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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Mythology · #2310527
Acid Man lives in a pool of acid and dissolves people to murder them
Nathan and Kimmi Selkirk were on honeymoon, in the Glen Hartwell to Willamby area of the Victorian countryside. Kimmi, a short heavily freckled redhead, would have preferred to have it in Paris France, or even Paris Texas. But she hadn't had the heart to tell her new husband when he was all excited about seeing the real Australian outback.

"This is the real Australia," enthused Nathan, a Melbourne accountant: "Not Melbourne, or Sydney, or Brisbane."

"Or France, or London, or Texas," muttered Kimmi under her breath,

"What was that, darling?"

"I was just saying it's wonderful."

"Yes it is," he agreed. Inhaling he said: "Smell that sweet aroma of pine trees and eucalyptus trees."

"Or Tokyo, or Venice, or Madrid," said Kimmi.

"What was that, darling?"

"I said, yes it's marvellous."

"It certainly is," he agreed.

"Or Wellington, or Berlin, or Vienna."

"Are you quite all right, darling?" he asked.

"Yes, darling," she said, thinking: Or Toronto, or Mumbai, or Cairo.

"Are you quite sure, darling?" he asked: "If I didn't know better, I would think that you weren't entirely happy to be in the countryside?"

"What's not to be happy about?" she asked: "There's the solitude, the trees, the sweet forest air, instead of city pollution, whatever that big pool of greyish-white stuff is over there."

"What big pool of greyish-white stuff over where?" he asked. He turned to see what she was pointing at.

Sure enough, there was a large pool the size of a small swimming pool full of some kind of silvery-white liquid eight or ten metres from where he stood.

"Well, I'll be buggered with a broomstick," said Nathan going over to look at the liquid.

Kneeling beside it, he took a sniff and said: "A bit acrid, chemical stuff. Wonder if the local science-chaps are aware of it. Could be worth a bit, depending upon what chemicals are in it."

"Or could be just chemical sludge. Some waste rubbish, that they've dumped there," said Kimmi. Less enthusiastic than her easily excited husband.

"Or could be worth a small fortune," he said. Peering down into the chemical pond, he was puzzled to see what looked like a face peering back up at him. Must be just my reflexion, he thought.

Then two greyish-silvery hands reached up out of the pool to grab him by the ears. To pull his head down into the burning acid pool. 'What is cold, but burns?' he remembered someone once asking. But the acid wasn't cold, as strong acid never is, it was boiling hot, and would have burnt him to death if the acid hadn't dissolved him first.

"Darling, are you all right?" asked Kimmi, going over to check what he was doing.

Seeing him head down in the sludge, she said: "Watch out, darling, you might drown."

She pulled him backwards, then started to scream as from the neck up he had dissolved so that all she saw was a silently screaming skull, without flesh, blood, or brain inside.

"Aaaaaaaaaah!" shrieked Kimmi as the Acid Man stepped out of his pond and walked across to her.

"Who? What are you?" she asked, before fainting.

The Acid Man hurriedly undressed Kimmi and then carried her down into his acid world with him.

Ten minutes later he stepped out of the acid pond, walking off into the forest. Slowly the acid crept out of the pond to follow after him, dissolving pine needles, gum leaves, and small insects and worms on the ground. As they moved on to find another suitable cavity to reside in. Leaving behind, Nathan with his fleshless skull, and Kimmi's gleaming white fleshless skeleton.

Just a few kilometres away, they found a suitable hollow to move to, to make their new abode.

Over at Deidre Morton's boarding house in Rochester Road Merridale, Deidre and her guests were settling down to a sumptuous breakfast.

"Delish, Mrs. M.," said Sheila Bennett, a black-and-white striped-haired Goth chick, at thirty-five the second highest ranked cop in the area.

"She's right, Deidre," agreed Natasha Lipzing. A tall, thin grey-haired woman of seventy. The oldest resident in the boarding house.

"Fabuloso," said Freddy Kingston. A tall, heavyset retiree, bald apart from a Larry Fine-style ruff of curly black hair around the sides and back of his head.

"Have you been watching old Claudia Cardinale films again?" teased Colin Klein. A tall redheaded man. At forty-eight he'd been a London-based crime reporter for thirty years. He was spending his long service leave in the Victorian countryside, researching local Australian legends for a possible book. And having a surprising amount of success at it.

