Brand New Australian Myths and Legends
Chapter 1 ... 2... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6 ...6.5 ...7 ... 7.5
... 8

Chapter 6.5

But what's this? Adventure? Excitement? Hawker Hurricanes?
No!
This is an unexpected, unwelcomed EXTRA CHAPTER!

Families

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 reach you.
"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 this 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 Watt 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 pickup
· 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 camera crews.
"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 near you.

'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 name again?

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 confusion.

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... 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, except one...

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 deer.

*

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 remember that.'

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 leaves you.

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, except one...'

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 really is.

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 his teeth.

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 on Earth.

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.

Page created: March 16, 2003

Last changed Tuesday, December 13, 2016 10:21 PM