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The NEXT Day - Becomes Night !

Guest WYN100

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Gus Phillips smiled with satisfaction. His anonymous call 30 minutes earlier to Yabbie Creek Central Police station had been timed to perfection. He knew his demand to speak to Sergeant Haslam with an “eye-witness†account of a fictional armed siege at the all-night Pharmacy on the coast road would place Ian Osbourne’s “tame cop†in an impossible position. The on-duty officer and his squad could hardly ignore such a call in favour of waiting as they’d intended for a surf club robbery they officially knew nothing about..

Gus had felt a savage jolt of triumph as he’d waited to see the squad card speed off towards the non-existent siege… taking Kane’s “amnesty†for the robbery with them….

Kit Hunter was sparing nothing in he volley of abuse at Rhys. “Have you ANY idea what a pathetic, lame excuse for a guy you are…???â€

She’d arrived at the hospital minutes behind Beth and the others, but had strode forcibly in front of them and the tiled hospital corridoors rang with the invective she was directing at her one-time step-father.

“First YOU invite US into your life, promise it’ll all be sunshine and roses then that slut in the city just has to snap her fingers and ..no mum I’m sorry it’s TRUE, “ ..as Beth tried to interject..†So go on big-shot, why DID you come back – to kill off our family one by one ? Let me tell you….â€! As Beth again tried to step in and Rhys attempted to muster some words of self-defence from his thoroughly exhausted brain, there were two interruptions. Firstly a nurse advanced purposefully from their right , demanding in measured but forceful tones “Could you PLEASE keep the noise down > There are patients trying to sleep here !!†Kit spun full circle, the light of battle still raging in her eye – but at that same moment, Flynn appeared at the head of the passage leading to and from the surgical area. His face looked decidedly troubled….

Alf Stewart stood among the other volunteer firecrew, faces etched with grim determination as they trained their inadequate hosepipes upon a surf club blaze that was threatening to become an inferno. He paused briefly, wiped his smoke- blackened face with the back of hand and attempted to smother the voice at the back of his mind, taunting “You’re getting too old for this….â€

Dan Baker , standing next to him among the volunteers struggled to make his voice heard among the destructive rasping of the flames as he turned to Alf “How in the hell did this thing get started ..? “ Without relaxing his forward gaze or grip on the hose, Alf roared bacxk “ I’d rather know what in the hell’s taking that flamin’ Yabbie Creek engine so long to get here ! ..†-- the blaze was intensifying by the minute..

Jesse stared truculently across the room at his captors – the shaven-headed stocky Osbourne security guard who’d bundled him into the back of his own car and driven him at such breakneck speed, plus another who looked for all the world as if he’d been factory-made from the same template as his colleague and shipped out on an identical conveyor belt. Ignoring the tired-looking petrol station sandwich which had been the full extent of the hospitality offered to him, Jesse refused to settle for the role of meek prisoner presumably expected of him – he'’ had plenty of that in his pat life and the script didn’t suit him..

“So what’s the story then guys ? Why am I here and where the hell IS here ?â€

“I told you†said one of the guard-dog twins where appeared to have a shreds more of the human being lurking inside him, "“You trespassed on Mr Osbourne’s property – and you asked too many questions – like you are NOW !†Jesse persisted – a vague glimmer in his mind told him that Talking Twin may just be his best route for some kind of progress in all this.. “So is this where anyone he doesn’t care for gets dumped ? And anyway it’s pretty late for all this drama isn’t it ? What’s going on ?â€

“Lets just call it a safe house..†came the reply “..and whatever business it is of yours he’s been fretting about something hush-hush going down at the Surf Club tonight, and I guess he didn’t need you in his face while it happened.†Jesse started… that very much WAS his business, but perhaps not ideal for the two shaven-headed ones to know that… he fidgeted in the pocket of his jeans and fingers made contact with …his cellphone..! perhaps just a thin ray of hope..? His mind clicked back into listening mode as the second guy continued to fuel himself with lager from a clutch of cans on the table. “He seems to have a real thing about that Summer Bay place – they say he reckons he’s turned up some real dirt on someone else living there…anyway … you behave and you may just get to see it again some day..!†His previously mute colleague joined him in a bout of heavy, witless laughter…

Peter Baker accelerated through the quiet suburb of Summer Bay where his local police station was based – his mind a merry-go round of issues challenging for priority. When the call had come about the Surf Club fire he’d been glad of the distraction from the Leah and Dan issue on which the tickdown to inevitable confrontation was already well under way. He’d also been forced to quickly discard the letter from the Witness Protection people which had seemed from the top paragraph to have very interesting possibilities..

He’d been puzzled to hear from Alf at the fire-scene that while Hayley had arrived quickly, neither Jesse nor Josie were there. He’d pointed the car in the direction of Josie’s apartment, and as he raced along the coast road could see from the orange hue to the far lower right indicated to him the blaze was far from under control. He needed a perspective on all this very quickly, and squeezed hard on the gas pedal as he manoeuvred the final corner towards Josie’s apartment. Had it been nearer mid-day than mid-night, and if he’d been able to crane his neck slightly between two dense green bushes to his right, he’d have seen the hunched figures of Scott and Kane Phillips – the elder with his hand clamped menacingly over the mouth of his tense but fuming younger brother..

The Yabbie Creek fire engines had finally arrived at the Surf Club, greatly to the relief of the local volunteers, whose sterling efforts had at best only been able to stabilize the viciously cascading flames gripping the building. Alf removed his hard hat, and gasping with a combination of exhaustion and relief spoke to the Chief Officer, who asked immediately, “Are we dealing with anyone trapped inside ?â€

“No†was Alf’s strident reply “One of the partners Hayley Lawson was last out earlier and she said all clear !…â€

“Good “, cried the officer “One less thing to worry about !†- an opinion that would have been speedily revised had they been able to glimpse inside one of the gym changing rooms where the long-missing grandson of Alf Eric Daulby stirred restlessly in his sleep beneath the sweatshirt that doubled as a makeshift travelling blanket - wholly unaware the flames were now just feet away……..

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