I grew up in
tropical North Queensland and came from a family of three brothers and three
sisters. Most of my childhood was spent on cane farms, beaches and the outer
suburbs of Cairns in the days when the world was a very different place, a time
when kids had to make their own fun. Unlike kids of today, who are hot-wired to
a world of electronic stimulation, my imagination was inspired by the great
stories and myths and legends of the world from a set of encyclopedias that I
read and re-read for most of my childhood.
Cairns is oneof the best playgrounds anyone could ever grow up in, it has the ocean on oneside, freshwater pools all over the place, mountains to climb and, rainforest
to explore the perfect place to stimulate anyones imagination. I pursued a
course in the arts, went to college and university, earned a qualification as an
art teacher, and even had a couple of exhibitions along the way. Mostly I have
worked as a teacher, but I have to get away from the education system every now
and then to clear my head and try my hand at other things.
I once worked
in London as a graphic artist and for about 6 years of my life, I had a unique
job working in the only full-time art program in a large Psychiatric hospital in
Melbourne. After that, I had every intention of becoming an art therapist and I
almost got there, but life intervened in a big way and I never did end up doing
that. Computers became a part of my life and I soon discovered that they offered
the opportunity to explore other areas of creativity and, as a consequence I
have spent many happy years exploring the brave new world of story writing.
Adrik and Diego were lost in
thought, peering vacantly into the fathomless Abyss as their shuttle sailed
silently towards the transport terminal in the distance. The Abyss was an
ever-present reality in their life, a realm of shadows and mystery, a
never-ending ocean of absolute nothingness, nestling within the timeless domain
known as the Khavala. The Abyss was the heart centre of their world, as
beautiful as it was dangerous, but it was never to be taken lightly. It
surrounded Vela-Rishan, glistening like a precious jewel in the morning light,
but below the surface it was a barren and empty wasteland haunted by the
phantoms of lost souls.
One of the many passengers
travelling on this vessel was a tall woman in long black veils. Lezula was
travelling alone as she always did, but today she did so for a somewhat
different reason; she had a vested interest in the two boys sitting down the far
end of the shuttle. She had made it her business to study them a little more
closely over the last hour. Normally, she would not have been so intrusive, but
this was a necessity, for a number of reasons.
She had never seen two less
likely companions; they were so different in every way. The boy with dark hair,
for example, was quiet and pensive. She knew next to nothing about the habits of
young boys, but she thought it unusual for one to have a book in his hands, even
if it was electronic. As for his friend, if his appearance was anything to go
by, he was a different story altogether. He had an unusual but interesting face
even so; it was almost comical to some degree and, as for his spiky blond hair,
well, there had to a story behind that as well.
Lezula knew more about these
kids than they knew about themselves. She had been following their progress over
the last few years, but this was the first time she had ever been so close. She
would reveal herself in her own good time, but for reasons of her own, she had
chosen a seat in which she could observe them quietly, but from a reasonable
Under normal circumstances,
Adrik might have noticed her and even commented on her appearance, but at that
particular moment, he was oblivious to everything, absorbed by the serenity and
majesty of the infinitely mysterious Abyss. When he did eventually surface, his
first question took Diego a little by surprise.
Whats an armadillo? he
Its a mammal of some
sort, Diego replied, the armour-plated variety, I think. Why do you want to
I had a dream about one,
Adrik said mysteriously, a very weird and disturbing dream.
Adrik had been un-naturally
quiet for the last half hour and, to Diegos mind, that was often a precursor to
yet another enigma. Diego had been half expecting to hear something, maybe even
an update on his latest inter-dimensional adventure, but he had not expected a
question like this.
An armadillo, said Diego,
theyre completely harmless, as far as I know.
Well, this one wasnt,
said Adrik. It was stalking me. Every time I looked around, there it was
It was one of those moments
when Diego was lost for words. He waited patiently, expecting him to share just
a little more of his latest discovery, but Adrik had retreated into his own
And, is that it? said
Its hard to say, said
Adrik the whole thing was like some horrible nightmare, but only worse.
Worse means what, in this
case? said Diego.
Well, you know what its
like in a nightmare, he said, when the brotherhood creep up on you in the
middle of the night; you try to escape, but you cant. Your legs wont move and
every time you turn around, there they are again.
