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Goodbye, Summer Bay


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Red Ranger's therapy sessions Part 2.I was originally going to play this one fairly straight, then I realised I'd have more chance of getting away with being a bit mean-spirited if I tried to make it funny.So, join me in my catharsis (of spurious morality).

Story Title: Goodbye, Summer Bay
Type of story: Short/Medium Fiction - Three-shot
Main Characters: Brax, Ricky, Josh, Andy and others
BTTB rating: T/A
Genre: Black comedy
Does story include spoilers: No
Any warnings: Contains violent death.But all done in the best possible taste.
Summary: On the run and convicted of murder, Josh and Andy decide to contact Brax, since that worked out okay for him.They should have known better.

CHAPTER ONE

The car drove slowly down the dirt track towards the remote farmhouse.Neither Josh nor Andy were entirely sure why Brax lived in a remote farmhouse, but it was handy that he did.If he’d lived next to a police station or something, that would have been a bit inconvenient.As it was, they were able to trundle down to where he and Ricky stood, smiling at the sight of them.

  “Josh!Andy!”Brax greeted them jovially,“What are you doing here?Catch up on old times?”

  “We’re on the run from the police and need your help,”Andy replied simply.

  Brax waved a hand airily.“That’s simple.All you need to do is to wait for the person who really did it to suddenly confess for no real reason, then you’re home and dry.”

  Josh and Andy exchanged awkward looks.“We are the people who really did it and suddenly confessed for no real reason,”Josh admitted.

  Brax mulled this over.“Okay, yeah.That could be a bit more difficult.You might need to give me a bit more time.”

  “I hate to bring this up,”Ricky interjected,“but what exactly did you do?”

  Andy thought hard.“Murder.Manslaughter.Manslaughter.”He checked on his fingers before adding, “Manslaughter.”

  “You…killed four people?”Ricky asked slowly.

  “Only all together.Not, you know, each or anything.”

  “Who did you kill?”Brax asked, in the same tone of voice that he might use to ask what the football score had been.

  “Jake Pirovic,”Andy announced proudly.

  “Oh, that’s okay.I tried to kill him loads of times.Who else?”

  “Charlotte,”Josh supplied.

  Brax thought about that one.“No, don’t know any Charlottes.”

  “She killed Denny,”Josh added.Hopefully that would be enough to convince Brax that that one was okay as well.

  Brax’s expression didn’t change.“Denny?”

  “She was Casey’s girlfriend for about a month,”Ricky reminded him quietly,“You told her she could always consider herself one of the family.”

  Brax still looked confused.“I did?”

  Ricky nodded.

  “Did I say that to any of Casey’s other girlfriends?”

  Ricky shook her head.

  “Wasn’t he with Sasha longer than her?”

  Ricky shrugged.

  Brax turned his attention back to the Barrett brothers.“Okay, Charlotte’s probably okay too.”

  Ricky suddenly seemed to remember something.She glared accusingly at Andy.“Hang on, didn’t you kill Hannah and Oscar?”

  Andy looked embarrassed.“That one was an accident, it doesn’t count.”

  “You’re the reason we can’t have any more children!”

  Brax looked at her confused.“Hang on, it’s just you, isn’t it?I could still have more children.”

  Ricky fixed him with a steely glare.“Exactly who else are you planning on having more children with?”

  Brax carefully weighed up his options before turning back to Andy.“You’re the reason we can’t have any more children!”He paused and turned back to Ricky.“Where’s Case, by the way?”

  Ricky shrugged.“I don’t know.Around somewhere.”

  “Come on, Brax, you’re forgetting the most important thing,”Josh implored,“We’re family!”

  “Yeah, that’s true,”Brax agreed,“You can stay.”

  “Brax!”Ricky protested.

  “Hey,”Brax interrupted firmly,“Andy is my half-brother’s half-brother’s half-brother.You can’t get more family than that.If your brother turned up, I’d say to him ‘You may have tried to kill me, a lot, but you’re family.Of course you can stay.’”

  “Her brother killed my dad!”Josh protested.

  “You killed Hunter’s mum,”Ricky fired back.

  Josh considered that for a moment.“Yeah, fair enough.”

