Toxic Oz Ch01byFINC©
The brilliant white plane dipped its nose as its four jet engines throttled up in power. The RAF Vulcan bomber was at 10,000 feet, the scorching Australian sun shimmering off the white metal. The V winged aircraft flashed in a perfect sky like a mile high lighthouse beacon. A clipped public school accent of the pilot crackled in his microphone flight mask.
"I'm beginning run. 4 minutes to target, everything fine over."
The bomb doors were open now; a single big blue cylinder awaiting release. A distant voice crackled back in his earphone. "Roger flight 14 dusting is a go, over."
The pilot gripped the flight stick tightly his instruments readings critical as his plane began to swoop down. The altimeter spiralled down 10, 8, 6, the height dropping by the thousands in mere seconds. He levelled the stick near supersonic speed the plane ridiculously low to the tree line.
"T-1 minute I can see target, release in 40... 35... 30..."
His breathing increased the big white bird like an aboriginal god; the engine roar covering a hundred humid, swamp filled, but deserted square miles. Only one feature stood out; his target.
Ahead the land rose up, a boil on a flat jungle world. The hill was like a crooked witch nose on her green face.
"15 seconds to target....10, 9, 8." He pulled back on the stick, the bomber rising showing its open under belly, the canister awaiting release.
"3, 2, 1,"
"That's away, tally ho, repeat tally ho."
The jet increased to full afterburner the whine turning to a screech as the plane engines spat fire as it climbed and made rapid escape from the target.
The canister fell, hurtling towards a creaking, buzzing canopy. 100 feet from the ground it exploded the whole hillside smothered in an enormous sickly yellow cloud.
The pilot didn't see the detonation; his sweating face locked straight ahead the vibration of the stick in his hand as the plane increased its distance from ground zero at desperate supersonic pace.
Above top secret, test site B northern Australia. Ministry of defence united kingdom.14 August 1969
T+1 day. Bomb detonation was inconclusive. At this time no evidence of primary objective achieved, however impact radius continues to increase. Estimate 1000 square miles and rising.
T+3 days. Professor Hilts and ground survey team 36 hours overdue, radio contact lost. Recommend Australian Government be informed of project "Triffid" in its entirety and immediate assistant requested on quarantine.
Sammy stood with her hands on her hips head to one side. She liked adventure and adrenaline rushes but maybe this was too much?
"I'm not sure; it looks kind of risky to me?" She said looking back at metal and fabric aircraft.
The man shook his head walking around his flying machine smiling and pulling at the struts theatrically.
"Its absolutely safe trust me, I've flown it thousands of times."
Her eyes wandered over towards the decrepit hangers.
"Doesn't exactly look like you run an airline here?" She said sceptically.
The young man laughed, "on the contrary, we have 6 of these babies in the sheds. It's just that the rainy seasons almost on us. I guess I'm in more need of the cash. Everyone else has hauled ass now the tourist buses have stopped."
He continued his pitch, "but don't worry' you won't get short changed. No ones queuing up so I can show you a real tour of the wilderness."
Sammy gave a sarcastic smile as if to say "gee thanks!" Twenty, pretty and blonde Sammy had being backpacking all summer. She lived in Adelaide and didn't see any point heading off around the globe. Not when she had so much to see back home. It had been a great summer of camping, swimming in the ocean and the occasional flirt with the many other happy go lucky tourists. On this day she'd stopped her jeep half way between distant towns in the northern territories at what the sign claimed was the "Ultimate thrill ride at tree top level!"
Now she was getting the hard sell from the eager but not unattractive backwoodsman pilot.
The pilot was definitely keen on the idea. Out here on his own no customers for days. Now this hot babe had pulled up. And man she was hot.
He admired her as she examined the micro light kite more closely. She was petite but with a curvaceous figure in fabric hot pants. Very firm big breast locked under a t-shirt. Those were definitely real beauties; looking melon size on her frame but in keeping with her woman like hips. She was cute too a pretty high cheekbone face with the over the shoulder flowing blonde mane.
He smiled at her again and she smiled back as his mind whispered," she's sure built for fun mate."
"Fine!" she said.
"Hu what? Oh....oh great no problem miss." His mind was distracted and his thoughts stopped wandering over her body. "I'll fire her up then?"
