The Dreaming breathes: the dreamer dreams

I clothe myself in star-fire and plunge into heavens winds
Soar ardent o’er land sea tree rock river mountain stream
Blunt tangibles stand unique ample joy to heart hand eye

There’s nought can slow my way my eyes doth feast on all
No blind darkness holds me back cruel fate not still my cry

I am thunder I am lightning the fierce storms growling roar
Over valleys of despair I glide cowed gravity holds no sway
Or fear of death be master within such beloved pool of life

No State country faith wealth protect me true sight aware
Long before t’was I colour race patriot saint martyr mortal

I speak the tongues of Angels Devils Gods of war and peace
Invisible to roaming eye of warmongering pigs of mammon
Bide I my time but scream and shout Fellow spirits let it out

This time Cain will not kill Abel timid serpent not tempt Eve
Sacred Earth is always master friend lover sacred-dwelling:
for all we creatures great and small…

post

The Final-Frontier; To infinity & beyond!

           Once Upon a Time – in a land so far away in time and place that it could not be reached via conventional means – was born what those in the community and around the area called; A ‘Child of Time’. The child’s family and community proffered the title as one; ‘Old before its time’, or, a prescient being – at the tender age of six. The child was thought of as odd, most-assuredly ‘gifted’, and born with a calm dignity usually afforded to age, experience, and wisdom’s achievements.

The child was also said to be born with a curiosity, assuaged only by practical, factual knowledge, almost from birth onward. At first, even the parents were uneasy about their child’s very-early, obvious physical and mental abilities. “There was no ‘Goo-goo’ or ‘Gah-gah’ about this child!” t’was oft said fondly by them in those early days. Its bright intelligent eyes followed everything within its limited radius, and the intense curiosity burning from those, ‘old-eyes’: “…took some getting used to!” the parents were heard to murmur quietly.

The two words that most parents most dread, after ten-plus years of such childish curiosity and attempts at comprehension: “Why?” and “But!” and not the usual; “Momma” or “Dadda”, were the first words spoken, and the most commonly-used words from the time the child could speak.

At sixteen months, the child was found ‘reading’ a book, left lying around on the floor after an adult fell asleep while reading on the couch. An act, which reinforced the child’s odd-genius character – since the ‘usually-taught’ skills of reading and comprehension appeared spontaneously, before the child could yet run. Simple comprehension, of reading and understanding their written language, was revealed by the child’s simple queries about what it had ‘read’.

“This child is surely a Prophet!”, one of the many townsfolk stated to all and sundry, after visiting the family and seeing and hearing the miraculous child.

          “What is a Prophet?” the child asked, immediately the visitors had departed. Being an open-minded, ‘hands-on’ oriented family, the parents advised the child to read and so, discover the meaning for themselves. A dictionary, with its plain explanation was not nearly enough. One book on the subject led to another and then another, until the unique child began to understand how and why, the world – and humans – operated as they did. From then onward, the two most common words in its vocabulary began to explode out from an ever-inquisitive, ever-thirsty mind.

Thus, the family household soon became a suppository of knowledge, with books, open and closed, taking up every spare-space, shelf and corner, while the child’s knowledge-base grew rapidly to breathtaking proportions. To this child it seemed, everything, every aspect of written factual evidence was to be devoured, tasted for its integrity against other views of the subject. The growing child’s informal critiques on life, belief-systems, space, people and creatures, became popular gatherings; gatherings that oft caused massive arguments for days afterward, and created yet more renown throughout the land.

The child did not forget the person that had enthusiastically termed it a, ‘Prophet’. After months of consuming and testing the information of the information available, a note [soon becoming a ‘Missive’ from ‘The young Prophet’] was taken via family to that person, explaining not only the child’s response, but its steadily growing facility with language:

          ‘My dear friend; Thank-you for your fervent acclaim recently. I am however, no ‘Prophet’. I have received no visions of future events, other than conclusions drawn from past and present information, available to one and all. I have not as yet, spoken with, or been visited by, any supernatural being in any shape or form, although I would cherish such a unique experience.

I also have a query for you, Sir: Were I such a Seer, to which ‘God’ would I be ascribed to? Each and every spiritual/religious belief-system in our world, sincerely believe, ‘Theirs’, is the true and only God-life-path for humanity. Such narrow view of our world in this day and age of literate, finger-tip information, seems altogether impractical, illogical and possibly unwise, to this mind’.

‘As François-Marie d’Arouet – better known by his pen-name Voltaire – the French writer and public activist explained to the Priest at his own death; Whom, had asked him to renounce the opposing spirit to the ‘good-God’, the ‘fallen-angel’ – Lucifer-Satan – allegedly said: “Now, now, my good man, this is no time to be making enemies.”’

The missive continued: ‘While it sounds almost ludicrous, some of these worshipping-followers have never heard of the other, and yet with sudden knowledge of such would claim such people as, ‘Unbelievers’, minus sight or sound of the ‘other’ peoples, or their belief-systems’; A rather ill-informed view, it seems, when taking a holistic view of our world, which is available to any seeker, I would suggest’.

          ‘Dear friend, I – am merely a pragmatic thinker and voracious reader of human history. I have found that all the world’s knowledge can be gained by searching its written histories and then, making conclusions based on such knowledge’.

‘Also, my fair and dear friend, from my own – admittedly, as-yet limited – view of our world and its own, quite pragmatic nature, one would assume that if there was such a supernatural being as ‘God’, it would assuredly be female, rather than male. I say that because, as ‘Nature’ reveals: only females of the species can give birth; Or create life. Apart from a few fish that can change gender as needs be’.

‘Why then, I ponder – naively, some would say – would the ‘Creator’ be male? A notion totally against Nature’s practical teachings, which we live and die within?’

‘Thus,’ the message continued, ‘one could wonder why such a being is proclaimed as male so often, and in the many and various BS’s that inhabit our world – in such numbers and passions? It seems obvious to this student-traveller, knowledge-seeker, that neither equity, nor pragmatism, has been foremost in mind when creating such an ‘all-powerful male God’.

Could it be that ‘Man’ – and not an infinitely-wise; ‘Father’ spirit creator-being that sees and knows all – created such BS’s, to maintain a hold onto a ‘beneficial-to-males’, man-made Power, ever since men first killed and celebrated such ‘manliness’, while women cooked and put the children to bed?’

*Note on D&C: ‘Doubt and curiosity’, I was told by some fanatical die-hard worshippers, are ‘considered Sins’ within their BS’s. But in fact – I have found, they are only ‘sins’ against blind-faith; Such Faiths (BS’s), that our people, our parents, grandparents – our ‘country-born’, gave to us as factual reality from birth. Never to doubt nor query; or be cast as the ‘Other’. However, to be told: “it just is, The truth! Believe me!” is not enough, or even a genuine answer to this enquiring pragmatic mind’.

‘All such beliefs, for such curious people as I, must be practical, pragmatic within Universal Laws, and tangible, to garner any ‘eye’s wide-open’ support from such a mind.’

          Anzu Imdugud – known simply as ‘Anzu-the-wise’ – was eight years, when they began to question the elder’s and their world’s Life-Beliefs publicly. Powerful Belief-systems, as many and varied as the ‘supposed, ‘non-sentient’ creatures’ that lived on the planet with them, Anzu had discovered. In Anzu’s lands alone, there were two-hundred or more, major ‘Belief Systems’, (BS’s), as young ‘Anzu’ began to call them, with a bold grin at the acronym.

‘In my research, I also found why Jesus, God’s son, was sent to the Middle-East (ME), and not say, to the Australian continent. The various ME Tribes had been warring non-stop since their known-history; Literally killing each other over disagreements about who came from where, and whom then, owned what? And, especially from within their [religious] Belief systems. I note such human blood-sacrifice, and/or proof of ownership of lands, were unnecessary in a country like Australia, where the people lived their pragmatic, appropriately holistic, religion, daily’.’

‘In fact – if you are able to see the intelligence contained within such common Lore – if today’s self-centred world were to return to the holistic Lores such unique people followed, there would be mediation, not war. A pristine environment; Not toxic pollution. Each male adult would be obligated to care-for, and be a guardian of all women and every child in any aspect and times of life. If my research is correct Sir, there would be no child-abuse of any type or description as, from my studies, I realized that when men hunted and women gathered, the people left caring for the children too young to join, had to behave ‘properly’, or be punished severely, even to death; ‘Trust’ for such children’s care daily, was thus absolute.’

That short, sharp response to a local visitor, was shared and then distributed throughout the known lands. It sparked heated discussion far and wide, with several of the more zealous BS’s, declaring Anzu; As the Devil-incarnate – whom should be put to death for utter unadulterated blasphemy. This stunning reaction only made Anzu yet more curious as to such extreme and angry reaction to the pragmatic, reasonable words in the missive.

           Anzu began studying those systems of ‘pure’ Faith; That could never be proven. Which ranged from ‘life’ after death and a utopian Heaven, to reincarnation on the Planet, dependent on life’s good or bad ‘works’, to an all-life judgement, complete with a painful, fiery, everlasting and extremely painful Hell for the wicked, and/or the ignorant ‘unsaved’. And on and on, to mystical beings with strange and wondrous powers that transcended any human ability. And, on to Man-made ‘Gods’ – that must be followed ‘to the letter’, of its [man-made] decrees.

And on yet again, to an all-inclusive, Nihilism: [rejects aspects of life or existence, particularly knowledge, objective truth, or meaning] and thus; ‘Anything’ goes. For the Nihilist, there is no consequence from act or word: a perception that Anzu felt went against the 3rd Law of relativity; proven by assessable ‘Gravity’. ‘“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” A tangible, Universal law, which Anzu believed applied to physical, spiritual and mental activities alike; Like it, or not! “It’s a much-misunderstood, practical, Universal law,” Anzu explained simply.

‘Anything-goes’, was not restricted to nihilists, Anzu understood quickly. Several of the Faiths were so passionate in their particular BS, they would slaughter ‘unbelievers’, while calling out their ‘noble and good’ deity’s name. Anzu believed this type of decree was a major fault with such ‘man-made’ belief systems. “A man termed a ‘God’ or His or Her Prophet, seemed like a definition of insanity when perceived through the practical Universal Law’s, untinted ‘eye-glasses’”, Anzu said, in response to several loud BS followers that disagreed.

“Any ‘man’”, Anzu mused aloud, “that has no genuine idea of the Universal Laws that applied to our Earth, and our Universe, could, and have, led such followers into a frenzy of wrath that is simply astounding in its irrelevance to humanity’s holistic struggles to adapt, survive, and ultimately become enhanced, improved, enlightened.”

Anzu also knew that several of the large, incredibly-powerful Faiths – unacknowledged as ‘belief-systems’ (such as various political-systems), skewed away from the spiritual-sacred concept altogether. Yet, their Faith in self-made power and profit was as strong and determined as the titled ‘Terrorist’ Faiths worldwide. And, they were just as merciless when it came to anyone or thing standing in their way; Those ‘Unbelievers’, of their particular belief-system.

          Anzu was, as stated, a practical person and what they found – merely within the marvellous gifts the body provided – was that sight, touch, smell, hearing, all the body’s offerings; Exclaimed a wonder of life that even the aging body with its failing senses, could not suppress.

“Daily, practical illustrations of the superb human-body at work: that worn and brittle thing of water, flesh, bone and skin – yet worked as well, better even, than a man-made machine of half their age,” Anzu mused. “The human body was one unique miracle among a thousand other daily miracles. The rather miraculous facts stared out from every scent, sight, touch and sound, we take for granted daily,” Anzu mused nonchalantly.

“Why?” Anzu asked, after speaking with various representatives of said Faiths. “Why the need for something to believe in, more than what was before your eyes, ears, nose, your touch; The incredible sensitivity of a seventy to eighty-year-old skin and hairs that yet tell you an ant is crawling on a leg? Is that not miraculous? Is not our own, and the incredible forms of life around us, enough in themselves?” Anzu queried those frowning believers sincerely.

“When one stopped and contemplated,” Anzu mused to one and all. “Is not your daily existence at least, as miraculous as an Afterlife we know nothing of? From the creation of babies from sperm and egg, to the multitudes of amazing animals and insects, to seeds expanding a thousand-fold into trees that shelter, shade and feed, and on to unique liquid oceans and other planets – and Space: At night; A unique mysterious artist at work every night for our pleasure and enjoyment; And, for directions to the knowledgeable watchers.”

          To Anzu then, what life was – holistically, and right in front of them daily – was enough to satisfy a-hundred lifetimes of curiosity, angst and fears.

What Anzu found in the majority of the Faiths, was that ‘Death’ was a terrifying word. An experience to be feared; It was the literal; “Unknown path, with ghosts, goblins and/or immortal Angels, and a God or Gods, awaiting the arrival of yet another physically-spent life-force.”

“Yet,” – Anzu mused to those that would listen – “that ‘Unknown’ is where we came from. We didn’t know to fear previously – before birth, as far as we know. Yet, with all the daily miracles occurring non-stop before our senses, we fear the time when this pragmatic body is no longer able to support our mind, our spirit, our ‘soul’, if you will.”

“Shall we then be fearful of the cycle that starts so mysteriously and ends in rest from the worn body and, often, irrational world around us?” Anzu asked.

“Every single thing in our universe is born and ‘dies’. Yet, we humans have feared, despised and hated ‘death’ for so long, it seems that death has won a victory in a battle we didn’t know we were in.”

“What if?” Anzu suggested rather boldly, for one so young. “We humans did not have such a negative concept of the parting of the ways? Not a sense of loss, grief, fear and confusion – prior to, and when our time comes – but joy, at the chance had to experience such unique Life: not fearing such losses, but entertaining a genuine acceptance of the provable, Universal laws; All things are ‘born’, and all things end, and; All things are always part of the whole, as our universe tells us.”

“In the long-run,” Anzu said, “even Stars die, Galaxies change, fade and expire. Planets, and people we never knew existed, die; But perhaps not ‘end’, as We think of it.”

“What are ‘We’, when compared to such grandiose elements here on Earth and above and beyond?” Anzu asks. “Perhaps, one day, instead of loss, angst and fear, we could find a simple, joyful gratitude at the end of the physical? ‘From whence we came – thus do we return’; AFTER!” Anzu says to never forget; “A unique, one-off, privileged and tangible Life-experience, here on the Blue planet…”

Footnote by family member; Nikasi Imdugud;

          ‘Anzu Imdugud lived to the ripe young age of 19 years, when an assassin – rumoured to be sent from a cabbalistic group of major Religions – shot and killed the ‘ever-more-popular’ pragmatic-philosopher, while Anzu was speaking to a crowd about genuine equity for all living creatures.’

‘Anzu is survived by his words and other pragmatic thinkers…’

An End.

post

Secrets of Mulgara

 

This tale came about because I live close to such a man-made lagoon, as “Mulgara”, with man-made islands for bird sanctuaries. There are very large Python in the area, although it was the traditional Totem statues created by the local ancAu people, on the side of the lagoon, gave me the idea for this tale. Hope you enjoy it 🙂 

Secrets of Mulgara

Prologue:

          Late afternoon, Qld., Australia; A burnt-orange western sky calls birds of all types and description back to the man-made lagoon and surrounds. It’s the safest place around at night with numerous tall bushy native gum trees, and well-lit by electric-light throughout the lagoon’s park area. Mid-lagoon, there are islands made especially for birds with large trees to roost and nest, so no pet or feral-cats can sneak up on them. No dogs can reach them. The ever-present enemy, Snake, will have to swim a long way to and from; And, there are no snakes on their islands – all the birds, from tiny swallows to black-Kite and majestic Sea-Eagle, Ibis and Pelican ensure a snake and water-rat free area.

Night falls gently, like an extra-fine translucent silk-scarf thrown over the entire area. On the largest man-made island, the larger birds finally go quiet. Perching three-metres above the ground and water, they and their nests are always safe at night while the baby-snatching Kite rest in their own tree-home nests. Except for the odd angry flutter, squark of fright, or crash of broken branches from a startled Ibis, their home remains at the usual level of quiet at this time of year. Lower down, ducks perch quietly, full of grain, grass and any unlucky grub or beetle that crossed their path.

Below them again, the stick-thin-legged Oyster-catchers drowse on the ground behind the tree-roots – out of the cool wind blowing across from the sea, a kilometre away.

One thirsty Ibis, unbalanced from its perch by a dreaming neighbour that suddenly leapt into the air and squawked, dropped from its branch down to the shoreline. The big bird dipped its long head down, turned it sideways to scoop water down and – was abruptly gone. There were a few new ripples but no other sign the bird had even been there. The various look-out birds at that spot hadn’t heard or seen anything to make them call danger. The night continued peacefully, minus one large bird.

Half a kilometre away, in a sheltered cove, a shell-duck rested on its perch with several flock-members. The bird swayed with the movement of the tree-branch, moving with the wind half-awake, half asleep. The water against the shore here was glass-still. Now and then it noted its own reflection on the water’s star-shiny surface. Movement right beneath it caught one half-opened eye.

Its reflection seemed to move, break up, then ripple outward like something was rising beneath it. Before the duck could do anything, a giant black head with red maw open wide, emerged like magic from its own reflection. There was a soft liquid sound like a bird had snuffled in sleep, then silence once more. A tiny whirlpool formed below the other birds’ sleep-perching there, though no sight or sound of danger alarmed them; However, there was now a gap in their ranks…

Chapter 1

          No-one in the busy-busy modern world we inhabit notices a few wild creatures going missing occasionally. No-one counted them or kept tabs on the many and various wild birds that inhabited the area season to season. Many were migratory birds, here for a short stop-over and on to somewhere else within weeks or days; And the birds couldn’t talk. However, soon a few local dogs went missing. The locals and the Police assumed they’d been let out at night for a quick run and to do their business – away from home – and been stolen;

“It happens much more often than the public think,” Police said sincerely to the owners. Later, several large ‘Piggers’ – big rough raw mongrels, used for hunting wild pigs – went missing. They too, were written off by the Police as most-probably ‘stolen’ by other Piggers; “A frequent occurrence,” they repeated…

Something this way comes

          Over that year, dogs of all shapes and sizes went missing – infrequently – from around the beautiful lagoon-park and, always at night. One night, or early morning to be precise, a drunken youth – Jamie – was staggering through the park on his way home from a party. He was on his mobile talking to one of his mates about a girl he’d met, when he spotted a huge Roo on the banks of the lagoon.

He was telling a mate who was still partying, how large and well-muscled the Roo was; “Stood friggin taller than me – with bloody huge, bloody massive shoulder-muscles!” he told his friend. There seemed to be some kind of commotion at the water’s edge: And the big muscled Roo disappeared – into the lagoon, he assumed and told his mate breathlessly. Jamie ran toward the commotion and said the last he saw of it, was the silhouette of its legs, kicking upside-down over the shallow water, and then nothing!

Young party-man Jamie was not believed. He was a known drug-user and had been busted for selling and using Ice recently; Not the frozen type. Pretty-well everyone – including the Policeman he’d rung when he got home in near hysterics – believed he’d been hallucinating. There was nothing in the entire area that could pull a fully-grown male Kangaroo into the water. Not in this area. Not within the local man-made fresh-water lagoon. It was only six, or seven feet at its deepest, with most of its large area being just a few feet deep.

There were ‘Saltys’ – salt-water Crocs – around the area on the coast and in mangroves. But they had to breathe air. There was no way a big Salty worth its salt, would ever get enough food or be able to stay hidden in a lagoon of that size, it was believed. When a few more dogs went missing, the Rangers were called in to check the area for ‘any’ danger. The Lagoon was used regularly by locals and tourists alike and thus, the local Council wanted to ensure people that it was as ‘safe-as-houses’. The Rangers found no trace of a Salty, night or day around the lagoon, nor in the tiny creek that flowed on to the sea from one end of the lagoon, which was now dry. “Lagoon: ‘safe-as-houses’!” the Dept., assured Council and public…

The swamp

          Twenty years previous, this lagoon had been a fresh-meet-salt-water swamp; An environment that housed a particular set of creatures that thrived in such an area. Large gum-trees were home to Koala, Possum, Goanna and birds that knew generations of life, death, fights and fear in the high-rise heights of their swaying, windy tree-homes. There were small bushy shrubs down to the reeds and bullrushes that housed all manner of beasts living in a natural harmony with the land. So too, the ancient Australian people that lived around the area and respected all the creatures as they did their own.

A Python family ruled among the land animals. Sea-Eagle, Kite, and all the other Sky-swoopers could, and would take snake young if they showed themselves during daylight hours. But Mom and Dad were far too big for even the mighty Sea-Eagle or Dingo to take on. The local ancient Australians [anc-Au] from the area, held the Python and the Brolga as Totems, because they too had lived – and died – there, for millennia. One family of python had survived through flood, fire and drought, although the coming of the busy-busy two-leg changed everything. Whereas the Python could once go abroad in daylight hours, Kings of the land and swamp. Soon, they slept during the day and only ventured out at night.

Instinct however, was as strong as the largest python’s sinuous body of pure muscle and while the destruction of their home drove almost all other creatures away, including big-brother Brolga, the python family moved away only until the noisy two-legs and their stinking, growling machines were gone. What they found on return was a large man-made, fresh-water lagoon and food aplenty; Only useable at night. However, as more and more of the strange busy-busy two-legs arrived and stayed, with their animals and machines, food became a little scarcer but still enough to breed – and breed they did…

Monster

          Rugunda the scrub-Python, slept the day away – away from the now-dangerous light and busy-busy two-legs. She was waiting patiently for the sun to drop. Dark-time, so she could hunt. It had been over a week since she last ate, but that was a very decent feed. She almost couldn’t fit back in the hole the men had made – perfect for her – when they made the small canal for flood-over-flow and packed the sides with large rocks, so floods would not wash the banks away. That restricting entry was also because she was carrying eggs; A lot of eggs, coupled with a full belly. The temperature in her home-cave under the rocks was perfect for sleeping – and, for raising young.

At present, she had mated and was caring for around forty eggs down in her bunker.

The last feed had been so good, it had sustained her until tonight. The delicacies around the ‘Oasis’, as Rugunda saw it – which others called Mulgara Lagoon – were varied and numerous. Baby Water-hen along the shores were her favourite. Because of the ease of capture. They slept on top of the reeds just above the water in shallow tributaries, where it should have been safe. Her six-metres of sixteen-centimetre-thick pure muscle was made for fast silent movement, in water or on land. Coming up slowly from beneath them gave them no chance to escape her mighty jaws. Tonight it would be duck-delicacy, or failing that, several tender young water-hen.

Rugunda had seen and felt the Rangers probing for brother Crocodile. They’d walked right over her home, her nest. She had kept silent and still in her underground lair while they searched and searched on land and in water. She’d popped her big multi-coloured head out at night to see them spotlighting from a boat; Looking for the tell-tale glow of red eyes gazing indolently back at their spot-lit, smelly and noisy arrival. Rugunda knew Croc well. They gave each other a wide berth when they did run into each other; Both wary of being hurt in a struggle that would cause instant survival issues. Rugunda could drown croc, and croc could instil serious damage if it got hold with their strong jaws and teeth. No! She – Rugunda, was the ‘croc’ here: the monster that show itself rarely, and struck with lethal execution.

Tonight though, the huge serpent was curious as well as hungry. Rugunda was old enough that curiosity would and could take over the hunting instinct infrequently, and tonight, she wanted to visit the hard cold replica of her kind that the modern ancAu people had constructed in memory of their past familiarity. There was something about the spot they were placed on that stirred age-old, instinctive memories. And recently, one of the old-people’s descendants had been doing busy-busy work on and around it. Tonight, that innate curiosity would change her own, and a young man’s life forever.

Johnathan Two-can

          John, Johnathan, Johnny-two-can or, ‘JTC’ as he was called by friends and neighbours, was also a curious being. The missing dogs had woken that curiosity and he’d followed the search for a Croc diligently, only to come to the same conclusions. Any decent size Salty worth its salt would have been spotted by now; Thus, he thought of the fictional Sherlock Holmes famous quotes for Detection work: “start from the beginning by working with the information you have and then begin to work on a reasonable solution. Whatever you find, however illogical the answer may be, you will be on your way to the truth.” It was sound advice and JTC went back through the stories, even talked to party-boy Jamie, who still swore blind he’d seen a fully-grown Roo disappear that night.

“Well bugger-this for joke!” Johnathan thought, after several failed attempts to spot something, anything, from the facts at hand. “I’ll get one of them animal spy-cameras, stick it on trees and posts around the lagoon and see what the hell is moving around there at night,” he thought practically. And, on that night, the spy-camera was on one of the totems Rugunda was curious about. JTC was the ancAu two-leg that had been fussing around the over-size statue of her kind…

Holy-jumpin-white-man!

          What JTC saw when he checked the digital film the next day revved his heart to bursting but shocked his brain to stand-still. The camera had been set at decent height, on one of the totems facing the lagoon shore. It took in 180-degrees and had infrared capabilities to capture Hi-quality video, even at night. The spy-cam had taken a few pics at first: it’s E-senses ‘spotting’ movement from the shore-line.

As the dark shadow of a huge creature got closer, the video-cam kicked in. But as the massive snake – a huge, no! Gigantic scrub-python – came even closer, actually slid up and over the concrete python-totem, it’s bulk obliterated visual meaning. It showed what probably were rippling scales as big as saucers. There was one or two seconds of a multi-coloured head, thrice the size of a soccer-ball and what must have been its long quivering pink-red tongue. Then, it showed a massive dark shape moving away – back to the lagoon-shore where it disappeared into the night.

