An Effort in Containment

Posted: July 9, 2010 by shopfrontcontemporaryarts in under fifteen
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[interview conducted between FLTLT McLeod and unnamed Defence Intelligence Organisation operative. Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, 1982.]

I grew up in Sydney, in the suburbs, but had always loved the stories about the country. How could you not? The place, the idea of the place, is steeped in adventure and we’re constantly told that that is Australia – out there, beyond the ‘burbs. I always wanted to be a cowboy and I suppose it was no surprise to anyone when I joined the Air Force.

I was about four years out of my cadetship when we were sent in to burn the place.

I had read the papers, watched the news, heard about the, uh, chickens and everything but like everyone else I thought it was a joke. Zombie chickens? I mean come on. What is this, some kinda B-grade horror film? How could I take that seriously? How could anyone?

I thought it was one of those Internet pranks you know? Film some shaky footage with a ball of feathers going nuts in a glass cage and you got yourself a million hits on YouTube.

I couldn’t believe it when our squadron commander told us we were going to firebomb the Australian countryside. This wasn’t what I signed up for. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it.

I saw the news of all the cars on the highway trying to get away from the farmland. That’s when I knew this was real. It was going to be my job to destroy a part of Australia. An effort in containment. Scorched earth. Burning bridges in retreat. It felt excessive, like overkill; like when they destroyed all those pigs and cows and sheep in the UK because of Foot and Mouth. Except this time we were using napalm, and doing it from F-111s.

I called my Mum and asked if she was okay.

Flight Lieutenant Anthony ‘Sweet Spot’ McLeod, No. 6 Squadron.



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