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What Dreams May Come (Part One)

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Title: What Dreams May Come

Category: Short/Medium Fic

Genre: Drama/some humour

Main Characters: Kane/Sutherlands

Rating: T

Summary: Kane and Sutherland girls when they were children

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I haven’t abandoned Sally Called, it’s just I’m very stressed about lots of changes in work so I’m finding it difficult to concentrate. I wrote this fic a couple of years ago. Hope you enjoy reading. :D

Chapter 1

Captain Kane Phillips leaned against the ship's rail, enjoying the the salty taste of the fresh sea wind and the sea spray falling on his face like light summer rain. He frowned as the ship lurched slightly left. Good navigation should feel make it feel like the ship was flying. Able Seaman Byrne was going wrong somewhere and he'd have to check it out. Still, Tommy Byrne was a good bloke and...

"Good evening, Captain Phillips!"

Uh-oh! Kane knew the voices even before he turned. Gemma Simpson. Gemma Simpson and her pushy Mum. Both of them worth megabucks from some inheritance or other.

"Evening, ma'am!" He touched his cap twice, ever mindful of being polite to the passengers.

"So we'll be dining with the captain tonight?"

"Of course, ma'am. It will be my pleasure." He faked a smile, used to dealing with passengers like Gemma Simpson and her Mum. "The chef has prepared a wonderful course of eggs, fries and beans and..."

"Tane! Tane! TAAANE!"

Jamie's little face was a picture of excitement and Suzy Palmer had difficulty keeping up with her small son as he gripped her hand, pulling her towards his hero. But she didn't mind too much. They'd knew Kane from when they'd holidayed before at the Summer Bay caravan park, and he seemed a nice kid.

"G'day, mate!" Kane swung Jamie round, both of them losing their balance and falling back into the soft white sand, which made Jamie roll about laughing. "G'day, Mrs Palmer!"

"Hi, Kane." Suzy didn't bother to correct him it was still Miss Palmer and she preferred Suzy as she flopped down on the beach without a thought about the sand staining her clothes. Being Mum of a two-year-old, she was used to getting dirty. "So we're both on our holidays the same time again, huh?"

"Yeh." He gave a strange look, she thought. But maybe that was because of the question on his mind. "Do you know what do they have for dinner on cruise ships?"

"Cruise ships?" Suzy tickled Jamie, making him laugh even more. "Wow! Your folks saving up for a cruise ship holiday then? Um...from what I've heard, you kind of eat all day long on a cruise ship. There's everything from salads and fresh fruit to roast dinners and apple pie."

"No eggs, fries and beans?"

Suzy laughed. "Maybe. Couldn't say. I don't think it's what people ask for much! But don't you go knocking back a cruise ship holiday and upsetting the olds just because of that. From what you've told me about them, your Mum and Dad adore you and your little brothers."

"Yeh. Yeh, they do. We took Luke and Jordan to the pool before and I was teaching 'em how to swim and Mum said I could have eggs, fries and beans for tea tonight just 'cos it's my favourite."

"Cool!" Suzy said, smiling back.

He was a funny kid at times. Always staring out to sea dreaming about ships, always talking about how great his family was and how his kid brothers loved to copy what Kane did. She'd yet to meet his wonderful family though. She guessed his Mum and Dad thought him far too young to be looking after two even younger kids, which was why they didn't mind whenever he wandered off to Suzy.

He was one lucky kid, having such a great family, his folks planning a cruise holiday for them all, but he just didn't seem to know it There was still a faraway look on his face as he watched Suzy and Jamie having a pretend fight before he finally shook himself out of the dream and grinned broadly.

"C'mon, mate, race you to the flag!"

Jamie was up like a shot, his plump little legs speeding over the sand, blissfully unaware that Kane was letting him win. Suzy smiled at them as she basked in the warm sun. It was a beautiful day and Summer Bay was a beautiful place.

No one in Summer Bay could possibly have a care in the world.


There was a steady splish-splash as Kirsty Sutherland swam smoothly through the pool. She was way, way ahead of the other competitors and she was barely out of breath. It was funny. No matter how many times she swam, she never lost the thrill of floating weightlessly through water. It was almost like flying.

The loudspeaker crackled into action. "World champion swimmer Kirsty Sutherland, ladies and gentlemen, Jade and Dani, and Kirsty's Mum and Dad, is heading for her third gold medal...”

Kirsty popped the last of the chocolate in her mouth, screwed up the paper, tossed it to the bin, missed, didn't care, and lay back on the bed, returning to the dream...

"...Kirsty Sutherland has won! Listen to that crowd! Listen, listen!"

"Listen, Kirsty!" Dani sighed for the third time."Don't eat when you're lying down. You might choke."

Dani had clicked on the Care Bears lamp that separated the twins' beds and Kirsty blinked in its sudden light. It wasn't like five-year-old Kirsty to half-doze, but she was bored, grounded by the heavy rain, and tired of watching Dani and Jade play doing each other's hair. Large raindrops were hitting the window in a steady splish-splash and outside already looked like night though the evening didn't usually go so dark until much later.

"Jade said this was from Ben Smith." Dani had picked up the screwed-up paper, ready to throw it pointedly into the bin until Jade had whispered Ben Smith had wrapped the bar of chocolate in it. Dani had been hearing a lot about Ben Smith lately and how he was keen on Kirsty. Admittedly, all the information had come from Jade, and none from Kirsty, but Dani loved matchmaking.

"Yeh. So what?"

"Omigod, Kirst, have you read it?" Dani smoothed the creased, chocolate smeared paper some more, sharing a look with Jade, who looked all knowing.

