There appears to be no escaping it. With many of the local Clubs about to hold their annual elections for office bearers, Fractal City is a hotbed of intrigue; full of plots, counter plots and sub plots; rife with coups, wannabe coups and some downright cookoo coups.
In the dark of night, he seemingly appears from nowhere. Clad in black commando fatigues, face smeared with black camo paint, under a black balaclava, and sporting night vision goggles, he darts from shadow to shadow, rapidly making his way up the street.
In moments he is poised outside the front fence of his target residence. Following a quick 360 recon check, he scales the short, wire fence, and hugs the brick wall. A former specialist in the army’s special forces, he is the end product of the best military training that the Aussie dollar can buy. Explosives, booby traps, weapons, bugging, anti-personnel devices, the ability to live off the land on indefinite recon deep behind enemy lines – he is an expert at it all.
Ever so slowly, ever so cautiously, he makes his way to the rear of the house. He breaks not a twig, disturbs not a gum nut, but suddenly he detects a two-fold threat: the low pitched growl of a Rottweiler over the next-door fence, and a startled chicken on the grass in front of him, about to squawk and flap!
Known in the service as a “chicken strangler”, he needs not to even use his hands. Deftly lifting up his night goggles, he levels a chilling stare at the chook with his ice-blue eyes. The chicken goes into immediate cardiac arrest and silently collapses in a flutter of soft feathers. With trained ambidextrous skill, he replaces his goggles with one hand and scoops up the dead chook with the other. A hand grenade-like toss over the fence with pin point accuracy lobs the chook straight in the rotty’s jaws. He’s killed two birds with one stone. He’s good. He’s the best of the best.
Time seems irrelevant as he patiently waits in the bushes under the open kitchen window. He carefully records everything said inside. Yes, inside the house there is a meeting of the Club Cabal! He is a trained expert in all known dialects of the English language … he can hear plenty of south-east Aussie, a hint of some Euro influences too, but what’s that faint accent coming from in the living room, down the hallway? It’s almost drowned out by the hiss of cold Coronas being topped, and cigarette lighters flicking on and off. It sounds like there’s a guy from …
Unsheathing his general-purpose commando dagger, he uses it to gently prise open the hatch to gain entry under the house. Clenching the dagger in his teeth, he slides in and inches his way under the restored timber floorboards, towards the living room, past the usual under-house detritus you find in Fractal City: old newspapers, discarded bongs, an ancient bag of golf clubs. He settles in, lying on his back, takes off the night goggles and squints up through a crack into the haze of sickly sweet smoke.
Yes! His suspicions were correct! He now can hear the distinct voice of a geezer from Manchester! They are plotting not just the overthrow of the Club’s Chairman, but also to take over a Club Member’s business: a popular roof rap dancing gig.
But then he hears more! The Cabal have a mole on the Board …
“This isn’t just good intel,” he thinks, “This is Treasure!”
With one hand he sweeps away a cluster of cockroaches – “Mmmm that’s a fat, juicy looking one” – and with the other, he silently attaches his own bug to the underside of the floorboard directly above him. He then silently slides back out the way he came.
After slashing all the tyres on two cars parked out the front to neutralise any possible enemy tail, he slips into the shadows and is soon around the corner.
“I haven’t had this much fun in a backyard stakeout,” he thinks, “since Honiara. Or maybe that last coup in Suva.”
He’s now in the lane behind the town houses. Slipping on his night goggles again, he looks though a whorl hole in the timber fence. His focus is on the back door of the ever wandering Wood Rat’s often lonely lady’s apartment, and it’s slightly ajar with a green-and-tan army camo cloth invitingly tied to the door knob. It’s the come in sign!
With one hand he slips off the goggles and balaclava and with the other he hoists himself over the fence in one fluid motion. “This night’s only getting better …”