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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Mythology · #2310431
Man of sand turns to crystalline warrior to slaughter people
Geraldine and Monty Bachelor were sitting on a blanket in the forest, thirty kilometres outside Glen Hartwell, in the Victorian countryside. They were eating a cold roast beef salad that they had prepared and just sitting admiring the scenery in the sweet-smelling pine and eucalyptus forest, for a country breakfast.

Both of them were pushing sixty but had convinced themselves that sixty was the new forty. Even though their more cynical friends kept telling them that sixty means sixty! "It's like no means no, yes means yes, sixty means sixty," as Geraldine's brother Ted liked to say.

Geraldine was a vaguely pretty silver blonde whose face was dry and wrinkled from forty-five tears of smoking. Monty was tall and anorexically thin. He liked to say that he was wiry, but he was really the proverbial string bean, a forty-five-kilogramme weakling. Barely capable of surviving shadowboxing, let alone protecting Geraldine from mashers.

They had a small CD player going. Monty loved the music of Elvis Presley. Geraldine loved the Beatles. So instead they were listening to Ricky Nelson singing 'I Believe'. Although neither of them could explain how Ricky Nelson was midway between Elvis and the Beatles.

As the track finished, Monty started singing: "I'm a travelling man..." Although he had never been outside of the Glen Hartwell to Willamby region of the Victorian countryside, let alone Victoria; let alone Australia.

Geraldine couldn't help smiling at the absurdity of it. She and Monty had promised each other to travel the world when they had been married forty years ago. But it had somehow never happened, Which was just as well, since after a recent fall, Monty had been diagnosed with an aneurysm in his brain. If he had ever flown it would have burst, causing a stroke which would have either killed him or crippled him for life down his right side.

So now they knew that he could never be a travelling man. So Geraldine was stuck at home too.

Geraldine was still eating her cold roast beef salad when she noticed the heap of red sand blowing in from the desert beyond the forestland.

Is there a red sandy desert in Victoria? she thought puzzled. Like Africa, Australia had its fair share of red sandy deserts, including a large one very originally called, 'The Red Sandy Desert.' But she had thought that they were all up north in Queensland, the Northern Territory, or at least in Central Australia. Not down south in Victoria.

Still, as she watched, quite a mound of red sand began flowing in from the desert another thirty kilometres away. It must be a strong wind to blow in so much sand. she thought although the breeze wasn't reaching her or Monty.

Neither for that matter was the increasing pile of red sand, which was stopping a few metres short of them. More and more of the sand blew up to add to the mound until it started to look vaguely like a golem made of sand rather than mud. Although Geraldine was fairly certain that Golems had to be made of mud, or at least clay, and could not be made of sand.

"What are you thinking of Gerry?" asked Monty, seeing her wistful, dreamy-eyed look.

"Golems," she said. Which was easily the last thing that he had expected her to say.

"Are you converting to Judaism?" he asked.

"No, I just wondered whether they could be made out of red sand, rather than clay or mud?"

"Um, I'm fairly certain that they're mythical."

"Yes, I know, but...?" she said. Stopping as the sand golem did indeed seem to be taking on the rough shape of a man. As more and more sand blew across to add to the pile, upon a breeze that didn't quite reach Geraldine or Monty.

Looking around to see what she was staring at, Monty started a little as he saw the great pile of sand. Which indeed had started to look more and more humanoid; less and less like a random collection of desert sand.

"Sand Golem is the correct term for it." said Monty: "I wonder why we didn't notice it when we sat down?"

"It wasn't there then," she explained: "It just started to gather there. Blown on the wind."

"What wind?" asked Monty: "I can't feel any wind."

Getting up, he went around the pile of red sand to stand between it and the edge of the forest and said:

"No, no wind of any kind."

"But darling, there must be," insisted Geraldine. As more and more of the red sand crept across the forest floor of dried pine needles and gum leaves to add to the sand golem.

"See the sand moving," Geraldine said pointing.

Looking where she was pointing, Monty could indeed see an eerie procession of sand crystals, almost marching across the forest floor to join the mound behind him.