Kirsty glanced briefly at the large, clumsy, rainbow-coloured letters.

"Go oot witt me Ben" she read aloud, and shrugged. "Yeh. So what?" she said again.

Why was everyone making a big deal of Ben's words? When she'd first unwrapped the square parcel left on her desk she'd been aware that Ben was watching closely. She hadn't a clue what the message meant, but Ben was from England and Kirsty was still in the middle of teaching him proper words like bonzer, dill and g'day. Thanks to Mum, Dad and Dani always reading with them, the twins were far ahead of the rest of their class at reading and writing and the message was nonsense to both. But Jade seemed to understand things about boys that were a complete mystery to Kirsty.

Her twin hadn't been able to stop giggling when Kirsty unwrapped the chocolate, gave Jade a piece, took some herself, and smiled at Ben, which seemed to make him happy. Then, when she'd got home from school, Mum and Dad had looked amused too when they saw the note.

"Is this kid German or Scottish, Kirst?" Dad had grinned and then he and Mum both fell about laughing.

Of course she'd asked Jade what was so funny, but Jade had only giggled again and said she couldn't wait to tell Dani.

"He wants to be your boyfriend!" Dani said breathlessly. "It's sooo cute, giving you chockie and everything. What did you tell him?"

"She smiled at him," Jade said.

"Good enough," Dani said approvingly. "Oh, Kirst, you got a boyfriend!"

"Urrggh, no way! I'm no geek!" Kirsty put her fingers to her throat to indicate her feelings.

"But you told him yes! You smiled at him and ate the chockie," Dani said. "So now you're his girlfriend."

"I am NOT!" Kirsty scowled, jumped off the bed and stomped downstairs.

Jade and Dani got all girly and giggly about boys, but Kirsty had better things to do. Why did Ben Smith have to spoil everything? She liked him as a mate.

If she ever fell in love like in fairytales, it would be with a boy who never, ever expected her to sit round being girly and giggly. It would be with a boy who would want to run with her faster than anyone had ever run before, climb with her higher than anyone had ever climbed before, who believed they could touch the moon and the stars. Not Ben Smith nor Dale Armstrong (her best mate, who, Dani insisted, would really like Kirsty to be his girlfriend) nor any other boy she knew.

She thudded angrily on the bottom stair at the same time as thunder rolled overhead, lightning flickered, and the house plunged into darkness.


It was evening and hours since Suzy Palmer and Jamie had returned to their caravan when Kane finally pushed open the creaking wrought iron gate. But he'd been roaming down on the wharf because he only ever went home when it was too dark to stay out any longer. Sometimes he almost convinced himself that the make-believe family, especially Luke and Jordan, actually existed. But when he got home he couldn't pretend anymore.

He didn't have any younger brothers. He had just one brother, Scott, who was older and who was always thinking up ways he would kill him. And he still didn't know how you got your Mum and Dad to like you.

Maybe you had to be cute like Jamie. Jamie's Mum played games with him, bought him lollies, fussed over him if he fell over. Or maybe you had to be smart. He knew kids who were heaps smart whose olds seemed real proud of them when they picked them up from school. Or maybe you always had to be real good so they never got mad at you and instead took you to the movies and bought you toys.

It was obviously his fault they didn't like him, but he tried real hard to be good, never crying, no matter how much he wanted to, when he got bashed. And he must have been cute too when he was Jamie's age. And he sometimes got gold stars in school, but when he told them they only said stuff like stop jabbering or he'd get a thick lip. He couldn't figure it. Maybe he was just plain unlikeable.

The front door was half open. Kane crept warily indoors, automatically hunching his shoulders. Dad was talking on the phone.

"We got spirits alright. In the room at the top of the stairs." As he spoke, Richie Phillips glanced up at the door that still had an "I" shaped crack in its frame from the time he'd drunkenly smashed his fist against it.

Oh, Jeez, Jeez, Jeez, Dad had found out then! Only Kane had known before.

That the room was haunted.

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And by the way, ILM, how old are you?

Ancient. :( 32. :blink::)

***CHAPTER 2***

Kane had had the same going-to-bed routine for the last two weeks. Ever since he'd first decided to make the boxroom his bedroom after Scotty threatened to kill him while he was asleep.

He would cautiously open the boxroom door and press down the round brown light switch. The ghosts were never there, to begin with, but, the very moment the light went back off, some twenty shadows of varying shapes and sizes appeared, and must have flitted off, no doubt to do their nightly haunting while he slept, because they were always gone when he opened his eyes to the red morning sunlight filtering in through the tiny window.

He and the ghosts had an understanding. He didn't bother them and they wouldn't bother him, and they all co-existed, fairly happily, in the little room where Kane slept on the old **sofa bed that had been dumped there the day the Phillips family moved in, wrapping an old curtain round himself because Mum had objected to him dragging the duvet from his own bed across the boxroom's thick dust and half-used tins of paint. The ghosts didn't even seem to mind that he coughed heaps every night.

The boxroom's only furniture apart from the sofa bed was an old-fashioned, badly scraped wooden dresser that had been left by previous tenants, but he loved every inch of the room, from the damp patch on the ceiling to its worn, frayed carpet and peeling, yellowing wallpaper. Behind the dresser someone had scrawled "JD 1966" on the wallpaper and, picturing the delight of some future archaeologist when he stumbled on the amazing find, Kane had written his own name, the date, and, as an afterthought, added 'sunny v.hot'. Two weeks' worth of dated, signed weather reports followed, fortunately all hidden by the dresser, because he was dead if Mum or Dad ever found out. And he was dead now if Dad realised Kane already knew about the spirits in the boxroom.

