Brand New Australian Myths
1 ... 2... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6 ...6.5 ...7 ... 7.5 ... 8
But what's this? Adventure? Excitement? Hawker Hurricanes?
This is an unexpected, unwelcomed EXTRA CHAPTER!
As you open the door to the following chapter, you are blinded by flashes
of brilliant light. You pull down your designer sunnies and raise your arm
to protect your eyes. Thousands of screaming voices fight each other to
"Reader! Reader! This way! Lovely!' Snap. Flash.
"Reader - is it true that you and
" Snap. Flash.
"Reader. What about the rumours of you and Elfa sharing a kennel?'
Snap. Flash. Flash. Flash. Flash.
'Damned papyrus,' you mutter, before realising your spell-checker has
once again chosen the wrong word. 'Damned papoose.' No. Still wrong. You
fire up your armour's broadband internet connection and search.
'Damned paparazzi,' you mutter, with some relief, as bodyguards force
a wedge of brainless muscle into the clot of reporters who stand, strain
and hop excitedly between you and your limo.
Author's note: your limousine is black, licensed to carry at least three
(3) simultaneous orgies, and very large. It's so long, it is articulated
in seventeen places, requires eleven supercharged V12 motors (plus two
more to operate the windscreen wipers) and requires a staff of thirty-seven
to open the doors. To run it for one day costs more than the combined
salaries of all of the reporters, photographers and hysterical naked groupies
gathered around you. But - as you realise - you deserve it.
'Elfa, leave them. The scum aren't worth it,' you call to the harassed
hound who is sitting on a reporter's chest and ripping the film from the
camera with his teeth.
Educational note: "Film" is an archaic analogue medium used by cameras for the recording of optical data, based on plastic and a silver-nitrate gel coating. This only goes to show how old these stories really are.
On the TV monitor in your armour's helmet, you
watch yourself struggle towards the massive limousine. You are amused
to see an aerial view of yourself (CAPTION: 'Reader') punch a particularly
obnoxious photographer with an armoured fist. The caption quickly changes
to 'Amused Reader, seeing an aerial view of..' but your attention is distracted
as your simian (EDUCATIONAL NOTE: ape-like) bodyguards finally manage
to force back the surging press long enough to open the door of the limo
so you and Elfa, with shreds of 35mm film still stuck between his teeth,
can leap into the car.
The door slams.
Author's note: Actually, it doesn't. It flies shut with a delicate "shhh"
and "click", thanks to its patented hydraulic actuators, limb
detectors and Mood Sensors. If it had not detected your desire to really
slam the door angrily, the sound of its closing would have been completely
inaudible, except to Siberian Owls (who rarely travel in vehicles of
stature.) If the car's Mood Detector had detected that you had been absolutely
determined to slam the door in violent rage, the car would have played
a digitised sample of a 1979 Cortina's door slamming through its 200
RMS Dolby Pro Logic Door Slamming Synthesizer.
This car is so intelligent, it can:
· Automatically switch on its headlights when it enters tunnels
· Adjust its windscreen wiping speed to exactly match the rate
of falling raindrops
· Auto-steer when the driver sneezes
· Remind you of your mother's impending birthday
· Clean its own leather upholstery of stubborn orgy stains
· Tune itself up and replace its own oil
· Empty its own ashtrays
· Pump its own tyres
· Filter out any reference to Adam Sandler from its satellite TV
· Wash and polish itself
· Spontaneously "run out of petrol" when its Babe-O-Matic
detects you have a real cutie with you
· Offer support and valuable advice during emotional crises
· Legally perform marriages, divorces and registrations of birth
Strangely though, you have never been able to get it to find anything
commendable in an Adam Sandler movie.
There is a rap of knuckles on the roof and the limo screeches forward,
its tyres smoking and its V12 engines roaring. Slow reporters are sailing
over the tennis-court-sized bonnet as your limo accelerates through the
"Why won't they leave us alone," you sigh as you see another
reporter get stuck to the windscreen.
Elfa grunts and reaches for the martini shaker.
'Because they love you.'