"But, I don't understand," he said, watching them going into the sandman. Which continued to look increasingly humanoid, until with a loud crackling sound, it began to form into a two-and-a-half-metre-tall man of sand. Excess sand fell away, leaving what now looked like a statue made up of sand.

Then the statue began to heat up, sending off waves of intense bursts of warmth which forced the Bachelors to back away from it, for fear of being fried alive. Monty had started to move around the burning sand, as he now thought of it, back toward his wife, when suddenly the burning sand melted into the shape of a red-hot man, who held out his right hand.

The whole hot glasslike arm began to elongate, filling out, until it took on the shape of a thick sword blade more than an arm. Then as Monty tried to step around it, the Crystalline Warrior stepped down from the mound of sand and stabbed Monty in the stomach with his glass sword arm.

Geraldine screamed as the sword arm stabbed right through Monty, into his stomach, and out through his back. Twenty-five or more times before the glass man had finished with him.

"Don't kill him!" shrieked Geraldine. Unaware that it was too late, that even as he stayed on his feet being stabbed repeatedly, her husband of forty years was already dead.

"Montgomery!" she shrieked as the blade-armed creature withdrew its blade arm and allowed Monty to fall to the forest floor dead.

It started to walk threateningly toward Geraldine. But realising that the love of her life was dead, she made no move to escape it. She raised her head high and glared daggers at the murderous 'being'.

Which for a moment stopped, perplexed, having never before met anyone who did not seem to fear it. The Crystalline Warrior recognised the anger and contempt on Geraldine's face as she stared it down. It took a half step toward her, then began to retreat, racing back toward the desert from whence it had come.

"No! Come back! Kill me too!: she shrieked: "I don't want to live without him. Kill me too!"

But the warrior had taken fright and was running away. Its crystalline shape cracked, shattered, and broke back down into shards of glass, that devolved back into red sand. Which blew back across the forest floor, back out into the desert upon a wind that no human being could feel.

"Come back you coward!" she shrieked. She crawled across to cradle the head of her dead husband, lover, and friend to her bosom, slowly going mad as she started singing lullabies to the man she had wanted to spend the rest of her life with.

Over at Deidre Morton's boarding house in Rochester Road, Merridale, Deidre and her guests were sitting down to have a breakfast of crumpets, waffles, toast, porridge, and honey.

Usually Sheila Bennett, an orange-and-black-haired Goth chick settled for six or more Vegemite crumpets for breakfast. But this morning she decided to try some of the waffles with whipped cream and raspberries instead. At thirty-five Sheila was the Chief Constable of the local constabulary, the second highest-ranked cop in the Glen Hartwell to Willamby area.

"Trying something different for brekkie this morgan, eh Sheils?" teased Tommy Turner. A short obese, blond retiree, with a major drinking problem -- Mrs. Morton had grabbed his stash and wouldn't let him have more than one glass three times a day, one with each meal.

"Don't call me Sheils anymore," said Sheila: "On the advice of Jesus, I am now calling myself Coco Bennett."

"Jesus, himself told you that?" asked Natasha Lipzing. A tall, thin, grey-haired lady, at seventy the oldest resident at the boarding house.

"She means 'Hee-Zeus' Costello," explained Terri Scott. A beautiful blonde, who at thirty-five was the Senior Sergeant and Chief Cop in the district.

"What a letdown. For a moment there we thought God had told her to change her name," said Deidre Morton. A sixty-something woman. Short dumpy and, apart from not swearing, at least as good a chef as Gordon Bloody Ramsey.

"Jesus didn't tell her to change her name," said Colin Klein. A redhead Crime Reporter from England, at forty-eight having his long service leave in Australia while researching local myths and legends: "He called her a coconut."

"Still, he gave me the idea of calling myself Coco Bennett."

"As a police officer, don't you have to use your legal name?" asked Freddy Kingston. A tall, portly, bald retiree.

"Yes, she does," agreed Terri.

"Unless I change my name by deed poll from Sheila to Coco."

"Sheils, you can't be serious?"

"Why not? Being named Coco, didn't exactly hurt that Chanel chick, now did it?"

