Icefall, page 1
First published in Australia in 2014 by Short Stop Press
An imprint of A&A Book Publishing Pty Ltd.
This EPUB edition:
Copyright © Guy Hallowes 2014
This book is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 and subsequent amendments, no part may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any means or process whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publishers.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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A&A Book Publishing Pty Ltd
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Diana—Thankyou for patiently reading and re-reading many versions of the manuscript and for helping me make the early changes in the novel.
Tony and Catherine—Thankyou for the interesting left field conversations and references that led me to write this book.
Isabel—Thankyou for making me really get to grips with the individual characters in the novel.
I am grateful to the team at A&A Book Publishing for doing such a wonderful professional job.
I acknowledge I am indebted to the following publication for alerting us to the danger we face:
Published on Friday, December 1, 2006 by the New Zealand Herald
Massive Ice Shelf 'May Collapse without Warning'
The Ross Ice Shelf, a massive piece of ice the size of France, could break off without warning causing a dramatic rise in sea levels, warn New Zealand scientists working in Antarctica.
A New Zealand-led ice drilling team has recovered three million years of climate history from samples which gives clues as to what may happen in the future.
The team's co-chief scientist, Tim Naish, told The Press newspaper the sediment record was important because it provided crucial evidence about how the Ross Ice Shelf would react to climate change, with potential to dramatically increase sea levels.
"If the past is any indication of the future, then the ice shelf will collapse," he said.
In January, British Antarctic Survey researchers predicted that its collapse would make sea levels rise by at least 5m, with other estimates predicting a rise of up to 17m.
Tanya was brought up in the mean streets of the lowly Sydney suburb of Cabramatta. With her blonde tresses, she was slim, tall and, even as a teenager, growing up into a stunningly beautiful woman. Her honest, solid parents always tried to do the right thing by their very smart, but wilful, only child. Both had two, low-paying menial jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. On most days they were away for as much as sixteen hours, so by the time Tanya was in her early teens, her parents had, to all intents and purposes, lost control of their daughter.
At fifteen, looking for excitement, she was persuaded to join a local gang led by Demetriou Smith, three years her senior. At first it was just great fun. They stole sweets and various items of small value from the shops in the vicinity, and shared the spoils out among gang members. To start with, Demetriou took little notice of her. So she pushed herself forward, her skimpy clothes and competent thievery soon attracting his attention. When the gang moved on to stealing cars for joyriding, she persuaded Demetriou to teach her to drive so she could participate.
Tanya had always done reasonably well at school without doing any work at all. As far as she was concerned, belonging to the gang was just fun and soon became her focus. They learnt all sorts of minor criminal skills like how to pick a lock and how to hide items on one's person without it being detected. Most of all she learnt how people behaved when under stress; many were unable to cope, giving up at the first sign of trouble. Only a few others, and she found that she was one of the latter, managed to bluff their way through virtually any difficulty and almost always escaped detection or punishment.
It all changed when Demetriou asked her to help him with a very special job. He had recently taught her how to hot-wire a car and she was already a reasonably competent driver, although still unlicensed due to her age.
'All you have to do is steal a car and drive it to this address.' He handed her a piece of paper. 'I'll be there. We'll make a few deliveries; afterwards you dump the car. Should be easy.'
Tanya did exactly as she had been told. At dusk, she rapidly surveyed a local unattended car park, selected a car and within minutes had carefully driven the vehicle to the appointed address. Demetriou was waiting outside holding a small bag. They stopped at six addresses. Tanya saw him handing over some of the contents to individuals standing in the shadows in exchange for what she determined was cash. Eventually, Demetriou asked her to drop him off.
He handed her two ten dollar notes and said, 'Thanks, you did very well. Dump the car and go home.'
Tanya was worldly enough to understand they had been delivering drugs and that she had been massively underpaid. Not that she minded, finding it all very exciting. Demetriou, well-built, six foot tall and darkly handsome had a devil-may-care attitude to life which the immature Tanya found very attractive. Being mildly interested in sex, and having only had one or two unsatisfactory encounters with boys in the gang, she suspected it might be different with Demetriou.
The fourth or fifth time Tanya had driven the delivery car, the last address was close to home. Knowing that her parents would still be out, she stopped the car in front of her home saying boldly to Demetriou, 'Come and have a cup of tea or coffee, or a beer if you like. Dad has some beer in the fridge. I'll drop the car off later.'
Demetriou needed no second invitation. 'Forget the beer, come here.'
They were kissing as the front door closed. Within minutes, all vestiges of clothing had been discarded and they were making passionate love on her bed. Half an hour later, they made love again.
