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So, it appears that my addiction to fan fic writing continues... :P This is just going to be a little short one. Hope you like it!


Title: Escape

Type of Fic: Short/Medium Fiction

Main Characters: Josh, Andy, Kyle, Brax, Heath, Ricky.

Genre: Drama

BTTB Rating:  A

Does it contain spoilers: Not for Australia / Yes for UK

Warnings: Adult Themes and Violence. I will give additional warnings at the start of each chapter if necessary.



Summary: Josh and Andy have made their getaway after the sentencing… but what happens next?








“Do you want some of this?” asked Andy, hunkering down beside the campfire and tipping the saucepan of noodles towards Josh so he could see what was inside. “It’s chicken… the one you like?” He looked across at Josh with concern when he didn’t get a reaction. He was sitting with his back leaning against a tree, ignoring him, and busily drawing yet another picture of Evie on his sketchpad. He looked tired and dirty, and he had big dark circles around his eyes. He hadn’t eaten much for the last few weeks and Andy was starting to get worried. “Josh?! Chicken noodles? Do you want some?”

“Nope” said Josh, without even looking up at him. He glanced from his sketchpad at the mosquito that had landed on his forearm and watched with apathy as it began to drink his blood. Looking back at the pad on his knee, he smudged the pencil lines a little with his finger tip and tutted at himself. It wasn’t quite right. He turned the page and started again.

“Mate” scolded Andy, sounding a little frustrated. “You have to eat! You haven’t eaten anything since yesterday… That’s like 18 hours!”

“No, Andy… I think you’ll find that I don’t have to eat.” he replied, clenching his jaw and talking through gritted teeth. “I don’t have to eat at all… In fact, if I want to starve myself to death, that’s my own choice.”

“You’re being ridiculous!” complained Andy, throwing the saucepan down on the grass beside him and collapsing back to sit on his bum. “Y’know, this isn’t easy for me either!”

Josh ran his hand through his hair and turned to look at Andy with a look of disdain. “I’m not the one treating this like it’s some kind of camping trip!” he growled, looking around at the makeshift camp that Andy had set up. “I mean… We can’t live like this forever!”

“We’re not gonna have to.” sighed Andy, rubbing his face in his hands and pulling his mobile phone from his pocket. He shook his head in disappointment when he saw that there were still no replies. “I told you, I’m waiting for some of my contacts to get back to me…” He tilted his head at him a little pleadingly, “Josh! C’mon! Would you rather I’d left you to rot in that prison cell?!”

“I don’t see how this is any better.” mumbled Josh, smudging his fingers over the outline of Evie’s eyes. “If this is our new life… hiding out in the middle of the bush… jumping at every little sound and getting eaten alive by bugs… Never getting to talk to anyone else ever again…”

“It’s better than 25 years in prison!” exclaimed Andy, looking a little hurt and shaking his head at him in an exasperated way. “Remind me never to risk my life for you ever again!”

“That’s the point, Andy” said Josh, staring down at his sketchpad again and drawing Evie’s eyebrow raised at him in a slightly disapproving way, “Neither of us have any kind of life anymore… not one worth having anyway. We might as well be dead… It’d be better if we were both dead…”

“Josh! It’s not that bad! C’mon, mate, we’ll figure things out…” said Andy, getting up and walking over to him. He kneeled down beside him and put his hand on his shoulder in an attempt to be reassuring. “We just have to wait it out a little longer… I have some contacts… They’ll answer me soon.”

“The guys with the marijuana crop?” sighed Josh, shaking his head in a sad and disappointed sort of way. “That’s the best we can hope for?!”

“It’s better than this.” said Andy, nodding at him and giving him a little shrug. “We’ll have a roof over our head, and food, and there’ll be no-one shopping us to the cops.”

“Yeah, but…” said Josh, shaking his head again and gazing down at Evie’s eyes. It was almost like they were silently judging him. “Drugs?”

“Beggars can’t be choosers” frowned Andy, “We don’t really have too many other choices…” He took his phone out of his pocket again and checked the email account that he’d set up. No new messages there either. “It won’t be that bad, mate! It’s just like a farm… you work, they let you stay, they feed you… We’ll be off the grid while things blow over.”

“And you really think they’re just gonna let us walk away when we decide we want to move on?” he asked, narrowing his eyes at him in disbelief. He wondered how he could be so stupid. “They’re just gonna say “Bye Josh, Bye Andy! Good luck guys! Hope it all goes well for you!” He looked at him and shook his head. “Andy! These people keep immigrant workers, trapped there like slaves!” he said, giving him a really worried look, “You said yourself that they take their passports! They’ll have even more of a hold on us… You really think that they’ll just let us go?!”

Andy, slumped back onto the ground beside him and shrugged his shoulders at him in a defeated sort of way. “What else are we gonna do?”

They sat in silence for a moment or two and stared around their squalid little campsite. They’d been doing their best to wash themselves with the bottled water that they’d brought with them, but it had rained a couple of nights before and all their clothes had gotten soaked and now stank like mildew and wet dog.  They both felt filthy and uncomfortable, and had more mosquito bites than they could even count. Their food supplies were running very low, even with Josh’s half attempt at hunger strike, so they only had a few cans of soup left and a bag of bread that was threatening to go mouldy. Andy had even had to abandon an attempted food run when he’d seen a police car and gotten spooked. The car was nearly out of gas too. Things were not going well. Their initial exuberance had died down after the first two days, and now that they were nearly a month in, the novelty had definitely worn off. Josh was angry. He was angry with himself for destroying his own life, but somehow that was translating itself into anger and resentment towards Andy. It was a familiar reaction that Andy was somewhat used to, but his patience was beginning to wear thin. They’d come close to having a fist fight a couple of evenings before, and things were still a little strained because of it. If they couldn’t cope with the first month, how were they going to manage for the rest of their lives?! What were they going to do now?! How were they going to cope with a life on the run, looking over their shoulders all the time, with no friends and no future?!

Josh glanced at Andy’s phone and gave him a little shrug. “Do you think…” he began to say, pausing for a moment and wondering whether to continue, “Do you think maybe Brax might be willing to help?”




“Oi Kyle, can you look at me? …Mate?” asked Brax, standing beside the hospital bed and tilting his head at his little brother in concern. “Mate, you’re worrying me now!”

Kyle stared out the window of the hospital room, hugging his arm across his chest in a defensive kind of way, and refusing to look at him. His other wrist was handcuffed to the bed. “Just go.” he said through clenched teeth.

“Mate, I’m not going until you tell me what happened!” said Brax, folding his arms across his chest and planting his feet firmly in a defiant sort of way. He was going to make him talk this time whether he wanted to or not. Things were clearly getting out of hand in the prison and Brax couldn’t help being worried and more than a little frustrated that he wouldn’t allow him to help. This was the fourth time that he’d landed up in the hospital in the last few months. The last time had been really serious and they’d actually come close to losing him. Stab wounds to the chest and stomach! He’d refused to talk about it then too. He was just becoming more and more withdrawn and all he would say was that Brax and Ricky needed to get on with their lives and pretend that he’d never existed. That was hard to listen to.  “It had to be serious for them to bring you in here?” he ventured, looking at Kyle’s split lip and the bruises on his eye and cheek.

“I said ‘go’!” shouted Kyle, turning to glare at him for a moment and then looking out the window again. “I don’t want you here! What part of that don’t you understand?!”

“Kyle” said Brax in a softer, more pleading voice, as he approached the bed and reached out to put his hand on Kyle’s shoulder.

Kyle jumped a mile high and jerked his shoulder away from him very violently. “Don’t touch me!” he gasped, pulling as far away across the bed as his handcuffed wrist would allow him. “Just don’t!” he pleaded again, sounding more pained than angry this time.

Brax looked at him with growing concern and glanced at the chart that was hanging off the end of the bed. He looked at the guard who was standing at the door and then moved to the end of Kyle’s bed. He lifted the chart and began to scan read the first page…

“Don’t!” shouted Kyle, looking wide-eyed and startled, and trying his best to reach out and stop Brax from reading the chart in his hands. “You have no right to do that!” he whined, unable to reach him, and wincing at the pain from his cracked ribs. “That’s private.” he muttered in a defeated sort of way, as he realised that it was too late, and that Brax was already reading. He could see the guard smirking at him in a cruel and mocking kind of way and his face burned with the shame of it all.

Brax moved away a little, and continued reading, glancing up at him every now and then with a shocked expression on his face. Kyle shook his head, unable to maintain eye contact, and turned to stare out the window again. He just sat there clenching his jaw and breathing heavily in anger.

“Oh God, mate!” groaned Brax, looking at him a little pityingly as he glanced up from the chart. “I don’t… I’m…” he began to say, but faltered when he realised how big an invasion of privacy it had been to read the chart, and how hurt and angry Kyle was about it. He could understand now why he hadn’t wanted him to see it. He placed the chart carefully back onto the end of the bed and approached him again looking a little shamefaced. He really didn’t know what to say. “I’m so sorry that… I’m sorry...” he stammered.

“Just go” said Kyle, in a flat and distant sounding voice, “I don’t want you here… I don’t want any of you here.”

Brax glanced again at the guard standing at the door who still seemed to be smirking a little. He wanted to go over there and wipe that smile off his face for him! This wasn’t funny. None of it was! “I don’t want to leave you like this, mate.” he said, tentatively putting his hand on Kyle’s handcuffed arm. “I’m worried about you and…”

“Seriously, Brax, can you just go?!” begged Kyle, shaking his head and continuing to stare out the window. “Just forget about me and move on.”

“You know I can’t do that” said Brax, sitting down heavily in the chair beside the bed and giving an unhappy sigh. “The only reason those guys have it in for you is because of me… You know you wouldn’t be copping it like this if you weren’t a Braxton.” He stared at the floor a little sadly and wondered how on earth he was going to fix things for him. At this rate, he wasn’t going to last one year, never mind ten!




“He’s in a really bad way, Ric” said Brax, shaking his head at her sadly and glancing at Heath with a worried expression as he sat down on the arm of the couch. “I mean… I don’t think he’s gonna make it much longer.”

“You mean they’ll actually kill him?” asked Ricky, looking up at him wide-eyed in fear. She was just as worried about him as Brax was. The last time he’d been injured, they’d both stayed at the hospital with him through the first few days, but when he’d finally come round properly he’d refused to speak to either of them. He’d even asked the doctor to tell them to go away and not to come again. She didn’t understand why he was pushing them away like this. Surely this was when he needed people most?! Surely he needed to know that there were still people on the outside who loved and cared about him, and that he hadn’t just been forgotten?!

Brax nodded in a serious sort of way. “Or he’ll do himself in first.” he said, grimacing a little at the thought of it. He was unsure of how much to tell them. He knew that Kyle wouldn’t want anyone to know what had happened to him, and that it wouldn’t be fair for him to tell Ricky or Heath, but he couldn’t really lie to them either. He decided to be economical with the truth. “He’s okay… Just cuts and bruises… cracked ribs… he’ll heal… but…” He looked back and forth between them with a very worried expression and added, “But I think it’s all getting too much for him and… I don’t think he can cope with much more.”

Heath gave a heavy sigh and rubbed his face with both hands. “Is he still not talking then?” he asked, sounding thoroughly frustrated. He’d given up trying to go visit him since he’d been refused entry the time before last. Kyle had point blank refused to see anyone.

“He just kept saying to forget about him and move on.” sighed Brax, nodding at Heath a little sadly. “How are we supposed to do that when he keeps getting himself stabbed and… ending up in hospital?!”

“When does he have to go back?” asked Ricky, tearing up a little and hugging her arms around little Casey. Her stomach was tying itself in knots just thinking of poor Kyle and the mess that he’d gotten himself into. If only he’d never met that nasty little tart! What had he been thinking taking the fall for someone that he barely knew and who clearly didn’t care about him in the slightest?! She was so angry with him for that!

“They’re taking him back on Friday.” said Brax, taking his phone out of his pocket and looking at the missed call from an unknown number on the screen. He gestured with the phone that he needed to listen to a voicemail and got up to go listen to it out on the balcony. His face blanched white and a chill ran down his back when he heard Gunno’s voice:

“Hey Braxton! That little brother of yours is a dead man walking! I’d say goodbye to him now while you still can… Word is that he’s coming back on Friday... Wooooh! Are we gonna have some fun with him?! Everyone’s gonna get a piece this time! Don’t worry, you’ll get him back when we’re done… Whatever’s left of him anyway… [loud laughter]”

Brax hung up the phone and stood for a moment trying to calm his breathing as his heart thudded in his chest. What on earth was he going to do now?! This wasn’t a demand. He hadn’t asked for anything. It wasn’t like he’d given him an ultimatum. It wasn’t a threat; it was a promise! They were going to kill Kyle, and from the sounds of things, they were going to make it as painful as possible! He looked at his phone, and thought about calling the prison to tip them off, and have Gunno put in the hole. But he wondered if they’d even listen to him. Would they simply see it as one ex-con tattle tailing on another? Even if he played them the phone message, he would have no way to prove that it had been Gunno who had left it. And even if they took him seriously, locking Gunno away was no guarantee that his lackeys wouldn’t carry out his orders regardless. The only way that Kyle might be safe is if they put him in segregation, with the child molesters and the snitches, to be kept in solitary confinement and guarded at every turn. But even there he could still be at risk. It wasn’t a guarantee of safety. Some of the guards were decidedly dodgy, and it wasn’t unheard of for prisoners to ‘fall on something sharp’ in their cells and bleed out before anyone could get to them. If someone like Gunno wanted you dead, it was more or less a forgone conclusion. The only real question was when it would happen. He really didn’t know what to do.

He stared at his phone again and thought about the lawyer that had helped him get sorted since he’d come back from the dead. He was the sort of guy who had connections and a finger in every pie. A sort of Saul Goodman type character, known for fixing things and pulling strings for the criminal underbelly of society. The guy certainly didn’t come cheap, but he figured that maybe, between them, he and Heath could scrape enough money together to secure his services. Maybe he could wangle a transfer somehow and get Kyle moved to another prison? It was a long shot, considering how little time they’d have to organise it, but it was worth trying. He figured that he might still have his address somewhere in his email account. He opened his email and saw a new message from an ‘A&J Food Supplies’ with the title ‘Documents Required’. It looked a little strange. The restaurant didn’t have a supplier by that name. He opened the email despite some serious misgivings and began to read…

“Heath, a word?” called Brax a few moments later, looking very serious and beckoning with his head for him to join him out on the balcony.

Ricky watched as Heath got up and joined him outside. Brax shrugged apologetically at her, before sliding the door closed, and then the two of them began a whispered conversation. “There goes your daddy doing his best Michael Corleone impression” said Ricky, in a cooing sort of voice to baby Casey as she gave him a little squeeze. She let out a heavy sigh, glaring angrily out the window at both Brax and Heath, and turning Casey to face her on her knee. “Here we go again” she said under her breath, before giving Casey a forced smile and clapping his little hands together. “Casey, I think your daddy has decided that he’d really like to join Uncle Kyle in prison!..." she cooed at him sarcastically, "I think he has! …Yes, yes, I do!”




“Where is he?!” asked Josh, pacing back and forth outside the old farmhouse and watching the road in the distance for any sign of a car approaching, “He should have been here by now, shouldn’t he?!” His heart was racing now, so fast that he could hear his heartbeat in his ears, and he was feeling so full of nerves that he could have vomited at any moment. It had been such a longshot that he’d never imagined in a million years that Brax would actually agree to help. They’d been so surprised to get his email asking them to meet him at this farmhouse just across the state border. Some part of him was scared that this was all a setup and that they were simply waiting there for the police to arrive. Maybe Brax had dobbed them in, or maybe the email had been intercepted, and it hadn’t been Brax who had replied at all. But then why would they have chosen a house with such a good vantage point? Why give them a place to wait where they could see if anyone was coming from miles out? Somewhere that they could run from quite easily if they needed to? It had to be Brax. It had to be…

“I don’t know, mate” said Andy, sounding a little uneasy too, “He’ll get here when he gets here, I guess”. He was leaning on the windowsill of the farmhouse, peering off in the other direction, and keeping an eye on the only other road that led anywhere near the farmhouse. He was worried for much the same reasons as Josh, but part of him was worried that Brax’s loyalty to Ash would be incentive enough for him to double cross them. Brax and Ash were such close friends, and he knew that he’d screwed Ash over royally by running away like that. The garage was probably going to go under now and it would all be his fault. Maybe Ash would be looking for revenge, and maybe contacting Brax had simply given him the opportunity to take it? But what else could they really do?! Even the lowlifes at the marijuana plantation hadn’t replied to him yet. How sad was that?! Their Plan B was beginning to look like a non-runner already. They were running out of options and they had nowhere left to go.

