Campfires At Crossroads

Every year they have this festival, this ceremony, this cultural display. A campfire on red earth in the middle of Fed Square. One sacred site on another, newer sacred sight (sic).

It’s a smash-up of the old gods and the new. A way of remembering the city that lays beneath this one. The first city. The one that wasn’t this tall but that still had something alive feeding it. It was never a city in the conventional sense.

The first city was an idea. A possibility of a city. A feeling of a city. A soul of a home. It belonged to those that came before. Between the reptiles and the city’s new inhabitants. People who were more in touch with the ground at their feet. The spaces above their heads. The voices of the past.

The campfire serves as a memory. Like a statue of a fallen king. It reflects and reminds. It was built in a good faith. Wasn’t it?

Wasn’t it?

With those memories comes blood. Nostalgia tinged by red earth and redder blood. The ghosts of vengeance. And hurt. So much hurt. The campfire works in a special way. Drawing on the red earth on which it was built. Drawing on the old powers rather than the new.

Ancient grudges.

The campfire is not a weapon. It is not a bad thing. It is just a thing. A reminder and sometimes reminders aren’t totally happy.

You can read stories of women, women and colonists sharing children. And these women knowing and fearing the pale skin of these children. Knowing they would lose them. Lose them to their pale skinned ancestors. So you read these stories . These accounts of women covering these kids in ash. To protect them. To hide them.

Ash and red earth.

The campfire burns all day and people respect this. As they should. They stay off the ash and red earth. Most of them. There are others who don’t. But the campfire wasn’t built for the respectful ones. Not really.

It’s for the others. The ones who grab handfuls of dirt. Who cross the stone barriers and walk over history with complete arrogance. No respect. Just like the others did. The ones from much early. When this city was still just an idea.

That’s the trigger. The lack of respect. The red earth sticks to the arrogant ones. Marking them out. A blood-red stamp. Hidden but in plain sight.

But still this is not the campfires genius. It’s design. It’s function. That comes next. When the disrespectful ones leave the Square. When they walk through the crossroads nearby. The sacred crossroads. The corners of which are homes to meeting places. A pub. A church. A square. A station.

And underneath a much older meeting place.

There’s a lot to be said about the potency of crossroads. The powers they have. The powers they unlock. The configurement of their lines. The intersecting points. Power lurks at the crossroads in all cultures. And all it takes is a little of red earth wedged into the grooves of a boot or in the palms of hands to make it work.

And this is how the campfire works.

If you read the accounts of the colonists. If you read the right ones. The hidden ones. You might find mention of a ‘Midnight Bastard’. A towering figure with skin the colour of tar. Of midnight. Who leaves ashen footprints in his wake. A creation of children dipped in ash and taken away. A spirit summoned by disrespect of peoples and of cultures.

In these stories, these accounts. This Midnight Bastard sneaks into the ships and tents and houses. Into bedrooms. And he lays his ashen fingers on the people in there. The ones with no respect. The ones responsible for his birth.

You can fill in the rest.

For one month every year there is a festival. During this festival you hear reports, if you listen to the right sources. The right channels. The right kinds of wrong gossip. You hear reports of this looming figure the colour of midnight rising from the crossroads and walking into the night. Using a flaming log from a campfire to light his way.

You hear whispers of ashen footsteps.

You hear stories of lessons in respect. And of remembering. And you can hear stories of campfires. Campfires built to remind people that while there is peace now, there once wasn’t it.

And of what happens if you break that peace.

This is The Urban Sprawl.

A Garden of Distress

In the middle of the city is an oasis. A green Eden jutting up against the asphalt and skyscrapers. A jungle within walking distance of a 7/11. A perfect mixture of nature and commerce.

It coaxes the hustle in with sweet scents and lush grass and it keeps the bustle out with noxious pollen and moss-flecked walls.

The walls, it could be argued, show the endurance of nature as she reclaims the city. The land that is rightfully hers. The moss slowly encroaching on the brickwork and plaques and signs work as a nice metaphor. But there’s a better metaphor hidden in the flowers and sweeping lawns. A meaner one.

