Read The Amber Trail Online

Authors: M. J. Kelly

Tags: #adventure, #mystery, #australian, #india adventure, #india action thriller, #travel adventure fiction, #mystery action adventure, #thriller action and adventure, #adventure danger intrigue

The Amber Trail

BOOK: The Amber Trail
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THE

AMBER TRAIL

 

M. J. KELLY

Copyright © 2015 M. J.
Kelly

First Digital Edition.
2015.

All rights
reserved.

No part of this
publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission
of the copyright owner.

 

All the characters in this
book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living
or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

Cover Artist: Derek
Murphy

 

ISBN: 0994326912

ISBN-13:
978-0-9943269-1-1

 

mjkellybooks.com

CONTENTS

Chapter
1

Chapter
2

Chapter
3

Chapter
4

Chapter
5

Chapter
6

Chapter
7

Chapter
8

Chapter
9

Chapter
10

Chapter
11

Chapter
12

Chapter
13

Chapter
14

Chapter
15

Chapter
16

Chapter
17

Chapter
18

Chapter
19

About The
Author

1

THE HARDEST
MOMENTS IN A PERSON’S
life don’t come with a warning.
They don’t give you time to prepare, to psyche
yourself up, to make sure you get enough sleep the night before.
They sneak up unannounced and give you a cold, hard slap in the
face that can change your outlook on life in an
instant.

Dig Buckley certainly went into
the hardest moment of his life unprepared. In fact, with it rapidly
approaching, he was already breathing hard and cultivating wide
crescents of sweat under his armpits as he worked at shifting forty
cases of beer into the back of a boxy white truck.

The morning was hot, the type
that punished any attempt at physical exercise. Dig crossed a white
gravel driveway between two buildings, an aged suburban house of
red-brick on one side, and a tall warehouse of new aluminium on the
other. Its shiny panelling reflected the sunlight directly into
Dig’s eyes.

Inside the warehouse, he squatted
beside a pallet stacked knee high with pale orange cases of beer.
He gripped two cases and lifted, then trudged them slowly across
the drive as gravel crunched under his feet.


Hey,
Dig.”

Dig paused momentarily, then
continued on. When he reached the truck, he slung the cases into
the back tray with a thud.


Hey Dimwit, you
listening?”

Dig turned to face his older
brother Jake.


You have to go help
Dad.” Jake's eyes were bloodshot, and his dress shirt
creased.

Dig pushed past his brother and
hoisted two more cases of beer to his chest. “I thought you were
helping him today.”


Nope. Important
sales meeting at the casino. Wilson himself called me up...says
he’s thinking of serving our beer. I’m meeting him for lunch
today.”


Can’t you see I’m
busy at the moment? In fact, would you mind helping me load a few
of these?”


Why don’t you use
the forklift?”


It broke
down.”

Jake glanced at the pallet and
shrugged. “Already told you bro. Important meeting. Someone’s got
to find customers for all this stock. Can’t keep Wilson waiting.”
He leaned inside the truck and ripped the cardboard away from one
of the cases.


Hey! Leave
it.”

Jake lifted two six-packs, one in
each hand. “Better take some samples too. Important contract this
one.”


Screw
you.”


No thanks.” Jake
walked up the driveway toward a bank of cars near the road. “I’m
taking the work car,” he shouted as the park lights flashed on a
blue sedan. “And don’t forget Dad. He’s waiting for you out
back.”

Dig shook his head. He reached
into the truck to retrieve the half-empty case, and moved it to a
shelf inside the building. Footsteps then returned from the
drive.


Need to find
my...sales folder,” Jake said.


It’s in the
boot.”


My
folder?”


No, your squash
racquet. I saw it there last night.”

Jake opened his mouth, then
closed it again. He gave a sarcastic smile and dropped his head as
he trudged stiffly back up the driveway.


And also,” Dig
shouted. “Wilson was on the news this morning, on a boat in
Portugal. So I don’t reckon he’s turning up to your important
meeting.”

Jake raised his arm through the
car window, his middle finger extended. The engine roared to life
and the car reversed out to the road.

 

Dig watched him leave, then wiped
the sweat from his forehead with the shoulder of his T-shirt. He
turned and walked down to the rear of the red brick house via a
patch of faded grass, flapping the base of his shirt with two
hands, trying to work up some breeze on his sweaty
midriff.

Behind the house, the grass
stretched out to create a modest backyard. A rusted Hills Hoist
washing line stood lopsided in one corner. A barbeque sat in the
other, covered in cobwebs. On the far edge of the grass, a rocky
drop fell to a forest of gum trees and wirey shrubs, marking the
edge of the property and the start of public bushland.

His father stood on the grass,
positioning a ladder against the gutter of the house. He wore a
faded pair of blue football shorts. A pale singlet tan was etched
around the grey hairs on his chest and a tool belt hung from his
waist.