“What to do?” Johnathan mused, sitting in front of his laptop. “If I go to the authorities, it’ll be bloody ‘snakes-on-a-plane’, all over again,” he assumed from practical experience of most people’s innate fear of serpents. After sifting through the various pathways open to him, Jonathan had an epiphany. “I’ll go and see the oldest Murri fellow round here, and show him the vid, and ask for his and his mob’s help!” he thought, and immediately threw his laptop into its carry-bag and took off like a startled Turtle, to find the person that may be able to help…

Secret lives

          Everyone he spoke to pointed him at an older – woman, not a man as he’d envisaged. But when he met old ‘Aunty Elsie’ for the first time, his entire outlook changed. This old humble person was dignity personified. However, when she saw the video, her eyes opened wide – in pure shock at first – JTC thought. She spoke something beautiful in language. Then tears formed and Aunty reached an old shiny black hand toward the screen they’d watched the footage on. “Buryldanji! Ole-one Nulla,” she whispered breathlessly, turning to look at Two-can with amazement in her suddenly-bright old eyes.

“What can we do, Aunty?” he asked, pleading for an answer that might save the big python from the fate he knew in his heart would occur if the authorities found out.

“Ceremony boy,” Elsie responded after some thought. “My ole ones used to talk to them big fellas – way back!” she explained. “That place where the totems sit now is where they met – there was plenty of food to go round, so no need to kill each other. In-fact,” she told him, “they lived together peacefully; Sharing the bounty, it was said,” Elsie explained. Her old lined face wrinkled in thought. “Mebbe, we catch-im fat-one Wallaby, an’ offer that meal to that big-ole-Nulla-one; Used to be part of Ceremony,” she explained, before looking into JTC’s eyes. “Mebbe, it still knows? Remembers through blood? Mebbe-not… But worth a try, eh boy?” she said, giving the youth some longed-for hope.

“Bloody-oath!” Jonathan exclaimed, and immediately apologised for swearing in front of Elsie. But then his face fell. “But-um, who would we get to, like… talk… um, to the Python… sorta-thing?” he said. Elsie grinned: responded instantly; “You! Boy!” she said. “You the one found it; You the one the Spirit showed!” she said, and laughed at the look on his face. “But! But! I can’t even talk any language!” JTC said, looking seriously at the elder, who grinned at him as if he were a tad ‘slow’. “You really think that them ole snake understand any language, my boy?” she said, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

“They understand vibrations very well, my son,” she told him. “Your voice makes the vibrations in any ole language and that what snake feels,” she said. “Big, old fella like that one,” she explained, chin-lipping at the frozen image on the laptop, “E feel your heart-beat, pulse; Know whether you speak true or false even from your scent,” she told him, alleviating this new angst…

Ceremony

          A few short-nights later, Jonathan stood over a small ceremonial fire with six local elders – including Aunty Elsie. On the side closest to the lagoon lay a fresh, road-killed small Roo. At JTC’s suggestion, they had let the Council and Police know that there was a Ceremony occurring at that place on that night. Explained that there would be no danger from fire, as they needed only the smallest of fires for this particular ceremony.

That it was only six elders of the local ancAu people and, that it was important for a healing process and – if possible, to be kept secret from all else. The ceremony – they explained – would last a few hours at most and probably never occur again. The Police or Council didn’t really seem to care – but warned that the area was dry, and that an out-of-control fire would be extremely dangerous to the local properties in the area; Otherwise, ‘go for your bloody lives’, were the similar reactions.

It was a beautiful, quiet, clear night. Twinkling stars above provided some small light and a slight wind blew softly from the south-east; perfect for their small fire placed in a protected area. The same place a small fire had been lit at that place for thousands upon thousands of years for other ceremonies. Aunty Elsie, three elder gentlemen and two more elderly Aunties, sat cross-legged around the small fire; Gender-equity for ‘balance’, they explained.

They’d now seen the incredible footage, and all seemed much more prepared for such a unique meeting than young JTC imagined possible. It came to him that these – and perhaps many of the ancAu elders – knew a great deal of things they never spoke of unless absolutely necessary. Jonathan was already breathing heavily. His palms were sweating as if he was about to go into battle. Although, the elder’s serenity for what was possibly to come slowly washed his angst away.

As soon as the fire was burning steadily, the women began to sing. It wasn’t any song Johnny-two-can had heard before. And, he’d heard a lot, being interested in the different songs for various ceremonies. When they were harmonizing in the old language, the men began to commingle grunts, birds-calls and a deep guttural moaning that sent shivers through Johnathan’s entire body.

Johnathan assumed they’d be there for a few hours at least, trying to draw the beast out, but within twenty-minutes, the elders facing the lagoon sat straighter, obviously seeing movement at the lagoon’s dark edge. JTC was sitting to one side and froze as he saw the starlit, monster-sized head gleaming dully, as it moved slowly toward their small company.

‘Holy-bloody-white-man! It’s really happening!’ the youth thought; Pinned to the ground where he sat by a mixture of awe and terror. As it came even closer, Jonathan could see it was an incredibly striking creature. It was so big, its scales looked like armour and its stunning earthy colours were simply mesmerizing as it moved sinuously toward them.

It looked very healthy, although it had a few scars across its head – from fighting something its own size, Jonathan imagined in genuine respect. The monster scrub-Python slowed at the offering; but then stood up until its head was three-metres above the ground. It turned its great head sideways – gazing at those that had summoned it with almost human awareness in its huge, pupil-slit eyes. Jonathan was pulled from his awed reverie by Aunty Elsie’s voice, pushed softly at him.

“Now boy, speak your mind,” she said, as the snake’s huge red and purple tongue flicked out over the Roo. Jonathan naturally stood to speak and the great head instantly zeroed in on him. ‘It’s like being back in the days of the freakin dinosaurs!’ JTC thought, as he gulped, took a deep breath and began…

Serpent talk?

          “Um? G’day ole-um… mate… and er? Welcome?” he began, not knowing what else to start with. Then, haltingly, he began to voice his concerns.

“Ah… See, well… I’m a local Murri, live near here – come from a mob down south, but I saw you on a spy-camera and…” and that was a far as he got, because that huge friggin head with a half a mile of muscle behind it [or so it seemed to Jonathan two-can right then] was suddenly right in front of him. The snake had just moved its head to him in one silent moment of movement; Its huge powerful neck was now above the elders, yet singing, but now so softly, it was a soft drone of voiced music.

The huge forked tongue slid out from between the great jaws – jaws that he could see now, had natural indentations where the various teeth were, inside the maw. ‘Some type of natural toughened protection for its mouth – an armoured mouth fer god’s sake!’ JTC thought, as the wet tongue moved daintily around him without actually touching.

Having ‘felt’ him out, the snake moved its head back over the elders. It gave them the same tongue treatment, then turned its great attention back to Jonathan – as if to say: “Well? Go on then boy.” A huge sigh seemed to come from those huge nostril holes as it waited for the rest of the story, now that it seemed to trust the gathered two-legs. JTC unclenched his buttocks, took a deep a breath as he was able to at this moment of not quite daring to breathe, and started again, without the introductions.

“Um? To make a long story short, you’ve been taking local people’s dogs,” – here, JTC automatically made the deaf-signing for ‘dog’, by tapping his thigh and snapping his fingers though for why, he had no idea except that he was pretty-well shit-scared. “…uh! Dogs from the area, and you’re attracting a lot of attention – and, um? I um… we, don’t want to see you hurt or killed – so, I sought out these elders [he chin-lipped at the elders] and they said, I should tell you – ah? You-know?” he said stupidly, but continued anyway. “And, anyway, that’s why we called to you,” he said.

The monster serpent seemed to regard him silently for a moment. Then, having decided something in that great brain, it moved its head to Aunty Elsie and gave her the lightest of nudges, turned and began to move away, toward the small canal that was once a small creek running into the swamp.

It waited until Elsie got to her feet and began to follow, then slid off toward the rocks on the bank there. Jonathan moved to follow, concerned for Aunty Elsie’s welfare, but one of the other women stopped him with a glance and a tiny shake of her old white-haired head. “Nulla no tap you, boy,” she murmured, and Jonathan sat back on the snake Totem, though he couldn’t help but glance in the direction they’d gone. He could still see their very dissimilar silhouettes in the star-light, but what was happening there he had no idea.

A few long minutes later, Aunty returned by herself; the over-sized scrub-Python gone; Faded into the night from where they had stood together. “She mother – got eggs underground there,” Elsie explained to JTC’s dropped jaw and sudden inability to speak. Aunty Elsie began to dismantle the small fire. “Can’t leave till they hatch,” she explained further. “Eat only birds till then,” she told them, ‘straight from the serpent’s mouth’, it seemed, by the ready acceptance of the other elders who were tidying up any mess – and Her tracks. As they walked toward the cars, Jonathan – yet stunned by ‘every-bloody-thing’ – remembered the Roo-carcass was still there.

“Oh! We’d better move that Roo before we go, eh?” he said, turning to retrace his steps back to the Totems. “What Roo?” Aunty Elsie said, turning with him. JTC searched but there was no Roo carcass lying on the ground!

“How! When? What-the…?” the youth said, turning back to Elsie.

“Let me put it this way, boy,” Elsie said to him, as they headed toward the cars and the grinning elders waiting. “If mama wanted to eat ‘You’, you wouldn’t know it till you-fla was halfway down her throat – head first,” she told him, to various sounds of agreement from the others gathered around one of the cars. “She’s a hunter; Not a gammin snake from the movies and, she’s been here for quite a while – unseen; Except for you, my boy,” she said with a wink that caused a giggle from the others.

“I think she likes you boy,” Elsie said slyly to more laughter, before she continued. “So, if you’re curled up in your bed – what? Half a kilometre from here? One night you might think all your dreams have come true, with someone cuddling up to you – open your eyes propa-quick boy!” she said to an explosion of laughter from the group…

Dreamtime

          Jonathan went to bed that night mentally and physically exhausted, but incredibly relieved. It seemed like a dream – all that had happened and; ‘What’, was living and having babies – basically, just across the road from where he lived. In bed, he looked once more at the video of the giant beast – just to assure himself it hadn’t been some wild dream; But there it was in living colour. JTC turned off the light and began to drift off…

The dream came on instantly. One moment, Jonathan was falling comfortably into blessed sleep; The next, he was back at the Totems. The totem creatures – the statues a man had reproduced, were now alive. They were dancing. The Brolgas were bobbing and weaving, and intermittently throwing their huge wings out wide.

First one, then the other leapt up over their own height into the air and used those huge wings to land softly in the Brolga dance. Though there was no sound, no music backing them, JTC thought he could hear click-sticks and spears being used to keep time. The huge concrete Python was in its right place but now, it was swaying in time with the bird’s dancing. It’s large snake-eyes were twinkling like the far-away stars above.

Jonathan suddenly realised he was not alone; not one, but three, stunning bare-breasted ancAu women – thighs covered in… ‘Starlight’, was the closest Jonathan could describe – were there, gazing back at him with love, knowledge and understanding. He looked to their bare feet and noted happily that none were touching the earth. Suddenly ‘everything’ became much clearer. JTC found a weight – he hadn’t known was even there – suddenly lift, move out and away from him. Then he too was weightless; floating seamlessly within the sparkling atoms that made everything solid and; ‘Unsolid’, he abruptly realised.

Together now – including this new incredibly wide-seeing, all-encompassing Jonathan – they sway with the dancing motion of the Brolga and Python. And now, Jonathan could hear the backing beat clearly. He felt like going absolutely crazy – dancing like a wild-eyed madman; Then he was. His feet were stomping like pistons at ninety to the minute. His hands and arms wanted to explode in joy and exhilaration. Off-beat hand-clapping took control and every-time his hands came together, sparks flew from their fast, powerful meetings.

Suddenly, Jonathan remembered the where and why of tonight’s meeting. He slowed, looking to see ‘the other spirits?’ There with him – that he’d absolutely, totally forgotten about, ‘for God knows how long,’ he thought shamedly as he came to himself. The others gathered had actually stopped to watch his outrageous, athletic performance, he saw now. But what greeted him was wonderful warm smiles, some small mirth from the women, and delighted bobs from the big birds, while even the giant Python’s large yellow-slitted eyes seemed to be spinning in time from merely watching his antics.

One of the Brolgas stepped and bobbed closer to Johnny. Then it spoke in what JTC ‘knew’ was an ancient ancAu language, although tonight, this special night, Jonathan understood it clearly. “When your circle finds its end and beginning, you will join us here; Man of empathy,” it said and bowed. “And; Of fervent dancsssssss,” the great concrete Python added…

End-dreams…

 

 

 

 

post

Moments

Moments

Prologue;

          I’d been dreaming… I contemplated lazily upon waking, slowly becoming a sentient being once more; Just like so many times before. 24.5 thousand-days [give or take a few ‘lost’, here and there] in fact, coz I’d counted them just yesterday. It had been one of those good dreams; Causing an irrepressible smile, as consciousness returned for yet another day.

I could still smell the subtle scent of warm-pressed sunlight, seeping down from high above onto and into me: on the slopes of a sweet-scented mountainside, where I’d found myself. Sweet, sweet sunlight, cooled to perfection by a gentle breeze that flowed downhill with the water in a tiny gurgling, pristine creek, touched me almost physically; Or, with a sweeter touch than usual, I mused.

A pair of swift, long-bodied, multihued insects caught my eye as they turned through the air at breakneck speeds. They darted above and across the running water, before abruptly landing on a wide vertical blade of long grass that bowed groundward with their tiny weight, almost to the water. Beneath them, clear sparkling water rippled over eons of water-smoothed stones; Some, the size of small boulders and some, fruit and marble size, right down to those long-lived, rolling pebbles, yet wearing down from their original size.

I love rocks! From mountainous to marble size – rough-hewn or smooth – they have always fascinated and delighted me with their strength and perseverance.

Just above the rippling water, the insects were now motionless but for the flutter of an occasional wing; Joined in insect-love, abdomen to abdomen, on grass that has already ‘polli-mated’, and now seeding along the shallow creek’s sand, thick moss and red-rock shore. Lush, green grass carpeted the ground from the creek-bank to a small thick, deep-green forest, a little further up the mountain.

The view, the scents, the warm-hearted ambience, lent the scene a sweet tranquility, backed up by the half-heard beauty of gossamer-light liquid, trickling downstream on its magical journey from mountain-spring to sea. I can remember seeing, smelling, and hearing that much of it in intricate detail

WTF?

           Then, I woke up again – properly this time? I wondered. Outside the house?

Not in my bed – but lying on the lawn?

          The grass beneath me – I sensed, rather than felt – was wet and cold against every part of my body that touched the ground. The eerie quietness around about sounded dire, in contrast to the lovely dream’s sound and sights and beauty. Whatever this was? Dream or reality? It was pretty-much the exact opposite of the beautiful dream-state I had been dragged from. Dammit! It’s a work day too, I think? thought I.

I seemed to be awake this time, although if not mistaken, I really was; Lying on the grass, outside my brother’s house? The house I had rented from him and lived in for the past few years; Ever since the last break-up… The song; “Alone again – naturally…” suddenly floated by my inner ears. I had a strong premonition that I was suddenly, really and truly alone under the starry night sky, and that, around me, the entire neighborhood was empty. Not just sleeping until the sun rose and ‘life’ chugged back into being – but gone – somewhere?

I tried with all my might, but I could not seem to wake properly, nor stir my body to movement to pull me from the dream, as sometimes happened. Oh! One of those dreams! When I’m trying to shake my silly-self awake, but can’t, no-matter my desperate struggles! I thought then. A deep hunger from down in the bottom of my stomach ached badly for something vaguely remembered: on the tip of my tongue – something I could not quite pin down, yet sensed I knew of instinctively.

It’ll come to me soon, I thought, trying to relax, as I peered around me…

          In the dim light, I began to see dark shapes coalescing. I found I could look around to examine this obvious dream-state also. Suddenly, I saw a man-shaped form, sitting against the side of the house and flinched in fright, before recognising the contours of the shape. My brother, ‘Inkin-Willis’, as we called him, was sitting against the wall of the house, alone. And! He wasn’t looking at me at all; it was as if I wasn’t there with him.

Oh man! There was something very wrong here… I twigged, and tried to gulp a breath that I couldn’t feel at all…

          Me bro was just sitting in the dark with his hands on his head. He seemed to be having trouble breathing. Love and concern seemed to move the dream-me closer. I wanted to hug and hold him, but then I realised he was talking to himself, not praying or crying, as I assumed – and I focused on the words that were bubbling up from somewhere deep inside his suddenly crushed form.

“Well bro, no more pain,” he said to himself, and grinned morosely.

He was bloody right as well! The pain that I had lived with for sixty-plus years, was gone. I searched furiously for any well-known tingling sensations, but even the memory of them was gone. In its place, was a vacuum of disbelief and relief, although listening to Inkin-Willis further, brought a thick solid lump of my heart up into my ‘dream-throat’? I wondered vaguely.

“I’ll miss you, big bro,” he said quietly. “We had the bloody best times, and you! You did everything your dreams led you to – at a 1000-miles-per-hour,” he murmured and laughed. “Not like a lot of people I knew, and know… Bloody wasted-space self-centred bloody people!” he swore, and seemed to look right at me. “But really, I feel guilty bro,” he said abruptly and sobbed aloud again. “I should have got all the bloody house wiring checked before you moved in,” he murmured and thumped a frustrated fist against the wall…

WTFx3000%!

          I was not breathing… It was not from shock, I realized then. I was not breathing, because I could not: No freakin lungs! Nor body! Nor breath, to make sounds, fer god’s sake! Some type of cosmic joke? It ain’t funny! I thought angrily.

Apprehensively, I began to look around – and note the many things I had missed before. Tendrils of grey and white smoke were rising from various parts of the house – and the dim light had hidden the fire and smoke damage, I could easily  distinguish now. In fact, where my younger brother sat was one of the only places left untouched by the fire. A bit of white-wall amongst the soot-blackened house…

          The fire that had burned hot and thick with smoke, and took me to the beautiful dream, from where I had woken, here on the grass…

Disbelief don’t help

          It cannot be! I thought, suddenly urgent to ‘feel’, to touch something to snap me back to reality; Anything! I thought desperately from my shock.

I just cannot be dead! This can’t be right! I’m not ready, for God’s sake! I have a lot more I want to do and finish. I have not finished those books – my stories! I wanted to see my grandchildren! My own children, a final time! It just freakin cannot be! I thought again, as my brother’s weeping became loud and real; smashing my senses and hopes along with any future here. I had a thought. A desperate one, but a genuinely solid thought of some miraculous survival nonetheless.

I threw myself at the mercy of the Christian God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, anyone…

          “God? Are you there? Look! Apparently, I am dead and don’t have any more time left as a human on Earth?” I mumbled crazily. “I-um… see? Well, God, well, the ah… ‘TBH’, the timing isn’t really-good – like, it doesn’t work for me at the mo, see? Any um… chance of going back a few hours? I could go out, and miss the fire here?” I said, hopelessly desperate for another few moments. “See, then; I will have some Time; A little time … just a little more time! For God’s sake! Speak to me if you’re there! Please! Just a little more time! I didn’t know! It’s not fair! Please! I will even take all the pain back with the few minutes extra to say goodbye … and…”

          The thoughts faded and the desperate cry and belated promises were swallowed by my imagined spectre of death – that laughed and pointed to the absence of breath and flowing blood in me.

‘No heartbeat – no heartbeat!’ it laughed cruelly in time to my heart’s absent beat.

I waited, though there was no miracle heart-beat nor answer from God; except for the echo of the sweet wind and tinkling water sounds from the earlier dream. “Oh for Go… sorry, for Your sake,” I pleaded. “I’m much bigger than a friggin Sparrow!” I said stupidly. Then, I remembered the dream that had carried me ‘over’, and away from loved ones, friends, Earth, Moon, animals; So peacefully and quickly. Painlessly.

Yet still, I tried desperately to move – in the physical. To let my brother know how I felt. That I loved and respected him. That it was not his fault. It must have been faulty wiring, or a rat chewing wires. I had had the whole house checked when I moved in, little bro. It is not your fault

          Hold on one goldarn minute! I thought. How come I’m thinking? was the second shocking thing that came to mind. Abruptly, an acceptance of non-life – but not death’s imagined nothingness – comes driving in hard, crushing hopes and dreams aside in an earthquake of thundering reality. Though strangely, also carrying the scent of something Newborn, in an aftertaste that is becoming stronger by the moment; Wow! I mused – if belatedly. The bloody ‘Moments’, seem to mean so much more! Now! Why did I never see that before? Stands out like the proverbial dog’s balls, now! thought I – and then pushed my thoughts toward my brother with all the might and spirit left me.

Little bro, it was just my time. Ha! Talk about arrogance and ignorance! Thought I would bloody know, lil’ bro! Thought I would sense the friggin’ end drawing near and be able to say goodbye – and, how much I loved and respected them all: my family and those life-long friends I would now, not be seeing again. It was a stupid homespun fantasy, Inkin-Willis! Life is a gift – given without guarantees or timeframe. Live it, my beautiful bright and shining lil’ bro! Yep! Like that stupid ‘NIKE’ ad says: just live and enjoy, while the bloody Moment is still there, bro, I think at him, and want desperately to say…

          I try even harder to somehow get across the barrier of life death and time to his dark drooping form, but it’s useless.

“Y’all had your time bro; a trillion moments,” I hear death murmur truthfully…

          Something is changing around me; around him – my bro; Us. I quake with innate fear of the unknown. Surprisingly, the changes do not hurt me physically, mentally, or whatever else there is ‘here’. I often wondered about ‘this’ part.

My sense of my ‘self’ is fading. I feel it leaving ‘me’ – though not easily – but with it go the cares, worries, anxieties and fears of the flesh – that I see now – I clasped to so dearly, in trembling fear of this indefinable, unique, amazing and finite life, here on Earth.

There is also a sense of something … Fine… Warming – without heat – and, very; Fine, is the only word that fits. Now, something else, something new, comes swooping in to seize what is left of me in powerful waves – that feel like the arms of well-being – like my mother’s arms, when I was born, rushes through my…

          My little brother’s roiling explosion of life-light catches my eye. It shows in him, as a deep and abiding form and colour, and I ‘see’ also, that he understands the end of me; my last thoughts… As if to prove it, he looks up to where I see him from, and smiles that familiar grin that I grew up with…

I am ready lil’ bro, I ‘send’ with every ounce of love and will I have left.

Hear my goodbye: Wah! When I went to bed last night, I thought I had more time lil’ bro, but now I sense the time was right… The timing is always right, I sense now, and as with birth, it is not our decision

More humility and empathy shown practically, would have been good in my short life I see… I Wish too, I hadda spent more time with my kids and grandies – mum and dad, when they were here – all those lost  moments…

No sweet Time left me… Treasure the Moments my brother!

Goodnight! Goodbye: Sweet world of wonders, flesh, and pain. May the Mother and the Great Spirit

An end

 

 

 

post

WTFemale!?

This v-short story was written for a competition that gave 48-hrs to write 500-words, with several words that had to be used within the tale; I have added a few bits since 🙂 

What! Females?!

         “I don’t believe it!” SW Enoch cried out. “Well, he’s a shifty little Andromedan, no doubt!” the fleet’s Ambassador shared with his Admiral.

“I’d go as far as to say he’s a rare genius,” Ambass-Painter murmured to himself, very quietly; SW Enoch was ready to kill someone and it wouldn’t be the first time it was one of his own, he mused, while nodding astounded agreement with the Admiral.

For Ambass-Painter however, the real question was: how? How in Quetzalcoatl’s everlasting name – did Toastmier get through U-space before them? They’d used Wave-Space-time; The fastest travel known to the entire Universe! he thought, keeping an eye or two on the angry Admiral. Admiral SW Enoch was livid.

He obviously wasn’t thinking straight – his beef with Toastmier was infamous, long-standing, and had been extremely violent the few times they’d come together – but no-one was brave enough to speak, or even gargle in any of his native tongues.

His seventeen large, weaponised tentacles waved violently around the Command deck and two of the crew were cut in half, with several others injured and quickly taken away by the medical bots; Bots, that strangely, seemed to be chatting among themselves regarding the deaths. A tad too much A-I in those fellows, Ambass Painter mused as the Bots threw weird sounds toward Admiral Enoch. To the Admiral, those unfortunate enough to get in his way were merely tentacle-fodder. He was more interested in what his arch-enemy was up to down on PB.

“How did he beat us here? What is he up to down there!? Somebody tell me something!” he screamed, which burst the eardrums of those who had them, and were close enough to affected. A lone shaking voice answered his screaming query.

“We uh… don’t know how he beat us here, Sir! It’s quite miraculous! We don’t know what he’s here for… We can however, watch and perhaps learn more… if we are patient,” it said bravely.

“That’s all good and well, but whatever he’s up to, it bodes danger to our own ambitions!” the Admiral said quietly. He thought for a moment – as still as a dead planet and then, suddenly came to life. Tentacles swung around him in elation, injuring several of the crew, smashing yet another med-bot to pulp, and killing the Star-chart Manager in the process.

But Admiral Enoch was on a roll. He didn’t notice the rest of the med-bots strange chatter as they cleaned up the his mess, or how the staff under him were revolted. His great epiphany was – as usual – to use shocking violence against any that stood against him.

“Well, let’s see?” he said mockingly at one and all of his crew. “We could just wait and see what happens… Yes, but I’m not a patient Admiral, so that’s out,” he said with a giggle that wobbled all his arms together. “We could also send someone down and ask him,” he said, snorting with laughter at the joke that no-one else got. “I myself think, more ah… Urgent measures are called for; And besides, it’s only a little planet with just a few million soft-shelled creatures running around like those Silly-bugs from that planet in the Diomedea Galaxy,” he said and grinned, showing rows upon rows of sharp teeth.