A metaphor that bites.

Sociologists have become fascinated by the garden. The way it has adapted and developed to the push and pull of the city’s desires. The city’s pulse. The city’s heart. It’s big, beating glass and stone heart. Pumping the blood along tram lines and bike lanes.

Some of that blood has seeped though the cracks. It seems that it’s not just recycled water in use.

The roots of the garden run deep into the flesh of the city. And as a result of this, they hit some vital organs on their never-ending quest downwards. Searching for sustenance. A foothold. For life.

And sometimes something transfers over. Jumps across the narrow gap between twisted roots and pipes and cables.

The city can be a hard place sometimes. A mean place. A place of bared teeth and clenched fists and bad ideas. It’s in its DNA. In its soul.

This city is Jekyll.

This city is Hyde.

A group of sociologists with double majors in mythology and environmental science have noted a change in the garden recently. A toughness. A grunt. They can’t tell you when it happened. Can’t put a time on it. A precise moment when they noticed it. When it started.

Ask them and they’ll say that it’s an incremental thing. A week to week shift. Wasn’t an overnight transformation but a gradual crawl towards hostility. Not a pumpkin to monster truck wave of the wand.

They have ideas about why. Something about dirt. Roots. The city creeping into greenery. Vice versa. Some of the more radical thinkers among them argue that it was inevitable. All of them agree that it’s irreversible.

There are statistics to accompany hypotheses. And then there are the less credible sources. The less empirical evidence. The drunken boasts and gardener gossip. Discussions embedded within the pages of the MX. Talked about in back-rooms of restaurants. Working class tall tales.

The first piece of evidence is that garden seems to be self-reliant all of a sudden. It seems to be growing with any help. That’s the gardener gossip. But there are physical signs too. More than just chatter. New plants. Objects. Fountain fixtures. Statues. That new playground. All appearing with a suddenness. A quiet instantaneousness. Without any outside assistance.

Well nothing obvious.

The second piece of evidence is a little more innocuous. But a lot more sinister. Unsettling.

There’s now a silence in the garden. An absence of sounds. Sure you can still hear the traffic and the city roaring from outside the walls. It’s just that there’s no sounds from the garden. At least not during the day.

The story goes that late at night, when the gates shut, you can hear sounds. From inside. A cry for help. A desperate scream. A pitiful calling. Someone in trouble.

And sometimes, sometimes people scale the walls and gates. Curious. Desperate to be a hero. To save the faceless owner of those cries. And they rush into the garden to rescue, to save, to answer the call of distress.

And the garden swallows them up.

They never quite make it back over the walls. And the next day there’s a new addition to the garden. A new sign or rotunda or bird-feeder or tree or topiary figure.

And no-one’s saying anything. They’re all working very hard to not say it. Mostly they just avoid walking past the mossy walls and the rusted gates once the sun-sets behind the buildings in the distance. And the shadows spring from the trees and the sound of someone calling out for help, for anyone to please come help can be heard echoing from within the flowerbeds and ferns.

The siren song of the garden will dash on you on the rocks.

This is The Urban Sprawl.

Architectural Ghosts

There are a lot of old buildings in the city. Empty husks that used to be buildings. A lot of memories boarded up behind bricks and cardboard and three-month old gig posters. Abandoned histories inside the walls.

Untouchable. Unreachable.

There’s this guy though. This guy with a Croatian name but an Austrian face and if you know how to ask and what to give, he’ll help you see the histories. Touch them. Reach them. Know them.

The architectural ghosts inside.

He lurks down by the river. Smoking and telling lies. He sits on a bench with this small Greek man called Chaz and who runs a special ferry service across the Yarra. Give him $20 and he’ll take you out in this little rowboat. Give him another $20 and he’ll show you what it feels like to nearly-drown. To die and come back.

Unless you pay more. Then you don’t have to come back.

This guy, this Nikolas, he sits down by the river with Chaz and they tell each other lies and stories while the smoke and ignore the world going by. Nikolas runs his service from the bench too. As far as anybody knows it’s his office. His home.