“I think this is him!” exclaimed Josh, pointing at a black truck approaching in the distance. “Oh God, what if it isn’t him?! …Or what if he’s bringing the cops with him?!” he stammered, turning to look at Andy with eyes wide with fear. His heart was beating even faster now as he watched the truck getting closer. He couldn’t face the thought of going to prison. Since they’d gone on the run, any possibility of an appeal was well and truly gone, and he’d never get to see the light of day again if they caught him now. He knew that. He’d rather die than have that happen. He really thought that he’d be better off dead.

“We just have to take our chances” said Andy, standing with both hands on the back of his head. He just hoped that they hadn’t made a mistake in asking Brax for help. Surely he wouldn’t stab them in the back after everything they’d been through?!

The truck pulled up and swung inside the empty barn facing the farmhouse. He parked alongside Andy and Josh’s car so the truck would be out of sight from the road. They watched as the car door opened, and Josh turned to smile at Andy with a sigh of relief, when he saw Brax step out. “Oi!” shouted Brax, giving them a friendly smile, “What kind of a mess have you two got yourselves into?!”

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Thanks everybody for the very kind comments :P Really hope you like this new chapter! 



Chapter 2



“Hey, mate!” laughed Brax, looking a little surprised at the overly enthusiastic welcome that Josh had given him. Josh had rushed towards him, and thrown his arms around him in a way that had nearly knocked him off his feet. He might as well have been licking his face like an over-excited puppy! He glanced over Josh’s shoulder at an incredibly grateful and relieved looking Andy and raised his eyebrows at him a little questioningly. This didn’t seem like the Josh that everyone knew. He’d never been this much of a hugger, and there was something so desperate and pathetic about this hug. He wasn’t sure what to make of it. It was as though he’d thought that he would never get to see another human being again! Andy shrugged his shoulders at Brax and shook his head in a defeated sort of way when he saw the child-like and broken way that his brother was behaving. It was clear that Josh really wasn’t coping with all of this. Brax pulled away from the hug, keeping his arm over Josh’s shoulder and razzling his hair a little for him. “What’s all this, eh?!” he asked, tilting his head at him sympathetically when he saw the tears beginning to well up in his eyes, “It’s gonna be okay, mate… We’re gonna get you sorted.”

“I just… I can’t …I can’t believe you came!” stammered Josh, looking at him in surprise and tearing up a little, “…I can’t believe you’re gonna try to help…”  There was some part of him that had been hoping, against the odds, that Brax would ride to the rescue with some miraculous plan to help them, but the more cynical side of him had already given up. “Thanks, Brax” said Josh, feeling embarrassed all of a sudden and blushing a little red. He’d just been so happy to see a friendly face that he’d overreacted a little and now he was feeling a bit foolish. He wasn’t doing a particularly good job of playing the hardened criminal or fugitive.

“Hey…” said, Brax, giving him a playful slap to the back of the head, “Like it or not, you’re family! …and you’re all I have left of Case… so of course I’m gonna help!”

He nodded at the two of them to follow him towards the back of the house. Producing a key from his pocket, he put it in the lock, and opened the back door. Inside was an old fashioned, and very dusty, wood-built farmhouse, probably constructed around the 1920s, and with very little in the way of modernisation. The back door led directly into a large tile-floored kitchen with a big wooden table in the middle and an ancient looking gas stove for cooking on. The whole place looked unlived in, like there hadn’t been anyone there for years.  “Welcome home” said Brax, nodding for the two boys to take a seat around the table, “This is going to be your base for the foreseeable.” They sat down, and looked up at him a little expectantly, waiting for him to continue. He sighed and looked around the kitchen, shaking his head a little sadly. “I really didn’t want to have come back here, y’know?” he said, sitting down on the windowsill and staring out across the countryside, “I spent three months here, on my own… There were times when I thought I was going to go crazy…” He turned to look at them and gave them a little half-smile, “But it’s warm and it’s dry… and there’s a generator for electricity…” He looked at them both sitting there now, in filthy clothing, reeking to high heaven, and couldn’t help chuckling a little. They both would have looked like hobos from a film about the Great Depression if it hadn’t been for the modern style clothing. Their hair was filthy and full of dust, their clothes were clinging to them and full of rips and tears, and they looked like they hadn’t washed in months. He’d rarely seen a more pathetic sight. They really hadn’t had a great time so far. He gave them a little smile and said, “There’s even running water… There’s no shower …but you’ll be glad to know that you can have a bath.”

“We smell that bad, do we?!” asked Andy, smirking a little at the less than subtle hint. He’d seen the looks that Brax had given them when he’d first arrived and he couldn’t blame him for wanting to keep his distance. He knew how much the two of them stank!

“Pretty ripe, yeah” said Brax, wrinkling his nose and laughing a little, “but I brought you some bubble bath!” He could see how tired they both were from the half-hearted smiles as they tried their best to play along with the joke. He figured they’d feel better when they’d had a wash and a sleep.

He got up and excused himself to go back outside for a moment. There were things that he needed to get from the car.

Josh nodded to himself, staring at the floor and smiling a little sadly. He was relieved to be indoors and to have a place that had obviously been a safe hideout for Brax when he’d needed it himself. They would be safe and warm, and have dry and comfortable beds to sleep in. They’d even be able to get washed and have clean clothes like normal civilised people. This house was a godsend, but he couldn’t help feeling sad that an abandoned farmhouse in the middle of nowhere was the absolute best that they could hope for now.  They were never going to get to have normal lives again. He and Andy would have to stay there, and stare at each other until they died, or lost it completely and killed each other. Whichever came first! Still, he didn’t want to seem ungrateful… “This place is okay” he said, giving Andy a slightly forced smile.

“It’s more than okay!” snapped Andy, throwing Josh a disapproving look, “I’d make sure that Brax knows how grateful we both are!” He couldn’t believe the way that Brax had stepped up for them and how much of an improvement this place was compared to where they’d been living the last month. He didn’t think that Josh even realised how stressed he’d been feeling the last few weeks. He’d felt like all the responsibility had fallen on his shoulders and it was up to him to find a way out of the mess that they’d made for themselves. Josh had just reverted to his default position of the spoilt little brother and seemed intent on blaming everything on him. Like it was his fault that they didn’t have anywhere to go! How was he meant to just magic them up some fairy-tale ending?! Life didn’t work like that! Getting Josh out of prison was where his plan had ended. He was just as lost as Josh was, but somehow he just didn’t seem to get that.

“Yeah, I do know that!” growled Josh, shaking his head at Andy in exasperation. “How have I made him think anything else?!”

“That moody face of yours!” said Andy, sighing heavily and staring out the window at the rolling and empty countryside. “You could try smiling for once… and maybe not biting everyone’s head off when they speak to you.”

“I’m the moody one?!” exclaimed Josh, screwing his face up in anger. “All I said was that this place was okay, and you just jumped down my throat!”

“You just…” Andy started to say, but the lights above their heads suddenly flicked on, and both of them looked up at the ceiling and then jumped out of their seats in a startled kind of way. Brax had gone outside, so thoughts of being double-crossed with the police laying in wait in the next room, were racing through their minds. “Who else is here?!” whispered Andy, staring at Josh wide-eyed in fear. His heart was beating a million miles an hour now as he listened for sounds of anyone moving in the house.

“Shhh” whispered Josh, standing stock-still and listening intently. He could see how scared Andy was and that was just putting him even more on edge. He couldn’t hear anything…

“Woah, woah, woah, it’s just the generator!” explained Brax, as he walked back through the door and saw how scared they both looked. He nodded at the table again as he dropped a large rucksack on the floor and said, “Sit guys, sit”. They were staring around the place with eyes out on stalks, but they reluctantly sat back down again, looking frightened and anxious. Josh started nervously chewing on his fingernails and jittering his knee up and down. Brax shook his head at them in a sympathetic sort of way, remembering how jumpy he’d been when he’d first arrived here all those months ago. The difference for him was that no-one had been looking for him, whereas the police were still looking for Josh and Andy. It made sense for them to be on their guard. “I’ve turned on the water heater too” he said with a little wink, as he set a cardboard box down on the kitchen table and a cooler box down on the floor beside Andy’s feet. There was about a week’s supply of food, and some bottles of beer and soft drinks. He knelt down and pulled out three bottles of beer, handing one to each of the boys, and taking one for himself. Pulling up a seat beside them, he screwed the top off his beer, and took a gulp. “Looks like you two haven’t been doing too well out there…” he said, shaking his head at them in pity, “Did you have any kind of a plan… I mean, if I didn’t get back to you?”

“Not really” said Josh, still looking very jumpy and glancing at Andy in an anxious sort of way. He turned to look at Brax again and gave him a sincere and grateful smile. “We really appreciate this, Brax… we do… I don’t know what we’d have done out there!”

“What is this place?” asked Andy, staring around the kitchen as he took a slug from his beer bottle. It was such a relief to be doing something as normal as sitting around a table and drinking a cold beer with a friend. He’d begun to think that they might never get to do something like that ever again. Just having someone other than Josh to talk to, or not talk to, was a huge weight off his shoulders too. “Is this place yours?” he asked, throwing Brax a little smile.

“Nah” said Brax, shaking his head at him as he finished off his beer and reached for another, “It’s not mine… It’s not really anyone’s anymore.” He didn’t know how they were going to like what he had to tell them, but beggars most definitely couldn’t be choosers, so they were going to have to suck it up and get on with it. He took a deep breath and continued. “This was one of Adam’s safe-houses back in the day…” he said, seeing Andy and Josh stiffen up a little and exchange glances. “He had a few of them scattered around the place” he said, looking at Andy a little apologetically, “…I knew about this one and I knew where there was a key… So… When I went on the run, I needed somewhere to sort myself out for a while and lay low… and I figured he wouldn’t be using it anymore...”

“This is Adam’s house?!” exclaimed Josh, staring around at it with a newfound sense of distaste, “And you brought us here?!”

“I wouldn’t say it was Adam’s house” said Brax, shrugging his shoulders at them, “It’s not like he ever actually lived here… He just kept it for his crew so they’d have somewhere to hide out when they needed to… I used it a few times over the years.”

Andy rubbed his face with his hands and let out a tired sigh. “It’s fine, Brax” he said, nodding in an insistent way at his brother, “It’s fine, isn’t it Josh?” He knew that they didn’t have any other options and just because they didn’t want anything to do with Adam didn’t mean that they couldn’t use this house. Anything else would be like cutting off their nose to spite their face.

“Yeah, it’s fine” muttered Josh, staring down at the floor again. Somehow, he didn’t feel quite so positive about this house anymore but he didn’t want to go back to living rough either.

“So what’s the plan then, boys?” asked Brax, smirking at them a little. He knew fine rightly that there was no plan. The email that Andy had sent him had basically asked for help in whatever form he was able to give it, whether that was shelter, useful contacts, documents, or any other kind of guidance… Andy had pretty much thrown himself at his feet begging for help. “I assume you want help leaving the country?”

Andy glanced again at Josh and then they both turned to look at Brax with newfound hope. “Is that… Is that…” stammered Josh, chewing on the nail on his index finger and wondering whether Brax was just joking, “Is that… um… something that you can help us with?”

Brax took another gulp of beer before answering. “Yeah… It is.” he said, nodding slowly and letting out a heavy sigh. He’d really thought that these days were behind him, but here he was again, getting mixed up in all sorts of dirty dealing. He hated that he was breaking his promises to Ricky, and to himself, but deep down he knew that he’d never really be able to change. Something would always drag him back in… and it would happen because he’d let it.  This was the only life that he’d ever really known and the mundane everyday life of running a restaurant and being a family man just didn’t cut it. This was the stuff that got his blood pumping. He didn’t want to admit it to himself but it was true. He loved this stuff!  “I am going to help you…” he said, giving them a nervous little smile and nodding again, “But… I’m gonna need a favour in return.”




“Here are the keys” said Heath, glancing nervously through the glass doors at an angry looking Ricky. “You know I’d help if I could Brax, but Bi would lose it if she got even a whiff that I was doing something like this.” He gave Ricky a little wave and a half-smile, and then continued to talk while doing his best ventriloquist dummy impression and trying not to move his mouth, “Everything’s in the boot of the car… everything you asked for.”

“She knows something’s going on” sighed Brax, leaning his back against the railing of the balcony and giving Ricky an apologetic head tilt. “She’s not dumb.”

“She won’t tell Bianca will she?!” asked Heath, widening his eyes at Brax in a startled sort of way, “Seriously Brax! …If she tells Bi, I’ll be out on my ear! …And with the baby on the way…”

“She won’t… I’ll talk to her” he said, shaking his head in an attempt to reassure him. “I’ll explain.”

“You’re gonna tell her the whole story?!” exclaimed a shocked looking Heath, peering back in through the window at Ricky who was watching them from her position on the floor with Casey. She really didn’t look too happy!

“What do you think?” replied Brax in a sarcastic tone while rolling his eyes at him, “…But I’m gonna have to tell her something…”

“Yeah well, just make sure she doesn’t go telling tales to Bi” he said, leaning back against the edge of the balcony beside him. He turned to look at him and furrowed his brow at him in concern. “Brax… are you sure you want to do this? …I mean… you have Ric and Case to worry about now…”

“And Kyle” added Brax, nodding his head at Heath a little sadly. He looked in the window at the woman and baby that he loved and then gave a sigh of frustration. “How can I tell my little boy that I just let his uncle get killed like that? That I let them rip him to shreds in there… that I let it happen?! …And it happened because he was my brother and they wanted to get at me?” He glanced at Heath for a moment and then gazed back through the window at Ricky. “Kyle was there for Ricky when I couldn’t be. He held her hand when she was in labour, and he saw her through it when she had nobody else… How can I tell her that I just let him die?!”

Heath nodded at him in the realisation that nothing he said was going to convince him not to do this. Once Brax had a plan of action in his head it was very hard to make him change direction. “If something goes wrong…” Heath began to say but Brax interrupted.

“It won’t” said Brax, shaking his head adamantly and giving him his most convincing smile, “Don’t worry, mate, it’ll be okay.”

“If something goes wrong…” repeated Heath, with a more insistent tone, “I want you to know that I’ll look after Ricky and the little man.”

“Thanks, mate” said Brax, giving him a sad little smile and pulling him in for a very brief hug.




Brax closed the door and walked back through the living-room, glancing in an awkward and uneasy way at Ricky, before going to the kitchen sink and filling himself a glass of water. He could feel Ricky’s eyes boring into the back of his head so he downed the water in the glass and set it back on the counter. Turning to face her again, he could see how upset she was, and he wished that it didn’t have to be this way. He loved Ricky and he hated seeing that look of disappointment and hurt on her face. He sat down on the couch and leaned forward to talk to her as she played with Casey on the floor. “Ric… I…” he began but she cut him off before he even got a chance to speak…

“I’m just telling you now Brax… whatever it is that you and Heath are planning… If you end up in prison again I will not be waiting for you on the outside!” said Ricky, sitting on the floor with Casey, and frowning up at him with a look of disdain. “I know this is about Kyle and whatever that phone call was the other evening… Brax! …I love Kyle! …You know that! …but I can’t do it again Brax, I just can’t! …I can’t watch you get locked up again! …I don’t want to have to tell my little boy that his daddy isn’t coming home!”

“Ric, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if I had any other choice!” sighed Brax, hunkering down next to her and rubbing his face with both hands. He understood her anger and fear but he just couldn’t see any other way out of this. “They’ve threatened Kyle’s life, Ric! They said that they’re going to kill him when he gets back to the prison… I can’t just stand by and let Kyle get killed! Okay?! I’m not willing to do that!”

“I don’t want him to get killed either!” exclaimed Ricky, shaking her head at him as her eyes filled up with tears. She’d already guessed at the contents of that voicemail from the hushed conversations that Brax and Heath had been having out on her balcony. She could read lips well enough to know that they’d said his name about a hundred times and wondered at the stupidity of both men that they thought a glass door and a bit of whispering was enough to keep her in the dark about things. How much of an idiot did they think she was?! She gazed down at her tiny baby son as he played with a toy car on the floor and let out a sad sigh. “I just can’t have Casey growing up without a daddy…” she said, wiping at her tears with the sleeve of her top, “It’s not right Brax!”

“He won’t Ric, he won’t!” he said, reaching out and gently caressing the side of her face. He hated the fact that he was breaking his promises again so soon. He’d sworn to her that his criminal past was behind him and that he’d never put his freedom on the line again. Yet here he was, only a few months down the line, about to take another big risk. Maybe old habits were just too hard to break?! “We’ll be careful…” he assured her, trying to sound as convincing as possible, “We won’t get caught… I promise you!”

“You can’t promise that and you know it!” she huffed, staring up at him with tear-filled eyes and pouting a little. “Why won’t you just tell me what you’re planning?! I can’t stand it when you keep things from me! You and Heath, out there whispering like I’m the little woman… We’re supposed to be equals in this relationship!”

“We are equals, we are” he said in a soothing voice, “I just don’t want you to have to lie… If, and I mean, if something goes wrong… The less you know…”

“Brax, please don’t do this!” she pleaded, getting up onto her knees and taking his face in both her hands. “Please?! I can’t lose you again! …I only just got you back!”