Enoch laughed out loud and abruptly spun to the weapon’s Master. “Kill the son-of-a-bitch! Fire a Gravity missile at him!” SW Enoch screamed, causing mayhem among the crew, as they watched the screen showing Toastmier pretending to be a human on the 3rd planet from this system’s Sun…

          Onscreen, the rebel Warlord from the Andromeda galaxy was sitting casually at something called a Café, while holding Court with several soft-fleshed, bi-ped creatures from the blue planet: female mammals obviously. Two uniform-size breasts high on their chest for babies-milk said so. Toastmier’s almost-perfect human-like form seemed to be generating a lot of laughter among the female humans.

“Oh! My beloved long-dead Quetzalcoatl!” Ambass Painter exclaimed softly. Pure shock causing him to urinate, lose two teeth and his breath in that order.

“He’s… that mongrel bloody scientist is going to try mating with one of the bi-peds! Look at him! I’ll bet he’s using their own pheromones against them!” he mumbled to himself, glancing toward Admiral Enoch, whose entire body seemed to be swelling to gargantuan proportions. The med-bots standing against the walls seemed to be giggling among themselves at the sight of the Admiral’s body swelling so unnaturally.

“If somebody doesn’t fire a Grav-Miss within ten-epochs, I will personally kill everyone here!” Enoch screamed. His flailing tentacles took out several more crew-members and two med-bots.

“But um? Sir Supreme Commander Admiral Warlord,” a nervous voce responded, “that would change the gravity of the entire planet!” The newest crew-member said, half an epoch before he was sliced into wafer-thin slices. The med-bots actually sighed and began cleaning up yet another mess…

          On the screen, the ‘person’ they were watching abruptly disappeared in a flash of light, along with his bevy of PB females. The Café tables were there. The chairs were there. Their drinks were still there. Other PB humans were still there and, looking astonished at the disappearance into thin air of such a strange, cheerful group.

“He’s gone! He ‘Shifted’! I can’t even do that!” Ambass-Painter said out loud, having kept three eyes on the screen. Toastmier was gone! So were the females.

Behind them in the control room, there was a flash of light and a sound like rolling thunder. Ambass-Painter thought that someone had really fired a gravity-missile, but instead, it was the rebel Warlord, Toastmier. He had somehow materialised – within their ship.

Admiral SW Enoch turned, saw the rebel Toastmier, with several female bipeds standing in his ship; In his own control-room. At first, each and every-one of his eyes grew wide. Green and blue liquid began pouring from his mouth and nasal cavities. His tentacles swelled to unbelievable proportions. He turned a brilliant shade of red and abruptly exploded into stinking, fleshy fragments that dripped over the control-room and the stunned crew. There was a gargle-like cheer from the med-bots, before Toastmier spoke.

“Oh dear!” he said, as the cleaning-bots began to vacuum up the pieces of the former Warlord, while singing some Bot-song – a very happy song. They stopped moving and singing as one, as Toastmier continued.

“I knew his idiot Lordship would think I was trying to mate with the bi-peds. I was not!” he stressed. “I was looking for the most intelligent life-form around the universe to solve an issue back home and, I found them. These darling females are coming home with me to help solve the violent and wasteful gender-war on my home-planet,” he said, looking around and grinning cheerfully at the assembled wide-eyed crew…

 

post

The Legend of Titta Kay

I wrote this story because I was out walking early one day, and a dirty-grey van drove slowly past me. It didn’t stop, but it made me think about what it was like for a woman, alone, walking or jogging in today’s, often-dangerous society. I started and finished the short-story when I arrived at home from walking that day… “Titta-Kay,” is the name I called my beautiful sister when a child

The legend of Titta-Kay

NB! Health-warning! *Do you have a Fur-burger, plus tiny pimples that turn into molehills or termite-mounds – and no hair on yer chest? If so, then this horrific tale of desire and erudition is for You!

Wordie-type-WoMD: [“The story you are about to hear is [probably] true; only the names have been changed to protect my innocence; My name is Sergeant Joe Friday, of the ‘Butchi-butchi Gammin’ Secret Police. & this; Is TK’s story.”

‘Shop Owner, Manager, fixer, and all-round shop dog’s body’, as she described herself, Titta-Kay Wegumbi, was out walking early one morning before work, when the truly-horrific ‘incident’ occurred.

Sleep is bewdiful!

          Mrs Wegumbi, when asked about that day: “Same ole-same ole – you know the story!” TK said easily, when asked about that day. “3-am, couldn’t sleep… Lay for a while contemplating… ‘Nothing D & M, that’s for sure!’ Titta-Kay would have said if asked.

“I lay for a-while,” Mrs. Wegumbi explained, “wondering whether to try and go back to sleep, or jump online, or possibly write something. Ideas had been coming thick and fast lately. Some of the pieces were even well-written, I thought; A mix of philosophical ethics and The Mother’s cry for help; That’s what I thought at least, and in the long-run – that’s all that counts with any ‘Artist’, innit! I tell myself constantly. The big-G was still asleep in our bed; Curled up like a baby”. He must have slept like that when he was a baby, many, many years ago, I remember thinking before I dressed…

OutNabout-early

          “Decided to walk. Beautiful morning anyway. I’m a confident walker; But, also a grown woman. I know the dangers. If I have to confront ignorant wolf-whistlers, the sleazy, and the like: “Hey babe! Whatcha doin’ out by yerself? Lookin fer a real man? eh?” type idiots. I ignore them mostly. However, I’m not the shy shrinking violet type either. I carry a torch night-time, and a Boomerang for day walks. I’ve had people laugh at both. However, the torch is quite heavy and, has functions available to give you time needed to attack back, or run. The ‘Rang’; ‘Is, was, and will always be’, a weapon and a shield; If you know what you’re doing and don’t panic.”

“The last weapon I carry, is hidden ‘I.P.S.’ [in-plain-sight] and quite handy: it is wrapped nicely around my waist. I always, but always, wear a belt when I’m out and about. [Btw; If the ‘Bully-man’ were to pull you up carrying the ‘Rang’, you should explain in no uncertain terms, that unless he/she has missed something rather obvious; that you indeed have a meow and breasts, and thus, a life to protect! That in fact, it would be wrong ‘not’ to carry something to protect myself – from attacking Pterodactyls, if it please you, Sirs/Ms’s’ Officer etc…]

The belt, is not a lightweight belt for show. The heavy metal-buckle at the end of four, five feet of decent leather or other strong material, is a weapon and shield to keep an attacker at bay, maybe six-feet from you. That’s a healthy distance, I think. I mean, I’m a woman, and history, including present-day News, says some men have certain ‘needs’, and that some of those weaker, shallow-breathing type of men, will attempt to satisfy those needs on finding a woman alone; Any woman alone. Via force if necessary. Apparently, it could even be a thought-best/good friend, that suddenly transforms into; ‘Raging creature with lotsa unfulfilled Lusts’, or [RCwluLs] after a six-pack and a heart-beat!’”

“It’s a difficult way to have to live, but it seems to me, and to put it quite simply: Because men can’t have ‘such’ themselves, they want/need to own someone else’s meow and breasts, and I’ve got both, see? So I must be careful, see you? Some men, will/would/have-done, take another’s life to cover their ‘getting’ the meow/breasts that they are afraid to actually ‘work’ for, if I may be so blunt. Thus, men’s instincts – although being instinctively pushed toward a physical confrontation with each other: to be The-One, the top-Dog as it were, on the other hand – many men’s instincts, seem to be to get ‘those two’ things in any hand; Quite often.”

So girls, unfortunately, and quite frequently, it’s mad-dog-instinct Vs your modern intelligence [and that would be ‘all the time when vulnerable’, as I see it; There are a lot of ‘if-the-chance-came-up, I’d do er’, lonely, stupid men]. I tell you the story below not to skite, but to warn of the real dangers of owning both meow and breast since time began; And, the life-saving value of being underestimated…

Hope for the best – but prepare for the worst

          3.25-am; “I’m out walking through my neighbourhood streets and the false dawn is showing its first light; ‘mystical-dark turning to the first grey of morning’, sings my still-wakening mind. I’m three blocks from home, going north – I know that from checking the compass on my mobile once again – when a dirty-grey, high-top van rolls up beside me and stops a few van-lengths in front of me. The back door opens and what looks like a skinny, filthy-looking (fox-face?), man, looks smugly at me – as if he owns me, or at least wants to, I thought strangely.

Fight? Or flight? crashes through my mind. My body reacts by turning back away; but not reversing. I step left, toward the houses; Safety. Away from the filthy van and the leering foxy-faced man coming toward me. I mean literally! He’s wearing some type of fox-face mask, I see. I’m already in shock, but having thought of something like this happening and what best to do, I move to my left on an automatic impulse.

Abruptly there’s a scalp-tingling rush of air close-by, something almost touching me; A large body stumbles past – hands-out, arms outstretched. It crashes straight into fox-face, who goes down; Heavily. The other, bigger man bounces into the side of the van; Stunned by forces unexpected, and, that he had missed me at all, coming from behind like that, I guessed, suddenly feeling the calming weight of the metal-torch in my hand. As the larger man glanced around to gain his bearings, I saw he too, wore a mask. An ogre’s mask, I thought momentarily, spotting an ear poking out behind the cheap plastic mask. I took two quick steps closer and brained the big lug just above the ear with the torch. I always used the wrist-brace safety-loop, just in case I drop it, so it came back whatever happened. The blow didn’t draw blood, but it went in a tad, caused major bruising below the skin, left a decent indent, I saw.

The big man grunted and jerked a few times, as if he suddenly couldn’t understand his own body. A hand went to lift toward his head, then he fell to the gutter beside the van. He was big! I thought, glancing toward Fox-face. Couldn’t take the chance he’d get up quickly – get a-hold of lil’ old me – brained or dead? It was him or me. It’s still dark. I didn’t know these men; Never seen them or the van before in my entire life. Thus, survival of the fittest – of mind – not body – Fools! Has awoken, I thought almost happily, as I felt for the buckle on my belt for reassurance and gave Foxy my full attention.

Fox-face was rising groggily, even as the driver rounded the back of the van. I swung the torch sideways into Foxy’s temple area before he could rise fully, and let my body fall sideways, sensing the driver having rushed up behind me. I heard a soft awful wet noise, a cry of pain. Another cry, from another voice, this time of real anguish; Then silence, except for a wet-breathless noise that my mind couldn’t comprehend. Seeing my chance, I rolled away, and pushed to my feet facing them; To see that the driver had stabbed foxy, his accomplice; Right in the freaking chest, and it [the knife – the extremely large knife!] wouldn’t come back out. OMG! That, is just disgusting! tore through my mind.

However, driver/knifer man wasn’t one to give up easily, obviously. The man was wrestling the knife and holding Foxy’s weight, trying to get it out, which had Foxy’s semi-conscious eyes suddenly open, looking straight at me in horror. I prayed the driver would not put a foot on Foxy’s body somewhere, to lever the knife out; That would be far too much; even for me! I thought crazily.

It was indeed horrible, watching his ‘friend’, wrestling the knife struck well and truly in his rather thin chest. And, going by the size of what I could see of the knife, it was quite possible it had gone right through Foxy’s thin body. Foxy’s wiry hairy arms spasmed jerkily trying to stop the pain his accomplice was inflicting…

Star-crossed?

          So little attention, paid they me… I suddenly thought insanely that they may have been in love? *Star-crossed lovers*! flashed before my eyes; Then, a you-tube memory repaid my watching such rot; A man shows you how to hit/punch a group of muscles in the neck to shoulder area, that would knock the person out like a light. There were examples of it working and exactly where to hit.

I stepped in toward what could possibly be a star-crossed lover’s final embrace, lifted the torch up and brought it down hard on the specified area. Driver-stabber’s entire body relaxed like he’d been pole-axed, and slid to the road, head against car. I hit him hard on the side of his drooping, semi-conscious head immediately. Mama didn’t raise no fools, I remember thinking. A glance at Foxy said he was semi-conscious, but not going anywhere by the looks.

However, I’ve seen all the movie endings, wherein; The ‘hero’ thinks they’ve offed the bad anti-hero; and lo and behold, the son of a bitch comes back for one last go at taking you with them! Thinking along those lines, I hit Foxy up the other side of the head this time, checked that he was out-of-it, forgot to check breathing and, as knife-man was offering, put a decently forced swing into the driver’s open-wide, unprotected throat. That stopped the groaning anyway…

News Live! Defenceless woman lucky to be alive! Would-be kidnappers knock each other out and into coma!

          Apparently, according to the Police-report, “… the incident began at 3:33-am on such and such a day and was over by 3.40-am such named day, in the month of etc-etc. ‘The victim blah-blah, was a single woman [I am not!] out walking – alone – on public thoroughfares [how rude of me!] when three men in a dirty white high-top van approached and stopped a few van-lengths in front of said – lone female on street at night, in the dark, early hours of morning. [I mean! Fer God’s sake!] The men – all wearing cheap plastic creature-masks – allegedly attempted to abduct Ms. T.K. Wegumbi just a few blocks from her home.

But, in a series of ill-timed accidents, wherein the men tripped, fell and hit each other in falling, with one somehow stabbing another, the three men were rendered unconscious and are yet each one in a coma. Police were said to have praised Ms. Wegumbi publicly, as the men were societal predators. They had been roaming the country for several years. They either sold their unfortunate victims to anyone with enough money – no-matter the use, nor age – or used them for their own gratification; such, as were: “…not normal by any means in our universe,” a Senior Police Officer said after the investigation was closed.

Privately, it was heard that the political arm of the “Force”, nationally, was not at all happy with a private citizen wielding such [much-rumoured] brutal-force upon members of the public; Murderer/s or not!

“She, Ms. Wagimbi”, the Minister mispronounced, “was a very lucky woman… However, our legal forms of justice must be adhered to,” he said publicly.

‘This,’ he was heard to shout angrily, privately; “It’s Vijar-fucking-lante material! No matter who does it! And we need to quash it. Now!” His extreme anger radiated through the various online rumour-mills, right down to Mrs. Wegumbi: who heard about it via her local radio one sunny morning, while sitting on her humble porch with her many flowers and birds around her.

In a letter to the Editor of the nation’s largest-read Newspaper, current-affairs and entertainment site online, Ms. Wegumbi responded to the Minister and ‘All Men’ (Ms. Wegumbi’s Caps), via email;

          “Dear Sir/s; I believe that my recent actions in saving my own life, have caused some concern regarding vigilante activities, within professional/Govt., Law-enforcement circles.

While I would never condone revenge-violence, the series of unforeseeable accidents that occurred to those men, while they were trying to abduct my person, was extremely fortuitous to me; my-own-self. I mean, no one wants to be thrown in the back of a dirty-filthy smelly van, by dirty, filthy, smelly, animalistic [sorry animals!] low-life men, and taken away – probably never to be seen or heard from again, and plus! To be used for simply unimaginable things, probably again; Before death!” she wrote, continuing.

“You men must understand. I’m different from you. I was born with breasts, globules of pleasure [NB! for the man, not the owner, as such]: Soos-soos, Tits, Tankers, Knockers, Melons, Bazongas, Bazookas and Hooters and plus; A meow. Now, many, ah… lots of men [present male company/readers not excepted] just can’t seem to help themselves around such female parts – especially those pervy strangers – or, in fact; When and wherever these two rather-common ‘things’ occur together!” she wrote, and continued.

“So then, even if I had a pet King-Kong trailing along after me, if I felt like a walk in the evening, that would be justified by any number of facts and figures you care to dig up re- ‘owners of breasts and you-know-what-sies’,” Ms. Wegumbi’s email said.

“So, a heavy torch and/or a boomerang, is more than justified!

Are you feelin’ me now? Sirs?”, she wrote and continued. “TBH; If I could, I would carry a 240-Volt lead with me and zap most Politicians and anyone who tried anything – even smiled at me sideways! Shocked or dead – it’s all survival to me, Sir. Coz, like it or double-lump it; I got ‘things’, “what ‘they’ want,” and, I have to keep me, and such, safe…” her message concluded. And, was read by 50+-million women worldwide.

Sales of heavy belts with heavy metal buckles, Boomerangs, and metal-torch sales increased exponentially worldwide in the following weeks…

Responses:

          The Minister for Policing, Racing, Gambling and Casinos, the Right Honourable Sir, Reginald Kartoffelkopf; BSc. MSc. BA.D, has not yet responded to Ms. Wegumbi’s remark; Apart from – mentioning, that:

“She really shouldn’t be using words like that in public; it’s indecent! Really!” he was reported to have said calmly, at a Press conference on ‘Women’s safety in Parliament’ recently. In private, that night however, old Sir ‘Reggie’ [well-known for spreading his ‘Reggie’ around] was about to ‘give-it’ [his day’s ‘sufferings’] to his long-suffering wife in their bedroom. It was not pretty.

Sir Reginald was shaking with rage for all the day’s anger and frustration, which he wouldn’t dare allow air at work.

“In-fuckin-decent black bitch!” he raged, wearing one of his wife’s bras and silk panties, while lying across their huge bed. “In-fuckin-decent! I’ll show her what indecent is!” he raged again, glancing at his wife. “Won’t we love!” he said, given as an order, and breathing shallowly as he eyed his wife in her specially-ordered birthday lingerie; that he knew she hated wearing. “Now, come here to Daddy, my bad little girl-darling baby-kins…” he said softly, gently, to his dutiful wife of many, many years – whom, unbeknown to him – was now firmly ‘in-love’ with Mrs. TK Wegumbi; And, was about to give ‘The Minister’, some down-home, lord-a-mighty, womanly Preachin’; Guaranteed, to solve his Election and erection issues once and for all…

post

“The JAL Diaries”

A note from the author – Dear readers: I write my tales without a plan; No plan of length, word-count, characters, events nor sanity. I start with an incident, a thought or a character and fill in the spaces around the initial words that have grabbed me and dis-allowed me to forget such. I fill in and around such word-images with a suitable environment, any character’s thoughts and actions that might occur in such situations. This type of writing allows a freedom of imagination of movement and actions that alas, my body can no longer give as it ages. 

Thus, in my tales, I’m always thinking: “what if?” and, “what would he/she/they see?” and, “how would that make them feel?” and the tale actually writes itself as I and it ‘fly’ along. Sometimes, I think I’m an ‘awake-dreamer’, so powerfully does the urge to create a story come over me, while doing all the menial tasks that are done daily. I am not chasing fame, fortune or an easy life. My fondest hope is that my ancAu [ancient-Australian] people, both young and old, will see that the English language can be used well; for telling ‘faction’ tales; A mix of fact and fiction, which most successful tales use anyway, so that the reader’s mind can grasp and identify with the tale.

Some tales, like the one you are about to read, come out of the blue; In this case, I wasn’t thinking deeply about Aliens, nor such incredible goings-on as you’ll find within; However, in the back of my mind always, is ‘Our’ poor historical treatment of our home planet, its environment, and its many amazing, unique creatures – including humans.

Thus, I give you 16-year old, Jessi Ahn Lightstar, and her tale from the future. I do hope you enjoy it in the spirit intended.

Excerpts from the Diary of Jessi Ahn Lightstar (JAL)

    JAL: Dear DD. 26-6-57 [FYI – I call my Dairy, ‘DDD’, coz I read about an incredible woman from many, many, many years ago, who made a fortune from giving advice to people. Her name was Dorothy Dix and the phrase, ‘Dear Dorothy Dix’, became a household phrase. So, I write entries to (DDD), and for me when I’m old and grey. And get-this! She did all this in a Paperback magazine! As if! They musta been quite ignorant back in her day! Anyway, she was famous worldwide and obviously pretty dam smart!]

DDD; this fragment of my ‘posts’ was bigger than a mere diary-entry, tbh; More of a V-unique worldwide Newsflash!

In fact, DDD, later, it reminded me of that ancient movie, “Blazing Saddles”, where an old cowpoke-fellow that spoke with speech-impediment, attempted to tell the early-American, Cowboy-type towns-folk – from his lofty position from a rooftop – that the new Sherriff; Was a ‘G’!

He was yelling at the top of his dry, cracked old voice! “The Sherriff’s a Ni….! But hilariously, every time he called out the final word, the town bell rang and they thought he said; ”The Sherriff’s near!” and thus, the good mostly-white welcome crowd had no idea who was coming to bring Law to their town, until they saw him ride in. On a Palomino horse, with same colour hat, clothes and one very ‘sunburned-Ethiopian’ coloured face…

    So DDD, on June 26, 2057, my 16th birthday, ‘We’, [Earthlings] woke, yet wondering if we were all alone in the Space, in which our planet dangles and spins so magically and majestically. Space, that we’d designated various names willy-nilly. Perhaps, to hide the fact that we yet-still, have no valid notion of what Space – or humanity, for that matter – Is! [for mine, anyway DDD!]

The next day, June 27, the previously mentioned speculation perished in the aftershock of a unique, worldwide communiqué. Doubt was crushed by a global memo which if true, instantly cleared up any question of our being alone in the universe. It was said, that a great number of beliefs, superstitions and minds were duly undone at that initial ‘reading’; Broadcast to every nation – in each nation’s language! It was not what was expected of any first-contact encounter! In fact, apart from a veiled threat – it was downright homely! It began thus:

Dear people of Planet Blue (PB), that time has come. Yes! The old I-G (Inter-Galactic), rent-collector is passing by, and guess what! Yes! Bingo! (As you gambling-maniacs say). The ‘rent’ on your planet be due, peeps. A self-contained Star-vac-ship will be visiting PB, to harvest the various materials planted millennia ago: those unique mineral, matter and liquids left to terra-form under PB’s specific gravity and equally rare, environment.

JAL: those of us online at the time supposed it a scam. A great big hacker-joke, courtesy of some Dark-web Pirate, wanna-be famous idjut. But it was quickly discovered to be neither hoax nor scam. For starters, the broadcast overrode every communication format worldwide. Apparently, our best and brightest tried to find the source and stop it; Fruitlessly. The slaps up the head to our anxious communal ego continued:

    We – the Nylaxian Alliance – can only believe you have honored the agreement and left said substances mature untouched. Indeed, for your own health as they are toxic to your race’s DNA, if activated… Right! Moving right along! As was predicted by our FUTSCI hive-mind AI, our own humble planet and moon system’s populations, will soon need just these elements to survive.

In any case, BP peeps, it will be simply quite marvelous to see you again. We are of course, especially looking forward to seeing the ‘squillions’ of those beautiful, terra-forming creatures left under your care. As you’d know by now, these diverse creatures, from micro to monster size are each vital for your mutually-beneficial evolution; Including, BP Herself (*Best-Practice, Terraforming: 109e-4hl).

Personally, I would imagine your quick-witted, passive, imaginative race would have created a holistically natural landscape by now. Tbh; we cannot wait to see what you have done with the place!

We should reach PB in a (Galactic) day or two (places to go – planets to see, etc). Please! Do not put on ‘fanfare-stuff’ for our arrival; That you’ve maintained this unique living planet to such a high standard of environmental integrity over the bygone rental period, is quite enough welcome, in and of itself.

As per our MOU, your recompense is the infinite power source that we utilize and, which will drive your technological knowledge into new and exciting futures among the stars; With like-minded beings.

NB!! We have an honoured ‘guest’ aboard ‘SS129-NA-Landlord’. The infinitely infamous Warlord: whose name we cannot say (or pronounce, tbh!), travels with us. ‘It’, would like to ensure each of our treasures are being looked after in line with the terms of the afore-mentioned MOU (such a stickler for the rules. Grumpy old thing – grumpy old race-annihilator as well, unfortunately.

NB: although we have heard rumors of industrial mining, we have faith that our standard – and, incredibly generous terra-forming MOU, has been adhered to and thus, we see no need for you to worry about you-know-who [whom is not a Nylaxian, btw].

Again, so looking forward to a meet with such a forward-thinking, clever race of bipeds that you will have become by now (I mean, y’all got my message after all…

Yours in the Intergalactic Order of all sorts of things, etc., etc.,

Sedirious Rattlebone Snr.,

4474th Scribe/translator/messenger to the Nylaxian- Andromeda Alliance.

    JAL: WT-Heck! For the first time since man existed – it seemed to me – we arrogant language-creatures were shocked into global silence, for a good minute or two; Followed by a planet-wide explosion of fight or flight responses. My own skinny legs wanted to pelt off into the distance, while my youthful mind wanted to shut down for an hour or two; or three (days! Tbh)! Several frenetic head-shakes and a slap or two upside my own head later – and like most rational humans – I realized that there was nowhere to run or hide! And, that fighting [As if! Fool!] was probably out of the question, with such technologically-advanced? People? Aliens? Gods? Things?

Oddly, there was no immediate panic in the streets. No drug-fuelled rioting. Supermarkets and stores were left alone. No groups of louts turned cars over and gleefully recorded their fire and fury [at being alive and not knowing why]. It seemed as if our world held a bated breath. Unsurprisingly really! I thought: utter astonished-surprise had taken the breath from any reaction momentarily.

Then our world revolved; Again. On my side from day into night and, although it didn’t seem quite right somehow, time and then we, moved right along with it. Of course, the incredible, mind-blowing message was constantly replayed, deconstructed and re-worked in public, in private, at work, at play, even when the instinctive need to procreate took over: minds were ‘not on the job’, as it were – it was reported.

While various alien ‘experts’ struggled to make sense of the message, the most listened to voice, was that of Australian historian-philosopher and Senator: Blaine Aire-Stuttar. The infamous Sir Wally Keaton’s great-grandson.

Aire-Stuttar rose to fame for suggesting we should take, ‘The Message’ with a ‘pinch of salt’.

