.” Know around the station as Jacko. Sam smiles as he remembers the first time he saw Detective Jackson

Flashback...Sam and Parker now seven years younger hand out food rations to the young rookies and men Detective Wilson had assigned to go out to find the kidnapped Benson child. “Sam do we even know if a black took the kid”? Asks a young nineteen year old rookie. Sam looks at all the young faces and knows only what everyone was told in the morning briefing. “As far as we know the kids missing and the Adelaide C.I.B have taken over the investigation so all we can do is follow orders.” A young man dressed in faded jeans and a brown suede jacket approaches them. He removes what was left of the cigarette that hung between his lips,he drops the butt into the turf, and rubs it out with the heel of his well-worn riding boots. “Hey kid” he calls to Sam. “I am looking for Sergeant Morris.” He announces. Morris finishes talking to Constable Dan McKenzie and looks the man over. “I’m Sergeant Morris.” “G’day!” He says producing a smile. “I am Detective Jackson but my friends call me Jacko.” He gives a huge smile as he looks over the men. Morris shakes his hand. “We have been expecting you, you have the horses”? “Sure do mate if you care to follow me.” “Constable Heywood as soon as the men mount up we leave.” “Yes sir. “Constable Parker has that tracker turned up yet”? Morris asks.“Yes, Sergeant He’s going out with Detective Wilson.” Jacko spurts out a laugh. “He will need one, he couldn’t find his way out of a wet paper bag, if he tried, even with instructions.” Dan and the other rookies let out a chorus of laughter.

Morris looks hard into Jacko’s deep blue eyes and notices his fair skin. “You better put some cream on Mr Jackson, in this sun you will be severely burnt before too long.” End of Flashback. “In my three years here I have seen many times when you have gone off and thrown the rulebook out the window. Yes, I have closed my eyes to some of these things because you get results. However, every time you do this and involve your fellow officers I have to reprimand you in front of them. Okay, lecture over now to the children. How long have the children been missing”? Sam looks at his watch “Over 14 hours.” “Have you found anything at all”? “Yes, we found what we believe to be Chrystal’s Magnifying glass near the Mounts Cummings River, we assume by the marks on the river bank that they slipped over the embankment and fell into the river. We also found David’s backpack in the river about a kilometre and a half down. We followed the river for some ten kilometres. However, there was no sign of them.” Holiday runs his fingers through what is left of his greying hair, he looks at Sam with grave concern. “I do not know how they would have handled the cold night, last night Constable it was particularly cold.” He pauses “So we don’t know if they are injured or,” He pauses again and looks at Sam with his pout eyes. “If they even got out of the water”? “I really don’t know sir, they’re tough little buggers I am not writing them off yet. I’m heading straight back out there, the longer they are out there, the less chance they have of surviving, as soon as I get some more men from around town, Parker and I will head back out there.” Holiday nods. “I Have contacted air wing rescue they say they can have a chopper here by ten.” “Thank you sir, also I would like to take Constable Healed with us sir, I would like a female officer at the house in case”? He breaks off. Holiday stands. “Yes of course.

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