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Jack Dempsey absorbed the culture of the aboriginal stockmen on his parents’ cattle station before school and a physics degree at the university.  There he met Debora who subsequently converted to Islam. She escaped a failed marriage in Saudi Arabia to renew her journalism career and finds herself as an embedded journalist in Jack’s unit in Afghanistan.

Invalided back to Australia, their mutual attraction is frustrated by Debora’s faith in Islam and loyalty to her husband. Jack is disenchanted with the religious divide and reasons that, if there is life after death, there must be some physics to it – some scientific reality in parallel with the world we know.

Their search for the ultimate facts of life takes them through cosmology and quantum physics as well as the great religious documents until they think they have a glimpse of the truth. It is enough to reconcile their religious differences and reinforce their love.

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ISBN: 978-1-920699-26-0
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 181
Genre: Fiction

Cover: Clive Dalkins

© Cover Design—Zeus Publications 2019


- John Heussler
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published:  2019
Language: English


      Read a sample:




To all my friends who worry about these issues.


And to Sue who worried about me. 


By the same Author



To Catch a Min Min



Born in 1930, John Heussler grew up on a sheep station in Western Queensland, North West of Longreach. His education was with the Queensland Primary Correspondence School until he went to the Southport School as a boarder and then to the Queensland University where he studied physics and mathematics. He never graduated.

He returned to the family sheep property which he took over in 1959. Meanwhile, John had become interested in the industry organisations. He served as President at district and State level before becoming Vice President of the National Farmers’ Federation. Through his industry connection he also served on the Australian Wool Corporation’s Production Research Committee, the CSIRO Advisory Council and numerous State and Federal Government bodies. In 1965, he started the Longreach Pastoral College to train entrants to the wool and cattle industries.

In 1988, he and his wife Sue bought a macadamia nut orchard in the ranges west of the Sunshine Coast. He served on the board of Suncoast Gold Macadamias while keeping his western pastoral interests, now run by a manager.

In 2003, John and Sue retired to the Sunshine Coast, selling their rural properties, and John started writing in earnest. Apart from several books and papers on research and training in the industry, he published two books through Zeus Publications. Footprints, a historical novel, was based on the German migration into Queensland which was aided by his great-grandfather, the Hon J. C. Heussler MLA, and To Catch a Min Min which was the story of his family’s pioneering work in Western Queensland with reference to the wool industry.

Sue died of cancer in 2017 and once again John took refuge in writing. The present book was inspired by his friends who expressed their worries about the Muslim immigration into the country. It is a love story with a happy ending but does examine some of the problems faced by the migrants and their hosts.



This is a work of fiction and the characters bear no relation to living persons. The events, particularly after 2019, bear no relation to actual or forecast events as they were in the future when the book was written.

I am neither a theologian nor an Imam or any officer of a religion. Neither am I a scientist and I have no degree in quantum physics. I have never visited the laboratories at CERN. Therefore, the following pages may contain inaccuracies of fact in any of these fields, although I have tried to keep to the details as I know them.

The fundamental premise about the unfolding of another reality at death is mine alone as far as I know.

I wish to acknowledge the following works which both inspired me to write this book and gave me the knowledge to tackle it.


A Brief History of Time                        by Stephen Hawking

The Grand Design                               by Stephen Hawking & Leonard Mlodinow

A Universe from Nothing                     by Laurence M Krauss

The Quantum Universe                        by Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw

Various papers and books                   by Richard Feynman

Muhammad                                           by Karen Armstrong

The Story of Muhammad                     by Harry Richardson

The Koran                                              published by Penguin Classics

The New English Bible

Buddhism                                               Wikipedia on the Internet

The Large Hadron Collider                  the Internet

CERN Laboratories                              Papers from their Archives

Saudi Life, Funerals and Food            Various Internet articles

Afghanistan; Australia’s War               by Garry Ramage & Ian



I would also like to acknowledge the effort my editors put into the work. Without their skills and commitment this would have been a poor shadow of what it is now. Thank you, Rosemary Allan and Julie Winzar.




Why did I attempt to write about this difficult subject?

I have listened to many conversations about the impact of the immigration of Muslim people into Australia and the Western world, both from the refugee programs and the boat people. I have seen them on the streets of our cities and in regional centres on the coast. I worry about what is going to happen to our society and indeed to Islamic people themselves. A little maths following through the family sizes of the Muslims and comparing it with the Caucasians produces an enlightening scenario. Will they integrate like the Italians and the other races that came to our shores, or will they form ghettos like they have in other countries? I hope this book promotes some thought and gives hope that there can be a happy solution, as indeed there has been for many of them.