The brotherhood was last
years obsession; this year it was his on-going belief that they were highly
advanced beings from another civilisation. Hardly a day went by when he didnt
try to bamboozle Diego with one thing or another.
Diego knew this routine off
by heart. Adrik would drift off into some unchartered universe to search out yet
another perplexing mystery, but he always had one more thing to say.
Its out there, somewhere,
he said in a strange but knowing way, Im sure of it, D, and its just waiting
Okay, said Diego, Ill
take your word for it.
Adriks world was like that,
an endless library of unfinished stories, fantastic things hed seen from afar
but never really understood. Adrik was a dreamer; he coasted along with his head
in the clouds, collecting tidbits from galaxies far and wide and anything was
possible with an imagination like his.
Diego was his opposite in
almost every way. His was a life of self-enforced rules and regulations.
Structure and order suited some people and he just happened to be of them. He
was comfortable with the idea that his daily routine was always planned down to
the very last detail. Adrik on the other hand was a free-wheeling agent of his
own design and depending on the moment, he did whatever came into his head.
Within the year, they would
both be turning fifteen, they had barely anything in common and apart from the
fact that they were almost inseparable, there was no worldly reason why they
should even be friends, but life in its own peculiar way had turned out to be
If appearance had anything
to do with it, Diego should have been the eternal optimist; he had inherited a
wealth of good looks from both sides of his family, a rich olive complexion and
deep brown eyes from his mothers side and chestnut brown hair from his
fathers. He often caught the eye of many girls of his age, but it was only
until recently that he even became aware of it.
Adriks lean appearance and
athletic prowess might have had something to do with the fact that he could
barely sit still for ten minutes at a time, but he was hardly undernourished;
his mother had always seen to that. In one of his kinder moments, Diego had said
that he was possessed by the devil of over-stimulation. As Adrik pointed out,
that was a bonus in his case; that particular character was a personal friend of
his and he was more than happy to be in such distinguished company.
Unlike Adrik, who had a
passing interest in almost everything, Diego had no interest at all in his
appearance. On an impulse, Adrik had decided to wear something a little more
fashionable for this venture. Rather than traditional Rishani travelling
clothes, which were robes of the finest possible fabric, he had chosen a pair of
roll down, buckled-sided boots, tight-fitting pants and a jacket decorated with
blue metal studs. Except for his bungled attempts to straighten his hair, which
had a natural perversity to curl up all by itself, he almost looked
Adrik might have had his
faults, but Diego never underestimated his ability to pull a rabbit out of a hat
in an emergency. His efforts in this case had been one of his classics. It had
taken some thought and just a little persuasion, but he eventually convinced his
parents that they were both well overdue for a holiday.
In Adriks mind, Arinyah was
one of the most beautiful destinations in the realm, it was a city as ancient as
time itself, but it wasnt the architectural landscape that he was interested
in. Arinyah might have been the star in the crown of the realm, a holiday
destination for the rich and famous, but, as he had recently discovered, it
catered for a few other people as well.
La Kata was a small but
interesting island off the eastern coast of Sabinica, the hometown of Adriks
father. Every year for the last five years they had been shunted off to the
family farm to spend the school holidays with old Aunt Finoola. La Kata wasnt
such a bad place for a holiday, but they never got to see that much of it. They
spent most of their time slaving away in her overgrown garden, battling it out
with prickly plants and weeds until they expired from exhaustion. It wasnt the
thought of old aunt Finoola that Adrik didnt like; it was that monstrous,
He might have thought
nothing more about it if it hadnt crept into his dreams and turned into his
worst nightmare. It had been the same routine for weeks on end. Adrik was out
there in the blazing sun, wearing little else other than a pair of tattered old
shorts; slashing away at one plant after another and ripping them out by their
roots, but every time he looked around, theyre they were again. Night after
night, it was the exactly same routine, but the last time it happened was the
worst night of all. The very thought of going to sleep and grappling with those
things was more than Adrik could face. If this was a fight to the death, he
wasnt about to lose; he was determined that a garden full of man-eating plants
wasnt going to get the better of him. Before he crawled into bed on that last
fateful night, he concealed a long-handled knife under his pillow and prepared
himself for battle.
Ill show you whos in
charge! he whispered.