“In fact,” he said calmly, believably, “although we have little choice but to believe this ‘out of the blue’ message – we can hardly be blamed for something we didn’t even know of; to enable us to honour some weird ancient contract? However,” he said from behind a 1000-watt grin, “I’m absolutely sure that we can and will, prepare for any eventuality… appropriately,” he said, making it sound like a hint of retaliatory threat. [As-if! Fool!] I thought again.

“Yes,” he concurred, “there are things that we don’t understand: as yet!” he emphasized. “However, the ‘author’ seems to have a fair knowledge of our race and has employed our sense of humour – if a little darkly,” he said, putting on a serious expression. “But in truth, much of the information is a byzantine explanation of our archeological history; That can’t be proved,” he said quietly and calmly, gaining more credit with anxious listeners…

    JAL: To our east, across the Pacific in the ‘reformed’ USA – the trillionaire centenarian – POTUS: [that would not leave the Oval Office for love nor money,] was apoplectically, happy. He finally had an enemy that he could hurl all his hi-tech, “beyuteifly-finished!” (his-spelling), very-expensive WoMDs, at:

“Aliyens!” he Tweeted. “Surely to Covfefe I can order their destrukshun without the cry-baby, Greenie, free-Willie mob, screaming blue-murder! The nukes will explode in space! There NOT HUMON! Their not even from Earth!” he miss-spelt. His long-suffering political peers however, along with the rest of the POTUS-weary-world, were ready to see his own, ‘destrukshun’. Preferably, before, he got us all wiped out. The dread ‘Briefcase’, with its big-red-button was subtly removed from his personal space while he was at his private Golf Course. POTUS was told it was being serviced. [*the latter was leaked via Homeland Security-FB]

Over the following weeks, questions our world needed answering raised the young Senator-Prof. Aire-Stuttar to worldwide Star-status. ‘Blaine’ had risen to the challenge, while world leaders changed their pants and caught their respective breath. Before their professional speechwriters could put pen to paper, Blaine was laying it out simply and clearly, in front of an international media, hungry for more of the ‘brave, viral, Senator-Prof.,’ celebrity.

The Senator faced the cameras and microphones with the calm dignity and quiet confidence he was becoming known and respected for, inside The House and out. They say: cometh the time – cometh the man, Blaine thought pleasantly, as his make-up was applied. In his khaki work shorts and shirt, he looked like the quintessential bronzed Aussie, but also a man of science, politics, and of the people: one that was willing to get down and dirty when the need arose. On Inter-vis and ww-fresh-stream, ‘The Message’ was displayed on the big screen behind him. Blaine was on top of the world:

    “First, let me say, although this is a surreal situation, I believe the message to be real. Our top scientists, intellectuals, Intelligence people, our Army, Navy and Air Forces, all believe it to be real. And believe me when I say you are not alone in your dumbfound shock and fear. Having said that, I also said that preparation can help us with this threat, and I still believe that,” he said, and then leant toward the camera. “But preparation without skeptical examination is not our way,” he said boldly. “Let’s begin with a subject in the message we can do little about,” he said as ‘the message’ filled the screen.

“What the hell is a Galactic day? For all we know, the ‘galactic’ day spoken of could be a hundred, or a thousand years from now,” he said and paused. “And, though it’s highly unlikely, it could be tomorrow: That’s dependent on when it was sent,” he said openly, regarding the fear in many viewer’s minds.

Blaine looked earnestly into the camera, speaking directly to his audience.

“Look friends, if we’re lucky and it’s not tomorrow, we should probably be halting use of anything we’ve been mining, which we know to be harmful to our DNA. It’s well known that fossil fuels are a long-term carcinogenic danger to us in the forms we need them to power our society; not just uranium,” he stated, and then grinned sheepishly: his entire non-verbal demeanor shouting; Aw shucks folk – I don’t wanna do this, but we hafta, see?

He said, “Look! I do not see we have much choice here. I think we are going to have to, ah? Um? Fib? And pretend the coal, oil, gas and uranium we have available, is only out and ready because we knew all along this was going to happen,” he suggested.

    JAL: I sensed our planet was all ears. Here was a possible way out of what seemed like an impossible situation: lie! Onscreen, Blaine unconsciously ‘washed’ his hands’ (I really hoped that wasn’t a Freudian – Pontius Pilate – thing!).

“Next!” he continued, as if giving a lecture to students. “This infamous Warlord! “It”? – A bully-boy with an unmentionable, unpronounceable name? Maybe ‘It’, is Aboriginal,” he joked and grinned stupidly, before continuing.

“This is no doubt a threat, but quite possibly, it’s also a great big bluff!” the Senator challenged. “It’s uh, true, that just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean that someone’s not out to get you,” he said in the same tone. “But as scientists, we know that just because someone says something is true, it doesn’t actually follow that it is prove-ably true,” he said, as a familiar analogy from his grand-father came to mind.

“As we saw with the so-called, ‘Frontier Wars’ here in Australia, which were proven to be a concocted elevation of minor spats along the creeping settlement boundary lines of early Australia,” he said with the bland confidence of cultured ignorance…

    JAL: It was at this stage that I began to think that young Mr. Aire-Stuttar, was not as stable as previously thought. I also imagined I heard a long sad sigh escape from listeners worldwide, joining my frustration: the world knew the bare truth since the 2030 national riots. Blaine carried on; blissfully unaware of the effect of his hubris.

“And what of the Earth’s creatures?” he said with a barely hidden sneer. “These ‘squillions’, which we were supposed to care for? Our Bible tells us that we are created above the animals in the scheme of things; that they are indeed there for us!” He had a bible with him and opened it to read what ‘God’ said: “And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it [we certainly did that part quite well!] and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” He read, as if it were an infinitely-wise, ‘Galactic’ commandment of violent death to all creatures, not man.

    JAL: Well! Stone the friggin Crows and call me Bobby pinhead Chinaman Harold! Even at my age, I, and most others these days, thought those particular words were written by ‘lazy’ men; To keep them in ‘power’, and in Hunter mode, and being able to show their manliness by physically fighting anyone and everyone – anywhere and anytime. And for women to do the hard work of getting enough decent foods daily to keep everyone healthy. Meanwhile, the men kept hunting and killing the almost-friendly, naïve animals as if they were more able; When in fact, women have always been able to do exactly what men can do – and, most times better, because they work together without gigantic male egos getting in the way! But that’s just me, an half-a-trillion other women come and gone…

But back to Blaire! “Honestly!” he said, sighing mightily for the cameras. “This type of thinking is strangely archaic for a space-going race! Surely? It harks back to the various heathen indigenous races and their ‘blending in with nature’, type existence; Which as we know, never advanced any of the native peoples in the least. It’s a large part of how and why we won their lands. And then showed them how to utilize the untouched riches they were walking on, to build and expand this great country,” he expounded and took a deep, ecstatic breath at his pet passion released live, before continuing.

“As a Scientist, I’m downright frustrated. I find it dammed difficult to believe that such a technologically superior race would ever think the continuing evolution of all creatures, including man, is dependent on every other creature: from microscopic bugs, to mammals! That just cannot be true; Because we have already lost thousands of species that couldn’t keep up with the changing world,” he argued blithely…

    JAL: That’s quite enough of his BS blah-blah anyway! Fade to black, Blaine-Witch, bee-atch! [We were told the below info, later; after the unfortunate ‘accidents’]…

“It”; becomes impatient

    1.5 million kilometres away from Earth, currently closer to the Earth’s sun than Earth, or ‘PB’, as it was also known apparently – at ‘Lagrange Point #1’: a gravitationally stable space used to flip to and from the local planets in the spiral galaxy of the Milky Way – a voice shouted in panic, as a miniature light-wave vessel tore away from the bulk of the ‘SS129-NA-Landlord’, and sped directly toward PB.

    “Oh dear! I was afraid of this!” Sedirious Rattlebone Snr., 474th Scribe, translator and messenger cried, wringing his six large hands together in real angst. “Well, fuck my brown Athort-terious!” he cursed. “Ahr! You stupid ignorant sons of… Ahhr! Now you’ve done it! Oh, fuck It! Oh well! Be It on your own heads then…” SRS murmured stoically, as he watched the tiny green dot on his vis-display eat up the distance between his ship and BP. “we should never have let him watch Earth TV!” he said wistfully, knowing he’d be too late to stop “It” from doing anything It wished. “I should’ve taken that trip to that new Neutron Star; at least I wouldn’t have to control It!” he mumbled and called his 2-IC to the bridge…

JAL: Apparently – we now know – as It arrived at our moon’s orbit, It, was perilously furious! More than furious. The long-term MOU had been made with the indigenous peoples of PB. No-one – including It, had expected the pugnacious, pale-skinned tribes to survive: so casually violent were they; even to their own. Thus, to find that they had not only survived, but had taken over the entire planet, was…

Men!

    Its thoughts were interrupted by a soft ping sound, that then told It, that a certain ‘someone’ from PB’s surface had fired a lot of missiles at his craft. It grinned, grunted with blunt pleasure and then gave the L-W-intelli-craft’s AI, complete ‘defensive’ control. This should be fun, It mused, as the AI responded to the threat.

Lightning-fast blips of light left the craft, intersecting with the missiles a mere moment later. The missiles slowed, veered into a one-eighty-degree turn and sped off back from whence: disarmed. ‘Its’ craft began to follow, then vanished from our most sophisticated sonar, radar and tracking satellites:

JAL: we were obviously literally, light-years behind this mob…

High above the Pacific Ocean, two further blips of light shot out from the invisible craft. It – swore, the second firing was an accident: that the ship’s AI had misguidedly ascertained two major threats to the MOU and PB’s health and future, and acted accordingly. This time, the quicksilver light blips did cause small but lethal explosions.

JAL: Newsflash! Diary! It seems crabby old ancient POTUS, finally met someone even crankier: someone also indisposed to forgive and forget. POTUS and Blaine Aire-Stuttar, whom assumed re-writing history was all in a day’s fun and, that highly advanced space-faring races would need to bluff, were the recipients of the blips. Both men basically melted, head-first, on live inter-vis.

It strenuously denied involvement. It, stuck to the story that it had handed the Intelli-craft’s AI, complete control – to defend as needed.

JAL: but nobody on Earth, or from his own star-vessel believed it, then, or now…

    Thus, DDD, we found we were not alone: that our Earth really was a ‘living’ entity, and us (all), merely Caretakers: That is humanity’s new purpose; our raison d’être (as the French say). We had no choice but to change. We kept many of the comforts the industrial society provided, but they’re all powered with “vac-power” now. Which is, as I understand it: moving photons in an electromagnetic field within a vacuum, from which we can gather the energy created? I’m no scientist or scholar, but holistically, Earth and its entire population has changed, and for the better I reckon.

Without coal, oil, natural gas, lead, uranium and some other rather lethal compounds, our world is beginning to shelve old squabbles. Better yet, we’ve begun to treat all humans, animals and our planet, with real dignified respect. Suicide, mental health issues, family breakdown, drug abuse, civil wars – all have dropped significantly, or in many countries, stopped altogether.

We – well not me, but many of our leaders – met with Sedirious Rattlebone Snr., and his many arms. [FYI – several Politicians whom had railed publicly against the ongoing Race and Gender equity debate, apparently fell down dead at the sight of S.R. Snr., and his many arms]. We all saw the extraordinary ‘SS129-NA-Landlord’, via its own cameras as it ‘parked’ in space. It was majestic, and so large it could only park in space.

It had earned its reputation for being ‘pretty grumpy’, we were told. ‘Though It, seemed to have a soft spot for BP’, Sedirious Rattlebone explained in an aside to Earth’s leaders…

Say what!

    It turned out to be an aged, dark-skinned being with a human-like form that looked pretty much like me – your basic ancAu – Aboriginal Aussie – but of an incredible age. It met only with indigenous elders. It’s longevity, had something to do with the way they travelled the stars, apparently. The final message after their departure, again revealed these space-faring being’s knowledge of our planet and customs; And, that It had quite the old SoH…

    “People of Planet Blue. So long, and thanks for all the fishes,” it said with a big smiley face :), with the postscript: “We’ll be ‘black’, lol!”

The beginning…

 

    

 

post

The Horror;

The Horror

Prologue

8-am-EST; Edge of the Little Sandy Desert, remote WA. Australia.
[That Brown-land – Down-under]

The daytime life here had been awake since the false-dawn several hours before. In that time they’d hunted, fed, drank, shat preened and cleaned themselves. Now, those early-birds were in a lethargic doze that only the temptation of an easy meal, or practical danger could disrupt. Their nocturnal neighbours were already deep in nest-rest, hiding from the glare and heat of the semi-desert environment after a night of hunter-gathering. Slowly, from out of the warming land an unnatural sound could be heard: a distant drone, muted at first but rising rapidly, it soon became a crunching eerie buzzing, growing ever louder ever closer, echoing erratically through the typically tranquil dry land. The sound grew and grew in volume and soon, a tell-tale dust cloud revealed its passage across the land.

Twenty-five metres above ground in the tallest tree around, the local Wedgetail Eagle mother cocked her head at the sound and rising dust-tower combination. Her senses said it was coming toward them. She leapt from her high perch and exploited a morning thermal to fly high enough to spot the oncoming possible threat to her three-month old chicks. A kilometre above Earth, her superior eyes picked out the shape within the dust. She fell through the sky back to her nest, landed gently and pushed and prodded the three chicks to follow her away to the nearby hills: a final lesson for her almost fully-grown babies, and for her own peace of mind at the oncoming people.

Shortly, a huge thundering metal monster came into view carrying its own dust-storm as it came upon their home. The monstrous beast slowed but was still growling an infernal roar that overshadowed the typical ambiance they’d were used to. It also carried a thick pungent smell that washed across the camp-area and caused each creature instinctively, to want to run from.

This area had been wonderfully bereft of any unfamiliar presence for over half a season. Already the usual comforting sounds of life were overshadowed by the new arrival’s explosion of movement and sound. Within moments of the vehicle stopping, the sunbaking lizards disappeared, while other desert-dwellers scuttled, slithered, crawled or flew away and peered out from hiding: some curious about this strange new thing that had invaded their homelands; some in trepidation of what such activity might mean.

People; A male and female stepped from the now-silent, foul-smelling invader and began unloading things; Lots and lots of things. A collective silent groan went through the local population. Camping-people such as these disturbed the natural flow of life here. For some here, it meant having to search a much wider range for food, while others were pushed out from their homes built within the camping area altogether; Forced to intrude into other’s territories; all of whom would fight viciously for their own territorial rights.

From these creature’s limited instinctive view, the monster-riding visitors also rode roughshod over the normal balances of life: their lives. Worse still – the males mostly – frequently killed the unwary for no reason but to kill something. Kill and laugh as any moving thing became a target for their wasteful slaughter. Men-people chuckling merrily as feared sand-Goanna clung grimly to a branch while they pointed their sticks up at it and fired and hit it again and again. King-Goanna wouldn’t fall however. He was locked-on past death. They would have to climb to get his body. They left him there; T’were easier to find something else to kill or explode to smithereens.

Most of the animals – including birds – had done so, or were moving to their nearest safe fall-back shelter and wouldn’t return until the ‘Ignorant’ departed. They had already scented the bitter drink being guzzled by the male of the pair – scent and actions that often preluded a maddened killer in their home. However, this land was older than all these creatures. It was older than People. Not merely old but truly ancient, and various creatures had always roamed its verdant skin. At this time and place these few alarmed dumb creatures were not the only eyes watching the arrivals…

Lynny and Ben

There was something in the evening air here that made Marylyn Shriver feel slightly uncomfortable. In fact – truth be known – she’d had the same uneasy feeling since they’d begun the hot busy work of setting up. Well, in fact, Marylyn had set up the camp while Ben checked out where he could start gold-hunting tomorrow. But Marylyn knew he just wanted to go off and shoot a few rounds through his new handgun. They carried two weapons: a hand-gun and a rifle; Just-in-case. They were a day and a half’s journey from real civilisation and any local help was probably half a day away. And there were some bad people ‘around the ridges’ of remote Australia, she knew well from her Police-force employment. People disappeared from remote locations annually in Australia, their remains found years later with no idea of when, or what caused their deaths.

Marylyn also knew, from training with her own regulation Glock-22 pistol that what Ben carried was basically a small cannon. The little handgun, a ‘Ruger, Super Redhawk Alaskan’ would stop a Grizzly bear in its tracks. Marylyn hadn’t even attempted to fire the thing. The kick-back could break a wrist if the person firing wasn’t careful and anyway, Ben wouldn’t let anyone touch his little ‘monster-stopper’, as he called it. Earlier today, Marylyn had already been feeling slightly nervous. She’d jerked in fright when she heard the tremendous bang as Ben fired. It actually sounded like a small cannon. Ben said he couldn’t help himself.

“Way out here in the middle of nowhere – should be able to put a few through her, no probs,” he’d said, as he strapped the holster around his waist and put the small lethal hand-gun – now fully-loaded – snugly into its holster. Her husband sauntered off along the ridge like a Cowboy John Wayne character, leaving Marylyn alone.

A long-serving Police-woman, Marylyn didn’t usually fall prey to childish fears, although even though it was daylight, she was not really feeling safe right here, right now, for some reason. It was only a trifling sense of unease, though the hairs on her neck and arms had stood up spontaneously several times while Ben was away. There was no practical reason for such thoughts, she knew. There hadn’t been a hint of another vehicle or person for the entire trip to this site, once they’d left the bitumen highway. And, there were no predatory animals in Australia that would have a go at one adult human, let alone two that were in good shape. Even a starving pack of Dingo-dogs would only attack the very weak and frail, if it was bigger than them.

However, after Ben returned and they’d sat to have a quiet beer with their Sunset-dinner, she’d still felt the strangest – and quite alien – feeling of eyes on them. Marylyn shook her head to kill the odd thoughts. Ben didn’t seem to notice anything strange. He was totally revved-up about using his new you-beaut metal-detector early in the morning, so Marylyn hadn’t mentioned her innate sense of ‘all not being well’ here. She didn’t want to spoil their holiday trip at the start.

It wasn’t a cool night, but as they ate the cold chicken and salad-rolls she’d prepared, Marylyn felt the same creeping sensation take hold. She shivered, noticeably, stopped eating and began eyeing the surrounding darkness outside their lamp’s light; a half-eaten roll midway to her mouth. It was mid-Queensland summer and still up around 30 degrees-C, well after sundown. But the skin on Marylyn’s forearms was covered in goosebumps. Ben paused in consuming his roll to look at her quizzically, unable to miss the slight trembling and the restless glances. He swallowed the huge bite he’d taken and looked at her quizzically.

“Hey? You okay love?” he asked before attacking the rest of his roll. He finished eating and searched her face for an answer. “Look like you’ve seen a ghost! Did ya see something? Out there?” he asked, looking around them. Receiving no response – Marylyn had no idea where to start – Ben laughed at her uneasiness. Grinning stupidly, he pulled the gun from its holster and waved it around them. “Don’t worry me dearest,” he said, full of ‘Dutch-courage’ bravado. “I’ll protect you from the big bad Bunyips in the dark. This thing will stop a bloody Vampire in its tracks. Silver bullets: like the Lone Ranger!” he said, waving it around at the surrounding trees and bush.

Ben had wanted to explore this area of the outback, and the old gold-mines here for quite a while. Luckily, they’d been able to organise their long-service leave together. Three blissful months of no work and travelling, maybe finding some gold was the plan and this, their first camp-site was definitely Outback. There was a dry creek bed running through red rock banks, and one cool clear water-hole close by to wash or cool down. And, there was the possibility of finding gold. There was a myriad of old gold-mine shafts throughout the surrounding land; especially in the slight ridgeline close by where more than 1000 ton of the dull rare material had been dragged out less than a hundred years ago. It wasn’t a good place to wander at night however. Even in the daylight you had to be careful, as the old shafts weren’t signposted and unobtrusive until you were on the lip looking down into darkness.

Across the table, Ben was pooh-poohing her uneasiness. He stood and swung the handgun around in jest. He’d had half a dozen beers since he returned from ‘scouting’, Marylyn knew. That would be almost a dozen since they’d arrived and it showed in his cavalier manner and speech.

“C’mon out, ye-ole-Bunyip bee-atch! Give my woman the willies, eh! I’ll put a couple of large lead-beans in ya arse if ya come round here lookin’ for trouble!” he called to the surrounding dark land, waving the gun around carelessly. “See!” he said, turning toward Marylyn with a brash grin as he returned the gun to its snug home and sat, looking across at her teasingly. “See me-dear!” he said more condescendingly. “There’s nothing …” he began, when an explosion of sound in the bush directly behind him spun him around and to his feet; Former Monster-killer gone! Marylyn noted, having sprung to her feet also.

Marylyn faced the disturbance directly: instantly petrified and unable to take her gaze from the sudden violent movement and noise. I knew there was something there! her frayed nerves and mind screamed. The straggly bushes and small trees in that area seemed to have come alive. With no wind to speak of, they were suddenly dancing like live wild things, attempting to throw limbs and leaves off and away at any cost. The portable table between them suddenly collapsed under their sudden, instinctive movement. Plates, bread, salad and drinks fell to the ground causing an extra instant jolt of fear.

The crack of limbs breaking and being hurled violently to the ground got Ben moving again. He pointed the gun that way just as the entire area exploded with fury, accompanied by an unholy racket. Mouth and eyes open wide, Ben fired the handgun blindly at the centre of the area but nothing happened! No recoil, no explosion, no shot. Confused, Ben brought the weapon up close to his eyes, but Marylyn guessed what had happened. Ben had forgotten to reload after the earlier shots. Realising that’s exactly what had happened, a red-faced Ben quickly re-loaded from the belt-holster, but before he could swing it back up – it was over. The trees and bushes stopped moving, the noise abated and an instant later the normal night sounds resumed. Ben began cursing as he glared at the area, then back at Marylyn.

“What the fuckin-fuck was that?” he shouted hoarsely, obviously startled out of his wits. Ben’s eyes were wild and wide and Marylyn guessed hers would be exactly the same. In the utter vacuum of normalcy, Marylyn’s Police training kicked in. “We, we need to um? Check um? We should ‘clear’ that area? Honey? Ben?” she suggested softly. Instead of answering, Ben threw his hands in the air, forgetting for a moment that he even had the handgun. He looked at it in surprise, and started shouting, waving the weapon around wildly.

“Fucking bullshit fucking stupid fucking desert!” he cursed angrily and fired a one-handed shot off at the affected area. The recoil threw his arm to the night sky. He brought it down, placed both hands on the weapon, holding it properly and pointed it at the area again. “Fucking mini-tornado freaky shit!” he cried and fired again. Swinging around to cover the area that scared them, Ben almost screamed his fear, anger and frustration out. “Fucking herd of fucking wild fuckin’ elephants stomping through the friggin’ outback?” he shouted, firing again and again until finally: “What the fuckin-fuck!” he cursed, pulling the trigger repeatedly on the empty weapon, now pointed at the sky as the echoes rolled away into the night.

Marylyn was transfixed, frozen by so much weirdness happening all at once. She stood absolutely immobile, hands still over her ears to protect them from the concussion of the powerful weapon being fired so closely. Ben would be bloody deaf, she thought. Then her husband shivered and seemed to come to his senses. He reloaded the gun, checked his torch was working and began to move toward the area that had gone haywire.

“Stay!” he called extra-loud because of his temporary deafness. “Get the rifle outa the truck, make sure it’s loaded, and stay near the truck!” he shouted, as she moved to follow. Marylyn moved like lightning. She snatched the rifle from behind the seat, pulled it from its carry-bag, checked the magazine was full and rammed it home. She levered a live-one into the breech, checked the safety and called softly to him; though stealth was useless after five cannon shots and Ben’s shouted curses, she assumed.

“Um, Ben?” she said hesitantly, then louder as she remembered he was deafened. “Ben! Ben! No! I’m uh, coming with you,” she said, moving around the mess of their dinner, now spread across the ground around the wonky folding table.

“I’ll carry the lantern,” she said, smiling nervously and holding it up. “So we can see more. Okay love?” she said, gesturing at the narrow torch-beam he was poking at the dark with: and not wanting to be left alone after that unholy kerfuffle! ran through her stunned mind.

Still shaken, Ben grunted something incomprehensible as he semi-crouched, peering into the darkness. When he moved, he moved warily, head, eyes and gun constantly moving, attempting to cover the entire 360-degree surrounds. He paused as he recalled his wife’s plea. His face darkened at her dissent.

“No! Fuck-it Lynny; you’re not listening! You fuckin’ stay here!” he said, speaking loudly to enable him to hear himself, while peering at where his torch-beam lit on. “If there is someone out there, we have to protect the truck; it’s our only way out of here,” he told her; still trying to see into the dark by the narrow torch-beam as he moved further toward the ‘shaken’ land.

Marylyn was so scared, she whisper-shouted, stopping his movement. Ben held the gun and the torch pointed out in front but turned his head to her unusual defiance. Marylyn was waiting and ready to stand up for herself. Bone-quaking fear overrode her usual timidity.

“No way Jose!” she hissed, moving toward him. “There’s no way I’m staying here by myself while you go off scared-shitless into the dark with a loaded cannon! Plus; I know you Ben,” she said, brows raised as she looked into his eyes. “If you see something, anything! You’ll go charging off into the freaking night, maybe fall into one of those old shafts, and leave me here by my-freaking-self!” she shout-whispered and continued breathlessly.

“After! After! Mind-you! Something bloody huge, tore up almost fifty square meters of bush, one-freaking-minute ago!” she threw at him. “Uh-uh!” she affirmed, shaking her head side to side emphatically. Before he could answer, Marylyn reinforced her declaration:

“No! No! No! Stop – right – there – mate! I’m coming right behind you; Probably up on your back if anything moves, and that’s it!” she said, moving toward him while her mind went crazy; I’ve seen all the Hollywood teen-horror movies! The poor girl left behind at the camp-site – while the stupid but brave men go off into the dark for help, or to hunt the crazed killer – is the first one killed! Well fuck that for a joke! Marylyn uncharacteristically cursed silently, as she glared at her husband and moved up close to look eye to eye.

