It was still very early. In the east, the sun was barely over the horizon. There was no traffic, here on this country road. He could hear the distant hoot of a V-Line train, the whisper of the breeze through the giant mountain ash eucalypts on the northern slopes of the ranges, the tick of the car’s engine as it cooled. He heard an engine toiling up the hill from the south and parted the branches to read the number. The vehicle drew closer. As it came over the rise before the turnoff to the road to the Mt Macedon Cross, it slowed, with its left indicator on. It was a diesel truck, not a car. On its side was the legend de Franco & Sons, Food Purveyors to the Hospitality Industry. It’s going to the café at The Cross, Colin thought. As it ground off, down the side road to The Cross, Colin heard another engine changing down to a lower gear just a little way off. This is it, thought Colin, suddenly. His mouth dried and his stomach churned. He wasn’t sure how he knew, but he was absolutely certain. A little brick red Toyota Corolla appeared round the bend and started to slow down to take the turning to the left. Colin couldn’t see into the car, yet, nor could he make out the number plate. The car drove closer. WTN 311. And inside, driving was Luigi and in the back, looking out of the window, was Cody.
He ran back from his hiding place behind the thick native bushes to his car, and wrenched the door open. He entered the number into the computer and sent the query. Signal was weak here. It might take a while before the answer downloaded. He thumbed his radio on. He could hear the other police car just over the rise to the north, but there was no time to waste.
“The car’s here. A red Toyota Corolla WTN311,” he said. “Going in pursuit. Let the chopper know.”
He started the car’s engine, and pulled off the gravel onto the tarmac and with squealing tyres, turned left onto Mt Macedon Road and then onto the road leading to The Cross and the campsite.