It’s October ‘77 and we’re in regional New South Wales.
Buffalo’s “King’s Cross Ladies” (1974) leaked from the hissing speaker of the Bedford tour van, which limped on fumes into the tiny desert outpost known as Broad Axe.
The dash’s left speaker was criss-crossed with gaffer tape, singed with randomly landed blunts, wheezing that louche proto-stoner Oz-rock defiantly.
Borne within were Töxxik Shökk, middling touring blues-rock band, over the hill to a man and all considerably munted, waxing tangentially profound as the baked lakes and febrile Min Min Lights pulsed by in the depths of pitch dark, malevolent western NSW.
Töxxik Shökk had just played a particularly grim ute-muster, and had a B&S ball firmly in their sights come Saturday week. For now, though, tonight’s indignity was an embarrassing support gig in the middle of fuck-all, twelve hundred clicks out from Sydney.
Ahead, a dull glowing headache on the horizon, was Broad Axe, population nine fifty eight, primary industry cirrhosis of the liver (secondary: lead dementia) and very definitely the scene of Töxxik Shökk’s final, finest hours.
This was to be, very literally, their killer gig.
The Bedford trundled woozily past a dead servo outpost, speed lagging, its cargo reportedly average in bearing yet enthusiastic for the evening’s supporting gig.
That’s an Aboriginal word for, well- what’ve you got?
Nightmare incarnate, basically.
Rooted in myth, the Bunyip clawed its way out of the Dreamtime, one mean fucker, lethal of hooked claw, immense boar-like tusks caked in crimson clay, all slick onyx scales, prehistoric and ravenous.
Surfacing, the abomination’s orbital oculars adjusted to surface conditions, pulsing across the dim, sickly crescent moon swathed scrub.
The cephalopod bastard issued a single parched cry as it emerged powerfully from the sepulchral Murray River and fixated on a pulsing yellow glow lancing west through early morning haze.
It sounded exactly like the reaper announcing its long delayed arrival back on Terra Australis.
A bloated shadow of his former Scandy pants-man heyday, Hani Höden had always regretted his belated decision to move Down Under and front an also-ran Oz-Rock band in the late 1960s.
Dismissively wiping the vestiges of a dud whip-it from his prodigious handlebar ’stache, Hani massaged his receding silver-blonde ponytail smooth and briefly yielded to memories of the slate grey, childhood whimsy of Gothenburg.
It didn’t take long.
Righteously stoned and rocked by some lesser opioids, secured somewhere outside of scenic Nyngan, Hani dozed sporadically, nay suicidally as he piloted that tragic old Bedford gingerly into Broad Axe.
Hani’s bandmates, Donk, Muff and Edward, all in various states of extradimensional disrepair in back, nodded in and out of the zone with that last, doomed gig in the headlights.
The Broad Axe Voluntary Piper’s Leagues Club, est. 1872, (now The Red Flag Inn, reopened 1965) was a pretty cranking venue back in the day.
An overbearing, heritage-listed establishment with an astounding, vertiginous ballroom, now band-room, The BAVPLC had seen some shit indeed.
Remember the last scene of The Shining?
Drop your pin there and extrapolate, friends.
Sadly, no one these days recalls the Leagues Club as an unmarked seventeenth century burial ground for about three hundred or so Dutch pirates shipwrecked about a century prior to dear old Captain Cook and crew, meeting some stiff, ultra-violent and frankly cathartic resistance at the end of the locals’ spears.
As if anyone would have thought people had lived in Australia prior to 1788, right?
Look it up.
Pitiably, Töxxik Shökk rocked up three hours late for their supporting gig.
Superior Warrnambool power trio The Wayward Children were loading their top shelf gear out as The Shökk’s (as absolutely no-one ever had called them) dinged midnight blue Bedford heaved to a comical stop, Hani regaining consciousness at the last possible second and postponing mortal disaster by a couple of hours, maximum.
The venue insisted they play to the sound guy, a few dozen straggling, horny locals on the desperate last-drinks, prowl and an unconscious punter perhaps terminally adrift on a poker machine.
Beaten, stolen, shit-hued cowboy boot propped jauntily on the foldback and precariously off his barely-clad tits, Edward Von Satan (let’s call him ‘Eddie’, eh?) choked back thick acid chunder as he fumbled out the bass-heavy crescendo to ‘Nan-Growler’, Töxxik Shökk’s underground only hit single from ‘73’s ‘Pass The Amyl’.
That LP had sold an entire, epic 178 copies nation-wide (and once scored a solitary 3am spin on the Double Jays, enthralling precisely three baked punters in outer Western Sydney), briefly charting two and a half years after its initial release.
By way of celebrating its release, the lads had gotten loose on glue, meths and paint thinner for the better part of three weeks, before returning to their de rigueur day jobs as sparkies, roadies and dealers for far, far better outfits.
The Stones they were not.
They had no point.
The Bunyip, a bipedal megalodon, emerged silently from the scrub, a feral anachronism, a ragged tear in the fabric of night, the moon filtered as it was by a dense cluster of ghost gums overhead.