This statement comes as somewhat of a surprise to you. Not because you
don't know you are adored by 98.9% of the population of the Earth (as
verified by recent polls). This is too obvious. The number of articles
of underwear mailed to you each day by obsessed fans is already threatening
to overwhelm your international chain of second-hand underwear stores.
No - the statement comes as a surprise because, up to this moment, you
had not been aware that Elfa could speak. You lower your sunglasses a
fraction and look curiously at Elfa. He is working on a cryptic crossword
whilst sending SMS messages to his agent, who is also his father and head
of their successful family business.
He looks up for a second and points a craggy claw at 17 down. "Writer
and Nell make a bird, by the sound of it (7)."
"Penguin," you mutter absently.
"Right. Exactly right."
Not only can Elfa speak, but he's a ventriloquist. His lips do not move.
You start counting the millions you'll make on your next album if Elfa
does a guest appearance. You are just about to ask Elfa whether he's a
tenor or baritone when your night-vision visor picks up a small figure
on the far end of the bench seat.
Pattern-matching algorithms in your armour's data processing section
work at furious sped to identify the figure which blends nearly perfectly
into the black leather of the seat. After a few seconds, the answer flashes
onto your visor's heads-up display.
ANGRY PENGUIN - ARMED AND DANGEROUS
Your hand flies to your holster - only to find no Magic Pointed Stick.
You notice with horror that your MPS is clutched tightly in the penguin's
flipper. The other flipper is holding the sort of submachinegun pistol
that fires so quickly that it hums rather than goes "bang
bang bang." Somewhat alarmingly, your visor's telescopic sights reveal
that the machinepistol's safety is OFF and its muzzle is aimed squarely
between your eyes.
Naturally, being so heroic and dashing, your instinct is to throw yourself
onto the penguin and wrest the gun from it, but Elfa is sitting between
the two of you.
Your right hand steals towards the button that lowers the smoked-glass
armoured shield that separates the passenger compartment from the driver. If
you can just lower it a fraction, the driver should be able to see your
predicament in the rear-vision mirror.
There is a small sigh and a penguin chuckle - and you see what is amusing
your armed and feathered travelling companion : at the wheel is a mean-looking
emperor penguin, and beside him is a scar-faced penguin with what looks
to be a rocket launcher.
The interior light comes on, revealing the rapid-fire penguin sitting
'Tsk tsk tsk,' it clucks while sadly shaking its head. It is wearing
a brown Homburg hat and expensive two-toned shoes.
Elfa looks up curiously from his crossword and your hand flashes forward
to grasp his collar and restrain him from a suicidal yet heroic defence
of your life.
It disappoints you when, instead of leaping to certain death in a hail
of bullets to save your magnificent life, he yips in terror, climbs over
you and pushes you along the seat with his muzzle toward the muzzle of
the machine pistol.
He sticks his own quivering muzzle into your armpit, trembling and whimpering.
'Disappointing,' the penguin says in a voice with Sicilian roots overlaid
with four years at Oxford University, several years in Switzerland and
a few visits to a hardware shop in Brisbane. 'After what the Family
told me, I was expecting ... more.'
'The Family?' you ask.
'I was expecting someone rather more... impressive.' The penguin
shakes his head again. 'The Family called on me for this contract
because I'm the best. And look at you - pathetic! My
chauffeur could take you out. It really is a complete waste of
my time. So disappointing.'
And his affable tone suddenly turns to rage and menace. 'And I
really HATE being disappointed.'
'I'm really sorry,' you mutter. 'I...'
'SORRY? "I'm really sorry"? Is that all you can
ever say?' He is visibly quivering with anger now.
'I... what? I'm sorry - I...'
And then it all suddenly dawns on you. The last time you'd said
'I'm really sorry' was when the gun-toting hysterical penguin-wife appeared
in the fish and chip shop during Chapter 6. What was that penguin-husband's
As if to answer your question, the high-calibre penguin holds up a familiar
beanie - the one with 'Sam' on it.
'Oooooh - that...,' you mutter, with some embarrassment.
