What is the sinister conspiracy code-named CanSell, and how does it threaten Canada? Is the nation's handsome Prime Minister really what he seems? The truth is on a micro-cassette that Tom Austen must somehow find before a crucial vote by Canadians on the future of the country.
While on a school trip to Gjoa Haven in the high Arctic, Tom unexpectedly learns the cassette might be closer than he thought. Between drum dances and snowmobile chases across the tundra, Tom searches for the cassette and learns a valuable lesson from the Inuit about the futility of violence.
"It is a mystery so good, at times frighteningly real, that adults could also enjoy its brillant plot."
Moncton County Chronicle
“I believe in U-SAC!”
The words boomed from mighty speakers, high above the crowd. At a microphone stood the Prime Minister of Canada, James Dunbar. As he spoke, his handsome face was visible on large television screens around the walls of the Winnipeg Convention Centre.
Tom Austen was watching the Prime Minister’s speech from the doorway to the kitchen. He had landed a part-time job as a dishwasher, and it was a busy evening - a lot of people would be hungry after listening to the speech.
Tom has slipped away from his duties to check out the security. It was easy to spot the PM’s bodyguards, who had short hair and restless eyes.
Tom’s eyes studied the scene for signs of trouble. Above the crowd, huge balloons were labelled Vote Yes for U-SAC! Could the balloons secretly contain a certain nerve gas, waiting to be spilled on the unsuspecting throngs? No - Tom shook his head at that theory.
But what if one of those TV cameras was a fake and had a gun concealed inside, ready to be fired at the PM? Dunbar would be a sitting duck, centre stage in the glare of the spotlights.
“Yes,” the Prime Minister cried, “the future prosperity of Canada is guaranteed. Once U-SAC is a reality, our financial problems will be easy to solve. I can assure you...”
Tom’s eyes continued to sweep the scene. What if an assassin with an assault rifle lurked behind a spotlight? What if...
One of the junior chefs gestured angrily at Tom. “Get back to work! You want to get fired, your first night on the job?”
“I wouldn’t mind,” Tom murmured. Back at his sink, he plunged his hands into deep water; potato peels and scum floated on the gray surface. “Disgusting,” he muttered to himself, beginning to scrub a grease-encrusted pan, “absolutely disgusting.”
A dark eyed girl, aged about six, stood beside the sink. She was clutching some pretty flowers. “These are for the Prime Minister,” she told Tom. “But Mommy says I can’t meet him.”
The girl’s mother smiled. She was rolling pastry at a marble-topped table; like the other worker, she wore an apron over her white uniform. “Rosie adores Prime Minister Dunbar. I can understand why - those blue eyes are amazing. At her school, they showed a movie about his life. Rosie insisted I bring her to work tonight, even though she can’t meet the Prime Minister.”
Drying his hands, Tom smiled at the girl. “You want to see him, in person?”
Tom glanced around - there was no sign of the junior chef. Taking Rosie’s hand, he quickly led her around a corner to the doorway that led to the the convention floor.
“There he is,” Tom said, pointing. Rosie’s eyes glowed.
“What is he speeching about?” she asked.
“Pretty soon, Canadians are going to have a special vote.”
“Do I get one?”
“No,” Tom replied. “Only adults get to vote. There is a referendum being held. People get to vote yes or no to joining Canada and the United States into a single country.”
Rosie waited silently for more information.
“People call the proposed new country U-SAC,” Tom explained. “That’s short for the official name - The United States of America plus Canada. There’d be a new flag, and no border. The Prime Minister thinks it’s a good idea, so he’s travelling across the country giving speeches. That’s why he’s in Winnipeg.”
“Are you voting for a new country?”
“I’m only 15,” Tom replied, “too young to vote. But I kind of like the country we’ve got.”
The Prime Minister’s speech ended, and a brass band began performing a happy song called “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” Cheering and applauding, the crowd pressed toward the Prime Minister, straining to touch his hand. More balloons were released, and they soared up to the ceiling far above; each said YES! in large letters.
Leaving the stage, the PM and his bodyguards began moving through the crowd. Dunbar was enormously popular, and everyone was happy to see him. Flash cameras popped constantly in the Prime Minister’s face, but he never stopped smiling.
“He’s coming our way, Rosie. Maybe you can give him those flowers.”
But Rosie’s mother beckoned to them. “Tom come back to the kitchen and bring Rosie. Right now! I’m nervous with that big crowd. What if there is a stampede?” She glanced back at the kitchen. “If that crabby junior chef finds me gone, I’ll be fired. Come this instant, Tom - please!” She hurried away.
Tom smiled, knowing a stampede was unlikely. Taking Rosie by the hand, he began walking along the hallway in the direction of the kitchen.
At that moment, a loud BANG! sounded from the convention floor, followed by screams.
* * *
Startled, Tom looked back. Incredible noise filled the hallway - yells of horror, shouted warnings, hysterical shrieks of terror.
Prime Minister Dunbar was racing down the hallway from the convention floor; behind him came the bodyguards. Seeing the Prime Minister, Rosie ran forward with her flowers.
“Out of the way,” the man cried, sweeping the child aside with a big hand.
The Prime Minister’s eyes were filled with panic. Then he was gone, hustled away to safety by the shouting bodyguards.
Quickly, Tom turned to Rosie. “Are you okay?”
“Yes.” She stood by the wall, wide-eyed. The flowers lay on the floor. Tom grabbed Rosie’s hand, and ran to the kitchen, where she was safely gathered up in her mother’s arms.
All work had stopped in the kitchen. People were shouting questions and staring down the hallway. Then someone came running in with news: “False alarm! One of those huge balloons exploded. People are calming down - they all thought it was a gun shot.”
“Well,” someone laughed, “the pep rally is over. The Prime Minister has left the building.”
“Where’d he go?”
“Those bodyguards rushed him through the kitchen to a limousine outside. It took off fast with an escort of motorcycle cops.”
“Those mounties weren’t taking any chances,” Rosie’s mother said. “They sure got the PM out fast.”
“Dunbar panicked,” Tom said. “He was really scared.”
“I doubt it,” scoffed one of the bakery chefs. “Dunbar isn’t afraid of anything. He was a college football star.”
“That’s right,” said Rosie’s mother. “Then he was offered a contract to play pro ball - Dallas wanted him.” She smacked her fist into a fat roll of dough. “But he went into politics instead. The man is gorgeous - a natural. Everyone thinks he’s number one.”
“My Mom doesn’t,” Tom replied. “She says...”
“Hey!" The junior chef snapped his fingers at Tom. "You with the red hair - get back to work. You’re too fond of talking.”
Tom reluctantly lowered his hands into the greasy water. “I don’t care what anyone thinks,” he said to himself. “The Prime Minister is a coward.”
An hour later, the bodyguards returned for Tom.
What Do the Prime Minister's Bodyguards Want With Tom?
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Back to the list of Eric's books Back to Eric's Home Page THE INUK MOUNTIE ADVENTURE. Copyright 2012 by Eric Hamilton WilsonAll rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced inany manner whatsoever without prior written permission except in thecase of brief quotations embodied in reviews.