He woke up in the early
hours of the morning, gasping for breath and tearing at the sheets that had
become entangled around his neck. When he saw the shredded remains of his
favourite pillow scattered around the bedroom, that was the last straw as far as
he was concerned; he never wanted to see another garden in his entire life.
Ill go anywhere, he said
defiantly, but I am not going back there. I refuse to spend two months of my
life in that slave labour camp, ever again.
Adrik had a variety of
options in his arsenal and he was determined to bargain his way into one of
What about a month or two
with the Order of Irregular Mystics, he said to his parents.
A school for the
spiritually advanced, said Mr. Sharano, I dont think so. Theyd know better
than to take you on.
Well, how about The Island
at the Edge of the World, he said somewhat tentatively.
Not a chance, said his
mother, a place like that is far too dangerous for children.
Adrik was prepared to carry
on like this all day if he had to, but he had already made his decision, he knew
exactly where he wanted to go.
Okay, he said, a little
apprehensively, how about the Yumi Summer Camp in Arinyah.
Now, thats an excellent
idea, said his father, that could be just the thing for a boy like you.
A holiday camp on the
northern shores of Arinyah was the perfect choice for a kid like Adrik; this was
an idea on which Mr. Sharano was willing to negotiate.
That is a wonderful
solution, said his mother, why didnt we think of that earlier?
Dont know, said Adrik,
it just didnt occur to you, I guess.
You never cease to surprise
us, do you? said Mrs. Sharano. Now, eat your dinner, dear, before it gets
His parents werent
resistant to new ideas, but Adrik had discovered long ago that they often needed
a little guidance, especially when it came to rearing children. That, however,
wasnt his only problem at the moment; the thought of consuming an overly large
bowl of gooey white noodles was an even bigger one.
He and his mother had very
different ideas on what was best for his health, but he was determined that this
particular concoction would never pass his lips, not until this battle had been
won, not until he had achieved his ultimate goal. He eyed her latest creation
with some trepidation. He had achieved his objective and now he had no choice,
he would have to swallow his pride and a rather pungent dish that she called
tangy noodle salad, even if he choked on it.
Okay, here goes, he said.
A holiday in Arinyah will
do you both the world of good, wont it? said Mrs. Sharano.
It probably will, said
Diego. Who knows what the future holds for the likes of us.
Diego had already eaten the
tastiest bits of the salad and was absent-mindedly pushing what was left of the
noodles from one side of the bowl to the other.
Two months in an adventure
camp wasnt his idea of the perfect holiday, but it would have to do. He was
currently inspecting a potentially dangerous weapon, entranced by the finely
honed blade of a gleaming new kitchen knife, giving serious consideration as to
its many and varied uses.
Theres no point in all of
this studying, said Adrik, soaking up everything that school has to offer, if
deep down, I feel spiritually bankrupt.
Mr. Sharano just stared at
him as he often did, just shaking his head in disbelief. This, as he realised,
was another of Adriks outlandish schemes, behind which was a simple case of a
hidden agenda. In one way, though, he was simply relieved, it didnt matter
where he went, as long as it was somewhere; time out from Adrik was an absolute
Adriks greatest achievement
had been securing two tickets aboard the Silhouette. Travelling did not come any
more luxurious than this beautiful vessel. As well as being the flagship of the
Supreme Council; it was also a five star passenger liner. Operating on intuitive
technology, its power drawn directly from the atmosphere itself, the Silhouette
was the ultimate in style, comfort and state-of-the-art refinements.
Wow, look at that, said
Adrik, its extraordinary.
almost fifty stories high, the Silhouette was a gargantuan, a majestic sight and
an awe-inspiring creation in its own right, rising steadily upwards from a broad
base and tapering gently away to a curved point at the top.
Come on, D, lets take a closer look.
scrambled down the aisle with dozens of other equally curious passengers and
made their way to the observation window. At close range, the Silhouette was
everything they had heard about and more, a vast and towering edifice that
shimmered like a splinter of black glass in the evening light.
first glimpse though, was not what Diego had expected; he stepped back
unsteadily and collapsed into the nearest seat.
Whats wrong, D? said Adrik. Are you sick or something?
Diego could barely even answer; it was as if the very breath had been sucked
from his body and the colour had drained from his face. He had no idea what was
going on, but this was not the first time it had happened, he had felt this
sensation several times before. It started simply enough, like a tingling
sensation rippling up his spine, but over the last few weeks, it had become even
stronger. He had never mentioned it to anyone, but as he stared at the
Silhouette through the tinted window of the observation deck, he had a suspicion
it was somehow related to this trip.
