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LAND OF THE FREE 

LAND OF THE FREE

When wildlife conservationist, Charlene Tynsworth, flighty socialite, Paula Gooding, and Hollywood legend, Joan Taylor, join forces with Vernon O’Brien (a jaded soldier of fortune) they put everything on the line to expose brutal atrocities against endangered big game by some of the wealthiest men on earth.
Posing as a hunter, Vernon must ingratiate himself with Laurie Watson (a sadistic ‘safari’ operator) in order to obtain covert footage of the operation. Charlene provides behind the scenes intel, risking her own life to end the destruction.
While Vernon is in communications blackout, back home Paula’s activities to raise funds for the cause come under an unwelcome spotlight. Suddenly she is fighting for her own life when a disgruntled employee frames her for embezzlement. She consoles herself in the knowledge that once the footage is released her name will be cleared, and she and Vernon can be together.
But having fallen under Charlene’s spell, Vernon stretches his stay in Africa to try and melt her hard exterior - in doing so revealing the true nature of his mission.
Fired with determination to keep their dirty little secrets under wraps, and fuelled by the political and financial muscle behind the hunts, Laurie and his private army launch a deadly attack against Vernon and Charlene before the crucial evidence can be returned.

 

In Store Price: $AU21.95
Online Price:   $AU20.95

ISBN: 1 920699 89 9
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 160
Genre: Fiction
 


Author: Lynn Santer 
Imprint: Zeus
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: October 2003
Language: English

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While written as fiction this story is

 BASED ON REAL EVENTS,

and is

DEDICATED TO

 MERYL HARRISON,  

CHIEF INSPECTOR WITH THE ZIMBABWE NATIONAL SPCA.


Lynn Santer (left) with Tippi Hedren (centre) and Meryl Harrison


Lynn Santer with Kato during her walk with 
Chris Daykin at Dreamworld.

Lynn Santer  

Lynn’s screenwriting mentor was the multi-award winning producer/director, Mark DeFriest.  Following her early studies with Mark, Lynn regularly visited Hollywood to work with experts in the field such as “The Insiders System” and Arnold Rudnick, of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s “Really Useful Films”.    

She is a member of The British Film Institute, The Writers Guild of Australia, Copyright Agency Limited, the Australian Society of Authors, and she has both an agent and manager in Hollywood. 

In 2002 Lynn wrote two feature screenplays under contract to a Hollywood producer, struck a deal with Stewart Entertainment to write and co-produce an animated TV series, and passed the writing test for Grundy’s hit TV series “Neighbours”.    

Also in 2002, Lynn’s first short film production “Lewis’s Piano” won the “Launch Film Festival BEST INDEPENDENT FILM” AWARD.  Lynn adapted the short screenplay from a feature-length musical composed by Jonny Rothman and Simon Jacobs.      

Lynn’s own projects have been inspired by her professional experience in the world of high finance, her extensive travels around the world, and her life-long love affair with the big cats.   

BEST SELLER: The first print run of Lynn’s novel “Sins of Life” sold out in a matter of weeks and the book became Minerva’s number one selling title in the UK in 1999.   Her sequel novels “Into the Fire” and “Evil by Design” have been published by Equilibrium Books.     

AWARD:  In 1992 Lynn won the coveted American Chamber of Commerce National Award for Creative Writer of the Year.   

In 2001 Lynn produced a promotional short for Tippi Hedren, star of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.  The short was to promote a special screening of “The Birds” at the Brisbane International Film Festival as part of a fundraising event (that Lynn also organised) for Tippi’s big cat sanctuary, Shambala. 

This versatile and prolific writer accepts commissions for television, feature and short film scriptwriting in a variety of genres and most budget ranges.  References, coverage, and terms are available on request.  

A history of Lynn’s work with the big cats and animal welfare

 Lynn’s first award for raising funds for animal welfare was received when she was just 11 years old, from the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, UK).  She still proudly hangs on her wall the certificate she received for “Outstanding Effort”.