"You got a problem, drongo?" Richie Phillips drawled as he put the receiver back in its cradle.

His small son shook his head emphatically, ready to run if Dad's fist swung his way.

"Then get outta my ******* sight!"

Kane didn't need telling twice. He backed off to the sanctuary of the boxroom, pretty certain the ghosts wouldn't be happy that Dad knew about them. And there was something else he was damn sure the spirits wouldn't like. While he'd been out playing on the beach the little room had been filled with crates of booze.


The white card caught Suzy Palmer's attention because, hanging precariously on to its life by a single drawing pin, it fluttered on the little notice board as she opened the door. Normally Suzy only skimmed through the adverts that were posted in the doorway of the house that served as the caravan site's reception office unless she spotted the magic word "free". She would love to take Jamie on glass-bottomed boats to view the marine life and to theme parks and suchlike, but as a single Mum she was forever struggling with money and wouldn't have managed at all without her Mum and Dad's generosity.

"It's a real bargain, isn't it?" the girl behind the counter said, finding her reading the notice when she returned with the buggy Suzy had arranged to hire.

Suzy was doing rapid mental calculations as, just in time, she prevented Jamie from pulling handfuls of assorted Summer Bay postcards out of the stand, unwittingly spoiling his grand interior designer plans for redecorating the floor.

There had been unusually wet weather in the Bay last year and, due to low bookings, the park owners were trying to entice people back. They were offering two weeks for the price of one and fifty per cent off the cost if you booked before the 5th. It was the 5th tomorrow so she needed to make up her mind fast.

She had some savings. If she took a basic van, it would end up costing her very little more than it did for this weekend away and Mum and Dad could have a proper rest. Much as they loved their grandson, they got tired very easily now they were older and Dad had had that major op a few months back.

Suzy smiled at the receptionist and took her cheque book out of her bag. "I'd like to book."


Kane hadn't told anyone about the ghosts. Telling people things got you into strife. Like when Mum had put the bottle into her bag.

Kane had wondered why she needed a zip-up flight bag when the stores always gave people a bag for groceries and he watched curiously as she put the bottle away while the guy in the liquor store turned his back to get the smokes she'd asked for.

"...And the bottle of vodka," Mrs Phillips said, smiling.

The guy frowned. "I already gave it to you."

"No. Sorry. You didn't." Di Phillips' smile didn't lose any of its sweetness as she casually flicked back her glossy dark hair.

"I could've sworn..." the clerk said, shaking his head at himself.

"It's in your bag, Mum," Kane said helpfully.

The guy's hand stopped in the middle of reaching up to the shelves and their vast array of bottles shining brightly under the harsh store lights.

"Don't be silly, Kane. Of course it isn't." Di Phillips was still smiling.

"Yeh, it is, Mum." Jeez, she was being sooo forgetful today! Lucky that Kane was here to help out.

The shop guy looked serious. "I think maybe we should check your bag or call security."

Kane never did figure it out. Mum was laughing when she unzipped the bag, revealing the missing bottle, and said, "Omigod, I can't believe I did that! The doctor did warn me those new pills might make me forgetful, but I never thought...I'm so, so sorry! Whatever must you think?"

The guy in the shop smiled back as he took the cash. Mum had that effect on guys, like they couldn't help smiling at her. "An honest mistake, I guess," he said. "Good thing your kid noticed."

"Yeh, wasn't it?"

And Mum was still smiling happily as they left the store. That's why it came as such a shock. As they took the back street short cut, Di Phillips suddenly whacked him so hard across the face that he half stumbled into the narrow, fortunately empty, road.

"You ******* stupid, stupid..."

Kane couldn't remember all the words now, and anyway his ear had been ringing and burning red hot with the pain. But he got the message alright. You didn't tell people stuff. He'd been four or five when he'd learnt that and now he was older he knew even more.

When Mum glanced carefully round a new store she was checking out cameras and security, not looking for someone she'd arranged to meet like he'd always thought before. And when she put something in her bag it wasn't because stores always allowed you so many free items per visit. But by then he'd been keeping his mouth shut for ages anyways. And as for home, well, he didn't recollect exactly how he knew you kept quiet there. Somehow he'd always known.

Things happened at home, cops banging on the door or people needing to see Dad about something urgent in the dead of night. You watched and you listened, but you kept your mouth buttoned. So he'd never told anyone about the ghosts gathering in the boxroom every night.

Now he surveyed the crates on the sofa bed and wondered how the hell he was going to sleep there without them rattling. They'd have to be moved. He gritted his teeth and tried to lift the first crate but it was impossible to even shift it slightly.

"What the ******* hell d'you think ya doin'? You ain't kipping down in here tonight!"

He froze as his father gripped him by the scruff of his neck and pulled him out of the boxroom towards where Kane knew Scott would be waiting, listening. He was sure he sensed his brother smile grimly. Scott could be silent and dangerous as a stalking tiger.

"Dad, I can't sleep in there! Scotty's gonna kill me!"

"Jeez, why didn't ya say so, son? I got the perfect answer." Richie roared with laughter, abruptly swivelled round and began dragging him roughly down the stairs instead.

Di Phillips staggered drunkenly out of the living-room, carrying a glass lopsidedly, Kane couldn't tell if she was laughing or crying. Her hair wasn't as glossy as it used to be and she used far more make-up nowadays, but she could still make the guys' heads turn and that caused lot of blues between herself and Richie. Some of the drink sloshed over the side of the glass on to her shoes and she cursed, staggering against the wall, hardly aware of her husband or Kane.

