“What do you reckon that explosion was?” Matthew asked as we stood beside Nick’s cop truck looking in the direction of the fire.

The glow of the flames had died down quiet substantially in the time it had taken Matthew to take down the two men who were holding us captive in the long retired Gibb Airport Communications tower. Neither Nick or I knew where he had been when the blast echoed towards us but laying low and out of sight probably left him questioning as much as we were.

When neither Nick or I answered Matthew’s question immediately Growly man had a go. His tone was still angry and his answer was predictably littered with obscenities and profanities much of which made no sense at all. I think what he was actually trying to say was that it was his men firing a warning shot and that the three of us were going to be dead soon, but like I say with all those rude words in the sentence it was kind of hard to understand his point.

“It’s on the main track.” Nick said repeating for Matthew what he and I had briefly discussed just after it happened.

“Whatever it is it hasn’t gotten bigger, that to me indicates that someone is there containing it.” I said with some knowledgeable authority.

That knowledgeable authority wasn’t really anything more than common country sense. Fires happen in the outback, some of them ignite, burn and extinguish without human intervention for many different reasons, the land was dry and fire often ran quickly until it ran out of fuel to feed it.

Two reasons that I was able to make such a statement was because fires in the outback don’t often start with an explosion if people aren’t present and without people present and able to contain the fire they didn’t often die down after only twenty minutes, they get bigger.

Growly man uttered another expletive filled rant about it being his men who were going to fuck us and kills us, but maybe not in that order. He really was a charmer and I couldn’t help but wonder if under different circumstances whether we’d have been friends! The three of us ignored Growly man and continued with our discussion as if he wasn’t there.

“There is not much it can be out there.” Nick said.

“He’s right. There is nothing along that track until you get back to the highway. It’s got to be a car, or a gas tank, or something similar.” I added.

“Who’s going to be out there at this time of night?” Matthew asked.

Growly man’s obscenities aside it hadn’t escaped us that in part his words could have been right. He’d mentioned on more than a few occasions that they were waiting for his men to arrive to take his shipment of drugs from the plane. If it was his men stopped there they must have suffered some sort of breakdown or the like. The fact that there had been no communications between Growly man and his crew did seem odd, especially since Growly man had a two way radio hooked to his belt. It also seemed strange that in the hours that Growly man had been waiting no one had walked to the airport it couldn’t have been much more than ten kilometres. It was those strange things that had us wondering what the truth really was.

“Suppose it could be the boys from Fitzroy.” I said having a thought I guess I should have had earlier.

“They are coming?” Nick asked.

“Of course they are, I rang them immediately after getting your SOS.”

For the next few minutes we discussed what had happened after I received Nick’s message, how I knew where he was and what message I had gotten from the Constable at Fitzroy Crossing police station.

“And even after all our discussions over the years and being told to stay put by Sam,” the senior constable at Fitzroy Crossing, “you still came out here?”

Despite the way it sounded I guessed it wasn’t really a question given that he already knew the answer to it. There was also little reason for me to actually answer it, but I did.

“They were busy, the couldn’t get here before me. I made the call and I’m not ashamed I did.”

Maybe he was right about me not being there, maybe he wasn’t, but thankfully Nick decided that particular conversation was not worth pursuing given we were all standing there, all safe, the bad guys were contained and the police from Fitzroy Crossing still hadn’t arrived.

“Well that’s definitely the direction they’d be coming from if they were coming in from Fitzroy Crossing.” Nick said. “But it doesn’t explain the explosion.”

“They could have hit something.” Matthew added without much conviction, no doubt he too was wondering what they could have hit given what was along that track.

“Yeah, but what?” I asked wondering out aloud.

“Cars don’t just explode, well not outside of the movies.” Matthew said.

“Hit anything hard enough with fuel in and it can explode.” Nick said adding to Matthew’s comment.

“No one would be travelling that hard along there at this time of night, it’s too dangerous. Even under code 1,” code for lights and sirens on a police vehicle, “they wouldn’t be pushing it along there.”

“Awe thanks Dean, you are so kind suggesting they wouldn’t rush to rescue a fellow officer of the law.” Nick said.

I patted him on the shoulder and consoled him with. “Awe, you know that’s not what I meant!”

My comment might have been full of sarcasm but it prompted Growly man to once again throw his two bobs worth in. Oh do I have to explain that? As Mr. Google what “two bobs worth” is, he’ll tell you. Anyway Growly man’s speech was once again littered with rude words and made little sense but seemed to be something about dirty, rotten, pig, copper, prick, bastards.

With Nick consoled and Growly man ignored we stood in silence looking at the glow in the southern sky. We might have stood there for three, maybe even four minutes without speaking, we were probably all thinking about the same thing, or something similar, but we didn’t seem to have anything else to say on the matter.

Then at almost exactly the same time the three of us broke the silence with exactly the same words.

“What is that?”

It wasn’t exactly a fair question because I’m pretty sure all three of us knew exactly what it was.

In the distance, the same direction as the fire that seemed to be dying down, there was several flashes of light, the kind of light that belongs to a vehicle bouncing along a lumpy track.

Previous Outback Rescue story here.