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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #2307631
A Dream-Time horror story
Joseph Garbarla sat upon a greyish rock, near the cook fire, in a small gathering area in his mother's native settlement about two kilometres outside Pettiwood. Unlike most of the other natives who wore animal furs, Garbarla was dressed in a smart brown suit, business shirt and tie. A half-breed born in the village, he had been educated in Melbourne, but now lived in Glen Hartwell and taught English at the high school in Wentworth Street in The Glen.

Like the others sitting around the cook fire, he was eating a mixture of kangaroo meat, caught by the tribe's hunters, and lamb loin chops which Garbarla had purchased in Glen Hartwell, before coming to have dinner with his mother's tribe.

"Mighty fine tucker," teased Bobby Mandawuya, a forty-something buck, grinning at Garbarla.

"The chops or the roo meat?" asked Joseph.

"I ain't particular," said Bobby, making both men laugh.

Suddenly a forty-year-old buck, Marcus Malak Malak, commonly called Mark, raced into the village shouting: "Glug-A-Luki coming!"

"Whose-awhat-now?" asked Garbarla as the tribe began to scatter in all directions. Leaving the handsome caramel coloured man staring in shock as a snail came into view.

Not just any snail, though, this one was seven or eight metres tall and had a burnt brown shell, looking like a gigantic, slightly overcooked cinnamon roll.

"That's Glug-A-Luki," shouted a thirty-something buck, Maiali, trying to run to safety. But not fast enough. Unlike small snails, Glug-A-Luki was moving rapidly, able to slide along its foul, sulphurous smelling blue-green slime trail. As the buck ran, Glug-A-Luki shot out its long neck, and with its tortoise-like head snapped him up, chewed the native in half and began crunching his bones.

Seeing Garbarla, frozen, staring at the goliath snail, a twenty-something buck, Mainoru, grabbed the half-breed by the shoulders, shook him roughly, shouting, "Run for your life, man!"

Able to move at last, Garbarla followed the buck, shouting, "Run to my car.

Glug-A-Luki devoured Maiali and then began crashing around the village, clearly looking for other human food. Then, unable to find other humans he settled for eating the roast kangaroo meat and lamb chops that the terrified natives had dropped when he appeared.

In minutes they reached a clearing where the teacher's silver-grey Mitsubishi Mirage was parked. Nearly a dozen people managed to cram into the small car, plus four clinging to the roof rack outside.

Unable to wait for any others, had there been any more room, Joseph Garbarla started the car and roared through the clearing, heading toward Pettiwood township.

He reached his four-room apartment in Rudyard Street, intended for one or two people only. That night it would have to cater to a dozen or more.

Thank God I restocked the Freezer yesterday, thought Garbarla, as he led his unexpected guests into his apartment.

"You own this place?" asked Mainoru. Sounding impressed.

"No, my landlord does. And he doesn't like me having people stay overnight. So for God's sake, be as quiet as possible, so I won't get thrown out."

"Count on us, man," said the brave, making Garbarla hope that he could.

The next morning they had a breakfast of microwaved TV dinners, before Garbarla, Mainoru, and three other bucks piled into his Mirage, to go to investigate the state of the village outside town.

Stopping closer to the settlement than the night before, the five men piled out of the Mitsubishi and walked as quietly as possible into the village. Where they found a dozen lean-tos and corrugated iron shacks reduced to rubble, plus a loathsome smelling blue-green slime coating much of the ground.

Garbarla reached down to touch the slime, but Mainoru grabbed his sleeve to stop him. "Don't, man!" he warned, "Glug-A-Luki's slime is highly toxic. You only need a little dab on your flesh for it to kill you."

"Let's get the spades and shovel it away," suggested Mangarai, a teenage buck.

"No," said Garbarla, "first we need to take a sample to Jerry Green the coroner in Glen Hartwell for testing."

"Elvis Green," said Mainoru, using the nickname which the local coroner had acquired down the years due to his long black sideburns, and devotion to the late King of Rock and Roll.

"Yes," said Garbarla. After hunting around for a while, they located an empty can, and a spatula-like small stick to carefully shovel the toxic slim into the can.

An hour later the five men stood around at the morgue in Dien Street Glen Hartwell, while Elvis Green started running tests upon the sulphurous, blue-green slime. Being careful to wear a pale blue plastic coverall, complete with overshoes, gloves, dark goggles, and a COVID mask for total safety.

After running a number of chemical tests, Elvis confirmed, "Well it's definitely highly toxic. More a nerve gas in paste form than a true poison."

"How much would you need to kill someone?" asked Garbarla.

"Little enough so that a lot of medical examiners would miss it during an autopsy. So where did you get this?"

Garbarla and the other Aborigines looked around at each other guiltily for a moment. Then when Elvis Green persisted, feeling foolish, Joseph Garbarla finally told him what had happened at the Native settlement the previous night.

