True Blue #05 – “Back in the Saddle” (Part 5)

True Blue

Duncan stared out the window. Orange stretched from the horizon, interrupted only by shadows cast by the hills and ridges. Between them Wungurra sat as a cluster of roofs, so small yet so sparse.

Every mile dimmed the warmth of Les’s smile. “They couldn’t leave you rest,” the elder had lamented; “go on, save the world. I’ll be here.” Their embrace lingered, even from a distance.

By his side Little Rip slept, curled up on her back to feel the massage of engines. She kicked and whined with the turbulence, but fell back to sleep when it passed.

The hero gripped his seat. Skin against leather pulled with the tightness around his lungs. For every mile that scaled down his home the more he wound his shoulders and adjusted.

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True Blue #04 – “Back in the Saddle” (Part 4)

True Blue

The hinges creaked under the lazy swing of the door. The sergeant stepped inside with steps as heavy as his grimace. From his hand he dropped a file and let it slap the table. In his other hand was a styrofoam cup, contents still steaming, which he placed in front of the other man.

“Thought you might fancy a cuppa,” the cop muttered.

True Blue reached with hands cuffed and brought the contents to his lips. “Cheers,” he said. The old hero eased back in the loose fitting tee he’d been given; a temporary replacement for the shirt shredded by buckshot.

A younger officer sat to one side as the senior perused the file. His lips smacked as though he were tasting the words as he read them, until he stopped and lowered his glasses to the man across him.

“Couldn’t help yourself, could you, Dunc?”

True Blue chuckled. “I’m guessing this isn’t a formal interview, Col.”

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True Blue #03 – “Back in the Saddle” (Part 3)

True Blue

The four wheel drive pulled around the corner and into the cloud of vulgarity. In the middle of it was a man sat up against the building and clutching a wound on his leg. A number of passers by clamoured around in spite of the screams.

True Blue jumped from the passenger side and cut through the crowd. He knelt by the bloody mess and clasped his hand over the stranger’s to apply more pressure. The hero’s jaw clenched; it was not the time for anger.

“This man needs an ambulance,” he said. “What happened here?”

His gaze landed on a boy nearby whose face was white with shock.

“Th-there were some guys in a ute,” he stammered. “Probably drunk, throwing bottles, an’ swingin’ a cricket bat from the tray. O-old man here took a hit, was cut up pretty bad when he fell…”

The man on the ground, dressed in only thongs, stubbies and an open tropical shirt, roared in agony; he likely didn’t mean to drop four letter words on the nation’s former champion, but pain had blinded him to reason.

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True Blue #02 – “Back in the Saddle” (Part 2)

True Blue

Wungurra, Central Queensland

“Here, Rip!”

The old man leaned against the front post. A grey cattle dog came sprinting from the back shed and halted to a stop. She sat, looked up and panted with gaze fixed on the metal dish in her master’s hand.

“Come on, girl! Come get your tucker!”

Duncan set the dish on the planks and gave the dog a scratch on the back as she dived nose first into it. He smiled and shook his head; she was the same old pup she ever was, even though she’d outlived every one of her litter.

How old would she be now? Seven dog years to every human year made too many to count, not that it mattered. There was no better friend in the world and he wasn’t going to number her days this far down the track.

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True Blue #01 – “Back in the Saddle” (Part 1)

True Blue

The Indian Ocean
27.9 Nautical Miles off the coast of Port Hedland

Waves crashed against the hull, but could barely shift the weight of the HMAS Byron. The vessel, an Armidale class patrol ship commissioned by the Australian Naval Forces, thrust three hundred tons of steel through the tide, and cut through the water at a cruising speed of eighteen knots.

Officer Stanley Simpson lingered on the front deck and stared into the wilderness. Through his salt-coated gaze he could see only blue, but there was more out there; reports had come in of a raft, small as it was ambitious, casting life into the current and praying to whatever god that better fortune would wash back.

It wasn’t his first mission, far from it. Every few weeks there was another boat, and every time they would intercept and board only to find the traces of former humans, covered in filth, stinking and begging for clean water. Men, women, and often children, fleeing from homes torn by war and persecution, only to land in their hands.

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True Blue #0 – “End of an Era”

True Blue

TEN YEARS AGO

“Excuse me. I have a meeting with the Prime Minister.”

The guard blinked, and blinked again. Somewhere in his maw something coherent was forming, but would fall apart by the end of his tongue. Persistent blinking did not aid him in his duty, nor did it transform the Union Jack stretched over tan biceps into something his pay grade could manage.

“You’re,” he stammered; the rest didn’t come.

“True Blue,” the man smiled behind his beard. “Blue to my mates, or Duncan.”

There was a quality to him that few men possessed; one that could be read from a glance. Skin like leather spoke of experience tempered by the wisdom of his silver locks smoothed on the sides. His smile sparkled and overpowered the shadow of his brow; anyone who knew to look might have seen eyes once so full of hope on posters and billboards without their typical luster.

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