***

Josh walked through the empty green fields surrounding the house.He’d hoped to see some animals about.Animals would be nice.Someone new to talk to.He didn’t actually have many people to talk to anymore.If he did try and meet someone new, there was always the risk that they might try and arrest him. He wasn’t quite sure what Brax was going to do to help them.He might smuggle them out of the country but he had a feeling that if they just went to New Zealand or Canada or somewhere they had a tendency to send convicted killers back again.They’d have to go somewhere really out of the way, really basic. Maybe Antarctica?He could pack a warm coat.Or maybe Brax would give them both plastic surgeries and get someone to come up with a whole history for them.A few fake articles on the internet saying that they were actually decorated heroes who’d saved a million tiny children and had definitely never turned off anyone’s life support because they didn’t like them, shot someone and dumped their body in the sea, or blown up a hospital fundraiser by mistake.

  Josh thought about Evie.His soul mate.The one person in all the world he was destined to be with.Okay, he’d been with other people, but that was different.Somehow.Now they’d found each other and even if they lived another seventy years, they would never settle for anyone else.Okay, so they’d actually broken up not that long previous, and they’d both been with other people while they were apart, and for reasons he’d never quite understood she’d insisted she felt things for the other person that she’d never felt for him.(He’d asked her about it once.She’d gone a bit red, muttered something about how Tank had just hit the right spot, then remembered there was a film she wanted to watch on television.)But that was definitely different.He swore that he would never have intimate contact with anyone but his brother and farm animals until he saw Evie again.And she would definitely, definitely not be happily ensconced in the arms of another at that time.Definitely.

  Josh was so caught up in that comforting thought that he somehow failed to miss the scary-looking man hanging about on his own in an otherwise empty field until he had a knife to his throat.The man leered at him.The sun reflected off his gold tooth.Josh had no idea why he had a gold tooth, but it had to be said that it did manage to reflect sunlight in a sinister way.“Darryl Braxton?”the man demanded.

  “No, no, he’s my half-brother’s half-brother’s half…No, wait, sorry, he’s my half-brother’s half-brother’s half-brother’s half-brother.He’s just my half-brother’s half-brother.”

  “Is he here?”

  “Um, yeah.”Josh did his best not to breathe or swallow.Having a knife at your throat tended to make it difficult to do those things without getting your throat cut.“Did you want me to get him for you?”

  The man glared at him balefully.“Take a message to him.Tell him…Harpo’s here to see him.”

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And here it is! The point where at least three of the people reading this will probably want to strangle me...

CHAPTER TWO

“Harpo’s here?”Brax looked white as a sheet.Josh had gone back to the farmhouse and told him and Ricky about the message that the creepy man with the gold tooth had given him.He’d had a feeling that Brax wouldn’t be too pleased by the news but white as a sheet?That was worrying.

  “Who’s Harpo?”asked Ricky in a casual manner.

  Brax hesitated, as though about to reveal some deep dark secret.“He’s a bubblegum smuggler,”he admitted at last.

  Ricky’s eyes widened in shock and horror.“A bubblegum smuggler?There’s a bubblegum smuggler out there?”

  “What’s a bubblegum smuggler?”Josh asked, bemused.

  “Someone who smuggles bubblegum,”Ricky replied simply before turning back to Brax,“How did you get involved with a bubblegum smuggler?”

  “I did some work for him when I was on the run,”Brax explained,“Transporting his cargo.Then one day, I…I took a few packets from a shipment.Sold them to a couple of teenagers at the local high school.But Harpo found out.”

  Ricky was looking even more horrified.“You stole bubblegum from a bubblegum smuggler and sold it? And he found out?What were you thinking?”

  “Look, I’ve spent all my life getting away with things like this!I have made enemies of some very dangerous people and it’s not like anyone’s ever died!”He paused.“You know, except Charlie and Casey.”

  Ricky closed her eyes.“My mother was right.I should have married a doctor.”

  Josh stared at her.“You did.”

  Ricky blinked.“Oh yeah.”

  Brax looked round as though he’d suddenly thought of something.“Hang on, where’s Andy?”

***

Andy was walking through the fields near the farm.There wasn’t much else to do around there.Being on the run was turning out to be a bit dull.Not to mention difficult.He’d kind of expected that once they’d got away from the police that would be it, but it turned out it wasn’t that simple.Getting a job with a criminal record had been hard, but it turned out that getting a job when you’re the subject of a state-wide manhunt was even harder.No-one would rent you a flat if you couldn’t prove you weren’t a wanted felon.They wouldn’t let you access your bank account.And he’d learned to stay away from television sets in case they happened to flash up his photo with a caption saying “Wanted: Extremely Dangerous T*sser” at an awkward moment.