 In 1997 Lynn worked with Virginia McKenna (who played Joy Adamson in the immortal classic "Born Free" and who now runs The Born Free Foundation in the UK) to rescue a lioness called Kimba from Italy.  Kimba was discovered in a cage no bigger than she was, unable to see the sky, fed on a diet of frozen chickens.  Her back was concave, her condition squalid.  When Lynn saw Kimba freed and exploring her new home in the Big Cat Sanctuary of Kent, England, marvelling at clouds rolling by, she wept, knowing she had found her true purpose in life.

 In working with the Born Free Foundation, Lynn came to know Roger Gale, MP (UK) who was then Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Animal Welfare, and who is now Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party.  Roger has become a lifelong friend and remains in close liaison with Lynn on many animal welfare issues, including getting fox hunting banned in the UK.

 In 1998 Lynn was honoured by WSPA (World Society for Protection of Animals).  In recognition of funds she raised for that cause, Lynn was invited to inspect the WSPA sanctuary for rescued big brown bears in outback Turkey (formerly "Dancing Bears"). 

 This sanctuary is in a very remote area of Turkey, near the Syrian border, and absolutely not open to the public.

 In 1999, Lynn was made the first and only honorary Life Member of the AfriCat UK Project 2000.  Lynn has been in Africa many times, and been hands-on with the big cats that AfriCat rescue, rehabilitate, and relocate.  In 1999, when her first novel was released, Lynn donated the royalties to the AfriCat Foundation.  Lise Hanssen, who runs AfriCat in Namibia, joined Lynn is London’s most famous department store, Harrods, for a joint book signing of this best-seller.

 While Lynn was living in London she coincidentally became the neighbour of The Hon Juanita Carberry of "White Mischief" fame (daughter of the late Lord Carberry).  Juanita was a close personal friend of George and Joy Adamson.  She was born and raised in Kenya.  At the age of 78, Juanita has just resigned her position on the International Advisory Board of WSPA, and she has bequeathed her original oils of Elsa by Joy Adamson to Lynn in her Will!  The rest of these paintings are in the National Museum of Nairobi.  

In 2002 and 2003, Lynn was invited to be a judge by the RSPCA at their Million Paws Walk on the Gold Coast of Australia. 

 Lynn has also donated a major original oil on canvas to WWF (the World Wildlife Fund) which will be auctioned at a special event organised in conjunction with Dreamworld’s “Tiger Island” in 2003.

 Lynn retains an extremely close relationship with Meryl Harrison of the Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  In 2001 Lynn brought Meryl out to Australia to meet with Tippi Hedren to discuss an exposé on unethical hunting.

Chapter 1  

C

harlene Tynsworth mopped her brow, noticing the familiar shimmer in the air.  It was as though she was inside nature’s cooking pot.  The heat was unbearable, but for Charlene the weather was the least of her problems.  The donkey she was tending to had been badly gashed by a barbwire harness, an injury the likes of which she had seen a hundred times before.  The donkey hardly flinched; it was as if she knew the gentle carer was trying to help her. 

Although Charlene wanted to berate the farmer who owned the donkey for his heartlessness, instead she remained calm.  Charlene understood economic realism was the only rationale a native Zimbabwean struggling to put food on the table would understand.  At least he hadn’t sold the beast to be used as bait for hunters who would have tied her to a tree, left to be nibbled alive for days before the prey animal stepped into their trap.  Too many donkeys had unfortunately suffered that gruesome fate.

For a fleeting moment she thought back to her privileged life in Los Angeles.  It seemed impossible that in this day and age anyone could be struggling to put food on the table, impossible to think that ten thousand miles away the biggest problem was making sure one was only seen in the latest designer fashions, and impossible beyond comprehension to accept that most of her former friends didn’t even want to know about the horror faced by both man and beast and this far off land. 

None of Charlene’s friends had approved of this American beauty leaving her affluent lifestyle to devote herself to the conservation of endangered animals.  Only one person kept in touch with her: Hollywood legend of the sixties, Joan Taylor.  Joan too had given up many of her privileges to devote herself to the conservation of endangered animals.  However, unlike Charlene, Joan remained in the US, preferring to try and change the legislation that allowed irresponsible private ownership of these magnificent creatures, which often led to the animal being discarded like garbage. 