Its ancient senses primed, the beast sensed extinction, a surging necrotic hum beneath the baked clay upon which the structure before him squatted.
The degenerate dwelling was a scar on the monster’s territory, a poisonous sore that needed to be excised. Cacophony spilled from its belly, further offending The Bunyip’s deep, instinctual reverence for its homeland.
Death on legs, tentacular, its lethal instincts shrieking, The Bunyip folded itself into shifting shadows and advanced towards the vexed blight before it.
Its army shuffled in its wake.
Less than an hour ago, anticipating the first set, Eddie was in the bogs getting sideways with Mystic Mo, his long-standing casual how’s-yer-father arrangement whenever he passed through Broad Axe.
Which was increasingly rarely, thanks to a threadbare band budget and general lack of punter interest.
Permanently decked out in an egregious kaftan, Cleopatra mascara and a prodigious array of earth-toned beadwork, Mo had settled into the small regional town as a latter day oracle and profoundly well connected drug dealer.
She was from Dubbo.
Sickly cleaning product based drugs dripped down Eddie’s throat as Mo grinned, shelved a powerful upper into his aching yellow coit, withdrew her filthy index finger and smeared something on his panic-sweat dappled forehead.
“For luck” Mo intoned.
Salacious, that was, Eddie (let’s call him ‘Ed’) considered numbly.
He paused a second and hazily wondered- did he actually mean scatological?
Ed didn’t feel that lucky, or particularly great, at present.
He probably wouldn’t ever again, judging by the pronounced downward trajectory of his outfit’s prospects.
Ed wobbled upright, hitched his threadbare denim kecks, adjusted the old feller and made for the tiny stage, slinging his well-chipped onyx Thunderbird four-string over his blurred, ink-blue shoulder, weaving dangerously, that drying black shit-rune utterly forgotten.
This would actually turn out to be the very gig of his afterlife.
Töxxik Shökk were backstage, prepping for their second set (mostly a drunker carbon copy of their first, plus some very messy Aztecs covers thrown in to soften up what poor fools remained), stratospherically cunted and talking utter bullshit, when the shit met the fan and didn’t ever let up.
Donk had just performed his previously popular, but now just aggravating, ‘humping an imaginary dachshund’ routine, a bit he’d first drunkenly trialled at a sad shed-party in early 1967.
You’d had to have been there, clearly.
Muff, Hani and Ed indulged him- it was pretty much his singular claim to fame, the poor dopey fucker.
Donk was just through the preliminary canine seduction set-up when, in a lethal blur and a mighty whip-crack, a muddy red tentacle shot through the green room’s (keg-cellar) solitary window, leaving a nasty pulsing tear in Ed’s bare, furry gut and catching Donk right in the Jatz Crackers, slashing a major artery for good measure.
Donk slumped to the floor bleeding out, sobbing and gasping.
That crude ungala worked mercilessly on his prized extremity, pulsing ancient malign poison directly into Donk’s considerable main vein.
The remaining members of Töxxik Shökk sagged in slow motion to their respective busted Cuban-clad feet as the Bunyip made dust of the brick-asbestos-chipboard basement wall, a savage apparition emerging from the hushed still of an early Sunday morning in a town with no traffic lights.
Before them was a blurred nightmare-fuelled aberration comprised of flashing ivory blades and cool prehistoric eyes, all fuming, red earth encrusted imminent death.
Töxxik Shökk were well and truly fucked, that was for sure.
As the monster wailed and fumed for effect, slick mottled carapace gleaming, Ed thumbed a hefty spliff into his gob, sighed, sparked it up and made peace with the Abyss.
The other two, for now uninjured blokes fainted dead away as the murky beast tensed, bellowed, and then sprang.
Ed had already forgotten about those dull fuckwits as he moved his non-existent arse, decisively.
Maureen ‘Mystic Mo’ O’Grady had always been a bit of a one.
Dead-end, industrial nowhere NSW Dubbo had never much been her bag- she’d migrated (read: hitched in the dead of night) to Penrith, a rough as guts outlying suburb of Sydney, aged just-seventeen, in ‘71.
Mo lived in squats for a bit, eventually apprenticing in the gentle art of low level narcotics distribution under the tutelage of a couple of cuddly, burnt out Hell’s Angels who really were nicer than they let on- they’d never even once asked to have their respective bell-ends drained.
She’d had her suspicions.
After Mo upgraded her resume with said drug dealing skill-set, she roughed it up in the Blue Mountains for a bit, sleeping under the stars, selling stolen hand-woven hemp jewellery out the front of the Springwood Town Hall to put food in.
It was out there, half way up, that she’d happened upon a ragged community of elderly sex pervert druids getting freaky in a craggy, moonlit clearing one crisp June twenty one. They welcomed the flame haired spitfire into their “Happening” with saggy, salacious open arms.
It was the Winter Solstice, after all.