Sammy headed back to her jeep to lock it as he began pre-flight checks. Once she was sure it was secure she sauntered over to the machine. The man smiled and shook his head. "Were not in the city now miss, more chance of a croc trying to get in to your wheels than somebody else."
She had to agree. She'd been driving all day and not seen a sole on the sticky hot tree shrouded road.
"Its VIP treatment today," he laughed' the engine now roaring the man handing Sammy a crash helmet. "We're fuelled for a long trip."
To start with the micro light was a noisy nerve racking experience. Its vibrating frame ran up to the seat as Sammy sat in front of the pilot. His seat was slightly raised allowing him to look over her shoulders; his head darting from side to side as he just missed the tops of huge wide foliaged trees.
"Jesus!" Sammy thought her nerves jangling, hands gripping to white knuckles. She looked back a little worried. The man gave her the thumbs up as he increased power, the machine raising it nose and pulling higher. The view was spectacular and the micro light made lazy turns catching the breeze helping keep the machine aloft.
He tapped on Sammy's shoulder pointing to the west.
"Nothing that way for 500 miles," he hollered, "just jungle."
"Government property" he then shouted wagging his finger. "No entry!"
He then pointed to north turning the machine that way following a snaking small river. "We'll keep out of their way."
As they went the tree canopy remained constant and time passed so quickly. When she finally looked at her watch she realised they'd been airborne almost an hour. Sammy felt a little uneasy as the miles increase without sign of road or ground feature.
"What if you have to land?" She said loudly over the whining engine. The man smiled shaking his head. "Why would I want to that?" He shouted back with a mischievous grin.
As if she had been reading his mind in that very moment he saw his target.
"There!" He pointed and the girl suddenly saw the river open on a small stretch of grassland surrounded on all sides by jungle forest.
"Hang on" he whooped and the engine began to stutter as he angled to land.
Sammy felt her stomach jump like she was in freefall as the machine amazingly seemed to rise up on its nose, descend rapidly and bump onto the stretch of grass. Within moments it had run to a halt along the shaded but beautiful river bank
The engine stopped and the noise quickly subsided. The pilot was already taking off his helmet and climbing out; Sammy's temper rising. He'd just dropped from the sky like a stone. But she had to admit she had been excited by the rapid heart stopping landing deep in the wilderness.
He pulled a basket from behind his seat and placed it on the ground. "Tucker," he said with another smile. He gave the impression that this was a practiced routine as he opened a beer inviting her to join him.
Sammy straightened her clothes wiping her hair from her face.
"This wasn't part of the tour," she said suspiciously.
He sat back shrugging his shoulders. "Well for special tourist there always something extra."
"Special?" Sammy said smiling. He nodded, "you're special aren't you? And she laughed in no doubt that his special had something to do with her been young, pretty and busty. But he was quite charming, a little arrogant for her maybe, but kind of an outback type, all crocodile wrestling sinew and tan.
She sat down in the long grass looking at his pre-designed feast and smiled.
"Smooth move," she thought to herself," real smooth move." She took a sip of her beer as he looked at her with intent. He moved closer towards her. Sammy still undecided if to let him steal a kiss.
Suddenly the man gave a howl and jumped up in shock. "Jesus I've been bitten!"
He reeled back Sammy also on her feet looking in horror at the ground.
"Can you see it?" He gasped his hand reddening. Sammy shook her head unwilling to get any closer. He gritted his teeth looking at the wound. He appeared very worried.
"We best get back," he said, clearly feeling pain in his hand. "Come on leave the stuff lets just get airborne."
As he fired up the engine and spun the micro light around his face looked pale and he was sweating more. Sammy was going to suggest they didn't take off, but the noise of the engine increased to fever pitch and within moments the kite was almost pointing vertical the propeller groaning; the earth pulling away.
He levelled out the wings wobbling more than she remembered on the inward journey. He looked around getting his bearing and pushed the stick down the micro light dipping then zooming off over the trees.
Sammy kept looking back at the pilot. He appeared as if he was half asleep. The kite bucked and the she screamed the jolt shaking him back into consciousness. He wiped his head seeming confused. "No worries miss," he said in a less than confident voice.