“Ricky…” he groaned, “I can’t let Kyle die in there for me… I can’t let Gunno kill him just to settle some score he has with me… You don’t know what’s been happening in there!”

“Well then tell me!” she pleaded again, looking at him with fear and anger in her eyes. She could see from the look on his face that he wasn’t going to give in. She’d seen that look too many times before. “Why do you do this, Brax?! Every time?! You think you’re protecting me but all it does is make me think that you don’t trust me… and that I can’t trust you!”

He gave a heavy sigh and shook his head at her in frustration. Looking at the expression on her face now, it was becoming clear that she was going to need a better explanation than he’d already given her. If he was going to have any chance of saving his relationship, he was going to have to put her in the picture regarding the threats that had been made against Kyle, and tell her what had really been going on in the prison. He knew that it was a huge betrayal of Kyle’s trust, but if Kyle ended up dead because he had failed to act, then what difference would it make if Ricky knew the truth or not?!

He took her by the hand, dragging her to her feet, and leading her over to sit beside him on the couch. “Sit, Ricky” he said, with a worried expression on his face. He took his phone out of his pocket and gave her an anxious sort of smile that was more of a grimace. He didn’t know how to broach this subject. “Look, Ricky... Kyle was… um… he was… ‘assaulted’” he said, emphasising the word in a suggestive way and giving Ricky a ‘please don’t make me spell this out to you’ grimace. “He’s got some… injuries…” he said, feeling very awkward, “The assault, it wasn't just physical... it was... uh...”

“Oh God!” gasped Ricky, as she gleaned what it was that he was trying to tell her, “Oh my God! Poor Kyle!”

He sighed, and nodded his head, feeling relieved that she hadn’t made him say it out loud. “Then I got this voicemail…” he said, dialing his mailbox and putting the phone on speakerphone. As Gunno’s threats played out over the phone’s speakers, Ricky’s eyes widened in fear, and she turned to look at Brax with tears rolling down her cheeks. There was no doubt now that Kyle had already been through a terrible ordeal and that they planned to take it even further as soon as he got back to the prison. They were going to kill him! When the message ended, Brax hung up, and looked at Ricky to see what she thought now. “Do you see why I have to do this?” he asked, putting his hand on her knee and giving her a pleading sort of look.

“Just… Just…” she stammered, still staring at Brax’s phone in horror, “Just be careful… and don’t get caught!”




“I can’t believe we’re doing this!” whispered Josh, glancing at Andy with a panic-stricken look on his face, “I’m not a real criminal, Andy! …I’m not made for this kind of stuff …This isn’t the kind of life that I want for myself!” He couldn’t believe that they’d agreed to do this. Brax had to be crazy if he thought that this was all going to go smoothly. There were so many variables and so many things that they hadn’t thought through properly. This all seemed so misguided and rash.

“Shhh” said Andy, putting his hand on his brother’s knee to stop him jittering it up and down. He gave him a little half-smile in an attempt to be reassuring. He didn’t really know why they were whispering. No-one could hear them sitting here waiting in the car but somehow, given what they were about to do, it seemed appropriate to keep their voices low. “It’s gonna be okay!” he promised him, “We’ll be quick… No-one will know it’s us, and no-one’s gonna get hurt, okay?”

“Andy! You can’t promise that!” snapped Josh, looking at him with eyes wide with fear. “You don’t know what will happen once they get here!” he said, feeling his heart pounding in his chest as he stared down at his shaking hands. “I’m holding a gun, Andy! A gun!” Just the feel of it in his hands was bringing back the sense of panic that he’d had that night with Charlotte. No-one seemed to understand how frightened he’d been when she’d pulled that gun on him and how close he’d come to being the one who ended up dead. It could just as easily have been his body that was fished out of the water and not hers. That had been what Charlotte had intended after all. Whereas he hadn’t wanted to kill her! He hadn’t wanted to kill anyone. Not ever! He kept hearing the gun shot ringing in his ears and the thought of what happened was making him feel sick. He wasn’t sure that he’d ever really get over it. “I don’t think I can do this!” he said, taking his seatbelt off and starting to open the car door.

“Josh, you need to calm down now!” warned Andy, leaning across him and pulling the door closed. “You need to calm down or someone will get hurt!” he growled, shaking his head at him in a scolding fashion. “You know the guns aren’t loaded.” he said, taking the magazine out of his own handgun to show him yet again that there were no bullets in it. “They’re just for show.”

“Yeah but they don’t know that!” whined Josh, staring out the window of the car and fighting the urge to open the door again and start running. He had only agreed to go through with this whole thing if they could be sure that no-one was going to get shot. They hadn’t told Brax but they’d decided not to load the guns. The one thing that Josh didn’t want was for them to add another murder to their list of wrong-doings. He couldn’t cope with being responsible for another person’s death, he just couldn’t. “What if they shoot us?!”

“They won’t” replied Andy, feeling his own anxiety levels rising, “Trust me! It’ll be okay!” He was doing his best to put on a brave face for Josh but in reality he was just as worried. They’d had to cross back over state lines and that meant that they were now within easy reach again of their own state police. It was probably the most misguided thing that someone in their position could ever have done but they really didn’t have many other options. He worried that things might turn ugly, and that they might end up getting shot, just like Josh feared. Going into a situation like this effectively unarmed was probably a very silly thing to do but it was the only way that he’d been able to convince Josh to go along with it. They were here now and they were going to have to go through with it, no matter how ridiculous the whole thing seemed. Brax was going to help them leave the country, but only if they did this for him first. If everything went to plan, then they’d be on their way in about a week’s time, and they’d get to wave goodbye to Australia and go sun themselves on a beach somewhere new. He just hoped that things would go to plan. The alternative was just too awful to even contemplate.

Andy’s heart skipped a beat when he heard the phone ring and he scrambled to answer it as quickly as possible. “Two minutes!” said Brax before hanging up again.  Andy turned to nod at Josh, starting the engine and pulling on his balaclava. Josh followed suit, barely able to control his shaking, and picking up his gun again in his black gloved hands. They readied themselves and stared down from the hill at the road below. Andy glanced at Josh, grimacing a little, and put the car into motion as quickly as he could. The van would be passing the end of their road soon. All they had to do was drive out in front of it and make it come to a stop.

As they sat in the car, sitting across the road and blocking it, they suddenly saw the van approaching and rounding the bend at speed. It seemed to be travelling much faster than they’d been expecting and they could see that Brax was following close behind which hadn’t been the original plan. As it approached, they realised, much to their horror, that it wasn’t slowing down. It was coming straight at them and picking up speed. They’d obviously decided to try to ram them off the road in order to get past!

Josh grabbed onto the handle above the door and braced himself for impact. He glanced at Andy in a worried way, one more time, just seconds before the van made contact. The noise of the collision was so much louder than either of them could ever have expected and then it was all a blur of loud crunches and the screeching of tearing metal and spinning car tyres. Their car did a doughnut spin down the road before coming to a stop, and they found themselves facing back towards Brax’s car, but the van had disappeared!

“Jesus!” shouted Josh, breathing heavily and feeling like his heart was going to jump out through his chest. “Are you okay?!” he asked, turning to look at a very dazed looking Andy.

“Uh… yeah” mumbled Andy, shaking his head a little and then patting himself down to check for injuries. He just had a few bumps and scrapes but nothing that seemed too worrying. He turned to look at Josh, who was nursing a bleeding nose and said, “I’m okay… you?”

Josh nodded slowly and they both looked out through the jagged hole in their smashed front windscreen. There was a black figure waving frantically at them in the distance. “Brax!” shouted Josh, suddenly coming to his senses and giving Andy a dig in the shoulder to jump start him. “Andy! The van!” he said, opening the car door and setting off on foot as fast as he could towards Brax. Andy followed behind and the two of them reached Brax within a few seconds. He was staring in horror through a newly made gap in the fence. The van had gone through the fence and rolled off the road and down a steep slope into the field below. It had clearly rolled a number of times and was now overturned on its roof!

They looked at each other for a moment, with eyes jumping out of their heads and hearts racing, and no-one was quite sure of what to do. As they stared down at the tangled wreckage lying in the field below, there was a sudden burst of flames at the front where the engine was, and Brax cried out in a panic, “Oh my God! Kyle!”

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Thanks again to everyone for all the feedback :P I hope you like the next chapter! 




Chapter 3



2 days ago…


Brax gave the man in the shiny navy suit, with the visible hair plugs, a brief little nod and picked up a menu to bring over to him. He’d never met the guy before but somehow instinctively he knew that this was him. He didn’t look like their normal afternoon customer by any means. Brax was a bit nervous about meeting him and wasn’t doing a great job of hiding that fact. This man was the ‘fixer’ of all ‘fixers’. The Mr Wolf type character who swooped in and saved your skin when you thought all hope was lost. He didn’t look like Harvey Keitel, but in certain circles this man was just as much of a legend. If there was one thing that Brax had learnt in prison, it was that having the right contacts could mean the difference between life and death. This was certainly the right contact if you had the money to pay for him.

“Daryl Braxton” he said holding out his hand to him and setting the menu down on the table. “Can I get you a drink of anything?”

“Theo Green” said the man, shaking his hand and giving him a smarmy smile with his excessively whitened teeth. He nodded for him to sit down and join him, “Get one of your waiters to bring me a single malt scotch, no ice.”

Brax nodded and gave him a nervous little smile. He called one of the waiters over and asked him to bring a bottle and two glasses.

Theo gave him a little smile and picked up the menu. “So… what’s good to eat here? The carbonara?” he asked, enjoying this little pantomime of keeping his client waiting. No-one ever came to him for matters that weren’t urgent. It was always something that needed sorted yesterday. He enjoyed the panicked and worried looks on their faces and couldn’t resist drawing out the ‘get to know you’ part of the meeting just for the fun of it. He glanced up at Brax and gave him a little smirk when he saw how impatient he looked. It was like his head was about to explode but he was desperately trying to maintain his cool. “Don’t worry… We will get down to business!” he said, leaning back in the seat and watching a young and very attractive waitress approach with the drinks on the tray. He gazed at her in a way that suggested he was mentally undressing her and Brax could see that she was getting increasingly uncomfortable with the situation. There was something skin-crawlingly creepy about this man, from his strange overly white teeth, to his greasy fake-tanned complexion and doll-hair, and his shiny 1980s style suit and tie. He was weird. “I’ll get a carbonara and a green salad” he said to the girl, giving her a little wink, and watching her again in a decidedly lecherous way as she left to place the order for him. He gave a contented sigh and turned to look at Brax again. “So… It looks like you have a mess on your hands and you need your uncle Theo to sort it out for you? Eh?”

Brax nodded and furrowed his brow at him. “How much?” he asked, glancing around the restaurant to make sure that no-one was listening.

“Well, that depends” said Theo, pouring himself and Brax a glass of whiskey each. “It depends on the level of service that you’re looking for…” He took a mouthful of the whiskey and swirled it past his teeth a little noisily before swallowing it down with a little ‘aahh’ of enjoyment. “I don’t come cheap, Mr Braxton… I’m sure you’ve heard that about me…  and if you have heard about me then you’ll also know that I’m worth every penny!”



6 hours ago…


“Mrrrrhhhhhh!” groaned Kyle, as he put his hands out to try to push himself away from the wire mesh dividing the prisoner transport part of the van from the driver. He’d been thrown around inside the van when it had spun out of control and he’d heard a loud crack when his leg had got caught under the bench seat that he’d been sitting on. He was pretty sure that his shinbone was broken and his already cracked ribs didn’t feel too good either. The pain was coursing up through his leg now, in sharp stabbing jolts, and reverberating through his body. He could feel it coming in waves in rhythm with his galloping heartbeat. The shock and pain was making him feel sick but all he wanted to do was get out.

He looked through the mesh at the two guards. He didn’t know what they’d hit, or why they’d suddenly lost control, but things didn’t look too good for either of them now. He could see them lying there inside the cab of the van. They both seemed to have been knocked unconscious and he could see blood on the shattered windshield. He’d heard them talking about the fact that they were being followed before the accident happened. He hadn’t been able to see out the back of the van, but they’d started talking about a black car following them since they’d left the hospital, and then they’d started whispering about whether it was Gunno or not. They seemed to know that threats had been made against his life and so they’d joined the dots and made the assumption that these were some of Gunno’s men who’d been sent to run them off the road. They’d spotted the car tailing them again a little while back, and started driving faster, trying to lose it as best they could. Not being able to see what was going on out there had made him very anxious and the high-speed rallying of the van around the roads certainly hadn’t done much to calm his nerves… Then everything had become a blur as the van had spun over and over and they’d hit the ground with great force. He still wasn’t sure what had happened!

Suddenly he saw a puff of smoke from the front of the van and some flames appeared just outside the windshield. His heart began to race even faster as he realised that the van doors could only be opened from the outside and he was now trapped inside a burning wreck with a broken leg and no way to get out.

“Hey!” he shouted, banging as hard as he could on the metal mesh separating him from the guards, “Hey! Wake up! Hey!”

There was no reaction. He hoped that they were just knocked out and that they weren’t dead! Partly for his own immediate need to get out of this van and partly because they’d actually seemed like decent enough blokes. They’d been telling jokes and actually talking to him like a normal human being until they’d spotted that car.

“Hey!” he shouted again, banging on the mesh with his handcuffed hands, and trying to make as much noise as possible, “C’mon, please guys! Wake up!”

Suddenly the doors swung open and two men appeared wearing balaclavas and carrying guns. Kyle put his hands up, and froze to the spot, staring up at them in fear. In that moment, he figured that the guards must have been right, and Gunno’s men had come to get him. The fear of what was to come hit him like a ton weight. His heart hammered in his chest as he stared up at them. He was pretty sure that whatever they had planned for him, it wasn’t going to be pleasant.

One of the men came forward quickly and hunkered down beside him. “Are you hurt?!” whispered a voice, that was all at once familiar to him, “Kyle?! Can you move?!”

Kyle’s eyes widened as he realised what was happening. This was Brax! He glanced at the other man, standing in the doorway to the van and realised that it was Andy. “What the…” he started to say, but Brax grabbed his handcuffed wrists and lifted his arms to put them around his neck.

“C’mon, we don’t have time!” said Brax, starting to pull him up off the roof of the van that was now serving as a floor.

“Arrrhhh! Stop! Stop!” roared Kyle, when Brax tried to move him. “No, no, no, no, no!” he screamed, wincing with the pain, “It’s my leg… It’s broken! It’s broken!”

Brax turned to look at Andy with a panicked look on his face and beckoned for him to come over and help. Andy came over and knelt down beside Kyle. “Which leg is it?” he asked looking down and realising that that was already abundantly clear. It was a very bad break. He nodded at Kyle, silently preparing him for the pain, and then they tentatively lifted him off the ground as he gritted his teeth and groaned loudly.

“Is he okay?!” shouted Josh from above on the road. They’d left him there as a lookout. “Is he hurt?!”

Kyle looked up and saw another balaclava-wearing figure peering down at them from the roadside. “Wuh… What is going on?!” asked Kyle, slurring his words and suddenly feeling very dizzy and queasy. With that, his body just slumped, and he was like a deadweight in their arms. They had to set him down.

“We need to get him to the car” said Brax, shaking his head at Andy and then looking down at Kyle with concern. They could both see that the van was on fire now and they could see one of the guards lying against the window of the passenger seat. “I’ll take him…” he said, putting his hands under Kyle’s armpits to pick him back up again. “You see if you can get them out.” he said, nodding at the guards in the front of the van. He picked Kyle up in a fireman’s lift and began scrambling back up the slope towards the road.

“Is he okay?!” repeated Josh, looking at Brax with concern as he appeared with Kyle over his shoulder, “What’s wrong with him?!”

“His leg” grunted Brax, struggling to carry him and breathing heavily. “Get the door!” he said, motioning with his head to the car that he’d been driving.

Josh opened the back door for him and then ran to the other side to help pull Kyle across the back seat. “Where’s Andy?” he asked, looking back towards the gap in the fence.

“He’s getting the guards out of the van…” said Brax, carefully lifting Kyle’s broken leg onto the back seat of the car. “We couldn’t just leave them in there.”

Suddenly there was a sound of a gunshot and both of them turned to look back at the gap in the fence in a startled way. Josh glanced at Brax with eyes wide with fear and then took off running. He got to the gap in the fence and gave a sigh of relief when he saw that Andy was on his way back up towards the road.

“Let’s go!” shouted Andy, as he stumbled his way back up the slope. “We need to get out of here now!”

“What did you do?!” shouted Josh, with his heart thumping in his ears, as he stared down at the wreckage in the field. He could see the two guards lying out on the grass a safe distance from the burning van. Both seemed to be unconscious but there was a gun lying on the grass beside one of them. “You said you hadn’t loaded your gun!” yelled Josh, glaring at Andy in disgust and feeling sick at the thought that he’d killed one of the guards, “You said we didn’t have any bullets!”

