‘Kylie, girl, I think you’ve had sufficient,’ suggested Kylie’s best friend, Nikki. ‘You’ll never get up for work tomorrow. You don’t want old fart arse packing you back off to Perth.’ Besides, Nikki needed Kylie to stay around at Jeedamya Station for moral support. It would be no picnic being a sole jillaroo amongst those sex-starved chauvinistic cowboys.
Fifty metres from the Menzies Hotel, and well off the road in darkness, a Pajero was parked to make it look like it belonged there, should anyone notice it. The two occupants smoked rollies between slugs of Bundy. Some years ago they had graduated to a pastime that beat the hell out of skinning kangaroos-alive, or watching snuff movies – although they still did that.
‘C’mon Ky, let’s go’ insisted Nikki.
‘You sound like my bloody mother. Five more minutes.’
Kylie’s reluctance to leave had a worthy cause, Nikki conceded. She was cracking on nicely to a spunky miner who was in town for some Friday night relief.
‘Make a fucking date with him and jump on your bike!’
Kylie yielded – after she arranged a future meeting with her beau – grabbed her purse and did her best to walk a straight line.
‘Wait at the car Ky. I’m going to the loo first.’
I bet she can’t find the car, thought Nikki later, as she dried her hands.
The Pajero had seen many nights at many a remote pub, without success. But, that’s what it took. Tonight though, would be different.
‘Getting too easy,’ said the driver to the passenger as he reached for the cotton wadding and a bottle.
‘Lucky number thirteen, here we come!’ said the passenger.
Nikki didn’t need to re-enter the hotel. She skirted around the dark exterior from the outhouse toward the well-lit parking area.
‘It can’t be!’ she said aloud to herself at once confused, incredulous, then panic-stricken. Kylie’s bright red shirt disappearing into a vehicle that sped away: that’s what she saw, she was positive. Without thinking, Nikki ripped her car door open and, as she gunned the Landrover, had an instant flash of logic. This couldn’t be anything other than an abduction, in which case, if they detected a pursuit, Kylie could be thrown out at speed or, even killed if they believed they had been recognised. So Nikki turned off her headlights.
They were easy to follow. The blackness of the outback night threw their lights into stark relief. They had taken the Sandstone Road out of Menzies. Anyone who was missing Kylie, even for a minute, would not know which of four alternate exists she was on. And, it was virtually guaranteed that traffic would be non-existent. Should they turn off, Nikki would know. Her greatest problem was visibility without headlights, but it was a wide, if dusty road. Had it been daylight, her train of dust would be visible.
Then came the doubts; that brought on an attack of butterflies.
‘What the hell do I think I’m going to do when I catch up to that car? Scream them to death? Them? Oh shit yes; them. There must be two judging by the way Kylie was pulled into the passenger side and the driver sped away. Presume they are big men. Oh hell! What if there are four or five in the car?’ Butterflies gave way to biliousness. Nikki felt sick.
Now she was hoping for traffic. A CB radio: any help at all. What other options did she have? Kylie’s abductors may well have guns. Every second vehicle in these parts sports a rifle or two. The farther she followed the Pajero, the more she wanted to pull out. It’s not like there are public phones on every corner. Sod, there aren’t even any bloody corners. But despondency did not bring her pursuit to a halt. She kept on. They, they turned off.
In time, the Pajero’s lights appeared to be stationary and she reckoned she was over a kilometre behind. The track off Sandstone Road was getting tricky, but she wanted to slow it down anyway. She would have to pull up well short of them in case they heard her tyres crunching gravel.
The Pajero’s lights were replaced by a nearby glow. Probably a building, she believed. She pulled up and walked on stealthily. There ahead, was a well-lit shed. Nikki stole down a slag heap of tailings toward the building. She took in the surrounds: donga, shed, machinery, conveyor, pit: obviously a small mining enterprise.
There were no rifles visible in their vehicle, she determined. That option dissipated, and worse, any guns would be with those inside the building. She crept up to the side of the shed, under a window. Now she could hear them.
‘There you go, little bitch girl, all secure. Comfy?’ said the first man.
‘And aren’t you the lucky one, sweetheart. Guess what? You’re number thirteen. Seein’ its your lucky day, I’m gonna give you a nice big turkey slap. Ivan, tell our guest what you got lined up for our little cock-sucker.’
‘Certainly George. I’m …’
Nikki felt tears filling her sinus cavities. She risked a glance through the window. Ivan cavorted around Kylie in a Mick Jagger-like dance. Her best friend, she saw, lay on the ground on her back, naked, limbs akimbo, tied to four posts. She heard Ivan’s obscene rantings and his depraved promises. Kylie’s tears were streaming as her head thrashed from side to side.
‘Now, don’t be mean Ivan. Isn’t he nasty, my little pussy? Do you know what? I’m gonna take your gag off and treat you like your daddy would. Uh huh. While Ivan’s down that end, I’m gonna put this knife between your teeth and then I’m gonna stick my …’
Nikki’s tears were quickly replaced by revulsion and outrage; blinding rage. She couldn’t listen to any more. She couldn’t allow Kylie to be tortured, terrorised and violated any further. She would stop them or die trying. A quick death would be better than, than …
‘And then we gonna skin you.’ The two men doe-see-doed, arm in arm, chanting, ‘and then we gonna skin you, skin you while you scream. And you better scream loud little slut!’
Nikki searched frantically by sight and touch. She wrapped her hand around an iron bar. She had to move before she collapsed in tears. She had to move before the red rage blinded her. She’s snapped: she knew it. Through the window she saw, what to her, were two cloven-hoofed and horned beasts, sitting on the ground, removing their trousers. No turning back. Sucking in oxygen to fuel her coursing blood. Her whole being was on the loose. Live or die. Didn’t matter.
Their first awareness of an intrusion was the sight of the raging figure coming at them. They were hampered by half-hitched pants. Nikki was past the point of needing a lucky break. Ivan was halfway to standing when she swiped the bar across his knee, smashing his kneecap. Her momentum continued and she caught George flush across the mouth. Teeth and blood exploded crazily. She turned about. Ivan dived for the resting rifle, got his fingers around the barrel and felt his wrist splinter. He howled.
‘Scream you scum! Scream, you hear?’ Then she brought the bar down flush on his nose. Blood oozed from one eye.
Nikki sensed George moving; he was staggering at her. She dropped to one knee and cracked his shin bone. He fell on top of Ivan. She smashed each elbow viciously and deliberately and put her mouth to his ear. ‘Now, how you ever gonna get your little tiny willy out of your pants to go wee-wees?’ Her saliva dripped onto his face.
She cut Kylie’s bonds and they held each other for a long time; until Kylie had no tears left. Nikki had no energy left. She propped against a post – spent. Kylie dressed in silence, apart from the low moans of the writhing bodies.
Kylie reached down for the iron bar. Nikki was puzzled. But then, she understood. Kylie needed to find a start point to her healing. Maybe too, twelve other families needed closure. Any they themselves could not risk being tracked down for the rest of their lives. The two girls had not as yet spoken. They didn’t need to. The spirits they had let loose were communicating.
Kylie finished the job.