LNH/ACRA: Alt.stralian Yarns #6: Screwed

Tarq mitchell_crouch at caladrius.com.au
Thu Feb 1 23:10:29 PST 2007

by Mitchell Crouch.


Been-Out-Bush-For-Way-Too-Long Man, City Slicker Gent, Possum-Man, and
Bingo sat around a campfire, arranged in a rough semi-circle on top of
the ruins of BOB's old home.

"Well," Been-Out-Bush muttered, "I think we've run out of places to
look. We've rounded up all the supersteer and hulkhens, and, to be
quite frank with you, I got bugger all idea of where to look next."

City Slicker Gent continued to look miserable.

"Ruff," stated Bingo.

City Slicker Gent nodded agreeably, and then went back to looking

"It could be worse, I s'pose," mused the ever-optimistic Possum-Man.
"She could be dead!"

City Slicker Gent raised his eyes enough to stare at Possum-Man with
contempt, before walking off to be miserable on his own.

Been-Out-Bush-For-Way-Too-Long Man watched his cousin go, and then
slapped the Pos in the back of the head. "Way to make him kill
himself, ya flamin' galah."

Possum-Man frowned sulkily. "You know, I helped you move your house
like you asked, almost. I fought a giant chicken for you. I don't have
to put up with this kind of abuse."

BOBFWTLMan rose menacingly, and Pos let out a falsetto shriek and
threw himself at the ground. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean it! I love you,
really, I do, I do, I swear, I do!"

The fantastical farmer placed a hand on Possum-Man's shoulder, and
patted it neighbourly. "Nah, mate. Ya right. I've been a bit of a
bastard to ya, ey?"

The Protector of Possums jumped to his feet with an exuberant, "You
sure have!". BOB clocked him in the chin.

"And now we're even, wanker." The farmer picked up the small billy,
and doused the fire. "Nightie night, then." He unrolled his swag, and
made himself comfortable atop a pile of relatively smooth rubble,
using the restful Bingo as a pillow.

Possum-Man blinked a couple of times. After a moment's wait, his
yellow goggles lit up enough for him to see again. Staring down at the
'helpless citizen' he had been designated to protect, he packed up his
few personal possessions (which is to say, he tightened his right boot
a little), rose, and walked away into the night.

Wanker, indeed.

~ * ~

A supersonic screech harkened the new day, and City Slicker Gent
pulled himself out of the unearthed bed, a terrible burden weighing
down on his chest. He pushed the relocated Bingo off with a "Damn
mongrel!" and made his way over to the rising Been-Out-Bush-For-Way-
Too-Long Man.

"Hey, cousin?"

"Yeah, mate?"

"Uh, I reckon I have something to tell you."

BOB nodded encouragingly. The Gent paused. "Uh. Where's Pos? I think
he should hear this, too."

Been-Out-Bush looked around nonchalantly. "Feh. Prob'ly went out to
catch some leaves or whatever for his brekkie."

"Oh. Okay, then. I s'pose it can wait till he gets back."

Several hours later, when Possum-Man still had not returned, City
Slicker spoke up. "Okay. Rightio. Seems pretty obvious to me that ol'
Pos isn't coming back."

His cousin nodded his head in agreement. "Turned tail and fled.
Spineless git."

"Yeah. Right. Anyway. Well. So. See. Saw. Hum. Hrm. Um. Uh. Ah. Oh.
Well. I think I may know where my missus is."

"Thank God."

"Well, no." City Slicker Gent frowned. "See, back when I was a
solicitor in Syd.net, I had a client. Steve Spingles, a very handy
man, owned a small chain of hardware stores. And, see, he got this
really very bizarre notion that I had rather let him down,
representing him and what not. And, he, uh... snapped."


"He assumed the supervillain identity of none other than 'the

BOB's eyes bulged. "The Screwball?! You led the bluddy Screwball to my
bluddy farm?!"

"It's actually pronounced 'bloody', you kn-"

"I'll pr'nunce it however I bluddy well like!" Been-Out-Bush-For-Way-
Too-Long Man was fuming. "That's why you're out here, ain't it? That's
why you pop out of the bluddy blue with no real bluddy names,
demanding bluddy hospitality, ain't it?" City Slicker Gent remained
silent. "Bluddy hell. Are... are you even my cousin? Third, twice
removed, through a distant dead half aunt-in-law, whatever, ever, at
all, ever, even?!"

"Well, I changed my name to 'City Slicker Gent', I thought that would
throw him off! I swear, cousin, I did everything I could to try to
lose him."

"What about your bluddy beloved missus, eh?! She change her name,

City Slicker Gent blinked. "Actually, she never had a name in the
first place. We thought she'd be pretty safe."