Andy gave him a dirty look, pushing him out of the way, as he made his way past him to the car. Josh caught up with him, catching him by the wrist, before he could climb into the passenger seat. “You said we weren’t going to hurt anyone! How could you do something like that, Andy?!”

“I didn’t” he growled at him, breathing heavily and shaking, “But thanks for thinking the worst of me.” He gave a heavy sigh and pulled his jacket open to let him see.  Josh gave a gasp when he saw that Andy was injured. He had a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Andy pulled his hand away from his stomach for a moment and showed him the blood dripping through his fingers. “I wasn’t armed… but they were.” he said, before turning and getting into the passenger seat beside Brax. “Get in the car, let’s go!” he said, cradling his side and wincing with the pain.






2 hours ago…


“Through here, through here!” shouted Brax, as he and Josh held Kyle’s arms over their shoulders and helped him hobble through the doorway towards the couch. “Just here” he said, nodding at Josh to help lower him onto the cushions, “Put him down, gently.”

Kyle let out a sharp cry of pain as they set him down and helped lift his broken leg up onto the cushions. Josh nodded at Brax and then ran back outside to help Andy.

Kyle gripped the material of the seat cushions with both hands, panting heavily from the exertion of getting there, and grimacing with the pain of his bruised and battered body. He closed his eyes, clenching his teeth, and shaking badly. “I can’t believe you’ve done this to me!” he snarled through gritted teeth, “I didn’t ask you to do this! You have no idea what you’ve just done, do you?!”

“Mate, I had to get you out of there!” exclaimed Brax, kneeling down beside him and putting his hand on his shoulder. He could see that he was in a lot of pain, and he felt bad that it hadn’t worked out exactly as they’d hoped, but he’d thought that Kyle would be a little more grateful for his change in circumstances. He was out of prison and out of harm’s way after all. “We’ll get you sorted. We’ll get someone to come look at that leg, …I have a guy…”

“You think this is about my leg?!” growled Kyle, shifting uncomfortably on the couch and shaking his head at Brax in an angry and incredulous way. “You’ve just destroyed my life, Brax! You’ve just… You’ve totally screwed me!”

“What are you talking about?! They were gonna kill you!” said Brax, running his hand through his hair and pulling at it in a frustrated sort of way. “What else was I supposed to do?! Gunno called me” said Brax, looking at him with his head tilted sympathetically, “He called and he said that they were going to kill you when you got back there today… and they were going to… y’know? … do it again…”

“I know” snapped Kyle, cutting him off and rubbing his face with both hands. “I know that” he said again, glancing at Brax in a shamefaced sort of way and breathing out loudly. “The prison found out about it… They were going to keep me in the infirmary and put Gunno in segregation for a while.”

“I didn’t know… I didn’t know that they knew…” muttered Brax, realising now that this may have all been a huge mistake. Things certainly hadn’t gone smoothly, not by any stretch of the imagination, and now it appeared that it might all have been for nothing. “You know he could have got some of his guys to come after you anyway?” he said, grimacing a little at the thought of what Kyle had already been through. It wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility that they could still get at him in the infirmary. “…I just …I couldn’t let that happen!” he sighed, glancing at Kyle in an awkward sort of way and giving his shoulder a little squeeze, “I couldn’t let them… do ‘that’ again…”

Kyle rolled his eyes at him, letting out a snort of derision, and pulling his shoulder away a little defensively. “You could have told me what you were planning…” said Kyle, wincing and gritting his teeth again at the pain in his leg and his bruised and reinjured ribs. “You could have said, ‘Oi Kyle, I’m gonna nearly kill you by running your transport van off the road… so I can completely ruin your chances of appeal and make everything a million times worse! …I’m gonna completely ruin your life!’ …You could have said that!” He looked at Brax again and his eyes filled with tears for a moment, “They’re never going to believe that I didn’t have anything to do with this! How could you do this, Brax?! Seriously?!”

“Mate, they were going to kill you!” said Brax, in a pleading tone, “I didn’t think I had any other choice…”

“It was my choice to make! Not yours!” shouted Kyle, putting his hands on the top of his head and letting out a loud groan of frustration. “I was gonna do my time and then try to put some kind of life together… I didn’t want this life anymore… With all of this… I wanted to put it behind me!” He shook his head again in despair. “I wanted a family… a wife and kids… How am I supposed to do that now?!”

“Mate, ten years!” exclaimed Brax, shaking his head at him in an incredulous way and giving him a pitying sort of look. “You really thought you’d be able to get through ten years with…”

“My lawyer was working on an appeal…” said Kyle, cutting him off mid-sentence. “She thought she could get it reduced to maybe 6 or 7 years…” he muttered, staring at the ceiling and shaking his head sadly. Any hope of that happening now was well and truly gone. “You’ve just destroyed everything.” he said, desperately blinking back tears.

“Believe me, mate…” said Brax, nodding at him insistently, “If Gunno wanted you dead… You weren’t gonna last 6 days, never mind 6 years!”

“I’d have gotten through it… somehow” he said quietly, as he turned to look at him for a moment. There was a sadness in his eyes that Brax had never seen before, as though he’d given up in some way and resigned himself to almost a decade of torture. He turned away again and covered his eyes with his arm.  “I told you to leave me alone, Brax… Why couldn’t you just do what I asked? ...Just this once?!”

Brax shook his head at him a little sadly. He didn’t know what to say to him. It had never even crossed his mind that Kyle wouldn’t want to be broken out of prison. With everything that had been happening in there, and the way that he’d been talking, Brax had been sure that Kyle would be desperate to escape by any means necessary. How wrong he had been!

They sat in silence for a moment or two and Brax took his phone out to find Theo’s number. No-one had ever needed a ‘fixer’ more.

Kyle suddenly began to laugh a little as he looked down at his broken leg. It wasn’t a happy laugh by any means, but more the kind of sad and desperate laughter of someone at the end of their tether. “So, c’mon then Brax? What’s this amazing plan of yours?” he asked, giggling in a slightly disturbed way, “How does someone with a smashed up leg go on the run anyway?!”






Josh watched with concern as the curly haired man set out all his instruments on a green surgical cloth. It was draped across a cardboard box that was resting on one of the wooden chairs in the kitchen. Andy had been stripped to the waist and was laid out on the kitchen table on top of more green surgical sheets. He was drifting in and out of consciousness thanks to the injection of ketamine that he’d been given and Josh was still holding a compress down on the wound waiting for the doctor to be ready to operate.

Brax was next door with Kyle and that weird lawyer in the shiny suit. He’d arrived about half an hour ago and brought this shady doctor with him. The doctor had sloped in with a box full of medical supplies and drugs, and knocked Andy out almost immediately with a shot of ketamine. Josh had been relieved to see him at first because he’d begun to think that Andy was just going to bleed to death right in front of him. The kitchen floor was sticky and coated with blood. Andy had turned a terrible shade of grey and had stopped making any sense some time ago. But now that the doctor was here, Josh had a whole new set of worries. This doctor seemed exceedingly dodgy. The whole setup looked so shoddy and make-shift, and he looked like he hadn’t washed in a few days, or slept properly in years. Josh was really worried about letting this doctor operate in these conditions. Not only was it worrying that a doctor would agree to perform major surgery on someone in a filthy kitchen with no proper anaesthetic, but from his bright red rosy cheeks and the smell of whiskey on his breath, Josh was pretty sure that he was drunk. He had his suspicions about the other drugs that he had with him too.

“Um… so… which hospital do you work in?” he asked a little nervously, watching as the doctor pulled on some green scrubs and went to the kitchen sink to wash his hands and arms.

The doctor let out a derisive snigger and shook his head in an amused sort of way. “Whoever said I was a doctor?” he asked, glancing sideways at Josh with a little smirk. “I, my friend, am a vet!”

“A vet?!” exclaimed Josh, looking down at Andy as his eyes rolled in his head and he mumbled under his breath steaming up the oxygen mask. “But… are you sure you know what you’re doing?!” he asked, looking across at the vet again with fear in his eyes, “I mean… this isn’t a golden retriever, this is my brother!”

“A gunshot wound is a gunshot wound” mumbled the vet, drying his hands with surgical cloths and walking back across to the kitchen table. He picked up some latex gloves and pulled them on. “And a bowel perforation is a bowel perforation… The only real difference is that your brother doesn’t have fur… Saves a lot of time…” he said, giving Josh a little wink and picking up a scalpel. “Means I don’t have to shave him.” he added, giggling like a maniac and preparing to cut into Andy’s abdomen. He seemed to think himself highly amusing.

Josh furrowed his brow at him, and glanced out towards the hallway, wondering if he should go and get Brax. This man seemed a little unhinged and Josh’s heart was racing now at the thought that some madman of a drunken vet might end up killing his brother through incompetence. But what other choice did they have?! It wasn’t like he’d be able to dig that bullet out for him or stitch him closed. They’d have to take their chances. He glanced up at the bag of blood that was slowly flowing into Andy’s veins and then down at the sticking plaster on his own arm. Thank goodness he was O negative! He didn’t know what they’d have done if he hadn’t been able to donate blood for him!

“Right!” chuckled the vet, as he cut Andy’s abdomen open and inserted a retractor. “Let’s make Fido feel a little better eh?!”

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Thanks again to everyone for the lovely comments! Very much appreciated! :P I really hope you like this chapter. I might not get a chance to update again for a little while though cos I'm going to be a bit busy this week. Sorry! :unsure:



Chapter 4


“Well, travelling with a leg in a cast does pose a bit of a logistical problem” said Theo, with a mischievous little smirk on his face, “But I’m thinking that we might actually be able to use it to our advantage.”

“How d’you figure that?” asked Brax, with a look of surprise. “I mean, he can’t walk, let alone run if anything goes wrong!”

Theo sat down on the arm of the couch that Kyle was lying on and rapped his knuckles off the cast that the vet had put on him. He was still out for the count. A combination of ketamine and extreme pain had knocked him out cold which had been for the best really. It had turned out a very nasty break and they’d had to manipulate the bones quite a bit to put them back in place. Probably in a hospital it would have been done through surgery with internal fixation screws but they’d had to make do with a rather sozzled vet and sheer brute force. Theo looked Kyle up and down, taking in the bruised ribs and the scar on his abdomen, and a smile slowly crept across his face. Kyle clearly wasn’t going to be able to walk for quite some time. They wouldn’t be able to just slip through an airport or a ferry terminal unnoticed. People in wheelchairs tended to draw attention. They’d have to find another way of getting them out of the country. “I think this could just work you know…” he said, looking up at Brax again with a Cheshire cat grin, “I think it just might!”

“Well?! What’s the plan then?!” snapped Brax, getting more and more frustrated with this man’s over-inflated ego and smug sense of self-satisfaction. He could never just talk plainly. He always had to dance around things like he thought he was playing some enigmatic character in a play or like he was trying to make himself seem all mysterious. Brax had had to listen to Kyle screaming for the last half hour, and no-one was too sure if Andy was going to make it or not.  Things couldn’t really have gone much worse with his rescue plan, with both Kyle and Andy so seriously injured, so in terms of his stress levels, he was close to breaking point. Now was not the time to be kidding around or trying his patience too much. He’d had just about enough of this man, legend or not!

Theo laughed at the reddening face of his client, noticing the clenched fists, and the veins starting to stand out in his neck. Brax was certainly a funny one alright. So easy to wind up. He raised his eyebrows at him and gave a little snort of amusement. “Why don’t you sit down?” he said, nodding to one of the armchairs, “Let your uncle Theo tell you a little story.”

Brax shook his head in exasperation but blew out a deep breath trying to calm himself down a bit and took the seat that Theo had indicated. He looked up at him and held his hands out in a ‘well, tell me then’ kind of way.

“Have you ever heard the expression ‘Hiding in plain sight’?” he asked, with a look of supreme self-satisfaction. “The way I see it, the best way for our three little fugitives to get through an airport and onto a plane, bound for some lovely sunny destination, is not to sneak through the place trying to keep their heads down, and trying not to be noticed… The best way is for them to draw as much attention as possible!” He smiled and shook his head at himself in a way that suggested that even he was surprised by his own genius. He might as well have finished the last sentence with a ‘tah dah!’ and a flurry of jazz hands. No-one had ever looked more pleased with themselves. “If everything goes to plan, our boys will not only make it through the airport, they’ll be escorted onto the plane, given a tearful farewell by all the airport staff, and probably even get to shake the captain’s hand!”

Brax looked this strange little man up and down with a look of disdain. He’d been told that Theo Green could sometimes be something of an unknown quantity, and that his ideas were often pretty leftfield, but this was just taking things to the point of ridiculous. Had he lost it completely?! How could three wanted criminals just waltz through an airport and not get themselves arrested?!

“Is your brother here very attached to that lovely brown hair of his?” asked Theo, gazing down at the unconscious body lying on the couch beside him. Theo ran his hand over his own scalp, gently trailing his fingers through the little field of hair plugs that he’d had transplanted a few weeks ago, and smiled down at Kyle’s sleeping face. “It’ll be a shame to shave off all that lovely thick hair…”




“Hey?” said Josh, squeezing Andy’s hand and leaping to his feet when he saw his eyes begin to flicker open again. “Andy, are you okay?!” he asked, putting his hand on his shoulder and peering down at him in concern.

“Mrrrhhhhhm” moaned Andy, turning his head to look at Josh with a pained expression on his face. “What happened?” he asked, looking decidedly dazed and confused, “I feel like someone’s ripped my insides out!”

“Uh well…” said Josh, glancing down at the large dressing on Andy’s stomach and grimacing at the scenes of butchery that he’d just witnessed. The vet had removed what seemed like a very large section of large intestine, while talking about the difficulties of finding good quality casings for homemade sausages, and then he’d just dumped it in a bucket by his feet. He’d dug around for a while inside Andy’s abdomen, wittering on about the positives and negatives of different dog breeds, and asking which breed Andy was. He’d kept bursting into laughter for no apparent reason as well. Eventually he’d located the bullet, and removed it, and then he’d gone about stitching all manner of unidentified things inside Andy’s body. Josh had watched on in horror, with no clear understanding of what the guy was doing, and desperately just trying to stay on his feet and not end up in a heap on the floor. He’d had to give another pint of blood, so he'd been feeling incredibly weak and woozy. “Well, we had to get someone to operate on you…” he said, trying to avoid having to tell him that they’d let a vet who was drunk as a skunk, and completely looney tunes, delve around in his innards. “But you’re gonna be okay” said Josh, stroking Andy’s forehead gently and trying to sound reassuring.

Andy nodded and closed his eyes, grimacing in pain, and gave a low moan as he shifted a little on top of the kitchen table. “Where are we?” he asked, in a quiet and laboured voice.

“We’re back in the farmhouse” said Josh, looking at him in concern. “Don’t you remember us coming back here?”

Andy shook his head, screwing his face up in pain, and giving another low moan. After a moment, he opened his eyes again and looked up at Josh in a startled kind of way. “Is Kyle okay?!” he asked, turning his head to look towards the doorway out to the hall, “Did we… is he…?”

“He’s okay!” said Josh, taking his hand again and giving it a little squeeze, “He’s got a broken leg but the… um… ‘doctor’ fixed it for him…” He sat down again on the chair beside the table, and gave a heavy sigh of exhaustion. He began blinking furiously, trying to stifle his tears, as he looked at Andy lying there on the table with tubes coming out of everywhere. He glanced for a moment at the bucket still sitting on the kitchen counter that was filled with bloody rags and Andy’s dissected bowel tissue. For a moment he thought that he’d be sick just thinking about what had just happened. How had it come to this?! Was this going to be their life now?! He’d just allowed his brother to be disembowelled by a madman of a veterinarian because they’d had no other choice. They were never going to have any other choice! If one of them got injured they were always going to have to turn to some shady character with questionable medical skills to help them out. Any doctor willing to treat a couple of fugitives bleeding to death in an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere couldn’t be above board. They’d have to have been struck off, or disgraced in some way, to be reduced to doing backstreet surgical procedures on a ‘no questions asked’ basis. Or maybe they’d have to resort to using someone like this guy! He’d actually allowed a vet to slice his brother open right in front of him, like he was gutting a pig, and that’s if he was even telling the truth about being a vet. Maybe he was just some sicko who liked to cut people up…

“Josh?” wheezed Andy, closing his eyes again and gritting his teeth, “Is that doctor around? …I really need something… some pain killers or something…”

Josh nodded, feeling a wave of anxiety crash over him. The vet had set Kyle’s leg and had then just wobbled off towards his car and driven off. He’d said that he’d be back tomorrow to look in on them. Josh got up and went to look in the box of medical supplies that the vet had left for them. He’d left them a box of ketamine. ‘Enough to knock out a team of horses’ apparently. The vet had found that immensely funny and spent a couple of minutes rolling around laughing at his own joke. Josh couldn’t see why that was funny but he was fairly sure that the puncture mark on the vet’s forearm had something to do with it! Before he’d left he’d told him to give Andy the ketamine if and when he needed it, but he’d been very vague about how long to wait between doses, and hadn’t shown him how to use the syringes or how to inject it. He had told him how much to give, but Josh had found it hard to take in because he’d still been a little dazed by all the blood and gore, and he’d been feeling very lightheaded from all the blood loss. He couldn’t remember at all now what he’d said! He picked up one of the glass bottles and looked at the outside label hoping for some kind of instructions. There was a warning on the side: ‘Veterinary grade, not for use in humans’. He sighed and opened one of the packets with a new syringe in it and filled it half-full with the ketamine. He wasn’t sure how much he should be giving. What if he gave him an overdose? These seemed to be the size of syringe that the vet had been using and he’d seen him fill a full one to knock Andy out for surgery before. Maybe a half-syringe was still too much though, especially if he still had some in his system? He really couldn’t be sure. His stomach was tying itself in knots as he approached Andy again.

