Fenceless Asylum follows on from Rag Doll, a
tale that found our protagonist, James Bergen happy in his rural environment
with his hard-fought-for love, Nakita.
Sadly for James, but happily for the reader, his bucolic contentment is
short-lived. Ghosts from the past rear their evil heads to collide with many of
the endearingly flawed characters weve come to know from McKinnons previous
This work of
adventure fiction, ostensibly set in the scenic Coal River Valley in Tasmania,
also ripples through stages of global proportions. The story aims to touch upon
environmental and social issues that affect us all, here and now and
potentially, in the future.
McKinnons easy-to-read and flowing narrative and his ability to build suspense
early on in the story, coupled with the earthy dialogue from the effortlessly
relatable characters that is seamlessly strewn through the story, means McKinnon
doesnt miss a beat in the tale.
This is an adventure that encompasses espionage, violence and conspiracythemes
we know McKinnon is very comfortable with.
In Store Price: $30.00
Online Price: $29.00
Ebook version –
Number of pages: 318
Cover: Clive Dalkins
Cover photo Miraco/Bigstock.com
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published: 2014
This book is dedicated to
This book is
dedicated to friends old and new. The writer thanks the kindness and generosity
of those who made him welcome in the Coal River Valley. In particular, thanks to
the locals of the village of Campania, the local pub crew and to a pub dog named
Dozer, in real life, who endlessly entertained me with his crazy antics.
I also want to dedicate this book to the fond memories of the Campania Taverna
background prop to this storythat burnt to the ground before this story was
And a special
dedication to my late father, Norm, who passed away during the period of time I
was writing this story.
With trembling hands and heavy heart I committed your earthly self unto the sea,
a ritualistic gesture to set your spirit free. I will not forget your kindly
nor all the things you taught to me.
About the Author
The writer makes the
point that Fenceless Asylum is a work
of fiction for entertainment value only. While the names of some real places
have been used, many of the surroundings or locations are fictitious. The names
and characters of the story are also fictitious. Various characters of the story
are a soup of many everyday personality quirks mixed into a single, fabricated
entity by the writer.
References to governmental departments, projects and protocols and their actions
taken within this book are also part of a fabricated milieu for the sake of the
The writer, having made a lifestyle change to live in a country setting in
Tasmania, found himself in a gap year. With the necessary time taken to adjust
to his new surroundings and with the basic renovation of his cottage completed,
the writer devoured the time leftin between searching for paying workto
write. Some of those adjustments were part of getting to know the quirky
goings-on of his new community. Observing many of those idiosyncratic incidents
inspired the running story for this book. The title was inspired by the comments
of several individuals within the community.
Despite the fact these big changes often carried the prickly feeling of being
outside his comfort zone, the writer relished the opportunity it gave to conjure
up and write more stories. This is the second story written by Daniel McKinnon
after having making his big change. His personal view on life is that it is a
smorgasbord of varietyall to be tasted and appreciated for what they are.
He found an abundance of new experiences and people within his new lifestyle in
the Coal River Valley. The island of Tasmania, as a whole, has a vault full of
past and present characters and incidents, many true and many not. Daniel has
thought for a long time the structure and lack of common sense of our greater
modern society has leaned on the side of lunacy. When local individuals made a
similar reference to the simple activities in their quaint community, Daniel
pondered the question of where the fence line actually stood, was there one?
It appeared to the writer that while some of these local people humorously
berated some of their own eccentric behaviour, it was balanced with some
wonderful traits. It was heart-warming for Daniel to see an isolated community
of people who had grown up around each other, looking out for and caring about
each other. This sometimes overflowed into other closed-community complications
but the noble traits were there.
Conversely, in the larger world community arena, the often soulless and outright
mindless undertakings of those taking leadership and decision-making roles had
no noble motive behind their behaviour. No matter how sophisticated one made it
all look or sound, no amount of bells and whistles could make lunacy look sane.
The writer noted that the sheep, in droves, swallowed the trappings from the
wrapping it all came in, nonetheless. The world itself was becoming a
James Bergen found
himself alone again after Nakita left him for a more exciting life in New York
City. Feeling that he needed the time and space to be on his own, James moved to
a quiet country village in a new place. Happenings and connections from the past
reconnect in relatively innocent ways. However, many things get misconstrued by
a couple of local people in his newfound place of living and by those at higher
levels in the bigger world beyond.
As James goes unsuspectingly about his daily life, there are a number of diverse
personalities actively plotting his demise. The paranoia of government
intelligence personnel could cost him his life. The misaligned greed of two
local women leads them into a delusional game of espionage as they plot against
James, in the meantime, investigates some of the intrigue surrounding a mountain
not far from where he lives. The mysteries of the mountain draw several players
into the same field of play. Decisions are made on inference, guns are drawn,
and destinies are changed. Without some kind of outside intervention, James
destiny will change in a morbid way.