One question gives rise to another and I found myself asking, what are the physics of ‘Paradise’ or any form of afterlife? I have delved into Quantum Theory seeking an answer and apologise for the difficult concepts that arise from that discipline, but I decided that the effort was sufficiently rewarding to be included. The characters took over and led me to places I wouldn’t have envisioned.

In the course of writing the following pages, I have renewed my own faith and found possible answers to some of my concerns, though not through the formal religions.

Apart from that it is just a love story.






I turned south onto the Bruce Highway at Gympie and set the cruise control of the blue utility to 100kph. It was March 2018, and the green countryside rolled past the windows; time to think, to smell the blossom on the wind and let my mind wander where it would. I like driving. All my best thoughts come to me as I relax behind the wheel and let my subconscious run wild, taking me down paths that I would never choose in my busier moments. But that day it kept returning me to the horror that was Afghanistan and the girl that I was on my way to meet.

I still hadn’t recovered from my posting into that amorphous conflict where it was so hard to tell friend from foe. Every night my dreams took me back to Oruzgan Province, and the beleaguered people that inhabited the place. Nightly, I felt fear of a bullet in the guts or a mine exploding beneath my feet and I would wake in a lather of sweat, shaking and confused. The days were fine. I controlled my fears by sheer hard work on my little macadamia orchard, but I knew I was a mess and my social life was non-existent. Debora was part of those dreams and I was unsure whether my feelings for her were the beginnings of love or gratitude for her bravery and what she had done – or perhaps just the need for a female in my life. I looked forward to finding out in the next few days.

I caught myself smiling into the rear-vision mirror as I remembered the consternation with which I had greeted the request from the Company Commander at the base to take Debora with us on our regular patrols, as an embedded journalist. ‘But, sir, it will destroy the cohesion of the whole section,’ I had exploded. ‘We are an efficient team with each man looking after his mates. She’s female, she’s a journalist and she’s Muslim; the troops will be watching her like she’s a death adder.’

I realised that the CO’s blue eyes had hardened as I added, ‘She hasn’t trained with us and doesn’t know how we do things. She’ll get the lot of us killed.’

‘Jack Dempsey, you just make bloody sure SHE doesn’t get killed. You’ve got women in the squad already,’ was his only response.

It made no difference. Debora, with her cameras and microphone, was kitted out in the normal uniform and she took her place in the patrols directly behind me where I could keep an eye on her and ensure she did nothing that might compromise the safety of my troops or the effectiveness of the operation. I got a bit of egg on my face over that comment when she turned out to be the one who saved the lot of us. And now I was on my way to pick her up from the Brisbane Airport!

‘I’ve seen a bit of action and know the rules of the game; I’m not the spoilt kid you knew at the university,’ she had assured me at the first briefing I organised with her. ‘I’ve been writing for Reuter’s for several years now and have been with the Americans up north. We’ve heard that the Australians have had some success in Oruzgan, so I thought I’d come down and see how you do it. I got hit by a sniper in Iraq, so I know the risks, but I also know that the only way to get the true story is to get amongst fighting.’

‘Yeah! You journos are only interested in seeing a bit of blood and guts,’ I fired back. ‘We’re doing other things: we’re building a school for the kids here if only the bloody Taliban will let them go to it. It will be up to the villagers to keep the bastards away when we’re gone.’

‘The more you make them feel safe and show them the benefits of a more stable community, the more likely they are to stand up to the Taliban,’ she replied. ‘So, I write plenty about that too, but I need to know how you are doing it.’

She had been assigned to my section, my responsibility, because the CO had found out I had known her years ago as a nubile fresher at the University of Queensland. That was before that bloody Saudi had converted her to Islam and whisked her back to Riyadh and married her. I reckoned I had enough problems without playing nursemaid to a woman who had chosen a different life, years ago, even if she had realised her mistake and fled into the world of journalism. The females already in the squad were treated the same as the men and once we were on patrol nobody noticed the difference; a fact that surprised many of us.