'Yes - "that",' the penguin replies. He seems
to have regained some of his composure (which is disconcerting, since
he once again seems infinitely more dangerous.)
Some distant part of your brain reminds you that Sicilian penguins have
fiery tempers, but they hate to lose their suave and dignified appearance
in public. It implies a loss of self-control - a weakness - a loss
of respect - and it makes them very unpleasant.
O holy Sitmar! The full realisation of your predicament lands
on you like a Gothic church. He's a hit-penguin. You're about
to die. Somehow, somewhere, you've really displeased the
Penguin Mafia. But how? Your mind whirls. The data-processing
section of your armour freezes and has to reboot.
What could you have possibly done to anger the flippered Cosa Nosta? Unless
it had to do with cooking and eating Sam ... Sam? Don Sambini? The
most respected, most powerful, most beloved, most feathered and feared
leader of all the Penguin Mafia families?
'Don Sambini,' the penguin says softly, 'would not have liked to be
be killed, roasted and eaten. He would, I think you would agree,
have considered it - disrespectful.'
'O Dog!' you mutter. From your reading of 'Penguin Mafia Monthly'
magazine, you know the implications of the slightest lack of respect
to a Don - let alone snacking on one.
You also know that this displeased penguin is not intending to shoot
you: that would be too quick, too merciful. Far too kind, considering
the nature of your error.
As if he has read your mind, the penguin smiles bleakly, nods slightly,
and settles down more comfortably into the rich, supple leather of the
seat, knowing that your last ride is going to be a long one.
When the limo finally comes to a halt and the door opens,
the crowd outside is very different to the adoring horde that marked
the beginning of your trip.
You step out of the car into a terrible scene - thousands
of Sicilian penguins, many wearing gold jewellery, most carrying weapons. There
is a murmur of Sicilian Penguin oaths and threats as the mob of birds
with Brylcreemed head feathers surrounds you.
As you and Elfa are jostled along through ankle-deep snow,
you catch a glimpse of your Magic Pointed Stick still useless grasped
in the flipper of the killer penguin.
Then you see It. It confirms your most terrible
fear. This flock of vengeful hoodlums is going to make your death
seem longer and more painful than a Britney Spears concert.
It is a fantastic contraption, consisting of many razor-sharp
or red-hot components whizzing around in a frighteningly methodical manner. Underneath
It is a bucket, presumably to catch the blood, and the least painful
part of the device seems to be those sharpened bamboo spikes which apparently
are meant to be driven under your fingernails.
There is a seat in the midst of the spinning and jabbing
ballet of surgical steel pain accessories. It concerns you that
there appears to be rotating razor blades in the region that will be
occupied by your favourite wobbly bits.
Just next to the electrodes is a plaque bearing government-mandated
health warnings. It advises you in no uncertain terms that this
device, if used improperly, may cause amputation, laceration, electrocution,
mangulation, disembowelment, suffocation, dislocation, herniation, strangulation,
crushing and poisoning - it may also contain traces of peanut.
It is the ultimate collection of every object your mother
ever warned you against playing with.
You gulp, and just to be on the safe side, gulp again.
'Well,' you tell Elfa. ' This looks like it.'
AUTHOR'S NOTE - When you say 'it', you don't
mean It. It is obvious that It looks like It - nothing else
in the world could possible look like It. When you say 'it',
you mean 'the end'. I hope this clears up any possible
But you know what's 'it' and what's It. It
has a sign above it, saying 'It'.
'It looks bad,' you tell Elfa, who by this stage has no
idea what you're referring to because that 'It' had a capital letter
because it started the sentence.
'It's a death sentence, all right,' you tell him, just
to confuse him some more. He shakes his head, finishes his martini,
and sends another SMS message, possibly to the author in the hope that
I can get him written out of this dire situation.
'The most painful part of this,' you begin to tell Elfa
in your best dramatic voice, 'is that you and I will never get to...'
And then you stop. Elfa is gone.
'What's going on?' you demand in a petulant tone.
Well, I got this message... I tell you.