And then the door banged shut on him. As it had done so many times before.

Kane looked up at the sky, trying to stem the tears. Mum and Dad might like him if they saw he wasn't a crier. But splashes of rain were stinging his eyes and he needed to look down again or he would have cried, and he never wished so hard someone, anyone, would hug him, just once, just for a while, just till all the pain inside him went away. 'Cos it hurt that the only person to mention it had been Miss Morris, yesterday, when she'd been writing something in the class register as school let out, that was how he'd remembered.

"Have yourself a good birthday tomorrow, Kane," she'd said.

Seven. He was seven today.


Upstairs Jade was crying and Dani sounded anxious. Dad must have left the spare room where he'd been working on the computer to go and see if they were okay because Kirsty heard his footsteps crossing the landing and his strong, reassuring voice, though she couldn't make out what was being said.

It was as if the lights had gone out all over Australia. The house was like night and not even the street lamp shone inside it normally did. But Kirsty wasn't afraid. She loved watching thunderstorms and, with its frantic crashing and wild bursts of lightning, this one promised to be a beaut. She picked her way carefully towards the kitchen.

"Kirsty! You okay down there?"

"Yeh, Dad, I'm fine! No worries."

Jade said something in a tearful voice, drawing his attention away from her again. Fascinated by the whispering dark, Kirsty stretched out her arms to prevent herself from bumping into any furniture, slowly making her way to the kitchen window. For a few moments, she gazed happily out at the rain lashing angrily down and swirling around the back garden like a river.

And then came a sudden clap of thunder so loud it sounded like the world had ended, Dani screamed, and a furious fork of lightning struck the tree.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: **sofa bed. I'm not sure if Australian readers will know the expression. In the UK, they're a kind of couch that can be flattened into a bed (without a headboard). :)

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I'm interested to see how this will lead into Always and Forever and you're still the best children's writer I've ever read.

I think there's a LOT of writers better than me, Kat! :lol: But thanks, that's a great complement. I'd love to write mainly for the 11-16 age group and younger kids. :D

***CHAPTER 3***

Dani's screaming woke everyone again. After the fire, Shelley and Rhys Sutherland had half expected Kirsty, who'd seen the lightning strike the tree, to suffer nightmares or for Jade, who was the most timid of their kids, to be more teary and in need of extra cuddles. But Dani had been the one most affected.

Kirsty had been calm far beyond her tender years, quickly leaving the kitchen, even closing the door behind her to slow down the flames like she'd once seen in a television fire safety commercial. Rhys, carrying a sobbing Jade and holding Dani's trembling hand tightly, was so relieved to see his brave little daughter as they reached the bottom of the stairs.

The four had fled the house together, just as his wife's car happened to be pulling into the street, and a frantic Shelley, without even knowing what was happening, screeched her vehicle to an abrupt halt and instinctively raced to protect her family. Even while the flames were shooting up into the sky behind their home, Kirsty wasn’t afraid. After all, she reasoned, nobody had been hurt and the firefighters were on their way. Kirsty's calm had a calming effect on Jade, who always picked up on her twin's moods, and she was recovering from the shock of the fire unexpectedly quickly. Dani however gave her parents most concern.

When the blinding flash of lightning had lit up the room and the almighty crash of thunder almost deafened them, Rhys had been about to lift Jade into his arms when Dani had yelled in fright. She had run to the window to find out what was happening, saw the flames hungrily engulf the tree, and begun screaming hysterically that they didn't know where her mother and Kirsty were.

Several times since she had had the same nightmare. That a terrifying crash of thunder turned the whole world to night and Kirsty and Shelley disappeared into its darkness.


"They're heeere!" Kane announced, watching wide-eyed.

Scott wondered if he was doing that creepy voice on purpose. He sounded like the kid in the Poltergeist movie.

Kane had told him, under pain of death when Scott demanded to know why he’d spat the dummy over Dad stashing the booze in the boxroom, that the ghosts who liked to hang out there wouldn't be very happy about it. Scotty wasn't sure he believed in ghosts, but his kid bro was pretty convincing - and when they were drunk Mum and Dad frequently saw and heard things that weren't there too.

When Kane casually mentioned that he'd seen ghosts in their own bedroom too, Scotty had slid his head under the duvet, pretending the moonlight filtering in through the thin curtain was keeping him awake.

He and Kane had reached an understanding over Scott's latest threat to kill him while he slept. Scotty would let him off the hook provided Kane paid him ten bucks. Kane was robbing things from shops and desperately selling them off in school to pay him in instalments, unaware Scott was considering doubling the price.

"What they doing now?" Scott asked warily.

"Flying 'cross the walls and ceiling and they got torches."

"Torches?!" Scotty was no expert on the paranormal, but, from what he'd heard, the average ghost did not go a-haunting carrying a torch. He pushed back the duvet and looked up at the ceiling. "It's ******* car headlights, ya stupid dork!"

"Ah. Right." Kane digested the information uneasily. If the ghosts in this room had turned out to be car headlights, it was almost certain the ghosts in the boxroom were just shadows after all - like he'd often tried to tell himself. That was good. Scotty was mad at him again. That was bad.

"You know, if I was you, I'd be more worried 'bout sea monsters," Scott said, leaning his elbow on the pillow and looking at Kane through narrowed eyes. "They're heaps dangerous and they've been known to come far inland as this, and even in people's houses when they're hungry 'nuff."

