VURM-Concluding Episode

 zombie wurm

 

VURM; PART 4

Showdown in Lantana Country

 

So Nigel wanted to take Vurm offsite for “modifications”. I handed him what appeared to be a two inch thick wad of water stained, mould blemished cardboard.

“This was a first edition Psychedelics Encyclopedia,” I told him, ” Irreplaceable. Its banned here now. The last time we tried to import some for the book-stall, the whole consignment was seized by Customs.”

“This copy, however, had safely sat on my shelves for fifteen years, and though it has been read many times it remained in perfect condition. My Friend, it didn’t last three hours outside of the house.”

Nigel looked doubtful but it was true.

Remember this is the age before the Internet was ubiquitous and information on drugs was hard to come by. The Authorities hated a well informed consumer;

They believed Ignorance, is the first step towards Abstinence.

There was no Erowid  at your fingertips. No Cornucopia of Data to be downloaded. It took me years to collect the obscure, rare and hard to find volumes that were the pride of my Drug Library, and the Psychedelics Encyclopedia was an important study and reference tool.

But somehow Merry Maxwell, another crazed bush-dweller who crashed at my place when he was in town, managed to get a “loan” of it for a week so he could take it out to the farm and take notes at leisure.

“I’ll bring it back next weekend, “he said.” Nothings going to happen to it. I’ll guard it with my Life..Mate I’ll make it worth your while.” Etc.

I surrendered and let him borrow it and he drove off in his battered but reliable station wagon at about 3.00 oclock in the Afternoon.

About 4pm a big summer Thunder-storm brewed up quickly, dumped buckets of water down on the town in a brief deluge, then passed swiftly on towards the mountains, rumbling and muttering as it went. The sun comes out, the birds sing, leaves are dripping crystal jewels.

At 5.30pm I turn on the early News to check out storm damage reports, and what is the first thing I see?

By chance the camera goes Live to just rescued flood victims ..and there is not-so-Merry Maxwell and his partner, shivering and huddled forlornly in blankets while they watch their station wagon being hauled back out of a flooded creek they tried to cross.

The window of the back-hatch was wound down and muddy creek water was pouring out, and you could see their pathetic mound of waterlogged possessions, and yes.. there, right on top, completely soaked and sodden was my beloved Encyclopedia. Ruined.

Poor Maxwell tried to dry it out and steam the pages apart before he returned it, but it was a hopeless task. He stopped coming around after that in sheer embarressment.

And now Mad Nigel wanted to take an exhibit “off premises”.

Eventually and against my better judgment, I let him have his way and he took Vurm off to work on the modifications at Jim’s place in the bush, where, I was told, he would have all the tools he needed.

 

A couple of weeks later I was reading the morning paper when I could hear Nigel’s Black van popping and spluttering up the drive way and a few minutes later Poppy bounded into the room followed closely by Nigel

The classic texts third edition

The classic texts third edition

“All right,” I said, not looking up from reading the paper, as I absent-mindedly patted the dingo with one hand and sipped coffee from the cup in the other,”what happened to Vurm?”

 

“Fuck it,” he laughed,”I knew that was the first thing you were going to say to me”.

“I’m right though, aren’t I”, I said dryly, looking up,

He nodded guiltily

“So what happened, did a dingo take your baby?” I asked sarcastically as I fondled Poppy’s ears.

“Actually”, he laughed, “it was a Goanna”.

800px-Goanna_in_Mt_Coot-tha_Forest_(6971555584)

Of course it was.

For my non Australian readers unfamiliar with the Goanna,

imagine a muscular lizard the size of a small dinosaur with razor sharp claws and teeth. They’re carrion eaters but they’re also very fond of fowl as well, and many’s the Aussie chicken coop that has suffered from their depredations. One of my earliest childhood memories, in fact, is of a dawn lynch mob of humans and dogs tearing after a big Goanna that had been making nocturnal raids on their property’s hen house.

It ran up a tree, as they do, and some religious bastard shot it with a twenty-two.

I was only about three but even then I felt it was Wrong.

The Goanna is a Protected Species these days and you’ll still see them occasionally in parks and camping grounds

where they can feed on the easy leavings of tourists.

Not that being a “Protected Species” actually means anything to many Australians. Sure, Australians might feel sentimental about cuddly marsupial ikons like the koala and platypus,

but the bush turkey digging up their garden?

Or the possum in the roof ?

Or the crow at the bins?..

Just a pest and apt to be poisoned

if it’s considered too much of a “nuisance”.