Joan had created a sanctuary for these cast-offs, where she currently cared for over sixty big cats and one elephant that had gone mad in a circus.  But aside from Joan, it seemed no one wanted to hear about Charlene’s quest to help stop the rapid march to extinction of many of God’s magnificent creatures.  Their attitude seemed to be: why complicate a life already so full of deadlines and back-biting with issues that after all only affect mere animals in a country many would never even visit?

Over time, Charlene had become more and more isolated, gradually losing all faith in humanity.  She’d lived in the harsh climate and even harsher environment of Zimbabwe for ten years, engaging in her back-breaking, soul-destroying, thankless labor of love.  Yet despite this, her face retained a youthful glow.  There was nothing tanned, leathery or harsh about her appearance. Her soft brown eyes showed no bitterness, no despair.  She’d cropped her lush auburn hair short, so that now it framed her kind, gentle face like a radiant aura. 

Her one true friend, her dog Shaka, whimpered.  The little Jack Russell terrier could sense Charlene’s anguish and shared her pain. 

“Don’t worry, Shaka, she’ll be okay,” she said kindly.

While the native farmer looked on from under the shade of an ancient tree, Charlene examined the extent of the injuries.  She mopped her brow again, gently removed the barbwire harness from the bleeding donkey and tended to its wounds.

“I didn’t know,” the farmer said simply, in his native tongue.

“You didn’t know a barbwire harness would cut into your donkey’s flesh?” she retorted, almost losing her cool.

Embarrassed and caught out, the farmer simply shrugged.

“I realize money is tight,” she said calmly.  “And you’re not the only one around here who does this kind of thing, but if you don’t look after your animals properly it’ll cost you more to replace them than if you had looked after them in the first place.”

“Yes, miss.”

Charlene sighed, and headed to her jeep.  Painted on the door was: Zimbabwe National SPCA: Chief Inspector, Charlene Tynsworth.  She tossed the farmer’s barbwire harness into the back of her jeep and reached inside to find a new leather one.  Assuming they were heading home, Shaka jumped onto the front passenger’s seat.

“Not yet, boy.  Soon,” she smiled.

With a heavy sigh, Charlene handed over the leather harness to the farmer.  “Promise me you’ll use this from now on.”

“Yes, miss. I promise.”

Nuzzling into her touch, the donkey felt the warmth, love and devotion of this special woman, enjoying her affectionate caress, when suddenly, loud gunshots filled the air.  They all looked around to see where the noise came from.

“Oh no,” she gasped.

 Bursting through the brush, a terrified wounded leopard panted her escape from pursuing armed hunters and their packs of ferocious collared hounds.  The collars were remote-controlled and electrified.  If any hound dared chase after the wrong species it was soon punished for its efforts.  The lowest setting of the electric collars caused mere pain, but the higher settings caused vomiting, and if inflicted often enough could break a dog’s back, causing an agonizing death.  It was an extremely efficient method of keeping hunting hounds under control and on the right scent.

The leopard had seen this all before, but she’d never before been at the sharp end of a hunt.  Over her three years on this earth the precious spotted cat had seen lion, cheetah and caracal chased to exhaustion and then slaughtered by the two-legs, the most fearsome and brutal of all the predators in the jungle.  It had always been something of a mystery to the leopard as to why this predator hunted the wildlife of Africa – they didn’t seem to be hungry, in fact many of them seemed disproportionately large for their basic construction.  And the animals they hunted never appeared to be posing a threat of any kind to them.  No, the two-legs were just opportunistic killers, striking out at any species they came across for reasons that clearly had nothing whatever to do with the creator’s rules of survival.  But right now, the reasons weren’t important.  The two-legs and their hounds were after her.  She was outnumbered, injured and worn out, but she had to run and keep running, for her very life depended on it.

