Authors: Ian W Taylor
Tags: #suspense, #terrorism, #political thriller, #action and adventure
IAN W TAYLOR
COPYRIGHT © IAN TAYLOR 2015
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This book remains the copyrighted property of the
author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or
non-commercial purposes. No part of this book may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means without the express written
permission from the author.
This novel is a work of fiction. The names,
characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the
author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead, is purely coincidental.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
SATURDAY - DALY WATERS
Jake Stafford flew into Darwin airport from Tokyo by
Qantas jet early on Saturday morning, stepped out of the plane onto
the tarmac, breathing in the warm tropical air of Australia’s
Northern Territory, grateful to have left the cloudy, polluted
skies and hustle of Tokyo. It was October in the dry season, warm
but a pleasant time to visit the “Top End” of Australia. Soon
tropical rainstorms would sweep across the north, making many of
the roads into the outback impassable.
Jake picked up his luggage off the carousel
and hired a Toyota Land Cruiser station wagon from Hertz at the
airport. Leaving the airport he drove through Darwin, once a small
laid-back frontier town, but now a modern and cosmopolitan city.
Most of the original buildings and houses had been destroyed in the
devastation caused by Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Eve in 1974. The
city had been rebuilt and was now prosperous and vibrant,
attracting large numbers of tourists who enjoyed its relaxed vibe
and proximity to national parks of stark beauty.
Jake turned the car south along the Stuart
Highway which runs all the way to Adelaide, just over 3,000
kilometres on the southern coast of Australia. His destination was
the town of Daly Waters, about 600 kilometres from Darwin down the
highway. The road was arrow straight, and soon after leaving the
outskirts of Darwin, it was flanked by the red desert of the
Australian outback. Rocky outcrops and termite mounds, some as tall
as a man, interspersed the sparse landscape. The traffic was
moderate, mainly frequented by trucks and B-Double trailers and
four wheel drives, many towing caravans. After a short stop for a
coffee break at the major town of Katherine he reached the turn-off
to Daly Waters, seven hours after leaving Darwin. He followed the
narrow bitumen road through desert for another three kilometres
before he came to the outskirts of the town.
The sun was the colour of burnt orange as it
rapidly fell below the horizon and long shadows splayed across the
red dirt as Jake entered the town. A few tired timber houses sagged
under the dying sun. Some skinny aboriginal kids ran around in bare
feet playing football. A group of aboriginal men sat under the
shade of a huge eucalypt tree, sipping cans of beer. The centre of
the town comprised a hotel, a camping ground, a road-house, a
bakery, a general store, some souvenir shops and about twenty
houses. All the buildings were made of timber with iron roofs, most
in a state of disrepair. An open-air shop was distinguished by an
old helicopter sitting on its corrugated iron roof surrounded by
rusty sculptures of an emu, a kangaroo and a crocodile. Apart from
the main bitumen road into town all the streets were made of red
dirt causing plumes of dust to rise whenever a vehicle took to the
streets. Chickens squabbled in the dirt oblivious to any traffic
while an old blue heeler dog sat lazily watching them under the
shade of the veranda.
Despite the ramshackle state of the town, it
was busy with tourists, young backpackers from all parts of
Australia and Europe, the “grey nomads” -retirees with their
expensive four wheel drive vehicles and luxury caravans -and
families with their tents, trailers and camper vans.
The attraction of Daly Waters was twofold.
It was the only town within a 100 kilometres that had a petrol
station and that brought a lot of motorists to the town. More
importantly, it was famous for its local hotel, the Daly Waters Pub
which had become an icon of the outback.