“Andy?” said Josh, giving his shoulder a gentle little shake, “Are you still awake?”

Andy opened his eyes and looked at Josh again with a pained expression. “Mmm-hmm” he managed to groan out, gripping with both hands at the blood soaked surgical sheets on the table below him.

“I just want you to know…” said Josh, getting ready to insert the needle and looking at Andy with fear written all across his face, “I love you.”

“You too.” mumbled Andy, as Josh plunged the needle into his thigh. Josh really didn’t know if that was right. He didn’t know how to inject it properly because he hadn’t really been paying attention before. He watched as Andy’s face grew peaceful and his breathing a little less rapid. His eyes fluttered closed and he seemed to just drift away.

“Oh god!” exclaimed Josh, shaking him by the shoulder and trying to wake him up again. “Andy, look at me! Look at me, Andy!” What if he’d just overdosed him?! What if he’d actually just killed his brother?! He put his fingers on Andy’s throat, trying to feel for his pulse, and his other hand in front of his nose to see if he was still breathing. His heartbeat still seemed strong enough. Josh slumped into the chair beside the table and breathed a sigh of relief. He wasn’t going to take his eyes off him though!

“I feel like I’m flying…” whispered Andy, in a voice so quiet it was barely audible, and a small smile drifted across his face. “Like a bird.”




8 days later…


“You’re what?!” exclaimed Ricky, looking at Brax with eyes wide with shock. “You’re doing what with the business?!”

“I have to Ricky!” said Brax, sitting slumped in the corner of the couch with his head on his fist. “I don’t have any other choice… I mean, you can see that can’t you?!”

“I can see that you’re going to throw our livelihood away and maybe get yourself arrested and sent down in the process!” she said, shaking her head at him in an angry and incredulous way. “You’re really going to just sign away the restaurant?!”

Brax nodded at her and gave a sad sigh. “I’m so sorry, Ric… I just can’t see any other way out.”

“So you might still end up in prison… and you’re just gonna leave me and Case without two cents to rub together?!”

“It’s not gonna come to that” he sighed, rubbing his tired eyes, “I promise, Ric, I’m not leaving you again.”

“What did I say about promises, Brax?!” she snapped at him, getting up off the couch and stomping out to the kitchen. She took a glass out of the cupboard and reached for the bottle of whiskey that they kept up on a high shelf. He watched her over his shoulder, as she glared back at him and poured herself a glass, but none for him. She always did this when she was angry. She threw it down in one gulp, grimacing at the slow burn in her mouth and throat, and then poured herself another. “So… it’s enough is it? To pay for whatever it is you need? To help Kyle?”

He gave her a shamefaced little shrug and then shook his head. “Heath is sorting the rest.” he said, very quietly and in a slightly sheepish tone.

Ricky gave a loud huff of frustration and shook her head at him in an exasperated sort of way. “Does Bianca know?”

Brax leapt up quickly and came over to the kitchen counter. “No Ric, and you can’t tell her… Please?!”

“You want me to keep my friend in the dark about what you and her idiot husband are up to?!” she said, narrowing her eyes at him, “You want me to pretend that I don’t know he’s putting them at financial risk… when she’s expecting a baby?!”

“That’s exactly why you can’t tell her!” he said, leaning on the counter and giving her a pleading look. “C’mon, Ric! He’s our little baby brother! We don’t have a choice… and you can’t tell Bianca because she doesn’t need the stress, especially now that she’s pregnant…” He picked up the bottle and poured her another glass, before giving her a sad half-smile and tilting his head a little pleadingly. “Not after Rocco.”

“Oh… that is a low blow!” she snarled, narrowing her eyes at him. “So, if I tell her? I’m what?! Putting the baby at risk?!”

“I just don’t think she needs the stress right now.” said Brax, putting his hands up in front of him in a conciliatory sort of way and shrugging at her apologetically. “Please, Ric?! …I really need you to keep quiet about this…”

She took another gulp of whiskey and slowly nodded at him in an angry and resentful kind of way. She walked back over to the couch, and threw herself down on the cushions, giving a loud sigh of defeat. “So?” she asked, waving her whiskey glass at him, “What’s the big plan then, after all of this? …I mean, assuming that you’re not staring at brick walls for the next twenty years? What are we going to do without the business? Live on fresh air?!”

“I thought maybe… maybe we could sell the apartment and move to London? Like you’ve always wanted to?” he said, sitting down on the coffee table in front of her and taking hold of her hand. “You could see if you could get a job over there… you know… maybe do a bit more photography? … and I can…”

“You can what? What are you gonna do in London?” laughed Ricky, almost enjoying this silly little fantasy of his. “The surf isn’t much good in London, you know?!”

He smiled at her, realising just how stupid the whole thing sounded, and he started to laugh a little too. “Yeah well, I don’t know… I’d figure it out, wouldn’t I?” he said, shaking his head at himself and rolling his eyes in an exaggerated way. He held her hand up to his mouth and gently kissed it. “Ric” he said, looking serious again and giving her a sad little smile, “You know I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t have to… I have to help him… I have to!”

“I know” said Ricky, letting out a huge breath and leaning forward to stroke the side of his face. “I know that…  I just wish it didn’t always have to be like this. I wish we could just have normal lives like other people where I didn’t have to worry about you going to prison or leaving us destitute.”

“I’m not going to prison… and we’ll still have this apartment” he said, gently brushing her hair back behind her ear and leaning in for a kiss. “It’s a small price to pay for Kyle’s life, isn’t it?”




11 days later…

Kyle looked at himself in the bathroom mirror, tilting his head this way and that, and wondering at how different he looked without hair and without eyebrows. His perfectly smooth scalp looked so pale and shiny and he could see the occasional little blue vein under the surface. The blue contact lenses were also taking a bit of getting used to. They were scratchy and a little painful and he’d spent the first few days with red and puffy irritated eyes. He looked like he’d been crying all the time. Theo had said that that might be just as well. He needed to look as ill as possible. That wasn’t going to be too much of a stretch for him as far as his acting skills were concerned. His leg was still incredibly painful and any little movement was causing immense discomfort. He didn’t think that Charlie, the vet, had done a particularly good job when he’d reset the bones. He was pretty sure that he was going to be left with a permanent limp when all was said and done. That’s if he didn’t end up having to have it amputated. Still, it was the least of his worries right now. He picked up the crutches from beside the sink and hopped out through the door towards the kitchen.

“Hey!” said Josh, leaning his back against the counter and giving him a nervous little smile from across the kitchen, “How’s the leg today?”

Kyle jumped a little when he saw him. “Yeah… it’s… well, it’s still there anyway…” he mumbled as he hobbled over to one of the chairs and lowered himself down carefully. As much as he found his own appearance tough to get used to, he found Josh and Andy’s makeovers even harder to deal with. They both looked so strange.

Andy was propped up in an armchair near the window with a cushion under his arm to support it and to stop him pressing on his wound too much. He’d lost so much weight, and with his head and eyebrows shaved, he looked every inch the cancer patient. No-one would have any difficulty believing that he was not a well man. His skin looked so pale and washed out. Not the dark and tanned complexion that everyone was familiar with, but more of a grey hue. The surgery had been successful, in that he hadn’t died, but it hadn’t exactly left him fighting fit. He still wasn’t able to eat anything solid. He was still in a lot of pain too and had been trying desperately not to use too much morphine for the fear of getting hooked. He certainly didn’t look like someone who was in the peak of their health.

Josh on the other hand had been completely transformed by one of Theo’s girls. Candy was a young beautician who did the odd bit of work for Theo when he asked her to. She said that she’d worked on a few small local movies in her time, both in front of the camera and doing makeup, but her real dream was to go to Hollywood and be a makeup artist. Doing the occasional makeover for one of Theo’s ‘special cases’ was just a bit of practice in realistic looking stage makeup, and something that she very much enjoyed. She’d bleached Josh’s hair up so it was now a light sandy blonde colour, and it had been cut into a short hipster hairstyle, and shaved up both sides with a side parting and a quiff. He’d been given green contact lenses to wear, and thick frame 50s style glasses. She’d also given him a very realistic looking sandy coloured beard made from real hair, that she’d stolen from the set of the one of the movies that she’d worked on. He wasn’t wearing it now because it made him feel very uncomfortable and itchy so she’d shown him how to apply it himself closer to the time. Even without it, he was barely recognisable!

All the paperwork was being taken care of and within a few hours they’d have fake passports with new photos and completely new identities. They’d have false medical paperwork too to allow them to bring their medications with them and to validate their story. Theo had managed to source Kyle’s anti-rejection medication and some more appropriate pain medication for them both. As far as the airport authorities were concerned, they would just be two cancer patients, off to Thailand with a young filmmaker, to make a documentary about alternative medicines and spiritual healing.

None of the three had been too keen on the whole cover story when Brax and Theo had sat them down and talked them through it. To them, it had felt like they were being very disrespectful of people who were genuinely ill, but Theo had pointed out that they didn’t have many other options. The fact of the matter was that two out of three of them couldn’t walk. The only way to make it through the airport would be in wheelchairs, and this was the perfect cover story. Theo had been so pleased with himself for coming up with it! He’d been walking around with his chest puffed out as though he was ten feet tall. The whole plan seemed very far-fetched though, and thoroughly ridiculous, but Brax and Theo seemed to think that it would work. The other three had just ended up railroaded into it whether they liked it or not. Kyle and Andy were both too ill to put up much of a fight and Josh was too scared to argue.

“Where’s Brax?” asked Kyle, looking back and forth between the two boys, “Are we still doing this today?!”

Josh nodded at him, looking like he might throw up at any moment, and came to sit down beside him on one of the other chairs. “He’s gone to sort a few things out” he said, ripping nervously at the label on an empty beer bottle, “He said that he and Theo will be back in about an hour, and then we’re going.”

“Is he gonna be okay?” asked Kyle, glancing over at a semi-conscious looking Andy over by the window. “Is he gonna be okay on a longhaul flight… like that?”

Josh looked across at his brother in concern. Andy’s eyes were half-closed and his head was slumping over to one side. He really didn’t look too well! Josh shrugged and let out a loud sigh of frustration. “I think we should wait another week… I mean… what are we gonna do with him when we get there? We can’t just rock up at a Thai hospital with him like that…”

“I think the airline might wonder why we’re travelling with someone who’s so sick” said Kyle, shaking his head a little sadly as he looked at Andy. “I mean… would a doctor really clear him for travel?!”

“One just did” said Brax, appearing in the doorway with a large brown envelope full of documents and a plastic bag filled with medications in brown hospital style bottles. “There’s a couple of certs in here saying that you’re both fit to travel. It’s all sorted.”

Kyle turned to look at him with a very worried expression on his face. “Brax, I’m just not sure…” he said, glancing over at Andy again, “I’m not sure that he’ll cope with a 10-hour flight.”

“He’ll have to” said Brax, suddenly looking very serious. “I got a tip-off that the police are extending the search area. They’ll be looking in this area within the week …so we need to make sure that you guys are long gone by then!”

“I’ll be okay” said Andy, interrupting them in a weak sounding voice. It was like he was suddenly back in the room, righting himself a little and shaking his head to wake himself up. He’d only been half listening to the conversation, and allowing it to wash over him for the most part, but the last bit that Brax had said had caught his attention. If it had to be today, then it had to be today. Part of him was beginning to think that he might actually be dying. He’d never felt so ill in his life before and he was worried that the wound on his stomach was actually infected or that that crazy vet had connected things up wrongly in there and he was slowly being poisoned to death from the inside. Whatever the case, waiting another week wasn’t going to help Josh, unless he hurried up and died. They needed to go today to make sure that Josh got to where they were going before he kicked the bucket! He needed to make sure that Josh was safe, or all of this would have been for nothing! “I’ll be okay” he repeated a little louder, giving Josh the most unconvincing smile anyone had ever seen, “Don’t worry, I’ll get it together for the flight... I’ll be okay!”

“Right then! Looks like we’d all better hit the road!” said Brax, giving the three boys a nervous little smile. “Candy said she’ll meet us there…”

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Thanks everyone for all the feedback! :wub: Much appreciated. Hope you like this chapter x



Chapter 5



“Is she here?!” asked Josh, nervously looking around the crowded airport terminal and wrinkling his nose in an effort to stop himself from scratching his very itchy beard. It was horribly uncomfortable and he was feeling ridiculous in his hipster getup. Who in their right mind would really walk around in a dickie bow and braces?! He peered around the crowd of people trying to see if he could spot Candy anywhere. She was supposed to be meeting them there. She was a gaudy little thing, and he figured that she’d probably be wearing some ridiculous combination of a pink PVC miniskirt, big dangly earrings, and something with animal print of some kind. She had a way of dressing that made her look like some sort of extra from a movie about 1970s hookers. Something like Boogie Nights. It was a little cliché but pretty understandable really, given that they’d now realised that ‘Uncle Theo’ was Candy’s pimp. She probably didn’t have much of a say in what she wore. The sad thing, that they’d also come to realise over the last couple of days, was that the movies that she’d been talking about making had actually been pornos. Not the ‘small budget local films’ that she’d made them out to be. Although they were probably small budget alright! There was something a little lost and sad about the poor girl, especially because she seemed to look up to Theo, and wouldn’t hear a bad word said about him. ‘Uncle Theo’ had decided that she was coming with them to Thailand, so that was that! She was coming! They did need someone else to help push the wheelchairs, and Theo had thought that having a girl with them would help change the dynamics of the group and make them a little less noticeable as a trio of possible fugitives. Josh continued to scan the faces around the departures hall but he couldn’t see her anywhere. Not a leopard print pattern in sight!

“There she is!” said Kyle, pointing at a girl across the room and glancing up at the others in surprise. She looked very different. She’d dressed in a cut off black Ramones T-shirt exposing her midriff, a short wine coloured hoodie and a pair of ripped low-riding jeans. She was carrying a huge bag with all the camera equipment that Josh, as a young filmmaker, would need, and was making her way across the room towards them with a huge white smile. “Hi guys!” she exclaimed, giving each of them a little peck on the cheek and grinning from ear to ear, “This is so exciting isn’t it?!”

Josh and Kyle furrowed their brows and glanced at each other in an incredulous sort of way. Terrifying and nerve rattling, yes… exciting, no… Josh turned to look at Brax and shrugged at him in a questioning sort of way. “Now what?” he asked. No matter how hard he tried to look relaxed, he couldn’t help repeatedly glancing nervously at the armed guard standing on the far side of the room. His heart was hammering in his chest at the thought of getting caught. There were police and armed guards all over the place!

“Now you pick up that video camera and start playing your part.” said Brax, taking the bag off Candy’s shoulder and setting it down at Josh’s feet. He was dressed in the kind of blue scrubs that carers wear and was playing the part of a care assistant from the hospice that was coming with them too. “You’re gonna film the first leg of these brave cancer sufferers’ journey. It’s all going to be documented.” he said. He kneeled down beside the bag and pulled out a large video camera with a microphone on the side, more like the type used for film making, than a domestic camcorder. He handed it to Josh and then stood behind Andy and Kyle with a big smile.

Josh tentatively took the camera and turned it on. He started to film the two boys, just like they’d practiced at home, and did his best to look like he knew what he was doing. “Okay, so… I guess we’ll go to check-in, yeah?” said Josh, looking nervously at his brother through the camera and thinking how ill and frail he looked. He really wasn’t sure that Andy was going to cope with this flight, assuming that they actually got on it. What if he didn’t make it?! What if they had to turn the plane around, or they ended up making an emergency landing because Andy was too ill?! He really wasn’t looking too good. He was hugging his arms around his chest very protectively and leaning to one side, as though he was unable to support himself properly. His eyes didn’t seem to be focusing very well either and there was an obvious film of sweat developing on his brow. Then there was the oxygen tank attached to the back of the wheelchair. The nasal cannulas certainly completed his ‘cancer patient’ look. What had started out as more of a prop, aiming to make him seem more authentically ill, had turned out to be more than necessary. The truth was that Andy wouldn’t have been able to get through all of this without it. He’d been very short of breath for days now and this was at least forcing some air into his lungs. They’d given him some morphine as well before they’d left the house, but the journey there had been excruciating for him, with every little bump in the road exacerbating his pain, and he was already beyond exhausted. Getting him in and out of the car had been an ordeal. He just wasn’t able to move very well at all anymore. Josh was getting more and more worried about what that vet had done in there. It was beginning to seem more and more like he’d actually just butchered him. He wasn’t in a good way, and none of them were too clear on what they were going to do with him once they got to Thailand, but they figured they’d have to cross that bridge when they came to it. First things first, they needed to get through the airport and on to that flight. They’d figure the rest out later! Josh took his eye away from the eyepiece and looked down at his brother. “You ready for this, Andy?” he asked, giving him a look of concern.

