Daily Prompt, driving, events, humor, serial fiction, writing

Outback Rescue: Gibb Airport P4

It was a lovely evening for a walk through the bush, the moon was full and according to the weather man on the radio the closest it had been to earth for several years so it also appeared larger than usual. There was no cloud cover, which is not unusual up here especially after a warm day, and there was a million stars out clear and visible. There was also a fresh breeze coming up from the south east, straight up from the interior of the country where it was always warm, but the wind was not strong. It was the kind of night where wearing short sleeves was not an issue and the only reason to wear long sleeves was to remain as dark as possible.

In fact the only downside of the entire night was that we, Matthew and I, were wandering around out near the Gibb River Airport looking for Nick who was in trouble. We still didn’t know exactly what kind of trouble he was in but I had a feeling we weren’t far from finding out. There was no confirmation of small Cessna suspected of drug smuggling that Nick was sent to check up on either, but I suspected when we found out what kind of trouble Nick was in we’d also find out more about that plane.

Because light in the outback travels so far I had turned everything but my parking lights off about three kilometres out from the airport. The track we were on was one that Hall’s locals used if they needed to get to the airport, it was not a main road and not the road the boys from Fitzroy crossing would use. I knew the track well and the moon helped light our way but I still didn’t risk going more than twenty five kilometres per hour.

Several times along the track, from the bitumen actually, I saw signs of another vehicle using the track. It wasn’t positive confirmation of Nick, or any one else for that matter, but the occasional visible tyre track and the pieces of brush that were pushed back from the edge of the track and broken both told me a vehicle had been along the track in the same direction we were travelling and that it hadn’t returned. That was obviously not a good sign but it did add weight, and urgency to Nick’s message.

When we were about a kilometre out I stopped the Beast and switched off all lighting, I knew we still couldn’t be seen clearly from ground level at the airport but being seen from the long ago abandoned communications tower might have been possible.

Interesting side story here about the communications tower. The tower has stood since the airport was created some forty odd years ago. The airport was never permanently manned but it was equipped and as technology advanced it was equipped with radios and communication devices that could be used by anyone. It was agree to by governments, both state and federal, and surrounding communities that the tower would be maintained and used for both aircraft communication when needed, or fire spotting and reporting when needed. However even hundreds of kilometres into the Australian Outback we aren’t immune from the “fuck wit factor” as we call it, that small selection of the human race that seem to think it’s ok to damage, ruin and destroy anything that isn’t theirs. Because it was agreed that the upkeep on an unmanned tower was too expensive especially when those repairs were only because of vandalism the tower was decommissioned just after the turn of this century. It was never torn down but everything was removed and the thing was left as nothing but a shell. Even after that with what everyone thought was nothing left to damage some rotten blow hard still managed to damage the steps up to the tower.

Anyway back to the story at hand.

There was nothing to hide the Beast behind or under and her white body did stand out in the full moon but unless you were close you wouldn’t see it and I hoped whatever trouble Nick had found himself in was not that close.

Out of the Beast Matthew and I took a weapon each, he took the .22 and I took the 30.06. We also took a back pack each, the packs each contained a high powered torch, a small personal light, several boxes of ammunition for our weapons and a twenty eight centimetre hunting knife in its sheath. I also grabbed a few bottles of water out of the fridge and stuffed them in the bags before we set off on foot.

Conversation was at a minimum, neither of us were pretending to be commandos or secret service like we might have done when we were kids but we were keeping relatively low and I was leading Matthew away from the track and where we parked the Beast. I wasn’t trying to emulate some Hollywood blockbuster or even some award winning book with my moves but something told me that moving way from the Beast in case she was found was important.

My biggest problem was that while I knew the track into the airport relatively well I didn’t know the bush around the track and that meant our going was slow. The potential for holes made by wildlife like wombats or dingos was fairly high and in the dark, even with the moon they were neigh on impossible to see. About the only saving grace I could think of at that particular time was that Sam’s men would only just be leaving Fitzroy Crossing so whatever trouble Nick was in we were at least an hour, possibly more closer to helping him than they were.

Matthew and I crouched at the end of the runway and surveyed things before making any moves. From where we were, hidden by the darkness, and very little else other than a row of dry, barely growing bushes we could see an aeroplane on the dirt runway. There was no lights only the moon light so I had to assume it was the plane Sam said hadn’t been seen on any radar, after all why else would Nick be calling in a trouble situation.

The plane was parked roughly in line with the tower, it was hard to tell exactly from our angle. At the base of the tower I could also make out Nick’s cop truck, the reflective tape with the chequered pattern that ran down the side was a dead give away.

But perhaps the most disheartening thing we could see was the flicker of a flame, no doubt a candle or more likely a portable gas light, in the tower. We could also see the silhouette of two men standing up in the tower, I obviously couldn’t make out details but something in my mind just told me one of them wasn’t Nick.

Previous Outback story here.

28 Comments

  1. Good writing and story. Detailed, as usual for you, and suspenseful. I like these characters, I hope they turn out okay.

    • The could be heading to certain death!