Of course there are days when he’s not there. Just Chaz staring out at the water on his own. If you ask him where Nikolas is, he’ll just shrug. Like he doesn’t know where or who he is. He’ll ask you if you want to go across the river. See the face of God. But he won’t say which. And he won’t say where Nikolas is.

No-one will tell you. No-one knows.

That’s a lie.

People know. But they won’t tell you. If you’re looking for this guy, Nikolas, this dead-building tour guide, you have to go to the river and the bench. And if he’s not there you just have to come back. It’s worth it though. The coming back.

Just make sure that when you do catch him, that you have everything you need. Don’t waste the trip. He might have fucked off again tomorrow.

$15 and a photo of the building.

If it’s a building he likes. A building he can speak to. If it’s a building his associate wants to go into, then you’re in luck. Although he won’t tell you that straight away. He’ll just take the money and the photo and say “If good find you.”

And that’s it.

He’ll start ignoring you after that. Immediately. Pretend he’s never met you. That you’re not there. You’ll need to go then. If you hang around or casually walk past trying to feel him out, he’ll just hand the photo back. Keep the money. So be patient.

There’s an associate he has to clear it with. Because Nikolas doesn’t actually take part in the performance. The building walkabout. He’s a middle-man. A link.

The girl does the work. The girl does the telling. And the showing.

If photo is good. If the building is good. If the girl says yes. If she thinks it can be done. Only after all these ifs have been checked will Nikolas come and find you. But be ready. You have to be ready. Because when it’s time, it’s time.

Then or never.

Nikolas will collect you and take you to the building. And that’s where you’ll meet the girl.

No-one will tell you her name. And this time because no-one wants to know.

She has a petite face and looks like she just fell out of school. Maybe she did. She looks young though. Lolita young. But there’s an older somebody in there too. Like theres two people fighting over this one body. Young versus old.

Maybe she’s his daughter. That’s one theory. But people don’t like talking about her too much. Don’t like sharing their theories too loudly. Too often. At all. Irrational fear clings to her like so many cobwebs. She makes people uneasy. People don’t like talking about petite, young girls that make them uneasy out of fear that the petite, young girls that make them uneasy might find out.

And that’s what makes them so uneasy.

And her eyes.

Her eyes linger in your head for a long time. Every time you close yours, you’ll see hers. Empty. Hollow. Always staring past whatever she’s looking at. Into it. Those eyes don’t match the girl they are stuck to. They belong to something else. People don’t look to long at them in case they get a glimpse of what.

She’s the one that does the work. Nikolas just gets you into the building. He knows how to do that. How to crack open these historical lock-boxes. There are stories about Nikolas being some sort of spy during a war. That’s how he knows how to open doors. That’s what he did before he got into the building-medium trade.

The stories also say that’s where he met the girl. Liberated her from somewhere awful. But then she’d be older. So that can’t be it.

Once inside, Nikolas leaves. And then there’s just the girl and building full of past. He’ll give a warning on the way out: Don’t stay long. And there’s an ‘or…’ hanging on the end of that. Unspoken but loud enough for it to ring in your ears.

The girl doesn’t speak. She just comes up and grabs your hand. Holds it loose in her small, delicate hands. Petite. And then it will start. The building will start to talk. To show. And wallpaper will grow and doors will open and shut and lights will come on and floors will gleam and the shadows will turn into people and the building starts going backwards.

And the ghosts will perform their sad stories.

But don’t stay too long. Don’t let the waves of nostalgia drown you. Don’t get caught in the memories. Because sometimes when the history of a dead building is revealed you might catch some of the more recent chapters.

Really recent.

Ghosts of others holding that girl’s hand. Except she’s not quite a girl. And her eyes burn with fire. And they’re standing right where you stand. And they don’t move and they slowly flicker away. Trapped in the past. So don’t stay long. Don’t get trapped in there.

Because there are a lot of old buildings in this city.

This is The Urban Sprawl.

The Ultimate Hipster

At various universities scattered throughout the city, while would-be revolutionaries try to out-left one another to impress the exchange student with the nice tits, there is a man saving the world. One ironic deed at a time.