"You never let us down, Deidre," said Terri Scott. A beautiful thirty-five-year-old policewoman, the head cop in the Glen Hartwell to Willamby area. As well as dating Colin Klein.

"It's all right," said Tommy Turner. A short, obese blond pensioner. A reformed alcoholic, due to Deidre Morton confiscating his secret stash.

"Oh, how could I forget?" said Mrs. Morton. A sixty-something brunette, of short stature, who put most Michelin chefs to shame, including Gordon Bloody Ramsey. Getting up she went over to a cabinet in one corner of the dining room. She took out a small key, unlocked a tiny drawer, and took out a small bottle of brandy. "Oh, only one nip left. If you give me some money I'll go down today and buy you some more."

She poured the nip into a shot glass and handed it to him.

Pouring it over a large bowl of porridge and treacle, he said: "Now that's what I call a breakfast."

"It's what I call sickening," said Natasha.

"Ee oo," said Sheila through a mouthful of Vegemite crumpet, her favourite breakfast.

"It'd be much easier if I could buy my own," said Tommy.

"Except no one will sell to you," pointed out Natasha.

"Only because Madam told them not to."

"And Madam is not about to change her mind," said Mrs. Morton, careful to lock the cabinet drawer again.

"Ha-ha, burn!" said Sheila before taking another mouthful of Vegemite crumpet.

"I'll burn you," said Tommy, handing over some money to Deidre Morton to buy him some more brandy.

After breakfast, Terri, Sheila, and Colin went outside to get into Terri's police-blue Lexus to do their rounds. Technically Colin wasn't related to the police, but as a crime reporter and her boyfriend, Terri let him tag along.

"Why can't I bring my boyfriend along with us?" asked Sheila.

Puzzled, Terri asked: "Have you got a boyfriend?"

"Not at the moment. They all seem to get scared off by all the monsters and psychos we keep encountering."

"So they dump you after one case?" asked Colin.

"No, they emigrate to Chicago. They say life is much safer there."

Lizzie and Lysette Morrissey were two elderly ladies having their constitutional a few kilometres outside of Upton when they stumbled across the Acid Man's previous acid pond.

Empty now ... except for the bleached white skeleton of Kimmi Selkirk.

"Is that a real ... a real skeleton?" asked Lizzie, almost fainting in terror.

When she did not receive a reply, she looked around to see her sister Lysette, lying face down on the carpet of pine needles and gum leaves that covered the forest floor.

"Lys...?" she started to say. Then seeing Nathan's silently screaming skull, she also fainted, falling face forward into the hollow where Kimmi's skeleton lay.

Twenty minutes or so later Lysette awakened to find Lizzie unconscious in the small crater. She started to climb down to help her. Then commonsense kicked in and she realised that if she couldn't get out again, they could both be stuck down there until they starved to death.

So, instead, she turned and started fast walking back toward Upton to try to get help for her sister.

The blue Lexus was just pulling up outside the police station in Mitchell Street, Glen Hartwell when Terri got a call from Jessie Baker.

"Jessie, yeah, aha," said Terri. Ending the call she said to Sheila: "Change of plan, head for Upton."

Not quite twenty-five minutes later they arrived at Upton. Just as an ambulance left taking Lysette Morrissey with it.

"Was that...?" asked Terri, as they alighted from the Lexus.

"Yep," said Jessie Baker. A great bear of a man, with rusty red hair: "But she drew us a map of sorts as to where her sister is."

"Has something happened to Lizzie?" asked Sheila.

"Not as far as we know," said Stanlee Dempsey, a tall raven-haired cop, coming up behind Jessie: "She just fainted and fell down a small hollow."

"But that may not be the case for two others there," added Jessie Baker.

"Who others?" asked Colin.

"We don't know yet. The Morrissey sisters both fainted from the state of them."

"Oh," said Colin as they climbed into the Lexus to head off into the forestlands around Upton township.

Despite the map, it took nearly an hour to find the location where Nathan and Kimmi Selkirk died.

Nathan's wallet told them who he was, so they had to assume that the smaller skeleton belonged to Kimmi.

"They were just twenty-one," said Sheila: "On their honeymoon. Although Kimmi did mention wanting to go to Paris instead. She said she'd settle for Paris Texas even."