Sea monsters. Scotty had mentioned them before. Huge sharp-fanged creatures who came out of the water by night and who could slither like rats under doors. Who ate dogs and cats, but mostly liked to eat little kids. Scotty was eleven, too big for them to go after, so he was safe. But Kane wasn't.

"It's a full moon tonight, when they get real hungry and, even worse, suck your blood. Very, very slowly so's you die in agony. If I was you, I wouldn't dare go asleep."

Satisfied he'd kept him awake all night, Scott sank back down in his bed to sleep with a clear conscience.


The clock had long ticked past midnight. Mum and Dad were yelling at each other downstairs and the waves, if they were the waves, were roaring on the beach. Kane still sat up, watching and listening, the duvet pulled round his shoulders, a small, pale figure shivering in the moonlight.


"We've paaaacked!" the twins' voices floated downstairs.

"Come and see!" Dani called. Then she decided to turn the words into a song and tapped the banister rail in time to the beat. "Come and see, come and see, come and see!"

Jade suddenly screamed, two sets of running footsteps could be heard thundering overhead and Dani sighed, "Sweeties!"

Rhys and Shelley, who were relaxing after dinner, exchanged amused glances.

Since Rhys' parents had suggested taking the kids on holiday to help them recover from the fire, the girls had lived, breathed and slept Summer Bay. Now it was just two days away and Dani, Kirsty and Jade were brimming with excitement.

Luggage had been brought down from the attic and stored in Rhys and Shelley's bedroom. Shelley intended to sort out the packing tomorrow and Rhys’s Mum and Dad, Bill and Mary Sutherland, had visited earlier to discuss the final arrangements, such as when Jade had to use her inhaler, what to do if Dani had another nightmare, and Kirsty's need to wear her Dad's footie team scarf at Saturday kick-off time precisely as this, according to Kirsty, had a direct influence on the Sydney Swanners’ result.

Hiding their smiles, the adults put down their glasses of wine and marched seriously up the stairs in response to the generous invitation. The kids had managed to lift a suitcase on to Rhys and Shelley's bed, where it lay open with its jumbled contents spilling out. And what sort of holiday Kirsty, Dani and Jade had in mind was anybody's guess.

There were very few clothes inside the suitcase. But there were eight pairs of cheap plastic sunnies, several cuddly toys, twenty-two music tapes, a painting-by-numbers poster, a globe of the world, a dance mat, a multi-pack of potato chips, a toy truck, a complete Sydney Swans football kit (to fit girl age 5), a half completed footie album, one toothbrush, and a giant size bottle of family shampoo that had toppled over and was now soaking the pillows in a fresh-smelling green soapy liquid.

"But we can't close the lid," Dani said, proud of their handiwork, trying to separate the bubs, as she thought of them, from their latest tussle by stepping in the middle of both and moving every time one twin or the other moved. Jade was red-faced and had a football tucked under her arm. Kirsty looked grim and had a large baby doll tucked under hers.

"She won't give me Abby!" Jade wailed, making another ineffectual grab at the doll.

"She won't give me the footie!" Kirsty fired back.

"Sweeties, there's no way BOTH will fit in the case!" Dani said, and all three did yet another little scuffledance round the room.

As always, when the twins were having a blue, Shelley took Jade to one side and Rhys took Kirsty's hand.

"The packing's great," Shelley said diplomatically. "Maybe you can all help when I do the main pack tomorrow. But, Jade, Abby won't be able to breathe in a suitcase. I reckon Gran and Grandad won't mind you all carrying one large item each though! So you could carry Abby and, Kirsty, you could carry the football."

"Footies don't need to breathe so I could pack it and carry my bike," Kirsty said, her eyes lighting up at the thought.

"Quit while you're ahead, Kirst," Rhys said with a grin. "Um...one question...Dani, why have you packed a globe of the world?"

"We don't have one of those things that tells you where you are when you're lost on the mountains," Dani explained.

"A compass?"

"Yeh. A compass," Dani repeated patiently. Sometimes grown-ups asked some very silly questions when the answer was glaringly obvious.


The round England football that he'd found washed up on the beach went clean through the window, making an almost perfect circle. Kane should have fled, but the moment he heard Dad cursing he froze. Weird the thoughts that run through your head when you know you're gonna die. But he was thinking how they might make money from that broken window.

Broken glass was meant to be some random angry, jagged shape, but this break was so clean it was as if the footie had decided to go off exploring on its own. In his mind, he could picture a queue of people stretching all along the street and down the hilly road, Scotty charging them a dollar each to view the phenomenon of the circle, while Kane sold the soft drinks.

And the terrifying figure of Dad was almost on him but he still couldn't move or speak or even breathe.

Not till the crammed space of the cupboard under the stairs, among the old newspapers and empty bottles, sweating in the stifling air, a cobweb brushing against his face, not a single patch of light. Then screaming and screaming as The Dark closed in on him.

Richie Phillips listened to the screams as he checked his reflection in the mirror. A few hours locked in the cupboard should toughen up his sooky youngest son. He smoothed back his hair. Jeez, he looked good.


"I hear you're off on holiday!"

Suzy Palmer frowned as she pushed the trolley through the swing doors of the hotel kitchen. She slammed down the pile of trays and noisily unstacked the dirty dishes. "And it's your business...?"

"Hey, just making conversation." Adam Deakin raised his hands as if in surrender. "Sorry if I sounded nosey. I only wanted to say hope you and Jamie have a great time."

Suzy bit her lip as she pushed the dishes into the dishwasher and pressed the switch. Why did he always have to be so nice? It would be easier to hate Adam Deakin if he was a total jerk. But he wasn't. She stole a glance at him expertly chopping up veggies and throwing them in the wok. He made cooking look easy. But then everything in life had come easily to Adam Deakin.

