In the dim light of dawn, the concreters plodded in
funereal procession across the construction site towards boxes in the ground
that would mould the pillars of a road overpass. Ready Mix trucks waited in a
line to move their bowel contents into a pipeline for pumping across to Norman
in his crane. He swung the spout from box to box, playing the knobs like piano
The gouts plopped down into the darkness, over tufts of
steel rods. Brian and Bob came close behind with vibrating pokers, jiggling the
ooze into cavities.
‘Something under!’ yelled Bob, pointing to where he had
felt a push against his poker. They buried all sorts of things: cans, tools and
garments. Perhaps this was an animal or a large bird?
When he jumped in and tried to lift it, he sank up to his
waist in the quagmire.
‘Help!’ he called.
Brian jumped in too and Norman swung his crane over. They
hooked their arms over the spout and were lifted up. Holding on to the thing,
they dragged it out from under the surface onto the ground. They were amazed to
discover it was a woman, in a blouse and skirt, with bound wrists and ankles, a
gag in her mouth.
‘Alive,’ shouted Bob. ‘Quick.’
How skinny she was as she lay on her back with her bones
protruding. They removed the gag, pulled off the blindfold and undid the
bindings. Norm started pumping her chest. She coughed, gasped, groaned and
rubbed her eyes. They rolled her on to her side and hosed away the grit and
slurry. Her skin was smooth and grey, her hair lank and matted. She shivered and
lapsed into unconsciousness.
Paramedics arrived with a stretcher.
‘Almost dead she is,’ Norman cautioned as they lifted her
They carried her to a waiting ambulance. It rushed away
with her, siren wailing.
‘Another hour and it would take a jackhammer to get her
out,’ said Bob. ‘What evil bastard did this?’
Police cordoned off the site, keeping the crowd back with
A reporter said, ‘It could be that city councillor who went
missing over a month ago.’
Norman replied with vehemence, ‘It’s premeditated fucking
murder. Whoever did it should be locked away forever.’
‘What if she lives?’
‘Attempted murder — no two ways about it. Our Jane — after
she has done so much good! What a thing to do! He must be a psychopath. Throw
away the key.’
The reporter set up his camera on a tripod and stood in
front talking to it.
‘I am at a construction site where a woman has been rescued
from under wet concrete. She was barely alive and has been rushed to hospital.
It would be a terrible way to die. If the concrete had set, her body would have
decayed to gas and liquid and leaked away slowly, leaving only an empty mould
with a brown stain, like they found at Pompeii where a person was buried alive
in volcanic ash. She would never have been found.
‘The police are investigating how she was buried alive, a
horrific crime. We will find out from the hospital if she will survive.
‘The victim could be a councillor who disappeared five
weeks ago on her way to a meeting in City Hall, but her identity has not been
confirmed. There is no evidence that this cruel attack was politically
The picture switched to a uniformed police officer, who
said, ‘We have located a place where we believe she was held captive before she
was brought here. We are following leads to find the abductors. If you have any
information would you phone this number: 3386 1190.’
The reporter said, ‘We are awaiting developments. This is
Grant Summers for ATV.’