"A gigantic snail, with a burnt-looking shell, oozed this slime?" Elvis asked in disbelief.

"Yes," said Garbarla.

"It uses it to slide along upon, as other snails do with their slime, man," said Mainoru.

"And it has a long tortoise-like neck and head?" said Elvis Green. "Any antennae?"

"Any what, man?" asked Mainoru.

"The stalks, most snails have with their eyes on the ends," explained Garbarla.

"Oh, no, man. It's eyes are on the sides of its head, like a tortoise's eyes."

Standing, Elvis carefully put away the slime sample, now in a sealable glass jar, in his samples fridge. Then he removed his plastic coverall and said, I guess we'd better go to your village, so I can see for myself."

Before they departed, however, Elvis rang through to the Glen Hartwell police and asked them to meet him at the village.

When they reached the village, they found Danny "Bear" Ross, a huge barrel-chest blonde man, Sergeant of Police at The Glen, and his constable, Terry Blewett, a short, wiry man with raven hair already at the site waiting for them.

"Hey, baby," said Danny in his worst Elvis Presley impression as he saw the coroner.

Ignoring him, Elvis Green said: "I hope you didn't touch the blue-green slime before we got here?"

"No, Dad, we did exactly as you told us 'Keepen the handsen offen the green stuffen'." said Terry doing his worst World War Two German officer accent.

"Thank God, it's highly toxic," said Elvis. "Although in truth if you had touched it, you would probably have been dead long before we got here."

"Then, I'm glad we obeyed your orders mon capitan," said Bear doing more like a Smeghead Rimmer salute, than a Nazi salute.

"And can you believe that these two blokes are the law around here?" asked Elvis Green getting them back.

"Frankly I have trouble believing it," agreed Joseph Garbarla.

"So what gives with the toxic slime, and the shattered huts and stuff?" asked Terry Blewett.

"So, do you want to look the fool, or shall I have the privilege?" asked Elvis.

"Well, you're already halfway there with the long sideburns," said Garbarla, "so you go ahead."

"All right," said Elvis Green, going on to tell them what Garbarla and the others had told him earlier.

Bear thought for a while, then said: "If it weren't for all the whacky stuff that has happened around the Glen in the last decade since Feb 1983, I'd have you locked away in the psychiatric ward of the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital for daring to spin me a yarn like that."

"But due to all the whacky stuff that has happened around the Glen in the last decade...?" asked Elvis Green.

"I'm still tempted to lock you up. But first, we need a proper removal team to get rid of this toxic gunk. Then I'll see about bringing in the public works department to rebuild all your huts and stuff."

"Thanks," said Garbarla, sighing, as he wondered where his tribe would live until all of that was done. He realised that at least a dozen of them would be sleeping in his apartment. This meant that he would be sleeping on the floor again, since the seven women had taken over his queen-sized bed, plus the rollout sofa bed the night before. Leaving the men to sleep on the floor. "Ladies first," his mother had insisted, although traditionally that was not part of Aboriginal culture.

I taught her too well, thought Garbarla, as they headed back to the cars. Having lived with his father, educated by white society, Garbarla did not return to his native village until 1978. And ever since had tried to teach as much modern culture to his tribe as possible. He thought, I definitely taught her too well."

On the way back to the township, they heard a commotion. A crashing and screaming from Pettiwood township.

"What the hell?" cried Bear Ross looking at the slime coated alley running from Henry Street to Pattison Street. "I didn't know there was a shortcut from Henry to Pattison Streets."

"There wasn't," said Garbarla. "Not when we passed this way earlier today."

Hearing more crashing and screaming they drove through the alley, where they saw the shattered remains of two houses backing into each other. God, I hope we're not driving over anyone! thought Garbarla.

Driving up Henry Street they saw a blue-green slime trail running the length of the street. Lying dead in the slime were an elderly couple, seven dogs, three cats, and a wild rabbit.

"Yeech," said Bear, he pulled up to let Terry Blewett out. "Don't touch the slime. Check if the people are still alive. Keep everyone else off the road, and ring for an ambulance to take them either to the morgue or the hospital," instructed Bear before starting down the drive again. To Elvis, now riding with him, Danny Ross said, "You were right about how toxic that crap is."

"Sadly, yes," said Jerry Green thinking of the elderly couple dying in the streets beside cats, dogs, and a rabbit.

As they drove along Henry Street, the screaming and crashing grew louder. Until the slime trail stopped. Due to Glug-A-Luki having stopped in the middle of Hartley Street, to wreak as much destruction as it could, crushing cars, trucks -- including an eighteen-wheeler to rubble --, two buses, and having killed at least twenty or thirty people, Who it now started devouring. It's long tortoise-like neck extending out to pick up its victims, sometimes coated in its toxic slime, which clearly did not affect the monster.

"What a whacky digestive system it must have," said Elvis Green, "if it can eat that lethal stuff without killing itself."