The sex pervert druids weren’t that bad, really- Mo was clearly made of sterner stuff and stood her ground firmly when lecherous old tuggers like the desperate Captain Mick, who preferred Digger’s garb (and strolled around nonchalantly with his sad cock out a good deal of the time) tried to pull an ill-considered sleazebag move.
At any rate, they offered her accommodation in their sprawling, makeshift tent village, and Mo apprenticed once more. She never really sussed who owned the land they were camped out on (she had a broader sense of its ancient, indigenous heritage, which thrummed and sang to her in the still of night), but she was part of a community, however offbeat, and it was all good for a bit.
Still, she was only (just) eighteen, full of piss and vinegar and an ache for fucking shit up, and there was only so much sad, wrinkly jigging about at the witching hour someone so basically, wonderfully unhinged could inherently abide.
Just as things were kicking off in the bowels of The Red Flag, Mo, enterprising shagger of a procession of C-list never-weres who’d hung their hats, ever-so-briefly, in the ‘Axe, had secreted herself on the band’s van, intending to wreak further cheeky mischief on hapless old Ed.
Nothing too audacious.
Just a reminder that he was a dim-witted, amateur serial womaniser who didn’t know what was actually fucken good for him.
Mo was only into low-level Pagan shit these days, stone circles, a bit of nuding up on the Solstice, a spot of ceremonial dagger play, scratching out a few portentous runes at parties, all that.
She also may also have just only mildly fucked up and accidentally summoned a Bunyip, in an unnaturally vindictive fit of pique and a whole lot of incidental research, after getting messy on some old cooking sherry and a noxious fistful of datura stuffed into a ragged joint or seven.
Nonetheless, what was done was done, she counselled herself.
Mo was rummaging through the band’s foul detritus, wondering what precisely she saw in this fucking bloke when something caught her eye in the rear view, slouching towards The Red Flag’s keg cellar.
Behind it was a shambling army of... somethings.
Shit a fucking brick.
It was already here.
And it had brought mates.
The Bunyip took its sweet, primevally sadistic time with Hani, Donk and Muff.
Ichor-sticky talons thrashed through Hani’s jumbled guts.
Gurgling, beyond the realms of death, Hani clawed ragged fingernails across filthy checked lino in search of one final dart.
The Bunyip gave up on the claws and sunk a decaying, poisoned yellow tusk directly through Hani’s skull, rendering him immediately undead.
The beast then turned its malign, primal attentions to Hani’s remaining paralysed, panic-stricken bandmates.
They had communed in this profane place.
They had transgressed.
The Bunyip’s prehistoric amygdala spat hormones through its primordial bilaterean nervous system.
This blasted earth must be cleansed, sanctified.
The thin, ragged one in blue rags had escaped for now. It was, however, already stricken with the beast’s strange, festering river poison.
This it knew.
The Bunyip returned its rapt, feral attention to Muff’s shredded, gushing femoral artery.
The poor bastard somehow lived another agonising thirteen minutes, his vision all searing white heat as indescribable torments were visited upon his ruined earthly vessel.
Donk, nature’s own glorious fool, was always blessed with astounding good fortune.
He was full forward for the state rugger team, prodigiously endowed, a champion drinker and absolutely peaking in life way too early.
Donk had just scored himself a boiler-maker’s apprenticeship and had, predictably, immediately scored a loan for a second hand ‘63 Chrysler Valiant (AP5, manual of course), all gleaming pearlescent cream finish, Aussie-made and manufactured, with wide bench seats for whenever the opportunity to park up at The Lookout presented itself.
Sal had ditched him about a week ago (he couldn’t recall why), so his sweaty teen fuck-obsessed cerebellum optimistically calculated those opportunities would soon be on a steep upward climb, pre-season approaching as it was.
Donk was also the drummer in The Groovy Kingsmen, a covers combo specialising in Roy Orbison, Col Joye and Cliff Richard. The Groovies were lead by heavily mutton-chopped high school music teacher (and thwarted session muso) Stavros “Stav” Reganovich. The combo were fleshed out by a group of senior students the ageing, leather jacketed lothario had press-ganged into service when the original, all-adult lineup quit in disgust over yet another of Stav’s legally and ethically questionable gigging decisions.
We won’t get into that one.
Still, drumming down at the Knob’s Ram & Tackle meant Donk had access to a wide array of older, even, say, married women who were far more likely to take a seventeen year old under their suspect wings and provide some ever-useful tutelage between some random, crusty floral sheets.
Which was not to say Donk was much chop as a ring-in on the skins. It was just that the other lads from school had given him the late call-up and he’d felt duty-bound to follow through with his solid fisted four-four and some occasional jazz-kit razzle-dazzle if it potentially lead to getting his end away with said mythical, chimaera-like (he didn’t actually know that word) over twenty-ones who slagged it up on wine-coolers into the early hours of Saturday and Sunday morning.
That hormone-fuelled aspiration would get him through the Meat Night Raffle and the mixer-dance, he reckoned, as he cracked one of his old man’s Toohey’s Olds (nicked).
Donk returned to his kamikaze, garbage bin-lid paradiddles for a bit longer, already daydreaming boobs and… stuff.