Adriks mysterious stalker suddenly came to mind, but he dismissed that idea
almost immediately. A harbinger of doom, he didnt think so, but he wasnt
certain. This had to be a figment of his imagination; he would never allow
himself to entertain thoughts such as this.
with his eyes closed, the Silhouette had a power he found difficult to ignore.
It hovered before him like an elegant but forbidding bird of prey, a dark star
on an even darker horizon, but what it meant, he had no idea.
Several minutes later, the shuttle docked at the Embarkation Centre.
Adrik snapped back to
reality all too suddenly, his blue eyes announcing clearly to the world that he
was once again ready for business.
Lets get moving, D, he
of passengers loaded down with coats, bags and kids were jostling each other
towards the exit door. Adrik was juggling two large bags and a loose-fitting
backpack, desperate to break into the queue.
Make way, he said, make
way. Im coming through.
He leapt recklessly into the
fray and disappeared amongst a swarm of jet-propelled passengers, eager to take
their first-ever trip on the Silhouette.
Diego knew this spelt
trouble, he could even see it coming. Adriks first day of freedom had gone
straight to his head. He was on a roll and nothing could stop him now. He
grabbed his bags and followed in hot pursuit.
Adrik, slow down, he
yelled. You promised not to do anything stupid.
Asking Adrik to do anything
sensible was a total waste of time and a complete waste of breath. This was new
territory and Adrik knew it. Two months of unrestrained adventure lay ahead and
he was going to meet it with the bit between his teeth, but as he raced across
the marble floor of the transit lounge, the fickle finger of fate became an
active ingredient in his wonderfully imperfect plan. The culprit in this case
was one of the straps of his loosely arranged backpack. It was flying along
behind, searching for its first appetizing taste of adventure. The very moment
it spied an opportunity, it opened its silvery jaws and locked itself onto the
outer buckle of his beautifully polished, black leather boot.
Oh my God, Adrik cried. He
swerved to the left in an effort to avoid three total strangers. Diego watched
in horror as Adrik and his luggage skated along the polished floor. He just
wanted to curl up and die, Adriks antics had a habit of bounding back with a
vengeance; he had the ability to release the genie of unparalleled disaster
wherever he happened to be. It didnt matter where he was or what he was doing,
if it didnt find him, he would find it.
Only moments before, Diegos
life had been just a little simpler. He was an innocent traveller, heading off
his summer vacation, and now, here he was, luggage in hand, sprinting after
Adrik and trying to prevent another catastrophe. It was a scene from his worst
nightmare. He watched helplessly as Adrik careered along the floor and then
stepped back in horror as the veils of the woman from the adjacent row of seats
became entangled in his ever-sticky web.
Diego dropped his luggage
with every intention of rushing to her aid, but when he caught a glimpse of
something glistening beneath her veils, he stepped back as if hed just seen a
For a fleeting moment, he
didnt know where to turn. Oh my God, he said, shes a Keeper.
Diego had heard enough about
this mysterious sect of women to realise what this meant. He recognised the
amulet immediately, it was not usually something to be feared, but when worn by
one of these women, it definitely was.
The Sisterhood was believed
to inhabit the dark world deep within the Abyss. Their interests had always been
a matter of speculation. Rumour had it that they practiced a variety of unusual
arts, but their expertise, it was whispered, often went beyond merely being
caretakers of the Abyss. They rarely appeared in public, and if they did, it was
wise to steer clear of them. No one in their right mind would go out of their
way to aggravate one of these women. To come face-to-face with a Keeper might be
the last thing you ever did.
Diego didnt know where to
turn. I dont believe this, he said. He glanced around anxiously, searching
the length and breadth of the transit centre, hoping for a quick and easy way
out of this mess. The transit centre had hundreds of windows, but very few
doors. The door to the arrivals lounge had already been sealed and the security
gate was closing. His only hope was to grab his bags and make a dash for the
As tempted as he was, he
just couldnt do it; he couldnt leave Adrik to his own devices. The very moment
he opened his mouth, he would be signing his own death warrant. He threw his
bags to the floor, clenched his fists to his side, fuming. This was just typical
Here we are, in the middle
of a huge foyer, in the dead of night, on a transport terminal, hundreds of
miles from anywhere and were about to be savaged by a lethal old witch.