"Forget that," said Bear. Letting Elvis Green out of his Land Rover, Bear Ross drove it straight at the rear of the monster, running over its short tail, and colliding with a metal-wrenching crash. Knocking himself out.

Roaring, as much with rage as pain, Glug-A-Luki spun its tail around, whacking the shattered Rover, sending it flying a hundred metres down Hartley Street.

"Shit in a hand basket," said Garbarla, changing direction quickly, to drive his Mitsubishi down to help Bear Ross.

Seeing the big man with two broken legs, and a swollen head, Mainoru said, "We shouldn't risk moving him, man," as Garbarla looked like trying to do just that.

"We have to," said Garbarla, "or he'll be dead if that thing changes direction and comes after him." To Elvis Green he asked, "Do you have any pain killers with you?"

"Sorry," said Elvis, "but I'm a coroner. My patients are usually beyond feeling pain."

So, reluctantly, trying not to hurt Bear Ross any more than he already was, Garbarla and three Aboriginal bucks carried the huge policeman across to place him in the back of the Mitsubishi.

Then, with Elvis Green doing whatever he could for Bear, they drove back down Henry Street to notify Terry Blewett what had happened to Bear, then drove as fast as Garbarla dared to the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital.

"Hey you can't drive that thing in here," warned a hospital porter, as they drove into the ambulance-only entrance.

"Fuck off!" said Elvis Green climbing out of the rear of the Mitsubishi.

"Sorry, Mr. Green," said the porter.

"Go get a stretcher and some doctors, Danny Ross has been in a serious car crash," said the coroner. Deciding not to mention that it had been with a colossal man-eating snail.

Ninety minutes later, they had sedated Bear Ross and operated upon his two legs, which were both in plaster. As well, as leather splints on both of his wrists.

"How long will he be in here?" asked Joseph Garbarla.

"At least four months," replied Gina Foley, co-ordinator and chief surgeon at the hospital."

"Poor Bear," said Elvis Green as they returned to the Mitsubishi, just in time to stop it from being towed away. And only then because Elvis showed his identification and explained that it had been a medical emergency.

"Whatever you say, Elvis," said the tow truck driver lowering the Mitsubishi and unchaining it from the truck.

An hour later they had returned to Hartley Street Pettiwood, to find it swarming with cops. Leslie Harrison from Merridale, Paul Bell and Andrew Braidwood, from Harpertown, and a young constable, Stanlee Dempsey who was two metres tall and built like a brick chicken house.

Fortunately, Terry Blewett had warned them not to touch the sulphurous toxic slime, after calling them in for assistance.

"How is Bear?" asked Leslie Harrison, tall, lean, with raven-coloured hair.

"Bad," said Jerry. "But he'll recover."

"Thank God," said Andrew Braidwood, a tall gangly man, with long, stringy yellow hair.

"He'll be in hospital for at least four months though," said Joseph Garbarla.

"Ouch," said Paul Bell, a shortish, but wiry man with dark hair, "guess we'll have to help pick up the slack until then."

"Does he get sick leave for those four months?" asked Stanlee.

"What do you think?" asked Jerry, before going on to explain exactly what happened. "How do you think Russell Street will respond to a request for four months paid leave, due to his Land Rover being tossed through the air by a goliath snail?"

"I guess we'll have to take over for him and keep it quiet from Melbourne," Leslie offered.

"Thanks," said Elvis.

"So, any sign of Glug-A-Luki, man?" asked Mainoru.

"Of whose-awhat-now?" asked Andrew Braidwood.

"That's what the snail is called," said Garbarla. "And by the way, what happened to it?"

"It wasn't here when we arrived," said Leslie, and we thought it best to get help for people traumatised or dead in Hartley Street first."

"Did Terry tell you about the new shortcut between Henry and Pattison Streets?" asked Elvis Green.

"Yes," said Paul Bell. "We've arranged for emergency crews from Building and Works to start looking through it for possible survivors, then to remove the rubble."

"Good," said Terry. "You go help out with that, while we follow the slime trail to see if we can locate that monster.

"Fair enough," said Leslie Harrison. He and the other cops drove down Henry Street, with three of the Aboriginal bucks in toe.

Leaving just Garbarla, Terry Blewett, Elvis Green, and Mainoru to drive down Hartley Street, following the smelly blue-green slime trail. Eventually it headed down an alley between two streets, then moved off into the forest surrounding the Pettiwood township.

"Should we continue into the forest?" asked Mainoru.

"No," said Terry, "we wouldn't have a hope against that thing anyway. We need high powered weapons to stop it."

"According to legend Glug-A-Luki can only be stopped by breaking open his shell and then burning his soft inner body."

"Then that's what we have to do," said Garbarla turning the Mitsubishi around to start back to help out at the new alley leading into Henry Street.

"Except, legend also says we need a diamond the size of a hen's egg to cut through it, man," said the buck. "There used to be a sacred diamond used for that purpose, but it is thousands of years old now, and has been worn down to the size of a pebble."