Andy lifted his head off his shoulder and looked up at the camera with tired and bloodshot eyes. “Ready” he said quietly and gave Josh a weak little nod.

“Okay, well… Check-in’s over there…” said Brax, taking the handles on the back of Andy’s wheelchair and pushing him towards the desk. Candy smiled at Josh in a sweet and simpering way, and then started pushing Kyle’s wheelchair across the room behind Brax. Josh pushed the trolley with their luggage on it with his free hand and continued to film with the other.

The little group made their way across the departure hall towards the check-in desk. They could see already that there was a large queue forming with some very frustrated and bored looking passengers sitting on their luggage in a disgruntled sort of way. Josh felt his heartrate kick up a notch at the thought of having to stand there for hours waiting to check-in. He didn’t think that his nerves could take it. How would they not get noticed?! He just wanted it to be over as soon as possible. The sooner that they could get through all the security checks the better. That was assuming that this whole ridiculous charade actually worked for them and they didn’t just get arrested as soon as they presented their passports. He wasn’t sure that he trusted ‘Uncle Theo’ any further than he could throw him. There was something deeply unpleasant about the man, like a greasy little weasel. The more he thought about it, the more he thought that he was going to be sick. He probably would have vomited on the spot if there’d actually been anything in his stomach to throw up! How on earth had they let themselves be talked into this? What did they think they were doing?! He tried to concentrate on playing his part, and continued to film as they approached the desk, but he jumped a mile high when someone suddenly stepped in front of the lens.

A man in a police uniform, with a gun belt very visible around his waist, stood in front of them and looked them all up and down. “Where do you think you’re going?” he asked with a very serious expression.

The colour drained from their faces as they looked at this stern and disapproving looking man. “Uh…” Josh started to say, taking the camera down off his shoulder and staring at the floor in surrender. “Uh…” he stammered again.

“We’re just going to check-in” said Candy, giving the policeman a big smile and tilting her head at him in a coquettish fashion. “It’s over there for Qantas isn’t it?”

The man returned her gaze with a very serious frown. “Not with these two, no” he said, shaking his head at the two boys in the wheelchairs. He turned and pointed at a desk in the other direction. “You need to go over there. You want the desk for passengers who need special assistance.” Their little group stood frozen to the spot as the officer studied them in silence for a moment. Their hearts then sank when they saw a look of what seem liked recognition pass over his face. “I think I know who you guys are” he said, as he stared down at Andy and Kyle with a furrowed brow. Brax glanced at Josh, narrowing his eyes and clenching his jaw a little, in a way that told him to stand his ground and not to panic. But he was already panicking! There wasn’t much that anyone could do about that! It looked like they’d been found out! Josh inched his way over slowly to stand behind Andy’s wheelchair, and put his hand on his brother’s shoulder, giving it a little squeeze. He was pretty sure now that they’d been caught. Part of him wanted to set off running and never look back, but he was surprised to find that another part of him was actually a little relieved. They’d be able to get Andy some real medical attention now and he’d be able to have a proper sleep for the first time in months.

After a moment, the policeman dragged his attention away from Andy and Kyle, and turned to yell to another police officer who was standing a short distance away. “Oi! Robbo! Over here!” he shouted, waving him over to where they were standing.

“What’s up?” asked the other police officer, as he ambled over with a look of curiosity on his face.

“These are the guys that the girls over at the special assistance desk were talking about…” said the first policeman. “The ones making that documentary!”

There might as well have been a collective sigh of relief as they realised that they hadn’t been recognised. Or rather, that they had been recognised, but for different reasons! Still, they couldn’t help feeling nervous. They suddenly had two police officers standing right in front of them! Armed police officers, staring at them, and looking them up and down! If someone was going to see through their cover story, this was the moment!

“Aw yeah?!” exclaimed the second police officer, the one they now knew was called Robbo, as he kneeled down in front of Andy. “It’s the lungs is it?” he asked, tilting his head at him sympathetically and putting his hand on his knee, “My grandad died of that. Terrible thing to happen to anyone…”

Andy gave him a weak little smile and nodded his head slowly. That was the backstory alright. He was supposed to have lung cancer that had metastasised to the bowel. That was what his medical documents and x-rays showed, it was why he was supposed to have had his surgery, and it was why he needed his oxygen tank. “Lungs and bowel” he said, grimacing as the pain in his abdomen suddenly seemed that little bit more pronounced. He wondered at the insensitivity of the man in front of him. If he really had been dying of lung cancer, then being told about people dying from it wouldn’t have been something that he wanted to hear.

The policeman glanced across at Kyle in his wheelchair and nodded his head at the heavy looking cast. “That’s not gonna be much fun on the plane!” he said, shaking his head at him in pity, “You two boys have been through the wars haven’t you?!” He looked up at Josh, smiling at him with a look of mock disapproval, and nodded at the camera now hanging by Josh’s side. “You know you shouldn’t really be filming in an airport?” he said, with a little wink. He made an exaggerated tutting sound and then stood back up. “By rights we should be giving you a telling off and taking that camera off you!” He chuckled a little, in a slightly nervous way, and then threw a little wink at his partner, “But I think maybe Sean and I… well, we might just let you off this once…” He gave Andy a playful little punch in the arm, too soft to hurt him in any way, and added, “…in the circumstances!”

“So… over there?” asked Brax, interrupting them and hoping that they could get away from them as quickly as possible. Without waiting for the answer, he began to push Andy’s wheelchair away, trying to appear as relaxed as possible.

“Yup, over there boys!” said the second policeman, giving them all a big smile. “You look after that leg of yours!” he said, patting Kyle on the shoulder.

“Ah, I’ll manage” said Kyle, shifting a little uncomfortably in the chair and trying his best to look like he wasn’t on the verge of having a panic attack. For a moment there he’d thought that the jig was up. This was it! They’d been caught and it was off to prison again after everything they’d been through! His heart still hadn’t recovered! It was still going a million miles an hour, no matter how much he tried to tell himself that it had been a false alarm, and to calm down.

“At least you won’t have to deal with all that queuing!” said the first policeman, giving Candy a little wink as she began to push Kyle’s chair past them.

 “Well, aren’t you guys just a couple of sweethearts?!” she said, flashing them both a big white smile and then skipping as she pushed the chair to try to catch up with Brax quickly.

The two policemen watched her go with a little sigh, glancing at each other in a lecherous kind of way when they caught sight of the visible G-string at the back of her jeans as she wiggled away from them.

As soon as they were a safe distance away, Candy giggled and leaned down to whisper in Kyle’s ear. “You should have seen your face! All of you, white as ghosts! Some smooth criminals you lot are! …Especially you, Stephen! You really need to work on your acting skills!”




“Oh my God!” exclaimed Josh, running his fingers through his bequiffed hair and exhaling loudly with an enormous sense of relief. He clipped the seatbelt around his own waist and turned to smile at Andy in the seat beside him. He’d never felt more relieved. “I can’t believe we got through!” he whispered, while glancing over the back of the seat to make sure no-one was listening. He reached over and clipped Andy’s belt for him as gently as he could, tilting his head apologetically when he saw him wince. They’d been given seats at the front specially reserved for people with special assistance needs. There was a lot more room because there were no seats in front of them and Kyle even had a support for his broken leg. Still, Andy was in considerable pain, and was still reeling from the exertion of getting in and out of the wheelchair so many times. He just didn’t look well.

Andy glanced at Josh for a moment, looking a little teary-eyed, and then clenched his eyes shut and leaned his head back. He looked exhausted and skeletal, and with the cannula in his nose, he was barely recognisable. “We did it.” said Andy, under his breath, as he slumped over to one side and leaned his head against the window. Josh turned and gave Kyle and Candy an anxious little smile. They were sitting across the aisle from him and chatting quietly. Kyle gave him a thumbs up and then turned to stare out the window. None of them could really believe that they’d actually got through and that within a few minutes they’d be taking off and leaving Australia behind. It seemed so surreal!

The last few hours had been the most intense of their whole lives! They’d been sure that they were going to get caught. They’d handed their passports and the paperwork over with so much fear and trepidation and then they’d just had to stand there, trembling on the spot while the people at the desk ran everything through the computer. It had taken what had seemed like an eternity for them to put everything through the system and to organise transport for them to get to the gate. Josh had stood there desperately trying to look like he was calm and collected while his heart had been beating so fast and hard that it was all that he’d been able to hear. How he’d managed to stand there all that time he would never know. At least the other two had been able to sit down! As the man and woman on the desk scrutinised all the falsified documents, glancing up and down and reading through all the medical paperwork, Josh had been silently panicking and preparing himself for that moment when someone would appear behind him with a set of handcuffs. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he’d almost expected an alarm to go off, and a huge cage to come crashing down on top of them! But it hadn’t happened…

If anything, it had all gone incredibly smoothly! A lovely older woman named Charlene, wearing a navy airline uniform, and two airport personnel called Frank and Carlos, had been assigned to help them through the airport. They’d organised a couple of motorised carts to drive them from one end of the airport to the other, and they’d chatted to them all the way as though they were all the best of buddies. They’d all played their parts with sincerity and managed to field a multitude of questions without getting too flustered or panicking. Getting through security had been incredibly nerve-wracking, but they’d been escorted through by their new airline friends. The main difficulty had been getting Andy out of his chair and into the replacement one so that they could x-ray it. He’d roared in pain as soon as they’d tried to move him, and he’d looked like he was about to pass out, or throw up, or both… Then, back in the chair, he’d gone a terrible shade of grey, and he hadn’t been able to stop shaking since. In many ways, Andy’s ill-health had swung things for them though, and aided them in getting past security without excessively close scrutiny. No-one could have questioned how ill Andy really was. It was clear that the guards had been so busy feeling sorry for him, and trying not to cause him any more pain than was absolutely necessary, that they really hadn’t paid too much attention to the rest of the group. Even Kyle with his broken leg, and bone cancer backstory, hadn’t gotten anywhere near as much attention or sympathy as Andy because he just seemed so much more mobile. Andy was a truly pitiful sight. Once Andy had been processed and taken through the security gates in his wheelchair, the others were brought through in a matter of minutes.

Saying goodbye to Brax had been really hard, especially after everything that they’d been through. He’d come with them through airport security on a fake passport and pretended that he intended to travel too. That way he’d been able to come to the gate and make sure that they actually got on the plane. It had been a tense and tearful goodbye at the gate but he’d promised to come and visit them at some stage when they all got settled. Andy had surprised them all by bursting into tears. He’d started out by thanking Brax, and babbling a little nonsensically about how sorry he was about everything. Then the tears had just erupted out of nowhere! Brax had seemed a little embarrassed and uncomfortable about the whole thing but he’d given him a hug and told Josh to look after him. Finally, when it had come time to board, he’d watched as the boys were wheeled away down the tunnel towards the plane, and he’d waved at Kyle one last time.

The plane began to taxi down the runway and Josh looked across at Kyle with an anxious little grimace. Kyle looked equally nervous. Josh had never been on a plane before so he was a little frightened of flying, but there was something else gnawing away at his stomach now as he turned to gaze out the window. A wave of sadness suddenly crashed over him, at the realisation that this was the last time that he would get to see Australia. He was leaving his homeland and everything that he’d ever known behind him. He was leaving Evie. He was leaving every person or thing that he’d ever cared about, and his entire sense of identity. It would all be gone as soon as that plane left the ground. They would all be exiles now for the rest of their lives! There was something overwhelmingly heart-breaking about that thought. On some level he’d never really believed that the plan would work, but now that it had, he was devastated at the thought of never being able to come home. Flinging yourself at some other foreign country seemed all well and good in theory but what did any of them really know about living in Thailand?! What did they even think that they’d be able to do there? None of them spoke the language and they didn’t have the faintest clue about the culture or the way that society worked there. The plan had simply been to get on the plane. Now that they were on it, they had no idea of what lay ahead, or what they would do when they actually got there.

The plane lifted off the tarmac and Josh leaned back in the seat feeling a little breathless and trying to slow his heartbeat. He turned to look at Andy who was staring out the window now with a sad look on his face. “You okay, Andy?” he asked, gently nudging him to get his attention.

Andy nodded without turning to look at him. “I never thought it would actually work” he said, in a quiet voice as though he was talking to himself more than Josh, “I thought Theo was just going to get us all killed.”

“Me too” admitted Josh. They’d all gone along with this crazy plan because they’d had no other options but none of them had actually believed that it would succeed. He glanced past Andy and gave a heavy sigh when he saw the clouds outside the window. They were really on their way now! “We did it!” he said to Andy with a tone of excitement in his voice, “We’re really going… 10 hours and we’ll be in Bangkok! Can you believe it?!”

Andy turned to look at him with a tired and pained expression. “I’m so sorry, Josh!” he blurted out, suddenly speaking much more loudly than he’d done in a while. Josh was surprised to see him getting weepy again too. He’d never been this much of a crier. “This is all my fault!” exclaimed Andy, reaching over and taking hold of Josh’s hand in a desperate sort of way. “I didn’t mean for any of this to happen! I didn’t Josh! …I need you to know that! …I’m so sorry… I ruined your life… and now… now look at where we are!”

“Shhhh! Hey! It’s okay!” said Josh, in a soothing voice as he tried his best to sound reassuring. There was something quite wild-eyed about Andy right now and it was making Josh feel anxious. He put his hand on Andy’s forehead expecting him to have a high temperature but if anything he felt cold and clammy.

“I’m so sorry, Josh!” repeated Andy, hugging his arms around his chest in a protective sort of way and shivering, “I’ve hurt so many people… I’ve made so many bad decisions and… and people are dead because of me… good people are dead!”

“Shhhh!” warned Josh, gently pushing Andy’s head back against the headrest. “Shhhh! Andy, please?! You need to get some rest… and be quiet now...” he whispered to him. Josh glanced at Kyle and Candy across the aisle for a second and grimaced at them. He was worried that someone would overhear and start piecing things together. Details of their crimes had been all over the TV and newspapers for months now and people might just start to look at them all a little closer if Andy kept talking about deaths and being responsible for people dying!

“Hannah and Oscar…” he mumbled, closing his eyes again and giving a pained little moan. “I’m so sorry!” he said again.

“I know, Andy” said Josh, in a comforting tone, “I know that, but you need to close your eyes now and just… just stop talking”

Andy opened his eyes again for a moment and looked at Josh in a strange staring sort of way. He looked a little crazed as though he wasn’t really seeing anything. As though he was looking right through him. “It’s all my fault, Josh! …All of it! …You wouldn’t be in this mess if it wasn’t for me!” he said, starting to cry again. “You could have been something really good… You could have made something of yourself… if you hadn’t had me in your life.” Tears had started to roll down his cheeks and he seemed particularly short of breath. “I screwed everything up! Everything I touch just turns to…”

“Seriously, Andy…” snapped Josh, sounding a little impatient now.  “That’s not true… It’s not!”, he assured him, speaking in a hushed voice and looking over the back of the seats to check who was within hearing distance. “Just shut up for a while, please?!” he begged. No-one seemed to be listening but you could never be completely sure. Kyle was glaring across at them and making faces at him to get Andy to be quiet.

“But I…” began Andy, with tears streaming down his cheeks, but Josh put his hand over his mouth and shushed him again.

Josh looked at his brother in a scolding sort of way and said, “Andy, just stop talking, okay?! …Shut up!”

Andy stared at him with bloodshot and teary eyes and nodded his head in defeat. Josh took his hand away from his mouth again and Andy just slumped over to lean his head against the window. It was like his whole body had just collapsed in on itself and he closed his eyes.

Josh gave a sigh of relief as he leaned back in his seat and shut his eyes too. They would be in Bangkok soon and then their new lives would begin. What on earth those new lives would be, he had no idea, but at least they didn’t involve prison. Hopefully. They’d see about getting some help for Andy and they’d try to find somewhere safe to lie low for a little while until they figured things out. He glanced over at Andy again, who seemed to have calmed down and drifted off to sleep in a strange and awkward position, all squashed up against the wall. They just needed to get through the flight, and then passport control, and it would finally be over. They’d be able to stop running and maybe they could even stop looking over their shoulders so much. It sounded good to him… Only nine more hours to go!