They phoned through to the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital. Then waited till an ambulance arrived with Cheryl, Derek, and Jesus. Cheryl Pritchard, at sixty-two, was the oldest paramedic in the area, a strong woman who spent much of her spare time at the local gym. As did her partner Derek Armstrong, a tall black paramedic of about forty-five. Jesus Costello (pronounced 'Hee-Zeus') was the hospital's chief administrator and chief surgeon.

"Strong Arm, Chezza," said Sheila by way of greeting her two friends. Whom she spent hours together with at the Muscle Up Gym at Glen Hartwell on Saturdays. Cases allowing.

After helping Lizzie Morrissey out of the small hollow, Derek and Cheryl set off for the hospital with her, passing two other ambulances coming to the murder scene.

Out of the new ambulances stepped four paramedics, plus Elvis Green and Tilly Lombstrom. Elvis, the local coroner, was named for his worship of Elvis Presley. Tilly, a tall, attractive fifty-something brunette was Jesus Costello's second in charge.

"So what're we got here?" asked Elvis.

"We believe the remains of Nathan and Kimmi Selkirk," said Colin Klein.

"Oh shit!" said Elvis and Tilly as one.

An hour later the remains of the Selkirks had been transported to the morgue at the Hospital.

Not far away from where the Selkirks had been found, Debbie Ryder and her mother Dorothy were walking through the forest. Enjoying the sweet smell of pine and eucalyptus, being careful where they trod, due to small crevices and occasional submerged hollows. Where a small depression had filled with rainwater, and then gum leaves and pine needles had fallen on top, making it look like solid ground.

They were almost ready to return to Upton when they encountered the small hollow filled with the acidic-smelling silvery-white liquid.

A chemistry teacher at the Glen Hartwell High School, where Debbie was a student, Dorothy took a litmus stick out of her purse and placed it into the silvery substance.

"Well, Mrs. Ryder," teased Debbie.

"Well, it's acidic. In fact to be more accurate, a very strong acid. I wish I had more apparatus to make proper tests, but I think we need to warn the police about this deposit so that they can drain it before anyone falls in."

However, her warning came too late to save herself. Suddenly the Acid Man broke the surface of the pond, grabbed Dorothy by both arms and pulled her headfirst into the high-strength acid.

"Mum!" shrieked Debbie, almost diving into the acid pool in a panic. Then commonsense kicked in and, crying, she ran back to Upton to report her mother's death to the authorities.

Ten minutes later, the Acid Man surfaced and stepped out of the hollow. Again he traipsed off into the surrounding forest, followed by the acid from the pool. Leaving nothing behind except the gleaming skeleton of Dorothy Ryder. Not only her flesh and organs, but even her clothing completely dissolved.

This time, playing safer, the Acid Man kept walking until he had found a hollow outside Elroy township to reside in till his next victim came to him. Only rarely did he go hunting for victims.

Terri and co had barely reached the Glen Hartwell Hospital, when they received a call from Paul Bell about Debbie Ryder, talking of another acid pool. Not far from the other one.

"She says something in the pool leapt out, grabbed Dorothy by the arms and dragged her back into the acid pool."

"How did she know it was acid?" asked Terri.

"Dorothy was a Chemistry teacher and did basic tests on the pond. Which is why she was crouching near the acid pool, close enough to be grabbed and pulled in."

"Of course," said Terri, going on to tell the others.

"What creature could live in acid, though?" asked Sheila Bennett.

"Acidophiles; microorganisms which can grow in highly acidic environments," said Tilly Lombstrom: "But they certainly don't reach the size where they could reach out and grab you and pull a full-grown woman to her death."

"I had a feeling you were gonna say that," said Sheila.

Forty minutes later an ambulance arrived with Debbie Ryder, whom they interviewed. Before setting out to find the remains of her mother, Dorothy.

Finally, with the help of Bulam Bulam an Aboriginal Elder in the area, plus a pro-rata police tracker, they managed to locate the site where Dorothy Ryder's bleached bones lay in a small hollow.

"Hey, what happened to the acid pit that Debbie mentioned?" asked Sheila.

"Your guess is as good as mine," said Terri Scott, peering into the hollow.

Descending into the hollow, dressed in a full-body protective suit, Jesus Costello said: "The bleached white nature of the bones, does suggest acid. But I'm not seeing any. In fact the ground is quite dry underfoot."

He examined the skeleton for a while, took dozens of pictures, and then had a stretcher lowered to take the skeleton away, as intact as possible.