"What are the odds that we could kidnap Liz Taylor and steal one of her baubles?" asked Joseph Garbarla.

"Wouldn't it be better to steal one of her diamonds, man?" joked Mainoru.

At the new alleyway, they managed to pull two badly hurt children out of the rubble, plus five dead adults: the children's parents, plus three elderly sisters from the house behind them.

"Why does it always seem worse when it's children that have been hurt?" asked Garbarla.

"Because they've just started out on life's journey, man," said Mainoru, "and haven't worked out how rotten life is yet."

"That started out poetic, then ended up cynical," said Leslie Harrison.

"That's life ... as Ned Kelly said just before they hanged him, man," said Mainoru.

Over the next week or so they cleaned up the new alleyway, and the wreckage at the Aboriginal village, while Terry Blewett, Leslie Harrison, and the other cops tried to find weapons sufficient to take down Glug-A-Luki.

They managed to find an old bazooka, with just two missiles, which might or might not be safe to try using, flame throwers, usually used for burning off to create fire breaks around bushfires, plus a few hand grenades. None of which seemed to impress Mainoru, who had set himself up as the local expert on Glug-A-Luki.

"None of them are any use, man," insisted the buck.

"Not even the bazooka?" asked Terry.

"No way, man. Firstly, it looks like it would blow up in your face. Secondly, you'd need a dozen missiles to get through Glug-A-Luki's tough shell, and you've only got two."

"What about the flame throwers?" asked Leslie.

"No way, man, people have tried them before. How do you think his shell got so blackened looking? They managed to singe his shell, but all that did was anger him and make him go on the rampage. They couldn't get through and they couldn't heat the shell enough to cook his soft inner body either, man."

Nonetheless, two days later, when Glug-A-Luki struck again in Merridale, this time, Paul Bell and the other police raced after him carrying the bazooka and other weapons.

Mainoru, Gina Foley, and Garbarla followed in his silver-grey Mitsubishi Mirage.

"Gee, look at it go," said Gina, who had not really believed their story until seeing Glug-A-Luki for herself. Despite the way that the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital had been inundated with new patients since the monster's appearance in the Glen Hartwell to Willamby area.

As she had stated, the giant snail was whooshing along on its foul-smelling slime trail, snapping up humans, dogs, and cats to crunch on and then swallow, without even stopping.

"They're struggling to keep up," said Garbarla, stating the obvious.

But eventually, as it reached the outskirts of town, and entered the pine-needle covered forest Glug-A-Luki slowed enough for the police car to stop, so that Terry Blewett could get out, loud the bazooka, and take his first wild shot.

Don't blow up! Don't blow up! Don't blow up! thought Joseph Garbarla, crossing his fingers for luck as Terry fired the ancient bazooka.

Which missed the mark and burst apart a red gum, which fell in Glug-A-Luki's path, further delaying the goliath snail, which had to slow again.

This allowed Terry to load the second missile, and take more careful aim before firing so that this time he had a direct hit against the cinnamon-bun-shaped right side of the monster. Making Glug-A-Luki roar its anger, but otherwise, having no effect.

Driving after it again, leaving Terry Blewett behind, Leslie Harrison risked driving dangerously close to the monster. Then stopping the police car, the three inhabitants, Leslie, Paul Bell, and Andrew Braidwood leapt out and started to hurl equally ancient grenades at the Goliath. With as little effect as the bazooka missile had had. Again Glug-A-Luki roared in anger, not pain, but kept heading into the sweet-smelling pine and eucalyptus forest, accelerating despite the bed of dried pine needles and dry leaves that it had to travel across.

"Well, that was a waste of time," said Joseph Garbarla climbing out of the second car, which had finally caught up.

"Well, we scared the bugger off, before it could kill any more people," said Andrew lamely.

"Speaking of which, I need to get into town to help out," said Gina Foley. "Elvis Green and Jesus Costello, my assistant at the hospital, are attending to the hurt and dead, but they'll need every bit of help that they can get."

"Okay, let's go," said Garbarla, and they piled back into his Mitsubishi, to drive to Rochester Road, Merridale, where they found a dozen weatherboard houses destroyed and bodies and body parts strewn across the bitumen road.

Elvis Green and Jesus Costello (pronounced 'hee-Zeus'), had the help of half a dozen paramedics, but were clearly struggling to keep up with it.

"Lord, I'm starting to wonder if I'm cut out for a career in medicine," said a clearly emotionally affected Jesus Costello, as Gina walked across to help him.

"Nonsense, Jesus," said Gina. "You're the best assistant, I've ever had. In another decade you'll be in my job."

"I doubt it," said Jesus.

"Have faith in yourself," she said, as Garbarla, Mainoru, and the police officers walked across to help out to the extent that they could. Gina and the others had put on blue plastic coveralls, to avoid touching Glug-A-Luki's toxic blue-green slime.