Like, sexing stuff.
It was for sure the time of Donk’s life, he was bloody certain of that.
Muff had himself a rickety Coles shopping trolley loaded with mum-distilled moonshine, decanted into an assortment of dad-discarded brown beer bottles.
More accurately, of course, Muff’s poisonous cargo was just methylated spirits and his school science department’s ethanol stores mixed with about twenty percent water.
That’s the recipe for Rocket Fuel, non-scientists.
Muff’s intention was to present his insanely flammable booty triumphantly at his imminent eighteenth birthday dinner.
Of course, ‘dinner’ was probably stretching the point.
Bring yer own at the mysteriously-monickered ‘Pussycat’ on Dockery's Knob’s main drag traditionally deteriorated quickly into drunken debauch, with most attendees wearing a bib of beef and black bean vomit when proceedings moved on, inevitably, to the strippers’.
Which is not to say Muff’s previous birthdays didn’t have notorious, disaster-oriented precedent.
After all, his seventeenth had ended in an all-in brawl with the Dockery's Knob Southies (rugby league, mate). The less said about Cheryl giving a daisy-chain of gobbies to those minor Premier bastards afterwards, by way of dumping him, the better.
Tonight was going to be different, but.
Muff had even prepared a squawking, feedback drenched tabletop guitar solo, which he’d debut here for the lads to heroic acclaim (by his estimation) and guaranteed firing them up for a huge session on the turps. He really liked Billy Thorpe.
For good measure, our man then intended, as a birthday treat to himself, to get off with a few of the hookers the local Angels shipped in on weekends. He’d saved up fifty bucks for it.
Muff had it all worked out, planned to an exacting tee.
Rolling several Panzers into a gunfight, Muff introduced his rowdy dinner guests (most of them members of the North Dockery’s Dingos) to the evening’s libations.
Jubilant applause and whooping broke out, tables rattled as the horny throng stomped approval.
Muff was well pleased.
As he’d doubtfully-cum-nervously fantasised, lo-and-behold, three sheilas Donk recalled fervently, Year Ten girls when he’d been in Year Seven (which made them fucking ancient now in his dull, wet head) were upon him before the gig-sweat had dried on his pristine brow.
“Give yas a blowie for a lift out to me party?” drawled the one he definitely remembered as “Juicy” Lucy O’Connor, all frizzy blonde perm, knowing sneer and wonderful heaving bosoms.
How could he not? He’d dedicated more than his fair share of experimental tugs to Lucy in her school sports uniform back in the day, that was for fucken certain.
The Goozza and Rita The Rooter flanked Juicy, hands perched on barely denim clad hips, masticating spearmint PKs violently. They smelt like smouldering fires and sticky lust to him.
Donk gulped and broke out in a mean flop sweat, balls retracting northerly. He could hear Stav and the others animatedly pulling the piss over behind him as they packed up- there was no backing out of this one, not with his band and what seemed like entire Ram & Tackle observing raptly.
Dread in his guts, Donk lead his three winsome seductresses out to the AP5 for the short, terror-stricken drive out to Juicy’s parents’ block (vacant for the weekend while the olds were over in Knob Creek for a raunchy Parish key party; none of the kids suspected a thing).
The O’Connor spread was perched on the northern fringes of town, on the lip of the scrub, adjacent to a sparsely populated caravan park and a pretty dry lake.
Donk’s fevered imagination was on fire with sweaty carnal mysteries as he pulled the Valiant into the drive, a raging backyard kegger already well and truly in session.
Tonight’s waitress quaintly offered her guests wine glasses.
To a man, they’d never clapped eyes on such weird drinking vessels.
Gamely, though, sophisticated young gentlemen of leisure so they were, Muff’s guests charged their glasses to their respective brims and offered up a raucous rendition of their team song by way of an accidental toast.
None of the lads had noticed the fancy geezer in the corner guzzling a goblet of cheap red and resplendent in a leather unitard, blonde mane flowing, a complete aberration in small town Australia.
Said stranger, nonetheless, sashayed, with no little theatre to the head of the lads’ table and offered up, in a mellifluous, alien accent, a rousing “Skol!” and subsequently drained his goblet in a single, messy, prolonged guzzle.
Nonchalantly, he grabbed a flask of Muff’s old lady’s rotgut, took a heartburn-inducing swig and promptly invited himself to the party.
Who the fuck was this guy?
The O’Connors’ parched front lawn smouldered ominously as Donk trailed that trio of dodgy sirens through the chaotic milieu.
The threadbare yellow grass was an arid inland seabed festooned with a trove of empties, more than a few pairs of sticky knickers (one flimsy maroon set, forebodingly, had a religious pamphlet tackily glued to the crotch), and, the current piece de resistance, some poor smashed fucker spooning the bird bath with a garden hose up his arsehole, bombed and dozing peacefully.
Bonfires (Donk had no idea why there were bonfires) spat sparks into the parched early morning desert heat, fizzing, momentarily fuming and finally failing to combust.