  Still, he didn’t regret it.He’d kept Josh out of jail so he’d be free to never have a job, a home, a bank account or a television set again.He was a bit unsure of how that qualified as free but he was sure it did. The huge sacrifice he’d made was worth it.He wasn’t quite sure what that sacrifice was since if he hadn’t done it he’d have gone to jail himself.It did mean he could never contact anyone he knew, but when he stopped and thought about it, all his family were dead or in jail and all his friends he’d either killed or betrayed, so he wasn’t sure who he had left to contact anyway.But he’d definitely made some sort of sacrifice.

  Lost in thought about how he’d definitely definitely done the right thing if he could just work out how, it took Andy a while to notice the low thrumming noise of a combine harvester approaching.He looked round, marvelling at the simple agricultural process.He stopped to allow the combine harvester to pass.For some reason though, instead of travelling through the vast open spaces on every side of him, it seemed to be heading directly towards him.Andy waited for it to change direction.And waited.And waited.

  It was a few feet away from him, its churning blades about to strike, when it occurred to him that it might be a good idea to scream in terror.

***

Andy’s scream carried all the way to the farmhouse.Brax, Ricky and Josh ran to the window and saw the combine harvester merrily ploughing the field, spouting out a steady red stream behind it.“Andy!”Josh realised in horror,“We’ve got to get him!”

  Brax grabbed Josh as he ran for the door.“Josh…Josh, it’s too late!”

  “But if we get him to hospital…”

  Brax looked at Josh stoically.“Josh, I’m sorry but I’ve seen this happen to people before.Once they’ve been chopped into that many pieces, there’s no chance.”

  “And now your bubblegum smuggler’s going to kill us all, Brax!”Ricky snapped,“What brilliant plan have you got?”

  “Just this.”With a flourish, Brax opened up a trapdoor to reveal a set of high explosives.“Prime these, get out, then when Harpo comes in here we detonate them.”

  “Why have you got those?”Ricky asked, bewildered.

  “In case this happened,”Brax replied, as if it were obvious,“I’ll set things up in here.I need you to take Case and hide him in the barn.”

  Ricky looked confused for a moment, then her face cleared.“Oh yeah, Case.Now where did I leave him again..?”She wandered off to look.

  “Josh…”Brax saw the young man looking upset and clapped him on the shoulder in a gesture of solidarity.“I get it, Josh.I promise, as soon as this is over, we’ll bury as much of Andy as we can find.But right now I need your help.”He handed him a pile of explosives.“Attach these to the walls outside.Try not to make them too obvious.”

***

Ricky had carried Casey out to the barn and sat him down in the hay.“Mummy’s going to have to leave you for a bit,”she told him,“I know, I know, that’s going to be a frightening experience for you.You’re not used to not being able to see me.I’ve barely been out of your sight since the moment you were born. But you’re going to have to get used to not being with me for a bit.Can you do that?”

  Casey looked as bemused as it was possible for a one-year-old to look.

  “Good boy.”Ricky turned and walked out of the barn…straight into a man carrying a chainsaw.He looked at her, the sun reflecting off his gold tooth as he smiled, then he turned the chainsaw on.

  A moment later, the wall of the barn was decorated with an interesting blood splatter.

  Nearby, Josh was setting the explosives on the walls of the farmhouse.He’d heard a noise that sounded very like a live body being dismembered, although he wasn’t entirely sure how he knew what that sounded like, but he’d ignored it.He had a job to do.The sort of job that someone who’d saved a million tiny children would do.He primed the last explosive turned round…and gave a gasp.Standing in front of him…was Death.

  Then Josh breathed a sigh of relief.Of course it wasn’t Death.It was just a man in a cloak, holding a scythe.With the sun shining off his gold tooth.

  It took Josh a moment to realise that that wasn’t actually a good thing to have standing in front of him either.Just before he had his head chopped off.

***

The third ear-splitting scream to rock the farm gave Brax paused.That was the last of them.He was the only one left.(He had a nagging feeling there was someone else left as well but he couldn’t quite remember who.Someone they’d left in a case?)It had all gone wrong…and it had seemed to be going perfectly.He’d been cleared of murder and no-one had been able to remember what he should have been charged with instead. He’d got a few acres of land, a beautiful woman by his side who he was sure could be convinced that wearing a bikini around a farm was normal.He’d planned to get a sheep and a cow and breed horses.But somehow his life had led him to this.In this, his last moment, he found himself pondering if becoming a crimelord after leaving school had really been a sensible career move.

