Billabongs of Death

by Remy Pacini

       Queensland, 1990

            The afternoon sun shone bright and hot through the window of the police station as Hannibal, Mickey, Angelique, and a middle aged man in a suit and tie sat around a desk. Mickey was the first of the group to speak, asking the suit-clad man “How many bodies did you say were found, Constable?” “Thirteen, well, I mean the pieces of thirteen bodies” the suit-clad man replied as Hannibal jotted down the man’s reply before Angelique shyly raised her hand. “Dis ain’t school, Angelique. Go ahead an’ ask yer question” Hannibal gruffly replied, his pen ready to jot down anything that the Constable might tell them.

“Where were these victims found?” Angelique asked as the Constable unrolled a map, and then pointed to thirteen red circles, telling the group to find any connection between the circles. “Dey’re all directly next ta water” Hannibal stated, gaining a nod of approval from the Constable, who then said “Any guesses yet as to what killed them?” “Oi’m afraid we don’t know” Mickey replied, prompting the Constable to gently pat him on the shoulders. “I’m sure you three can figure it out” he said as he escorted the three to the door before they began to walk away from the police station. “Okay, what creature kills near water, rips its victims to pieces, and leaves no trace on land, despite the distance between the waters where the victims were found?” Angelique asked, prompting Hannibal to shrug and Mickey to reply “Die hel as ek ken!”

All three of them then sat down on a nearby bench and brainstormed what could be behind the murders by the billabongs. As they sat and thought, Hannibal broke a cookie in half and, moving both pieces of the cookie like a set of jaws, said “We should call Burhan an’ see if he knows!” “Great idea Hannibal” Mickey replied, pulling out a portable phone before being interrupted by Hannibal, who continued to move the “jaws” of the cookie and shouting “Ah’m not Hannibal! Mah name is Bob the Bob!” before “biting” Mickey’s nose with the cookie.

“Was that really necessary?” Mickey sarcastically asked before dialing Burhan’s number and waiting to be connected. As they sat and waited, Hannibal grew bored with his “talking” cookie and promptly ate it, crumbs flying everywhere as he did so. Just as Hannibal finished eating, Burhan’s voice caught them all by surprise as he said “Team, I just got your call, and I’ll see what I can do to help you three place an identity on the killer. Until then, I would highly suggest that you go to the locations where the victims were found and see if there is any evidence that might give you three some clue as to what you are dealing with” Burhan said as Hannibal, Mickey, and Angelique agreed, said goodbye to Burhan, and began to look for a means to get to the crime scenes.

As they walked, they noticed a sign advertising excursions into the Outback. Intrigued, they went into the building displaying the sign and were greeted by a middle aged man wearing a khaki outfit and sitting at a desk. “G’day to you. Are you interested in an Outback excursion?” the man asked as Hannibal sarcastically replied “No, we came ta ask about yer ice cream” prompting a chuckle from the man. “Alright, alright, let’s cut to the chase. Where would you lot like to go?” he asked as Mickey walked over to a map on the wall, compared the names of some billabongs to the locations that the victims were found, and then said “Roight, do you think it could be possible for you to take us to these billabongs listed on this sheet?”

Looking at the locations highlighted on Mickey’s sheet, the man nodded his head and told the group to follow him. As all of them left the building, Hannibal, Mickey, and Angelique were led around to the back lot of the building, where a dusty jeep sat parked. In the driver’s seat sat a weathered man in casual clothes and clipping his fingernails. Upon seeing the group approach him, he quickly put away his nail clipper and then asked “Where d’ye want me to take you today?” “De billabongs mentioned in de police report” Hannibal said as the group climbed into the jeep, fastened their seat belts, and waited for the driver to start the jeep.

The driver soon started up the jeep and soon they were out of town and in the middle of arid scrubland that seemed almost alien to the group. As they continued to drive, Hannibal turned to the driver and asked him if he had any idea about what killed the victims that the police had found. Without as much as turning his head to look at Hannibal, the driver answered Hannibal’s question by saying “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that something, or someone, with a real evil streak in them committed these crimes. Speaking of which, we’re at the first billabong!”

