Bunyips Draft April 18th 2011.



On the night following the Big Argument,  I packed carefully for a long journey.

  I knew I would need a map, food, a compass, a bedroll, money, and some kind of armament to fend off wild animals or muggers, preferably a gun, but I convinced myself a handy machete would do.

Unfortunately, those items were all downstairs, guarded by my parents, (well, not the gun and machete, they were more like items on a wish list) and my route was through my bedroom window, down the trellis on the South wall and out in the ink black night towards the scrub. Therefore those valuable items would have to be sacrificed in favour of a clean getaway. My parents would wake in the morning to find their only son, a positive saint, a misunderstood genius, was gone, they would be speared with guilt the rest of their lives, and serve them right.

 I knew my window faced South because the sun rises in the East, and that was over the top of our horse Bruce’s stable to the left. TheBigCitywas a mere two hundred miles or so beyond the dry creek bed. I figured then that it would take a fit ten year-old at least a day, maybe two, to reach the metropolis and freedom. It was not going to be a problem, after all, I was going to be a stunt man.  If not a stunt man, then a survival expert. I would live on edible roots or the digestive juices I could squeeze from the intestines of dead wombats.

 On arrival in theBigCity, I would stop a passer-by and ask to be taken to my Aunt Bronwyn. I only knew two things about Aunt Bronwyn. According to my mother “every man and his dog” knew her, and the other was that she had “been around”.

Once I was safely in the bosom of this well-acquainted and well-travelled aunt,  I would list my parents crimes and that would be that. No caring relative would send me back to live in their evil clutches..

Under my bed was an ancient suitcase, made of woven bamboo. It once belonged to my grandfather who fought in World War II, and still contained an ancient tin of smelly army issue green camouflage cream and a short battledress jacket. Into the cavernous interior of that case I threw a toothbrush, a bag of extra strong peppermints and a pair of gumboots.

I had tried on the jacket many times. My grandfather was obviously not too huge. It didn’t fit, exactly, but with the cuffs rolled up it was like wearing a coat, just right for a getaway on a cold winter night.

I would prize open the rusty lid of the camouflage cream, daub my face with the oily, dark green goo to break up its pale outline and, after climbing down the trellis, make a detour to the horse barn to smear myself with Bruce’s droppings to disguise my human scent.

I was set. If the worst happened and I met with a mishap along the way, at least no-one could say I had gone out badly prepared.

Now, at this point, dear reader, I should really inform you that if you were looking for a hundred pages or so of exploration, dodging hostiles, traversing swollen, rushing creeks, starvation, sunburn and scurvy you will be sadly disappointed.

A ten year-old’s legs, even those of a future stunt man, will only last so long. Mine gave out after I had successfully negotiated the south wall, smeared myself with Bruce’s poo, hopped the boundary fence, skipped the border scrub and trekked a couple of kilometres or so into the bush.

Maybe it wasn’t tiredness so much. It could be that once the sight of the station’s porch light was snuffed out by the brow of the hill, some of my courage was extinguished with it. The bush, a playground in the daytime, now bathed in the milk light of a full moon, was suddenly populated by half-imagined shadows and innumerable demons skittering through the undergrowth.

Worse than that, dead ahead, in the mid distance, on a still night, with not a breath of wind, I could see an object shifting…someone? A person? Too far away, too dark to tell…

Then I heard a murmuring, the sound of hushed voices carried easily to where I was standing. Someone was definitely coming.


The voices stopped suddenly. I moved back swiftly into a nearby pool of shadow. To run for the safety of home now would attract even more attention, and anyway, quick as I was,  I couldn’t outrun some slavering creature or gang of axe murderers. Whatever the approaching entity was, man or beast, it was coming right for me, and I needed to hide – fast. Once it had breached the last clump of tall grass, I would be in full view. No time to climb, no adequate cover on the ground…I could maybe throw the suitcase and create a noise diversion whilst I sneaked  – hold on…the suitcase! Of course! It was big enough to hold me. I softly opened the lid and leaped in- the jump and the lid closing was achieved with balletic grace in a single, silky, silent move born out of terror. I lay inside, heart pounding so loud I was sure it must be heard booming through the suitcase, the earth and the undergrowth for miles.

The gaps in the case’s woven bamboo afforded me a good view of the outside. The tall grass parted suddenly, revealing…nothing.

Yet I knew there was something, someone there. Right in front of me. The moon flooded the area. I could see as plain as day. There was no visible object, no figure, but the grass crackled in that area as though trodden – There was someone. Someone invisible.

“I know I smell peppermints” said a strangulated voice.

“I definitely smell horse poo” said a second voice.

“Shh!” hissed the first.


All was silent for what seemed like my whole life but was probably no more than two minutes. No sounds of movement, no voices, with my heart pounding like a steam piston all the while. Then, with my eyes fixed in terror on the spot where I knew someone was, I beheld the most amazing, wonderful sight. Something no human had ever seen since the dawn of time.

First there was a noise – like someone letting the air out of a ballon- a high, piercing, rasp of a thing, then to my astonishment, the shape of a creature gradually became apparent over the velvet blackness, first a ghostly grey, then assuming more colour, a pale brown, with the features becoming more delineated each second, revealing….well, at that time I had no idea what it was. The thing stood about three and a half feet tall, a small stocky frame, large bulbous nose, huge round eyes, with a couple of teeth that protruded up and downwards, like a crocodile’s. The creature was breathing heavily, leaning forward, hands on knees, gasping for air as though it had just finished a 100 metre sprint.





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