“Chapter 1”

He threw himself across the girl hurling her to the pavement causing her to lose the shoulder bag as another shot rang out, sending a security guard stumbling on to his back through the broken glass window with a bullet in his chest.

There were more shots, wildly and at random. An elderly white man, in baggy brown shorts and Hawaiian shirt staggered and fell face down onto the concrete, his camera spilling from nerveless hands. A dark-suited Asian business man a few feet from him clutched his chest a bewildered look on his face, then dropped his briefcase and with a low moan crumpled to the ground. Both of them within a few metres of where Conway and the Thai girl lay huddled together. Then, as suddenly as it began, the shooting stopped.

Conway lay on top of her for a full minute. He looked up warily, then slowly rose and helped her to her feet. ‘Are you ok?’ he yelled trying to make himself heard above the pandemonium engulfing them. She nodded dumbly, frozen for a moment, white faced, shaking uncontrollably. He grabbed her hand and yanked her through the shattered window, avoiding a spreading pool of blood from the fallen security guard.

The crowd surged around them like a mob of frightened cattle. Arriving passengers, airport staff, vendors, taxi drivers and those awaiting arrivals, continued to push and shove each other out of the way in a desperate bid to escape as heavily armed police and security guards swarmed amongst them trying to find the shooter among the carnage.

Amazingly, within minutes, ambulances with sirens screaming screeched to a halt on the concourse among the waiting taxis. White coated paramedics carrying black medical bags and stretchers, leapt out to attend to the distressed and wounded. There was nothing that could be done for the backpacker, taxi driver or security guard and several others including the elderly white man and Asian businessman.

‘Stay here,’ ordered Conway, ‘I’ll get our gear.’ She nodded dumbly watching him step gingerly through the shattered window to retrieve their luggage. He handed her the shoulder bag and kept both their suitcases.

‘I’m Steve, what’s your name?’ he said, forcing a smile, trying to calm her. Her eyes were dilated; she struggled to catch her breath. He waited patiently while she composed herself.

‘My name,’ she gasped, ‘is Pim, Panadapim Visitkuk. I…ah…thank you…thank you very much Khun Steve,’ she said, using the generic form of Thai address. ‘You saved my life. I…just…’ Tears trickled down her cheeks.

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