The transit centre was a
vast white auditorium with marble floors and long lancet windows streaming up to
an ornately carved ceiling. It could have been a temple to a minor deity, but in
Diegos mind, it looked more like his final resting place.
If I have to die
somewhere, he cried, it might as well be here.
It was obvious that the
Keeper was not happy about this at all. She was still a little ruffled as she
struggled to regain her composure, but she was an imposing sight in her own
right, towering above Diego like a black-eyed assassin in black silken veils.
That, though, did not make her any less of a threat; the fumes of discontent
were rising up around her like a cloud of thick grey smoke.
It was almost impossible to
avoid her purposeful gaze, a look of disdain that spelt an oncoming tirade of
scorn and abuse. It was a look that Diego recognised immediately; he had been
guilty of just such a thing many times. It was a clear indication that she was
more than aggravated by this turn of events.
If this was to be the last
time he ever took a breath, Diego did not really know, the Keeper was obviously
deep in thought, giving more than a little consideration to the punishment they
so justly deserved. He could almost see the options turning over in her mind,
instant exile and a long lingering death in the depths of the Abyss.
Diego was about to beg her
undying forgiveness when she raised her right hand, revealing one long slender
finger after another. She simply pointed to Adrik, her voice dropping by one
octave after another, Look to your friend, she suggested. His recovery will
be swift. As for myself, I am not so sure.
But, she added ominously,
I shall be seeing both of you much sooner than you might have thought. Of that,
there will be no doubt at all.
Lezula retrieved her
hand-luggage and swept off along the walkway, her long black veils billowing
through the air as they fluttered along behind.
Diego spun on his heels, his
whole body quivering with anger; he was all but ready to strangle Adrik on the
What just happened? said a
somewhat confused, Adrik. He was flat on his back, surrounded by his squashed
and battered luggage and the clasp on his backpack was still attached to the
buckle on his boot.
You dont remember! said a
Remember what? said Adrik.
It was one of those moments when he wished he could snap his fingers and just
You knocked that woman off
her feet, Diego hollered.
I didnt, did I? said
Adrik as he struggled to unlock the recalcitrant clasp.
You did, said a
distraught, Diego, one of those evil old witches from the Abyss and I thought
she was about to fry me, and all because of you.
Everywhere they went, every
day of his life, Diego was at risk of being abused or threatened, and sometimes,
like today, he even had to contend with the perilous spawn of the black-eyed
goddess from hell. If it wasnt one thing, it was another. It was always the
same with Adrik; if he set his mind on something, he just went for it,
regardless of the consequences.
Adrik had worked himself
into a frenzy at the thought of this holiday, driving everyone to distraction
over the last few weeks. He just couldnt wait to get there; he had planned it
in detail, a few days on the Silhouette and two whole months in which to do
whatever they wished, but if a catastrophe was likely to happen, it was almost a
certainty that Adrik would be somehow involved.
Adrik knew that he had gone
too far this time; Diego wasnt just angry, this time he was on the verge. The
very second he opened his mouth; Diego would turn on him like an enraged viper.
Adrik knew from experience that it was safer to say nothing at all. He wasnt
about to tempt him any further than he already had; hed regret it for days to
come if he did.
Im sorry, D, he
whispered. You know what Im like.
Diego knew exactly what he
was like, but he was still angry. He had never struck Adrik before, but for the
first time in his life he was tempted. He wanted to teach him a lesson, he
wanted to grab him by the throat and shake some sense into him.
It took every ounce of
willpower Diego could muster to hold himself back. He stormed off for a few
minutes and took a long, deep breath; it was the only thing to do.
Why me, he cried, why do
things like this have to happen to me?
He looked around cautiously,
wondering if the Keeper was watching from some quiet and darkened corner. He was
amazed that they had survived at all; it could have been worse, much worse. She
could have taken her revenge there and then, and for all he knew, she might
still do so. Whether she would or not, he didnt really know, but for yet
another time in their lives, they had scraped through by the skin of their
Theirs had been an uneven
and sometimes unpredictable relationship, but their lives might have been very
different if it hadnt been for a strange twist of fate.
