Jeff Pages was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1954
and from a very early age was fascinated by science and technology.
After finishing high school he attended the University of Sydney from
where he ultimately obtained a doctorate in Electrical Engineering. In
1989 his work took him to Tamworth in north-western New South Wales,
where he joined the Tamworth Bushwalking and Canoe Club and spent many
weekends bushwalking in the nearby parks and forests. In 1995 he moved
back to the Sydney region and now lives at Umina Beach on the northern
shore of Broken Bay.
He has always enjoyed going barefoot as much as
possible and has been a member of the Society for Barefoot Living, an
Internet-based discussion group, since 1996.
In 2013 he became a keen geocacher, combining his
love of technology and bushwalking in the GPS-based hunt for caches
hidden by fellow participants.
His first novel, Barefoot Times, was
published in 2004, followed by Call of the Delphinidae in 2006,
The Mind of the Dolphins in 2008 and Cry of the Bunyips in
2011. Plight of the Tivinel is now the fifth book in the series.
Further background information can be found on the
series’ website at
Pedro stood leaning against the rail,
watching Jim disappear as the fog enveloped the boat once more. Charon
placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t fret, Pedro, for your friend has
found true happiness and peace. That’s not our fate, though, at least
not for now, as you have another task to perform. After that, well this
is a big cosmos and I’m sure there’s lots of mischief we can make.”
“What must I do?”
“You’re a smart lad, Pedro; I’d have
thought you’d have it all figured out by now.”
Pedro grinned as the pieces started
falling into place.
“We must hurry, for
dawn is approaching and he’ll soon be waking up.”
The mist darkened as the boat’s damp
wooden deck disappeared beneath his feet, replaced a moment later by the
touch of dry leaves and sandstone. A creek babbled nearby as the eastern
sky began to glow. He looked around, trying to correlate the landscape
with the maps and satellite images he’d been studying.
In a hollow amongst a clump of bushes, a
young boy stirred. Pedro walked over to him, aware of the rustling
leaves and snapping twigs beneath his feet. The boy looked up, his mouth
“Well don’t just sit there gawking,” Pedro
said with a grin, waiting for his twin to stand before leading him north
through the bush towards the track.
READ A SAMPLE:
Pedro woke in the gloomy half-light of dawn,
suddenly aware he wasn’t alone.
“Who the hell are you?” a phlegmy voice
called out from the other side of the barn.
A heavily-built man, a farmer if the akubra
hat and gum boots were anything to go by, stood just inside the
half-open door. Pedro moved to his right, squeezing between an upended
tractor engine and a pile of packing cases while hoping the gloomy
interior would help conceal him.
“Don’t move, boy; stay where I can see you.”
Yeah, sure, Pedro
thought, ducking down and crawling through a narrow gap behind a stack
of newspapers. Between him and the door stood a workbench covered in
assorted tools and half-finished projects, with a gap between it and the
wall just big enough for him to squeeze through if he could avoid
bumping anything and making a noise.
“What are you doing, boy?”
The farmer was starting to found flustered;
Pedro hoped he didn’t have a gun. If he could just be distracted long
enough, there was a chance of escape. Pedro picked up the nearest thing
he could spy, an old tin can full of nails, and, as quietly as possible,
threw it back behind him. The can hit the floor, disgorging its contents
with a satisfying clatter.
“What the –”
As the farmer strode towards the noise, Pedro
dashed for the door, but his little toe caught the handle of a rake,
knocking it down onto his back and throwing him off balance. The farmer
swung around, moving with surprising agility for a man of his size and
wrapping his huge palm around Pedro’s wrist just before he could reach
“Stop squirming, you little runt,” the farmer
said as Pedro tried to pull himself free. “Now who are you and what were
you doing in here?”
“I was sleeping.”
“I got lost in the bush but found this place
“You’re not that boy everyone’s been looking
for, are you?”
“Me? No, that was –”
“You must have been freezing out there in
just those shorts you’re wearing. What happened to your shirt and
“No, this is all I ever –”
“Come with me and I’ll take you into town.
Your parents must be sick with worry.”
“My parents are –”
“Stop your yakking and come along, boy.”
The bright sunshine outside caused Pedro to
squint and almost stumble as the farmer led him to a battered old
four-wheel-drive. He bundled him into the passenger seat, not letting go
of his arm until the seat belt was secured.
“They really should do something about all
the school groups going out into the bush up here. Damn fools are always
“I wasn’t with –”
“They should fine the parents and the school,
too right, and use the money to pay those poor sods that go out looking
for them. Either that or leave them out there to perish.”
Pedro shook his head and groaned.
“I bet you’re starving, aren’t you?”
Until then Pedro hadn’t been aware of any
hunger, even though more than twenty-four hours had passed since his
arrival in this reality, but the mention of food had awoken the
emptiness inside him, causing his stomach to loudly rumble.
“I dare say they’ll give you something to
eat, once they’re through whipping your arse off for getting lost. If it
were up to me I’d let you starve a few more days, make you think twice
about doing it again.”
“I didn’t mean to –”
“A map and compass along with some training
on how to use them, that’s what you lot need. That and enough common
sense not to go wandering off the track, am I right?”
Pedro sighed, wondering how he’d gotten
himself into this mess.
The orchards and hobby farms soon gave way to
large suburban blocks adorned with cardboard mansions, spotless
four-wheel-drives and rusty Kombis. Grevilleas, wattles and jacarandas
sprouted out of garden beds bordered by triangular rocks set in concrete
like crazy stone-age dentures. Some even had plantations of palms, a
testimony more to the resilience of the trees surviving in the cold
mountain climate than to the taste of their owners.
The farmer turned into the main street of
town, negotiating the flocks of shoppers wandering aimlessly across the
road before pulling up outside the police station.
The interior looked like something out of the
1950s, with small high windows, pale green panelling and a dark-stained
wooden counter separating the public area from assorted desks and filing
cabinets. Fading posters sticky-taped to the walls reminded visitors to
lock their cars and homes, admonished them to not drink and drive, and
pointed out the dangers of illicit drugs.
“I’ve found the lost boy you’ve been looking
for,” the farmer told the desk sergeant, pulling Pedro forward by the
“Which lost boy would that be?”
“The one that’s been on the news these last
“Peter Thorpe? He was found yesterday.”
“What? So who’s this then?”
The sergeant stared at Pedro. “Well?”
“Me? I’m Pedro.”
“Look, I think there’s been a bit of a
misunderstanding here. I wasn’t lost, not really, just took a bit of a
wrong turn and ended up coming out of the bush pretty late, which is how
I came to be sleeping in your barn, so no harm done, as they say, and
I’ll be off now.”
“Hey, just a minute, we need to –” the
sergeant said, but before anyone could stop him, Pedro slipped out the
door and dashed down the street.
He’d almost passed the newsagent when a
sudden thought crossed his mind. Turning, he ducked inside and, with his
back to the counter, picked up a copy of the morning paper and began
flicking through it. He found what he was looking for on page five.