Looking at her watch, Tanya said, 'Mum and Dad will be back soon, I've got to drop the car.' They scrambled into their clothes.
Demetriou scooted off on foot, leaving Tanya to deal with the car. She arrived back home a few minutes before her parents.
Tanya was thrilled with the lovemaking; it was everything she had imagined and she relived the experience time and again; she loved Demetriou's rough and tumble approach. She couldn't wait until their next encounter.
Tanya drove for Demetriou's drug deliveries for another four months. She stole the car, they made the deliveries, and either returned home or went to Demetriou's place and made love. Tanya, early on in the piece, had made an appointment at the local family planning clinic and was now on the pill. Her new life was thrilling and exciting. She was meticulous about how and where she stole cars, never from the same place twice, and she was always exactly where Demetriou told her to be at the right time. She had no fear and it almost never occurred to her that she might be in danger either from the police or drug suppliers. She wasn't sure whether she was in love with Demetriou or not, but she loved the rough, fearless sex. No thought was given to the future or how long her new life, as she saw it, would last.
Then, Tanya noticed something had changed. Demetriou seemed nervous. He appeared more than once with a black eye and bruises on his body. On one occasion, there were flecks of what appeared to be blood on his shirt. He refused to discuss it when asked. He was also taking a bit too mu
The last time she saw him, they had completed the usual deliveries and had returned to his home and made love. Going to the toilet, she was shocked to see a shirt in the tattered laundry basket covered in dried blood. Gingerly picking up the shirt, Tanya was about to return to the bedroom to confront Demetriou when she heard an unusual sound outside. Standing on the toilet bowl and peering out into the street, she saw to her horror two police cars parked and another arriving. A dozen or more policemen, uniformed and plain clothes, were standing around waiting for something.
Suddenly Tanya understood she was in real trouble. Her personal survival instinct made her focus solely on her own situation. Without thinking, still clutching the bloody shirt and leaving Demetriou asleep in bed, she grabbed all her belongings, making sure she had left nothing behind. Running naked into the garage, she looked around briefly before clambering onto the roof of the parked car and up into the ceiling space. She carefully replaced the manhole cover then dressed silently, hiding behind some stored boxes. Shivering with fright, she sat uncomfortably on a roof beam in the dark, wondering what would happen next.
Within minutes all hell broke loose. She could hear police everywhere, thoroughly searching the premises; some came over the back fence, so if she had tried to escape that way she would certainly have been apprehended. They clumsily crashed about in the garage for a few minutes, but missed the manhole.
The raid lasted an hour. She didn't move, apart from her terrified shivering.
She heard an unfamiliar female voice say, 'Just him, I've looked everywhere. There's no sign of anyone else.'
'There's a young girl, we need to find her.'
'Not here mate. We've looked everywhere.'
Once Tanya was certain the raid was over and all was quiet, she noticed, with horror, the bloodied shirt lying where she had discarded it on top of a box. Half emptying it, she carefully folded the shirt, placed it inside, and covered it with the papers and other jumbled clothing. At about noon the following day, Tanya emerged from her hideout. She crept around the side of the house to find the stolen car still parked in front; obviously the police had not identified the vehicle. Making sure there was nobody about, she jumped into the driver's seat. She drove it carefully to the nearest shopping centre, parked it, and walked home.
Her frantic mother was, unusually, still at home. 'Where have you been? Why aren't you at school?'
Tanya, helping herself to breakfast cereal, said, 'It's all okay now. I can't go to school today. I need to sleep, but when you and Dad are here I will explain everything.'
'I called the police.'
Tanya almost panicked, 'Call them back. Tell them not to worry, I'm back now.'
Noticing Tanya's clothes all covered in dust, her mother started fussing again, 'Look at you. Where have you been?' She tried to dust Tanya off.
Tanya escaped her mother's anxious clutches. While she was in the bath, she heard her mother talking to someone, probably a policeman, at the door.
'Sorry I called you. She stayed with a friend last night and forgot to tell us. She is back home now, unharmed.'
Over the evening meal, she quietly told her horrified parents everything; the teenage gang, the carjacking and finally the drug deliveries. Thinking it was irrelevant, she spared them the sex. No mention was made of the bloodied shirt or the fact that she had parked the stolen car where she thought it would eventually be found.
'Demetriou is certainly under arrest and will go to jail for drug dealing. The police might look for me since I drove a car for him on at least two dozen occasions while he was doing his deliveries. I really have learnt my lesson, but now I need to go somewhere else. I don't think the police will look very hard if they don't find me soon.' Tanya, although badly frightened, was quite calm and coherent.
'Did you take any drugs?' asked her father anxiously.