'That rotten cowardly hairy bastard!' you screech. 'Just
wait until I get my hands on that snivelling yellow cur. I'll...
But before you can itemise the various acts of retribution
you have in mind (many of them inspired by the machine that is slicing
and dicing the air you will soon occupy) you hear a voice.
'The Emperor and Fairy draw nigh!'
The penguin oaths subside, letting you better hear the
swishing and slashing of the surgical steel blades as they spin in their
gory glory. The flock of flippered fiends parts and you see a stately
procession of obviously-important penguins approach.
The first, a tall elegant Emperor penguin, waddles gracefully
forward, occasionally pausing to shake flippers with a high-ranking penguin
Don in the crowd. Behind him is a Fairy penguin with a string of
pearls around her neck. She seems to be having problems keeping
the necklace in place, due to a lack of shoulders.
Behind her come several violent-looking Jackass Penguins
wearing sunglasses and carrying violin cases. That's odd - you
didn't know penguins were musical.
There is silence, if you ignore the crackling of the electrodes
destined to be attached to delicate parts of you that were never intended
to be electrified. You wish you could ignore the crackling,
but under the circumstances it is rather difficult.
The Emperor, obviously Don Sambini's successor as head
of all the Families, makes a small beckoning gesture with his head and
a deer approaches.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: actually, it's a fawn, and a member
of the Deer Mafia doing work experience with the Penguin Mafia. Each
species has its own Mafia, the human variety being but one, and not
the most fearsome one at that. The most awesome Mafia in the
sea are the Cosa Orca, the killer whales. They outrank all
the other marine Families, including the bold Cosa Caeruleus -
the Sardine Mafia of whom Evinrude of Chapter 4 is a member. On
land, the Penguin Mafia is deferred to by all the other Families,
The Emperor (whose nametag declares, "Hi! I'm
Don Giovanni Penguini') whispers into the deer's ear. The deer
nods and says to you, 'The Emperor says you lack respect.'
Another whisper. 'And because you have broken omerta,
you must be punished.'
'What's omerta?' you as, since your armour's online encyclopaedia
is still offline during the reboot.
'The Family's code of ethics. You break any one of
them and you die,' the deer tells you. 'And I need not mention
that you really have broken them rather badly. Eating a
Don is about the worst breach of omerta in the books.'
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I could have told you that. I
knew that too. Really I did.
The Emperor whispers again into the deer's ear. 'An
example will be made of the two of you that will be remembered for all
time,' the deer says. Of this, you can be sure - the penguin film
crew have positioned cameras all around It, and they are even taking
pre-orders for the video tape of your execution.
'The two of us?' you sneer. 'That fat stupid
dog has...' but you realise that Elfa is in fact sitting beside you again,
looking serious but smugly calm.
Another whisper. 'Let the festivities begin,' says
The steel seat in the midst of the flaying razors, pulsating
spikes and whirring hammers lowers to the ground. You notice that
it is sparkling clean, and the leather straps (studded with 10,000 volt
electrodes) look brand new. There's even a sticker over the eye-gouging
apparatus that reads 'Caution: remove sticker before first use.'
You nod appreciatively - they've built this demonic device
especially for you! Feeling somewhat honoured, you manage a small
smile and a wave to the crowd as various penguins disassemble your armour
and remove it from your body.
'Curses!' you think. 'I was hoping they wouldn't
Your teflon-coated molybdenum-alloy suit with inbuilt deflector
arrays, sandwich dispenser and 'Moment of Terror Air Freshener' could
easily have coped with those serrated blades that are going to now saw
off each limb in one inch [one centimetre] slices.
You are buckled securely into the steel seat and your eyelids
are glued open so you don't miss a second of those spectacular instruments
as they close in on you. You note, with some reluctant admiration,
that they'd even thought of putting a TV screen in front of you - and
they are showing an Adam Sandler movie.
'BUGGER YOU BARBARIC BIRDS,' you scream. All hope
The Emperor nods, and your body begins its slow ascent
into the heart of the machine that will soon be turning you into sushi. The
cats curling, purring, and rubbing ecstatically around your feet assure
you that at least they are soon expecting delicate shaved slices of Reader
to be fluttering downwards.