They continued to argue the Name Coco Bennett versus Shelia Bennett throughout breakfast. Finally, they were rescued by the arrival of two local sergeants of police: Stanlee Dempsey and Donald Esk. Standee was a tall, muscular raven-haired man; Donald Esk, at forty could easily pass for thirty, he was powerfully built, with dark brown hair which almost reached his shoulders. Also, a long scar across the left side of his face, which had always helped him to get girlfriends.

"Colin, Tezza, Sheils, and company," said Stanlee by way of greeting.

"Actually my name is now Coco!" insisted Sheila.

"As in Nut?" asked Don Esk.

"Yes," said Colin and Terri together. Unable to resist laughing.

"I'm starting to tire of the vaudeville antics of you two."

"Vaudeville, that's a big word for little Coco," said Tommy Turner. And everyone except Sheila laughed.

It was after lunch, around 2:00 PM by the time that Geraldine Bachelor, half mad with grief staggered into Leroy and started gabbling about red sand having killed Monty.

An hour later they had heard Geraldine's story at the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital and Terri started arranging for a search party to track down Monty Bachelor, living or dead.

"Coco, Colin, Bulam Bulam and I will be in the lead vehicle," she said.

"Who's Coco?" asked Jesus Costello.

"I am Lord," said Sheila: "You gave me the idea to change my name recently."

"Firstly, don't call me Lord. My name is pronounced He-Zeus," said Jesus, the chief administrator and chief doctor at the hospital: "Secondly, I think I called you a Coconut."

"Maybe she could change her name to Coco McNutty," teased Tilly Lombstrom, a tall attractive fifty-something brunette, Jesus's second in charge.

"Hey, that's a great idea, Tils," said Sheila: "Coco McNutty ... I like it."

"You mean, you're like it," teased Colin Klein.

An hour later they were searching around the town of Leroy, where Geraldine had appeared.

But for hours they searched without any sign of finding Monty, alive or dead.

"Okay, let's bring in Louie Pascall and his Bell Huey," said Terri, knowing it would further erode the department's already dwindling police budget.

Half an hour later they were in the sky, with Sheila-Coco in the shotgun seat; Bulam Bulam a tall grey-haired Aboriginal and sometimes police tracker in the rear, squashed up with Terri and Colin.

All except Louie had large military-style binoculars searching in all directions, as Louie circled the area as slowly as possible.

"What's that," said Sheila at one stage, then she apologised, saying: "Sorry, I thought I saw some movement. But it's just a pile of red sand."

"Didn't know we had red sand in Victoria?" said Louie.

"Me neither," said Bulam Bulam: "I've never seen red sand before. I thought it was only up north, where it gets much hotter than it does down here in Vic. It can reach fifty-five Degrees Celsius in Queensland in the summer, and forty-one degrees in winter."

"Hee-Zeus," said Sheila-Coco: "I'm almost passing out when it reaches thirty-two degrees in a Victorian summer."

"Why did you say 'hee-Zeus'?" asked Terri.

"He said that's how you pronounce it."

"Don't waste your breath trying to reason with her, babe," advised Colin: "You'll just go mad."

"That red sand is really starting to pile up."

"We're not looking for red sand. We're looking for Monty Bachelor, dead or alive."

"I love that old show," said Sheila-Coco.

"I know I'll regret asking, but what old show?"

"'Dead or Alive'. It featured Steve McQueen in his only starring TV series. I've got it on DVD."

"I was right," said Terri: "I do regret asking."

It was nearly tea time when they finally saw the mutilated body of Monty Bachelor lying on the forest bed of pine needles and gum leaves.

Setting down they radioed to the Glen Hartwell Hospital, then Terri and the others got out, while the Huey set off for the Hospital to pick up Jesus Costello and Tilly Lombstrom.

"Try not to disturb the crime scene until the chopper returns," ordered Terri Scott.

The others leant across Monty to confirm that he had been stabbed repeatedly without touching the corpse. However, Bulam Bulam went across to examine a large pile of red sand a few metres closer to the edge of the forest.

"Well, the stabbing part of Geraldine's story stands up," said Colin Klein.

