‘Police, Fire or Ambulance?’ The dispatcher spoke slowly and clearly, knowing the caller on the other end of the line was likely panicked.

‘All of them!’

Yep. Freaking out. He took a deep breath. ‘Can you tell me what’s happened?’

‘An accident. Oh God! I think they’re dead.’

‘What sort of accident?’

‘It’s awful! The car’s upside down. I can see a man but there might be others. I can’t open the door. Help me!’

‘Where are you?’

‘I don’t know,’ the woman wailed. ‘I’m not from round here.’

‘Where are you travelling from?’ He kept his voice calm despite the jittery sensation bubbling in his veins. These were the tough calls where logic and sleuthing fought the clock.

‘Perth,’ she sobbed.

‘And where are you heading?’

‘Um … it’s … hang on.’ There was the sound of papers scrunching. ‘Gar … Gar-Garring-gar-up. Is that how you say it?’

‘Garringarup.’ He brought up the map. A series of spoke roads radiated in all directions from the heritage Wheatbelt town. Coming from Perth, the woman could be on one of three roads, but it was likely the Great Southern Highway. Only he’d been doing this job for too long to depend on ‘likely’. ‘Do you have GPS coordinates?’

‘I don’t know! How do I get them?’

He gave a moment’s thought to explaining how to locate the coordinates but worried the spiralling woman might disconnect the call in the process. ‘Do you remember the name of the last town you drove through?’


‘Do you remember anything about it?’

‘It had a pub.’

In small-town WA that didn’t narrow it down any.

‘Do you remember any signs or something like a sculpture that might give me a clue?’

There was a beat of silence. He hoped it meant she was thinking—not that they’d been disconnected.

‘Um … the ah, um … the pub was Brook something? It’s on one of those brown tourist drives.’

He googled and found the Avon Valley tourist drive that ran north to south. Perth was west so he disregarded the origin of the woman’s journey. ‘Did you come through Northam and Spencers Brook?’


‘And how long since you passed the tavern?’

‘I don’t know! Three or four songs.’

‘Are you still on that same road?’

There was no reply.

‘Are you there?’

He swore under his breath. He logged the information he had into the computer aided-system, alerting Garringarup to the priority-one accident requiring police, ambulance and a fire truck with jaws of life. Then he typed coordinates coming. At least he hoped they were. Given how patchy the mobile-phone coverage was in the Wheatbelt there were no guarantees. Country life was idyllic until there was an emergency. Then the remoteness combined with a lack of service made surviving a life-threatening accident so much harder than in a city.

He rang the woman back and held his breath, hoping a tower pinged her phone.

She answered with her name, her voice breathless. ‘Is the ambulance coming? There’s also a man and a little girl.’ Her voice rose to a shriek. ‘I found them in the ditch!’

He added at least three seriously injured to the log. ‘Juliet, are you still on the tourist road?’

‘I don’t know. I took the road to Garringarup.’

He stared at the map. The tourist road would have led her into town so where the hell had the GPS taken her? There were at least two gravel roads she could be on. He had no choice—he was going to have to talk the distressed woman through the coordinates and hope the line didn’t fall out again.

‘Juliet, I need you to listen to me carefully. Can you do that?’

‘There’s so much blood.’ Her anguished cry eviscerated him. ‘And no one’s moving.’

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