They had just begun working on the fence again when he heard a distant engine sound. A helicopter rose out of the valley below.
“It’s them!” Clive muttered. “I’m not surprised. With this year’s hot summer they’ll have a huge marijuana crop and are probably harvesting it now.” He glanced at Ryan. “Let’s go and have a look?”
He looked keen and Ryan was interested in finding out more, too. “Okay, but we need to be careful.”
Flossie led them up a small ridge and down the opposite side. They were in another broad valley that ran parallel to the one they’d left. The trees thinned and finally stopped. Ahead was a flat oval field at least a hundred metres long and half as wide, filled with gigantic spiky plants with white almost fluffy looking flowers, or perhaps they were seed pods at the top,
“Marijuana!” Ryan said.
Ryan nodded. “So we report it this time, Clive,” he said. “This proves what we originally thought. This is not some local guys growing a bit for Saturday parties.”
The plants were swaying almost as tall as himself in a gentle breeze. The whole scene sent a sinister feeling through his body. Having this massive crop so close to Top Plateau Station both annoyed and at the same time frightened him. “Come on, let’s go!” he said.
Clive turned to Flossie. “Find us the best way home, Girl!”
The dog gave a yelp as if she was glad to leave and bounded directly up the slope to the right. Ryan followed and found the steep section quite a climb. Within a few moments he was ten metres ahead of Clive who had stopped to get his breath.
“Flossie, Wait,” Ryan called.
The dog stopped and sat down. Ryan turned and was about to walk back to offer a hand to Clive when he heard a twanging sound. This was followed by a swish!
Something hit him in the right leg!
He staggered as his leg collapsed and pain shot up his body. The foliage around him blurred as he dropped, crashed into a tree trunk and screamed in sheer agony. Something was terribly wrong with his leg but what was it!
He blinked back tears as he pushed away ferns that brushed against his body and attempted to move his leg. Agonising pain shot up it and he could feel rather than see blood seeping through the bottom of his shorts. His view became blurry and he found it hard to stay conscious.
He heard his friend’s call as if it was a hundred kilometres away and saw a concerned a face staring at him through a spinning mist.
“Bastards!” Clive growled. “Don’t move, Ryan. Just keep still!”
“What is it?” Ryan gasped as Clive squatted beside him and wrapped his jacket around his throbbing leg. “Have I been shot?”
“No, The bastards must have rigged up a crossbow. You have a steel arrow embedded in your upper leg. Reckon it’s gone right through but I don’t want to shift you.”
Ryan found his senses returning a little. The spinning had stopped but his whole leg was now numb. He raised his head and glanced down. He immediately wished he hadn’t for he felt ill at the sight. Just above his knee, a thirty-centimetre shaft stuck out of his upper leg. Worse though, was the blood that was pulsing out, pouring down his leg and onto the ground.
Clive tied a strip of cloth that was probably part of his shirt around his upper leg, made a knot that included a stick and tightened it. Pain shot through Ryan’s body and he again almost collapsed in the pain.
“Sorry Ryan,” Clive gasped. “Even though I’m not even going to try to pull the arrow out, I need to apply a tourniquet. You’re loosing too much blood.”
“Do what you can,” Ryan managed to gasp the words. His last recollection was seeing Flossie beside him and a sloppy tongue licking his face. He reached out. “It’s okay Girl,” he almost sobbed. “I’m fine!”
The trouble was that he wasn’t!
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