"Also, the red sand being mysteriously here," said the native Elder. Careful not to touch the sand, he squatted to examine it by eye: "My advice is to take some of this for testing when they take poor Monty away."

"Surely sand is just sand?" asked Terri.

"Not at all. Just as oils ain't oils; sand ain't sand," said the old man: "There are many different types of sand. A good chemist could tell you the difference between red sand from Africa, and red sand from Australia."

Half an hour or so later the Bell Huey returned, followed by three police cars, and an ambulance, which struggled to get through the forest.

"Well, he's definitely been stabbed many times by some large blade," agreed Elvis Green, the local coroner. Nicknamed due to his long sideburns and devotion to Elvis Presley.

"With the stab wounds passing right through him," said Jesus Costello: "So whoever or whatever the killer was used was some kind if sword, not merely a knife."

"Or a crystal sword projecting from the right arm of a glass man made from red sand," said Tilly Lombstrom.

"That's the kind of goofy suggestion, that I'd expect Coco McNutty to make," said Terri.

"Okay then," said Tilly: "Well, it's actually what Geraldine Bachelor said when we finally got some sense out of her.

"You call that sense?" asked Terri, Bulam Bulam, Sheila-Coco, and Colin as one.

"It's what she said," insisted Tilly.

"Well, there is plenty of red sand here," said the native tracker. He pointed to the increasing pile of sand.

"Yes, how is it getting here?" asked Tilly: "There doesn't seem to be any wind at the moment."

"That's what poor Geraldine said," pointed out Jesus: "That there was no wind but the sand kept accumulating before transforming into the blade-fisted glass man."

As the sand kept accumulating, Terri asked: "Would it be a wise move for us all to get the Hell out of here?"

"As much as I don't believe in crystal sandmen who can kill people ... yes!" said Jerry Green.

As fast as possible Cheryl Pritchard and Derek Armstrong, the two Paramedical lifted Monty Bachelor into the rear of the ambulance, which took off back through the forest, with Jesus, Elvis, and Tilly all squeezing into the rear.

Signalling for the other vehicles to follow the ambulance out of the forest, Terri and the others raced across to Louie Pascall's Bell Huey to also get the Hell out of the area.

"Not that I think for a second that we were in any danger from the red sand," insisted Terri.

"Bark! Bark! Bark!" said Sheila-Coco, doing her best chicken impression.

"How dare you," said Terri: "You beat the rest of us back to the chopper, Coco."

"Only obeying your orders, Chief."

"Like Hell!" said Bulam Bulam: "You outran me. That's the first time you've ever managed to do that."

"I refuse to be bated," said Sheila-Coco.

The helicopter set off for the Glen Hartwell Hospital. Easily beating the ambulance and other vehicles.

At the Hauta-Hauta Tribe outside Daley, not quite fifty Aborigines, from babies to Elders were sitting around the cook fire. Enjoying a mixture of native and Western foods.

For no apparent reason, red sand began to blow in from the desert beyond the forest.

"Red sky at night, sailor's delight," quoted a young buck, Edgar: "But what do they say about red sand in the evening?"

"Don't ask me," said a middle-aged lubra, his mother Constantina Oombakka.

Ignoring the sand, they continued eating a mixture of kangaroo meat and lamb chops which they had bought at the Glen Hartwell Mall earlier that day.

Finally, however, the sand became impossible to ignore. It grew and grew until it had become a sand hill. Then a sand mountain two and a half metres tall.

"Where's it comin' from?" asked Constantina, starting to grow afraid of the sand.

"Don't know," said her son, Edgar, more than a little uneasy. He walked around the sand mount and then declared: "No wind blowing it. Just coming in by itself."

At his words the entire tribe started to struggle to their feet, preparing to run away.

But not fast enough as the red sand took on humanoid features, then began to glow red as the sand began melting, forming into the Crystalline Warrior who had killed Monty Bachelor earlier that day.

"Get out, you are not wanted here. You do not belong," said the chief elder of the tribe.

Expanding its right arm out into the crystal sword again, the creature slashed out, easily decapitating the old man.

