I was waiting on the side of a small hill by my third front gate looking up the half kilometre long driveway. After I had gotten the call I had gone straight to my father’s gun locker in the cottage next to our house, found the key and taken one of the two rifles, choosing one that was bolt action and had a five bullet clip over another bolt action that only had four, there were two shotguns there as well but I left them for later. I grabbed a box of ammo and filled several of the guns clips and slid one home, there was a satisfying ‘click’. I pulled the bolt back loading the first shot and made my way to the door but before I left, a large bag lying up against a similarly shaped case caught my eye. I went over to it, memories of a time long ago, back when I had more time on my hands, of an archery range, my father and I, shooting targets from distances of up to eighty metres away and hitting most close to the centre. I opened the bag to reveal a large compound bow in a forested camouflage colour scheme with sixteen arrows and a holster for eight of them attached to the bow. I zipped it back up and opened the box behind it which contained another compound bow, except this one was a hot red and silver and also had a scope attached to it with another sixteen arrows and holster. I took it out and pulled back on the string, not quite as hard as it had been a few years ago but I had expected nothing less, living on a pig farm that had sixty or so pigs on it had its benefits, so I loaded up eight arrows into the holster and shouldered the rifle, making my way back to the house to get a pair of gloves to wear so that the string didn’t hurt my fingers after continuous use.
I searched through my drawers until I found all my paintball gear and put on all the necessary pieces. Last I went over to an old poster hanging on the wall and tore it down, revealing a small black plastic packet That had been taped to the wall. I took it off and put it securely in a pocket. My dad had given it to me a year ago and given me very explicit instructions, and conditions of when and how it should be used.
I came out of the house wearing full camouflage, a chest rig and a bit of camo netting around my head and shoulders, forming a hood and then draping down to below my knees. I would have taken my paintball mask as well but it narrowed my vision and the heat would be unbearable.
I had gone down a large gully that ran next to the house and then halfway up a small mountain out back. With one swift well practiced motion I dropped down the one and a half metre drop to the ground, ran and half jumped half climbed up the opposite two metre high face. I stood at the edge for a few seconds and then walked up a hill that was nearest my third front gate and lay down making sure that my view of the first gate near the highway was clear, and then draped the netting around and over my gun and body to break up my outline, like my father had taught me during those blissful days at paintball. I notched an arrow into my bow and lay it next to me just in case. I then peered through the scope of the rifle and was astonished to see that a house in Bredbo, a town we lived just outside of and across a river form, had caught fire. One of my first thoughts was how it had happened but then I saw dark figures moving around it, most likely people trying to put it out, but unless the fire brigade got there even I knew it wouldn’t go out any time soon.
I had been waiting for about an hour or so, when the guys showed up and although I recognised Jayden’s and Tyler’s cars I was still suspicious. If what they had said was true, then chaos is probably raining supreme in Cooma by now. I waited until they had gotten to the second gate, and looked at who got out of the first car, it was John. I recognised the large silhouette; I removed my finger from the trigger and waited for them to get closer. They arrived at the last gate and went through thinking I was probably waiting for them inside. I waited until they were out of view, gathered up my stuff and began to walk steadily and slowly towards the house, doing my best to keep a low profile and make as little noise as possible. I got to the edge of the gully and seeing the others stepping out of their cars, I dropped down and made my way across the floor of the gully, I heard a “Hey did you guys see that?” and I sunk to the ground covering myself with the netting and taking cover near a small bush, doing this only from habit. “I didn’t see anything.” Came another voice. “I know I saw something go down the edge of the gully.” Came the first. “Well if you’re so sure go and have a look.” Said the second starting to sound annoyed. I stayed as still as I could, there was the sound of someone walking through the long dry love grass and a familiar face appeared over the opposite edge of the gully. It was Tyler; he looked from side to side and didn’t seem to notice me. He stood there for a few more seconds and then was called back by who I had guessed was Jayden. I let out a small breath and made the rest of the short journey up the other side and behind an unsuspecting Tyler. “Are you bloody blind?” I shout behind him. Him and everyone else jumped and turned in my direction. I pulled back my hood and spread my arms in a welcoming gesture. “For those who haven’t been here before,” I said loudly “welcome, and to those who have been here before welcome back.” “Are you finished?” asked John flatly “Yes, yes I am.” I answered back promptly.
We had all been talking for about an hour when it had started to get dark and I had suggested that we all go inside. My parents hadn’t come home yet from work so I feared the worst had happened, and my brother was still at his girlfriend’s house, and not having the best relationship with him, I figured he could try fending for himself for once. Lazy pile of “Hey Harry where are we all going to sleep?” interrupted Jayden. “Um, Why not up in the sheep shed for the guys and the house for the girls?” I answered “sounds good. Okay, everyone hear that?” he said raising his voice for all to hear “Girls in the house and guys up in the sheep shed.” Jess came forwards looking urgent “What about Sam? He’s still down in Bredbo.” Jayden and I looked at each other “Well if he can survive the night we’ll go looking for him in the morning.” I said in a soft tone “What do you mean if?” she shot back harshly. “I heard a gunshot and a scream an hour or so before you guys got here.” Jess’s face started to darken “don’t worry he’s capable of looking after himself.” Then I addressed everyone else “ok, everyone time to get some sleep while we can.”
As all of us filed off to our areas Jayden approached me, making sure that Jess was out of ear shot, he asked “Do you really think he’ll make it to tomorrow?” I looked up the slope towards the shed “If what I heard was like the beginning of what happened in Cooma then only maybe. He’s not as capable as he may think and definitely not as capable as he makes everyone else believe.” Jayden slouched his shoulders “You know a simple ‘don’t count on it’ would have sufficed.” I gave a chuckle at that “And one other thing.” “Ya?” said Jayden. “Don’t count on him to cover your back when things get out of control, no matter what he says he’s no hero, only desperate.” Jayden stopped walking “Do you think you’re any different?” he asked. I stopped at the foot of the steps leading to the door of the shed “Yes I do, because unlike him I’m not a coward, I have nothing to lose and nothing to gain and I’ll fight even when there is no hope of surviving. He on the other hand will only follow the strong and will only fight when he knows the odds are in his favour.” He looked at me disbelief written on his face “Is this really how you view you’re friends?” I walked up to him “No. that is how I view Sam. You see as I meet people and my knowledge of them expands I break them down in my head and label their apparent traits, strengths, weaknesses and personalities so that I know who I can count on to back me up, who I can trust with a secret or who I know will let a secret loose. Let’s have you for example, you’re a leader and fairly well built, you can be a little pigheaded at times and always think your superior when arguing with me about social lives just because you’ve had a girl friend and I haven’t.” Jayden looked aghast “You can only keep a secret if your life depended on it or if it will affect you in the future. And I know that no matter what you say to my face, the majority of you guys don’t think much of me.” I could see the sheer disbelief at what I was saying written all over his face “But I don’t think I’m superior to you…” I interrupted him “Then how come nearly every argument ends with ‘well you can’t say much since you’ve never had a girlfriend.’ or some other variation.” “But I don’t…” I interrupted him again “Yes you do and so far there’s nothing you can do or say to change my mind.” With that I turned around and began to walk back towards the shed “And besides,” I called over my shoulder “at the moment a girlfriend would only get in my way and distract me, so your arguments suddenly became invalid.”