For the time being, Donk thought, then forgot immediately as he leered a bit at Juicy’s boobs and let out a an embarrassing, unconscious moan. He gritted his teeth for an inevitable shellacking, but happily, none was forthcoming.
As Rita the Rooter creaked open the wrought iron side gate (replete with YES HE FUCKEN BITES signage, daubed on a buckled sheet of punctured tin and wired at an angle into rusted chicken wire), a few of Donk’s classmates pushed past, baying jubilantly, a blur of massive bushes and flapping cocks, all tanned scrubber miscreant and imminent bad decisions larging it carefree and sideways into Sunday morning and beyond.
Crudely strung Christmas lights, zig-zagging up the side fence, lead the four of them further along the side of the O’Connors’ slightly clapped out corrugated iron three bedder (in original slate grey with bonus rust colourations). As they advanced, preemptively groping one another a bit in the semi-dark (rude not to), Donk could feel the shudder of some pretty serious rock and roll shit, reverberating urgently in his nuts and punctuated by what sounded like a baying horde of on-heat cats and the confusingly misplaced splashing of H2O.
That cracked concrete side-path dog-legged and then they were in the back yard, a weed festooned red dirt oasis which opened out through a wide back gate into pretty much fuck all. Ruined derelict autos, caravans and construction equipment were aligned haphazardly around the fringes of the huge block, revellers drinking and copping off in random back seats and earthmover scoops.
There was a blackened wild pig being turned lazily on a spit, over a guttering fire pit, by some waster.
Donk-plus-three emerged next to the source of that calamitous, barely contained din- a dubious stage had been erected at the top of the yard, on milk crates, restricting entry to the O’Connor manse. Said stage was stalked by three low-looking gentlemen, bass-vox/ guitar/ drums, who were concentrated primarily on keeping their stoned gourds on target with some pretty straightforward blues-based pub rock.
A midnight blue Bedford was angled, half in, half out of the wide-open back gate, a repurposed cattle number with chicken wire customisation.
More flickering bonfires were dotted all around the expanse, illuminating an enthusiastic bush bacchanal, all spag-limbed bourbon two-stepping, sloppy pashing and wailing, urgent fucking the likes of which Donk’s limited imagination hadn’t even dared to begin sketching.
Best of all, the very centre-piece of the yard was a rain-tank some handy bastard had retro-fitted with an oxy into a makeshift pool. It squatted on a patch of spinifex. The tank, full of stagnant green murk, contained at least twenty nuded up punters gyrating and revelling like tomorrow was another universe.
Donk was in complete awe.
A tinnie of Tooheys Old was thrust into his slack mitt. Donk glanced sideways, agape, to discover The Goozza, Rita the Rooter and, oh good lord, Juicy Lucy, all in the nick and gesturing towards the “pool”, wicked gleams in respective, heavily mascara’d eyes.
Right now, you needn’t have asked Donk twice- he necked that can, grabbed a sixer from the Esky, fixated on Juicy’s mighty, pale derrière disappearing towards the pool, and bit his lip with anticipation.
Donk nuded up, wondered where that bloody dog actually was, and loped gingerly towards that soupy corrugated iron fuck-cauldron, bonfires reflected in his dilated pupils.
Muff had decided Hani Höden was one top notch bloke, for that’s who the fuck the flamboyant demi-god was.
Muff had understood roughly a third of what the Swedish rocker was on about, skipping between sonorous English and cryptic mother tongue as he did, no doubt for maximum exotic effect.
Hani had laid one fucking righteous birthday bacchanal on. It had, perhaps permanently, erased the trauma of Muff’s seventeenth for all time.
It really was that good.
Later, Donk, on Tarzan’s Grip and about seventy beers, was giving a lethargic groaner to The Goozza on the O’Connors’ front fence.
Out of nowhere, he copped a rudely timed tap on the shoulder.
Prematurely ejaculating as he leered around groggily at the wizened, gap-toothed bonce of Edward Von Satan, all of twenty nine fucking years old, Donk dimly wondered what this old cunt wanted.
The Goozza gave him several violent slaps and a decent shot to his noodly nethers when Von Satan made his fatal pitch.
They’d seen him play at the Ram & Tackle.
The band needed a new drummer. Like, right now.
No, he wouldn’t go into the gories.
Donk was all ears- there was a fiver a day in this, plus they’d supply the kit and everything.
Member of a touring band, just like that.
He was on board as of yesterday.
The Goozza rained down a dark cloud of invective as Donk hitched his strides and made for that backyard pseudo-stage.
Muff regained consciousness on the paisley RSL floor in a tangle of stripper-limbs, a feather boa wrapped around his schlong, otherwise clad only in scuffed work boots. He clutched the neck of his onyx SG as if his life depended on it. An amp hummed ominously nearby.
He was certain he was about to spew, but apparently his limbic system was failing in even that regard for now. Delicately unwinding himself from the ladies, Muff gingerly propped himself up, squinted, and scanned the wreckage strewn scene of utter disaster radiating out from him.