The “protection” offered to these “lesser” protected species is token at best, only the most flagrantly public acts of cruelty are ever prosecuted. The sly and sinister suburban poisoner gets a wink and a nod, while out on the farm they still tended to administer their own brand of Frontier Justice to snakes and goannas when it comes to chicken thieves.

But this was more than simple chicken theft! This was..was..interfering with a corpse? cannibalism? I wasn’t sure exactly what to call the crime but I was outraged.

The Lads had returned one evening after a hard day watering and weeding in the fields, only to find their bush camp and belongings utterly trashed. They knew immediately who was responsible though. The guilty party had left their tell tale tracks in the spilt flour on the floor.

The local Boss Goanna, a huge scarred monster dubbed “Ugly Jack”, had paid another call.

This goanna had been a sly stealer of chooks and eggs since the previous winter and had recently taken to raiding the camp stores when they were out tending the crops, ripping open sacks of flour, smashing jars, clawing thru the containers.

They started to take extraordinary measures to preserve their supplies, and on the last occasion, the hungry Goanna, thwarted from tastier fare, had destroyed the kitchen and eaten Vurm in frustration.

 

Sleeping off lunch

Sleeping off lunch

 

It was later that night,sometime during Vurm’s second Wake,

I am told, that a drunken posse formed up. “Ugly Jack had gone too far this time, this wasn’t just a raid or theft. This time it was personal!” one Bush-Orator declaimed. After attending two of his wakes, Vurm had become like family to them. Besides the Goanna had totally trashed their supplies and they were pretty pissed off about that too.

Don’t get the idea my Country cousins were a bunch of red-neck, pot growing shotgun toting hillbillies shooting everything in sight. At heart they were hippies.So when two carpet snakes moved in and, after eating the rats, started eating the chickens and eggs, they merely put them in a sack and let them out ten miles down the road. The snakes came back. They took them out forty miles. Snakes came back. Finally they took them over the border and gave them to me and I let them go in my roof.

They ate all available rats, hung out in the Mango trees for awhile then disappeared.

I suppose they’re still patiently slithering home.

And when a territorial brown snake moved into the woodpile, they didn’t kill it, they just started another woodpile.

But Ugly jack had gone too far,

and just like Grendel, you knew he’d be back.

goanna-no-2

So the Jim and the boys set up an ambush the next day. Sure enough the big lizard wandered into their stake-out but had burst panic stricken thru the enclosing circle of dogs and humans. Goanna’s are not aggressive generally, just don’t stand in between them and where they want to go. Generally they’d rather run up a tree than stand their ground and so it was with Ugly Jack. He ran up a big gum, and they took turns shooting till someone (probably by accident)

actually drilled him right behind the skull and he fell down dead.

Back at camp they cut him open, hoping that by some miracle, like Jonah perhaps Vurm had survived.

But no. After being processed through the lizard’s powerful jaws and digestive tract nothing but a mangled, matted clump of fur and gears remained.

The eyes still glowed though, a baleful, red unblinking stare..

 

So they buried the pitiable remains and marked the grave, and then it was that they held Vurm’s third and final wake.

It was the best one yet, they tell me.

*

“You owe the museum a specimen”, I told Nigel.

“Hey I made it!”he objected

“You were a technician on the project, strictly speaking the Museum owns it, morally, if not legally, and you know I’m right. I sounded a word of warning, you owe me something.”

“What do you want”, he asked, admitting defeat.

“You’ve saved the Goanna skin haven’t you,” I slyly intuited.

Nigel nodded cautiously.

“I’m thinking.. boots,” I drawled thoughtfully.

*

Postscript

Sadly, Mad Nigel messed up Ugly Jack’s hide so badly when curing it, that I never did get my Goanna skin boots.

Dr Vurm is gone now. The Doctor left a note on the door one day saying only:

“Doctor Vurm’s Practise has closed.

Good luck to everyone.”

and vanished.

His namesake lies in a neglected grave on a hill above a creek. Its a very pretty spot, and peaceful, but the locals do say

that on certain dark and moonless nights,

you can still hear click and whirr of gears ,

like the ghostly grinding of some

far-away, hellish machine

forever writing Scripts in the Afterlife…

zombie wurm

***

memories

***

tai chi hand

The Reverend Hellfire is a practising Performance Poet, President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity and an ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual; Humanism AND the Church of the Universe.

He’s just that kind of guy.

***

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~ by reverendhellfire on June 1, 2014.

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