It took over two hours to ferry in six ambulances, plus the police cars the two hundred-plus bodies and body parts from people whom Glug-A-Luki had devoured. The Department of Building and Works had to spend days searching through the wrecked houses. They found only one survivor, an elderly man who spent the last few years of his life in the psychiatric wing of the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital, muttering about Glug-A-Luki, terrified of even garden snails.

They also found thirty-two bodies.

When it was finally cleared up, Gina Foley said to Garbarla and the others: "Near as I can make out a hundred and fifty or so people were killed and or eaten this time."

Leslie Harrison let out a low whistle. "Looks like we have no choice but to notify Russell Street this time. "We're clearly out of our depths."

"You ain't just whistling Waltzing Matilda, man," said Mainoru.

Careful, not to mention why Bear Ross wasn't around Leslie Harrison rang through to Russell Street Melbourne. He reported that there had been attacks upon the Aboriginal village, plus upon Merridale, and Pettiwood, with nearly two hundred people being killed so far. But was careful not to say anything about a goliath snail.

"How'd you go?" asked Garbarla, when Leslie finally hung up the phone.

"They're contacting the RAAF to send military choppers to help out," said Leslie.

"Good thing you didn't mention Glug-A-Luki," said Garbarla, "or they'd be sending you to the psych ward instead.

Trying without success to smile, Leslie quoted Mainoru: "You ain't just whistling Waltzing Matilda."

Less than ninety minutes later they heard the whirr-whirr-whirr of three RAAF Boeing–Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche helicopters approaching rapidly.

"Jesus, that was fast," said Terry Blewett.

"It's pronounced hee-Zeus, and he's not here," teased Joseph Garbarla.

Ignoring the half-breed, Leslie Harrison, said: "The Boeing–Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche helicopter can travel at around three hundred and ten kilometres an hour. And it's less than four hundred kays from Melbourne to here."

They walked out into the overgrown lawn in front of the police station in Patrick Street, Merridale, as the choppers landed in the street, narrowly avoiding the overhead power lines.

"Heard you've got some trouble in the area?" said the pilot of the lead chopper. A tall well-muscled redheaded Irishman who identified himself as Paddy O'Shay.

"Sure have," said Leslie Harrison, going on to explain about the attacks and the carnage which had been caused.

"By what?" asked O'Shay.

Not wanting to sound like a lunatic, Leslie said: "I's prefer to show you."

Without permission, Leslie, Garbarla, Terry Blewett, and Paul Bell climbed into the rear of the lead chopper.

"Normally we don't allow civilians into our choppers, except in emergency situations," protested O'Shay.

"This is an emergency situation," insisted Leslie, and the four men refused to exit the chopper.

"All right, on your heads be it," said Paddy, climbing into the cockpit of the chopper. "Where to?"

"Head out to Rochester Road, Merridale," said Leslie, giving him instructions until they got there.

"What the Hell is that?" asked Paddy, seeing the foul-smelling blue-green slime trail.

"That is what you have to follow to find Glug-A-Luki," said Joseph Garbarla.

"Whose-awhat-now?" asked the redheaded Irishman.

"What's been killing all the people around here," said Paul Bell. "Trust me, you'll know it when you see it."

"Whatever you say," said Paddy.

They followed the slime trail for more than twenty minutes, over a hundred kilometres from the township, before catching site of Glug-A-Luki shattering pine trees and small blue gums, seemingly just for the Hell of it.

"What in the name of the Holy Virgin, is that?" asked Paddy O'Shay, crossing himself.

"That's Glug-A-Luki, what we've come to kill," explained Terry Blewett.

"If you say so," said Paddy, launching three missiles, two of which went well wide. The Boeing–Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche helicopter, was not the most accurate helicopter ever built, and would soon be superseded.

The third missile, however, was a direct hit, upon Glug-A-Luki's cinnamon-roll-shaped shell. However, the missiles did nothing, except make the Goliath roar in rage and spin around and zoom off into the sweet-smelling forest.

"Christ, look at that thing," said the co-pilot, David MacDonald, crossing himself also, despite not being a catholic.

"And look at it go," said Paddy. "No wonder you couldn't catch it with your cars. But we'll soon run it to ground."

The three choppers whooshed after Glug-A-Luki and launched another nine missiles at it. Five of which went wide of the mark. But the other four exploded against the monster's thick shell, making it roar in anger, but without slowing its rapid retreat.

The three choppers began firing thousands of rounds from their machine guns at it. Having to stop, however, when the monster entered a small Aboriginal settlement.

"Oh, Lord," said Paddy, crossing himself, as Glug-A-Luki wrought havoc, slaughtering and eating every man, woman, child, and dog in the village, crashing through every lean-to and corrugated-iron hut. Until the entire village was a shambles of broken wood, shattered iron, and scattered body parts.

They launched three more missiles, two of which impacted against the shell of Glug-A-Luki, making the monster roar, and race off into a deeper part of the forest, where the trees were larger and closer together. Making it difficult for the creature to travel along, but impossible for them to see it from the choppers.