      • I hope not, but you’re the writer.

      • Have you ever had an online chat with someone who didn’t speak English and you had to use a translation tool? It’s awkward…

        • Yeah I talk with Americans all the time 😛

          • Haha …. “Te sueño ; )”.

            • You know in many ways it is similar. Most Americans will never convert imperial to metric, yet metric is used throughout most countries of the world . They will speak in inches and feet, Fahrenheit, miles etc yet most Aussies seem to either convert or put both to help American readers. (in chat more than writing)

              In the UK I believe it’s worse, they mandated the metric system way back in the 80’s but because they always put things like the weather on tv with both Celsius and Fahrenheit most of the poms didn’t bother to learn it.

              • Do you always suck the romantic out of everything? I thought you were a writer. I find a story in everything.

                • I wasn’t aware there was romance in what we were discussing (but then I’m not privy to the discussion you are having in another language).

                  But if you want to pull the writer card then that’s ok. As a writer there is hundreds of stories in the way people talk and the words they use. In general if I’m discussing a local word I’ll go to the trouble of explaining it. Sometimes I’ll explain it in a humorous way (my humour), sometimes I’ll do it seriously depending on what it is.

                  In this story alone I have on many occasions dropped silliness like explaining that a trunk belongs on a elephant. I’ve explained temperatures with a little anecdote. I do that because as a writer I understand some people don’t use the terms we do. I do that because I know most people are too lazy to look up things they don’t know and I do this at time to have a light hearted dig at things. But I do it as a writer, the same can not be said for many of the writers I read.

                  • You are quite wonderful. I adore you! : )

                    • Then stop getting grumpy at me 😛
                      Bloody languages and local idioms are annoying, we should all speak the same and make my job easier 😛

                    • I can’t see anything of that reply, were you flipping me the bird? 🙂

                    • I’m sorry. No birds. But to write it would not do it justice.
                      Hugz!! You are truly unique!

                    • Yes I am 🙂

                      See that was one of those cases of converting to American for you. In this country (at least from when I was a kid) we didn’t ‘flip the bird’ we always just gave someone the finger, the flip the bird comment seemed to come from American movies.

                      Of course giving someone the finger doesn’t always mean you’re flipping the bird either.

                    • Funny thing… I am an American and I have never said, flip them the bird, or said give them the finger. Ever.

                    • Yeah but you are a polite person and don’t watch the same movies I do. My mum has never sworn either 😛

                    • I am definitely not your mother, and I have sworn plenty. But, as an American, I can not identify with your American version of flipping someone off.
                      Why do you make me grumpy? Do you do it on purpose or just to rule me up?
                      You’re frustrating.

                    • What’s to get grumpy about? The fact I made a joke about you not swearing? That’s not grump worthy. Was it because I called you polite? Again not something to get grumpy about. The fact that my mum is perfect (in her eyes) and doesn’t swear also shouldn’t be a grump worthy thing, well not to you, maybe to me because I know her.

                      I never suggested you did or even had to identify with where such a term came from I simply suggested that was where we learnt it from. Not really different to the widely held belief that Australians talk like Crocodile Dundee and ride kangaroos to school.

                    • I give up; you win…. whatever the hell that means.
                      Good night. Have a wonder weekend.

                    • hmmm honestly I don’t know what is going on with you but if you have to think the worst of me and everything I say then it makes having any sort of conversation difficult.

                      I’m fine with everything being my fault but sheesh let me know before you fire so that I can put my shield up.
                      Good night

  2. Okay … we’re going to back the duck up a minute…..
    Mate lesson #1
    Me: “Have you ever had an online chat with someone who didn’t speak English and you had to use a translation tool? It’s awkward…”
    You: “It sure is…. your American culture has some strange idioms.”
    Me: “. “Te sueño ; )”.
    You: “I dream of you too, and it’s called a nightmare. Goodnight my sweet American friend.”
    Me: “Buenas noches my sweet Australian Mate.”
    *
    The duckin’ end
    See how easy that was.

    • I’m a writer, I couldn’t put it in that few words if I tried!!

      And whether I dream of you or not I wouldn’t have said that because I was lazy and didn’t look up what Te sueño meant. That was my bad and I shall endeavour to do better next time!

      And all that sweet american friend stuff goes without saying. We’ve been bantering for 2 years (but it used to be easier) so I think it’s already established that I like you and therefore aren’t trying to offend you and all graciousness is delivered whether offered through words or not.

      Oh and the irony of using duck instead of fuck wasn’t lost on me. I consider that part of your charm.

      • I adore you. Hugz.

        • And I adore you and the way you do things when you aren’t grumping at me because I’ve done something wrong which I don’t know I’ve done. I’m happy to give you hugz too cause you are a nice person and I’m sure you’d sock me with a pillow sometimes…awe crap I’m not writing an essay.

          I adore you too Hugz.

          I’m always happy to talk to you and if it helps just type the word *wall* when I step out of your line and I’ll bash my head against the wall to pull myself back.

  3. I liked this chapter… and I like you too. Goodnight, mate.

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