“I’m coming dear, and the only way that isn’t going to happen is if you shoot me dead. Okay! Now move it compadre! Let’s have a look at the crime-scene, shall we?” she said, hoping the professional attitude might help them both.

Ben shrugged, turned and began moving again. Marylyn was instantly shadowing him so closely she could smell his sweat – and fear; and my own, no doubt! she guessed. The weight of the rifle was some comfort, but a, false comfort! If she had to shoot something that could tear up trees! Marylyn mused, holding the rifle in one hand and lantern in the other. The area was still quiet, all normal. Except, that as they got closer, they could see clouds of dust yet falling slowly back to ground. ‘Something’ had been there, and it had stirred up a lot of dust in the short violent explosion.

Marylyn moved even closer to Ben’s back, awkwardly holding the rifle out to one side and the lantern to the other for balance. At this moment – personally – Marylyn desperately needed a wary watch, on more area than Ben’s narrow torch-beam showed. To contribute the wider view, Marylyn was basically crabbing along beside Ben, trying to keep an eye on their backs, as well as anything untoward within the entire area ahead. As they got closer Marylyn could see the area looked like it had been hit by a mini-cyclone, or a bomb. Dead sticks, green leaves and broken branches were strewn about haphazardly over a huge area. Some of the trees were stripped bare of leaves. Several of the larger tree-trunks were ruptured lengthways from the unnatural – ‘Let’s twist again like we did last summer’ – ‘dancing’ movement; Their thick bark torn open and bleeding dust-covered sap.

It’s more than just eerie! Marylyn thought, bumping into Ben as she moved as close as possible, without climbing on his back. There had been no wind then; There was no wind now; Yet, there was no creature in the entire country that could do this type and amount of damage in such a short time. As if reading her mind, Ben spoke almost calmly, while searching around with the torch in one hand and the handgun in the other.

“Mini-tornado, I reckon,” Ben said, nodding his head and looking up at the sky as if to spot a weather-pattern that would support his theory. Unfortunately, it was a clear Queensland summer’s night-sky full of stars; not a cloud to be seen. But Marylyn wasn’t even listening to Ben’s comforting explanations. She was looking at the ground off to one side. She thought she saw what looked like huge claw-marks; not defined, but torn into the earth from the violent movement of something? Something big! Much bigger than them. Marylyn’s Spidey-sense jumped again and she reached out to touch Ben for comfort, speaking his name before touching, just in case.

“Ben? Ben? This is bloody scary, Ben,” she said, grabbing his arm for comfort, as they searched around. They’d moved away from sight of the camp and the damage made the dark bush around look totally alien by the meagre light they had. Marylyn moved even closer to her husband, and was about to point out the marks, when Ben propped and started laughing. It wasn’t a normal laugh by any means.

“Willy-willy, they call them out here,” he said knowledgably, as he looked around at the damage. “Gotta be! Couldn’t be anything else!” he said nodding, reassuring himself with a tangible cause. Marylyn wasn’t so sure. Those scuff marks were from something real; something that could do real damage to a very large area of bush very quickly. That, was no freakin’ Willy-willy, and that’s for goldarn sure! she thought, but kept her feelings to herself from habit.

Marylyn could see that Ben was spooked and totally out of his comfort zone. They Policed in a city. Illegal drugs, drunk-drivers, domestic-violence, low-life city-bred Crims. They’d never really been out in the Australian Outback before, let-alone camping in it. Ben had suggested the camping trip, having read a few adventurous articles on gold-prospecting; with some new ‘you-beaut’ tech for finding it. Knowing the pressure he’d been under at work recently, Marylyn had jumped at his new-found desire to explore and prospect – and, have some quality time alone.

And here they were; except, instead of relaxation, they were both on the knife’s edge of terror. Although Ben would never admit it to anyone – including himself, Marylyn thought nervously, looking around from behind his semi-crouched form. As if to confirm that thought, Ben stood straight. He looked around at Marylyn and laughed again, as he put his handgun away.

“Right then! I reckon it was a freak Willy-willy, that’s all love!” he said, shrugging at her, then turning to head back. Marylyn was instantly close behind him, trying to watch where she was placing her feet, while trying to see behind them as well. Ben was acting so casually that it shocked her to silence. When he turned and spoke again, he had a familiar glint in his eyes.

“Whatever it was it’s gone now Lynny,” he said, the improbable explosion of sight and sound, seemingly already forgotten. His next words reinforced the glint she’d seen.

“So then, we ah? May as well get some shut-eye; Or something? What say ye? Lynny-me-love?” he said, calling her his pet-name: eyebrows raised, and a hopeful leering look on his face, before he turned and headed for the camp.

Marylyn was simply flabbergasted. She spoke while walking close behind. “I saw claw marks Ben. At least I think they were some sort of claw, or large foot-prints – in the dirt back there,” she said finally, pointing with the rifle back to the area. “I think we should leave,” she said to his broad back. “It won’t take long to pack up, and our next camping area is only a few hours from here,” she said hopefully, not having the slightest desire to spend the night here after the day of uneasiness, and then that incredible unnatural explosion of whatever!

Ben headed straight to the cooler, popped another beer and threw himself into his chair. He looked at her sympathetically. “Lynny, my love, my darlin’, I think I might’ve noticed if there’d been footprints of any type there. I’m a fucking Detective for god’s sake! Trained to notice shit. I didn’t see anything that proved man or animal caused all that! It looked like whirlwind damage to me,” he said, chugging half a can, before continuing with a slight whine in his voice.

“Aw, c’mon Lynny,” he said, lighting a cigarette and sucking the smoke deep, before speaking. “You know I’ve been looking forward to this trip, and this spot in particular,” he said, in the little-boy voice he used when they argued.

“Besides,” he said stubbornly, “I’m not letting a little freak-wind scare me off so easily,” guzzling the rest of the tinnie. He crushed the can and lobbed the lump of metal across three meters straight into the small recycle bin Marylyn insisted on bringing.

“Ha! Swish!” he called, celebrating the shot and cutting off Marylyn’s response.

“Bloody wind is trying to keep us away from ole ‘Lassiter’s Reef’!” he said, grinning roguishly. “I’ll probably find the mother-lode tomorrow, and all our worries will be over,” he said, pulling out the bag of weed he’d brought for the holiday.

“Hey, c’mon Lynny? Let’s have a puff and get nasty, eh? What say ye – old hippy Policeman wife of mine? Take ourselves to our little comfy bed in the truck, eh?” he said, as Marylyn automatically began to pick up the mess from the collapsed table. Even as she tidied and cleaned, Marylyn’s newly-awakened Spidey-sense was furiously attempting to ‘feel’ out a kilometre or more radius around them: Someone has to stay alert! she thought, still frightened and more than a little angry.

Ben was oblivious. “You get that love – and I’ll, roll us a nice little ‘scooby-doo’ – to relax us, eh?” he said getting up to grab another beer from the esky, before sitting again and beginning the rolling process. “This is the best stuff too!” he explained and laughed again. “Got it from a ‘Bust’ last week, poor bastard! But we can’t have illegal drugs running rampant in society, now can we,” he said humorously, as he busied himself with the spliff.

Marylyn set the table back up, cleaned up the mess and then glanced toward the water-hole, before sitting down across from her husband of twelve years, as he lit the joint and sucked the smoke in.

“Ben,” Marylyn said, gaining his attention. “I’ve honestly got no idea how you could be horny after something like that!” she told him, and before he could swing the sad puppy-eyes her way, Marylyn continued. “To be honest, I’d rather leave this place right now love,” she said earnestly. “But if you’re determined to stay – and, well… we need a wash; both of us,” she told him. “We’ve been sweating all day and I’m, well? Feeling downright grimy,” she said, glancing toward the water-hole, in the opposite direction to where the action occurred.

“Yeah well, ah? Okay then,” Ben said, a little deflated though resigned to Lynny’s reasoning.

“Tell yer what!” he said, brightening. “I’ll point the car that way, use the headlights while we wash – and, I may as well have a look around with the spotty too, eh? Should keep any ah … animals, away too. They don’t like bright light – unnatural!” he said effusively, the joint working on him quickly in conjunction with the beers. He took another deep toke on the joint, handed it to Marylyn and moved off toward the truck.

While Ben turned the truck around, Marylyn grabbed her toiletries and a towel and sat with the joint: that had now gone out. Lynny was notorious for letting the joint go out. She found a lighter in the ‘cooking-utensils’ box, lit it, took a small puff and wondered what the hell they were still doing here? She could see Ben’s figure standing on the roof of their truck, shining the spotlight around them. He’d turned the truck so the lights were shining at the water-hole and he’d left it running, so the big V-8 engine’s slow throb was echoing around them. The sound was comforting and Marylyn began to relax a little.

The adrenaline rush was gone, replaced by exhausted weariness. In fact, Marylyn felt like she could sleep for a week; Just not here tonight. Sex was the last thing she needed or wanted really, especially while something was all kinds of wrong here. Ben seemed to be treating it as ‘all in a day’s work’, but Marylyn knew; Sensed, something quite inexplicable was happening. She looked down to see she’d allowed the joint to go out again when a strange sound – a ragged voice? Dragged her from her introspective daze.

Back at the area that had come ‘alive’, movement and a noise had her ears, eyes, nose and all the sensitive hairs on her body standing to full attention; once more. It was a voice – of sorts – and, there was something there. Marylyn could see the dark outline of … something?

Just then, Ben turned the truck off, but left the headlights on. The silence was loud. Marylyn caught a movement and what sounded like a warning, from an inhuman throat:

“Washout-Lynny!”, it sounded like; Then the shape and voice were gone. Marylyn almost died of fright when Ben touched her shoulder a moment later. She hadn’t heard him come up, being so focussed on the shape and voice. “Shit! Don’t do that Ben!” she almost screamed, leaping up and knocking the table aside.

“Sorry!” Ben said, hands out and up. “Just wanted to tell you I didn’t see anything. I think we’ll be right,” he said, glancing toward the water-hole. “You wanna wash still?” he asked, noting the shock on her face. “You-okay? Lynny?” he queried. Marylyn tried not to look back at the area, but she couldn’t help herself. Ben followed her gaze and grinned.

“Still thinking about that freak Willy-willy love?” he said, so casually that Marylyn wanted to scream. Instead, she grabbed her toilet-bag and towel and moved toward the water-hole. Ben spotted the joint lying on a tin-lid ashtray on the table. “Better not waste this prime shit,” he murmured, lighting it and following Marylyn’s form lit by the truck headlights.

At the water-hole Marylyn made Ben stand watch as she pulled off her sweat-stained clothes and underwear and waded into the shallow water just off the bank. She washed herself thoroughly and quickly; senses yet straining for any discrepancy in the natural ambience in the night around them, while Ben finished the joint and made wolf-whistles at her naked body.

“So? What’s me chances then, Lynny?” he asked, pulling off his own clothes and leering at her as she dressed in clean underwear, shorts and t-shirt. He handed the gun in its holster to her before he walked into the water naked. “Just hold it. Don’t shoot it, or me my love,” he said and fell backward into the water and disappeared beneath it. He came to the surface mid-hole, standing neck-deep in the dark water and called to her.

“Hey! It’s nice Lynny, why don’t you come in?” Then unexpectedly, he screamed like a teenage girl, leapt into the air and thrashed back toward the bank where Marylyn waited.

“Fuck! Somethin fuckin’ touched me out there,” he said, looking around at the still dark water where nothing moved.

“Wrapped around me fucking leg! Swear to god!” he exclaimed, snatching the gun and holster from her. He was naked and shaking as he pulled the gun out and put several shots into the waterhole.

“Fuck you! And fuck this fuckin’ place!” he added to the echoes rolling away from them once more tonight. Marylyn looked at her husband’s left leg and saw several red marks snaking around his calf and thigh. No wonder he’d reacted like he did! He wasn’t imagining it. Marylyn thought and; Just another reason to leave this place before something really bad happened to one or the other of them, she continued the thought, watching Ben watching the water’s surface as he dressed more quickly than she’d ever seen before.

“So? We’re leaving? Ben? Yeah?” Marylyn said hopefully, as they moved back toward their camp and vehicle. Ben was walking and rubbing at his leg and thigh where ‘something’ had touched or grabbed him in the small waterhole. Suddenly Ben stopped and propped, standing stiffly. He spoke angrily; although not exactly at Marylyn.

“Fuck’s-sake! Look! I just want one decent freakin’ day here! Is that too much to bloody ask?” he shouted at the sky before propping, to prove the terrible fright he’d had was from something real; Not imagined. He lifted the long-shorts he’d changed into and bent the leg toward his wife.

“Look! See!” he said, shining the torch on the marks on his leg. When she bent to look, Ben used the chance to apologise for scaring the pants off her. Poor old Lynny was scared enough, without him screaming like a girl at a bloody freshwater eel! Still, he mused. It was dark and, I certainly wasn’t expecting to find a lonely amorous fuckin’ Eel, way out here!’ he thought, and laughed to himself before he tried to put things right. Won’t get a leg over, if I don’t try to calm her down either. There is that, Ben mused.

“Geez! Look! I’m sorry Lynny,” he said, as she crouched to see the marks better in the lantern’s light. “Musta been a big freshwater eel,” he said, chuckling at his terror as she touched the skin. “Does it hurt when I touch it?” she queried, looking up his face from her squatting position. “Nah! I’m right now,” he said, looking severely embarrassed. He put a hand on the top of her head.

“Fucking eel wasn’t as big as my eel but, was it love?” he said, suddenly putting pressure on her head to move closer to his obvious swelling crotch. “Um? While you’re down there Lynny?” he said nonchalantly, and made light of it when Marylyn pulled back and stood to face him. “Bad joke-my bad!”, he said, running the words together. Lynny’s face said it all.

“For god’s sake Ben!” she said. Looking up at his 1.82 metre height from her mere 1.6 metre purview, Marylyn felt extra small, confused, and felt some growing anger at Ben’s refusal to even acknowledge the eerie events that had transpired since they’d arrived here. Her fists were clenched by her side as she spoke, looking up to him.

“Was there Viagra in that joint? If there was, it didn’t bloody work on me, over being scared shitless!” she said forcefully. “Or was it in the carton of beers you’ve had since midday? Or did you swallow some stupid-pills that you took from some idiot dealer you guys busted? Or what Ben!” she queried, pulling him with her as she moved quickly toward the lights on the truck. Ben grumbled but moved up beside her until they reached the camp, where he swerved off to turn off the headlights, head down and sulking.

Meanwhile, Marylyn put the rifle on the table where it would be handy and dug out the stronger stuff, to pour herself a good stiff shot. If ever there was a right time! she thought wearily. She swallowed two large nips straight – before Ben returned – which calmed her nerves a tad, though she couldn’t help but peer over at the dark area where the ruckus occurred. Ben had yet another beer when he returned.

He looked refreshed. His hair was even combed, and he smelled of the overly-expensive after-shave she’d bought him for his last birthday. OMG! Marylyn thought, exasperated. The SOB is still trying it on! She couldn’t understand her husband’s insistence on sex; Tonight! Here! Why in god’s name can’t he understand that I would be afraid to even close my eyes here tonight? The thought of ‘something’, being around in the dark out here is just far too spooky to relax enough to open my legs for my drunk, stoned husband, Marylyn thought, but couldn’t say.

“It wasn’t an eel either,” she said quietly but confidently, as Ben stood beside his chair at the table with her and joined her in a chaser. He threw a two-shot down straight and guffawed before answering.

“Oh, no? Well! Newsflash dearest, but native fish and freshwater crawchies don’t grow big enough to wrap themselves around me leg; that’s a freakin’ known fact,” he said, falling morosely into a camp-chair at the table; this incredible day finally having worn even Ben’s well-known vigour to dust. Tonight, Marylyn wouldn’t let it go however.

“An eel that big, wrapping itself around your leg would leave mucus from its skin on you somewhere; And that’s a known fact as well, me-dear,” she said, suddenly weary of the day, Ben, and of being afraid. “It wouldn’t leave marks either,” she told him. “Their skin is soft; soft and slimy from the mucus that protects them from well, diseases and stuff,” she told him. She knew that from her diving days on the GBR. “All eels had the slime, be they fresh or saltwater,” the Reef Guide had explained pre-dive, while answering a question about Moray Eels.

“So does this mean no root then?” Ben said with a cheeky grin. Marylyn grinned an obligatory but weary smile back and spoke slowly.

“The only way you’ll get your leg over this little wifey tonight, is if we pack up and leave here, like right now, my darling Benny-boy,” she said and yawned wide. For some reason though, Ben wouldn’t let it go: the hopeful boyish grin was gone; replaced with what could be observed as a sneer, if I didn’t know better, Marylyn thought, looking back at her husband a little warily. His entire visage had changed. The look on Ben’s face was almost feral. “Ben! You’re scaring me,” she said, unconsciously rising to move back; away from her angry, large-sized husband.

“That’s your trouble,” another suddenly-alien Ben spat, rocketing to his feet and knocking his chair back and over. He kicked backward angrily, whacking the chair away as he towered over her across the table. His face was beet-red and his entire large body was trembling with something akin to rage. “You only think of yourself, Lynny. It’s really fucked up … and … someday … one day,” her long-time lover, husband and friend stuttered, “it’s gonna get you into real trouble if you’re not careful,” Ben – the-flint-eyed-stranger – said coldly, a hand unconsciously straying to the pistol’s butt.

Marylyn went blank: mind, body and soul. This wasn’t her Benny-boy. This was the hard-nosed City Detective putting the fear of God into some ‘street-scum’, as he and his Detective mates termed the hardcases they met daily. But then the cold stranger disappeared, just as quickly and magically as the shape she’d seen in the dark before. Ben shrugged those huge shoulders, looked at her with shock that he’d allowed such an emotional outburst air, and quickly moved to reseat his chair at the table. He plonked himself into it so hard, a ripping sound came from the camp-chair somewhere. Ben ignored the sound. He leant back, placed his big hands on the table gripping each other firmly and looked at her ashamedly.

“Fuck! Fuck! I’m sorry Lynny. Don’t know what came over me?” he said miserably. “You’re right love. I’ve imbibed a few too many beers and drugs – shouldn’t-a mixed em up, that’s all. Making me mind play tricks or something,” he said, peering at her hopefully. Marylyn’s response was to pour another shot, drink it in one hit, grab the rifle and move wearily toward the truck, and bed, leaving Ben at the table finishing his final beer of the day…

Taken

And in that sombre mood, the drained, drunk, stoned and emotionally-exhausted couple finally moved to the truck, and the King-sized bed inside the covered tray; Custom-built in to accommodate Ben’s large frame. By now, Marylyn was so exhausted and, more than slightly drunk from the straight shots of spirits – that by the time her head hit her pillow, she didn’t care who or what might be prowling the area. She was unconscious by the time Ben came to bed…

Nightmares

Marylyn was dragged from the exhausted state sometime later by Ben’s large naked body – and his relatively-sized erect hot penis – rubbing against her now – also-naked body?

“Hmm? Wha? Ben? Get-off-me! Wha…? How did I get nak… where-are-my-clothes?” she mumbled, dredging up words – when Ben suddenly pushed open her legs with his own, felt down between her thighs with a hand, found her cleft and drove his erect penis deep into her. Marylyn was groggy, confused and dry, and it hurt. Ben was huge and Marylyn could feel it actually throbbing inside her; As if he was so excited his large cock was spasming uncontrollably. The pain dragged her fully conscious and she struggled vainly.

“Ugh! No! Ben! Stop! You’re hurting me! Ben!” she said, trying to struggle him off her. It was useless, Ben outweighed her by a ton. Her husband’s groaned answer was to lift himself off her for a moment, spit on his fingers, force the hand between their bodies to lubricate her. Then he forced his penis into her again. With another groan of accomplishment, he began to piston his thighs, driving his full length in and out; shaking the heavy truck with the violence of his thrusts.

At least – Marylyn thought it was his violent movements. But then, the truck suddenly lifted up on one side and banged back down, bouncing on the wheels and hurling Ben off to slam into the side of the tray. The ‘stranger’ in her bed yelped like a pup, before turning on the light to find his weapon. He found it, checked the load, unlocked the rear swing doors and leapt naked into the night swinging the gun and his stiff member around crazily. A triple-stunned wide-awake Marylyn found her discarded knickers and t-shirt, put them on and crawled to the opening.

In the light of the trillion bright stars above, Marylyn could make out the agitated form of her Ben, strutting around the campsite, armed, bare-ass naked and dangerous. His large Peter, now hung limp and swung around with every jerky movement. Marylyn had to stifle a laugh at the slap-stick comedy routine she saw; Even though it was serious. He was holding the gun in two hands and whirling to cover every imagined enemy. Though at least he hadn’t fired as yet in panic, she thought, relieved for that small mercy. Marylyn found her own torch, which she kept beside her pillow for nighttime trips to do a wee. Once again, Marylyn took the rifle out from its usual place at the top of the bed, when they were sleeping. She rechecked the mag and safety and, keeping a wary eye on Ben’s antics – and where he pointed the gun, Marylyn climbed slowly out of the tray, using the heavy tow-bar as a step.

She looked around the area, but could see nothing untoward. Out of place. Although the trees, rocks and bushes all seemed to be dangerously alive to her right now. She moved around to shine the torchlight on where ‘something’, would have stood to lift the heavy truck like that; as impossible as that seemed, Marylyn couldn’t stop herself from looking. Sure enough, there was similar torn earth to the ‘claw-marks’ she’d seen earlier, over where the trees had come to life and attempted to destroy themselves. Looking further along to their truck’s body-panels, Marylyn discovered the back-wheel panel on that side, above the torn earth was bent; deformed a little. It was right where a friggin’ giant might grab hold, to attempt to lift the truck off its wheels. It hasn’t hurt us, she thought curiously, glancing around as Ben staggered back, looking angry and, not the least shamed by his earlier actions.

“Someone’s been playing a trick on us, I reckon, love,” he said, causing Marylyn’s eyes to almost roll out of their sockets. He stood in front of her naked, and even now – obviously proud of his stature, by the look in his eyes – the gun in his hand hung limply by his side, like his shrivelled cock. He lifted the gun to his head, using the barrel to scratch, as he did with a hand, when something eluded him.

“That’s the only thing that makes any bloody sense? Lynny? What do ya reckon love?” he asked seriously: as if nothing had happened in the dark, in the tray-bed, before this new weird ‘event’, that had stopped him in his tracks. Lynny ignored his idiotic comment. Didn’t tell him about the marks she’d found next to the truck. She stood to her full height and looked him in the eye; even the thought of a Giant shadow monster thing watching, forgotten in her fury, and shame.

“You do remember that No! Means No!”, don’t you Ben?” she said, using one hand to gesture quotation marks for the well-known phrase. Her other hand held the rifle loosely at her side and strangely, Marylyn was glad for its comfort. In fact, it was hard not to lift it, point and shoot him in the foot, or somewhere more relevant to his recent actions; though she would never do it, she knew well. Her dander was up sky-high however, and it opened her mouth and shot off its own bullets.

“I’m starting to think I might be better off with our local tree-smashing, truck-lifting, invisible voyeur, than with my husband of many years! Why is that, Ben? What in god’s name is going on with you?” she quizzed. Then: “Do – not – roll-your-eyes at me! Matey!” she spat, when he did just that. Marylyn had to force her arm down to stop the rifle rising to point at him. She suddenly had an epiphany about her work with domestic violence ‘accidents’, in the heat of a raging argument, while holding a weapon that could hurt the other opponent. Marylyn shook her head to clear it. She took a deep breath and another and another, lowering the rifle toward the ground before speaking.

“Ben? My ‘little sooky-boy’,” she said, using a pet name trying to gain his full and undivided attention to what she was saying. “Like? Hello!” she said flatly.

“I was bloody unconscious from today’s shit-storm of a day and woken roughly to being used like a sex-doll. You were raping me. Me! Lynny, Marylyn, your wife! I could hardly breathe, let-a-alone speak or scream Ben! I thought I might die under you and you wouldn’t even guess until you got your freaking rocks off. So do not roll your eyes at me as if I was some drunk vacuous loose moral-ed slut. You actually forced yourself on me Ben. It hurt, and you knew I didn’t want to. I’d made that pretty clear ever since all this weird shit began today. Right here!” she yelled, throwing her hands out to encompass the entire area. Then, a powerful mix of habit, love and confusion allowed her voice to relent a little.

“Ben my love, I need to know, and I need to know right now; This instant, Ben,” she told him, putting every ounce of her scant size and pussy-power into her voice; if that’s what it takes! she thought angrily. Ben didn’t look up as he spat a few words at the ground.

“Nothing… Everything!” he said morosely, even kicking barefoot at the dirt in frustration like a sulky child. “Ahhh! Fuck it anyway!” he cursed roundly, putting the gun back in its holster, while glaring at the ground. “I’m going to sleep in the cabin tonight. Any fucking thing at all comes anywhere near us, I’ll blow its fuckin’ head off and shit in the stump. Ya-hear-that!” he screamed. “Fuck! You!” he shouted at the landscape. He moved to their tray-bed to grab his clothes, and still couldn’t, or wouldn’t, meet her eye. Marylyn waited, depressed and confused, hoping for some answer – a response that would clear everything up – but Ben was silent and angry. He grabbed his clothes and was outside dressing as Marylyn climbed back into the tray-bed; her questions unanswered. ‘I wonder if he’s taken something? I know many of his Tec mates use confiscated property now and then,’ she mused, suddenly frustrated at almost everything.

