Simon Carabetta’s piece – a snippet from potentially a larger story – postulates another Perth, a Perth that would never have been given the name Dullsville!
Without further ado, the winning entry:
Not only was the search party a factor that worried our group, but the imminent arrival of any number of drop-ships was a sobering idea that shook us to our very core. Sebastiaan and Guus had set out on foot at least a day ahead of us, the purpose; to gather any information on other guerrillas that had been split from the main group. We were a party of only three since their departure, and the hope of being able to reconvene and organise was becoming fainter by the hour.
It was now seven and the sun was making its final bid of farewell against a crimson cloud that seemed to match the stains on our uniforms; makeshift uniforms pulled together at the last minute and designed for camouflage in the greenery and swampland of the Zuid-West province.
I kicked at the body of a deceased black swan, checking for edibility. It didn’t look edible. It had been three days without a proper meal. Or was that four? Five, perhaps? Our salt levels had been down ever since we were detached from the main group. Now our muscles ached and our heads were weary. Our spirits, already torn down, had dived even lower after hearing the news that New Holland had fallen to the dreaded Equipo Muerte overnight. The town didn’t stand a chance after the British barracks at Perth and Fremantle suffered bombing raids by the Spaniards.
In my lifetime, the war had always been there. A dispute over territory that dated back to the colonisation of the continent known as Terra Australis. Almost one hundred years saw several nations laying claim to the entire land. For most of my life I lived in the Dutch colony which lay in the south west. We allied with the British, mostly for protection, but also because of a war with them. A war which saw far too much bloodshed and disaster to continue. A treaty was made by mutual request and it seemed that peace would prevail in our tiny part of the world. Peace, however, is not a goal sought by all men. The nations of Spain and France have always believed that the right to govern all the colonies is theirs and theirs alone. This is why we still fight this war.
A loud noise to my left shakes me of my memories. Nadine and Gabriel duck. So do I. It is only reaction of my companions that saves my life. As shells are pumped out mercilessly above us, I reach for my sidearm. It feels cold against my hand. I take aim.
The Spaniard is dead and we scan the area in front of us. The final hints of sunset are gone and we are surrounded by Karri trees. There is no one else but the three of us.
Then, the familiar roar of a drop-ship. We have our rifles ready. We remain low. All we can do now is take aim at whoever comes out.