About 200 miles east of Ballidu, Western Australia, 6606; roughly 1920.
A good hundred and something odd miles from anywhere, on a track that appeared on no map, had remained unused since the last rains four months prior. Three of the four fairly narrow gauge wheels, wooden spokes imitating roulette wheels, spun languidly, coming to a halt at roughly the same time. It was the inaugural experience for all three, as the trio were above the body of a now upturned light Chevy truck they had so recently carried. The fourth wheel laid in ruin some forty yards off to the north. Dust, brown and white, coated everything as it settled, not a breath of wind for it to escape into. Clunking and coughing, the engine finally gave up the ghost, and for the first time since the grey cabbed, wooden trayed, vehicle had run off the road. With exception to the ‘pink’ing of the hot motor cooling, and the steady dripping of the now destroyed radiator, there was absolute silence. Off in the distance an old crow let out a mournful ‘caaaw’, and the first sign of life came as coughing from the inside of the cab, from approximately the same area of the vehicle came a moan and then swearing. Eventually came a bang, as the door got kicked open from the inside; one, two, then three men crawled their way from within the near flattened cab. Dragging themselves away and upright, each in his own way slowly checked themselves for injury. Nought bar bruising was found as they stood in the 40 something ℃ sun. The ambient temperature well over 100℉ in the old money.
As one, with concern creasing each individual’s features, all started calling for the two blokes, mates to all, that had been sitting on the open top tray a’top tools, wire, camp gear, and dried kangaroo and dingo skins. After a moment, silence reigned, ominous amidst the carnage beside the barely visible rough dirt track. Skirting around the mess of gear that had been thrown from the tray, one, then the other man was found. The former, Dick McKenzie, had been crushed beneath the heavily laden vehicle, was very obviously dead. His head, now deformed and grotesque, had been squashed very nearly flat, his right eye hung from his optic nerve against his cheek. Blood and brain had escaped a large split across his right temple; flies began to gather around him.
The second chap, Jock McGregor, had suffered a far worse fate. With legs broken, each bent out at opposing angles mid thigh, bright blood streamed from his wounds, and began pooling beneath him. The lip of the tray crushing them on impact, this the cause of the fractures. Standing proud from the upper left of the red head’s malnourished back, was a narrow shaft of dried dead wood from a long dead shrub. Pointed at the tip, inch thick and common to the area, it had pierced his chest front to back. Jack Bridgman, standing and watching his mate begin to scream and cough blood, ran back around to the open door of the upturned cab, and leaned inside. After thirty seconds of rummaging through the detritus caused by the accident, now strewn within the confined space, he withdrew a .22 rifle. Cocking it in the same motion, he purposefully walked back to his still screaming mate. Placing the barrel of the little .22 against the back of his head, above the spot at the top of his neck, pulled the trigger, and released his broken mate from further pain and suffering. Cocking the rifle once more, this time placing the barrel against his temple and pulled the trigger once more, ensuring Jock was well and truly dead.
All five of the men involved in the accident, being veterans of the trenches, understood that saving a man from extreme untreatable long lasting pain, rated much higher than saving the life of the suffering and the terminal, especially if there was no hope of rescue anytime soon.
With the sun shifting slowly from the forenoon to the aft, the three remaining, Albert Smart, Harry Smart, and Jack Bridgman examined the area around the irreparably broken vehicle, and after making a rough inventory of what had remained serviceable of all gear they had carried, the worst of all conclusions was drawn. Of the five water bag’s they carried, and had thus retrieved after a lengthy hunt, four had burst or been punctured, and the fifth was no more than half full; the mercury still very much on the rise…………………………….To be continued.
Once more this yarn has a strong factual basis.
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