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Thanks again to everyone for the lovely comments... so here we go, final chapter, hope you like it... (I'm very nervous about this one, haha! :unsure:)




Chapter 6



The wheels touched down with a particularly heavy bump and jolted Josh out of what had been the first decent sleep he’d had in a long time. He wasn’t sure when he’d finally fallen asleep but he felt like he’d managed to get at least a few hours of unbroken slumber which was something he hadn’t had in a while! He could see that Kyle and Candy were awake and chatting on the other side of the aisle. He turned to smile at Andy. They’d made it! They’d actually made it! Now all they had to do was get through passport control and they’d be ‘home’ and dry. Andy was still sleeping in that strange hunched position against the wall of the plane. He figured that he’d let him sleep a little while longer and wake him once all the other passengers had gotten off. They’d have to wait to be taken off anyway because it would take a while to organise assistance and specialised transport for their wheelchairs.

“Andy?” he whispered, when he saw the special assistance crew finally get on-board. “Andy?” he called again, giving him a little nudge to wake him. He didn’t want to startle him too much if he’d actually managed to get some proper sleep for once. “Andy! Wake up!” he said, giving his shoulder a little shake this time. There was no response. Josh’s heart began to race and a terrible sick feeling began to form in his stomach as he shook him a little bit harder. He wasn’t waking up! Andy just wasn’t waking up! “Andy!” he shouted, putting his hand on his brother’s face and recoiling in horror when he realised that his skin was cold and waxy to the touch. “No! Andy!” he shouted, beginning to panic and shaking him really hard, “Nooo! Please Andy, please wake up?! Please?!”

One of the air stewards appeared at his side with a shocked and ashen expression on her face. She could see from Andy’s colour, and the waxen appearance that his skin had taken on, that he was dead. It wasn’t the first time that it had happened on a flight and it probably wouldn’t be the last. “Is he?” she asked, tentatively putting her hand on Josh’s shoulder.  He glared at her for a moment and pulled his shoulder away. Kyle and Candy were staring across in horror at the scene as it unfolded. Kyle couldn’t hide his shock, and kept opening his mouth to speak, but the words were failing him. How could Andy just be dead?! How could that have just happened?!

“Andy! Open your eyes!” Josh shouted at him, beginning to sob and frantically trying to force Andy’s eyelids open. “Andy! Please wake up! Please?!” He gently touched the side of Andy’s face again and wondered how long ago it had happened. Had he been blissfully sleeping when his brother had breathed his last?! How could he just be gone?! Andy was still slumped over in that uncomfortable looking position with his head inside the rectangular window of the plane and his arms hugged around his chest. Josh had told him to shut up and he’d done exactly that. He hadn’t talked or moved again! ‘Shut up’ had been the final words that Josh had spoken to his brother. His poor sick and scared brother that he dearly loved! What was he going to do without him?! “Please wake up!” wailed Josh, as he put his arms around him and laid his head on his motionless chest, “I can’t do this without you!”




“Are you okay?” asked Kyle, gently touching Josh’s shoulder and looking at him in concern. Josh was sitting hunched over the interview table with his head resting on his hand. They’d barely spoken over the last few hours. Not since the immigration official had left the room and taken Candy with him.

“I’m… I’m… Can you just stop asking me that?” mumbled Josh, as he stared down at the scratched surface of the table in front of him. “Just…” he started to say but he never continued the sentence. There were initials carved into the wood and he was lightly running his fingertips around the grooves, over and over and over again. He wondered who “CB” was and where they were now.  They must have spent a lot of time waiting in this room if they’d had the time or the inclination to carve their initials. He wondered what they’d used to do it. He wondered how long he and Kyle were going to be kept waiting. They’d already been in there now for about eight hours. No-one seemed to want to tell them what was going on.

“Mate, I’m… I’m so sorry” said Kyle, giving Josh’s shoulder a little squeeze, “At least… at least he just drifted off to sleep… I mean… It must have been kind of peaceful.”

Josh nodded slowly and continued to stare down at the shape of the letters carved in the wood. “CB” he mouthed to himself as he traced the letters again slowly and carefully. “Casey Braxton” he said below his breath. Maybe Andy was with Casey now? He thought about how much he’d lost in such a short space of time. How had things gone so badly wrong? He was only 19 years old and yet here he was, a fugitive criminal, running from the law in a country he knew nothing about. At least with Andy by his side he had had some sense of family and identity remaining, but now he might as well have been this alter ego. This idiot with a dickie bow and suspenders. ‘Michael Flood’ was a name that would take a little while to get used to. He’d never thought of himself as a Michael, but maybe this idiot of a hipster cameraman was the new him? Maybe he’d have to grow one of these stupid beards for real?

Kyle sat back in his chair and gave a heavy sigh. This whole thing had so quickly become worse than a nightmare! Poor Andy had been through such a terrible ordeal in the last few weeks but none of them had really realised quite how ill he was. He’d been pretty stoic about it all. He’d just sat there in pain, rarely complaining very much, and they’d allowed him to rot from the inside and quietly drift away. They’d chosen to ignore the fact that the vet had clearly botched the job and allowed him to get weaker and weaker in front of their eyes. It was something that they hadn’t even really spoken about. Like some kind of silent understanding, that no matter what, they weren’t taking him to the hospital. Even Josh had gone along with that. Now the poor guy was dead! Kyle couldn’t help feeling guilty about it. Andy had risked his life to break him out of prison after all, and this was how he’d been repaid. He knew that Andy had made mistakes, a lot of mistakes, but in the end he hadn’t really been a bad guy. Not really. He thought about Andy’s attempts to apologise last night and how much he’d wanted to unburden himself. He must have known that he was dying.

“Mate” said Kyle in a soothing voice, as he leaned forward and gently rubbed Josh’s shoulder, “You’ve still got me… We’ve still got each other… I mean… I’m here if you need to talk.”

“How long are they gonna keep us in here?” asked Josh, in a low and distant voice. He just seemed so dazed. The interview with the immigration official had gone by in a blur with Josh answering all the questions about who they were and the purpose of their visit in a way that almost sounded like he was reading off a script. He basically was reading off a script. ‘Michael Flood’ and ‘Stephen Harris’ were deeply traumatised and shocked at the loss of their friend ‘Aaron Clayton’. Both he and Kyle had played their parts to the best of their ability but for Josh it had felt like an out of body experience. His mind had shut down and everything seemed like he was watching it from a distance. It was someone else sitting in this chair answering the questions, not him! None of it seemed real anymore. He couldn’t really feel anything. He just felt numb.

Suddenly the door opened again and a man walked in in a grey suit. He set a briefcase down on the desk and opened it. “So guys…” he said in an Australian accent, taking some paperwork out of the case and shaking his head at them in pity, “Not Michael and Stephen as it turns out…” He pointed at Josh and tilted his head, “Josh Barrett, I believe… and you’re Kyle Braxton?”

Kyle let out a gasp of shock and all the colour drained from his face. “How…?” he began to say, staring at Josh who didn’t seem to have reacted in the slightest. He looked back at the man and said, “How did you find out?!”

The man smirked at him and shook his head. “Those documents are pretty rubbish… and your ‘friend’ Candy sold you out as soon as she left the room… Said you basically kidnapped her and forced her to travel against her will.”

“What?!” exclaimed Kyle, looking wide-eyed with shock, “How could we force her?! Two of us are in wheelchairs! She pushed mine most of the way… How is that forcing someone?!”

The man laughed and said, “I don’t believe it for a second but it’s a pretty plausible story, and since she didn’t have any drugs in her personal belongings, she’ll be free to go.”

Josh looked up at the man for the first time since he’d come in. “Drugs?” he asked, leaning back in his chair and glancing at Kyle in a confused way, “What do you mean drugs? We have medications with us for Kyle and Andy… They’re both in a lot of pain… but they’re medications, not illegal drugs.” He didn’t know why he was still referring to Andy in the present tense. He just couldn’t bring himself to say ‘was’.

“Guys, I’m gonna cut straight to the chase… I’ve been assigned as your legal representation and translator until the Australian authorities can send someone in… There was a large quantity of ketamine found in your bags… and well… I’m not sure how to say this…”

Josh looked up at the man in front of him with a look of complete and total defeat. Everything was becoming crystal clear. They’d been set up. ‘Uncle Theo’ had screwed them over in the worst way possible. The vet’s obvious amusement when he’d been talking about the ketamine made a lot more sense now. ‘Enough to knock out a team of horses’! Candy had been in on it too and had landed them in it with the authorities the moment that she’d got her chance. How had they all been so stupid?! Where had Brax even got the guy from, or had he been in on it from the start?! Whatever the case, they were here now in Thailand with a load of drugs in their bags that they couldn’t account for, and now they were going to be ‘banged up abroad’, the only thing worse than being banged up in Australia… Was there even any point in arguing?!

The man glanced back and forth at the two boys in front of him and wondered if they’d really had any part in what he was about to say. Even he’d been shocked when he’d been handed the report and he’d seen some weird and twisted things in his time. These two just didn’t seem like the type of hardened criminals that would do something quite this gruesome. But people could sometimes surprise you… He cleared his throat and looked at Josh in a sympathetic sort of way, “…Your brother… he’d had recent surgery, hadn’t he?”

Josh nodded and glanced at Kyle with growing concern. A terrible thought had begun to cross his mind. Maybe the vet hadn’t simply botched the surgery through sheer incompetence? Maybe he’d actually intended to kill Andy and had done it deliberately?!

“Well, it seems that someone actually… um… implanted a package…” said the man in the suit, narrowing his eyes at them and clearly trying to gauge their reactions. He still wasn’t sure what to make of all of this. He knew that they were both fugitives, but looking at their backgrounds, neither of them seemed like criminal masterminds, or like they’d been involved in drugs in the past. The two pathetic looking specimens in front of him now just didn’t strike him as the types to have thought this up on their own. The whole thing just felt like a setup and he’d seen a few. “Josh, did you know that your brother had a 1kg package of heroin sewn inside his abdomen?”

Josh’s mouth fell open and his eyes looked like they’d pop out of his head. “Wuh… What… How…?” he stammered, shaking his head as a cold chill ran down his spine. He had watched the vet operate but he remembered him asking him to go and get some more sterile clothes from the box of supplies. That’s when it must have happened. He felt a wave of nausea roll over him so he dashed to the waste paper basket by the wall and began to vomit. The vet’s mad giggling and all the sly looks that he’d given him suddenly made a lot more sense. No wonder Andy had been in so much pain!

Kyle watched with a look of pure horror on his face as Josh retched over the bin, and then turned to look at the man in the suit. “We didn’t do that to him!” he exclaimed, shaking his head and looking disgusted, “He was Josh’s brother… and he was my friend!”

“It looks like the package may have been leaking a little bit… maybe for some time…” continued the man, watching Josh lean exhausted against the wall and wipe his mouth. He felt unusually sympathetic towards these two. It was just a pity that the whole thing was so cut and dry and that the evidence against them was so damning. He was fairly sure that they were drugs mules. People were rarely this stupid when they acted of their own accord. “That added to the level of infection…” he added, giving a sad little sigh, “The coroner thinks he went into cardiac arrest sometime early on in the flight.” He looked over at Kyle and glanced at the cast on his leg. “They want to take a sample of that plaster too.” he said, nodding at it and giving him a pitying look, “Candy said that it’s lined with cocaine”.



“Can’t believe you managed to pull it off!” said Heath, standing with his back leaning against the balcony and holding out his beer bottle to clink it off the one that Brax was holding. “I mean, they should be there by now, shouldn’t they?”

“Yeah...” he said, checking his watch and giving him a big smile, “Should’ve landed about three hours ago.” He leaned back against the railing of the balcony beside him and gave a loud sigh of relief, “I hope they’re doing okay. Andy wasn’t looking too good…”

“The infection?” asked Heath, giving him a worried look. “That vet doesn’t sound like he had the slightest clue what he was doing.”

“We didn’t have any other choice.” said Brax, grimacing a little at the thought of being butchered like that on a kitchen table. From what Josh had said, he’d just cut him up like a pig and then stitched him back together. “I reckon he’ll be okay though… in a couple of weeks.”

Heath took a slug from his bottle and glanced through the open patio door at Ricky flitting about the living-room. “Does she know now?” he asked.

“Yeah… she does.” sighed Brax. He knew that she really wasn’t happy about the whole thing and they’d had an enormous argument when he’d gotten home and told her what had been going on. But it was over now and they could all move on. “The police were here this afternoon.” he added, with a little frown. “They think he’s been taken by some of Gunno’s men… They actually think he’s been killed.”

“So they won’t be looking for him?” asked Heath, with a hopeful sound to his voice. “We’re in the clear, eh?!”

“Maybe” frowned Brax. “We’ll just have to keep our heads down for a while and hope they lose interest… Neither of us want them digging around in our accounts now, do we? Not with all that money going to Theo.”

Heath nodded and smiled at Ricky as she walked towards the open patio door. She leaned on the doorframe and held Brax’s mobile phone out towards him. “Brax, your phone just beeped.” she said.

“Thanks Ric” he said, walking over to her and leaning in for a little kiss. He took the phone, glancing at the screen, and let out a loud gasp. There was a text message that had flashed up and he could only see the first line. “Your old mate Gunno here, or should I say ‘Uncle Theo’s nephew? Lol!” He looked up at Heath with a look of pure horror as the terrible realisation hit home. What had he just done?!




Kyle and Josh sat huddled in the crowded prison cell, hugging each other close, and staring around them in fear. They were the only non-Thai inmates in the cell they’d been placed in and they’d already been threatened and had the few meagre possessions they’d been allowed to bring with them taken from them. It had been five days so far. Five days into what was going to be a life sentence! Five days into an eternity spent in hell… There were about sixty men crammed into a room that wasn’t even vaguely big enough to hold them all. Sixty men lying on a damp cement floor. Some with sheets to lie on, most without. Sixty men using an open toilet in the corner of the cell. The heat was stifling and the stench was drawing all manner of insects to bite them and torment them. The lights were kept on all through the night so there was never a moment of peace or darkness.

Kyle shifted uncomfortably on the cement floor, trying to readjust his position without putting too much stress on his still broken leg. They’d removed his cast and given him another more lightweight one that really didn’t seem to be doing the job. The pain was overwhelming any time he tried to put any weight on it but he hadn’t been allowed to have his crutches so he didn’t really have that much choice. Josh was acting as his support most of the time and helping him to hobble around. That meant that they even had to go to the toilet together. He glanced at Josh for a moment and then looked away. They weren’t really talking much anymore. It wasn’t that they weren’t talking. It was just that Josh had retreated into himself and he just didn’t seem to have much to say. There was a vacant look to his eyes now, and when he did talk, it sounded distant and dream-like. He needed Josh to come back to him more than anything right now. He needed someone to talk to or he was going to go mad.

“You hungry?” he asked, more as a conversation starter than out of any real interest in eating. He’d started to hide small amounts of food to keep for later because neither of them were faring too well with their new environment and they often couldn’t keep food down for very long.

Josh shook his head and leaned his head down on Kyle’s shoulder. “I can’t do this…” he said quietly, wiping at his eyes as tears began to form. “I can’t live like this.”

“I know.” said Kyle, gazing around the dank and filthy cell that was to be their home. He pulled him towards him and put both arms around him for a proper hug. He wondered how it had come to this. He’d traded in ten years in an Australian prison, and the possibility of a life when he got out, for a lifetime in a Thai one. And it hadn’t even been his choice! Why couldn’t Brax have just listened to him and left him alone?! Why couldn’t he have done that?! Just once?!

Suddenly there was a loud siren and lights started flashing out in the hallway. All the inmates started climbing groggily to their feet and gathering around the locked doorway to the cell. Josh and Kyle looked at each other in a confused way wondering what was going on. One of the inmates that had taken Josh’s shoes when he’d first arrived looked down at them as they continued to crouch together on the floor and kicked Kyle in his bad leg. “Get up!” he growled at them, aiming another kick at Josh’s leg, but he managed to move away in time.

Josh leapt to his feet and pulled Kyle’s arm over his shoulder to hoist him up too. A guard came and unlocked the door to the cell and everyone started to file out towards the large yard outside. Somehow everyone else seemed to know what to do but the two boys were totally lost as to what was going on. They’d been there five days and nothing like this had happened before. They hobbled their way behind everyone else with Kyle finding it particularly difficult to keep up. As they passed under an archway that led out into the main yard, one of the other inmates bashed into them pretty hard, pressing them up against the wall for a moment. He stared Kyle in the eye with a cold and threatening gaze, and then gave him a smile that was anything but friendly. They watched as he walked away and then exchanged worried glances. They certainly weren’t making too many friends so far!