His family owned a popular restaurant in Western Australia, where he'd learnt his cooking skills, and no worries when he'd decided he wanted to go off backpacking round Oz for a year - if he ever ran out of cash all he had to do was ask the olds to send more. Not that he ever did. It was a matter of pride that he earned every penny for himself.

Yeh, well, like that would impress Suzy. Some people had to work as a waitress because they were desperate for cash, some people had had to drop out of Uni, some people had a kid they loved to death and a bitter memory of the kid's father who'd shot through the moment he found out about the bub. Adam's good looks and green eyes and cute smile, none of it impressed Suzy. She was still off guys - well, except for Jamie and her Dad...oh, yeh, and little Kane.

Funny kid, always bragging about his folks and his younger brothers Luke and Jordan. Always dreaming about sailing away on a ship. She smiled as she thought of Kane and flushed when she realised she was still looking at Adam, who was grinning back.

Suzy replayed the memory as she and Jamie waved from the bus window. Although the bus pick-up point was outside the hotel where they both worked, she hadn't expected Adam to see her off, much less for him to have bought a colouring book and crayons "for when Jamie gets bored on the journey". But it was sweet of him.

He was meant to be rostered on a shift and he’d dashed out of the restaurant still in his chef's hat and apron and was standing by her parents waving. Suzy noticed there was flour on his face and, for some strange reason, noticing that made her heart lurch.

It was baffling. He was meant to have only stopped over in their town for a week or two, but it was a month now - and he intended to still be around when she got back from the holiday!

She just couldn't understand what was keeping him in such a sleepy little place.


The boy with the bright blue eyes was staring across at them as Kirsty looked up from trailing the Sleeping Beauty wand through the grass. Grandad had bought them a wand each as a surprise when he pretended he had to pop back to the site shop for milk. Kirsty herself would have preferred the plane that she'd seen hanging on the pocket money stand too, but she didn't want to hurt Grandad's feelings by telling him. It had been the only downside to the day.

Every single thing about the holiday had been awesome so far, even the journey. Especially when Grandad had had to stop the car four times for Jade to chuck up!

The last time had been the best because they were closest to Summer Bay and, as well as the usual frantic panic about finding somewhere to stop while Jade made gagging noises into a paper bag, the sea breeze had blown Jade's vomit backwards, a fact which Kirsty and Dani had very helpfully yelled back to Grandad waiting in the car at the tops of their voices so he could hear okay above the chatter of the people who were picnicking near where the car was parked. Funnily enough, everyone else must have been interested too because they had stopped eating when they heard Kirsty and Dani yelling.

The caravan was exactly like the picture in the brochure and Kirsty, Dani and Jade had left it pleasantly chaotic after deciding to help Gran and Grandad with the unpacking until Gran had suggested they all left it for a while and went to the kids' playground.

They were on their way back, yawning now, Dani and Jade waving the wands to “magic” everyone dreams, running on ahead because they couldn't wait to sleep in a house on wheels, while Gran and Grandad browsed through the Summer Bay tourist guide booklet as they strolled, and Kirsty sleepily trailed the wand. Then the ornamental lamps went on everywhere and she looked up and saw him.

That was what it was like for other kids. He'd have liked that, whatever it was these kids had. Not the wands, no way, nor the sookiness, nor...Jeez, he didn't know what it was. Something.

The cooling air from the sea carried the scent of flowers as it sighed gently through the trees and one by one the stars began to glisten in the darkening sky. The kid lagging behind had her head bent as she trailed the wand and every now and again one of the wrinklies would turn to check on her, and every once in a while the other two kids would run back to say something, and it wasn't what they said or the way they looked or how many times they laughed or anything, but there was...That mysterious something they all shared together.

Maybe it would have been like that for him if he'd been smart or cute or good. But he wasn't any of those things. He was a useless drongo, like Mum, Dad and Scotty said. He was about to turn away when, as if agreeing on some secret signal, the caravan site's ornamental lamps suddenly flickered alight in silent unison, and the kid dragging the wand looked up.

"Hey," she said, smiling. Her smile was like sunlight.

Kirsty didn't know how she knew, but she knew. It was in the boy's blue eyes.

He had the same restless longing to be free as the wind and the sea, the same dream of touching the moon and the stars. As if he too had seen something as terrible as a tree struck by lightning that was never allowed to blossom and grow.

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***CHAPTER 4***

"Changed your allegiance, huh, Kane?" Suzy Palmer teased, smiling, though she couldn't help feeling a teensy bit jealous of the Sutherlands.

She told herself it was on behalf of Jamie, but she knew it wasn't. Suzy missed Kane's funny little stories about how he was going to be a sea captain when he grew up and Jamie had a whole new set of playmates now Suzy had discovered a place in Summer Bay that had started a part-time holiday play club for under fives. A nominal fee because it was a pilot scheme, reduced rates for single parents and free day trips for Jamie - of course Suzy had signed up immediately!

Allegiance. What the hell was that? And why would he change it? It must be clothes. You changed clothes. What puzzled Kane was how Mrs Palmer knew.

He'd just been thinking he was gonna have to try washing something tonight because, apart from a little kid style one with cutesy pictures on it, he'd finally run out of clean and already-worn-twice-or-even-three-or-four-times shirts this morning. Normally Mum took care of things like laundry but she was still away - acting like a fruitcake somewhere else, Scotty said. It was only then it occurred to Kane that his Mum must be an actress.

