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A Little Closer by Ron Moss

It's my third shift on a big bushfire that's crowning through the tall forest. We just got the call to pull back as a shower of embers burns our faces and the 'red steer' takes a hold and roars back out of the gully.

The firebird helicopter is just above our heads as two enormous steel dozers bear down the road towards us head-on. My crew member finds reverse and we accelerate flat out down the road. Fire vehicles, dozers and the helicopter spread out in all directions, out of the path of the fireball.

strobe lights
trying to breathe
inside my heart

High on a ridge our strike team is looking down at a small shack or 'humpy' as they are called here. A wildfire is in the valley and we're supporting the crews that are waiting to go in. "He's nuts," one of the crew members says. "He threatened to shoot us if we go onto his property."

The police have been called. They're circling towards him, with hands on their gun butts. It looks like a Hollywood movie. But I notice we all move a little closer together . . .

valley of sparks
the gunman's army coat
open to the wind