Out in the yard there was a blinding white light and as their eyes adjusted to it they realised that all the inmates had started to form rows and everyone was kneeling with their hands behind their heads. They followed the guys in front of them to what they took to be their assigned spot. Kyle looked at Josh in a frightened sort of way. He wasn’t going to be able to kneel like everyone else. There were guards walking up and down with automatic rifles and they had sniffer dogs patrolling up and down the lines of prisoners. He glanced at one of the guards in an apologetic way and pointed wordlessly at his cast. He was hoping for some kind of special consideration but the guard just pointed to the ground and shouted something at him that he didn’t understand. Kyle looked back at Josh and nodded at him very nervously. He was going to have to try. Josh lowered Kyle onto the ground carefully and got onto his knees in the same way as everyone else. Kyle gritted his teeth and pulled himself up onto one knee, doing his best to bend his injured leg under him. Josh glanced at him sideways and gave him a sympathetic little half-smile when he saw how much pain he was in and how badly he was shaking. They watched as the guards made their way up and down the lines with a jarringly happy looking beagle sniffing everyone as they went. The dog stopped in front of one of the men a few rows in front of them. He began to cry and wail at them in Thai but the guards just picked him up and dragged him off towards another building on the far side of the yard.

“What are they looking for?” winced Kyle, wobbling on his one knee and desperately trying to keep his bad leg off the ground.

The sniffer dog approached them along the line and Kyle thought it seemed so odd that a happy looking little beagle could strike such fear into their hearts. The dog just thought it was playing a game, but if he sat down in front of you, it could mean such serious repercussions. To his horror, the dog sat down right in front of him!

“What?!” he exclaimed looking at the dog in confusion and then glancing at Josh with eyes wide with fear. He looked up as the guards loomed above him and shook his head at them. “I didn’t! I don’t have anything!” he began to stammer.

The guards began shouting at him in Thai and he cried out in pain as two of them grabbed him under the arms and lifted him onto his feet. They started rifling through his clothing and one of them put his hand inside the waistband of his shorts. He pulled out a small packet of something brown and wrapped in cling film, and then hissed something in his ear in a sinister sort of way.

“That’s not mine!” shouted Kyle, shaking his head at him and looking down at Josh pleadingly.

Josh leapt to his feet with his hands still behind his head and tried pleading with them. “Please?! It’s not his! Someone planted that on him! It’s not his!”  He scanned the heads around the yard until he spotted the one that had bashed into them in the hallway. He pointed at him and shouted, “It was that guy over there! It was him! He planted it on us!”

The guard him hit him in the stomach with the butt of his gun, and knocked him back onto his knees, retching and spluttering in pain. He grabbed his hair and yelled ‘Shut up!” in his face, so close that he could feel his spittle sparking off his skin, and smell his breath. He began to cry as he watched them drag Kyle away through a door on the far side of the yard. He didn’t think he’d ever be able to forget the look on Kyle’s face as he disappeared through that doorway. The fear on his face had been heart-breaking. What if he didn’t come back?! What were they going to do now, one without the other?!




“I’m sorry!” coughed Josh, struggling to free himself from the strangle hold that he was being held in. He couldn’t breathe properly. There was one guy behind him who was squeezing his arm around his throat and crushing his windpipe, and no matter how much he pulled at his hands, he couldn’t get him to let go. The scary looking guy that he’d snitched to the guards about was standing in front of him and smiling at him in a very threatening way. He kept talking at him and laughing, as though they were old friends, but he didn’t know what he was saying. He didn’t seem to speak English and Josh certainly didn’t speak Thai. From the body language though, he could tell that this wasn’t a friendly chat, and he was in very real danger. “I’m sorry!” he choked again, giving him a very apologetic look, “I didn’t mean it!” His heart was racing as he looked into the cold and cruel eyes of the man in front of him, and his stomach gave a terrible jolt, when he saw him produce a switchblade from the pocket of his tracksuit bottoms. He pressed the button and the blade shot out with a ‘zing’ noise.  A hush fell over the cell as fifty-seven sets of eyes turned to watch what was going on. All Josh could hear was the excited breathing of the man holding him from behind. He was panting in his ear. The guy in front brought the knife up to Josh’s cheek so the tip of the blade was close to his eye. He grinned from ear to ear and shouted at him ‘Wake up, Josh!” He trailed the knife gently down the flesh on his cheek and then drew it away with a sinister little wink. Suddenly he felt a sharp pain in his heart and he looked down to see the knife in the middle of his chest. The man stepped away from him and started to laugh, grinning like a Cheshire cat, as the blood started to bubble up out of Josh’s mouth. He threw his head back and started laughing in an exaggerated movie villain sort of way.  The man behind Josh let go and his legs went out from under him causing him to slump to the floor. He couldn’t breathe! He lifted his hands to cradle the knife that was protruding from his chest and looked up with a pained expression at the men towering above him. The guy who had stabbed him kneeled down beside him and tilted his head at him in mock sympathy. The look on his face was more like a wild animal observing its prey. He reached out and put his hand on the hilt of the blade, pushing on it a little with a sadistic grin on his face. “Josh!” he said, in a pleading tone, “Wake up, Josh! It’s just a nightmare! Wake up!”

Josh sat bolt upright, flailing his arms around him and trying to fight his way to freedom. “Get off me!” he shouted as a pair of hands tried to restrain him. Everything was dark all of a sudden. He didn’t know what had happened to the lights! “Get off me!” he screamed, scrambling away and trying to find the handle of the blade in his chest to pull it out. His chest really hurt.

“Josh! Calm down!” pleaded Andy, as he watched him with concern. He seemed to have been having one hell of a nightmare and had been screaming in his sleep. He’d been screaming so loudly that Andy had heard him from down the hall. He was soaked in sweat and tangled up in his bed covers like he’d been flailing around for quite some time. “Josh, it was just a dream! You’re okay! Just take a breath, breathe!”

Josh had scrambled across the floor and was now cowering in a corner of the room with his heart going a mile a minute. He really couldn’t understand at all where he was or what was going on. He couldn’t find the knife in his chest but his heart still hurt. It felt like it was being crushed. He couldn’t breathe! He still couldn’t understand why things had gone dark or where the other inmates had gone. He’d never been more confused.

Andy approached him slowly and knelt down beside him. Josh’s unseeing eyes were darting all over the room like he was desperately looking for something or listening out for some unseen threat. He could see how fast his heart was beating and how hard he was struggling to breathe. He reached out and tentatively touched him on the arm but that just made him jump a mile high so he took his hand away again. “Josh… It’s okay, mate! You just need to calm down… It was just a nightmare.”

Josh’s eyes widened as he suddenly realised that this was Andy who was speaking to him. It was Andy’s voice floating towards him out of the darkness! For a moment, the thought that he had actually died began to drift across his mind. Maybe this was what the afterlife was like? A sea of darkness, but at least you got to hear the voices of your loved ones again. “Andy?” he said, in a quiet and laboured voice as he tried to get his breathing under control. He reached his hand out into the darkness, and said it again, “Andy?”

Andy tilted his head at him sympathetically and took hold of his brother’s hand. “I’m here” he said in a soft and soothing voice, “I’m here, mate.”

“Oh my God!” exclaimed Josh, reaching out his arms and launching himself towards Andy as he started to sob. “I can’t believe it! …I thought …I thought… I’m so sorry!”

“Hey, hey, hey…” said Andy, pulling him into a hug and gently stroking the hair on the back of his head. He was hot and soaked in sweat and shaking really badly. “You’re okay, mate! You’re okay!”

“I love you, Andy! …I thought I’d lost you!” sobbed Josh, hugging Andy tight with a desperation that he’d never seen before, “You died on the plane, and we were in the prison… and Kyle....  and oh god! The surgery, Andy! That vet just butchered you… and the drugs …we let them… I’m so sorry!” he babbled. “So much pain! I’m so sorry!”

“Mate, it was just a nightmare!” giggled Andy, feeling a little embarrassed by this excessive show of affection, and surprised at Josh’s total incoherence. It certainly sounded like a complicated dream. “You’re okay. I’m okay. We’re all okay…”

“Where are we?” asked Josh, staring around the black and empty space. “Why’s it so dark?”

Andy pulled away from him for a moment and looked at him with concern. He did look a little bit feverish. He certainly looked confused! “Josh… This is your room… and it’s dark because… Mate, you remember that… I mean…? It’s dark because you’re blind…”

“No, I got my sight back!” exclaimed Josh, shaking his head and furrowing his brow, “Didn’t I?” He seemed very confused, and frowned to himself, as he tried to think if that was true or not. “I got my sight back …and then I killed Charlotte… and we went on the run…” Even as he was saying it, he was beginning to realise that it wasn’t true, and that it had all been part of his dream. “I… I… didn’t get my sight back, did I?”

Andy laughed and put his hand on Josh’s forehead to see if he had a fever. He was burning up! “No, Mate, I’m sorry… and you didn’t kill anyone! That must have been one hell of a dream!”

“But… I…” said Josh, looking bewildered and starting to pull himself to his feet. It had all felt so very real. He couldn’t be sure what he had dreamed and what had actually happened. “Is Kyle okay?” he asked, putting his hands out to feel for the edge of the bed so he could sit down, “Where is he?”

“Mate, it’s like 4am… Where do you think he is?!” laughed Andy, hunkering down in front of him and putting his hand on his knee. “He’s sleeping!”

Josh gave a huge sigh and shook his head. He wasn’t sure that he believed all of this. Some part of him was convinced that this was the dream and that he’d wake up at any moment to find that he was still in that Thai prison cowering in the filth and the misery. He turned his head towards Andy with a pained expression and bit his bottom lip a little nervously. “Could you go and get him?” he asked, looking a little embarrassed, “Please?!”

Andy nodded. He could see how shaken Josh was and he thought it couldn’t hurt to wake Kyle up if it would put his mind at ease. “Okay… I’ll go get him” he said, giving his knee a little pat as he got to his feet.

While Andy was gone, Josh ran his hand through his hair and gave a sigh of relief when he felt that his hair was still long and hadn’t been shaved up in that ridiculous hipster style. He was beginning to believe a little bit more that the whole thing had really been one terrible horrifying nightmare. He was at home, safe in his room, with his friends and family around him. He was going to be okay. He held his hand up in front of his face and began to laugh a little. He couldn’t see a thing! Up until last night the biggest worry he had had was being blind. Now it just didn’t seem so bad. Life could be so much worse! Life could definitely be so much worse!

“Mate? You okay?” said Kyle, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and stumbling over half-asleep to where Josh was sitting. “Andy said you’re a bit freaked out.” he said, sitting down on the mattress beside him.

Josh let out a huge breath, holding out his arms for a hug, and Kyle looked surprised for a moment but pulled him towards him. Ordinarily Josh would have been pretty embarrassed, but right now he just needed more than anything to know that everyone was safe. “I’m so sorry, Kyle!” he said, laughing at himself a little because he could see how silly this whole thing was.

“You have nothing to be sorry for!” laughed Kyle, pulling away from the hug and ruffling his hair for him a little. “Well, maybe being a bit of tool lately… but other than that…”

“Thanks” said Josh, looking a little embarrassed, “Can you promise me something, Kyle? Please?!”

“What’s that?” he asked, glancing up at Andy with a quizzical kind of look. Josh was acting pretty strangely alright. He felt a little bad for the chat that he’d had with him yesterday. Maybe he’d been a bit harsh?! That walk that Josh had taken with Andy and Hannah had obviously been a bit too much for him. They’d forced him into it, even though he’d said that he wasn’t ready, so maybe getting angry with Andy had been completely understandable. Sometimes tough love wasn’t the right way. Andy had told him about the conversation that he’d had with him before going to bed, and they were both a bit worried about the state of his mental health. Saying that he wished that he’d died, and that it would have been better if they’d just turned off the life support, had rung a lot of alarm bells for them. He just didn’t seem to be coming to terms with his blindness very well. This dream seemed to have really shaken him too. Maybe they needed to get him some professional help?

“Can you promise me, that if you ever meet someone called Isla, that you’ll run the other direction?” he said, patting Kyle on the knee and giving him a little half-smile. “I really need you here, Kyle… You’re family.”

“I’m not going anywhere!” said Kyle, in a slightly confused tone, “and I’ve never met anyone called Isla.”

“Promise me!” said Josh, looking very serious, “She’s bad news and she’ll destroy your life!”

“Okay, mate, I promise” he said, laughing and putting his hand on Josh’s forehead. “I think maybe we need to get Nate to come look at you” he said, motioning with his head for Andy to go next door and get him. “I don’t think you’re very well, mate.” Andy nodded and went out to get Nate from Ricky’s.

“I’m okay!” said Josh, suddenly smiling from ear to ear. “I’m better than I’ve been in a very long time! …I’m alive, Andy’s alive, you’re alive!” He shook his head at himself and blew out a big breath of air, “You have no idea how big a deal that is!” He lay back on the bed and ran his fingers slowly though his hair beginning to giggle like a madman. This whole thing was so surreal! “Oh my God!” he shouted suddenly, sitting back up again, and staring around the room wildly, “I’ve just realised! Hannah and Oscar are alive too! Aren’t they?! The explosion hasn’t happened yet!”

“Yeah, of course they’re alive” said Kyle, feeling a little creeped out by this conversation and giving him a very strange look. He shook his head at him a little sadly and gave his knee a reassuring squeeze. “Josh, mate, it was just a dream… You’re not clairvoyant! …There hasn’t been an explosion… there isn’t going to be one… It was just a dream!”

Josh got to his feet and hugged his arms around himself while smiling like a maniac. “I want to see Evie… well… talk to Evie! You know what I mean!”

“I thought you weren’t talking to Evie?” asked Kyle, thinking that he seemed a bit out of it, “I thought you were still angry with her?”

“I’m not angry with anyone anymore!” said Josh, realising that that was the truth. “I’m not even angry with Tank… Life is too short to be angry with anyone… I just want to have a life… I want to have a normal life and be a good person…”

“Okay, mate!” chuckled Kyle as he heard Andy and Nate coming back in, “That’s quite the speech!”




Josh sat in the living-room at Summer Bay house and smiled from ear to ear as he listened to the voices of the people around him. They were all talking so happily and laughing in that relaxed way that families do. He had a plate of barbecued food on his lap and a beer sitting on the table in front of him. What more could anyone want?! This was something that he didn’t think he would ever take for granted again. This normal life. These people that he cared about. That dream may have been months and months ago now, but it had been more real than real life in many ways, and he couldn’t help feeling relieved every time that he thought about it. It hadn’t really happened. He hadn’t killed anyone and neither had Andy. Evie had laughed and laughed when he’d told her about the dream. He had to admit that it did sound pretty funny, and weird and twisted, if you hadn’t experienced it. He understood why people found it funny. Some bits seemed so far-fetched and ridiculous that he couldn’t blame them for wondering why he’d believed it. The vet, for example, had been like something out of a dark comedy, and the idea that they’d gone from one bad situation to something even worse, every single time, was kind of laughable. Ending up in a Thai prison was a particularly odd eventuality dreamed up by his feverish and tortured mind. As though he’d have any idea what a Thai prison was like! He’d never even been out of Australia! It didn’t bother him that Evie teased him about the dream every now and then, but it did come crashing back to him on occasion, and send chills down his spine. He didn’t like to remember that moment on the plane when he’d realised that Andy was dead, or to picture the look on Kyle’s face as he was being dragged away. That wasn’t something that he ever wanted to have to deal with. If nothing else, that dream had taught him not to ever take his friends or family for granted. Not to ever take his life with them for granted. At the end of the day, the people that he loved were the only thing that really mattered!

“You okay for drinks?” asked Oscar, leaning over the back of the couch and patting Josh on the shoulder lightly to get his attention, “Josh?”

“Yeah, I’m good” said Josh, turning his head to smile in Oscar’s direction. He still couldn’t stop smiling any time that he heard Oscar speak. The thought of him being gone, and Evie being so totally heartbroken over it, still made him very sad. He could hear Hannah giggling at something that Chris had said over in the corner, and smiled even more. He couldn’t help feeling grateful that the explosion hadn’t really happened, and that these lovely kind and gentle people were still brightening up the world. Why his feverish mind had created such a strange dream, with such a terrible turn of events, he would never know! He was just glad that none of it was true!

Evie leaned over and planted a soft little kiss on his lips. She took his empty plate from him and set it on the table. “Wanna go to the beach tomorrow?” she asked, pulling his arm over her shoulder and snuggling in beside him on the couch. “I feel like going for a swim… come with me?” She knew that he was still finding it hard to navigate with his cane, and going to the beach would be a very big step for him, but he seemed to be pretty willing to try things anyway. She thought he was handling things with immense bravery these days.

“Uh… okay…” he said, feeling a bit nervous but giving her a little smile. He thought about that cell in the Thai prison, and the life that he could have had, if his dream had been real. He might never have had the chance to lie on a beach again. He might never have gotten to kiss his girlfriend again, or eat barbecued food, or enjoy a beer with some mates… All the simple little pleasures in life that everyone just takes for granted. He wasn’t going to allow his blindness to be a different form of prison. If he wanted to do something, he was going to do it! Blind or not! He had one life to live and he was going to make it count! “Let’s go to the beach then…” he said, taking Evie’s hand and interlacing their fingers, “I can’t promise that I’ll go in the water but a bit of sun sounds nice!” He leaned over and gave her a little kiss on the forehead. Life was good…






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