You know that while the pain would start soon, it would
take a long time to end - the Medical Penguin standing nearby
would ensure your torment would take as long as penguinly possible. In
any case, the movie of your death would need to be at least 120 minutes
long, because you see that fact advertised on the TV screen between excerpts
of Adam Sandler movies. Apparently it's also going to be widescreen,
Dolby 5.1, coming to a penguin cinema near you, and soon available on
DVD in a handsome collector's edition. (Soundtrack available from
all good penguin music shops.) That explains the microphones hovering
above you, and the penguin in earphones insistently asking you for a
sound level check.
'One two. One two,' you say, and the
sound engineer nods as he adjusts the recording level on the mixer. He
nods to the deer, who nods to the emperor, who nods to the Chief Mechanic,
who presses a button.
The sound of razors slicing the air into individual atoms
of nitrogen, oxygen and molecules of carbon dioxide (with traces of penguin
smell) builds as your chair slowly takes you closer to them. As
the first razor slices the first millimetre [inch] from the longest
hair on your head, you vaguely wonder at something the author said earlier:
'On land, the Penguin Mafia is deferred to by all the other Families,
You wonder what the author meant.
As the next millimetre [cubit] of your head hair
(and an alarming slice of your pubic hair) is neatly sliced off, you
notice Elfa behaving in a most extraordinary manner - he's acting like
a dog! He's crouching in front of the machine-pistol killer, barking
and jumping from side to side like an over-excited puppy inviting the
penguin to play.
Elfa runs a few paces away, then returns to continue his
barking and happy-tail manoeuvres. The killer penguin looks at
him rather strangely.
That's odd. The hit-penguin is smiling a bit. He
waves your Magic Pointed Stick in front of the ecstatic Elfa whose eyes
follow its every movement back and forth, back and forth.
'I don't get it,' you think, but you do get the
12 volt of direct current (at 500 milliamps) through your rectal electrode.
'That damned penguin is playing with Elfa! That pernicious
penguin seems to be trying to be nice to that stupid Labrador...'
The volume of the Adam Sandler movie is turned up (at exactly the
point where he is being his most crass, stupid and unoriginal) and you
scream. Many of the nearby penguins also scream, and you feel a
moment of pity for them.
You hope with every fibre of your being that the penguin
sadists had taped the Adam Sandler movie from TV so there might be at
least a few seconds of blessed relief during the ad breaks... but no! They'd
hired the movie from the video shop. There would be at least ninety
uninterrupted minutes of Adam Sandler... with the horrible prospect of
seeing the DVD extras in which Sandler discusses his 'art'.
You wail so mournfully that you barely notice the half-inch
[three centimetre] drills start boring through the back of your
skull. In fact you encourage the drill to hurry up - perhaps it
will pulverise the vision centre in the occipital lobe of your brain
and you won't have to see the director's discussion of how great an actor Sandler
Elfa's tail is rotating nearly as frantically as the barbed
spikes that are approaching your nostrils. You just want to give
that dog a thrashing with barbed wire - or even five minutes locked in
a room with a naked Adam Sander.
No - you take that back. No-one, not even Elfa the
Bastard, deserves that.
Elfa leaps and scurries, barking and growling joyfully
as the Magic Pointed Stick is waved with increasing vigour and occasional
false throws that make him dash in every direction.
The killer penguin seems to be building up to that orgasmic
moment - he shakes the stick provocatively, waves it slowly, pretends
to throw it; Elfa looks as if he's ready to burst with exhiliaration.
Finally, the penguin leans back and lobs the Magic Pointed
Stick high into the air. Elfa's paws scramble in the loose snow
as he seeks traction and launches himself through penguins, snowdrifts
and Taco stands as he bolts towards the airborne stick.
'Fetch, boy!' you shout, because even as miniature blackboards
slide against your remaining fingernails, you think you've worked it
all out. 'Go boy! Fetch!'