  Harpo burst through the door, knife in hand.“So, just you and me now, Braxton.I’ve killed your half-brother’s half-brother’s half-brother.I’ve killed your half-brother’s half-brother.I’ve killed the second love of your life.And now…now I’m going to kill you.”

  Brax felt the detonator in his hand.Press the button and every explosive he’d primed would go off.He would go out in a blaze of glory, taking his enemy with him.As it should be.He opened his mouth to deliver a perfect pre-mortem one-liner, some last words that would go down in history.

  He couldn’t think of any.

  “Ding dong,”he said in as defiant a tone as he could muster.

  Harpo looked at him, confused.

  Brax pressed the button.

  The farm house exploded.

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Well, as promised, the third and final chapter. Hope you enjoy!

CHAPTER THREE

The police officer coughed slightly on the plume of smoke still spiralling from the farmhouse behind him. He turned his attention back to the elderly farmer who was the property’s closest neighbour. Admittedly, since the property’s nearest neighbour lived two miles away, he hadn’t actually seen much. But he was better than nothing.

  “Yeah, bloke moved in a month or two back,”the elderly farmer declared,“Kept himself to himself.Had a cute blonde with him.And a girlfriend.Spoke to him over our fence a couple of times.”

  The policeman looked around the vast emptiness.“Fence?”

  The farmer pointed.“It’s about a mile that way.Think his name was…Max Burton.”

  The policeman noted down the name.“Well, thank you for your help, Mr…Farmer.”He ducked back under the police cordon.

  “Could have been Burt Maxton!”the farmer called after him.

  The policeman made his way over to where his partner was wrapping things up.“Five dead,”the second policeman told him, sounding pleased that his sleepy rural beat had suddenly become a lot more exciting, “Two inside the house, three outside.”

  “Any of them got ID?”

  “Most of them don’t seem to have heads.”

  The first policeman considered this.“That could make IDing them difficult.You get anything from the kid?”

  The second policeman glanced over to where the young boy they’d found in the barn was pretending to drive their police car.“Well, my Baby’s a bit rusty but he said his name’s Bag.”His partner looked confused.“I may have mistranslated that one.He’s not sure but he thinks his dad’s called Nate and his mum’s called either Marilyn or Cheryl.”

  “Okay, we’ll look it up.”

  “What if we don’t find out who it is?”

  The first policeman shrugged.“I don’t know, Jake, maybe they’ll name him after us.”He took out his radio.“Oscar Bravo Two Four to Control.”

***

Some miles away, the new head of the Braxton family, not that he was aware of that, was indulging in a spot of afternoon sex.Fortunately for him, his wife didn’t know.

  “Oh, Heath!”April shouted enthusiastically.

  Heath glanced at the clock as they finished their latest session.Bianca would be home from work soon and she might get suspicious if she found the two of them in bed together.Not that she’d got suspicious at any time in the six months April had been living with them.He’d occasionally considered suggesting they have sex on the breakfast table in front of her, just to see if she noticed.The only thing putting him off was the fact that she might do.

  He rolled out of bed and began pulling on his clothes, giving April a cheeky grin.“You want some privacy?”

  “Yep,”April agreed,“Can’t have you seeing me getting dressed.”

  “Yeah, cos that would be wrong.”They both laughed.Heath thought about how lucky he was that Dexter had dumped her for…whoever it was, he forgot.Ruby or Lottie or Indi…Heath checked himself.What was he talking about?Of course it wasn’t Indi.

  She was way too hot for Dex.

  Heath headed out into the front room just as Bianca came home, pulling on his shirt as he did so.Bianca glanced up from the mail.“Oh, hi, Heath.You been exercising?”

  Heath thought of all the ways he could respond to that, before settling for a simple “Yep.”

  April emerged from Heath and Bianca’s bedroom, buttoning up her blouse and tucking it into her skirt. “Anything interesting?”She and Heath exchanged flirtatious smiles.

  “Letter from Kyle,”Bianca replied,“He’s being released on Saturday.”

  Heath grinned.“Great!Be good to have the whole family back together again!”He slapped April on the behind and she gave a squeal of delight.

  Bianca didn’t bat an eyelid.“What about Brax and Ricky, any idea where they are?”

  “Not a clue.”

  “Kyle’s just lucky that that Isla woman admitted that she was the one that did the robbery and gave Kyle the money and the gun.”

  “You’d think they’d charge him for covering for her,”April mused.