I smiled again as I remembered those days in my fresher year. I had been released from the constraints of boarding school and introduced to grog and women. I didn’t know how to handle either. Debora was quite a girl and the competition was fierce…

But I noticed the fuel gauge was dropping towards zero, and a cup of coffee beckoned, so I turned off the highway into Nambour and dragged my mind back to more practical things. Then the traffic kept my eyes on the road until I reached Brisbane airport, only to find that the plane from Melbourne was late. So I settled into a seat in the gate lounge and let my thoughts return to Debora.

I had avoided her company at the base at Tarin Kowt, not wanting to complicate the relationships within my section, but her competency and her dedication to her task were obvious and we all began to respect her and the job she was doing. I looked forward to her company on the long walks. At least, here was a Muslim journalist reporting truthfully and with understanding on a difficult operation. She had enthusiastically joined in the off-duty life of the base but had made no secret of her religion and avoided alcohol or deep friendships with either sex.

That was before the ambush. That one lapse in concentration, the one time I had not looked, the one time I had led my section into an exposed position with my mind elsewhere. I had not noticed anything strange about some ruins on our left. We had been that way a dozen times before. I cursed myself again, as I have a hundred times since, cursed myself for my neglect of the most fundamental part of my task: that of keeping my squad free from surprise attack. I lived with the responsibility for the death of two fine men, my friends and colleagues. I remembered writing the letters to their families, imagining the utter devastation they would feel as they read my inadequate account of their loved one’s demise. I felt the acid burning in my guts as it always did these days whenever I let my mind return to my failure.

Not only had Debora shouted a warning when she saw the guns in the shattered window through the telephoto lens of her camera, but later in the engagement, when we were pinned down, she had deliberately drawn fire to herself to enable us to gain safer positions. I dragged my mind away from thoughts of the ensuing battle, but I knew we might not have survived without Debora’s quick and decisive action. As it was, both Debora and I were hit and had been evacuated back to Germany. I hadn’t seen her since, but I retained a sharp image of silky brown hair escaping from its bondage under the army cap and steady hazel eyes. My excitement built as I imagined the slim figure I had last seen in a hospital gown in Germany.

Now the plane had arrived, and the flight attendant came to the gate to farewell the passengers. I eagerly scanned the faces of all the females humping their bags up the tunnel from the aircraft, some in short shorts eager to start a holiday in the sunshine; others in tailored business clothes, lugging their computers, and made up to dazzle the male executives they were on their way to convince. I nearly missed her. Not a brown hair poked out from under a voluminous head scarf and her body was encased in a long-sleeved dress that effectively concealed any curves her figure might possess. Her sparkling eyes mocked me, and her mouth held a mischievous smile as she came towards me and delivered a peck on my cheek.

‘Thank you for coming all this way to meet me,’ she said, as she hitched her carry bag onto her shoulder. ‘I see they’ve mended your leg and you’re walking okay. It was a nasty wound.’

‘Thank you for accepting my invitation,’ I replied, trying desperately to ignore the headscarf; somehow it put a barrier between us – but I reckoned I wasn’t racist. I had Muslim friends, didn’t I? But a Muslim girlfriend – no, that wouldn’t work. I felt deflated. Still, what she believed didn’t alter the person she was, or what she had done for me and the section. I pulled myself together.

‘I’ve been looking forward to your visit,’ I continued, trying to sound casual. ‘If we leave straight away, we can get home for dinner and I have a nice steak in the fridge. We can get a cup of coffee on the way.’

‘That would be great,’ she said. ‘We never really got to know each other in Oruzgan. I’ll get my luggage, not that there is much of it,’ and we hurried off in search of the baggage carousel.

On the way home, we slipped easily into the old relationship we had in Afghanistan where we had concentrated on the practical matters necessary for our survival. Only now it seemed so formal and unemotional. Nothing a good hug and a kiss wouldn’t have fixed, but the headscarf kept getting in the way somehow. It sent a message that she was Muslim and therefore unavailable for kissing. There was plenty to talk about in the car, all the traumas of our convalescence and the events at the base. It wasn’t until we relaxed over a coffee after washing up that I broached the subject of her scarf. I couldn’t let it go any further without finding out if it was real or just a joke.

‘I see you’ve stuck to your Muslim beliefs,’ I observed as I filled her cup from the percolator. ‘I thought the Taliban might have changed your mind about being a woman in their world. I never understood what made you convert to Islam in the first place.’

‘I wondered how long you could ignore the headscarf,’ she said with a big smile. ‘You would be amazed at how effective it is in keeping predatory men at bay. But, to be serious, the Taliban are not the true Islam. I don’t think anyone knows what the true Islam really is, and that is why they continue to fight among themselves.’