Shit a brick. He remembered jack and shit after that sixth round of corrosive Pussycat gargle-blasters.
As Muff’s eyes focused, they lingered, now agog, on Hani, who was on his scuffed leather-clad knees in front of a stunning blonde splayed atop a bar stool, ravenously performing some well-practiced, next-level Euro-ninja cunnilingus.
The blonde, her name was Narelle, was leant ecstatically back against a one armed bandit, gripping the lever for all it was worth, eyes rolled back in her head and howling some pretty blue stuff.
Hani was the fucking man.
Perhaps sensing a spectator, Hani gazed, fuck-eyed, up from his holy ministrations.
“Vill du gå med ett band?”
Muff had fuck all idea what that meant, but he recognised the word band, and after the night he’d apparently had, he’d follow his depraved Scandinavian sex-sensei to the very ends of the earth.
Like, maybe even Adelaide.
Töxxik Shökk slowly reanimated, their ravaged, ruined corpses topographies of coagulated viscera. They most definitely were A-grade, text-book fucking zombies.
So were those toey punters they’d played to earlier - The Bunyip had made short, hungry work of those hapless fuckers, all pheromone and heat.
That was, of course, in tandem with the strategic reanimation of the ragged, centuries-old corpses of them Dutch scallywags we discussed earlier.
These undead lurkers had formed a loose perimeter around The Red Flag, unearthly collective programming kicking in on this potent pre-dawn landmark.
Donk, Muff and Hani, their primal nervous systems negotiating with instinct and frayed primitive muscle memory, scrabbled shakily upright and regarded one another with raw, feral disdain, snarling and blank, alive only to the fact that blood was on the agenda.
Ed Von Satan, splayed across a vomit encrusted ruby pool table, gasped then convulsed back into existence, spitting dessicated ochre grue.
Reflexively, emulating innumerable pre-gig green room flame-outs prior, he spasmed upright and heaved animatedly. A shattered, blood-streaked darts-mirror indicated the protection rune scrawled across his shredded, pulsing forehead.
Ed dragged the back of his ruined right hand across his thrumming lack-of-nose and observed a vivid pink smear.
Not that old chestnut.
He was inexplicably clutching a drained Melbourne Bitter, and dimly recalled that his tortured septum was clotted with an array of very cheap small town Class As.
Where in the sweet blue fuckery was he?
He rummaged for a bit and unearthed a scuffed pewter hip-flask from the top pocket of his ragged, patch festooned cut-off denim vest.
Ed thumbed the cap and choked back a wicked dram of something in the neighbourhood of methylated spirits mixed with leather polish.
His throat constricted and he blinked back tears.
Fucking right on.
Further rummaging unearthed a miraculously intact vial of surgical grade poppers (Jungle Juice!) in his left jeans pocket, nestled amongst umpteen roadhouse lighters and a stainless steel butterfly knife.
A few vicious tweaks and about ninety seconds of sustained synthetic mirth later, his nose had ceased to complain and Ed was down to the serious business of figuring out just what in the name of Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn’s mighty beef bayonet was going on.
The Bunyip felt Ed awaken and was positively enraged.
That ragged blue-thing was connected but somehow separate.
The beast yowled, all guttural menace, a keening, inaudibly-pitched call-to-arms.
Behind it, The Bunyip’s shuffling army stirred and then advanced.
It was an electric Saturday night in early September, ‘72.
Mo had given the commune the slip for the night and hiked her way into Springwood- she’d saved a bit of coin and fancied a. Getting righteously shit-faced
b. Getting her end away.
Then preferably repeating ad infinitum.
The warm spring evening meant The Royal Hotel (est. 1881) was positively humming with toey potential shaggers’ energy.
She could sense these things.
Even better, there was a touring band in town, an elaborate blackletter logo chalked haphazardly onto a blackboard out front, gig time 9pm.
Mo passed a battered midnight blue Bedford as she approached the boxy, sprawling pub facade, an anticipatory bounce in her step and a pleasant warm throb emanating from her knickers-unencumbered nethers.
That’s how these things usually get started, isn’t it?
Right in the here and now.
Woefully, haphazardly upright, Ed fixated on the smeared, filthy-green bog mirror.
What the fuck had happened to his formerly dashing, presently god-forsaken visage?
This thought was preceded by a red-soaked flash of twelve (nineteen) and tentatively caressing a silken clad au pair’s vag.
He’d said that in an interview once, pumping up his swordsman’s rep for the confused small-town radio deejay who usually span Merle, Waylon and, very very occasionally, Slim.
Ed’s self esteem was hardwired into his own carefully curated ideal of rock and roll mythology, and right now he was coming up and was all over the proverbial shop.
The mirror wavered and came back into focus.At least fifty percent shredded to the yellow bone, his bloody rictus leered back.
Ed’s right eyeball bulged, yellow, bloodshot, sagging.
Happily, at least some of his grandiose, greying mullet remained intact.