You hear whispers, in cafeteria coffee lines and in library corners and at student art shows and in college bedrooms and at student union meetings and scribbled in the margins of second-hand textbooks, of this guy. This guy on a fixie. A blue one.

This fixie that rides like the blazes. This fixie that seems to move at impossible angles. That finds gaps in traffic where they weren’t any. That generates lane-ways between buildings. That leaves a trail of graffiti and band posters in it’s wake. It runs on coffee fumes and Triple J. This fixie is something else.

“You don’t ride this fixie. It rides you.”

This Soviet backspeak, overheard in a lecture hall, comes from a guy who’s only knowledge of the Russian Revolution comes from James Bond movies. But he’s not wrong. No, beneath the obtusely worded statement is a granule of truth. Buried under layers of subtext and a cup of coffee.

“And this guy. This hipster just rides around on it.”

“I thought you said that you don’t ride this fixie? It rides you.”

Good girl. Catching him out like that. He’s an idiot. But he’s not incorrect.

This guy on the fixie, the miraculous fixie, is the talk of campuses across the city. Hushed conversations take place on Melbourne Uni’s lavish lawns. Erratic stories are swapped over basketball games at RMIT. Murmured theories are shared at Swinburne between smokes. At the VCA they make art about him. Vic Uni and LaTrobe have a series of students dedicated to finding him. Leading an amateur investigation.

There’s even talk of a thesis being written about him. All in footnotes. Or as a haiku. Or a collection of Polaroid photographs.

He’s some kind of hero.

The Ultimate Hipster, in his impractically skinny jeans and his t-shirts for bands that don’t quite exist yet, has origins that place him in the counter-counter-cultural revolution sweeping out from Yarraville. Or he’s the collective son of a Carlton based artistic commune’s orgy party . Or he was abandoned by a troupe of actor’s in a bicycle basket in Footscray. Or he just washed up on St. Kilda beach and some nice family walking a nice dog adopted him.

The Hipster’s personal history is murky and highly subjective, besides you’ve probably never heard of it.

There are scores of students that tell people in BBQ queues that they went to high school together. That they played on the same footy team as kids. That they’d had sex New Year’s Eve a few years ago and he’d taken her virginity. That he used to live next-door to someone’s grandparents.

The Ultimate Hipster appears to be unaware of all of this information. Instead he rides around town performing his little acts of hipster heroism. Apprehending mainstreamers at underground indie gigs, the kinds of people who only know that one song and act like the own the band. Defending walls of graffiti from being photographed and re-printed in a national newspaper with some article about city life. Aiding fare-evaders to escape the ‘man’ and his hi-vis vest.

His greatest feat, beyond his ability to remain anonymous which is probably due to the fact that he rejects having a concrete identity as being too mainstream, is perhaps The Great Zine Recovery.

During a particularly bad Melbourne storm, the sort that attacks without warning on a day where the sun has promised fine skies and dropped guards, a torrent of water flooded the Subway Shops beneath Flinders Street.

It was a dark day for zine publishers as their dreams of small fame were washed away on a tide of cardboard and ink.

Thousands of zines charting cultural chaos were swallowed by the water, which seemed to move with malicious intent. Which it sometimes does. It’s an issue with the Yarra. It’s being dealt with by the council.

Like a streak of op-shop boots and bicycle, The Ultimate Hipster rode into the subway. Some say across the water like a slightly bearded messiah. Others claim he used his general rejection of mainstream gravity to ride on the ceiling. Whatever means he took, the ends are universally accepted.

He rode back out again with a backpack full of mostly dry zines.

How he did it is up for speculation. One theory being worked into someone’s thesis suggests The Hipster stemmed the tide with a piece of dazzling performance art and while the water was confused and attempting to understand the meaning beneath the performance…he pounced.

In university circles they talk of him like he is a god. On a bright blue fixie. And maybe he is. And maybe that allows us to answer another pertinent question:

Gods roll their own cigarettes.

This is The Urban Sprawl.