As the ambulance took the skeleton away to the morgue in the basement of the Glen Hartwell Hospital, Terri arranged for as many police, including pro-rata policewomen, as possible to scour the area around Upton for any more signs of acid. Or any more bleached skeletons.

Two nights later they were sitting down for tea at Deidre Morton's boarding house in Rochester Road, Merridale.

"So how's the search going?" asked Natasha Lipzing. Trying not to be too ghoulish, despite being a lifelong fan of murder mysteries and true crime magazines.

"It isn't at the moment," said Terri.

"The good news is that there haven't been any more killings in a couple of days," said Colin.

"The bad news is that we don't have any clues yet," said Sheila: "Other than a few skeletons and hysterical witnesses."

"Who might be telling us facts," added Terri: "Or might be hallucinating out of terror at what they really saw."

That night, the Acid Man decided that he had waited long enough, without anyone stumbling upon his new acid pond.

Climbing from the pond he headed toward Elroy township. He was still five kilometres away when he came to the Lennox plantation owned by Charlie and Wilhma Lennox.

The Acid Man walked slowly around the farmhouse, stopping as he heard a growling behind him. Seeing a Kelpie-dingo cross following him, the Acid Man waved his arms about like an orchestra conductor and up swirled a large wave of acid, which drenched the dog, dissolving it to a skeleton before it had time to even yelp.

He continued to walk around the farmhouse. Finding all the doors and windows firmly shut and locked, he flourished his arms again and wave after wave of acid splashed against a bedroom window, until finally starting to dissolve the glass pane.

He lifted what little of the glass remained out of the window and flowed into the room, followed by his acid pool.

Inside he found two teenage girls fourteen or fifteen.

Needing the sustenance that melting people gave him, he did not hesitate to swamp the two girls in acid. Smiling as it melted away their clothing, flesh, organs, and bedding around them, until with a muffled crash the two gleaming skeletons fell to the floor under the two single beds.

He waited to see if anyone had heard the crashes. Then he walked across to the heavy oaken door and did his conductor bit again, sending wave after wave against the door. Until he had burnt a hole large enough for him to step through. Signalling for his acid pool to follow him.

The floor inside the corridor was lined with kangaroo skins, which quickly sizzled away beneath his acidic footsteps. Plus the swishing acid pool obediently following him.

He opened another door, merely dissolving the lock this time and looked inside. Seeing two toddlers, he decided that they weren't worth bothering with.

Instead, he went up to the front room of the house, where he burnt away the lock again, to find a big burly farmer and his buxom redheaded wife: Charlie and Wilhma Lennox.

The Acid Man smiled in delight as he flooded the two country folk with wave after wave of his high-strength hydrofluoric acid compound.

The Lennoxes awakened in agony, tried to scream and get out of bed. But as their faces dissolved they were blinded and soon their brains had dissolved, so that they fell back onto the double bed, corpses. Soon to be bleached white skeletons.

Satisfied by his night's nutritional intake, the Acid Man walked slowly down the corridor, burning away the lock on the back door. Before stepping out onto the back patio, then onto the hard-baked dirt of the farm. Then he headed back toward the hollow which he was using as an acid pool. Reuniting with his acid pool would allow the nutrition from the dissolved Lennoxes to flow into his system revitalising him. His way of feeding.

Early the next morning, Josh Varney, a part-time labourer at the farm, and full-time stuck on Allie one of the two teenage girls, turned up to ask if they needed his help that day.

Looking at his watch, he saw that it was nearly 6:30 AM, yet there was no sign of movement at the farmhouse. Normally Charlie and Wilhma would be up by then. Although they would let their four children sleep in.

Walking around to the rear of the house he found strange footprint-like-marks burnt into the wooden patio. And the lock on the backdoor seemed to be melted away.

"What's happened here?" he said, too dumb to realise that he should stay outside and ring the police. If he weren't too dumb to be able to work out how to use a mobile phone.

Josh entered the house and then started off down the corridor toward the front door. But after almost falling through the floor twice, he finally returned to the kitchen, to ring Terri Scott from the wall phone.

Upon her orders, he finally left the farmhouse and waited outside sitting on the wooden porch.

Sheila Bennett was sitting up in bed, playing with her blue Bart Simpson Collector Frisbee, when Terri wrapped on the door.

"Come on lazy, time to get up."

"I'm sleeping," lied the orange-and-black-haired Goth chick.