He scooped up his thrashed Akubra and positioned it jauntily as he inspected his innards, presently outer but that was fine, if not pulsing in agony and further extricating themselves with every heaving gasp, slick black plasma soaking the power-zone of his kecks.
That definitely wasn’t normal.
But fuck it.
Mo’s prescient shit-rune, actually a bottom shelf pagan good luck charm (and kiss-off after years of go nowhere fumbling and avoidant bullshit), had somehow protected him from the worst of The Bunyip’s corrupt venom, fighting back the prehistoric control of whatever coursed through that creek dwelling bastard’s malignant veins.
Whether that was a good thing or not was yet to be seen.
Ed’s arsehole stung.
He adjusted his aching ballbag.
Shit had gotten inestimably real.
Mystic Mo was sat, buck naked and cross legged, in back of the Bedford.
She’d cleared a space in the band’s chaotic filth and refuse for her stone circle (quartz), and was daubed in some pretty fucking serious looking runes. Mo’s ceremonial dagger (The Bastard), gifted to her by one of the sex pervert druids, hung limply in her right hand, slick with the blood she’d drawn to paint them runes on properly.
Acrid datura smoke stung the still air. She’d found some of Ed’s last-resort-port, which had had to do, considering this current dire sitch.
Mo mouthed incantations wordlessly, then climbed out of her own head into the messy primordial abstract.
Ed lurched up from the basement of the The Red Flag Inn, holding vast purple loops of his own guts in.
Whatever! Just leave, his subconscious counselled, piecing it all back together, slowly.
Outside, it was dark as the inside of a dog’s arsehole. The moon was low. Eucalyptii shushed ominously. It would be fucking ages until sun up arrived.
Ed gazed up at a pulsating orbit of stars.
He felt different.
That pre-gig ‘luude plus ‘shroom and a cheeky bump of something yellow and sticky had barely hit the sides.
But where the bloody hell was Mystic Mo?
Regardless, Ed was fucken ennervated.
He was certain it wasn’t the poppers.
But was he even alive?
Confused, The Bunyip’s elemental reverie ceased as Mo slid into its basic encephalonic driver’s seat.
In the van, Mo’s bones vibrated painfully as her astral-travelling consciousness adapted to the beast’s primitive limbic system; the beast itself convulsed as it acquiesced to its ruthless new pilot.
The Bunyip’s army, a bedraggled mixture of gig-goers’ freshly zombified corpses and the parched, reanimated bones of hapless, long-dead Dutch settlers, swayed uncertainly and shuffled in place, awaiting a command.
Mo had this shit locked down.
Ever the dim-witted almost-survivor, Ed didn’t spend much time pondering his good fortune.
He took another blast from that powerful amyl, choked back loud snorts, and definitely didn’t clock the shuffling gait of his bandmates falling in behind him, dead eyed and ravenous.
What was formerly Donk, half-decent drummer, middling pantsman, “Most-ladies-fingered, Dockery's Knob High School 1967” runner-up, made the first shambolic move, issuing a low rasping howl and then lunging ravenously at his former bandmate.
Now that Mo had the hang of navigating the jangling nervous system of The Bunyip, she was revelling in all this coiled fucking-shit-up potential.
Instinctively spinning on a taloned heel and bracing the possessed beast’s top-heavy bulk with those spookily prehensile tentacles, Mo collected her slightly discombobulated self, pivoted and faced down the throng of recently and not-so-recently undead through gorily distorted reptilian lenses.
A wry grin on her corporeal mug, a carnivorous, jagged sneer on her host’s, Mo barked at the moon and went about some bloody satisfying zombie slaughtering business.
Ed had his blade palmed a split second after he’d twigged it was on.
His bandmates wavered before him, carnivorous and encroaching, circling, all exposed innards, lupine eyes and flayed appendages.
Ed dimly realised in his lizard brain: he was high, stoned, drunk and cataclysmically ruined on some powerful downers- a cocktail of chems catalysing disaster where moments ago he’d been full of pluck and reincarnated vigour.
Pin-wheeling precipitously, a rock ‘n roll rag-doll, Ed lashed out with his switchblade wildly, puncturing nowt but thin air, sinking ever further into confused thudding delirium as a second wave of Mo’s powerful LSD leeched into the ruptured mucous membranes of his arsehole.
Sinking to one bony, ragged knee, Ed snorted chunks out of his good nostril, clotted black viscera splatting onto filthy tiles. For focus, he bit hard on what remained of his black gums until he felt something approximating pain, and lurched back to his feet for what could be his final go ‘round.
Back in that wretched, sagging Bedford, Mo’s mystically inclined eyelids flickered skyward, daubed in black ritual blood.
Second-hand carnage danced across her aching mind’s eye as the dull electric feedback of The Bunyip’s savage head-downloads painted outrageous wave upon wave of eviscerated undead bastards, immaculately, sadistically threshed and now thinned down to a few husks of Dutch-corpse, across her retina.
A smirk wavered across Mystic Mo’s plasma-smeared visage.
She was fucking into this palaver.
“Carn then, ya fucken bastards,” Ed sneered, remaining lips slack.