Luck Has Eight Legs

The Casino at the end of Southbank was specifically engineered so that it was geographically lucky. It was erected on an area that promoted good luck. An area that was unanimously agreed upon as being a generator of great luck. Three civil engineers, two architects and one shaman dowsed, designed and drew lots in order to find such a place and how best to draw on this power.

There’s a strange story about the shaman being just some homeless man with a KFC bone trapped in his beard. But then most of them are. Stories I mean.

The Casino’s orientation and architectural manifestations were designed specifically to generate an influx of wealth. Tapping into the lucky land beneath it’s feet. The fact that the sun hits it in such a way so that it shimmers like a beacon is just a fluke, they say.

They say a lot of things like that.

The real secret is in the foundations not in sun hitting glass. The sun is not lucky. The dirt is. The real secret is in the way this pillar juts into that one. The way this cable crosses this wire. The way that the pipes are arranged so that they compliment, co-ordinate and conspire perfectly with the electricity supply for the slot machines.

The doors were all built with luck in mind. Spread across certain intersecting lines so that certain probability factors could seep through. Losers and winners do not share the same doorway, at least not spiritually or rhythmically or historically. The doors open in just the right direction to let just the right amount of energy in to allow just the right amount of shuffling to take place so that a deck of cards may change someone’s life.

There are stories, rumours and bad bathroom graffiti that supposes that The Numeronauts were consulted or had some part to play in the buildings creation. These claims are naturally unsubstantiated.

You can’t get a quote from a secretive cult.

The Casino was made with just the right amount of sacred stone so that there is still enough room for human error. For failure. So that people can still lose. Not everyone wins. This is a casino not a charity. You have to be careful. And they were. Put too many blessings into the bedrock and there’s no chance involved. Everything is a win. Not enough and the building becomes cursed.

A lot of work went into that Casino. A lot of secrets. A lot of closed-door discussions. A lot of unsolved murders. That sort of thing.

The food is all prepared and served in such a way that it redistributes karmic energy to the other parts of the building when it’s turned into waste. When it goes into the pipes.

Even the shit is special.

The trams and taxis that arrive at the Casino, ferrying people inside, travel in from certain angles to help with positive flow. And on the way out they traverse different routes to ensure nothing gets tangled.

It is virtually impossible to approach the Casino in any way that would disrupt this flow. Someone has. There’s a record of it somewhere. Locked away. Far away. They say it’s for everyone’s own good. As the results of such interference would be catastrophic for anybody nearby.

You hear stories of the sacrifices that went into the construction. Take that literally. The right amount of goats blood died (sic) into the right pieces of carpet. The right sort of coin mixed into the right sort of cement and consecrated ash. The right pieces of the right people buried under the right parts of the right ground.

There’s even a joke that goes around. A myth mixed with a dose of hearsay and second-guessing. This half-joked, half-truth, could-it-be story about one of the partners. That he summoned some form of demigod to look after the place. To ensure the controlled chaos worked exactly right.

Because you can’t just put an ad in the paper. Or you can but it attracts the lesser lights. The wrong sorts of demigods answer HELP WANTED ads.

They say this partner, this guy, he sacrificed this kid. This twentysomething kid working on the floor. Casino had been open a week. A week. This kid’s first job. He has it a week and then he get’s sacrificed.

They say he sacrificed this kid. Let his blood drip over a roulette table. Put it all on black.

All that red on all that black.

They say that he said some words some estate agent in South Yarra gave to him when they used to have sex in the back of his car outside of her husband’s house. She’d picked them up from a footballer at a house party in Glen Waverley  He’d read them on a fortune cookie. A spell of good fortune. Or a spiritual phone number. For a good time, sacrifice a virgin and chant etc etc.

There’s apparently a demigod hiding up in the Penthouse. In the VIP rooms. In the shops conveniently located so that you don’t have to leave. In the Gold Class cinema. In bar fridges. In the spaces above and between the Casino. An eight-legged, golden monstrosity. An orb weaver.

They say it’s thin, gossamer threads extends in all directions within the bounds of the Casino. If it plucks this one just so, you win. And if it pulls that one this way, it’s a third mortgage.