She put her Nike swoosh suit on under her old-faithful jeans and nightshirt, suddenly needing the comfort of a firm covering on her bare skin; And, in case she had to get up quickly yet again during what was left of the night. A seriously disturbed Marylyn lay down, the rifle close by her side and the cabin-light on. She stared at the roof above her head as she tried to assimilate the day’s events leading to this awful state of affairs. She heard the cabin door open and felt the truck shift as Ben got in and moved things around to lie on the bench seat.

Being so tall, Ben’s feet would normally be sticking out the open window, although she heard the front windows being raised to closed tonight. I wouldn’t be leaving my feet out tonight either! Marylyn mused, staring at, but not seeing the white ceiling above her head.

Apart from a few nightbird calls, the area around them was quiet. Musing on her husband’s abrupt change of behaviour, and the unknown thing that had made its presence felt in no uncertain fashion, utter weariness began to claim her once more. As she began to follow the Sandman into blessed sleep, the vehicle began to rock ever-so-slightly, once again. It was nothing like before, nothing violent, but it was joined by quiet groans. Marylyn realised that after everything that had happened, her husband was relieving his ‘unfinished business’. It was over quickly, but unmistakable in its sounds and movements, as if Ben wanted her to know, or just didn’t care that she heard him. She couldn’t help it. Marylyn turned over and cried softly into her pillow.

She finally drifted off from sheer mental exhaustion, leaving the light on and with one arm draped across the rifle. It was a troubled respite, filled with disturbing dreams of a gigantic mishappen shadow peering through the truck’s windows. But even more disturbing, was the awful dream of herself trapped in a pitch-black jail-cell, with Ben’s twisted, hate-filled face staring down triumphantly from a bright circle of light…

Dawn

A loud gunshot woke her from a deep sleep that had finally grabbed her and taken her to real rest in the early morning. Marylyn leapt from sleep to wide-awake in a few blurred moments. She crawled to the swing doors, opened them, to see Ben fully dressed and peering at something – in the area that had scared them so badly earlier last night. The sun hadn’t quite risen yet.

“Thought I saw something creeping around over there… Sorry! I didn’t mean to wake you,” he said astonishingly to her head poking out of the back of the truck. “It wasn’t you,” she said a tad sarcastically. “It was the cannon shot from a war-zone some-where,” she said, moving to dress. Marylyn threw a t-shirt over the Nike-swoosh bodysuit she wore under the loose nightshirt and climbed out from their tray-bed, to echoes of the shot dwindling outward across the land. Ben came closer, smiling hopefully, though the shadows of the previous night’s events were in his eyes, belying his manner.

“Hey!” he called almost merrily. “I found a really great spot yesterday. Need to show you where I’ll be ‘working’, he said, gesturing with both hands, the V-for-victory sign. “Just in case – you-know? Buddy-system and all that. Let’s check it out before breakfast, eh?” he said to her stony face.

“Are we going to talk about what happened last night Ben?” she asked, leaning back against the truck to emphasise her need to talk, before moving anywhere. Ben came closer, reached out slowly and put his arms around her, slowly bringing their bodies together. Marylyn was stiff. Silent. Waiting for his explanation before even thinking of giving anything back.

“You were right Lynny,” he said to the top of her head, his voice breaking while his large body now held her against the truck; although extremely gently this time. Marylyn felt moisture on her hair and face and realised Ben was crying as he spoke. Her defences began to crumble.

“I had a few.. ah… several tabs we took off a street-dealer. Just to take the edge off, you-know? And start the holidays with a bit of something different. Stupid really, in hindsight love. I think they were high-end Speed; maybe fairly pure Ice. Someone did mention ‘China-girl’… ah? Fentanyl too, but I thought they were joking or bragging,” he said, which actually explained a lot. Marylyn had seen the effects of those street drugs in much of her inner-city Police-work. Ben’s frantic extraordinary actions were right in line with that powerful drug’s effects.

“I shouldn’t have mixed them all. Gawd! What an idiot! Ya’ think I’d know from practical experience? Seeing it with my own eyes. But; I’m tired from the work, Lynny. It’s soul-destroying. Day-in day-out having to deal with sneaky lying scum on the one side and the Law we’re s’posed to uphold… that seems to be so full of justice for all, that all the crims we catch get, is a slap and tickle rather than punished,” he said softly. That sentence telling her more about his feelings and work stress than he had in their entire married life so far.

Marylyn’s resolve melted a little more, although his next admission brought a mote of dread to her heart.

“I… Some of the… Lynny… ah?” he faltered, trying to find the right words. Marylyn almost reacted with: ‘Use your words, honey; Use your words’, a standing joke with them after hearing her sister encourage her eighteen-month-old, to ‘use her words’ to help mum understand exactly what she wanted or needed. But under the circumstances, no! Marylyn mused, relaxing a little against his body as his words finally came out, although stilted and nervously.

“To be honest, it… it would be easy to get into some of the um, bad habits that some of the other ‘Tecs’ are into for the same reasons – our work means nothing, so why not make some money on the inside knowledge we have from working with the filth,” he said, his voice sounding flat as it bounced from the truck’s glass window behind her. ‘Tecs’ were what his Detective mates called each other; she knew.

“Ben? Have you done something? Got… us, into trouble? Ben?” Marylyn asked quietly into his chest. She pulled back and looked up at him. “Is that what’s worrying you so badly? Enough to take street drugs that could have anything in them!” she asked, looking up at the man she’d married and made a life with. Hoping he’d laugh and tell her: ‘of course not!’. But Ben looked away. He moved away, hands hanging loosely by his side.

“Nah! No! We’re all good. It’s okay love,” he said unconvincingly, still not looking at her eye to eye.

“Ben? … If there’s…” Marylyn began, when he interrupted, with a chirpiness that had to be fake. “Hey! C’mon! Let’s check out this spot. Fuck work. Fuck the drugs. Fuck the beers. Get some shoes on. I’m feelin’ lucky girl. There’s gold in them-thar hills,” he said in an American drawl, as he turned away and grabbed a water-bottle to take with them.

Marylyn grabbed her old joggers. While she was tightening the shoes Velcro straps, she glanced across at her husband and sighed. She was resigned to the half-truths, and hopeful he’d tell her more later. She rinsed her mouth with mouthwash instead of cleaning her teeth. Even though her mouth felt like an ashtray, Marylyn didn’t wish to hold Ben up any longer. She grabbed her cap and moved off with him, carrying the new you-beaut gold-finder for him as they moved toward the ridgeline.

“How far is it?” she asked, as they picked their way uphill through the red-rocks. “Not far, just over this ridge,” Ben told her, moving quickly over the uneven ground. At the top, a lovely light wind was blowing. Marylyn stopped for a moment to savour the coolness and the wild scents of the surrounding lands it carried, as Ben got his bearings and literally ran down the rocky slope toward a pile of, what looked like a manmade heap of rocks at the bottom. It seemed Ben had caught gold-fever.

“Washout-Mara-lynny,” she heard again faintly on the wind. Marylyn searched around from the top of the ridge and there again, was the merest hint of a large moving shadow in the briefly, supernaturally-live area. The faint voice came again, restating the; ‘washout’ warning and causing Marylyn to shiver instinctively at the …powerful-unknown, she sensed there. Her trance was broken by Ben, calling.

“Hey! Lynny! Bring the metal-detector down, love. I’ll start while it’s still cool, eh,” he told her, searching around the area like a drug-detecting Beagle on a mission, though Marylyn was fairly sure Ben wouldn’t know what raw gold looked like if it landed on his head.

Still! Let him use his new toy, maybe it’ll help calm him down at least, she thought as she picked a path downhill toward him. A final word of warning from lips unused to talking, pushed at her as she began the downhill walk. ‘Washout, washout, washout’, it echoed and faded as she moved down toward Ben, who obviously hadn’t heard it, or he’d have been over there killing yet more trees and shrubs, she thought. Ben seemed more than a little over-excited, considering he hadn’t even begun looking as yet. And, he was tense, but trying to cover it with child-like excitement, Marylyn saw. She knew him well enough to see through his act, yet still couldn’t fathom why?

“See! This area was worked, but not for too long by the looks of the rock-piles,” Ben expounded. “Most of the others have huge mounds of rocks around them. That means I’ve probably got more chance of finding something around here, I reckon. What do you think, Lynny?” he said, taking the detector from her and setting it up to work.

Marylyn had a quick check around the area; just in case there was a great big gold nugget laying around; not that I’m any better at recognising the real-deal in its raw state either, she mused drolly. Then she saw the semi-camouflaged lip of an old mine-shaft, close-by where Ben was starting from, though Marylyn hadn’t noticed it until she’d got closer. She moved toward it; unable to stop the instinctive need to look down into its maw. Ben was awaiting an answer.

“My darling Benny-boy,” she called him to soften the blow. “Hate to throw a wet-blanket over your reasoning, love. But perhaps there was just more gold at those other diggings?” she suggested reasonably. She’d reached as close as she was game to go to the edge and was stretching her neck out to see more, when she heard Ben’s heavy footsteps rushing toward her. Marylyn spun to see what was wrong, looking around feverishly to see what had got Ben moving, when she felt a solid bump, and then she was falling backward through the air…

Dreamscape

Marylyn didn’t have the breath or time to scream as she plummeted down and down into stark-naked terror; then everything went black…

Her confused mind dragged her up from some deep, dark place with questions: It’s night-time again? Where am I? I can’t move! Is that water I can smell? No! It’s mud! Slushy mud, like when I was a little girl and made mud-cakes for my pretend oven – it was the same smell, she thought, unable to fathom the what, where, when, or how of her sudden change from a morning stroll, to this blindly-bizarre, dreamlike environment.

Wait! she thought, a memory resurfacing. I was talking to Ben, and something happened and … I fell! I fell backwards over the lip. Shit! I fell into the freaking mine-shaft? I must be hurt! Am I dying? Dead? Marylyn thought quickly, but then another thought rose. Wait! There’s no pain! If I broke things, I should be in pain; surely! she reasoned. Then, she began to distinguish blurred light – a circle of light. The awful dream rushed back, but Marylyn pushed it away. It was too fantastic for words.

Suddenly, Marylyn realised she could hear a faint voice coming from high above, though it was muted for some reason. My ears are blocked with something, she realised. Without thinking, she automatically moved her arm to clear whatever was there. But she found her hand was weirdly heavy. She put a bit more effort into lifting it, waiting for the pain to hit, but there was none and it kept moving, though slow-motion slowly. Then it abruptly jerked up, as if it had been superglued to the earth. She immediately went to wipe around her ears and felt a sticky wet substance over them, over her face and neck and all over the hand she was using to wipe it off.

She wiped the gunk, as best she could one-handed, on the inside of her t-shirt and stuck a little-finger in each ear to get what she could out. Her hearing returned partially; enough now to recognise the voice from above. It wasn’t God’s voice.

It was Ben’s voice coming down from above – talking to her; Not shouting. Not even panicked. Not telling her that help would be here soon. He sounded … relieved, if anything, Marylyn thought, and wanted to cry. She used her free hand to help free the other arm and once freed, both hands automatically went to her eyes. They too were covered in the gunk, as was her entire face, she found. She used the inside of her t-shirt again to clean the other hand of the sticky semi-solid mess, and using two hands, cleared most of her face and eyes. And, abruptly, Marylyn could see and hear; Not well, but enough. And she suddenly wished fervently that she couldn’t see or hear; and, that time could go backward – just for an hour or so, to stop the awful litany of hate that was pouring down on her from her over-worked Detective husband; From Ben…

The truth shall set some of us free

“…so you see Lynny,” the calm familiar voice was explaining. “I didn’t have a choice. You didn’t allow me a choice, as usual!” Ben said in his little boy’s voice, absolving himself and breaking everything inside her she held dear about them. A sneer entered his voice.

“And look where you’re straight-arrow conscience… Oh-yeah! Let’s not forget your fucking straight-arrow prudishness about sex – has got you now,” he said and giggled. “I asked you about taking a few risks to get ahead… Well, I hinted at it anyway, but you were too stupid, too fuckin’ ignorant. Too wrapped up in your own little world where you were the boss between us – using that precious little pussy to keep me in line in bed. Oh yeah! And, such a shining light for women in the Force. All the Brass love Marylyn! Well you poor dead cunt. Get this! I’m going to be rich. Filthy rich! Bitch! And you’re still going to be dead,” he said and laughed.

At the bottom of the shaft, very much alive, in no pain as such: not dead, or dying, an innate self-preservation switch clicked on in answer to the callous soliloquy floating down to her. A cold reasoning mind took over her body. It struggled and twisted and turned her body, until her head was facing upward. She hadn’t realised she wasn’t facing up. It was pitch-black here. Her hands rubbed viciously against her jeans – still no pain, this new calculating mind explained – until the clinging gunk was just a thin skin on her hands, then they rubbed the film from her face and eyelids. Marylyn couldn’t see anything at all around her, but she realised now that her small body was half-buried in what smelled, tasted and felt like, mud! Glorious, thick, soft, mud.

Being able to tell up from down brought a massive sense of relief. The circle of light meant that was up. And up there, a nightmare come to life some distance above, was a bright circle of light – and, the dark outline of Ben’s head and shoulders as he spat his last words at her ‘body’. At least I can’t see his freaking face like in the dream, Marylyn thought a little crazily. Another calculated thought caused her to move – slowly, without making any noise – it told her. She took her t-shirt off, turned it inside-out and used it to wipe the mud from her face and around her ears, though it didn’t make what she heard or could now see, any better at all.

Up on the surface, Ben loosed an infantile giggle as he continued. “God! I wanted to fuck you so bad last night! A final fuck for old-time’s sake and; So I could remember being between your tight-arse legs for the very last time. Oh yeah! Nearly forgot! This’ll get ya Lynny!” he said and guffawed. “Don’t you worry your little thick head about my being lonely either, my unlucky poor love who had a terrible accident while camping with her shattered, distraught husband,” he said and hooted. “The woman I’m doing the dirty with now just loves my kinky nature; ‘the more the fucking merrier’, she says, and we both mean that literally, ole straight-as-a-die Lynny!” he said cruelly.

The new cold analytical aspect of Marylyn’s mind forced her back against the rough wall, so she was sitting, looking up – and even that small mercy sent hope thrilling through her. Above, in the circle of light, her murdering rapist husband’s shape continued his deathbed diatribe.

“And, I fucking love sharing her, Lynny; Watching her fucked by other men,” he said, sounding eerily lewd even now. “I hinted to you about that too, you know? Gave you every chance. All the other men wanted to have a go at you, but no, not our Lynny! What did you do! You laughed and said it was a ‘great joke’ Ben, and – how long before I was ready to go to visit your stupid fucking sister! That was your prim and proper answer. Well now I got rid of your strait-laced selfish-bitch self. I got the money, the right little slut to use at will, and; Everyone, will be consoling me for the terrible accident that took our bright, happy, ‘lights-up-the-fucking-room,’ Lynny fucking Shriver away… Well fuck you and goodbye, ya stupid tight-arsed bitch!” he threw at her supposed body. The shadow above disappeared, but the voice continued.

“I’ve already made an emergency call, so your precious little body won’t have to lie down there for the worms and flies. I told them you went for an early morning walk and haven’t come back as yet, and that with all the dangerous old mine-shafts around here, I’m outa my mind with worry!” Ben’s voice, full of ridicule, echoed down the shaft. The shadow above returned to say its final words and, as if to seal his deal with the Devil, and revealing an unsound mind – how would he explain that to Forensics? ‘Officer’ Shriver wondered – Ben urinated down into the shaft as he spoke. But although Marylyn could see the stream falling, it was wasted on the side of the shaft and never reached her.

Up on the lip, Ben continued his rant, oblivious to the fact his final insult was a failure.

‘In fact, Lynny mused, ‘his entire plan was doomed to failure because he hadn’t checked the bottom of the shaft at all. But then, who would think she’d fall dead centre without hitting the sides at all. That there’d be thick mud at the bottom of any shaft around this dry land – must be a soak here. And of course! That’s why the original miners stopped working this shaft,’ Marylyn guessed.

‘Ben-the-winner’, was still talking, praising his smarts and his new life. Marylyn wished he’d just piss off to his freakin’ gang-bang loving slut, and leave her in peace.

“Ya see,” an over-excited Ben gushed. “What you – and your fucked-up family and your idiot girlfriends never realised hon, is that I’m not meant for suburbia and the whole suburban hubby – come on over for a BBQ thing. I’m bigger than that; was always meant to be a destiny-maker. I’m a fucking monster! Lynny. A monster of lust for everything this fucked-up world has to offer. And now, with you out of the way, I intend to live the way I want. The way a strong, big powerful man like me should be able to. Take what I want, anytime I want,” it said. The shadow disappeared again and silence returned to her deep, dark, moist and pungent prison…

Morning is broken

A totally shattered and drained Marylyn listened to Ben’s inane contented whistling as he left her there; Supposedly dead or dying, it didn’t seem to matter which. The whistling faded and the area’s normal peaceful silence descended on her prison.

Wonder if he actually rang emergency? she thought and: How long could I survive in here anyway? How long will they take to get here? They’d have to come from… The Copper at Southern Cross would be nearest Police-station around here… About two and a half hours, she guessed. ‘Ye-old Benny-boy bloody Shriver is going to be in for one hell of a shock when they get here! Marylyn thought giddily, until movement at the surface caught her attention.

A few pebbles and sand fell tumbling against the rough side of the shaft. He’s come back! To check his work, Marylyn knew. Without thinking, she threw herself into a broken body pose; head down in the mud, one arm flung awkwardly against the shaft. Moments later, an oblong circle of light lit up the wall of the shaft, before moving down. Marylyn knew it was silly, but she could swear she felt the torchlight touch her. She stopped breathing; becoming an unmoving corpse for his eyes. The light stayed on her for what seemed like hours.

This time there was no chatty news, just an intense scrutiny, which Marylyn could feel across her entire skin; Impossible! Just like the sensation of tangible torchlight, she thought. Although every sense was exploding, both on her skin and within.

Without warning, a large rock landed close beside her, splatting in the mud. Then another and another until one hit her leg. There was so much mud caking that leg, Marylyn didn’t have to flinch; She hadn’t realised it had even hit her until several seconds later. She felt Ben’s gaze on her for what seemed like an eternity, until her lungs were about to explode from the burning sensation of no air – for however long this took. Marylyn clamped her teeth together hard; she clenched her fanny and butt-cheeks as hard as she could; Anything without actual movement that would help her hold her breath; help to keep her alive a little longer.

She heard a shout; more of a frightened yelp of shock and surprise. Then Ben’s voice sounding angry and terrified in equal measure. Marylyn finally let go and breathed like she’d never tasted fresh-air before. And while the angry fear-filled voice of her husband screamed blue-murder on high, Marylyn gulped air in as fast as humanly possible. Then she began to listen to the uncanny shouting above her.

“No fuckin’ way! Not fuckin’ even! Wha-the-goddam-fuck! You fuck! You’re the fucking nasty beasty that’s been prowling around then eh? Well fuck you and your mama bitch, coz I got a lead lesson for you. Let’s see how ya like them bickies; Eh bitch!” he screamed at something up there with him. Five evenly spaced shots rang out, echoing loudly down to Marylyn. Then Ben’s voice again, incredulous this time; intense fear beneath his curses.

“Wad-the-goddam-fuck! That cunt must’ve loaded blanks! Fuckin’ bitch! This thing’ll stop a Grizzly!” he yelled to no one; no-one that cared anyway, Marylyn thought and wondered what in god’s name was happening up there? Who… or what, was with Ben?

Then big, strong, powerful, manly Ben – Detective 1st-class – now; ‘Single’, illegally-rich, sexually-satisfied, and severely over-confident of his awful plans, began to panic. It seems, Marylyn thought with a tinge of crazed hilarity, that whatever was there with him – it wasn’t a Grizzly and, either Ben’s aim was shit, or the small-cannon’s five large projectiles hadn’t hurt it. Ben’s abrupt panic was almost music to Marylyn’s ears; she pushed herself up until she stood, mud up to her thighs and leaning her head back against the rough wall behind her to look up, and to hear better.

“Fuckin’ stay away! I’m warning you! You! You? What-the-fuck-ever you are! Get the fuck away from me! I’m an officer of the Law! A fuckin’ detective, 1st-fuckin’-class!” he screamed at the top of his voice. His next words revealed that whatever was with him had no big respect for his litany of threats, or of being a Lawman.

“Stop! Oh my god! Fuck-me! Please! Someone! Anyone! Help! For fuck’s sake, help me!” he cried. Then his voice changed again. Disbelief and shock rose with its volume. “Stay away! Get the fuck off me! Nooooo!” she heard him cry out in desperation. The sounds of a struggle, accompanied by groans of effort from Ben began, but were quickly cut off to an awful gurgle, then an impossibly loud, awful snapping sound and a terrible groan; both that portended nothing good for Ben’s health; And then nothing. Silence reigned again…

Protect baby?

A massive dark shadow blocked the light above, and when she looked up, there was Ben. He was broken – in two; A few moments earlier with the world at his feet and an accidentally-dead wife, now dead himself. From where she was, he looked like a little puppet without strings; held aloft by the Puppet-Master. A Master with gigantic misshaped hands so big, that Ben’s body draped either side of the one giant hand that held him. Then it and they were gone. Marylyn whooshed out the breath she’d been holding and slid down the wall; exhausted, drained, confused and yet extremely happy to be alive…

She must have slept – something splatting into the mud near her woke her from a dream of ancient Australia; When all manner of beasts roamed the land; before men, in the Before-time, she knew; abruptly gaining a deeper understanding of her country’s first-people and their Dreamtime. She also guessed that one of the large, naturally-camouflaged, elusive to look at, ‘beings’ she saw there, within her dream – was somehow here still; in today’s world. Here and freaking now! And, though they looked monster-ish, they weren’t savage creatures at all, she’d sensed in the dream that was more than a dream. They were long-lived, large, hard to kill, and obviously had a thing about wife-killers, she thought crazily again, but couldn’t help giggling a little hysterically.

Marylyn shook herself fully awake and felt for the object thrown down. It was her own small carry-bag from the camp, and by the feel of it, there were still some of her things inside it. Her muddy hands tore at the top and felt inside. Her torch was the first thing she felt. She took it out and shivered, certain her torch was left inside the truck, near her side of the bed.

Gratefully she turned it on to see the contents of the bag. To her utter amazement, she found a full 2-litre bottle of spring-water and several protein bars, still cold from their esky; and an old well-used, but clean face-towel. Then she shivered again. Her I-Phone was included. It had been in the glovebox of the truck, turned off on Ben’s orders. Marylyn abruptly burst into tears and stood up, tilting her head at the opening high above, sobbing as she spoke.

“Who… whatever you are? Thank you! Thank you from my heart!” she cried to the being that had saved her life. “Please! If there’s ever anything that I can do for you, or yours in fact, let me know… Oh! Somehow… if possible, and I’ll help however I can,” she sobbed out, never ever in a million years expecting a response. But the being surprised her again. The large shadow cut out the light again, and the being attempted to speak more clearly its earlier warning.

“Waa-washt out, Lynny,” it said roughly and slowly, and finally the penny dropped for Marylyn; ‘Watch out!’ it had been saying, somehow sensing her ex-husband’s intent. But then it added almost clearly, in a sort of Pigeon English: “Bad thing with you. Gone now,” its garbled voice said. Then; “Lynny… baby… Lok after baby,” it said. Marylyn was confused, but it tried again.

“Lynny… got… babe,” it said, and Marylyn suddenly felt a stir in her belly that she hadn’t taken any notice of when it began last night, with everything else going on. I’m pregnant. I’m pregnant! I’m pregnant! she thought in shock; suddenly knowing that was correct. But Marylyn’s doctors had told her she couldn’t get pregnant; That there was something wrong in her womb or tubes. Yet another thing Ben had held against her, even though he didn’t want children cluttering up his wonderful uncomplicated life. ‘Where-now bitch!’ Marylyn mused, thinking of Ben and his plans – and, astonished at how life could turn on a pin – or in a night.

“Oh. My. God! I’m pregnant! I’m really pregnant! I’m going to have a baby!” Marylyn yelled joyfully to the sky. A deep grinding sound that could have loosely been called a chuckle fell down to her ears. She looked up to see the massive hand that had held Ben like a toy – now empty – wave; Then it was gone… And Marylyn felt a sudden loss; as if an old friend had left and she wouldn’t ever see them again.

She sank to her haunches – at least as far as the mud would allow and drank some of the water, then used some to wash and clean her face with the towel provided by the thoughtful creature. Crap! I shoulda married it; more of a thoughtful gentleman than most freakin’ men I know! she thought and couldn’t hold back a strangled laugh as she began to eat some of the protein bars and await the rescue.

In fact, she suddenly realized, she could call them herself if she had a signal. God only knows if Ben had told the truth about calling anyone, she thought. Maybe he was going to after he’d made sure I was dead? She grabbed her phone and turned it on to see a full battery and a weak, but one-bar signal. She licked her thumb clean, wiped it dry and jammed her thumb over the print-identifier and – it sprang to life. Marylyn rang triple zero and burst into tears once again when a sweet female voice picked up and said; “Emergency. What is your emergency please? Do you need ambulance, fire or Police?” she asked, as if the world were normal…

Just another mystery in the remote Australian outback

The Daily Mercury. Police-beat: Perth. WA.
‘Mystery of missing Detective and husband remains unsolved,” the headline read.

‘The camping trip of a lifetime for a Policewoman and her Detective husband turned to dread and mystery when Policewoman, Marylyn Shriver and her husband Ben Shriver, decided to head into the Australian outback for a camping and gold-prospecting holiday.