Not long after his tenth
birthday, Diego arrived home after a few days at a school camp only to discover
that the house was empty and his parents were nowhere to be found. He called for
his mother, but there was no reply. He searched in all the obvious places, but
every room in the house was deserted. He rushed around asking the neighbours,
but their news only compounded his concerns; they hadnt seen them for at least
This isnt like them at
all, he said, theyre always here when I get home. Theyd leave a note if they
were going somewhere.
Hours passed and there still
was no sign of them. In desperation, he decided to contact the authorities. He
waited on the line for what seemed like ages and when he eventually spoke to an
operator, he was informed that there was nothing they could do. If anyone
vanished in Vela-Rishan, everyone knew why. The Bureau of Missing Persons could
do little else, other than register the fact that two more unfortunate souls had
succumbed to the clutches of the ever-hungry Abyss. There was a standard
response to requests such as this and it had always been that way.
For Diego, this was the
darkest and most horrible news of all. Please, God, not the Abyss, he cried.
Tell me they havent fallen into the Abyss. Please say they havent.
Any possibility of happiness
vanished from his world in one single stroke, but if it hadnt been for Adrik,
he may never have survived at all. When Adrik realised that he was to be adopted
out as a ward of the state; he was horrified. He decided to take a stand, to
take things into his own hands. His only choice had been to lobby his parents on
Diegos behalf. His primary weapon was one that he had developed to perfection.
When all else fails,
bombard the enemy until it drops, he said. I might only be a kid, but even
kids can change the world. Adrik was only ten, but even at that age, he was a
force to be reckoned with.
I dont want to lose him,
Diego is my best friend, Adrik argued. Youve got to let him live with us. I
dont know what Id do without him.
It was a short but very
successful campaign and Mr. and Mrs. Sharano agreed almost immediately. Adopting
Diego wasnt a difficult decision, he was almost a part of the family anyway;
they were more than happy to welcome him into their home. Mr. and Mrs. Sharano
knew that they could never ease his pain, but over time, they might soften it a
Diego was never the same for
years after that. He withdrew into a world of his own where he was assailed by
the dark shadows of doubt and misery on an increasingly regular basis and even
Adrik had trouble making him laugh.
As he sat amidst the
wreckage of his worldly goods, Adrik looked about as pathetic as anyone could
look. He had more annoying habits than anyone Diego had ever met. He had never
said it aloud, but he had a deeply felt suspicion he was he was the product of
some cosmic practical joke, that there was, somewhere in his gene banks, an
inherited reason for his, as yet unidentified idiosyncrasies. Such a malfunction
in a human being, he knew, had to be his undoing in the end.
Adrik had the instinctive
ability to do the wrong thing at the wrong time. All he had to do was open his
mouth and he automatically put his foot in it.
Even as Diego struggled to
restrain himself, from lashing out there and then, he knew it would be a waste
of time. Adrik was Adrik and, for all of his faults, he knew he would never find
a more loyal friend. In the best and the worst of times, Adrik had always been
there for him and he always would be and, for better or worse, he was the
closest thing that he had to a brother.
Diego was just about to give
him a piece of his well thought out advice nevertheless when the voice over the
loudspeaker delivered its final notice. This is the last boarding call for all
passengers travelling on the Silhouette.
Quick, D, said Adrik,
lets go, otherwise well miss it. He leapt to his feet, grabbed his bags and
raced off towards the departure lounge. The
recalcitrant strap had now been restrained, but it was still jangling noisily
Why me, Diego whispered,
what have I done to deserve this?
the ever-present chill from the surrounding Abyss seeped through the fibers of
his dark blue robes, Diego became even more apprehensive about this so-called
This is going to be a disaster, he whispered. I just know it is.
Silhouette was less than a hundred meters away, purring like an enormous kitten
in the night sky. Diego was tempted to turn around and board the departing
shuttle and just go back home, but he knew that he couldnt. He had no other
choice; there was only one way to go, there was only path to take, he had
committed himself to this venture and there was no turning back now.
two kids who had never been anywhere more exciting than a hobby farm in La Kata,
this was to be the adventure of a lifetime, but as they would soon discover,
their destiny was not in their hands. They were about to be pitched into the
path of an emerging storm. From this moment onwards, their lives would never be
their own. A drama set in motion, long, long ago was about to unfold. Their only
plan had been for a boys own holiday. They had no idea what sort of holiday
they were in for.