It then raced across to behead three more elderly bucks, before stabbing Constantina Oombakka fifty times, rapidly in the stomach. In the process accidentally amputated one of her great pendulous breasts.

"No!" shrieked Edgar, racing across to stand between his mother and the Crystalline Warrior. Only to have it stab him to death with thirty or forty furiously thrusting stabs.

Three of the younger bucks raced across to where their spears were standing together at the edge of the eating area.

Grabbing their spears, they launched them as one, hitting the warrior straight on.

With a loud shattering the Crystalline Warrior disintegrated into tiny shards.

Then the shards of crystal began to redden, to melt, then reform into a humanoid shape. Until the warrior was born again.

Before the bucks could fire at him again, the Crystalline Warrior raced across and stabbed them all repeatedly, then slashed with his right sword arm at their spears, hacking them into tiny pieces.

The tribe started screaming and running every which way. The Crystalline Warrior chased after them, slashing down bucks, lubras, and children, one after another. Determined not to let a single native escape his fury, as though the spearing had angered him, making him even more savage in his slaughter of the native tribe.

For nearly an hour the warrior raced around the tribal ground hacking down a buck here, a lubra there, a child or baby relentlessly. Until all that was left of the Hauta-Hauta tribe were mutilated corpses. Some so slashed to pieces, that they were barely recognisably as human corpses.

The Crystalline Warrior looked around at his handwork with pride, then raced off into the forest, until ten kilometres away, with the sound of glass shattering, he broke down into red sand again. Which blew on a nonexistent wind across the forest away from the Hauta-Hauta, back toward the townships.

Back at Deidre Morton's, they were settling down to a superb tea of roast pork in orange, plus roast potatoes, roast pumpkin, and various other vegetables.

"So, Coco...?" asked Natasha.

"No it's plain old Sheila again," she said: "I rang my parents in Sale to tell them, and they threatened to disown me. And my brothers said they'd beat me up."

"I didn't think you were afraid of any man?" said Colin.

"Any one man," agreed Sheila: "But there's four of them, and they're all bodybuilders like me. So I'm plain old Sheila Bennett again. Not Coco McNutty."

"Well, you'll always be McNutty as far as we're concerned," teased Tommy, making everyone except Sheila laugh.

"Thank you and good night, Elsie," said Sheila.

After tea, Terri rang through to the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital to see if there had been any new developments with either of the Bachelors. Then they settled in to watch some moronic Australian television.

"Why can't we be in the U.S.A.?" said Sheila: "They've got about seven thousand TV stations."

"And six thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-nine of them have nothing but crap on them," said Colin who had been to the United States in his capacity as a crime reporter.

"Damn, so the U.S. really is just like Australia, but on a bigger scale."

"Afraid so, Sheils," said Terri, laughing.

"Some days you just can't win."

They had barely started eating breakfast the next morning when there came a knock on the front door.

"Oh, why do they always call when we're eating?" complained Sheila.

Opening the door, Deidre Morton led Bulam Bulam and Stanlee Dempsey into the dining room.

"Colin, Tezza, Coco, and company," said Stanlee.

"She's back to Sheila," said Tommy Turner: "Her parents threaten to beat her up, and her brothers to disown her if she changed her name."

"The other way around, it was my parents who would disown me. Anyway, sit down and have some breakfast."

"No time for breakfast," said Bulam Bulam.

"Aw, I knew one of you would say that!" complained Sheila. "Why can't you blokes ever come after breakfast."

"Disasters wait for no hungry woman," said the native elder doing his best Confucius impression.

"Yes, I know, Confusion says: 'Sheila has to starve again'!"

"Don't worry, dear I'll pack you up some Vegemite crumpets and a flask of coffee," said Deidre.

"Thanks, Mrs. M., you're bonza."

She also packed breakfasts for Colin, Terri, Stanlee, and Bulam Bulam.

Out in Terri's police-blue Lexus, Colin asked: "So what's the problem this morning."

"Your glass man has decimated an Aboriginal village outside Daley. The Hauta-Hauta people."