At the apogee of its arc, the Magic Pointed Stick begins
its descent just as Elfa launches himself into the air like a shaggy
Saturn V rocket. You stare in wonder as Elfa's jaws slam shut around
the stick - and press button C.
'GOOD BOY!' you scream as the heavenly choir begins its
chorus and Pot Noodles are forcibly stuffed down your throat by the machine.
In a blazing explosion of light, a single figure appears,
then another, and another until the scene is filled with grim-faced figures
wearing leather overcoats and sunglasses. The largest figure raises
an arm and the machine of death abruptly grinds to a deafening halt,
just before your favourite wobbly bit was to be crushed with pliers.
As the TV screen goes black and your sight clears, you
can inspect the scene more carefully. Elfa is no longer scampering
around like a demented puppy. He is standing sternly, solidly, majestically next
to the first leather-clad figure with the MPS clutched grimly betwixt
The first figure steps forward toward the Emperor, whom
you notice is looking considerably less proud and self-possessed than
he was earlier. In fact he's fidgetting and (although penguins
do not sweat) sweating.
'Ah - OK - right. Well,... greetings Dogfather. This
is such an honour,' the Emperor stammers.
The Dogfather! That mythical Labrador, leader of
the greatest of the Dog Families... and by the way the Emperor is clumsily
bowing, you now know which of the Mafia Families is the ultimate
Is it your imagination, or does Elfa bear a striking resemblance
to that Don of Doggy Dons, the Dogfather? Take away the Dogfather's
gold jewellery, and take away Elfa's saddle and cappuccino machine and
they could almost be... father and son!
Of course! That's why the killer penguin had been
irresistibly drawn to play, at Elfa's insistence! That's why the
collected penguin mob was looking in every direction except that of the
stern face of the Dogfather! It is the Dog Family that rules all
land-borne Mafiosa! And more particularly, it is the clan of Labradors
that rules supreme among the Family of Dogs. And the Dogfather
rules the Labradors! And the Dogfather is Elfa's father!
Yes, Reader. When Elfa sent me that SMS to have
him written out of the chapter, he immediately went to his father
to organise the gathering of the Family. And it was Elfa's
idea to demean himself - for your sake - by playing like a mindless
puppy to encourage the evil penguin to throw him the Magic Pointed
Stick which brought the Labrador clan here.
'Yes,' you say. ' I know all that. I can work
out some things for myself without editorial assistance, you know.'
By now, the Emperor penguin is nearly grovelling at the
Dogfather's paws. 'But Dogfather - that Reader ATE our Don! What
were we to do, after all...?'
In spite of the penguins' horribly creative torture of
your extremities, you can see his point. What if another country
invaded Australia and ate your Prime Minister? Well, naturally
it would depend on what party the PM was in. But even so - to eat a Family's
Don is fairly hard to overlook, even it it was more or less an accident.
'Dogfather,' the penguin Emperor implores. 'It was
a matter of honour. You understand - honour!'
The Dogfather's chubby jowls wobble as he nods. It's
true. Even you realise that roasting and basting an esteemed
mob boss is not exactly something that can be ignored.
The Dogfather and the Emperor penguin quietly converse,
occasionally looking in your direction. At one point, Elfa intercedes
passionately, arguing some point in Labrador, then translating into Penguin
for the Emperor. After some time, the three of them approach you.
'Reader,' says the Dogfather. 'It is true that you
ate Don Sambini with small potatoes and gravy. This we cannot overlook. But
it is also true that you were not aware of the Don's elevated status
and the consequences of your culinary crime. Honour must be
seen to be satisfied. Therefore we give you a choice: you
can either have your most tender wobbly bits crushed in a vice for an
hour, or you can continue watching the Adam Sandler movie.'
'O JOY!' you cry in exultation. You blow kisses to
Elfa and the Dogfather as the vice closes tightly upon your wobbly bits. You
even laugh and cry a little, asking them to tighten the vice just a little more.
Within a mere hour, you are free again. Your crushed
wobbly bits are a mere memory of an ache as you leap astride Elfa's saddle,
bid adieu to the assembled Mob bosses and professional killers, and gallop
joyously into the next chapter.