"How the Hell can it be missile-proof?" asked Paddy.

Garbarla told him the legend of Glug-A-Luki, and how supposedly it could only be killed by cutting open its shell with large diamonds.

"Then let's go get some missiles filled with diamonds," said Paddy.

They returned Garbarla and the others to the police station, refuelled the helicopters, and then headed back to Melbourne.

It would be early the next morning before the three helicopters returned with fifteen diamond-filled missiles.

"You don't know what this payload is worth," said Paddy O'Shay as Garbarla, Mainoru, Leslie Harrison, and Paul Bell climbed into the rear of the lead chopper, this time with Paddy's blessing.

"Liz Taylor's ransom, I'd guess, man," said Mainoru.

"Even Liz Taylor couldn't afford this lot," corrected Paddy. "So we're supposed to collect them up again after we kill that thing."

"If we kill that thing," said Joseph Garbarla prophetically.

This time Paddy crossed himself before lifting off the Boeing–Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche helicopter, to head back to where they had last seen Glug-A-Luki to hunt for the monster again.

This time they scoured the area for two hours without finding it, since the closely grouped together red gums and pines hid its toxic blue-green slime trail.

They had decided to land to refuel, when the pilot in the second chopper said over the radio, "I can see some kind of movement past the trees.

The choppers zoomed across a kilometre of forest to see Glug-A-Luki devouring some kangaroos it had run down.

"If it's meat, it'll eat it," said Paddy. He crossed himself, then fired three missiles at the monster, followed by six more from the other two helicopters.

Most of the missiles missed, scattering their precious cargo into the forest.

"Now that's what I call seeding the forest with diamonds, man," joked Mainoru.

Three of the missiles connected, however, making Glug-A-Luki shriek in anger as well as agony this time.

"Got it," said Paddy in satisfaction. However, the monster, although slower than previously, managed to flee back into the dense forest.

"Guess we have to land," to finish it off," said Paddy.

"And to collect your diamonds," said Leslie Harrison, choosing to stay in the helicopter after it had landed.

The two pilots, Garbarla, Mainoru, and Paul Bell exited the chopper to start towards the pilots from the other two choppers. Like Paddy O'Shay and David MacDonald, the other pilots carried shotguns.

"A bit low tech for the RAAF isn't it?" asked Joseph Garbarla.

"The shells are loaded with diamond shards," said Paddy. "Probably too small to pick up again. So good luck to any future prospectors who find them."

"What are the longitude and latitude of this place again, man?" teased Mainoru, "I feel like doing a little prospecting after we finish off Glug-A-Luki."

"If we finish off Glug-A-Luki," said Paul Bell.

"Don't jinx us," said Paddy, crossing himself again.

They hunted through the forest for ninety minutes, until, thinking that Glug-A-Luki was long gone they let their guard drop.

As they turned to return to the choppers, Glug-A-Luki suddenly appeared and grabbed up Mainoru and the two pilots of the second chopper, chewing the screaming men, and then swallowing them.

"Run for your lives," shouted Paul Bell, and he and Garbarla raced through the forest in the direction which they hoped and prayed led back to the choppers.

"How'd it...?" started Leslie Harrison as the two men leapt into the chopper, almost falling on top of him.

"Badly," said Paul Bell. "You were wise to stay behind."

"It ate Mainoru, and two of the chopper pilots," said Joseph Garbarla, panting from terror, as well as exhaustion.

In the forest, Paddy and the remaining other three chopper pilots fired their shotguns at Glug-A-Luki point blank. But the tiny diamond shards were only good enough to be stylus needles, and made no effect upon the goliath's super hard shell.

As Glug-A-Luki scooped up Dave MacDonald, and the two pilots from chopper three, Paddy O'Shay dropped his shotgun and charged in terror back to the clearing, crossing himself constantly as he ran.

Glug-A-Luki stopped long enough to consume the three screaming pilots, then set off after O'Shay. However, the larger diamonds had hurt it enough so that it was much slower than previously.

"Belt up!" shouted Paddy, as he leapt into the cockpit. Managing to get the chopper into the air barely twenty seconds before the monster snail appeared below the chopper.

Glug-A-Luki roared in anger and frustration as it missed the chopper. Turning, it raced toward the other two helicopters, reducing them to scrap metal.

The chopper landed at Patrick Street Merridale, just long enough to drop off Garbarla, Leslie Harrison, and Paul Bell, and to refuel.

As he refuelled Paddy said, that thing is gonna need something a lot more powerful than Boeing–Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanches to take it out."

He climbed into the cockpit, and took off again for Melbourne.

"Wonder what else they can send us?" asked Paul.

"Hopefully an atomic bomb," said Leslie Harrison. "Although we'd need to get that thing a hundred kays or more from any inhabited area, before we could risk nuking it."

