When I finished my first book, I still had ideas swimming through my head about what might have happened in other parts of the town. This is one of the thought’s I had that never made it into the book. I didn’t want to condemn it to a life of obscurity in the forgotten files of my computer. So I’m putting it here. It might not be technically appropriate for people under fifteen.
The already hard soil, was baked hot before lunch that morning. The unusual heat wave had the seaside residents out in droves, hitting the shops for the promise of air-conditioned sales. Many more made a bee-line to the beach, eager to secure the best positions before the heat drove the rest out to the cool water.
Sandra had finally managed to coax her family out to the car later then she had hoped. They were sure to hit the crowds headed home after their morning shopping expeditions now.
Weighted down with their beach paraphernalia and a picnic basket, she was quite proud that she had managed to keep the peace as long as she had. Already tempers had begun to fray, and she had made sure to sneak a bottle of wine into the basket as her own beachside reward for dealing with three children under 12 in the scorching heat.
Her husband, Charlie, carried their youngest daughter Mia out of the house. Securing her into the seat, he moved aside just as Steven and Michael barrelled around him to claim their own seats.
Boxing day at the beach had become a family tradition. Even on the cooler days, there was always something to do. It had gotten to the point where she looked forward to this more then the day preceding it. Without the stress of family commitments and presents, they could relax and let the kids run off the sugar overload from Christmas.
The streets were as crowded as she had imagined. Sarah frowned. If they had left when she had wanted to, they would be there by now. Already she could see heavy streams of cars from the direction of Geelong as the townies escaped to the sea. She glanced across to the car beside her, a small smile dancing across her lips as she took in the quiet kids in the back seat. That was an accomplishment to be proud of. Her eyes flicked to the woman in the front seat. The brunet was pale, her eyes wide and locked on the car in front of them. Sandra glanced at the four-wheel drive in front, unable to see anything that would call for that sort of reaction. She looked back at the car, confused. The woman seemed to be driving on reflex, her fingers wrapped tightly around the wheel, her red shirt dripping slowly. Sarah frowned again at the viscous liquid -was that blood?
Sarah’s mouth dropped open and she spun to look at Charlie, she could feel the car slow slightly. He wasn’t looking at her though. His attention was drawn to the side of the road in front of them where she could see three cars had collided. Someone was reaching into the passenger seat, no doubt to help. There were no police or ambulances to be seen, had it just happened? Was it not as bad as it seemed? The driver who had stooped to help the passenger straightened from his position, something in his hand. As the car drew up closer Charlie grabbed her arm.
“Distract the kids.” He hissed “Don’t let them see this.” She gasped as the driver pulled whatever was in his hand up to his mouth.
She turned in her seat and pasted on a thick smile that felt like plaster smothered on her skin, she just prayed it didn’t crack.
“Lets sing a song!” Her voice was high and strained, Michael, her 11 year old looked at her sourly.
“Baa Baa!” Seven-year-old Steven however, was easily distracted by the promise of his favourite song. Michael’s pout deepened but he dutifully sung along, Mia’s tuneless hoots attempting to drown them all out.
Sandra glanced out the window beside her infant daughter as the first car she had seen slowed to a crawl. The woman looked worse now, her head was starting to sink towards her chest, her skin almost yellow through the tinted window. Sandra sung louder as if that would keep her children safe and distracted in their own little world, not outside where it seemed to all be going wrong. Turned in her chair, she could see the driver stoop into the wrecked car again. From this angle, she could see his left arm was missing; the close side of his shirt was drenched in blood. She sucked in a sobbing gasp but kept singing.
“One for the master…”
The car beside them swerved into their lane, barely missing their rear, and running the car behind them off the road completely. Michael turned at the noise.
“Michael! Sing!” Steven insisted. The woman started to thrash in her seat, fighting the restraint of the seat belt to get at the now screaming children in the backseat behind her.
“One for the dame..”
The woman broke free of the belt and she grabbed at the child closest to her, a boy no older then Mia. Sandra let the kids finish the song, she felt sick.
“Charlie, what’s happening?” Her voice was a cracked whisper.
“Sarah! Look! Oh thank God, The authorities are here.” His own voice was less then steady as he pointed out the flashing lights and military style vehicles ahead.
They slowed to a crawl and then stopped as the traffic banked up before them. She could see people standing on top of their cars, some looking scared, some screaming at the blockade.
“Why aren’t they letting us through?”
“Daddy, are we going to see the army men?” Steven leant forward, his head bumping her arm.
“We’ll see mate.” He muttered back.
A man jogged past their car, running toward the blockade, a woman ran behind him clutching at her side, her handbag smacking her car door as they passed. Sandra cracked a window open, the hot blast of air cutting through the air-conditioning. Mia started to whimper.
“Help me please!” The man screamed, reaching back to grab the woman’s arm. “My wife’s been hurt!” Ahead, Sandra could see movement on the top of the trucks. The crowd between the cars had swollen, the fringes reaching as far back as the car in front of them. A young man in fatigues tried to call order to the panicked crowd. Still the man pushed through the crowds, still calling for help.
“Is that a gun?” Sandra asked. The fatigue-clad man had levelled his arm in their direction, still calling for the man to halt as he reached the front lines of the crowd and made no signs of stopping. Suddenly the woman stumbled, her handbag knocking a nearby pedestrian down with her. Sandra lost sight of them in the crowd, only hearing screaming; then the gunshot.
The crowd panicked.
A swarm of people rushed towards them, Sandra put the window up again watching the sea of frightened faces as they swept around them. Sandra could see glimpses of the young woman, lying prone on top of another woman, her face buried in her neck. The man on the truck fired twice, she jerked, and fell still.
Sandra’s door was wrenched open and a large man started grabbing at her belt.
“NO! Out! Get out!” She cried frantically, pushing at him. She could hear Mia screaming behind her. Steven and Michael trying desperately to calm her down.
“You get out bitch.” He snarled yanking at her belt again. Charlie leapt out of the car and ran around the front, wrenching him from the door. The stranger drove a fist into her husband’s face, dropping him to the ground. Sandra yanked the door shut.
“Charlie, get in the car!” She screamed. A few stragglers from the crowd were walking towards them; they had not been left untouched by the violence. All had blood staining their clothes, some more then others. They walked slowly; almost a drunk shamble as they made their way towards them, fingers brushing up against idle cars. A bald man in a gaudy Christmas shirt reached towards Charlie, pulling him off the thug who had tried to carjack them. He pulled him up towards him and sunk his teeth deep into his neck. The spray of blood coated the window. Sandra shrieked, and threw herself back on the seat, Mia was crying loudly now, Steven’s cries joining hers.
“DAD!” Michael flung his door open and ran around to his father.
“Michael! NO!” Sandra screamed, reaching back to slam the door shut and diving out the door herself just in time to see Michaels belly ripped open by the same thing that had killed Charlie. Sandra ripped him from the clawed fingers, almost blinded by the tears that had started spilling, her son lifeless in her arms. Blinded by grief and shock She didn’t register the bloody fingers that slipped around her jaw until it was too late. She fixed Mia and Steven in her gaze, whispering for them alone.
“…one for the little boy who lives down the lane.”