"What?" asked Sheila: "But I've got a couple of good mates amongst the Hauta-Hauta people, Ivan and Maurie..."

"Not anymore, Sheils," said Bulam Bulam: "They were all wiped out sometime last night."

"Shit!" said Sheila. Now glad that she hadn't had time for breakfast: "I'm gonna get this freak, if it's the last thing I ever do!"

Thirty-eight minutes later, they were standing at the scene of the massacre, watching as Jesus Costello, Tilly Lombstrom, and Elvis Green examined the dead. Aided by Annie Colfax, and Topaz Moseley two blonde nurses from the Hospital.

On the sidelines were six ambulances and crews, including Derek Armstrong, and Cheryl Pritchard.

"Strong Arm, Chezza," greeted Terri. Before walking across to talk to the medics.

"Any survivors?"

"Not that we can find," said Tilly Lombstrom: "There was supposed to be around fifty Hauta-Hauta people, and we've located forty-nine corpses."

"Shit," said Terri.

"Aw, Maurice," said Sheila. recognising one of her friends at the tribe, lying dead on the ground. She went across and knelt to gently place a hand on his chest: "Goodbye old friend!"

Sheila was almost crying as she went back to the others. Derek and Cheryl hugged her tightly.

Over at the Yannan River outside Glen Hartwell, Stella, and Paula Evans, two gap-year sisters were sitting by the bank. Grateful that the Department of Building and Works had finally started to clean up the Yannan a little. Although it was still not safe to swim in, it no longer stank to an unbearable degree as it had done only a month or two back.

"Now, if only they'd bring in a little sand, to turn it into a beach," said Stella.

"There's some red sand over there," said Paula, pointing to a small mound.

"That's hardly enough to make it a beach, though," insisted Stella.

Although, as they watched more and more sand started to trickle along adding to the mound. Like attrition in reverse. Gradually more and more sand was added till it increased from a plastic bucketful, to four or five litres worth, Then up to perhaps ten, then fifteen litres.

"Where is it coming from?" asked Stella. Getting up, she walked over to check, then said: "There doesn't seem to be any wind to blow it across."

"Well, it can't just be walking along," said Paula: "Anyway, like that idiot Charles Fort who believed a big pile of red sand that suddenly appeared in America, had to have been transported there from Africa by an alien space ship; you're forgetting that no matter how much sand it is in total each individual grain of sand weighs almost nothing. And the wind is carrying it one grain of sand at a time.

"So you need almost no wind to transport trillions of sand grains from one continent to another."

"Well, it's not quite trillions of grains yet," said Stella: "But there are thousands now."

"Good, then let's just wait until there are trillions, then we can take off our sandals and play in the sand."

"Darn, I forgot to bring my plastic bucket and spade," teased Stella.

"Well, if the sand keeps increasing, you'll have to remember for next time, won't you," said Paula. Unaware that for Stella, there would be no next time.

While they were talking, the red sand continued to increase until there were thousands, then tens of thousands of grains of sand. Soon the small mount had started to build up vertically, increasing in height centimetre by centimetre until it had started to take on the rough shape of a man made of sand.

"I've heard them say, 'The sandman is coming', but this is ridiculous," teased Stella.

"Oh, it's just some kind of random event, like the so-called Bimini Road at the bottom of the ocean," said Paula: "Colin Wilson was convinced that the perfect alignment of the concrete blocks meant that it had to be a trail from some sunken city like Atlantis or Mu. But then it was discovered that in ancient times empty ships would contain huge concrete blocks as ballast, which they would toss overboard before coming into ports to buy cargo. Wilson had argued that they couldn't have just randomly fallen into perfect alignment. But the solution to the mystery proved that yes they had!"

"All right, you've convinced me that Colin Wilson was gullible and would believe anything. But that still doesn't explain our red sand statue that is slowly building itself."

"Well, I wouldn't say statue..." began Paula. But as she watched, the mound of sand continued to grow and it did indeed take on the shape of a two-and-a-half-metre-tall statue of a man.

Then the sand began to glow and give off immense heat, forcing the two sisters to back away from it.

"What's going on?" asked Stella.

