So it begins again

Here’s a sneak preview of the first scene of the book I’ve started writing. It’ll be the fourth and final instalment in my Funny Capers DownUnder series.

I’m writing into the dark on this one, I haven’t even got a title and bear in mind what I’ve written thus far is very rough and ready, and liable to be changed in subsequent drafts.

But here’s the opening scene, warts and all.

Hope started as a dot on the horizon.

It was a beautiful day on the island. Light danced across the water, and it was hard to tell exactly where the blue sky ended and the sea started. Was the dot coming from the sky or the water?

A cooling breeze rustled the palm leaves near to where they were standing and watching.

Smudge started jumping up and down like an excited kid. “I told you they’d send a helicopter for us.”

The little man in the top hat growled. “Will you calm down, sonny! Do you want to make the other tunnel collapse?”

Smudge planted both feet into the coral ground and scratched his whiskers. “Can you blame me? Two months! Two months I’ve been waiting for them.”

It might have been longer. He just remembered the day the last helicopter had lifted off the island, leaving him with nothing but corpses, the cow and rabbits in plague proportions. Lieutenant-Commander Jenny Domeney had promised they’d be back for him as soon an possible. But hours went by, then days, which is when he decided he had to bury the two bullet-riddled men himself. Weeks had passed by the time he started carving daily notches into the trunk of a coconut tree — which is what he had been doing the day the man in the top hat had tapped him on the shoulder and asked him what the hell he thought he was doing. That had scared the shit out of Leading Seaman Fred “Smudge” Smith, but he was getting used to the dead man now.

“How can you not be excited?” Smudge said.

“I’ve told you a dozen times, I don’t want to be rescued. I hope there’s room on that chopper for the cow, then you can all bugger off.” He squinted. “Only I don’t think it’s even a helicopter.”

“You don’t?”  Smudge shaded his eyes with his hand. “You know, I think you’re right. It’s not a helicopter. They’re only sending a frigate.” He started bouncing again.

“Will you quit it! You can do all the jumping up and down you like when you leave my island.”

Smudge stopped bouncing and embraced the other man like he was a Tango dance partner. He even dipped him, but this just sent the top hat tumbling to the ground and made him angry.

He pushed Smudge away. “Will you cut it out!” He picked up his hat and put it back on, reinstating his status as the tallest person on the island.

 “I can’t believe they’ve sent a frigate,” Smudge said. “A frigging frigate!“

The man in the top hat squinted again. “That’s the smallest-looking frigate I’ve ever seen.”

Smudge cupped his eyes again and looked out. “A patrol boat then?” His face crumpled into a frown.

“I thought you’d know your boats, being a sailor.”

“Well, what do you think it is?”

“Looks like a dot to me.”

“That’s how all ships look when they are far away.”

“Maybe. But this dot isn’t getting much bigger.”

Turns out, the little man in the top hat was wrong about this.

The dot did get bigger, and it did start taking shape.

After half an hour, they could even make out the shape of a single sail. Half an hour later, it turned out to be a white sail with a red stripe.

The old man in the top hat cackled. “The Navy has gone all high-tech!”

An hour later, the windsurfer reached the shallows.

A large bloke wearing a wet suit, flippers and sporting a huge moustache untied a small bag from the mast before letting the sail splash-land into the water. He then stepped off the board and waded backwards ashore backwards.

The little man in the top hat cackled again. “Looks like they’ve sent a Navy diver to rescue you.”

Smudge threw his head into his hands. “It’s worse than that,” he moaned through his fingers.

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