The entire group disembarked from the jeep and began to investigate the dusty shores of the billabong, Hannibal’s sensitive nose sniffing every rock, tree, and shrub the group encountered in the hopes of picking up the scent of whatever was responsible for the killings. “Hannibal, get anything?” Angelique asked as Hannibal stood up from where he had been sniffing a dead tree, shook his head, and then got back into the jeep. The visits to the next three billabongs yielded the same results, but when the group reached the fifth billabong Hannibal’s nose began to quiver and sniff intently. The rest of the group, seeing that Hannibal was so fixated on the spot he was, ran over to where he was sniffing and saw what grabbed his attention: a large rock on the shore that was caked in dry blood.

“How fresh is it?”

“Couldn’t be more dan two days old. Still got a scent too”

“Could it identify our perpetrator?”

“Unless de killer’s a terrified human, den no”

“Oi don’t think our killer’s a human” Mickey said as he pointed down at the dusty banks of the billabong, where the group saw an oddly shaped set of tracks leading into the water, and an equally awkward set exiting the area of the billabong. “Huh, dis might be a clue. Mickey, can ye reach Burhan an’ tell him about de tracks?” Hannibal said as he sniffed the tracks, but much to his surprise he could smell no scent coming from them. “Oi’ll try” Mickey replied as he pulled out the phone and dialed, all the while hoping that he had enough signal to reach Burhan and give him an update. When he did eventually reach Burhan, he quickly told him about the bloodstained rock and the tracks, and then said goodbye before putting away the phone.

Afterwards, the entire group got back into the jeep and drove until they were at yet another billabong, where the driver told them that they would camp for the night. As they set up their tents they heard an ominous rustling sound followed by the splash of a large object entering the nearby billabong. After waiting a while for any other noises to come out of the billabong, the group resumed work, ate their dinner, and went to sleep. Their sleep was interrupted by a hideous bellowing noise that came from the billabong, and it was so terrifying that everyone, including the driver, grabbed a weapon and ran out of their tents

When all of them were outside of their tents, they heard Angelique scream, and, looking at where she was pointing, saw that a pair of large glowing eyes was peering at them from out of the billabong. “Wat die hel?” Mickey said to Hannibal, who said “Beats me” as they continued to look at the glowing eyes. Eventually, the source of the eyes released another loud bellow, exactly like the sound that woke them up, and then submerged, leaving the group terrified about where the eyes went. The group then returned to their tents and went back to sleep, a weapon tightly clenched in everyone’s hand in case anything tried to attack them where they lay.

The next morning, the group immediately rushed over to the billabong where they had seen the eyes and heard the terrible bellowing the night before. When they arrived at the edge of the billabong, they saw that, like at the other billabongs they had visited, there were bizarre tracks entering and exiting the water. Hoping to catch a scent, Hannibal began to sniff the tracks, but soon stood up and said “No scent” as the group then sat down and tried to think of what to do next. As they sat and thought, Burhan’s voice came through the radio, informing them that the research team back on Dromos had come up with an identity for their target, but that they needed to answer some questions first.

“Ask away suh”

“Okay. Did you by chance hear a terrible bellow coming from the billabong at night?”

“Yes, and it sure wasn’t any crocodile!”

“Interesting. Anything else?”

“Yeah, a giant pair of yellow eyes!”

“Thank you Team. Please be patient and wait for a few minutes, and I’ll get you an idea of what you are facing” Burhan said as the group could hear him shouting in Egyptian, before he came back and said “Bunyip. You guys have a bunyip on your hands” as Hannibal took the radio from Mickey and asked “What’re we supposed ta kill it wid?” “No idea” Burhan said before he ended the communication, causing Hannibal to grit his teeth and curse in French.