You going to help
me, or come up with a fake excuse like your brother?”


Depends if I can
think one up in time,” Dig said, smiling. “Might cost you
though.”


Really? Well that’s
fine. You can take it out of the rent this week...oh hang on, you
don’t actually
pay
rent.” He raised an eyebrow. “In that
case, I’ll give you some imaginary money, and you can give it back
to me as imaginary rent.”

Dig laughed. Since his
twenty-first birthday, the hints from his parents that it was time
to move out were becoming increasingly less subtle. “Okay, maybe
this one’s on the house.”


It’ll be on the
house all right.” His father passed him a pair of gloves. “The
ladder’s already set up.”

They spent the morning replacing
roof tiles, and as they slotted the final piece into place, Dig’s
father nodded and surveyed their work. “There. No more water
drippin’ on my head while I watch the footy.”


How are my hard
working boys going?” Dig’s mother shouted from below. She stood in
the front drive, wearing a floral dress; her hair was up in a bun.
“You want something to drink?”


Nah. We’ll grab
something when we get down.”


He working you hard
Dig?”


Slave
driver.”

She smiled and held a hand up to
shield the sun. “I’m going to pick up something for
lunch.”


Great.

His mother fumbled through her
purse to find her car keys, and waved again as she backed out the
drive.

Dig sat on the crest of the roof
to catch his breath. A light breeze blew through his hair and a
lawnmower whirred from a neighbour’s yard. From this vantage point,
they had a 360 degree view. Beside them was the imposing shape of
the new warehouse, freshly built on the other side of the drive. A
sign hung from the building, facing the street.

 

BUCKLEY’S BREWERY

Home of Australia’s Favourite
Pale Ale

BUCKLEY’S CHANCE

 


Looks good, huh?”
Dig said. “The new building.”


Yep.”


You ever think you’d
build your own brewery next door?”


Nope, happened
pretty quickly.”

They gazed out over the treeline
to the expanse of bush beyond. The cicadas had started up in a
buzzing wall of noise.


Man I love the view
up here,” his dad said, smiling. Crow’s feet bunched in the corners
of his brown eyes; his mess of dark hair waved in the
breeze.

Dig nodded. “It’s
awesome.”


You know, sometimes
I think about building a platform up here and sticking a couple of
beanbags on it in the evenings. We could watch the sun go down with
some of the stock.”


I like
it.”

His father pointed to a small
clearing in the trees. A glint of water shimmered behind the
branches. “Waterhole’s looking good.”

Dig lifted his head, straining
for a better look. “Perfect day for a swim.”


Wanna head down
there?”


Now?”

His father shrugged. “Just a
quick dip before lunch.”


Sure.”

They descended from the roof and
headed inside. Dig changed his clothes and walked out to the back
deck, where his father was waiting in swimmers, holding two bottles
of beer. The labels read
Buckley’s Chance
. “Quality
control,” he said, grinning.

They followed a winding dirt
track down into the bush until it reached the edge of the creek,
where it turned right and ran parallel to the sandy bank. After
fifteen minutes the path turned the last corner to reveal their
destination.

The waterhole was a clear
expanse, around the size of a tennis court, and framed by pale,
knobbly gum trees with bark peeling from their trunks. The creek
cascaded into the pool, sending ripples across the surface that
reflected the sunlight, inviting them to jump in. Hidden frogs
called out from the reeds.

Dig’s father stepped down to a
flat section of rock on the water’s edge and placed the two beers
beside the pool. “Yee ha!” He launched himself at the water,
executing a haphazard bomb that sent a plume of liquid into the
air.

Dig was close behind him, diving
in; the cool water bit refreshingly at his skin. He returned to the
surface with the familiar earthy taste of the creek water on his
lips. It reminded him of his childhood.


Great day huh?” His
father was treading water with wet hair stuck flat on the side of
his head.


Awesome.”

His father swam a few strokes and
lifted himself to sit on the rock platform at the edge of the pool,
his legs dangling. Dig followed, and sat beside him. The trickling
of the waterfall filled the air.


Would sir care for
some refreshment?” His father held out one of the
bottles.


Certainly, my good
man.”

They clinked the necks together
before taking a couple of long drafts.


You kids were always
good swimmers.”

Dig held up his left foot. Two of
the middle toes were webbed together with skin—a minor condition
that he had lived with since birth. “Well it’s easier to swim when
we inherit deformities like this.”

His father held up his own foot,
where the same two toes were webbed together. “Deformity’s the
wrong word...I call it a genetic advancement.”

Dig shook his head and took
another mouthful. Silhouettes of the trees reflected on the water
surface.

His father abruptly lurched his
head forward, gagging the contents of his mouth onto the rock
between his legs. The bottle slipped from his grasp and shattered
on the platform with a pop, scattering glass fragments into the
water.

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