She noticed the two-legs were carrying a foreign object: something the creator had not seen fit to give them at birth.  It was a long stick-like object that made a loud noise, and whenever the loud noise happened some animal always fell down wounded, generally never to rise again.  It was an uneven chase, an unfair mismatch of hunter and hunted.  Whenever the leopard hunted it was for food and, equipped only with what nature had given her, as often as not she was unsuccessful in her hunt.  But the two-legs seemed never to fail in killing whatever they had set their sights on.

Laughing with adrenalin-pumped sadistic pleasure, half a dozen overweight foreign hunters dressed in army fatigues chased after their hounds.  The dogs barked with the infectious blood-lusting frenzy of their masters as they continued to chase and corner the leopard.

The beautiful giant spotted cat was soon overpowered by the hounds who enthusiastically began to tear at her flesh, just as Laurie Watson caught up with the group.  Laurie was as tough and mean a son-of-a-bitch as God had ever put on earth.  After having been dishonorably discharged from the elite forces of Her Majesty’s Special Air Service, he’d soon found a way to make a lucrative living from his expert training.  He now ran Matupula Hunting Lodge in Bulawayo.  Over the twenty years he’d been in Zimbabwe his British accent had been replaced with the harsh clipped accent of his adopted land.  His skin was rough and wrinkled, but his eyes were still piercingly bright blue, and cold as a blade of steel.

“Hey! Stop that! Get them off!  They’ll ruin the skin!” he ordered his dogs.

Assisted by his native workers, Laurie managed to remove the bloodthirsty hounds off the mortally wounded leopard in time for his customers, the hunters, to gloat over the prize.    

“Is it dead?” asked one of the hunters, in a broad Southern American accent.

“Not yet,” Laurie replied. “Soon. No point damaging the hide further with a bullet.”

Cautiously leering over his prize, the hunter grinned to himself.  He didn’t notice the wounded leopard’s six-month-old cub observing from a distance, confused and panicked.

The cub peered from beneath blades of grass, which to the infant towered as high as an impenetrable fortress.  She cocked her head to one side, trying to get a grasp of what was happening to her mother.  Why didn’t she just come home?  The cub was hungry and sensed a descending coldness from the falling dusk.  She yearned for the warmth and security of mother.  Unable to contain her anguish, the cub cried out.

“Shit,” Laurie spat.

“What?” a hunter asked.

“There’s a cub.”

“So?”

“So we’re not supposed to kill nursing mothers.”

“That’s easily fixed,” the hunter leered, reloading a cartridge into his rifle. “We wouldn’t wanna leave the little bastard out here an orphan, now would we?”

Laurie smiled his agreement.

The light was fading in the mother leopard’s eyes, but she wasn’t dead yet.  Although she didn’t speak their tongue, she understood all too well what they were planning to do.  They wanted to kill her baby, her legacy to the creator, her offering to keep her species alive and perpetuating.  She could not let that happen.  She used her last ounce of strength to raise her head and give her baby a determined “save yourself” glare.

Trying hard to understand what was happening the cub paced back and forth in confusion.

The hunter lined up the cub and squeezed back slowly on the trigger.  But before the deadly bullet could hit its mark, the mother leopard lashed out with her claws, tearing into the hunter’s calf and causing him to miss his target.

The bullet hit the dirt only inches from the cub. She bounded away like greased lightning.

Screaming in agony, the hunter fell to the ground, while Laurie finished off the mother leopard with a thud from the butt of his rifle. “Cunning bitch.”

Turning to examine the hunter, Laurie was relieved to see he’d only received a flesh wound.  “Come on, mate. It’s not that bad, up you get.”

“Not that bad?  Look at me!  I’m bleeding!”

“You’ll live. Come on, we’ve got an orphan to catch!”  Turning to his native workers, Laurie added, “Release the hounds!  Get it lads!”

The dogs charged after the terrified cub as it zigzagged its way through the undergrowth.  She was young and strong, but inexperienced and terrified.  It didn’t take long for the highly trained hounds to force her into a clearing, where she discovered with horror she had run straight into an ambush.

Knowing the prey was surrounded, the hounds pounced on the infant like sharks in a feeding frenzy.  The cub struck back, inflicting surprisingly deep wounds on her yelping foes.  But needles of hot saliva had already penetrated her flesh.  She felt dizzy misery and merciless pain as all sense of location became blurred around her.