The contemplation of the repercussions associated with other decisions being
made on a global scale makes James wonder if the destiny of mankind itself will
change in a morbid way without some kind of intervention.
The main story begins on a day like any other day as James sits working on his
The August of 1966 in
southern Tasmania was wet, cold and windy. As a feeble ray of sunshine peaked
through the early morning mist, a gusting wind sporadically rattled the rusting
sheets of corrugated iron on the walls of the three-room cabin. An unlit wood
stove bearing the branding Crown carried dripping lines of greasy fat that had
spilled over from the frying pan to escape further over the edge of the
stovetop. A basic timber table with a cracked leg strapped with fencing wire to
secure its stance was flanked by two chairs in an equal state of disrepair. A
chipped, mint green enamel plate was overloaded with discarded lamb chop bones
in the middle of the table. More lay on the floor from previous meals. A tin mug
carried the sour smell and remnants of moonshine whiskey, unfinished from the
previous night. The hut held a musky and rank odour.
The remains of what was once a lath and plaster separation wall partially
divided the eating area from a bedroom of sorts. Beneath a thick grey army
surplus blanket a tall wiry man found extra warmth from the somewhat overweight
body of a short, plain-faced woman with curly ginger hair. His crusty
soil-stained feet hung over the end of the lumpy horsehair mattress that lay
skewhiff on the compacted earth floor. The womans pasty, pudgy face grimaced in
recognition of the foul stench of his fart.
Wheres Boy? the
middling woman enquired.
Why? Shut up.
Noticed he aint on his chain was all.
Yeah he is. Outside, near woodpile.
Stealin, stealin eggs. Caught him suckin on one when came in last night. Had
t teach him lesson.
Ya whip him good?
Nuh. Dont steal wit ya arse. Busted his fingers good tho, lil shit.
The pudgy woman laughed and rolled over on top of him, fumbling with his
manliness until she had it swallowed inside of her unkempt sex. She slopped
herself up and down on it until she had relieved her bout of carnal tension. He
pushed her off him and went to the makeshift bathroom in the only other room in
the rank smelling shack. A rusty kerosene tin cut in half longways served as a
washbasin. He tipped the contents from the tin bucket into it and then splashed
his stubbled face with the freezing cold water before rolling a smoke. He pulled
the tin, with the distinctive yellow lid festooned by the bright red branding
strip, from the top of the meat safe. Barbs wiry hands unscrewed the metallic
lid and he took out the citrus peel that he had put in the tin to keep the
tobacco moist and proceeded to roll a smoke. Erinmore was a pipe tobacco but
Barbs liked the rich sweet taste and the aroma in a cigarette.
Boy heard the old wooden door creak and huddled back against the
randomly-stacked pile of drying wattle blocks. His hands were blue and swollen
with bruising, his feet were blue from the cold. The torn and oversized
sweatshirt had offered him little protection against the cold of the southern
winter night, but it was something. He had no idea how old he was. In fact he
had little idea of anything in these early years of his abused and deprived
life. His eyes already showed a soulless glaze of hatred and mistrust as he
watched his sperm donor walk across the frosted grass towards him. Bit cold are
ya, Boy? Thatll teach ya not ta steal tucker, ya little retard. This might warm
From experience, although Boy didnt understand what the word retard meant, he
knew the utterance of it was usually followed by something unpleasant. Barbs
pulled himself out of the broken zipper to his weathered cotton work pants and
urinated over Boy, shaking the last drops over his face. With that he went to
the timber shed behind the woodpile and retrieved his .410 shotgun and a handful
A mixed-breed mongrel, a collie-kelpie cross dog of sorts had killed the last of
Barbs sheep the day before. Hed stolen the sheep in the first place anyway,
but that wasnt the point. Barbs knew who owned the dog and it was a
twenty-minute walk up across a Scotch thistle-laden paddock to find the
crossbreed and blow its brains out. If the owner tried to stop him, hed blow
his brains out too. The wallabies he shot to feed his own dog, Fang, looked like
becoming his tea too for the next few months. Barbs headed off to shoot the
Fang had left the rank remains of a wallaby leg to rot alongside the wattle
blocks. Boy could smell it. The stench turned his stomach but his stomach was
also screaming with hunger pains and it was food. Boy, sought it out. At the end
of the rusty dog chain secured tight around his neck, he was barely in reach of
the grisly offering. He pushed hard against the pressure of the chain as it bit
mercilessly into his neck and he stretched his broken fingers towards it. He got
one distorted finger upon it and recoiled with the pain, but he didnt give up.
Finally he inched the half-rotten leg back towards him, despite the pain in his
hands and he gnawed at the stinking meat.
