A short, thick-set man of New Zealand descent passed closely by the cafeteria table. A mobile phone slipped silently from the folded newspaper beneath his left arm. Within seconds it began to vibrate.   

The girl at the table was startled. Jolting upright in her seat, she caught a glimpse of the man. Was that Matt from Distribution at Taipan’s Caboolture branch? If so, what was he doing in Western Australia, and even more bizarre, what was he doing at the very café where she spent every second Saturday enjoying a Chai Latte and Cinnamon Donut.  

Carol, one of the Admin gurus at Taipan’s Perth outlet, squinted at the phone as it vibrated for a second time.   

“Winter is coming. Be at the brewery on Bannister Road in twenty minutes and tell no one…. No. One.” Read the first text. 

“I won’t ask again, you have eighteen minutes remaining”, said the second.   

Suddenly, the situation wasn’t so curious, it was downright scary. Somebody was watching her. She discreetly surveyed the café, trying to guess which person it could be. Was she losing her grip on reality? Or did they all look like some sort of henchman? Even the attractive lady in the tight slacks with the mustard scarf and brand-new baby who kept peering over the top of her dark glasses seemed particularly familiar. 

Carol wasn’t a bad person; in fact, she was a model citizen. Who would want to do anything to harm her? Was it because she rode a Harley Davidson?   

Doing her best to remain calm, Carol stood up slowly, took a fifty dollar note from her jeans pocket, threw it on the table and left.   

Walking briskly to her bike, Carol gave a swift kick and purred from the car park.   

The brewery was a place where Perth’s Taipan team often met on a Friday after work. It had a great atmosphere, and the owners were getting real traction on some of their craft brews.   

According to Carol, she’d be there in 17 minutes. That would give her a minute to park up and get inside.   

Once she arrived, she quickly headed to the bar. The publican slipped a note across the counter.   

Carol took it and sat down at one of the two-person beer barrel tables.   

The note was scribbled in pencil in obvious haste.   

“Winter is coming, I know you have them.”  

Before she could think any more about either the note or the texts, she was grabbed from behind and a sack pulled over her head.   

Struggling with her abductors, Carol was forced into a vehicle. Four minutes later she was back out and pushed towards two large glass doors. As the sack was removed a voice behind her said, “get inside, he is waiting for you”. 

Carol opened the left side of the double glass doors. As she walked through, there were aisles of books and anxiety began to peak. It was obvious she was in the middle of a library. The silhouette of a seated man could be made out against the back wall. He seemed well dressed except for the obvious omission of any footwear. Was he homeless? 

A deep almost raspy Italian, no, Greek, no, maybe Pennsylvanian accent echoed through the aisles. Carol trembled in the darkness. “Do I know you? I don’t understand your messages. Winter is coming, bring what with me? I don’t understand? What do you want from me?” whispered Carol.   

“Winter is coming”, said the voice. “I know you have them.”   

“Rick? Is that you? Are you here from Taipan Melbourne? Was that Matt in the café?”   

“Did you bring them Carol?” Said the silhouetted man.  

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Carol replied.   

“Come now,” said the man. “Everyone knows you are the only person remaining with a pair of Taipan’s famous Bamboo socks.”   

“I don’t!” shouted Carol, so rushed it surely secured her guilt.   

“Lift your trouser leg,” the voice demanded, “or you will not last the day.” Carol reluctantly complied, revealing a single genuine Taipan Bamboo sock.   

“Take them off,” said the voice, “now!”  

”Please” replied Carol now weeping. “They won’t fit you and it is my last pair.”   

The man began to laugh uncontrollably. “You know as well as I do Carol that Taipan’s Bamboo socks are one size fits all.” He continued his laughter.   

“Here, take these” he said, throwing a general store pair of a look-alike.  

“Winter is coming and now I have the last remaining pair of Taipan Bamboo socks, my feet will be……toasty.”   

“No, please no,” Carol blubbed. “You won’t get away with this Rick.” 

The man slipped on the Taipan socks, stood up and walked toward the back door of the library.   

“Hahaha, I already have Carol. I already have.”