"Paul!" Erin yelled across the swirling mass of humanity, "Hold my bag for a minute will you. I need to take these shoes off."
Paul bravely pushed against the seething vortex of drunk and disorderly revellers and grabbed her red handbag. Why she would decide to take her shoes off when in the middle of the concourse along Circular Quay on Sydney Harbour during New Year's Eve, Paul had no idea. Maybe her shoes were slowing her down or the ridiculously long black high heels were painful, but whatever the reason, it was a stupid move.
Paul called out to his friends to meet up near the railway platform, a message that they clearly received with a wave of their hands. Erin though was now battling with the buckles on her shoes, her long red fake nails were getting in the road.
A police siren wailed nearby as Paul, not wanting to stand there with a handbag clasped in his palm any longer, called out to her, "Erin we'll meet you at the station, okay?"
Erin though didn't catch what he said and concentrating solely on not scratching her new shoes, held her hand up to him to halt, to hold on and wait, a move Paul misconstrued as an affirmative, the permission to leave.
Keen to pass the handbag to his sister Annie, Paul turned on his heels and headed to the station.
When Erin finally peeled her shoes off, and shrunk about three inches in height, Paul and her friends were nowhere to be seen. At only five foot two inches, the world that she could observe was little more than a great forest of party-goers looking for more booze and a better vantage point for the midnight fireworks.
Suddenly, she was alone. She had no phone, no wallet, no money, nothing but the fragment of clothes on her back. Panicking she firstly ran towards the bus stop where they'd got off, then towards the last pub that they were at, then to the pub that they all said they were going to, but they were nowhere to be seen. With the benefit of hindsight she realised she should have reversed her search and gone to the pub first. She had no idea what her friend's phone numbers were, they were all stored in her address book, there was no need to memorise anything.
This was what she'd been dreading. Being separated from her friends in a strange city and no feasible way of making her way back to her home in the country town of Wimageen, over 350 kilometres away.
She never really wanted to come to Sydney for the Christian fellowship forum that they were attending. They had all arrived late that evening and planned on going out for a few drinks before turning in at some hostel that Paul had booked. Paul took it upon himself to deliver all the bags to the hostel so Erin, nor anyone else, had any idea where the hostel even was, or what it was called.
For thirty minutes she stood outside an apartment block scanning the crowd for a familiar face. Hoping to get lucky, Erin lost count of the number of lads that approached her. As a petite brunette in a black mini skirt and red halter neck top, she certainly looked like a girl ready to party, not the representative of a Christian church.
She would chat amiably with the boys that had the Dutch courage to approach her, however when she would ask them if she could log onto Facebook on their phones, they all either didn't use it, said no, or in the case of two young fools, dressed in ridiculous homey gear, became abusive.
"What do you want my phone for, slut?" one of them asked as he staunched her. "Gonna ring your fucking pimp you stinking whore?!"
Shocked at their language Erin at first thought they were just mucking around, being idiotic in front of each other, but when one pushed her against the door of the apartment entry and demanded that she suck him off, she knew that this was going all wrong. One of them, with the word 'Love' tattooed on the left side of his neck and the word 'Hate' on the right, slipped his hand up her skirt and attempted to go the grope.
"Hey fuck off," she surprised herself by the use of such vulgar language, but it seemed appropriate for the moment. Using her shoes as a weapon she slapped at them with her heels, "Get off, fuck off, get off."
"Come on slut," one of them said, "Take us both and you can have our fucking phone."
Appalled at their behaviour Erin was having none of that and she did what she remembered from her self-defence courses, she kneed the bigger one in the balls.
He recoiled in pain and turned away but his mate reacted by turning sideways and wrapped his arm around her neck. Passersby just stared at their phones, seemingly oblivious to the abuse being meted out to the young girl.
"For that," the guy with his arm around her said, "There'll be no phone." Erin was pinned hard into the guys headlock and his mate had recovered enough to stand upright again.