BOB rolled his eyes. "Yeah, real damn safe until you start a fucking
stampede of hulkhen while you've got the bluddy Screwball chasing
after you!"

Gent went silent once more, looked ashamedly down at the ground. When
the conversation was not continued, his cousin let out an angry snort
and started shifting through piles of wreckage. City Slicker went and
found a different pile to sit on while BOB sorted himself out. After a
few moments, a single word was spoken: "Leave."

Gent looked up, whilst simultaneously looking down. Down the twin
barrels of a shotgun, that is.

He jumped to his feet, and tried to make calming motions with his
hands. Tried, but failed miserably. It looked more like he was doing
one of those bizarre new-age techno dances. You know the ones. "Holy
cow! Come on, Been-Out-Bush, put the gun down, there's no need for the
shooting and the banging and the dying and the stuff!"

BOBFWTLMan remained expressionless. "I said leave," he replied slowly,
with an unnatural air of calmness about him. "And if I ever see you
again, I will put two mongrel bullets in your smart lil' noggin. Got

There was a tense moment of silence, each cousin looking the other in
the eye, neither one wanting to have to make the first move. City
Slicker Gent gulped, and reached down to start packing.

A massive bang echoed throughout the yard, and the Gent jumped back as
his meagre possessions went flying from the blast.

"Leave them. Leave them, and just go."

City Slicker Gent nodded, and pulled himself off the ground. He
turned, and trudged away from the destroyed house. He had no idea
where he would go. He had no transport, no money... nothing. Not even
his missus for company. The more he thought about it, the bleaker his
options appeared: So far as he could tell, he could only try to go
back into town and try to hitchhike back to Syd.net. Try and find the
Screwball. Try and rescue his missus. Try, try, try.

He hated that word. It reminded him far too much of work, which is
something he wasn't fond of to begin with, and suggested that it was
possible to fail at whatever task it was being used in conjunction
with -- and now it seemed more likely than not that he _would_ fail.

As he approached the end of his cousin's long dirt driveway, he
noticed a car going in the direction of town travelling a few
kilometres up the road. He jogged the rest of the way to the road, and
began to make frantic arm movements to slow the car down. The driver
noticed him, apparently, because the vehicle came to a stop, and the
door opened invitingly.

City Slicker Gent, not thinking twice, jumped in.

~ * ~

Been-Out-Bush-For-Way-Too-Long Man watched his cousin go; a speck in
the distance, a bump in the dusty drought-ravaged horizon. And then,
finally, gone.

He threw down the shotgun, turned, sat, and placed his head in his
hands. He'd been alone most of his life; he'd never married, and he
had been an only child himself. His mother left barely a week after he
was born, and turned up dead a few months later. His one adopted son
had up and left. But now, for the first time in over ten years, he
felt truly separated from the rest of humanity.

The farm had been almost all he'd had left of his loving father. And
now the house was destroyed, and with the drought, he probably
couldn't afford a new one even if he sold all his stock. Even if he
sold enough land to make up for it, he wouldn't have enough left to
make a living off it.

He undid the simple golden necklace he wore. It was one of only three
pieces of jewellery he had ever owned, and one of only two things he
wore not out of necessity. The necklace wasn't much -- just a dirty
golden chain with an empty heart-shaped locket. He'd inherited from
his father who, by extension, had received it from his mother. He
opened it now, and filled it with dry soil. He tied it back around his
neck, and then took of his ring. His father's wedding ring.

He placed it in the hole where the soil had come from, and stuck some
snapped stakes in to make the area. Then he began to clean.

The fantastical farmer knew he would have to leave. But now he'd left
even more of his family here, and he carried the land in his heart
more than ever before. He would sort through the rubble, keeping what
he could salvage and discarding of what he couldn't. He would leave.
He would return. He would rebuild, on the exact same foundations that
his ancestors had built upon seven generations ago.

With only these desolate thoughts in his mind, he worked all day,
moving the trash heap that was his house for the second time.

He toiled away, thoughts of isolation and loneliness drifting through
his head for the first time in years, almost a decade. And finally,
when he could bear it no longer, he called Bingo to his side.

"Bingo," he called. "Bingo!"

Been-Out-Bush-For-Way-Too-Long Man looked around. "Bingo?"

A cheerful didgeridoo started to play, and a Tourism Alt.stralia logo
appeared down the bottom of the frame as Been-Out-Bush-For-Way-Too-
Long Man asked, "Where the bluddy hell are you?"


Rockin'. Slightly darker tone than previous Alt.stralian Yarns, but
hey, the darker the shadow, the brighter the light that casts it, no?

Shocking conclusion coming soon! Which probably really means some time
in March, or wassit called, one that comes after March. You know the
one. Also, expect Possum-Man: Relinquished reasonably soon!


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