He sometimes watched ancient American televison show where the guy was an actor but could only ever get acting work in commercials dressed as something silly like a tree or a tomato and every week something funny happened because of it. Maybe Mum could only ever get acting work playing the cake.

"Um...not yet, but I am gonna change my allegiance soon," he said cautiously. "But I'm not gonna wear allegiance like Jamie's 'cos that'd be too babyish though it's cool if you're only two, right, Jamie, mate?"

Suzy was totally perplexed, but decided not to push it. It sounded like one of his wild and wonderful sea captain yarns. She waved as he ran up the Sutherland caravan steps, nodded g'day to Bill Sutherland who answered the door, and grinned as little Kirsty, talking nineteen to the dozen, took Kane's hand and led him inside. Then she turned and sighed.

Much as Jamie loved the under-fives club and therefore there was no way she would have him miss out, it left Suzy feeling surplus to requirements. And, though she was off guys and didn't want to think about Adam, she kept on thinking about Adam. She sighed again. If only her life was as simple as Kane and Kirsty's.


"Kirrrsty!" Bill Sutherland said at last.

Kirsty had started talking the moment she woke and hadn't paused for breath since. Right now she and Kane had their collection of footie cards spread out on the table, deeply involved in some complicated game about leagues and championships that apparently required them both to talk non-stop.

Dani and Jade were showing off a new dance to their audience of Gran and Abby, and every so often the caravan swayed slightly, especially when Jade kept deciding to suddenly improvise with random twirls and jumps that had nothing whatsoever to do with the song Dani was singing - or even dancing in general.

"Sweeeetie!" Dani said, a fraction of a second after her grandad had spoken, stopping her own dancing to place her hands on her hips and shake her head despairingly at Mary and Bill. "What ARE we going to do with the bubs?"

"Um...we'll think of something," Bill said, trying not to laugh.

"Anyway, guys, we better start getting ready for our day out now Kane's here," Mary said, deciding it was time to wash the breakfast dishes that had been soaking in the plastic washing-up bowl.

Kane grinned happily. He'd been coming round to the Sutherland's van almost every day now and they still didn't suspect Suzy Palmer wasn't his Mum. Meeting Kirsty was the best thing that had ever happened to him.


"So THAT was little Ben Smith!" Rhys said, after they'd bumped into the Smith family at the shopping mall cafe. "I knew the name rang a bell when Kirsty brought the choccie home with the note. He's one of Kirsty's footie team gang, right?"

"Her latest signing," Shelley smiled. Right from kindy, most of Kirsty's mates had been boys. "I felt a bit mean telling his Mum they were having a great time when she asked if the girls were having a good holiday. I got the impression Ben was rather hoping I'd say Kirsty was missing him."

"I'm missing her heaps myself," Rhys admitted, pulling the Summer Bay postcard out of his wallet to re-read yet again. "All three of them."

"We did the right thing, letting them go," Shelley said. "Dani hasn't had any more nightmares despite the fire at the holiday shop, Jade sounded much more confident last time we spoke on the phone and Kirsty...well, Kirsty's Kirsty."

"Yup, one holiday romance, one boy pining at home," Rhys grinned. "That's good going, even for Kirsty."



Adam sounded stoked to hear from her and her heart skipped a beat like it had done that day on the bus. She pictured him as she'd last seen him, with flour on his face and in his chef's uniform, though she knew he wouldn't be at work now. It was gone seven o'clock and this week he was rostered on the hotel's early shift which finished at three. At least, The Welcome House liked to call itself a hotel, but it did have delusions of grandeur.

It consisted of just a dozen small plain guest rooms, one of which was Adam's, allocated at staff discount rates on the understanding that, if The Welcome House ever became full, Adam would temporarily vacate it and sleep in the staff rest area down in the basement. Not that this was ever likely to happen. Anyone who ever stayed at The Welcome House was inevitably only passing through and its main claim to fame was its restaurant.

"How's the man in your life?" he added.

"I think I've been dumped," Suzy grinned.

"You're kidding! Jamie's found someone else?"

"Jamie's found a whole lot of someone elses. He's in a play club now. And I think the other man in my life may have dumped me too."

For some reason, Adam paused before replying. "Ahh! I didn't realise...uh...there was someone."

"I meant Kane."

"Oh, right! The little kid with the all the sailing away to sea stories?" Adam was suddenly more cheerful, like he was smiling. "The one with the kid brothers?"

"Um...yeh." It was sweet of Adam to remember though Suzy hadn't realised she talked to him quite so much. "Look, the real reason I'm ringing is Mum and Dad. I've just been talking to Mum and she sounded so tired and she says Dad's fine, but, well, he didn't sound too chipper to me. I wondered if you wouldn't mind keeping an eye on them? I know I could ask one of my girlfriends but the hotel's nearer and..."

Her voice trailed off. There were half a dozen friends she could easily have turned to and she knew it. Why WAS she asking Adam?

"No worries. I've been calling round anyway and getting them groceries."

"Thanks, Adam. You're a good mate."

"Yeh, well, Suze, that's what friends are for."

Did he say that like he was sad or was it her imagination? Maybe he'd been thinking about Helen, the girl who'd cheated on him with his mate and the reason, he told Suzy, he'd decided to go backpacking. They talked for a little while longer about her parents before Suzy hung up the payphone and looked again at Jamie.

Her heart lurched with love for him. He looked so cute and cosy, fast asleep in his buggy, no doubt dreaming of cartoons or feeding ducks and all that other kids stuff, not a care in the world. Life was so much easier when you were a kid, she thought. So innocent, so sweet. Nothing to disturb your quiet, gentle slumber.