‘I thought it should be pretty clear. The teachings and example of Muhammad are held up as the basis of the religion, aren’t they?’ I ventured.        

‘Have you read the Koran and studied the life of Muhammad?’ she asked. ‘Have you read all the Hadiths that Muhammad added to the word of God that he dictated for the Koran? The messages are in the context of sixth-century Arabia and have been passed down through the years as they were written until they can be distorted in the twenty-first century by all the scholars, ayatollahs and mullahs in their own little mosques. Except for Dubai! There the government writes the sermon for the week and everyone gets the same. You have to understand the world Muhammad lived in.’

‘So why do you buy it?’ I asked.

‘It’s the same with the Bible. That doesn’t mean the messages are necessarily wrong; just that they haven’t survived the translation into modern times and the context is ignored,’ she replied. ‘What really got me in was their commitment and the strength of their belief. There are no ifs and buts. If you expect to enter Paradise when you die, you must be true to Allah in this life. You must maintain contact with him through prayer and you must abide by His rules.’

‘Is the headscarf one of those rules?’ I asked, going to the pantry for more chocolates… ‘And it is not you going to Paradise but your spirit or your soul, whatever they are. Anyhow, expectations of rewards in Paradise seems a bit selfish to me. What about the need to do God’s work in this world?’

‘No, to the headscarf, the Koran only says women must dress modestly, but it did keep you in order, didn’t it?’ she said, as she took off the offending garment, folding it neatly so that its yellow pattern was displayed. ‘But this ring on my finger will stay there. I made a terrible mistake marrying Zahid before I saw him in his own environment, but I did marry him, and I made my commitment before Allah. He is really a good man and realised I couldn’t handle the Saudi way of life. That is why he let me go and it was only later that I appreciated how much it cost him. I can’t live with him, but that means I can’t live with anyone else.’

‘I bet Zahid isn’t so fussy,’ I said.

‘That isn’t the point. If I hadn’t converted, I could go to church and ask for a divorce. Zahid would never agree to that and it is not possible without his consent. I knew that when I said “yes” to him. The fact is, you can’t have discipline and dispense with it whenever it becomes inconvenient. This is what is wrong with our Christian societies today. People have lost the discipline of their faith in their quest for freedom. They had it once when the Romans fed them to the lions and maybe that was one of the reasons they expanded so rapidly. The breakdown of discipline in our families and among our youth is taking away the firm base on which to build lives and the lack of self-discipline among older people leads to corruption and breakdown of the social structures. Surely truth and commitment to righteousness is Allah’s work.’

‘I don’t see much discipline in some of the Muslim youth. The radical ones run around trying to kill people everywhere,’ I observed. ‘They pretty much do as they like. Anyhow, what is going to happen when your soul gets to Heaven, or Paradise? I hear the Koran says it is full of virgins walking in green fields with running water everywhere. Too late for you to be one of those!’

‘If you were a tribesman in Arabia in the sixth century, I think it would be an attractive proposition,’ she said. ‘And it is only a few of the young who go stir crazy. Much depends on how isolated they feel and who their friends are. But we can’t translate our view of the world to the afterlife. Maybe it is a world of holograms where we can experience what we feel is good; maybe that is what He is trying to tell us. I am sure Paradise, whatever it is, will have something nice for me if ever I am fortunate enough to get there.’

The conversation was getting out of hand. ‘That’s enough for tonight; you must be dog tired,’ I said, getting up to take the coffee cups. ‘I’ve made up the bed in the spare room. I’ll have to get up before daylight to spray the orchard for Flower Caterpillar before the wind gets up. The pest monitor man came on Thursday and said there was a sixty percent infection in the racemes. We will lose the crop if the eggs are allowed to hatch.’

‘Do you have to spray every time he says to?’ she asked.

‘We use an integrated pest management system which drastically reduces the frequency of sprays and hence the chemical contamination, but when the pest reaches critical levels, we have to react immediately,’ I replied. ‘Keep the windows closed in case of drift from the insecticide but find yourself some breakfast when you get up. When I finish spraying, I thought we might drive over to Rainbow Beach for lunch. You could have a swim if you like.’

‘Lunch would be fabulous, but I don’t run to a bikini these days, so I might pass on the swim. Good night and thanks for collecting me,’ she said and gave me a hug. Somehow, it made up for our religious disagreements.



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