A giant spider running a casino isn’t the worst idea. No-one’s sure how this partner managed to tether the thing to the building. But this is just a story. They say.

They say a lot about that Casino.

This is The Urban Sprawl.

Walking The City Loop

It’s 5am in the city and the clouds hang low and ominous, fallout orange as the early sun mingles with the city lights. A halfway house of tomorrow and today.

Two kinds of people are moving through the fog and concrete at this hour. Those going home and those leaving it. It’s a time where everyone has purpose. Drive. Motivation comes in with the clouds.

And so does Mr. Crow.

He moves in with the nuclear holocaust tinged sky. Black hat pulled low over tired eyes. The shadows hide the patchwork of scorch marks and scars that cover his neck and chin. He moves with the energy of man who doesn’t like where he’s going but can’t stop himself from going there anyway.

You can overhear stories about those scars and their owner. Mostly pub rumours. Gossip in crowded places. Most places will shut-up if you ask them directly about Mr. Crow. Tell you to fuck-off. So you have to be careful how you get the information. You have to inherit it second-hand from someone else’s conversation.

You’ll probably learn at some point that his name isn’t even Mr. Crow.

Nor is he as ominous as the clouds that hang over his head. He’s actually a government official. He’s even got an ID badge to prove it. On that badge he’s got a regular birthdate  and a scar-free photo. On that badge his name is listed as Teague Simpson.

The crow part comes from the hat and coat and boots, all black, that cover his staggering frame. The way the coat ripples a little. Like big black wings. And the sense of foreboding and fear that drips off him. The sense of foreboding and fear comes from the unsettled people that cross his path. His silence and fucked-up-jigsaw face does that. The unsettling.

He’s probably a softie. He’s probably good to children and old people. He’s probably a regular church goer, although maybe that’s more a way of dealing with what he does than it is a lifestyle choice based on good intentions. Then again who goes to church because of good intentions?

He’s probably lots of things but one thing he definitely is, up at 5am. Moving through fog.

Rising out of the wash is Flinder’s Street Station. Mr. Crow or Teague or The Man tips his hat to her. Respecting the old girl. Saying: Good Morning, how are this foggy day? She’s been through a lot. A lot of shadows hang off her. Memories trapped in brickwork. Not all of them good.

He strides up towards the station, flashes that badge, the one with the before photo and a real name, and no-one asks for his ticket. They just get out of the way.

This is why your train is delayed every so often. This is why there are always track works in the Loop. Underneath your feet. This is why.

As Mr. Crow and/or Mr. Teague Simpson approaches the platform he reaches into his coat, his coat of crows, and pulls out a machete. A big angry piece of steel that growls in his fist. A hard hitter with a sharp bite.

Over the way, another man in another coat on another platform wanders down onto the track. He’s holding two axes. Bloodthirsty looking things those axes. He wanders into the mouth of the tunnel. It swallows him up.

He goes into the Loop.

Mr. Teague the Crow drops onto the track. His sword is hungry. It’s grown from just a machete. Now that it’s down here. It’s something else. The tunnel opens up before them, the man and his sword, and they step out of fog and into darkness. He’s on the Werribee line today. Platforms Three of the Loop.

These tunnels of the city that make up the City Loop service run deep underneath it. Like a deep bottomless gut, they sit under towers and people and trams. They are the city’s dark innards. They hold it up.

But when you go down that deep you run a great risk. A risk of finding teeth and fury. A risk no-one thought of when they decided to dig a great network down there. And so nights (sic) like Teague the Crow must occasionally go down into the tunnels to fight and to reclaim and to appease and to negotiate. His sword is very good at all of these.

That nick on the hilt happened just beneath the steps of Parliament. That burn on his cheek was from a particularly nasty counter-argument. The blood on his hands, you can’t always see that, but that’s just a part of the work. Like a dental plan only worse.

This morning though is just a regular walk-through. A check-up. He doesn’t have to do any negotiating today. Not this time. His machete, his sword, his arm only gets entrees in the form of some strange sac-like pods halfway between Flagstaff and Southern Cross. Means he might have to come back for whatever put them there.