  Heath shook his head.“Nah, they never bother about that.So long as you tell the truth, everything works out fine in the end.”

***

The judge glared balefully at the four young people standing in the dock in front of him. “Until recently, it was believed that the crimes you have been convicted of were committed by Andrew and Joshua Barrett. However, with this new evidence it is clear that you were responsible for the murders of which they were accused, and were part of a shameful conspiracy to see them blamed for your crimes. Evelyn MacGuire, you are found guilty of the murder of Charlotte King. We have photographic evidence showing that it was you, not Joshua Barrett, who was wearing the watch which placed the killer at the scene of Miss King’s murder.”

  “That photo’s faked!”Evelyn protested. “Josh and I don’t do watch shares!”

  “After which,”the judge continued,“you seduced both Joshua and Andrew Barrett to take the blame for you.”

  Evelyn gulped hard. “How did you know I slept with Andy? Even Josh thinks I only kissed him!” She was aware that most of those present were staring at her. “It’s okay, Josh and I were on a break.”

  “Hunter King and Olivia Fraser-Richards,”the judge continued, turning his attention to the next defendants,“you are found guilty of the murders of Hannah Wilson and Oscar MacGuire.”

  “That’s ridiculous!”Olivia protested,“We were at the cinema with VJ the night that all happened!”

  “We have heard the testimony of VJ Patterson.On arriving at the cinema, you left him alone and headed for the back row.You therefore had the duration of the film to return to the caravan park and cause the explosion.You, Mr.King, were jealous of anyone who took your father’s attention away from you.You had already tried to kill Oscar MacGuire once…”

  “I didn’t try and kill him!”Hunter protested,“I just…set fire to his house when he was inside, then ran off leaving him trapped.”Olivia gave him a pained look.“That sounded better in my head,”he admitted.

  “And is it only a coincidence that the explosion occurred right after Zac MacGuire had safely left the danger area?”

  “Well, what about me?”Olivia asked,“What proof have you got that I’m involved?”

  The judge glanced to a gentleman to his right.“Clerk of the court, please read the extract from Miss Fraser-Richards’ diary.”

  The clerk of the court cleared his throat.“Dear Diary, I think Hunter really really likes me.He told me that he burned down his dad’s house, put Marilyn in a coma and caused his cousin’s death, so he must really like me.Andy and me told him to blame it all on his dead mum.She so deserves it.She was mean and she called me an annoying little brat and she had stupid hair.”

  “Well, yeah, I kind of did write that,”Olivia admitted.

  “Proving your contempt for the law and your willingness to frame others for crimes!”the judge concluded.

  Olivia looked at him bewildered.“Aren’t you meant to be impartial?”

  “Not after you’ve been found guilty.”

  “Why isn’t there a jury?”

  “Your defence lawyer waived the right.”

  Everyone looked round at a bespectacled young man, who seemed to wake up on realising he’d been mentioned and waved at them cheerily.No-one was sure who had hired him and they were pretty sure they’d never heard him speak.

  “Phoebe Nicholson,”the judge continued,“you are found guilty of the murder of Jake Pirovic.”

  “Now that’s just ridiculous,”Phoebe complained,“I never even met Jake.”

  “You were the girlfriend of Kyle Braxton at the time?”

  Phoebe sighed.“Yes.”

  “And you were aware that Jake Pirovic was a danger to him?”

  “Yes.”

  “And this photo shows you entering Jake Pirovic’s hotel room.”

  “Ah, no!That photo was clearly taken at another time when I was visiting someone else in hospital.I do that a lot.”

  The judge raised an eyebrow.“People of your acquaintance often end up in hospital?”

  “Yes!”Phoebe sighed.“I’m not making this any better, am I?”

  The judge closed his file.“I hereby sentence each of you to twenty years in jail.Take them all away.”

  The four defendants were dragged from the room by police officers, among them a scowling Junior Constable Katarina Chapman who made a point of twisting Evelyn’s arm just a little bit more than she needed to.

  The court emptied…leaving two detectives behind.“Well, that was a close one,”the junior one remarked.

  “All a bit flimsy,”the senior one admitted,“But we couldn’t have the public thinking we actually let the ones who killed all those people get away.”

  “What happened to the guy that helped them escape?”

  “I shot him.”

  The junior detective nodded, satisfied.“Thank goodness Detective Carter taught us well.A few photos of the judiciary at a Star Trek convention, you can get them to send anyone to jail.”

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