Then as the sand began to melt in the inferno, the Crystalline Warrior appeared again.

"What the fuck?" asked Paula.

Stepping out of the burning sand the warrior strode across to Stella and held out his right arm, which quickly distorted and expanded out into a crystalline sword.

Racing forward he hurriedly stabbed Stella forty or fifty times in the stomach and chest. Before cutting her throat, even though she was already dead by then.

"Stella!" screamed Paula like Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Then as the Crystalline Warrior looked in her direction, Paula spun round and raced across to their red, white, and blue motor scooter, painted in the Footscray Football Club Colours. She leapt aboard, turned the key, and raced off into the forest.

At first, the warrior started after her, but startled by the buzzing of the motor scooter's engine, it stopped and ran back to the red sand pile.

With a crackling and shattering of broken glass, it broke itself down into tiny red sand crystals again.

They were still transporting the dead Hauta-Hauta people to the morgue in the Glen Hartwell Hospital when Paula Evans arrived at Glen Hartwell to report through sobs what had happened to her sister at the Yannan River.

At the Hauta-Hauta site, Terri received a phone call from Donald Esk. She talked on the phone for a moment, then said:

"We've gotta go, there's been another killing."

"Who?" asked Sheila Bennett.

"One of the Evans girls."

"Oh, no," said Cheryl Pritchard: "I went to the same school as their mum."

Half an hour or so later, they were at the Glen Hartwell Hospital, interviewing Paula Evans before she was sedated. Then they headed out again for the Yannan River, where they soon found Stella Evan's mutilated body.

"Red sand again," said Sheila pointing at it.

Still a little freaked by the red sand, Terri rang Jesus for permission to transport the body to the hospital. It would still be hours before they had transported all of the Hauta-Hauta people to the morgue.

"All right," agreed Jesus Costello: "But be sure to take dozens of pictures before moving it."

"No sweat," agreed Terri. She and Sheila each took dozens of pix with their mobile phones. Then with Colin's help, they transported Stella Evans to the rear of the Lexus.

"Let's get out of here," said Sheila, like Terri and Colin, more than a little freaked out by the pile of red sand.

Forty minutes later they had transported Stella Evans to the hospital morgue, then went out again to help at the Hauta-Hauta tribal ground.

After the last of the native corpses had been transferred to the hospital, Sheila, very angry at the death of her friends said: "We've gotta find a way to stop this bastard."

"I think I have the way," said Terri: "But the trick is predicting where he will strike next."

"Then tell us, babe," said Colin as they headed for her Lexus.

"Well, this thing is made of glass created by superheating red sand, right?"

"Apparently," agreed Colin.

"So we need to get some equipment from the Department of Building and Works depot in Riordan Street, Harpertown."

"Flame throwers to burn it away!" said Sheila enthusiastically.

"Wrong. Heat only gives it more strength."

At the depot a while later, Sheila asked: "So what are we getting?"

"Liquid nitrogen?" explained Terri: "It will freeze the Crystalline Warriors, so we can cut it apart and bury it somewhere safe."

"After we work out how to track it down?" pointed out Colin.

"Well, it always appears in a trail of red sand. So we need to try to backtrack our sources of red sand to try to find its origins." Looking at Sheila, she said: "And we'll have no tasteless jokes about some people preferring apples."

"I wasn't going to," protested Sheila: "I was going to say mandarins."

At the Dermott vegetable farm, twenty kilometres outside Upton, Jackson Dermott was tending to his potatoes. When he noticed to his annoyance a trail of red sand blowing in from the edge of the forest.

"Damned sand, can't grow nothing in that," he said, going across to use a hoe to try dragging the sand across toward the back of the farm.

"Whatcha doing, Jackie?" asked his wife Celia.

"Tryin' to get rid of this damned red sand."

"Where the Hell's that coming from?"

"Keeps blowing across from the forest."

"Don't seem to be no wind," said Celia.

"Can I play with this?" asked their twelve-year-old daughter, Missy. She held up the super soaker filled with holy water which they had been given by Terri Scott less than a week ago.

