THE STORY SO FAR: With her young daughter, Blake has hired a guide to travel to a remote Pacific island in Vanuatu searching for her missing husband. There, she discovers Toby has been buying up land for development. When she inflames the locals further, violence erupts and they flee into the jungle…
There is only one rule for survival. As in life, you just have to keep going. So Jack, Neri, Blake and Madison ran, screaming for their lives towards the tunnel exit.
When the first stick of dynamite exploded the others followed, the blast created a rolling inferno that chased the fleeing party. The backdraft knocked the terrified group off their feet, propelling them through the air out the cavern. They tumbled into the jungle bracken in a melee of dirt and showering rock shards.
Bruised, battered, shell-shocked, raw, they were alive. Jack knew he had to move fast to keep them that way.
“Up the hill mon cherie,” he said to Neri, pointing into the dense jungle as they picked themselves up from the clearing they had landed. “I’ll follow.”
As Neri obediently led the bleeding, dust-blackened Blake and Madison into the thicket, Jack clenched the stolen rifle and headed to the left of the cave mouth. He knew the firestarters wouldn’t be far behind and he had to meet the threat. Above the smoking mouth was the brow of a small hill. The bragging chatter of their pursuers could be heard approaching.
Jack hit the dirt halfway up the slope and bolted the rifle. Only one bullet, he better make it count. He aimed the barrel at the brow, calculating where the incendiary threat was most likely to appear. Still, he waited, slowing his breath as much as he could, finger on the trigger, sweat dripping.
It was maybe a minute before the trees rustled and the silhouettes of Jean and Louis appeared at the top of the ridge. Jack didn’t wait to be spotted, especially as he saw Jean was brandishing another primed stick of dynamite in his hand. He fired and scored a lucky shot.
The bullet missed the man but hit the dynamite. Jean exploded in a hail of gore and flying limbs, taking Louis’s head with him. A flurry of leaves, wood, blood, guts and dirt rained down the slope, splattering Jack where he lay. Then, to further the shock, a rucksack slid down the bank, Louis’ arm still attached, sans body. The horrific cargo ground to a halt as it reached Jack’s nose.
Gingerly, he opened the bag to reveal a stash of TNT sticks, miraculously unsparked by the explosion of their brother. Jack unclenched Louis’ fingers and tossed the dismembered arm aside, then looped the sack over his shoulders. Still carrying the rifle (of use more as a stick than a weapon without bullets), he trotted down the back and into the thicket to catch up with his love and charges.
Rounding a bend in their rough path through the forest he halted suddenly and raised his hands. A machete was levelled inches from his nose and would’ve cleaved his head if Jack’s reflexes were slower. A slow, deep voice he knew only too well backed up the threat.
“Why you blowing up my island captain?” the man said.