According to Police reports, Marylyn and Ben Shriver were at the first stopover of their trip, somewhere west of the old Golden Loch mine, when off-duty Officer Shriver fell into an abandoned mineshaft that incredibly, was filled with mud from a local underground soak. Although falling almost ten meters down the old mineshaft, Ms Shriver, miraculously wasn’t hurt badly, but when she came to and called for her husband, Ben, there was no response.

Marylyn Shriver was also extremely lucky in that she was carrying her travel-bag, which had food, water, a torch and her phone in it. Ms. Shriver called emergency from the bottom of the mineshaft; “Yet another miracle,” the Police officer who saved Ms Shriver from the hole said. “I couldn’t get a signal at all when I got there, and yet Mrs Shriver’s phone worked for her ten metres below ground!” he told reporters. “Look, I know she lost her husband but still, she is one lucky, blessed woman to be alive,” the officer said.

Detective Ben Shriver has not been seen or heard from since that day and Police are baffled as to what happened to one of their best Detectives and a highly-rated, highly respected Police officer. The investigation is ongoing…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post

A short fictional action tale

Careful what you Wish for  [John M Wenitong aka Pemulwuy Weeatunga]

Prologue:

    Jimmy Starlight Warrener, or ‘Jimbo’ as he was known, knew he was in serious trouble. From what his muddled brain could figure, he’d been drugged, kidnapped and taken from his home in remote Western Australia and woke to find himself in a strange part of his people’s traditional lands. Jimmy knew he was yet in Australia: the birds, land and foliage told him as much, but as to where, he had no idea.

A few short minutes ago – after waking up tied hand and foot – several strange white men dressed in army-camouflage clothes had cut his bonds and led him outside, while explaining that he was there to be hunted; By them – Like it or not. They showed him crossbows and one regular Bow and explained that he had every chance to escape, if he was good enough. And, that they wouldn’t use guns of any kind. Each man also carried a huge Bowie-knife strapped to his side. Jimbo had tried to speak, to ask what the hell was happening – if it were some type of joke? But the men had interrupted all queries and after telling him to “shut your stupid black mouth and listen!”, they said he had a one-hour start, and that if he survived until sun-down – Jimbo guessed it was about seven-am now – he would be set free.

Though having made no effort to hide their faces, Jimbo was quite sure that was never going to happen – win or lose…

    Glancing around as they explained the so-called, ‘rules of engagement’, Jimbo noted the small shed he’d woken in, half hidden in a stand of trees and behind it, a small helicopter. So he guessed that’s how they had all got here, though he remembered none of it at all. Jimbo glanced at the men trying to see some spark of mercy within any of them, but they looked over-excited and merciless. They were having fun.

They had offered no water nor food and his mouth was already dry; like when he’d been in hospital after an operation. He guessed that was from whatever they’d drugged him with. Jimbo abruptly thought these men were probably more than a tad insane and, that there was little point in listening to them rave on about their hunt. While the men were talking at him, Jimbo had a quick glance around and saw a green, thick tree-line to his right. He knew there was some sort of water there and while the men were yet gloating, he thought; ‘well fuck this fer a joke!’ and abruptly hoofed it as fast as he could toward the water he hoped was there. It was going to be very hot very soon and water was his first priority.

There were angry shouts behind him, but no arrows, or at least none that hit him. One fellow even shouted: “Not fair nigger!”, at the top of his voice. Either they were terrible shots, or they were sticking to the one-hour start. Jimbo didn’t care one way or the other. These men were ‘propa-Womba!’ He went as fast as the land and his feet would allow – running a zig-zag pattern just in case.

When Jimmy reached the bank of the river bed and the cool shade of the tree-line there, he found it was almost completely dry; Except for a few small pools under the shade of the trees – right in under the tree-roots, which was enough to have a drink and splash water over his head and shoulders. He sat for a moment gathering his wits and immediately accepting of the insane situation he found himself in. ‘Better grab a weapon next’, he thought, and began a quick search for a club or something heavy that he could injure these fools with – and, a nice straight sapling he could use as a spear. Then he had another thought: “I’m better with rocks,” he murmured to himself, listening closely for the sounds of the men chasing.

‘Why would I trust anything they say’, Jimmy thought regarding the hour start and began looking for some nice heavy throwing-rocks he could use – a fairly silent weapon to use against them when they came for him. At present, there were no sounds of the hunters; just the usual bush sounds he knew well. Jimmy knew that if he kept his ears and eyes open, the local birds would tell him when someone ‘foreign’ was around. He had hunted game for many years and often relied on birds to help his eyes and ears in the hunt.

Jimmy gorged himself with water, doused his body thoroughly and quickly found a secreted spot in the bushes near the river, where even a Roo could hop right past without seeing him. ‘They’ll come one at a time, I think, because it’s also some sort of competition by the sounds of ‘em,’ he thought and hoped he could injure one, and move quickly to another spot to take out each of the idiots as silently as possible.

His watch had been taken, but Jimmy guessed about an hour had passed since he bolted. He settled in a squat within the bush awaiting the first of the hunters, while sweat began pouring out of him from the exertion and the rising sun beginning to beat against the land. Jimmy was used to sweating and he settled his mind and body to surprise the first idiot Miglo he saw. He didn’t have long to wait.

A huge Black Kite gave him his first hint that someone was nearby. It was high in the sky, but suddenly began circling, moving slowly toward the part of the river where he hid. The Kite had obviously spotted something large moving and was following it from on high; not merely out of curiosity, Jimmy knew. Human movement out here often gave opportunity to scavenge on what the humans killed; usually leaving a generous portion of their kills, no-matter the type of creature killed. Jimmy slowed his breathing and gripped the rock loosely; eyes and ears straining to catch any movement whatsoever – ready to launch the heavy missile at the appropriate moment.

Jimmy had chosen his spot well. The bush he was in was man-height, and circular with an open top, so when he stood to throw, the movement wouldn’t give him away by the sound of the bush’s branches and leaves rustling. His target was actually singing to himself – and as he came closer, Jimmy could make out the tune and the words:

“Ten little blackfellas standin’ in a line, one got sent to prison and then there were nine,
Nine black Abos’ ripping off some booze, one got shot and then there were eight..”.

The man sang quietly as he came closer, almost like he knew Jimmy was there. He carried a crossbow, although he held it in one hand swinging by his side as he walked, almost merrily along; ‘like he was a normal person out for a Sunday stroll’, Jimmy thought, as he prepared himself to hurl the rock as hard as he could right at the idiot’s head.

What Jimmy didn’t and couldn’t know, was that they had put a tiny tracker on him and, that this man was merely getting him to move, so his partner-in-crime could spot and shoot him. Which was exactly what occurred. Jimmy waited patiently until the man was moving away from his hide. When the man was past him and searching around in front of himself, looking toward the river-bed, Jimmy stood slowly and raised his arm to throw.

Suddenly he was knocked forward by a silent but powerful force; and pain – immediate strobing pain shut him down. He fell forward into the bush with all his plans come to nought. He felt the bolt as a numbing pain in his back and knew his time was over. Within a minute Jimmy was dead. The bolt from the crossbow, fired from behind had gone right through his ribs and pierced his heart – and Jimmy Starlight Warrener ceased to be…

A real challenge!

    “I won! I won! You owe me a thousand bucks, Tige,” the man who had shot Jimmy shouted excitedly. The man used as bait looked into the bush where Jimmy’s body lie. He poked the body with his crossbow and glanced at his colleague. “Do-ya think we should have put a tracker on him? Might have made it last longer if we didn’t,” the man said, shaking his head at the lack of challenge the prey had offered. The third man arrived and seeing the prey already dead, shook his head at his companions with real regret on his face.

“Well! This was downright boring! Useless black cunt!” he said, poking his Bow roughly at Jimmy’s inert body, as if he might rise up and fight. “We need a real challenge and – I think I know how to come by such prey,” he said, stepping back and suddenly firing an arrow into Jimmy’s body. “Locked-an-loaded and no fuckin prey!” he shouted angrily, beginning to drag the body out of its hiding place to re-take the arrow and bolt and then burn it thoroughly, as they’d done to other victims before.

As they began to ready the body for total cremation, the man called Tige, asked: “So pray-tell ‘Ender’, he called his smirking companion, “Where are we going next then? We’ve had ex-soldiers, SAS drop-outs, hippies, survivalists, even a marathon runner and none have given us, or our clients much of a fight at all?”.

The man called Ender threw the cigarette he was smoking onto the body, now dosed with a diesel and petrol mix and moved back as the gasses exploded and the fuel began to eat flesh and bone.

“Ever heard of the Kadaitcha Man? – One of those Aboriginal legends from the fuckin Dreamtime?” he asked them both as they watched the body begin to melt from the terrific heat. Tige guffawed: “That’s the best plan you can come up with?” he said mockingly and continued. “A mythical witchdoctor from ancient Australia? You’ve gotta be joking – my erstwhile friend!” he said laughing.

“Believe it or not Snake,” Ender said, standing back to throw yet more fuel on the body. “There are still, what they call medicine-men or witchdoctors alive today – and they are, from all accounts, experienced bush-men and hunters that have no rival, and – I’ve found just such a one, my fellow hunters,” he explained proudly. “Also, we have a client – a very rich client being groomed as we speak – and to hunt a traditional hunter, someone with real bush skills would be worthwhile, I’m saying,” the man stated. The man called Tiger was still all sarcasm.

“And now that we’ve finally found a worthwhile prey, you’re going to give it away to a fucking rich-bitch client?” Tige said, eyebrows raised as they moved away from the smoke and smell. “Oh no!” Ender said with a grin. “We would have to be there – to ensure the safety of said client against such a worthy foe,” he said with a wink.

“And if we have to help, of course we’d be in on the kill – that what you’re saying, Ender?” Snake said, looking halfway excited again. “Ahh! You know me far too well,” Ender said as he poured more fuel onto what looked more like a desiccated Mummy, than a human body now…

    Far above the scorched circle, yet more Kites circled lazily around the black smoke that rose into the mid-morning sky, patiently waiting on the humans to leave before they dropped closer to view any remains…

Chapter 1

    Cedric Hunter was Hunter by name and by nature. The same C.D. Hunter, The 3rd, was one of the net-rich billionaires created by the ever-hungry, three and a half billion Gamers across the world. CD – as he was familiarly known – had created several of the most popular shoot-em-up, single and multi-player games being used worldwide for several years, and his personal fortune – said to be in the top ten richest in the world, showed as much. Not that CD was IT-brilliant. He was granted ‘old-money’ while young, and he had looked ahead and snitched the best bright young game code-writers available – paid them exorbitantly and gave them an open scope and budget to create new, longer games, with HD Graphics that would stun the world’s players.

CD’s instantly-popular, “Homestead #1, 2 and 3”, had exploded onto the market to the point where the business had trouble keeping up with demand. The Marketing said that single, or multiple players had to defend their frontier-homestead against all comers; “Keep your women and children safe from single murderous hunters, bands of roving marauders, wild animals…”, and several amazingly-crafted mutant creatures that were extremely difficult to kill – without the correct weapons, which of course could be discovered, bought or taken/stolen from the Homestead property and its dwarf-like, native inhabitants.

CD’s new Sci-Fi game – where the alien enemy’s language could be accessed and ‘interpreted’ for player/s after a certain level – were launched immediately sales began to drop on the “Homestead” series. CD had over thirty games out now, with more and better quality and new stories to come as the hardware and software were granted ever-expanding tech-progress.

Nevertheless, CD was, or had been bored out if his ever-lovin mind with success, easy women and money. He was with his fourth wife in ten years and the magic was almost gone from his current relationship. Affairs had become simply boring. He could burn a house-full of money and make it back within the hour; Thus, having it and making more seemed like an automatic transaction. CD was almost at wit’s end when he met Mr. Slocum and his associates. Slocum had contacted him via several very rich friends that CD knew, or knew of.

He was absolutely certain that Slocum would never steer him wrong; introduce the wrong type of person into his high-flying – sometimes ‘illegal-ish’ – lifestyle.

The meeting he’d been invited to was face-to-face and absolutely private. The convenors made certain that only the members and those few invited ever knew about such a shadowy group. On the day of the meet, CD was checked for wires or any recording devices by what looked like a rough-rugged mercenary type man three times, before being allowed to enter. Even his vehicle was checked over by the same man, he saw as they moved to the Mansion.

On entering the private mansion, CD found only four men awaiting him, and only him. Slocum was there already, and the names he was given for the others were nick-names, or obviously, not the men’s real names. He knew none of them but the mansion, vehicles outside and their dress-code shouted both power and money; ‘Big money’, CD thought.

Slocum introduced them as; ‘Tiger’, ‘Snake’ and ‘Ender’, though the aliases were never explained. CD had an inkling of why he’d been invited, though he wasn’t sure of anything yet and while he was so un-informed, he wasn’t about to ask or suggest anything as to why he’d been invited to meet this obviously powerful group of men. He’d wait for them to explain…

Hunters

    “Sit down CD, take a load off and make yourself at home,” Tiger said, throwing a casual arm toward the only free chair, in what must have been the smallest room in the house, CD assumed, having glanced around at the massive interior and expansive furnishings as he was taken through the waiting room and hallway. He noticed the door they went through was very heavy, solid, and when it closed all exterior noise disappeared. On a small table in front of his chair were the alcoholic drink – with a full ice-bucket – that CD preferred; revealing they knew somewhat of his likes already. CD made his drink – wondering what else they knew – sipped, nod favourably and waited for the men to speak first, out of a business-practice habit he’d created over the years of running his company.

“We won’t waste your time nor beat about the bushes, CD”, Slocum said, glancing at the other men there, before turning his attention back to CD. “We know your dollar-value, we know of your many and various talents and we know that you’re a decent hunter; That you’ve killed big game all across the world and, often at great risk to your personal safety,” he said, reinforcing what CD thought the meeting may be about. CD’s pulse rose for the first time in several years, and as the man that called himself Tiger continued, CD sat straighter, leaning toward the speakers…

“We are all hunters – of one sort or another,” Tiger said, grinning at what he saw in CD’s eyes and posture. “We have hunted all over the world and, like yourself, we don’t lay two or five-hundred meters away and kill without the prey even knowing of our presence,” the man said.

“So, CD; Why do you take such risks?” Slocum asked, interrupting the flow of conversation. “Why hunt Lions with a spear and a Masai guide, when even the Masai take several hunters with them?” he asked, while the others await his response.

CD didn’t have to think about that question and responded instantly. “It’s not a hunt if one uses big game rifles, native beaters and a telescopic sight,” CD said simply. “To be honest, it’s become lame,” he admitted, and dropped his bomb. “I need something, more ah..? sentient? Um?.. Something that can plan, can fight back, although it’s mostly only man that has that ability, and that’s ah? Shall we say: morally and ethically wrong; And illegal,” CD said, hoping to god they understood his reference, without saying it outright.

The man called Snake moved closer. He stood over CD looking down at him directly eye to eye; a challenge in his own. “And what would you do, Mr CD Hunter, if the chance to um? Hunt something… ah? More substantial let us say… came along?”, he said, folding his arms as he waited and watched CD’s face closely.

“This room we’re in is completely sealed from the outside world CD,” Slocum assured him noting his hesitation. “No wireless, no signals, nothing can penetrate this little room we’ve created for this purpose,” he explained. CD glanced around at the men and seeing only dead-serious faces, responded. “If you’re saying what I think you’re saying, I’m interested,” he said, once more waiting for more solid information before committing himself further.

“You realise that what we’re about to tell you could land us all in prison for a very long time – if anyone outside were to find out about our little pastime games,” Slocum said with some gravity. “We have a charge for our services as you’d understand, but we know money isn’t much of a concern for you,” Slocum said, smiling. CD glanced around at each man again and decided mere insinuation was pointless. They were waiting on his mind to catch up with the seriousness of what they offered. He gulped his drink, poured another shot, tossed ice into it and stood, forcing the man called Snake to back off. Snake moved back to stand with Ender. CD had made up his mind already.

“Correct!” he said, “Money isn’t an issue, and for what I think you’re offering, any amount would be worth the costs involved. So then,” he said, looking at the men there. “Who, what, where and when?” he asked with raised brows, glancing at each man again, as he swallowed the new drink in a gulp and waited, again. The men glanced at each other and seemed to come to agreement. Tiger nod, Snake grinned enthusiastically, while Ender gave a casual lip-nod. Slocum broke the silence.

“It’s $300-K cash. No records of transactions of course. And as to who, you’re a lucky man CD. Some of the prey we’ve had previously have been – how shall I put it?” Slocum said, looking for the right words. “Fucking clueless terrified idiots that was like ducks in a fucking barrel!” Ender interrupted. Slocum looked to Ender as if he were a slug crawled out of a sewerage drain and continued.

“Let’s just say our previous choices were limited, so now we’ve decided to use a more capable quarry,” Slocum explained after Ender’s snorted response. The man called Snake grinned at his colleague’s critical response and explained much more clearly.

“Mr. fucking “Ender here,” he said sarcastically, using fingers as quotation marks for Ender’s nickname, “thinks we need an active trained soldier, merc, or SAS-type or the like, because others, including ex-servicemen have been less than challenging,” he told CD.

“Snivelling fuckin pussies more like,” Ender mumbled. Slocum almost laughed before continuing. “The problem with Mr Ender’s suggestion, is that such a person would likely be missed soon after disappearing and various law-enforcement agencies and whichever Service they belong to, would have to do a fairly comprehensive search; The very last thing we want,” he explained, staring at Ender with what looked like genuine malice. Then he grinned easily and turned his attention back to CD.

“So then, the who, this time is a semi-traditional ‘Abo’, whom we have in our sights and ready to grab when the time comes. This fellow’s a tracker, hunter and reputed to be one sneaky, capable son-of-a-bitch and, if he’s as good as his reputation, well, even the boys here might have some trouble, though I doubt anyone is that good myself,” he said glancing at the three very capable looking men. “To answer your other questions, the when is within the next month, giving us time to prepare everything. As to where, we keep that secret until the day, for everyone’s safety. We don’t want to be disturbed after all,” Slocum said. The four men watched CD carefully.

“As I said, money isn’t an issue and my time is my own but, I would like to know where I’m going,” CD said. “I don’t think it’s probable with you guys, as you seem to have done this before without any ah? Issues. But I have to be careful, you understand. There are plenty of undesirables who would kidnap me for ransom after all,” CD explained.

“Understandable,” Slocum responded, “I can tell you that our hunting grounds are in the Northern Territory, in such a remote location that we have never seen blacks or anyone else there in all the years we’ve been hunting such um… prey, and I’m afraid that’s all we can tell you at the moment,” Slocum said, gaining nods of agreement from his colleagues.

“I can tell you it’s like no hunting you’ve ever had before,” Snake said, grinning, “there’s just nothing like hunting a thinking creature like man, and I’ve hunted everything from bear to Lion, Crocs and Tigers,” he told CD. “Some run and never stop until they’re exhausted. Some make plans to ambush the hunter. Some just cry and give up. Others have made weapons from out of nothing and attack at first chance, though none have beaten us or our clients ever!” he said. “But, just in case, we’ll be there with you, as we do with all our clients,” Ender explained.

“Just as back-up in case a client gets injured – or the prey is so good at hiding the client can’t find them,” he told CD. “So, are you in for the hunt of a lifetime, CD?” he said, while his colleagues remained silent waiting on CD’s final answer.

“I’m in,” CD said. “You know how to contact me. And I’ll be ready,” he said sincerely. “There’s one more thing,” CD said standing. “I only want my knife, although I’ll be carrying a small pistol in case ole ‘Murphy’s Law’ comes into play. Any issues with that?” he asked glancing around at the men offering this once in a lifetime opportunity.

“A man after my own heart! Up close an’ personal,” Tiger responded and clapped CD with some force on his shoulder before offering a high-five. “I’m looking forward to working with someone that knows his own mind, my hunting friend,” he said warmly…

Chapter 2 Taken

    Buryldandji Djungari came to his senses slowly. He opened his mind and senses but not his eyes, as he waited for his body to catch up with his mind. He could hear several voices speaking – white-men’s voices – he was sure. His hands and feet told him he was bound and the muddle within his mind had to be from a drug of some type, he reasoned. The voices – four – he heard, were not attempting quiet; In fact they were tensely excited as they spoke to each other.

‘Budani’, as he was commonly known, lay perfectly still – unmoving, while he ‘felt’ out the place he was bound within. He sensed the small room he was captured within was old and dusty – part of an old settler’s hut most probably. His ears told him the men were in another part of the old shed-come-shelter he was in. Bird sounds told him he was yet in-country and the weather’s ambience said he was close to the desert; his home country. His nose told him the room he lay in had lots of fuel close by. Petrol and diesel the strong scents said.

The last thing he remembered was a man and woman tourists asking him how to get to the main highway, from where they’d found him off the dirt road, just out of Tanami East, near his beloved home country, where he’d been searching for a yet another pair of lost tourist-explorers. He remembered standing near the big four-wheel drive, resting an arm on the front doors open window, explaining where they were and to keep going east to get back to the highway; to go south to Newcastle Waters or north to Birdum and Daly Waters, when the woman had briefly touched his arm in a thank-you gesture. He remembered a slight stinging sensation – like being stung by a bee or wasp, and then nothing until he’d woken here.

As he lay still and began to feel his body come to life again, Budani heard the men move to the outside of the shack. As they left, he heard them talking excitedly about a previous hunt. It seemed three of the men were experienced kidnappers and possibly man-hunters, while one was a newbie to the whole thing – whatever this thing was? He heard the twang and thump of what sounded like the crossbow he’d got for his nephew last year, then the twang and thump of a normal bow and arrow. The men were cheering and insulting each other as they fired at some target that his senses told him was about fifty or sixty meters away. Now at least he could open his eyes.

He was bound with heavy ‘leccy’s ties – hand and feet – good solid heavy plastic ones that were almost unbreakable, but Budani almost laughed out loud at the bindings. They were so sure of themselves that they’d tied his hands to the front rather than the back – but then he guessed they wanted him alive, not in danger of dying from suffocation, which could happen if he was unconscious with his hands tied behind. Budani had used his teeth as a tool since childhood and his jaw muscles were as strong as a croc’s bite. His teeth were strong and healthy because he only ever ate bush-tucker. He’d seen what processed foods had done to his family and clan’s teeth and overall health – and his ‘work’ necessitated being fit, strong and healthy to complete his various ‘missions’ for his secretive Clan.

There was a small open window in the room he was in. The old push-out type held with a stick and through that, he could hear the men boasting about how good or bad each was with the weapons. Glancing around he saw an old clear-glass bottle near one wall and some old material lying near it on the floor. Budani brought his hands to his mouth and bit and chew through the plastic binding and within minutes his hands were free. Then he rolled to the wall and grabbed the bottle and the old pair of pants there. He put the bottle in the material and smashed it on the stone floor as quietly as he could, then used a sharp piece of glass to saw through the binding on his feet and was free. He took a moment or two to get the circulation going again and to listen to the men outside, yet arguing over who was the best shot.

It was still early morning and he guessed they’d brought him here last night or very early, and were now preparing themselves for whatever they had planned for him. He slid silently across the floor to check out the land, the men themselves, and whatever vehicle they come here in. From the open window he saw the four men standing together about sixty meters from a bullseye target they’d set up and as he glanced around, he saw a small black helicopter to one side of the clearing made for the shack. It was modern and looked extremely expensive. ‘That made sense,’ Budani thought. ‘A chopper could land and take off from anywhere, while a plane – even a small one needed a runway – and choppers were the usual transport for rich white people and landowners up here.’

Two of the men were using crossbows, one using a bow and arrow, but the man standing a bit apart had nothing except a huge knife strapped to his side and a holster with a handgun. As he watched, the knife-pistol man walked closer to the target and the others stopped their shooting competition to watch him. He was dressed in expensive safari gear; lightweight and camouflaged to this land’s colours. The man stopped ten meters away and abruptly threw the big knife in one flowing natural movement; It hit with a solid thunking sound that echoed up to where Budani stood inside the hut. ‘Obviously done that before’, Budani mused. Then the man pulled the pistol from his holster and without seeming to aim, let go several loud shots at the target, which surprisingly exploded around the knife. ‘Explosive rounds’, Budani guessed. All that was left of the target was the centre-piece bullseye that had the knife in it – and dead centre, if what his spy’s eyes were telling him was correct.

The other men began clapping and cheering as the sound of gunfire echoed through the land. ‘Good time to leave’, Budani thought, and grabbed the one small can of fuel that stood beside the 44-gallon drums of fuel, in what could loosely be termed the kitchen. Even the smaller fuel can was camouflaged. ‘Tanks-very-moochius!’ Budani thought cheekily. He slid through the small window opening like his Totem – the Desert Death Adder: a small desert-camouflaged, serpent predator with fast-acting and quite lethal venom. Once on the ground, Budani moved like his totem, sliding slowly away from the men’s sight to the corner of the shack: so slowly against the wall, along the ground that the men wouldn’t catch movement in their periphery sight.

Once around the corner he stopped to look back at the group of men, and realised he could probably have stood and run while singing hail bloody Mary, because then men were still thumping the knife-pistol guy’s back and staring in awe at the damage done by his small pistol, and probably half-deafened by the explosive rounds.

‘You fellas ain’t goin nowhere; Welcome to my world!’ Budani thought grimly, as he kept an ear to the men’s boisterous activities and ran his eyes across to the sleek little chopper. He moved down on ground like a Goanna, sliding silently and slowly out into the sparse trees and shrubs encircling the shack. Moving slowly and still at ground-level, Budani moved around until he was close to the helicopter. He heard another loud boom and looking across from underneath the chopper, he saw the other men were now taking turns shooting the pistol at anything that stood out. While they were so entertained, Budani opened the can of fuel and sloshed it over the motor and fuel-tank. Then he looked around and gathered the makings of fire.