"You dirty fucking slut," he said as he raised his hand to strike her. The blow though never reached her. His arm appeared to be held back by some magical power and the surprised expression on his face was priceless. After being forcibly swung around his head snapped back and he collapsed down behind a large pot plant.
Erin saw none of this until suddenly the man released her from the headlock and she collapsed down into a pool of liquid, the origin of which was very uncertain.
"What the fuck," was all the second accomplice could muster before he was flung to the ground and his stupid ugly face was smacked into the tiles.
"You alright love," a woman's voice said to her as she helped her to her feet.
"I..." she looked down at the offender and expected to see a man on top of him, what she saw though was a blonde haired woman, clad in a fairy costume and not much bigger than herself, using a belt to wrap around his wrists.
"Don't worry about those two anymore," the woman turned her to the one that was unconscious near the pot plant, a man dressed as a pirate was checking the offenders pulse with one hand and pulling his wallet out with the other. "We've taken care of them for you."
Erin couldn't help but begin to cry. In a flurry of tears and gurgled speech she told the attractive brunette woman, who was dressed as a nurse, all about the lost bag and how she was alone with no phone, money, cards or friends.
"I'm Kim," the woman said, "That there on that fellow is Amy and over here checking the unconscious guy is Dave."
"Wow," Erin said, "How did they do that?"
"We're all police officers," another male voice said as he wandered up to them. "Thankfully off-duty at the moment though, but we couldn't help ourselves."
"This is Detective Sergeant Banks," Kim said, "My partner."
"We saw what was happening from inside," Banks nodded towards the entrance way. "The girls insisted we take out these toe-rags."
"Thanks," Erin said and hugged herself into Kim's arms, "Thanks so much."
Amy waved up from the ground as two uniformed police officers and some paramedics appeared on the scene.
"So Erin, what are you thinking of doing now, considering your situation?" Kim asked as she pulled at her wet clothes, "I'm not really sure what this wet stuff actually is."
"I don't know," her desperate situation filled her soul again and a tear welled in her eyes. "I'm only in the city for a few days, I'm here as part of a church group and I know no one. I can't remember their phone numbers, I can't call my parents because they live four hours away, I have no money to hop on Facebook at one of those internet cafe things, I'm stuffed."
Erin began to shake and Kim wrapped her arms around the young girl, trying to comfort her as best she could. Erin felt a warmth emanate from Kim that made her feel instantly relaxed. She dug her face into Kim's neck and wept tears of relief. Kim, without even realising, kissed Erin gently on the forehead.
"Facebook?" Banks said "Normally I'd let you use mine, no problem, but all we have is this Nokia," he held up a simple Nokia 106. "This doesn't do anything other than ring or text people, so I'll call Phil up at the party and see if he has anything up there that you can use to contact your friends. If Phil's okay with it, maybe you can head upstairs with the girls and use a computer while we sort these guys out?"
Dave took Banks aside and they whispered and nodded to each other. Dave went over and showed his badge to the two young constables. After a quick chat, a few laughs and pats on backs, he returned. Banks searched for a number on the phone and as he held it to his ear he turned away from Erin.
"Normally I'd go down and help process these two, and although you and the rest of us will have to make a witness statement, we don't have to just right now," Dave said to Erin. "As you can imagine, they're flat out down at the station."
"So Erin," Banks said as he returned, "Phil has given us a green light to bring you up and he has a laptop in one of the rooms. So if you're willing and you'd like to come up, maybe clean up and hop on Facebook, you can sort everything out."
"Oh thank you," Erin said, "Thanks so much."
"Just so you know," Dave nodded over at a couple dressed as a priest and a nun, "It's kind of like a fancy dress we're going to, but, not..." he left the sentence hanging in the air.
"I'll speak to management and see if we can grab any CCTV footage," Banks interrupted, "I'll be right up."
"Come on Erin," Kim took her by the hand, "Let's get going shall we."
.... There is more of this story ...