'No. I saw one or two in the gang who did and decided it wasn't for me.'
'Maybe you can go to my sister Cara, since she is now on her own. I will ask. Her flat is small, but Bronte is a long way from here.'
Both Tanya's parents had hopes for Tanya and were determined to help her achieve her potential.
'I couldn't care less about the drug deliveries,' her father said to her mother later. 'We must get her as far away from here as possible. If Cara will have her that will be a good solution.' They were mortified by Tanya's behaviour and blamed themselves for not being able to supervise her more closely. However, they understood how people, in their position, at the bottom of the heap could fall into such a trap.
'Tanya,' her father said to her kindly, 'If Cara will have you; it will give you another chance. But make the most of it. Don't foul up again.'
He had Tanya's full attention. Badly frightened, she could see that her life could have been ruined by her foolishness and she had no wish to wind up in juvenile detention. So she cooperated fully with her parent's suggestion.
Within days, Tanya had moved in with her aunt. Cara was sensitive and asked few questions. But gradually, as trust developed, Tanya unburdened herself and told Cara nearly everything, even the sex; she made no mention of the bloodied shirt.
'I think you've had several lucky escapes. At worst you could be pregnant and in jail,' Cara said, unemotionally a few weeks into her niece's stay. 'I hope you've learnt your lesson. But you can make a significant change now. Your teachers say you're very clever and will easily get into university, if that is what you want. Since you were enrolled under my name, the police shouldn't track you here. Another piece of advice—don't go anywhere near Cabramatta and stay away from your old friends, if you want to stay out of jail.'
Tanya took her aunt's advice for now, although she thought she might contact a few of her old friends when the fuss had blown over.
After several months of Cara's non-judgmental tutelage, Tanya gradually formed a view of what life might be like outside her previous grubby world. She was concentrating hard on her studies and steering clear of trouble.
'Don't come back home, at all,' her father advised. 'Maybe the police are still looking for you.'
Tanya's parents, on one of their regular visits to see their daughter, showed her a short piece cut from a local paper.
"Demetriou Smith, aged nineteen, was convicted in the local district court of two counts of drug dealing and was sentenced to three years jail. A further charge of manslaughter was dismissed due to lack of evidence."
Tanya shivered with fright, then, and whenever she thought of Demetriou. That's what might have happened to me, she reflected. She occasionally revisited their lovemaking, and not always successfully tried put the memories of it out of her head. She took full responsibility for her own actions and placed no blame on Demetriou: You knew what you were doing, she said to herself. If you had given the situation a moment's thought, you silly bitch, you could see where it was heading. Same for Demetriou. He knew the risks and got what was coming to him. She went quite cold when she thought of the bloodied shirt. He must have killed someone. She wondered why she had touched the shirt at all and who he had killed.
Tanya, carefully guided by Aunt Cara, transformed her life and worked hard at school, finishing top of her class in the remaining three years in academic and sporting subjects.
'I will be here when you get home from school, every day, so come straight back. Leave the boys alone, they are just trouble,' Cara told her. Her aunt had a part-time job at a local supermarket and was always on hand if she needed anything.
Tanya met Mark Bower at university. Mark, in his final year, was intrigued by the clever, slim, and beautiful first year student even though he could see she had come from
'Going slumming?' and, 'Fancy a bit of rough, do you?' were typical comments from his more well-to-do friends.
Tanya had no shortage of dates, including Mark, once she had established herself at university. Cara, realising she would not be able to keep Tanya away from the opposite sex forever, gave her a lecture on birth control.
'I have bought you a dozen condoms. I don't want to encourage you, but you need to be prepared.'
A surprised Tanya took the condoms; she was well aware of the need for birth control, but did not want to upset her aunt.
Mark tried to ignore Tanya's background and the competition for her attention, and they had several dates. Tanya could see she did not fit in with the middle class norms at the university, but she was flattered by Mark's attention. With his easy charm and tall, good looks, he could have had the pick of the girls. He had been head boy at school and captain of the rugby team.
She was smart enough to keep her eyes open and learn from her new world, free from the strains of the poverty she had been raised in and away from any temptations of the drug dealing world she had been a part of until three years or so earlier. She started to dress more conventionally, copying what some of her classmates wore. She even had the courage to ask one of the more friendly girls to help her. 'I would like to fit in a bit better. I don't want to put Mark off by looking like a dag.'
She liked and admired Mark, but was not yet sure of her relationship with him. He was shy around her and, to her surprise, had not made any attempt to sleep with her, even after three months dating. He eventually had the courage to take her home to dinner with his parents David and Chloe Bower, where she was able to charm them with her looks and modest demeanour.