“Roight, let’s get back in the jeep and follow those tracks” Mickey said as Hannibal quit cursing, got in the jeep, and then the entire group was speeding along the dusty wastes of the Outback, their eyes fixed on the odd tracks that changed from billabong to billabong. By the time that the sun was going down, they had stopped at yet another billabong, when a rustling sound caused them all to hide in a patch of tall grass. As they crouched and hid, Hannibal pushed aside some of the grass, and his eyes widened when he saw what was making its way down to the billabong. What Hannibal saw was nothing less than a donkey-sized animal with a long tail resembling a mix between a monkey’s and a lizard’s, large webbed feet with wicked claws on the ends, a tortoise-like shell, and a cat-like head with saber-teeth making its way into the billabong.

When the creature entered the water, it emitted the same bellow that they had heard the previous night, as Hannibal jabbed Mickey in the ribs and whispered “Je crois nous avons trouvé notre bunyip.” “Heilige Moeder van God!” Mickey gasped as he placed a hand over Angelique’s mouth, and then parted the grass so that she could see the creature. As they watched the creature, they saw that its eyes were glowing and yellow, just like the eyes they had seen the previous night, but they were alarmed when it suddenly submerged.  They continued to watch the billabong for what seemed like an eternity until the creature resurfaced, but this time in a new form.

The creature’s form was a hippopotamus-sized animal with webbed paws, a long and powerful crocodile-like tail, and a somewhat square-shaped head with gaping jaws, massive fangs, large eyes bugging out of its head, and two massive tusks protruding from the upper jaw. “Now!” Mickey hissed as the three burst out of the grass and opened fire on the creature, which bellowed and howled in rage as the bullets hit its flesh. Focusing on Mickey, the bunyip let loose a blood curdling bellow as it began charging at him, despite the fireball being hurled at it by Mickey. Eventually, Mickey was able to hit the bunyip squarely on the snout with a well-aimed fireball, deterring the bunyip and knocking it onto its flanks as it bellowed in pain.

“Shoot it Angelique!” Hannibal barked as he swung a baseball bat with all his might, cracking the bat on the bunyip’s spine, splinters flying through the air as he did so. With the bunyip distracted by Hannibal’s blow, Angelique rushed at the bellowing water monster and shoved a silver stake into its leg, spilling blood and enraging the bunyip further. “BLUUUUUUURGH!” the bunyip bellowed as it wheeled around and bore down on Angelique, saliva dripping from its burnt snout and its legs caked with blood. With a powerful swipe of its foot, the bunyip slashed Angelique’s shoulder and clavicle before knocking Mickey onto his back with a tail swipe to his ankles.

The bunyip was about to gore Angelique to death when it received a blow to the nose with a tomahawk courtesy of Hannibal, who was standing in the billabong up to his waist and waving another pair of tomahawks around. “Come an’ get me mudder fucker!” Hannibal bellowed as the bunyip raced at him, its tail waving behind it as its tusks glinted in the moonlight and buried themselves into Hannibal’s side. Howling in pain, Hannibal smashed both tomahawks into the bunyip’s skull and neck as both of them fell into the billabong. Back on the shore, Angelique and Mickey rushed to the billabong and searched for Hannibal, their eyes filled with terror when they saw the waters of the billabong turn red with blood and, after a large bubble formed and exploded on the billabong’s surface, get covered by pieces of flesh floating around in it.

“Mickey, is he-?”

“Unfortunately, Oi believe that is the case”

“Oh god, I wish I had been able to save him!”

“Angelique, Hannibal sacrificed himself for you, and for me. That alone is proof of his loyalty to the team”

“Ah’ve got a lovely bunch uh coconuts, diddle dee-dee-dee, dere dey are a-standin’ in a row! Big ones, small ones, some as big as yer head!” a familiar voice cackled from behind them as Mickey and Angelique turned around, surprise slapped onto their faces when they saw Hannibal standing in the bloody billabong, his body red with bunyip blood and a look of pure insanity on his face as he held up an empty bag that read “Cherry Bombs.” “Figures” Mickey scoffed as he helped Hannibal out of the billabong, and then the group and the driver returned to the town, where they cleaned off and prepared to give Burhan an account of their mission once they returned to Dromos.

Remy Pacini is a senior from Atlanta, GA who is a History Major with a Minor in Classical Studies. He also is a vicious Norse Pagan and a lover of dark humor.