“The Third Day, The Frost”, p45
“I began moving forward with Lee. I knew what I had to
do: get the man’s gun arm. I tried desperately to move as
quietly as Lee. Kevin was turning round as ordered; slowly, but
he was turning. ‘Hand up, hand up,’ the soldier yelled.
Lee and I were only a couple of steps away now, and I thought we
should strike while the man was yelling; he would be less likely
to hear us while his own voice was filling his ears. I had an awful
moment of hesitation when I didn’t think I was going to be
able to do it; I wanted to freeze but knew I simply couldn’t.
The only way I could make myself act was to count: I went, ‘One,
two, three,’ very quickly to myself, and I dived.
Lee launched himself a split second later. Kevin fell sideways, desperate
to avoid the aim of the gun. But the man didn’t shoot Kevin
by reflex, which is what I’d most feared. He didn’t
shoot anyone. He didn’t even pull the trigger. He did what
I suppose most people would do in that situation: he started spinning
round to see what was going on behind him. That was the way his
reflexes worked. I rabbit-chopped his arm as hard as I could hit,
then grabbed the gun and swung it upwards. I’d been hoping
he’d drop the gun with the shock of my hit; he didn’t,
but he lost his grip on it and had to snatch at it to try to get
it back. At that moment, Lee knocked the man’s cap off and
dropped the belt over his head. Now, fighting two battles at once,
the man got confused; he tried to push me away and at the same
time turned to attack Lee. Then Homer arrived with a rush and,
between us, we prised the gun out of the man’s grasping
fingers. He knew he was in trouble then. Lee was tightening the
belt fast. The man tried to get his hands onto the belt but Homer
and I grabbed an arm each and dragged them down again. Lee started
to put all this weight on the belt. The soldier tried to call
for help. Too late. I started to get hysterical myself but some
force made me hold on. The soldier was pitching to the right,
staggering. I lost my grip on his arm and he brought it up to
his throat but it did him no good; Lee was implacable. The man’s
face was mottled now, dark red with patches of white, getting
darker by the moment. A horrible gurgling noise came from his
mouth, like someone trying to gargle but doing it in his mouth
instead of the throat. I didn’t, couldn’t watch any
longer, but looked away, towards the beautiful bush, the bush
I loved. Did these things happen in the bush? Did animals and
birds kill each other in cold blood because of fights over territory?
You bet your life they did.
I had hold of the soldier’s arm again, feeling the strength
in it: its desperate struggle as it flailed and writhed and fought.
The fight was lasting much longer than I’d expected. I could
feel the veins swell in the tortured arm. Then, suddenly, it was
all over. The arm went limp. A terrible smell filled the air and
I realised the man had fouled his trousers. I stole a look at his
face and quickly looked away again. It was the most revolting sight
I’d ever seen. His tongue hung out like a giant fat bullboar
sausage. His skin was purplish black. And his eyes … those
eyes will follow me to my grave and beyond. They were the eyes of
a staring devil; a man sent mad in the last minute of his life by
the knowledge that he was dying, and by the manner of his death.
Every time I close my eyes, his open in my mind.”
The have come a very long way from the innocent kids who holidayed
in Hell. Even so, they are still quite a way from what they will
have become by the time of "The Other Side of Dawn".