Taking The Sydney Opera House By Storm Beneath An Exploding Sky.
Looking down at the Mayor, squirming in his gag and ropes, I wondered if they’d gone too far.
‘Pay attention,’ said Mad Myx.
Snapping back to reality I said something like, ‘Yes, Doctor…’
‘There’s barely time to go through it all again,’ said the Doctor, looking calmly down at the Mayor, ‘the gig has to go ahead, and all you have to do is watch this clown, and then hit these buttons when you get the message, got it?’
‘I think so…’ I said, feeling quite worried.
‘Here,’ said the Doctor, handing me a small control panel, ‘this button, with Number 1 on it, hit that first, then this button, Number 2, hit that next, got it?’
‘Yea, I think so, Number 1, then Number 2…’ I said vaguely.
‘Well, there’s hope for you yet,’ said the Doctor, slapping me on the back.
Then the Doctor strode off down the passageway to get ready for the show.
The Mayor was wriggling around on the metal floor of one of the ship’s storage rooms, flung down amongst the sacks of potatoes and stacks of tinned food – enough to last several trans-Atlantic voyages.
‘Rough day, huh?’ I asked the Mayor.
His red face went redder, he was trying to shout through his own tie – which had been used to gag his mouth.
Just then Nicole walked in, ‘Hey, everything okay?’ she asked, amiably.
‘Well, yea, I guess, can’t say I’m used to hostage taking, especially high officials!’
‘He doesn’t look so official now though, does he?’ replied Nicole, with a wink.
‘Good point, I see what you mean,’ I said nodding, as we both looked down at the Mayor on the floor.
‘Kinda like a stuffed pig, don’t you think?’ said Nicole.
‘Sure is!’ I said, ‘You looking forward to the gig tonight?’
‘Absolutely, can’t wait, thanks for babysitting this lump,’ she said, heading off to prepare for the gig.
I tied the Mayor to a pipe on the wall and went upstairs on deck. The Captain came striding across in full regalia.
‘That’s quite the getup Captain,’ I said.
‘Good, good, got your approval has it?’ replied the Captain, swigging from a bottle of beer.
‘Absolutely, yes, very old world with a touch of cyberpunk.’ I replied.
‘That’s about the measure of it,’ said the Captain, ‘now, has the Doctor explained the plan to you?’
‘Yes, Sir, he has.’ I answered.
‘Good, and you’ll be okay looking after that fool downstairs?’ asked the Captain, eyeing me keenly.
‘Sure, but what’s the exit strategy? I mean, eventually the military will be after us, and we’ll have to scoot, but what about him? We can’t just make him walk the plank?’ I explained.
‘Can’t we?’ said the Captain, laughing to himself, ‘It wouldn’t be the first puffed up public official that’s walked the plank!’
The helicopter was sitting on the far end of the deck, covered in tarpaulins to hide it from view. Earlier in the evening the Captain, Doctor and the ship’s Masters had encouraged the Mayor to send a message to his secretary, explaining that the apparent hostage situation was a prank to spook his pilot, and that he was taking a small break from his duties. The Mayor went on to explain that he’ll be back some time during the following week.
This had, of course, been done to buy the Beer and Flies enough time to play the gig and disappear before the full weight of the Australian navy began making serious efforts to locate the Mayor.
‘Doctor!’ shouted the Captain, ‘get that sky bird going, we’re leaving in 5 minutes.’
Then turning back to me, the Captain handed me a small radio device, ‘Contact me on this if there’s any problems, but it better be serious, we can’t have any disturbances during the show.
‘Understood, Captain, I won’t call unless it’s an emergency. When do you think you guys will be back?’ I asked.
‘Sometime after midnight, but whatever you do, don’t fall asleep, keep your eyes on that Mayor until we get back,’ said the Captain, walking away, and then, as an afterthought, ‘Don’t sink the ship!’
‘I’ll do my best!’ I said.
The rotors were whirling and the engine was warming up. The Beer and Flies were jammed into the helicopter, instruments and all. I stood on the deck and waved to them as the helicopter, or ‘sky bird’ as the Captain called it, pulled up into the air and then hooked around towards the Sydney Opera House, bathed in the mellow light of the setting sun.
After the band had left I went down and dragged the Mayor onto the deck, and roped him to the hand railings at the side of the ship. I wheeled the barbecue across, as well as the mini fridge, threw some shrimp on to the grill and sat back to relax. Using the high powered telescope I watched as a huge crowd was gathering outside the Sydney Opera House. Thousands of people were thronging, bustling around like ants around a disturbed nest.
One hour later, just as the band were about to go on stage, I got the first message from the Doctor. I took the control panel out from my coat pocket, and pressed the Number 1 button.
Kaboom! Fireworks erupted over the Sydney Opera House, an incredible display. They don’t do things by half, I thought to myself.
The Mayor was terrified, trying to get out of the ropes.
‘Not so fast,’ I said, looking down at him, realising that he probably thought the huge explosion of fireworks was a series of bombs going off in his city!
I lifted him up so he could see over the rails of the ship, and let him watch the firework show. His eyes boggled in amazement at the incredible display of color over the city, reflecting perfectly in the water.
I had no idea how the Doctor and the others had managed to set up the fireworks display, but it would make a great image for the newspaper editors; finally, something I could report! Obviously, I thought to myself, I’d have to leave out the minor detail of taking the Mayor hostage, nonetheless, it would be a fine article.
I switched on the radio transmitter, and sat back to enjoy the shrimp and a beverage; turning the volume right up, I could hear the first sounds from the Sydney Opera House gig, the cheering crowds, and then the drums kicking in, the guitars warming up to a frenzy of electric sound; so, I thought, it begins…