"No, that's holy water, in case we're tacked by any monsters," said Jackson. Still struggling with the red sand. Which despite his best efforts continued to trickle, then flow into his potato field.

"Hey, where's that coming from?" asked Missy. She sprayed some holy water upon the sand, and it began to hiss, blowing off steam like a boiling kettle.

"What the Hell," said Jackson. He took the super soaker from his daughter and started squiring the sand with Holy water.

As it continued to sizzle and evaporate the remaining sand did a 180 degree and started blowing back away from the farm. With Jackson Dermott running after it, continuing to spray it with the holy water.

"Hey, how come Dad's allowed to play with it, but I'm not," complained Missy.

"Quiet, honey," said Celia. She took out her mobile phone and rang Terri Scott to tell her what had happened.

Already in Louie Pascall's Bell Huey scouring the area, Terri said: "Over to the Dermott's farm outside Upton they're under attack."

"Then how're they able to ring you?" asked Colin.

"They still had the super soaker full of holy water that we gave to all the local farmers a while back. Seems it works on the red sand."

"Then we didn't need the liquid nitrogen," said Sheila: "We could've just got Father Lenny to bless another thousand litres of holy water for us."

"I'm not so sure he'd be happy to oblige a second time."

"He seemed put out the first time," said Colin.

As they neared the Dermott farm they could see the trail of retreating red sand.

"Running away like a yellow ... a red coward," said Sheila.

"Should I drop the nitrogen?" asked Louie.

"No, let's follow it back to its source," said Terri.

They stayed up high enough not to attract the wrath of the sand as they followed it for nearly sixty kilometres. Before finding a small ocean of red sand.

"I'll go up a bit higher," said Louie: "So we can get maximum coverage.

So saying, he took the Bell Huey straight up before releasing a thousand litres of liquid nitrogen.

Like the holy water, the nitrogen made the red sand sizzle, white smoke steaming off it as the sand burnt away, but without creating the Crystalline Warrior.

At the Dermott farm, Missy said: "Now can I play with the super soaker?"

"Sure," said her father handing it to her: "But it's empty, so you'll need to fill it from the tap."

"No worries," said Missy running back to the farmhouse.

"Remembering, that if you soak us with it, your bottom will regret it," called Celia.

"Don't worry, Mum, I wouldn't soak you or Dad," said Missy. Instead, she called: "Tucker," and their orange Kelpie dog followed her to the farmhouse.

Filling the super soaker, she spun around and sprayed the Kelpie.

Whining, the dog ran away.

"Come back here, you coward," Missy called.

At Deidre Morton's they were sitting down to tea, with Sheila reading the Melbourne Daily Recorder.

"Aw, I can't believe it," said Sheila, looking at the entertainment section of the Melbourne Recorder.

"Can't believe what?" asked Tommy Turner.

"Kanye West is suing my favourite group."

"The Devil's Advocates?" asked Terri: "What for?"

"Over the words of their latest hot single: 'Bianca Censori's Huge Round Arse'!"

"They've written a song called ''Bianca Censori's Huge Round Arse'?" asked Natasha Lipzing.

"Written, recorded, roaring up the charts," assured Sheila:

"I fell in love with Bianca Censori's huge round arse

"It's the source of her attraction

"It's the source of all her class

"I'd like to grab those huge pink fleshy cheeks

"To run my hands over them and have a touch,

"I'd like to pull those phat cheeks wide apart

"Then I'd have a massive..."

"That will be quite enough of that kind of smut," said Deidre Morton snatching the paper away from the orange-haired Goth policewoman.

"What're you mean smut? It's art!" insisted Sheila.

"It sounded like smut to me," said Terri.

"And me," agreed Colin.

"I second that," said Natasha Lipzing.

"Me too," said Freddy Kingston.

"Can you download that song from YouTube?" asked Tommy Turner, making everyone else stare at him:

"What, it sounds like a good song!"

"Don't worry," whispered Sheila: "I've already streamed a copy. I'll give you a copy free."

"Bonza," said Tommy, with everyone else glaring at them.

© Copyright 2023 Philip Roberts
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
© Copyright 2023 Mayron57 (philroberts at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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