It came out “Cuhn thn, yuh fkn byrshtyrds,” and that didn’t really matter anyway, because everyone else in the room were rolling on single-speed prehistoric cerebral cortexes.
Ed’s blade gleamed dully in the moon-glow.
He gamely advanced on Not-Hani, Not-Donk and Not-Muff, though he presently saw nine of them wavering like heat haze in his drug-ruined undead vision.
Sensing their useless former bandmate for the easy pickings he in actual reality was, the three ex-rockers formed a loose, steadily shrinking trigon around Ed and closed in for the actual kill with agonising, sadistic intent.
Ed’s bandmates were rabidly sucking the thick marrow out of his blackened radius ulna when that fucking Bunyip returned, snorting and depraved, some nascent, preternatural intelligence sketched behind its spiky, predatory brow.
The beast was dressed in human offal, belching steam, all caged tendons and roiling, imminent evisceration.
Not-Hani and Not-Donk reared back violently as The Bunyip sprang. Not-Muff was fixated on the tasty stuff ebbing from Ed’s skeletal system.
The Bunyip collected the three of them like so much rotted flotsam, a violent blur of limbs jagged blades rending undead flesh.
Ed propped himself up on one elbow to watch, intently.
Well, this was perversely satisfying.
Once he’d given it some hazy consideration, Ed didn’t really consider himself a full zombie at all.
Sure, his head pounded with what felt like a heroic Top Five hangover, and he’d readily admit his guts had copped a right old Bunyip seeing to- but he was still mostly compos mentis…
Rationalising hard: he’d seen that Romero flick at a drive-in with some old lady years ago- weren’t zombies shambling, agency-less plodders? Very definitely lacking possession of a rapier wit and a brigand’s casual flair, as Ed wildly self-estimated regularly?
He didn’t seem to be predisposed to shambling, seemed to have what were left of his reasonable wits intact, and definitely fancied a hair of the dog session to dislodge the hammering in his temples.
Back in The Bedford.
Mo’s hazel eyes eventually flickered open and pondered the insane bullshit to which she’d just borne second hand witness.
Scrabbling upright, Mo skidded on one bloodied knee, slung a ragged purple dressing gown over herself, slammed open the van’s doors and legged it, slingshotting off the trunk of a slender sapling gum for ballast as she swung north, no direction but anywhere else in mind.
Fuck that shit.
Doomed to be eternally un-hip to the power of that shit-rune, Ed was fairly certain the dose Mystic Mo had slid him was the key to his surviving all this loony business.
After all, weren’t Hani, Donk, Muff, and fuck knows how many other paying punters, now very former walking dead as fucking dead could be?
It was all a bit much for right this instant. Ed adjusted his bottle-opening belt buckle and sagged into the van’s bench seat for a bit.
He’d dealt with it, right?
Not that he remembered that much, really.
Ed blacked out.
Alan Edmund Bailey was truly an out and out evil cunt.
Drifting from town to town, the low fucker had done utterly unspeakable things to a succession of hapless, unsuspecting victims, mostly kids, all throughout regional Australia.
He’d drifted for years, gotten away with his sick pathology since the early fifties.
The Bunyip didn’t know evil from the knotted log upon on which it often lolled in the baking sun and intermittently rested its weird skull. It was just a scaly murder-cat, with tusks, utterly oblivious.
The Bunyip opened Alan’s folded, grey-bearded neck, felt the warmth of his inner secrets slowly cascade down its gullets, exsanguinating the diabolical old fuck in hungry gulps.
When it was done, The Bunyip submerged the drifter’s drained corpse, trapping it under a snaggled stand of dead trees where it would rot and slowly return to the ecosystem, assuming the various river-things hadn’t seen to it first.
Snorting contentedly, slaked, The Bunyip bellowed a fine mist of blood into the rising sun and lurched back into the muddy depths of the Murray.
Until next time.
Ed leaned nonchalantly against the Bedford, parked skew-whiff by a pellet-marked, recently updated “Welcome to Broad Axe, Pop. 940” weatherboard sign (that’d been him, guesstimating).
He was rolling an especially pungent, comically large blunt.
Ed gazed up at the fading Southern Cross as a squadron of winking unidentified flying objects hovered.
What in the actual fuck.
Those bloody Min Min lights.
Fuck me swinging, Ed wheezed silently, clamping that spliff between exposed brown molars as he slumped into the Bedford’s pilot seat, sinking the clutch, cracking a rogue Melbs Bitter off the floor and reversing chaotically in a plume of dust.
The sun threatened to emerge, a violent bruise ascending on the horizon.
All was eerily silent as the lights pulsed and the van’s tyres kicked up gravel as he reversed erratically.
Ed gunned it away from the sun, elbow propped on the van’s window sill, joint ablaze, a beatific grin etched across his devastated visage.
Outside, the unknowable interior sighed inwards, always, towards him.
Edward twisted the volume knob.
Those taped-up speakers groaned and Buffalo leaked out once more.
What a fucking gig.