She stared at the man standing in front of her. He was older than she remembered from his photos in the media all those years ago. Then, so was she.
“I need to get out of Australia,” he croaked. “They are trying to kill me.”
“How did you find me?”
“People speak of you.”
She knew this was true, the question was which people? She hadn’t trusted him 20 years ago, why should she trust him now? He’d hated boat people then, now he wanted to be one?
Australia had been a sanctuary for many, yet now it was a hell on earth. The invaders had come, ruling without mercy. Those in power at the time had been locked up, many killed without reason.
She had always sworn if Australia was ever invaded, even by a “friendly” nation, she would be the first to work for the underground. She’d kept her word, despite her advancing age. So now here they stood, old adversaries from a forgotten time. How had he escaped, she wondered? Bribed the guards? Probably: it was the only way out. Yet in times like these, such details were unimportant.
“Where are your family? Are you seeking passage for them too?”
“No, my family were on holiday in Mozambique when it happened. I told them not to come back when the soldiers took Canberra. I don’t know where they are now.”
While she disliked this man intensely, she was a humanitarian. She would help him if she could be sure he wasn’t a spy. At a price. There were others his price could help, others with no means to afford an escape.
“How can I trust you after all you did all those years ago?” She realised he did not remember who she had been back then, only that he had discovered she could help him escape, help him find his family. The lights flickered and died, darkness closed around them. She moved her finger to the trigger and listened. Footsteps approached and she felt relief. Her son entered the room and muttered there was another cleansing sweep happening in Perth. These always happened in darkness. More death.
Her son lit the candles and stared at their visitor. “How’d he find us?”
“That is something we need to find out. We may have to relocate again depending on who knows.”
She knew this man would have many contacts from his days near the top: someone must have taken pity on him.
“50,000. We can get you to Madagascar, from there you are on your own.”
“You know they froze all the banks. I have no money, I have no access to money.”
She stared at him. “Passport?” “No, they ransacked my home and my office, everything is gone.”
It was important to get at least some politicians out. If Australia recovered from this, they would need leaders and ones who had learnt a lesson may be of value. Perhaps some would come back. Perhaps.
“I can’t risk you leaving here now, I can’t risk you being captured. You might talk. My son will take you to a safe house where you will await transportation under guard. You will tell your guards how you found us. You leave at 3 am.” Damn it, was she being too soft, she wondered. He could be a dangerous link to the operation.
At 2:45 am he climbed on a boat with nothing but the clothes on his back. No money, no passport, no identity.
He was now an asylum seeker.
Continued at Nothing but ocean