After Paddy had departed, Leslie Harrison said: "Hey, he forgot his diamonds."

"Who feels like a little prospecting?" joked Paul Bell, immediately regretting it as he remembered the gruesome deaths of Mainoru and the five chopper pilots.

"So what comes next?" asked Garbarla.

"Next we notify emergency services about the native settlement that was wiped out," said Leslie. "Then I suppose we wait to see what, if anything else the RAAF has up its sleeves.

"But first, I have to notify Mainoru's family what happened to him," said Garbarla, knowing that they would get hysterical at the news.

Garbarla and the others were still helping at the devastated Aboriginal settlement when they heard a roaring whoosh from overhead.

Looking up they saw the birdlike form of the night black Lockheed SR-71 blackbird, roaring from the direction of Melbourne.

"What the Hell is that?" asked Garbarla.

"A Lockheed blackbird, stealth fighter," said Leslie Harrison. "They don't show up on radar apparently. Although that's unimportant against Glug-A-Luki since I doubt that that monster has radar capabilities."

Behind the blackbird, came a single RAAF Boeing–Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche helicopter, piloted by Paddy O'Shay, and a replacement co-pilot, Jennifer Eckles, the first female pilot that any of them had ever seen.

"They have women in the RAAF now?" asked Garbarla in surprise.

"Shoosh," teased Jennifer, an attractive brunette with pixie-cut hair. "The RAAF doesn't want it to get out, in case more women hear about it and want to join up."

"Well, climb aboard if you want to see the blackbird nuke that monster," said Paddy O'Shay.

"Figuratively speaking," said Jennifer. "It doesn't actually have any nukes on board. Although that might be the next option if this doesn't work."

As the blackbird whooshed past them, Jennifer sighed almost orgasmically. She said: "What a fighter. I hope to fly a blackbird one day."

Paddy O'Shay looked at her but was wise enough not to express his opinion that the RAAF would never trust women to pilot an SR-71.

They followed the blackbird as much as possible, unable to match its vastly superior speed, as it hunted Glug-A-Luki across the dense forest. Unlike the chopper, the SR-71 had radar imagining capabilities that allowed them to detect the goliath snail even before being able to see it.

"Have sighted creature, and am going to start bombing the dense forest."

"Sighted it? How?" asked Leslie Harrison peering down into the dense forest, unable to see anything except blue- and red-gums, plus a few pine trees.

"It has radar imaging," said Jennifer excitedly, going on to explain to the passengers, what radar imaging meant. "Wow, what a plane."

As the blackbird started bombing it, Glug-A-Luki, to everybody's surprise, raced out of the protection of the dense forest, to be easily visible in a large clearing.

"Why did it do that?" asked Jennifer, expressing the thoughts of everyone aboard the helicopter. "It's made itself an easy target."

Thinking the same thing, the blackbird pilot said over the radio: "Am going down for close strafing."

Don't go down too far! thought Joseph Garbarla.

The blackbird started firing its missiles even while zooming down. Yet still Glug-A-Luki stood still in plain sight, seemingly impervious to the missiles and thousands of bullets fired at it.

"Why doesn't it run ... slither away?" asked Jennifer, starting to wonder if the goliath snail was setting up the blackbird somehow. She reached for the radio handset to warn the pilot...

Too late. As the blackbird got within twenty metres of Glug-A-Luki the monster shot out its extensive neck, grabbed the SR-71 in midair and started to crunch down upon it with its razor-sharp teeth.

"Oh, no," said Jennifer, as the monster suddenly hurled the broken blackbird back up into the sky.

Just high enough so that the pilot could use his ejector seat, to escape, piloting the seat nearly a kilometre, with Glug-A-Luki and the helicopter in close pursuit.

Finally, as the pilot, fast running out of fuel, had no choice but to risk trying to land, Glug-A-Luki reached up its long neck to grab the pilot, which it crunched and devoured ejector seat and all.

"Oh God," cried Jennifer Eckles, covering her mouth with her hands. But not wanting to show weakness by crying in front of O'Shay, who she knew was opposed to women pilots.

"I guess, it's nukes next," said Paddy O'Shay, turning the helicopter to head into Merridale.

Back inside the police station Joseph Garbarla asked: "How far do you have to be from a nuclear blast to be able to survive it?"

"No one knows for sure," said Leslie Harrison. "Hence the expression 'No Nukes is Good Nukes". But personally, I'd like to be at least a hundred kays from ground zero."

"He's showing off now," said Terry Blewett. "He means from the flash point."

The next day the helicopter returned with Jennifer Eckles and Paddy O'Shay.

"The nukes are on hold for the moment," said Jennifer to the relief of Garbarla and the police officers.

"The RAAF doesn't have any, and the Yanks and the Poms are refusing to believe why we need them," explained Paddy, "so they aren't being helpful."

"So what's next?" asked Garbarla.

"We've been thinking of using lasers on it," said Jennifer. "The Yanks have some satellites which can fire powerful laser beams from space..."