The flight seemed to take ages now, the man's head lolling from side to side the aircraft wings matching his to and thro motion. The nervous heart stopping ride reached the hour with no sign of the airfield.
Sammy was scared and confused "Is this the way back?" She just couldn't tell. It was wide expanse of green in all directions. Any second she was convinced they'd just nose dive into the bush.
The man seemed confused himself wiping his brow eyes searching the horizon. He was cursing. He was losing track of time and his vibrating fuel gauge was saying he'd travelled far further than needed to get back home.
The pilot began to cough and hold his chest.
"I...I...can't..." He looked shocked as if realising the impossible was happening, his plane bucking and coming dangerously close to the tree tops. But he regained control his engine now on full throttle as he searched for home in desperation.
Sammy noticed the colour of the forest had darkened for some while. A deep unhealthy green like a shadow had fallen over the land. She didn't remember this on the way out. She looked to the sun and made her calculations and cried back to him over her shoulder.
"We're going west! We're going the wrong way!"
The pilot was rocking back and forth he knew he was lost and his vision was blurring. "I need to land," he coughed, "we need to get down now." But on all sides it's was tall tree vegetation.
He knew he couldn't turn around, his fuel wouldn't last. He needed to keep going.
He banked the micro light and gunned the engine towards a silhouette on the horizon. Ahead about ten miles there was a raised outcrop. The only obvious feature as far as the eye could see. It was a hillock around a flat jungle landscape. The trees and land made a strange face profile; the tree sprouting, nose shaped hill was the highest point. He headed for that.
There was no where to land except in this less dense hillside. He was a good pilot he knew he had a chance as long as there was some ground to aim for.
The little aircraft began to stall as he slowed; the wings waggling like crazy his head swimming his vision so blurred. He felt like sleep was washing over him. As the girl screamed he pulled back on the stick the trees rushing up the hillside at him; the ground barely a landing patch at all. But it was better than nothing.
Even on the hillside it was amazing how quickly the jungle enveloped them, drawing its arms around their splintered craft. The impact hardly affected the ancient twines and roots. Almost instantly the noise of human machines was silenced and the hum and din of the jungle took over again.
Sammy wasn't sure how long she was out cold; but when she awoke she was on her side. Her long blond hair was entwined around her neck, head and encroaching vegetation. For a moment she imagined horrible injuries, but thankfully she was fine.
She sat up taking slow deep pants of adrenaline fuelled relief.
Looking to her right she saw the pilot still in the mangled wreckage his eyes open his mouth dripping saliva.
"Oh heavens!" She cried realising he was dead. His skin seemed bluish and she guessed that the poison bite more than the hill had done this terrible deed.
She stood up gripping a tree branch to lean out into the daylight. Below was a drop to rocks, then more jungle on a steep slope down to dark undergrowth. She held a leaf in her hand. It was a dark and sickly green the veins on the leaf raised like it was in a constant state of tension. The whole jungle had the feel of brooding midnight menace. Below towards the jungle floor the near black foliage appeared to show a dense and impenetrable land.
"I need to stay here," she thought looking out over the trees to the horizon. "I'll never see a rescue plane down there." She looked at the broken kite's tangled yellow canopy. She could try some type of sign to attract an aircraft.
In the pit of her stomach suddenly came the gnawing realisation. "Who knows we are missing?" She felt her heart beating faster. She was angry with her thoughts. "Concentrate on positives!" She shouted to herself. She looked at the yellow fabric structure. She could make a big flag of some kind.
She reached up to the crumpled wing of the aircraft. "If I can just..." The damaged metal suddenly snapped Sammy falling back. The ground below her was muddy and she felt her feet go from under her.
She screamed as she fell on her tummy sliding into the under growth. The hill was steep and somehow she had slipped into a gulley the soft mud more like a sluice than solid ground. Sammy twisted her body as she slid faster and faster the trees whipping her face. Suddenly the green gave way to brilliant day light and she was falling, falling and screaming until she hit a running torrent.
The water was engulfing her, the babe spinning like inside a washing machine. The stream was deep and fast flowing. She bounced and bumped along tippling over more dips until finally it eased to a slow meander after its circumnavigating of the witch face hill. It then opened into a wider tree enshrouded pool.