Saturday afternoons were always busy at the
pub and this Saturday was no exception. The pub was packed with
townspeople, local miners and farmers and tourists who had come to
experience a legendary outback hotel. Jake pulled into the car
park, locked the Toyota and walked into the hotel. He had never
seen anything like it. It was a large square one storey building
made from timber with a sagging corrugated iron roof. Over the
years extensions had been built on to it which made it look even
more dilapidated. It was first built in 1893 as a watering hole to
service the stock route that ran between Queensland and Western
Australian, subsequently as a staging post for the Pony Express
which followed the telegraph line between Daly Waters and Tennant
Creek, 200 kilometres to the south. In the 1920’s an airport was
built just outside the town as a stop-over for international
flights to London from Melbourne and Sydney. The airport was used
as a base for the Australian and American air forces during World
The pub had survived threats from bushfires
and storms, locust plagues as well as the ravages of exuberant
patrons who, in moments of intoxication, had done their best to
destroy the place by fighting each other. It had three separate
bars, a huge beer garden out the back for diners and entertainment,
a large kitchen, ten hotel rooms with shared bathroom facilities,
and some dormitory style rooms for back-packers. Each of the bars
was decorated in a unique way with the help of regular patrons and
visitors. The main bar had a huge assortment of T-shirts, hats and
caps and brassieres draping one wall, another wall had shelves of
empty beer bottles and cans, while yet another was covered with
business cards, banknotes, stickers and postcards - souvenirs left
behind by visitors from all corners of the world. The sports bar
offered every kind of sporting memorabilia from signed football
jumpers to cricket bats. There was even a pencil drawing of Slim
Dusty, signed personally by the legendary Australian country
The main room was crowded as Jake edged up
to the bar. The bar was lined with tough looking locals who looked
like they had been drinking for most of the afternoon, one of which
gave him a hard stare when he pushed past him to the bar. There
were two attractive young women and an older guy tending the bar;
the women were obviously on tourist visas working their way around
Australia, one was Japanese and the other had a strong Irish
accent. Jake asked the Japanese woman for a beer, ordering in
She looked surprised at hearing her own
language spoken and smiled at him as she poured him a beer out of
She replied in Japanese “How come you speak
Japanese so well?”
Jake replied “I was in a student exchange
program and stayed with a Japanese family for a year when I was at
secondary school. I also work for the Australian Embassy in
“Oh, and what are you doing here?” said the
Japanese woman, her eyes shining brightly.
“I’m catching up with family before going to
a conference at Kakadu,” replied Jake as he reached for his
“Oh, you mean the Australian Japan
conference at the Yellow Water resort?”
“Yes, how did you know that?” said Jake,
surprise in his voice.
She was about to answer when Jake felt a
sharp push in his ribs and a slurred voice in his ear saying “Hey,
city boy, can you stop chatting up the Jap bird and let a man get a
Jake turned around to see a large red face
about three inches from his own belonging to a very big man with
hands the size of shovels.
“Are you talking to me?” Jake said.
“Yeah I am, city boy. Move out of the way so
a man can get a drink.” He elbowed Jack aside and pushed his big
belly up to the bar. Jack turned to the Japanese girl, calmly paid
for his beer and said in Japanese “Thanks, you better serve this
stupid gaijin before he breaks the bar down.” She giggled shyly at
“What did you say to the slant-eye?”
“I said you’re so full of it you wouldn’t
know if you were drinking dingo piss.”
The other locals round the bar turned to
look at the newcomer.
“You smart arse, get going or I’m gonna
spread you all over the pub floor,” and with that red-face pushed
him backward. Jake stumbled and grabbed red-face’s shirt in the
process spilling his beer all over his jeans.
“You cheeky bastard, yer gonna pay for
that,” growled red-face and promptly punched Jake in the face,
knocking him flying into a bar stool which he hit full force with
his hip before collapsing on the ground.
“Good onya Blakey, that’s teaching him to
have a bit of respect,” said one of his mates called Spinner at the
bar, urging him on.
Jake lay on the floor holding his chin which
was hurting badly and looked up at the ugly face in front of
“Had enough city boy?” sneered Blakey
leaning over him.
“Yeah, help me up will you?” said Jake,
sitting up and holding his hand out to clutch his shirt.
In a flash, Jake pulled Blakey to him,
planted his right foot into Blakey’s upper left thigh and rolling
backwards lifted him bodily over his head so that he went flying
over, smashing his head on the side of the billiard table. There
was stunned silence in the bar as Blakey lay crumpled on the floor.
Jake was just getting up when two of Blakey’s mates rushed at him.
He managed to break a punch from the one called Skinner with his
forearm, locked his arm and applied a full shoulder throw to swing
him across his body so that Skinner’s momentum carried him into a
table and chairs where he also fell in a heap. However Jake didn’t
see the roundhouse punch coming from the other lout which slammed
just above his ear and he collapsed onto the floor in agony. Barely
conscious, he looked up to see a huge boot coming at his head and
thought this was it, he was about to die. Just then he heard a
whizzing noise, a loud “Thwackkkk!” and the big guy slowly sank to
his knees and fell head first onto the wooden floor.
Dazed, Jake looked up to see a familiar face
hovering over him.
“Hi son, are you O.K.?”
He looked up in shock to see his father,
Bill Stafford, one hand extended to help him up, the other holding
a billiard cue. Jake gratefully took the hand and peered into his
“Dad, am I pleased to see you.”
He looked warily around the room to see
Blakey and his mates struggling out the door, yelling a parting
“We’ll get you bastards later.”
“Yeah, well you better bring a few more
mates next time, you spineless no-hopers” shot back his father as
he sat Jake on a chair. Now the excitement had passed, the patrons
wasted no time in turning back to serious drinking.