That was the second person had their head blown off. One stepped on a mine, two copped it in enemy gunfire. Made five people dead now...well, maybe six 'cos it looked like the guy who'd been crawling along with his face a mish-mash of blood wasn't gonna make it though they hadn't shown him cark it yet. Kane stared at the television screen, desperately trying to lose himself in the late night movie.

He'd climbed in through the kitchen window as usual, but he couldn't go to bed. Scotty wouldn't let him upstairs because he was busy stashing stolen stuff where no one else would find it.

Dad was out, and so was Mum, who hadn't been home in days and was probably still playing the cake in some show. His knuckles were white from holding on to the remote with one hand and a torch with the other, the only sources of light, and he was terrified of The Dark since Dad had locked him in the cupboard under the stairs, but he couldn't risk switching the light on in case he got caught.

He glanced dejectedly at the bundle of washing sitting watching TV with him. It was gonna have to be done somehow. He'd been getting some things out of the washbasket when Scotty, who didn't have a problem with laundry because he was borrowing clothes from his mates, chased him back down. And Mrs Palmer had noticed Kane hadn't changed his allegiance yet. She might start asking questions and then Dad would bash him for dobbing him in about Mum being away.

Kane stood up reluctantly, took a final look at the movie where a shot down plane plummetted from the sky into the crocodile-infested swamp and two more people died, before he clicked off the remote, picked up the washing and braved the dark kitchen.

The washing machine was a mystery. He shone the torch for several minutes across its buttons and round and round its silent drum like a suspicious cop considering whether or not to have it arrested for loitering in the kitchen. How the hell were you supposed to start it? All he knew was that Mum always seemed to be in here smoking and boiling the kettle whenever the washing was spinning round.

Maybe that was the answer. He shone the torch over on his next suspect, the kettle, trying hard to concentrate and ignore The Dark closing in on him.

Maybe you had to switch on the kettle and it somehow connected the washing machine and, to time it, you had to smoke a ciggie and cuss like Mum did. Okay, the cussing part, that was easy, but he'd never smoked before though he knew Scotty had some ciggies upst...

A door banged, making him jump. The television set burst loudly into life as Richie Phillips stumbled drunkenly about in the other room, its grey light flickering under the gap in the uneven kitchen door.

Hoping he'd pass the night unnoticed, Kane gave up on the idea of doing his own laundry and slid down into the gap between the washing machine and the sink to sleep, shining the torch down on the floor so that there was a reassuring pool of light, clutching a bundle of washing.


Bill Sutherland didn't believe a word of it, of course. He was still teasing Mary now they were back in the caravan and the kids asleep in bed.

A temporary funfair had been set up only a short drive away from the maritime museum they’d visited and, as they weren't doing the long drive to the theme park till next week, they'd decided to while away a couple of hours checking out its craft fair, exhibitions and half-dozen rides.

Mary hadn't been able to resist the blue and white tent advertising Madam Zena's incredible psychic powers though Bill scoffed it was a waste of money. Bill reckoned only the gullible believed in it all while Mary prided herself on having an open mind. Perhaps, if they'd known what the future held a few days ago, they could somehow have prevented the fire at the caravan site shop and saved Betty Thomas so much heartache, Mary had argued.

Bill chuckled. "No one can see into the future, Mary. If they could, they'd all win the lotto and never have to tell fortunes for a living anymore!"

Mary however had been very impressed with Madam Zena, though Bill kept coming up with an answer for everything she'd said. Mary was married (her wedding ring, Bill said), they were on holiday (well, anyone could tell they were on holiday, what with their cameras and holiday souvenirs, and strolling round a funfair with four kids), that she had grandchildren (couldn't miss them, they were outside the tent and saying Gran and Grandad).

"But she said Kane wasn't our grandson. How could she possibly have known that?"

Bill was growing more and more amused. "Amazing powers of deduction! Maybe because Kane never once called us Gran or Grandad?"

"I didn't like that prediction about Kane. Remember what I told you?" Mary got up to pour herself another cuppa from the caravan's old-fashioned large silver teapot, but her hand shook as she tried to pour the tea and she set it down again. "About him hurting one of our granddaughters."

Bill was too busy laughing now, tying a hanky round his head. "Think I look the part, Maz? You know, I reckon I could make a go of this fortune telling business too if I tried..." He placed his fingers on his forehead as if seeking inspiration and rolled his eyes... "Yessss, I see Jade crying because she thinks Kane got more lollies than she did...I see Kane and Kirsty having a blue over a footie team..."

"I love Dani, Kirsty and Jade so much and the idea of any one of them being hurt..."

To Bill's consternation, his wife gave a sudden sob and he guiltily jumped up to hug her. "I'm sorry, love, just having a lend of you. Never do know when to quit, do I?"

"No, Bill, I'M sorry. I'm being silly." Mary sniffled back the tears. "I'm too long in the tooth to believe in fairground fortune tellers."

"Reckon we're both a bit bushed, what with looking after the terrible trio and Kane as well. What say you WE deserve to be pampered for a change? Don't tell the kids, let's make a fresh brew and stuff ourselves with the whole lot of these biccies!" Bill winked as he took a packet of their favourite cookies out of the cupboard, making Mary laugh.

Though Bill hadn't seen the fortune teller's expression when she'd spread the cards on the little white-clothed table nor heard Madam Zena's sudden sharp intake of breath.

Mary couldn't shake off a dreadful sense of foreboding.

************************************END OF PART ONE******************************

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