She was spluttering, her arms pushing out, her legs kicking to the side until she finally swam to safety and pulled herself onto the muddy bank.
Gasping for breath Sammy lifted herself to her knees. She was soaking wet her t shirt clinging to her heaving breast, her ass tight shorts biting into her crack as she sat thighs together, sneakers ruined. She was coughing and panting shaking her head like a big dog might after a shore side romp. The stream this far down was now so calm the noises of the forest vibrated all around. The creatures of the jungle seemed disturbed; bird's squawking the undergrowth audibly alive.
She looked about with a start expecting an animal to pounce. But there was nothing. Calming herself Sammy stood and looked back up to the hill side. She had slid over 200 feet before dropping into the stream. Then had travelled double that till the water finally slowed.
"Shit! It's going to take me hours to get back."
Suddenly the heat of the jungle seemed to overwhelm her. Her skin was perspiring heavily her mind fuzzy. Her head lolled and she realised she was going down with heat stroke.
As her knees gave way she felt a hand grip her, another on her hip. They were big hands, strong safe hands. But it was too late. Her eyes rolled as she passed out with a puncture hissing sigh.
When she woke she was still sweating, the dark room around her humid and fly infested. A gentle wrinkled hand was dabbing her brow. A narrow faced woman, maybe sixty was looking over her. The woman's eyes were black and sunken into her sockets. Her features were drawn; only the remnant of an elegant pout and refined cheek remained to show she once had class.
"She's awake," the woman said in a matter of fact way. Sammy tried to sit up the woman pressing a hand on her blanket covered chest. "Stay still and drink this." Sammy took a sip of sweet water her face a little socked realising she was naked under the linen, her wet clothes nowhere to be seen. She began to babble.
"I crashed, I mean we...." She remembered the pilot. The woman nodded.
"We know," said another voice, both had an English slant. Sammy was a little startled. In the shadows she could she the skeletal features of man maybe in his 70s or 80's. He also had deep socket eyes, black glistening pupils, his body white and almost translucent. The blue and white of bone and veins was showing on his arms. Both were dressed in tattered fabrics, sown and re-sown together.
"Our sons found the wreckage," the woman whispered stroking Sammy's brow.
"Oh thank God," Sammy said realising at last the most important point. That she had been found. The woman then gave her a playful little wink," we also found the body."
Sammy didn't know what to say, why was it funny?
"They found you first though," the man said cocking his head to one side looking at her in an uncomfortable examiner type way. "Good job really by the looks of it."
Sammy nodded and gave a slight probing smile. The smile was not returned.
He continued. "I would imagine this whole area is restricted?" Sammy remembered back to the pilot and nodded, "Yes I think so, I....we got lost and..."
Sammy changed her thoughts asking, "Can I ask, have you called for someone to come get me?"
Both bursts out laughing, Sammy shrinking back on the bed pulling her legs up to her chest. She was realising this was becoming "fucking weird"
"People stopped looking here a long time ago." The old man said his chest crackling with the effort of laughing. "They decided to leave us here to rot," the woman added. Then snorted in amusement, "but we didn't, the last time the army came here they all died. But annoying for them we wouldn't."
"The army?" Sammy thought, trying to keep up with events.
"And why didn't we die?" The woman asked Sammy; waiting for her answer. Sammy just shrugged her shoulders and they both laughed again
"Exactly we don't know why either, all we know is that this contaminated hell hole didn't kills us. It changed us, that's for sure; but it didn't kill us."
The woman stroked Sammy's cheek and the babe flinched and blushed at her embarrassing reaction. Her dark eyes narrowed focusing on the young beauty. "And now it hasn't killed you."
"It's a miracle," the woman added. The old man leaned forward, "No my dear it's a gift!"
"I don't understand? " Sammy said sitting up pulling the cover up to her neck, covering her naked curvaceous body fully. The word "contaminated" repeating over and over in her head like an echo.
The old man wiped his brow again, paused, and then began to explain.
Sammy listened to the confusing tale. He and his wife were scientists; British military scientist. In the late 60s and under pressure from the US to become involved in the Vietnam War their government had been researching a super weapon to use in the jungle. It had been a weapon that could turn vegetation against those with the right DNA. And in this war it needed to be Vietnamese DNA.