"I thought that the United Nations had banned placing weapons in space?" said Leslie Harrison.

"Since when has that ever stopped the Yanks," asked Paddy O'Shay.

"So, anyway," said Jennifer. "The Yanks will help us by firing laser beams from space on it ... but there's a teensy weensy problem."

"Uh-oh," said Garbarla, guessing correctly that the problem would turn out to be anything but teensy weensy.

"Before the satellite can be accurate, and let's face it we don't want the Yanks, blowing up Melbourne by mistake..." said Jennifer.

"Sydney, or Brisbane maybe," joked Paul Bell. "But definitely not Melbourne."

"First we need someone to creep up on that thing and stick a location device to it."

Gulping in terror, Garbarla said, "I guess that will have to be me."

"Sooner you than me," said Jennifer Eckles.

They refuelled the chopper and then set off to hunt for Glug-A-Luki, who was strangely reluctant to put in an appearance. As though somehow the goliath snail knew and feared what they were planning.

"Any particular spot I have to place this device?" asked Garbarla, holding the tracking device as they hunted through the skies.

"Not really," said Jennifer. "The laser will destroy completely an area of about two hundred metres in diameter, So the important thing is to remove the backing first, then slam the device onto that thing. Then turn and run like hell. The Yanks have agreed to wait thirty seconds after they pick up the signal before firing ... but whether we can trust the Yanks is another matter."

"Whether the Yanks can tell time is the problem," insisted Paddy O'Shay.

"That too," agreed Jennifer.

The first two days they had no success locating Glug-A-Luki, but an hour or so into the search on the third day, Jennifer spotted a vague outline moving through the trees. Pointing she said: "There it is."

"We can't possibly land here," said Paddy, so we'll have to put you down by ladder.

"I had an awful feeling that you were going to say that," said Joseph Garbarla.

Reluctantly, he started to descend the long ladder, saying, "Is it too late to mention my chronic fear of falling?"

"If you're serious, I'll go instead of you," offered Jennifer Eckles.

"No, no," said Garbarla, "this is definitely not a 'ladies first' situation."

Hoping the location device did not fall out of his suit pocket, Garbarla clung for dear life to the rope, descending as slowly as possible, to minimise the danger of falling.

"Is there any way to distract that thing so that it won't notice him sneaking up on him?" asked Paul Bell.

"We could fire some dummy shots in front of it, to get its attention," suggested Paddy O'Shay.

Garbarla was less than a metre from the ground, when he slipped and fell, screaming, then stopping in embarrassment as he hit the pine and leaf covered forest floor almost immediately, without hurting himself.

Slowly he crept through the forest, in no particular rush to come face to face with Glug-A-Luki.

Hearing machine gun fire, he dropped to the carpet of dry pine needles and gum leaves and crawled forward. Almost crawling straight into Glug-A-Luki.

He stopped less than a metre short of the monster, who was hiding behind a great red gum tree. Realising that the machinegun fire was falling well short, Garbarla, thought correctly, Must be to distract the bastard so he doesn't see me.

Tentatively, the half-breed removed the tape from the location device, placed it gently against Glug-A-Luki's hard shell, then turned and crawled as fast as he could back into the deeper forest.

After ten seconds, or so, he stood and ran like hell, doing his best not to collide with gum or pine trees, in his determination to get the requisite hundred metres away, to be out of the danger zone. Ground zero, he thought as he suddenly ran out into a clearing, which allowed him to put on a lot more speed.

Just in time, as a great yellowy, fluorescent beam, like a dozen great lighting flashes all at once, ripped down from the sky and flattened the dense part of the forest, where Glug-A-Luki was hiding.

The blast knocked Joseph Garbarla off his feet. But he was far enough away, so that he was unharmed.

Behind him, as he lay on the soft leaves and pine needles, Garbarla heard the most Hellish shrieking yet from the monster. It seemed to go on for minutes. Then finally it stopped.

Hearing a whirr-whirr-whirr overhead, the half-breed looked up to see the helicopter piloted by Paddy O'Shay, slowly descending toward him.

Crawling across to get into the back seat, Garbarla asked: "How did it go."

"See for yourself," said Jennifer Eckles, as they returned to the now flattened forest, and the equally flattened remains of Glug-A-Luki.

The giant snail's shell had shattered, and fallen away, to reveal its body as a great coiling mass, like an oversized fireman's hose.

"No wonder that thing could shoot out its neck so far," said Garbarla, that's basically all it was a gigantic coil of neck within a super-hardened shell."

"That's what it looks like," agreed Jennifer, "But if we rule out it being supernatural. Then it must have a heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and so forth in there somewhere."

"Can we rule out for certain it being supernatural?" asked Joseph Garbarla, more to play Devil's Advocate than anything else.

"I certainly hope so," said Jennifer Eckles, as the Helicopter took off toward Merridale township.


© Copyright 2023 Philip Roberts
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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