But not today.

As he walks out the Loop and into the bright womb of Southern Cross Station, he is greeted with looks of fear. Fear bordering on revulsion. He ignores it. Hatred off a crow’s back. Hopefully when you see him next, if you ever see him, you will be a bit more appreciative.

This city is standing on that man’s shoulders.

This is The Urban Sprawl.

The Bank Robbers

There were a string of robberies stretching from St. Kilda to North Melbourne over the weekend.

The official report, in the paper you’re reading over that dude’s shoulder on the train, says two people (one-armed, as in a weapon, he has both arms) hit a series of 7/11’s and a couple of liquor stores and more than one sex shop in a 48 hour spree. Although several details have been omitted from this.

Details picked up in bars or overheard on trams or standing at the urinal or just from some girl who’s dating a girl who works at 7/11.

The first is that there were no guns. Yes shots were fired. A few people were certainly taken to hospital with gunshot wounds. Glass was broken. There is even CCTV footage of a young, sickness-skinny guy ‘shooting’ a CCTV camera.

But no guns.

Just fingers. An index finger extended as the barrel and a thumb cocked as a hammer. Just like kids playing games. Except those aren’t sound effects made by a tongue and lips and teeth. Those are real gunshots. Real wounds. Real holes. Real.

And if you watch the footage closer you can’t see the glint of metal or the shape of a gun in his hands. Just fingers. No bullets either. Bullet-wounds but no traces of bullets anywhere.

“He just shot at me with his fingers.”

That particular victim’s statement didn’t make it into the papers.

The second detail that didn’t make it to the papers, is that the other perpetrator, a voluptuous red-headed woman, had sex with most of the people manning these places. Even a few of the bystanders.

The ones that weren’t shot.

There’s also the fact that in the weeks leading up to the robberies, those in charge of things like security or money collection or something like that, also slept with this woman. Some of them are in comas. Others are just suicidal. Morose. One is dead.

Found lying on his bed with his pants down, hand wrapped tightly around his cock, a look of horror on his face.

The third detail omitted is that the police has no idea who the thieves are. But it’s easy enough to find out, you just have to know who to ask. What to ask.

In certain supernatural circles across the city, in certain underground religious groups and within the ranks of certain organisations of dubious origin the identities of the thieves is common knowledge. Whispered in lane-ways, graffiti-ed in commission homes and mumbled in libraries.

Olliet Reaver and Kunimori Sunshine.

Olliet is the red-head. She has an accent that suggests she’s not from her, but it’s not hers. She bought it off a guy at the Dandenong Market. She fucked him afterwards, took the money back off him when he fell unconscious. He’s missing. Apparently seemed to retreat into himself and then retreated into the mountains.

Kunimori is the one they call ‘Pistolfingers.’ Tattoos run intricate lines along his arms and spread out like spider webs across his fingers. He looks like he’s got cancer. He might. He doesn’t say much. Just points. And then things bleed or burst or shatter. Bang.

They live in the outer suburbs, spread across them with different hideaways in different names so you can only find them if they want to be found, which is never a good thing.

It’s either because they’re desperate for money. Or Olliet’s hungry.

In the Bible they talk about the Succubus. What they don’t tell you is that she looks so damn good. This goes some of the way to explaining why they hit the sex-shops maybe. It also might explain why Kunimori looks so sick all the time. After all there must be days when they can’t get out. When Olliet eats in rather than takes away.

So Olliet and Kunimori pull jobs for cash. Tricky jobs, dirty jobs, dangerous jobs, well-paying jobs. A go-to-team of bad in an ancient blue Mini. The spree this weekend wasn’t a real job though. No. All the spree was serving to do was act as a sort of resume. Displaying the pair’s skills so the right sort of wrong people might give them a job.

A very successful ad campaign. Next week someone hit the ANZ building. Made off with bank account details for companies, people and peoples listed as companies and vice versa. An entire floor of staff, men and women, were found comatose with their clothing torn off.

Several had bullet-free bullet-wounds.

This is The Urban Sprawl.