Without warning, a flash of black lightning suddenly burst out of the bushes.  The native farmer Charlene had just helped with his donkey appeared with a rifle slung over his shoulder, brandishing a long wooden walking stick.  He pounded at the dogs with the stick, soon forcing them to turn tail and flee.  Not satisfied they wouldn’t return, the farmer disappeared after them yelling obscenities at the top of his lungs and waving the stick threateningly.

The cub collapsed under a shrub, unable to move now even when her self-preservation instincts told her there was a two-leg standing over her.  Leaves rustled with movement.  Charlene’s face appeared, stained with tears.

“Oh.  My poor baby,” she sobbed.

Reaching into her knapsack, Charlene pulled out a needle and carefully injected painkiller into the panting cub.  “There you go, you’ll be alright.  Where’s your mommy?”

“Well, if it ain’t mother nature,” Laurie snapped sharply.

Charlene whipped around to see her nemesis standing there with the wounded, sweaty-faced hunter.

“I might have known you were behind this,” she shot back.

“Not me, luvvy.  You won’t find one of my bullets on that carcass.”

“She’s not dead yet, no thanks to you!  But she would have been if I hadn’t had got here before your dogs finished her off!”

“You can’t seriously believe that I’m responsible for my dogs’ actions. They’re animals and this is the jungle. They’re only doing what God created them to do.”

“Give it a rest, Laurie. You know just as well as I do your dogs only attack what you tell them to!  Otherwise you wouldn't need those electric shock collars!  You're both going to pay for this!”

The hunter’s expression dropped instantly, wondering what sort of lawsuit might be brought against him for hunting a nursing mother leopard.

“Is that so?” Laurie replied with deep sarcasm.  “Well, considering you seem to know the law so well, you must also realize that I am quite within my rights to shoot you where you stand for trespassing.”

With cold hatred in his eyes, Laurie raised his rifle in Charlene’s direction.

“You think I’m afraid of you? Pull that trigger, if you’ve got the guts, and see what happens! I can see the headlines now!”

Laurie lowered his weapon, and Charlene silently let out a sigh of relief.

“If you could really get rid of me that easily, you wouldn’t have tried so hard to make all your other attempts look like accidents, would you?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Standing up defiantly, Charlene cradled the injured cub, glaring at Laurie.

“Hey!  Where do you think you’re going?” the hunter asked, now raising his own rifle at her.

“Put that away,” Laurie ordered.

“No!” the hunter protested.  “That cub’s mine! I want to stuff it for my baby girl’s bedroom!”

“I said, put your gun down!” Laurie repeated.

“Why?  I shot its mother!  It belongs to me!”

“Because, unlike you, he will shoot to kill,” Laurie replied.

“Who?” the hunter asked, confused.

“Him,” Laurie answered, pointing away from Charlene.

Following Laurie’s gaze, the hunter quickly saw the farmer had returned and had his own rifle pointed at them.

“Drop your weapons. Drop them!” the farmer ordered, in his native tongue.

Not prepared to take his chances, the hunter nervously, angrily and carefully lowered his rifle to the ground and stepped back from it.

“Okay, now do as I do and walk away slowly,” Laurie advised his client.

Terrified, the hunter did exactly as he was told.

“Your hand guns too,” Charlene added.

Glaring angrily, Laurie slowly un-strapped his pistol holster and dropped it to the ground.

“Now get the hell out of here before my friend loses his patience.”  Charlene tried to sound intimidating.

“You’ve gone too far this time, Charlene,” Laurie growled, before storming into the bush with the hunter.

Feeling weak at the knees, Charlene gratefully turned to her rescuer.  “Thank you.”

The farmer just grinned broadly, displaying a row of dazzling white teeth as he picked up his newly acquired weapons.

“Come on, let’s get you fixed up, my baby,” she said to the barely conscious cub she was still cradling.

As they turned to head back to Charlene’s jeep, a breathtakingly beautiful sunset of fire-red and orange descended on the African horizon, as ants ran up and down a nearby tree.

                 

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