Budani quickly found the tools needed and watched the yahooing men while he spun up fire from wood and soft crushed bark-dust. The tiny spark caught and he picked the kindling up and tossed the small sparking fire directly onto where he’d poured the fuel on the chopper, turned and ran like the devil was behind him…

Chapter 3 Run-away!

    As the whoosh of the fuel igniting and a small fire-ball and thick black smoke leapt into the morning sky, Budani moved, again in a Goanna-like away further into his beloved homelands.

“Well, that seems to have stopped the fun altogether, guess I’m just a born party-pooper,” Budani murmured softly. ‘They would be panicking about now,’ he guessed. ‘Their escape plan was on fire, and with any luck the chopper’s fuel tanks would explode soon,’ he mused, grinning darkly as he moved still further away from the burning chopper; moving backward this time to keep his eyes on the stunned men. He stopped again to watch the men – who were suddenly running toward their ride out – weapons hurled to the ground in utter surprise and disbelief.

Budani looked shocked and murmured. “Hmm? I wouldn’t be doing that if I were you, my ignorant imbecile friends. In fact,” he murmured from his position on the ground, “I think that old term; “Run-away, run-away!” would be a much better plan than running toward a burning helicopter, to be honest fellows,” he said quietly.

One of the men had reached the burning chopper, and for some unknown reason was attempting to put it out with dirt scraped from the ground with his hands. Budani guessed the fellow had lost his mind for a moment – in the shock of such a wild, crazy thing happening to him, right here and now. And then there were three. The fare-thee-well expected explosion blew up and out, basically disintegrating the hopeful fireman and blowing two of the three left, completely off their feet as they too had run toward their ride home. The newbie had wisely hung back and, Budani noted, he still had his big machete-sized knife on one side and the pistol in its holster on the other. The newbie was not to be taken lightly…

Shaken, battered and now filthy, the two injured men dragged themselves to their feet. The fellow with the knife and pistol wandered up to them casually, as if wide-scale death and destruction were a normal occurrence. He glanced at the shredded, smoking body and the burning chopper and looked back to the ragged men.

“So, ah? Was this all part of the show here boys?” he asked semi-seriously as he reached them. “If it was,” he said with big grin, “I’m impressed beyond belief. If it wasn’t, please don’t tell me your mobiles – and our only contact with the outside world, were in the chopper?” he queried politely. One of the injured men pulled a knife from somewhere on his body, yelled some type of curse and abruptly attacked the newbie, while his colleague attempted to stop him, but he was having none of it.

“Stranger and stranger!” Budani chuckled as he watched the violence unfold.

As the angry man rushed in, the newbie swayed to the left and somehow turned the man’s own knife against him. The attacker stopped dead, stumbled backward and turned to his friend. His own knife was sticking out of his chest. He looked down at the knife and then searchingly at his friend in shocked amazement. “I … I… not like this! Not like this!” he said, while looking up at the sky as if talking to God. Blood gushed from his mouth and he dropped like a stone; Terrible shock showing on his now very pale face on the ground. And then there were two.

“He was going to kill me,” Newbie said placidly to the man left standing, who also looked as if something was wrong with the entire world; His world at least. “I… he… we – we’ve never had anything like this happen before,” he mumbled to himself, because the newbie was gone; Sliding toward the shack, gun drawn and moving as if he were now hunting, or being hunted. He disappeared into the shack but appeared mere moments later, walking quickly to the only other live friend he had there.

“He’s gone,” he told the stunned man, yet recovering from the explosion. The statement took more than a few seconds to sink in. Then the stunned fellow took a wobbly step toward the shack, hands out, as if he could change everything with open hands, hope and wishes he held there. CD explained what he’d discovered. “He chewed the freakin ties from his hands and broke an old bottle that was there to cut his feet free,” he told the semi-stunned man with him, with some obvious sarcasm.

“Well, you guys were certainly right,” newbie said sarcastically. “You found a decent challenge all right. He’s probably watching us right now,” he told his companion, searching the surrounds for signs of life or movement. But his companion couldn’t or wouldn’t believe it.

“Nah! You’re wrong! Did you look in the right room?” he said, as if the shack were a ten bed-room house. “The fuckin black couldn’t have… done all this,” he said in disbelief. “A fucking wolf couldn’t chew through those things; I know! We’ve tried it!” the shocked man uttered as if a biblical truth. The fellow turned a circle, still in shock at the incredible carnage and death around him. He turned to say something to the newbie guy, but the man was down on the ground, gun out and turning slowly, searching for a target. The standing fellow heard the sound of wind moving a moment before something heavy hit him directly on the temple; dropping him as fast as his just-knifed companion. Dead before he hit the ground. And then there was one.

“Well fuck my brown dog and call me Alice!” CD swore uncharacteristically, as he stood in shocked awe and looked around him at the battle-ground scene and bodies for a split-second, before his survival reflexes took over.

CD scrambled toward the shack. In his haste, he hadn’t re-strapped his pistol into the holster and it fell out as he scrambled in pure panic toward the only decent cover in the entire area. “Faaaaark!” he screamed in frustration, but there was no going back for it he knew. The black might have one or more of his companion’s weapons by now for all he knew. As he threw himself through the open door, something hit him; Hard! Something thrown with real force.

It hit him in the back and drove him flat on his face into the kitchen and onto the floor; but inside the shack at least. From his supine position on the floor, he saw a rock about as big as his closed fist lying in the doorway. That’s what he had heard before Snake went down. Just the whisper of something hurtling through the air toward them and he had dropped instantly; but it hadn’t been aimed at him anyway. And it hit dead centre of the rock-thrower’s target; Snake’s temple.

“Faaarck! I think the one that hit me might have cracked a rib or two,” CD mumbled, abruptly feeling the pain start; and already, just breathing was becoming difficult without a sharp pain coursing through his body.

CD crawled to the door and kicked it shut, but it bounced against the door-frame and flew open again. “Double fuckin fuck!” he shouted in anger and frustration. He crawled to underneath the kitchen window and began to yell out to the blackfellow out there.

“Hey! Mate!” he called breathlessly, with each shout causing instant awful pain. “Look! I don’t know what’s going on here, I just came out with these fellows to do some hunting!” he called as loudly as he could.

“There’s no need to shout,” a calm modulated voice, unmistakably an aboriginal voice however, said from outside the kitchen window. “So then, you’re not into the manhunt like your friends; Snake, Tiger and ole Ender there eh mate?” the voice said, and CD understood the man had been listening to them talk since he was conscious again. ‘How much has he heard?’ CD thought back quickly on the various conversations they’d had, while believing the man to be unconscious for a lot longer than he obviously had been.

“There’s no point in lying mate, or should I say, CD?” the voice said, shocking him with the knowledge of his moniker. CD took in a ragged breath, while the voice came again: “How many hunts have they done out here? Ten? Twenty? More? I heard pretty well everything mate, and I know you were about to do your first manhunt, with me as prey, which is pretty bloody awful from this side mate,” the voice said and abruptly stopped; Except for a few bird calls that had started up again after the explosion and gunfire, silence reigned.

Suddenly, CD could hear the miraculous sound of a helicopter – coming closer. He pushed himself up to take a quick look and as he did, he felt a terrible shocking pain on one side of his face. Then the scent of burning flesh hit him and he realised it was his flesh burning. The shock sent him to the floor once again. This time the pain of cracked or broken ribs and the searing pain on his face took CD away to the blackness where nothing matters…

Chapter 4 Saved by the Bell [helicopter]

    When CD came to there was an older white fellow, face lined with his time in the land and sun sitting over him and looking worried. They were in a helicopter and flying.

“Gosh, thought you were a goner mate, like them other fellas back there,” he said, squeezing a syringe to get any air out. “We gave you a shot before we moved you, didn’t know what was broken, but every time we tried to lift you – well, you screamed. This is a pretty strong painkiller – keep it on the farm for injuries and the like,” he told CD as he put the needle into a vein with practised ease. “Don’t worry mate – done this plenty of times before. Hafta learn how to do everything yourself out here mate – no bloody doctors for miles,” CD heard him say as he slipped back to that dark, dreamy world of darkness and no pain.

The old fellow’s son was flying the chopper and he turned to his father, once the drug kicked in and knocked the poor bastard out again. “Ere, dad, watcha rekin bout that burn-mark on is face there? Eh-da? That’s the Emu foot totem if I’m not mistaken,” he said turning back to the front to make sure they were heading in the right direction.

“Hmm, looks like it right enough,” his father said, turning CD’s face to see better.

“Hmm,” he said again. “Looks like someone used a bit of wire-fence as a branding-iron,” he said, grimacing at the thought. “On trees or stump, or carved into rock it stands for someone’s territory out here,” he said. “But on a man’s face, it means he’s been a very, very bad boy,” he said, wondering what the hell had happened out there and, what this fellow had done to deserve that. “And – a marked-man for some future retribution,” the young pilot said, shaking his head at the vagaries of city-folk…

NT NEWS-FLASH! NORTHERN TERRITORY, AUSTRALIA: THREE DEAD IN POSSIBLE HELICOPTER CRASH – ONE SURVIVOR.
In a bizarre incident on Wednesday morning, a local cattle-farmer discovered a burnt-out helicopter, three bodies and one man seriously injured but alive in a remote area of the Northern Territory. While checking fences from his private helicopter, Cattle-farmer, Mr. Eddie Warburton noticed black smoke rising from an area near his property about mid-morning that day. “I knew it wasn’t a bushfire because of the heavy black smoke,” he told the NT Police when his son and copter-pilot Jason, called them as they ferried the man to their small airfield on the property. Where an air-ambulance met them to take the man to Darwin Base Hospital. The surviving man’s name has not been released by Police as yet, as they are waiting on his injuries to be ascertained by medical staff.

Mr Warburton’s son, Jason, told the Police: “We didn’t touch any of the bodies, as we could see the men were past… um? Any sorta help like, ya-know?” he explained. “It was like a bloody war-zone out there!” he added. NT Police have not released any names as yet, explaining that the identities of the deceased and their relatives had yet to be found.
NT Police have sent a forensics unit to the spot to carry out their investigations, although our reporter Jim Davies, who talked to Mr Warburton and Jason said that all three bodies showed signs of explosive fire and shrapnel, and at least one of the men had been stabbed.

“The bloody knife was still in his chest,” Jason said, and thus, questioning the helicopter crash as possible reason for the deaths…

Chapter 5 Don’t tell me yer worries; I got enough of me own!…

    In his 5-star hotel room in Darwin, NT., Mr Slocum, the official client-contact and instigator of the group was a worried man. He was waiting for CD’s Doctors to allow visitors, so he could find out what the hell had happened with his three hunter-friends and business colleagues; Their very expensive chopper! For God’s frigging sake! He was also fairly certain that the forensics team would explore the area, and; That could be the start of a major investigation. The ‘boys’ hadn’t attempted to bury any proof, he knew. They burned the bodies with diesel and petrol and, though Slocum had warned them to ensure they scatter any remains, he couldn’t be sure they had listened. Once their blood was up, they often turned into childlike idiots, he knew first-hand.

But as many archaeologists could tell you – Slocum knew – even the hottest fire often left clues that today’s modern forensic investigators could bring back to life. Slocum was sure he had no links to either of the men, but CD knew him and his name, and that was a definite problem. CD seemed like the type that knew to keep his trap shut, but who knew how the man had come out of the absolute fiasco. And, what about the ‘black’? The prey? Nothing had been said about an Abo corpse or survivor. ‘Perhaps’, Slocum really, really, hoped, ‘they’d killed and burned the black before whatever shit had gone down’. Nothing was certain, ‘but getting to see CD would be a bloody good start!’ he thought, and rang the hospital once more…

Chapter 6 Intruder

    The man Slocum wanted to see so badly came awake and conscious again in crisp white sheets and fluoro-lighting above. “Hospital,” he mumbled and almost choked from his dry throat, and immediately felt his ribs flare in red-hot pain. A small hand appeared with a plastic cup of water. “Don’t try to sit up just yet, um? Sir? You’ve got a broken rib and two cracked ones. And um, we think you were in a terrible accident,” The nurse said – which she’d been told was all she could say – by the Head Doctor, and the Police – while bringing the drink to his parched mouth.

“Where am I?” CD groaned, but the nurse was already on her way out. She turned to him; looking at her watch and recording the time on his record. “Just lie still and be patient, the Dr. will be with you in a moment. You’re quite the celebrity it seems and Doctor will be with you in a moment. Okay?” she said, not waiting for an answer but sweeping out of the room the way nurses in a hurry do.

“What the goddam fuck!?” CD swore and grimaced as his ribs flared again. An awful voice CD had hoped he would never ever hear again, abruptly spoke from behind his head, behind the curtain that could be pulled around the bed for privacy. Ice ran down his spine; cold enough to freeze out the pain.

“A name, cuz!” it said, taking CD straight back to the shack and the black man they were going to hunt for fun.

“Give me a name, or you-fla dead, right now. Say good bye to all that money – your fourth-wife will be happy anyway… Only need one,” the voice said coldly. To reinforce the threat, CD felt a sharp prick on his neck. “Name – now – CD,” it said again, as the needle was pushed through his skin into his flesh. CD’s mind thrashed. It came out before he could stop it. “Slocum,” he whispered and felt the needle withdraw. “Watch yer back CD, you’re now a liability,” the voice whispered in his ear. CD felt he was in double, or triple-shock. For the first time in his life, he couldn’t think at all…

“Was that filthy half-wild black-fellow in the room?” A stentorian voice said, breaking the spell CD was under, as a Dr. entered, followed by several others, including a Policeman and ‘probably a Detective,’ CD thought warily. CD’s nurse half turned to the door, but spun back immediately. “I think he was just a local, probably got lost while looking for a relation here, Dr.” one of the nurses said. “They’re always getting lost in the hospital, everybody does,” she told him off-hand. The group moved closer to CD’s bed, forgetting the incident entirely. Only his nurse noticed how pale her patient suddenly looked. ‘He looks like he’s just seen a ghost,’ she thought, and stood back to give the Dr. room.

“So? How are you feeling Mr. Ah? I don’t think we have a name yet. Do we Sister?” the Dr. asked, looking straight at CD, brows raised?

“I… I – um? Can’t sort of remember!” CD lied and groaned as if in real pain again, though the shock of the black man turning up at his bedside was yet over-riding any mere body-pain.

“That’s perfectly normal my friend,” the Dr. said blithely, looking at CD’s chart. “These fine gentlemen from the Police would like a word, but I think you might need a good night’s rest, before the ahh? Inquisition as it were,” he said, expecting a chuckle from those around him. None were forthcoming. “Right then gentlemen!” he said, continuing a little huffily. “Shall we leave our un-named guest get some rest, and you fellows can speak to him in the morning perhaps; After Rounds, shall we say?” he said, making a note on CD’s chart before he handed it to one of the nurses to put back at the end of his bed.

It was plain to see, the Detective was impatient, but in such cases, the attending Dr. had the final say and nothing he could do or say would change that, he knew well. He gave CD a searching glance. “We’ll be back tomorrow – after Rounds then, and I do hope you’ve remembered your name by then – Sir,” he said, unable or unwilling to hide his sarcasm and doubt. It seemed the Police were suspicious of some type of foul play having occurred and to them, the yet nameless CD was right smack, dead centre of whatever had occurred…

And, they were apparently finding a lot more questions, as the Forensics team began a more thorough search of the entire area, the Detective knew. They left him alone to rest…

Chapter 7 Sly-boy Slocum

    In Darwin, Slocum had arranged a meet with his ‘girlfriend’, confidante and pretend-wife when needed – in the very lucrative business they were involved in; They were the top dogs in fact, and money from their daring exploits had rolled in like a spring-tide. They each had enough to disappear, and that was why they were to meet and arrange how and where to meet up later; much later – both agreed.

The meet was to be at the end of a dirt road, right on the ocean, behind the Military Museum on Darwin’s coast. It was an isolated spot, especially at night, which they’d decided would be safer all round – considering recent events beyond their control. Slocum was already there when his partner-in-crime arrived. Or at least his car was, the middle-aged woman found to her surprise. Slocum wasn’t the outdoor type; he loved his car and sound-system. He was always skiting about its clarity…

…Ms. Janice “Fuck-me!” Werribone, thirty-four, presently of No-Fixed-Address, had literally fucked the brains out of Mr. David Earl Slocum, and that’s how she had become a partner in the ‘game’, as she called what she did to help grab victims – prey – as the boys called them. Janice got her lovely nick-name for using those unique words on men she wanted to have some control over. It had worked on ninety-nine percent of the men targeted. She did have specific targets of course, but it was a wide range of ‘employment’, as she saw it. She had big firm ‘magnetic’ tits and she used those words with genuine lust in her eyes, posture and voice.

As she tried his car door, a voice came from the dark near the water’s edge, where soft waves were splashing behind. A form materialised from the rocks and beach as it rose like a spectre. It was dressed in dark clothing, down to its shoes, with a hood over its head. But Janice recognised the voice instantly and wished now she’d brought her little man-killer pistol from the car. She’d started to trust him instead of using him: ‘a fatal mistake considering the circumstances. I only wish I’d thought of it first!’ Janice mused, stunned to immobility.

“Fuck-me! … Janice!” Slocum said, pointing what looked very much like a pistol with silencer attached at her. “You taught Me! Not to trust “anyone,” he said, using hand gestures to accentuate the word. The pistol came down, pointing at her again. “Hey!” he said with a chuckle. “What about a final blow-job? What a way to go eh?” he said grinning again.

“I could manage that,” Janice said, affecting a sly, sexy grin; a glimmer of hope in her eyes at thought of getting that close to his manhood.

‘Fuck-you! Not Fuck-me! I’ll give you a slow-cum you’ll never forget!’ she thought, suddenly having one small chance to get out of this alive. She walked suggestively toward where he stood; ‘that freakin smirk on his face even now!’ she thought, trying not to grin or giggle at the thought of biting his fuckin penis right off and going for the gun. ‘He was that stupid after all,’ Janice mused as she bent to squat and undo his fly. She felt a blow that knocked her senseless and to the ground. Her body wouldn’t respond, so she tried to speak. But Slocum just grabbed her feet and began to drag her toward the rocks, the small beach and the water. Janice felt sudden acute pain almost everywhere on her body. But she was alive.

“You stupid slut! I wouldn’t have shot you – too many questions,” he said, struggling with her weight while dragging her roughly over the rocks and down to the rough shell-sand beach. “This way, it’s a terrible lone drowning for unknown reasons on a deserted beach miles from anywhere. Suicide, will be the obvious finding,” he grunted out, while dragging her limp body with the strength of a madman or desperate creature straight out into the waves…

‘I’m sorry mum…’ Janice thought sadly, as Locum held her head underwater for the required time for death to occur. Janice tried to stop it, but her lungs overrode her will and sucked water in and down. She couldn’t see… There was sand being forced into her mouth and eyes, because Slocum was holding her face-down and – when the darkness came; it was a relief…

Chapter 8 Hunter or hunted? That is the question…

    “One down, one – maybe two, to go,” Slocum said, ensuring the body stayed face down for several minutes. When it was done, he wiped his hands dry on his pants and pulled the mobile from his pocket and touched the dial-pad. He touched a name and the phone on the other end began the monotonous tone of the man’s phone. It was picked up quickly.

“Slinky Dawson ere, job’s done mate,” he said in an affected Australian drawl. “Put the rest in the usual acct and – I fuckin really ‘ope never to see youz’ ever again, ole mate,” it said, before cutting out.

“One more down – one to go, if I can find the black bastard,” Slocum mumbled to himself, as he stumbled his way back up to his car in the dark. Thoughts of his escape plan ran wild in his mind and, he abruptly changed direction to check on Janice’s vehicle – noting she’d left the keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked. “Suicide for sure!” he said to himself, rubbing his hands together in glee for the extra money he’d made tonight, by ‘cleaning up the trash’, as he thought of tonight’s ‘work’.

Slocum leapt into his car in a sudden and almost jolly mood. He hit the music-player On-button, and selected some Benny Goodman Jazz – a live concert. He took out a small packet of white powder from a hidden compartment under the dash-computer, as music coming from an obviously-expensive sound-system drifted absolutely crisply within and without the car. He carefully laid a ‘line’ on the dashboard. This was the good stuff – which he was used to. “The initial hit was like the big ‘H’, the ‘White-King’”, he joked with genuine business colleagues whom partook. He had a bamboo straw secreted with the Cocaine and took a generous snort that instantly threw him back into the lush seat, his nose, tongue, brain and eyes all tingling with the sweet sensation he had grown to love.

Slocum was suddenly and deliriously happy; and it wasn’t just the Snow rushing through his blood. ‘Slinky’, for a respectable price – had taken care of CD: an unfortunate ‘accident’ – something to do with a mix-up of the routine painkillers while in hospital it seemed. ‘He will be missed!’ Slocum mused happily, smiling an idiotic grin that he just had to turn the rear-view mirror to see.

At first, he focussed only on his own relieved, stupid-grinning face, and grinned even more widely at his drugged appearance, but then – he noticed two dark orbs in the mirror that looked a lot like eyes; eyes in a black face his churning mind explained. Which would put the person that owned the eyes directly behind him; In his back-seat! He realized in a panic. Slocum scrabbled for his weapon, which he’d placed into the glove-box but his body abruptly failed him. He watched in growing amazement as his arm reached out in slow-motion, then fall to the console between the seats. There it stay. A lump of dead meat. He tried to turn his head, but only achieved a minute movement, as hard as he tried.

“Hey mate, ow yer goin?” a voice said, as if they were meeting at dinner or somewhere ‘normal’. The eyes had a voice! “Well of course!” his drugged mind said quite loudly, causing another round of giggling. The voice behind him was so casual, Slocum began to giggle from the effects of the snow, yet working its magic. Slocum tried with all his might but still couldn’t turn his head, but then, he suddenly remembered the rear-view mirror and swung his eyes to that small view. The eyes in a black face were right there, still.

“You, Sir, have been a bad, bad boy,” the eyes voice said quite sadly from behind him.

Slocum was slowly becoming terrified; an emotion amplified by his drug of choice. Sweat broke out on his forehead at first, but slowly moisture began to run from every pore in his body until his entire wardrobe was wet and soaked through.

“What’s happening to me? Why can’t I move?” he asked, his voice being the only thing that seemed to work at this moment.

“One of your recent choices for your lucrative game was a relative and friend of mine – he disappeared – and now, I know what happened to him. And you Davy, began the operation, or ‘business’, if you prefer,” it told him flatly. “I have no idea what you’re talking about!” Slocum said sincerely, trying for indignation but failing badly; even from his point of view. He giggled uncontrollably and tried to stop without success. The voice ignored the giggling.

“You’ve been judged and found wanting, Dav,” the voice told him. Guilty of slavery and murder; Of man, woman and child,” it said matter of factly – “You are a ‘Shameless’, and I bin sent to ensure your swift departure from this earthly abode, ole mate,” it said, as if it was giving the time of day. Before Slocum could speak the voice continued.

“That white stuff you like so much was not your usual pure sample old mate,” it told him. A cold, trapped sensation ran through his body as the voice continued.

“It’s a mix of old and new and, in case you’re worried for me ole mate, only the ‘snow’ will be found in your blood when they pull you two, ‘star-crossed lovers’ from the ocean. I’m sure ole fuck-me Janice is lonely out there, mate, bobbing around in the ocean in the little gentle waves all alone. Now, be a man finally! Dav, and help me get you down to the water – as you did to your friend there; She’s waiting for you Dav,” the voice said mockingly.

Strong hands grabbed hold of Slocum like he was a bag of toys; They ripped him from his car and began to walk him – shoulder to shoulder – and ever-so-slowly, down the rocks and toward the sea and waves. “The dead-man’s walk,” Slocum murmured to himself and urinated down his leg. The black-fellow didn’t seem to mind the smell at all – in fact, he seemed to slow down even more.

“At least you get to see the ocean and sky and stars before you go ole mate,” the black said casually, obviously having seen his struggles to get his unlucky accomplice into the water.

“Take a good look Mr. Slocum, coz it’s the last time you will ever see such magnificence; You-fla bin propa lost your right, one-time, to share such wondrous things,” the man, holding him up easily, said, as they reached hip-height in the small waves.

“Don’t even try,” the black man said before Slocum could get a word out about how much money he had, and was willing to share. “I have enough money to live my life the way I wish,” he said, seeming to stare up into the heavens. “Ya-know Davy,” he said, bringing his attention back to earth. “They say the brain lives for up to twenty-minutes after physical death. And that thing you call a brain is about to get hot-wired; enjoy the trip,” he said, and slapped something onto Slocum’s back – something heavy, then he let Slocum go.

He sank immediately and instantly turned over. He could see the stars twinkling through the waters above his face. The black had stuck a weight to his back to keep him face-up and his head just under the water. At that moment, Slocum thought that there could be worse ways to die. But he didn’t die, not right away; He lay face-up, underwater and looking up through the moving water at the sky. Slocum guessed that it was something in the drug mix that held his lungs from acting as they normally would in this scenario; And then the rest of the mixture hit his brain, and each tiny precious moment of time, stretched and warped into an irrelevant structure. Images of victims streamed through his mind in glorious colour and fine detail…

To the ancient Australian watching and talking to the stars above him, it was a mere few minutes of peace and quiet, while ensuring his duty was carried out; To Slocum, it was a living nightmare that went on and on and on, until the avowed, suddenly former-atheist, began to pray to God for the darkness to come…