Fang hadnt followed Barbs across the paddock as he cowered at the sound made by
that strange stick that Barbs was carrying. He trotted back towards the humpy
with a wallaby leg breakfast on his mind. As Fang turned the corner of the wood
heap, he spotted his hidden treasure being consumed by the little human. Fang
started a low growl. His lip retracted from his top row of sharp teeth. The hair
on the back of his neck bristled erect. Boy looked up but kept gnawing at the
smelly bone. His hands had been smashed with a rock just for eating a raw egg.
He was cold, hungry and desperate, too desperate to lose this meal as disgusting
as it was. So was Fang.
Fang had sent many competitors for his food running when needed. The small human
would not need much persuading to give over the rancid prize. He ran in and
clamped his teeth on the bone held in Boys aching hands, snarling a warning
message to him as he did so. Boy had steadily been building a momentum of
survival instincts over these years. There were little of lifes varied miseries
that he hadnt been exposed to. Fang snarled and pulled back on the bone, his
face almost on that of the small human. Without hesitation Boy snapped his teeth
down hard on Fangs wet nose and bit hard. Fang yelped with pain and let go,
running back to the far end of the woodpile.
Fang was also a survivor and not easily deterred. His black leather-like nose
ran blood and throbbed with pain. He turned back towards Boy all the while
flicking his head and snorting to rid his snout of the annoying trickles of
blood. The meal was now a matter of second place, this little human had
challenged him. He stared at Boy waiting for full eye contact before he sprung
at him. Fangs intent could be seen in his eyes and was what had sent many of
his canine opponents running before a fight or at least into a mode of
subservient respect. Either way he would tear this food thief to pieces.
Boy could sense Fangs intentions and the meal was now second place in his mind
as well. This might just be about survival, his little mind reasoned. He had had
enough of coming off second best and having to cower before every creatures bad
temper. Amongst the blocks of drying firewood were also piles of smaller wood
splits used to start the fire. His soulless eyes settled on one of these that
had shattered down the angle of the grain to a point. There was a rut in the
ground where he could mount the end of the stick but the stick was just out of
reach. Even as he surveyed it he kept his peripheral vision on Fang. His
snarling had changed to a deeper growl. Despite the damage to his neck and
throat, Boy jerked against the chain, again and again. It was looped around an
old fence post and joined by a twist of fencing wire like many things around the
squalid-excuse-for-accommodation. Boy jerked against the restraint to the point
of almost complete exhaustion and strangulation.
Watching Boys frenzy sent Fang into his own. Fang pushed back onto his
hindquarters and leapt forward. In a black blur of fur he bounded into attack,
with Boys throat solidly fixed as his target. At that very second the wire loop
gave way between the chain links, the momentum sent Boy hurtling forward. In
that split second he snatched the stick into his pain-drenched hands and snapped
the thick end into the rut, raising the pointed end at Fangs chest. As Fang
came crashing down on Boy in full attack, the wood split passed between his rib
cage, pierced through his lungs and poked out through the matted fur of his
back. Fang whined and spluttered as the blood filled his lungs, his body and
paws twitching in the throes of death.
Fangs bared teeth had ripped a number of huge open gashes in Boys face in the
process. There would be scars. Boy stood and watched the animal dying. He liked
it. It fascinated him, he was mesmerised by the process of life leaving the
living body. It fascinated him so much that he didnt even hear the annoying
voice of the one that claimed to have birthed him.
What ya done now, ya evil shit of a kid? You killed the dog!
Boy wasnt listening. He was still absorbing the fascination of death. He
remembered what theyd allow this dog to do to him for their own amusement;
those big people who were the only other humans that hed known. He didnt like
them. He didnt like dogs. His head suddenly hurt. Warm blood dripped down his
cold neck. The bottle exploded on impact against the side of his head.
You wait til Barbs gets back. Hell give you a lesson you wont forget, you
Boy took one last look at Fang and then took off through the lush, cold winter
grass as fast as his legs would carry him.
Yeah, run, ya lil shit but well come lookin for ya!
Patches of unmelted frost burnt his bare feet in the shaded parts of the
paddock. Thistle thorns mercilessly pierced into his skin as he brushed the
spiky bushes. He just ran and kept running.
I wouldnt worry, Boy said inside his mind. You wont have to come looking
for me, Ill be back. Ill watch your face after you call me that word again.
Smash my fingers, tell me rules, but you better know these here hands are
devils tools. He definitely didnt like this pair of bigger humans.
Several months later
there would be other reasons for misery for many in the surrounding area. The
air would be filled with smoke and tens of people would die in horrific
bushfires, not that Boy would know of it as he was a loner and had little
knowledge of the outside world, of technology or anything beyond his immediate
surroundings. Human misery didnt alarm him; hed known enough of his own.
Barbs and the pudgy woman were never seen again.