"No, you're not. I can hear you bouncing your Frisbee off the corners of the room."

"Oh, all right," grizzled Sheila. Getting up, she started to change into her uniform.

"Wake up, big fellow," called Terri, tapping on the door to Colin Klein's room.

"Is it 7:00 o'clock already?" he asked, yawning as he struggled out of bed.

"Just time for a quick breakfast," said Sheila, stepping out into the corridor.

"It's a choice of having breakfast first, or stopping Josh Varney from contaminating a possible death scene?" said Terri.

"Ooh, that is a tricky one," said Sheila.

"No, it's not, no breakfast today."

"Aw, but I need to keep my strength up."

"Don't worry," said Deidre Morton, handing her a brown paper bag: "I've made you six Vegemite crumpets and some milky coffee."

"Bonza, Mrs. M, you're a star," said Sheila, hugging her.

As Terri and Colin, who had followed her down the steps, gave Deidre sad-eyed looks, she said:

"And there's no need to give me the moo-cow eyes. I've made some Cherry Jam crumpets and tea for Terri," handing her a brown paper bag: "And some marmalade muffins, plus coffee for Colin." Handing a bag to him.

"Sheils is right, you're a star," said Terri, as she and Colin both hugged Deidre Morton.

A short time later they were at the Lennox farm, ahead of the ambulances that they had called.

"Josh, how're they hanging?" said Sheila.

"How're what hanging?" asked Josh, doing his best Gomer Pyle impression.

"Never mind," said Terri: "I hope you didn't touch anything inside?"

"Didn't need to, the lock's gone," he said pointing at the back door: "And the door was open."

As they started onto the patio, they heard the sound of another car driving down the gravel road and stopped to wait.

Stanlee Dempsey and Jessie Baker got out, both yawning as they approached the others.

"Are those Vegemite crumpets I can smell?" asked Stanlee.

"Yes, and I've only got three left."

"If you give Stanlee one, I'll give Jessie a Cherry Jam crumpet," volunteered Terri.

"Aw, all right," said Sheila unenthusiastically.

"What about you, Josh?" asked Colin: "Would you like a marmalade muffin."

"Yes, please," said Josh Varney taking it gratefully.

They stood around finishing their breakfasts, before Sheila led the way into the farmhouse, followed by Stanlee and Colin, the others bringing up the rear.

"What'd Josh say about the floorboards?" asked Sheila. Screaming as she almost fell through a weak spot in the acid-weakened floorboards.

Reaching out, Colin Klein and Jessie Baker grabbed her by one arm each to pull her away in time to stop her falling through the floor.

"Important safety tip," said Terri: "Avoid walking on the acid-weakened bits of the floor."

"Agreed," said Sheila. Her heart still fluttered like a kaleidoscope of butterflies.

Taking a little more time and care, they walked down the kangaroo-skin-covered floor until they reached the first room containing the skeletons of Ashe and Allie, whom they initially failed to see, due to them being on the floor under their beds.

"Nope, no..." began Sheila. She stopped as she saw a glint of white under one of the beds. She walked across to look under one bed, then the other: "Correction, two skeletons, instead of live teenage girls."

"Shit, Josh will be upset," said Colin Klein: "He was stuck on young Allie."

A little while later they found the room with two squalling, hungry tots.

"I think they need feeding," said Terri, picking up little Teddy.

"Don't look at me," said Sheila: "Mine don't give milk."

"I know that dingleberry," said Terri as Colin picked up little Pixie.

"Pixie? What a name for the poor little nipper," said Sheila.

"No worse than Dixie, or Trixie," said Terri, as they headed back out into the corridor.

Then across to the master bedroom, where they found the gleaming skeletons of Charlie and Wilhma Lennox.

At that moment, Tilly Lombstrom called out: "Is it safe to come down the corridor?"

"Yes, but step on the sides of the corridor, not the centre," advised Sheila: "The middle's acid weakened."

Tilly, Jesus, and Elvis walked down to check on the skeletons. At the same time, the cops went out to check around the outside of the house.

As they walked out onto the back patio, Cheryl Pritchard and Derek Armstrong greeted them.

Seeing the two babies, Cheryl asked at a whisper: "Are they the only two survivors?"

"Yes," whispered Sheila. They all looked at Josh Varney whom they knew was stuck on Allie: "Will you tell him?"

"I'll wait for the return of Jesus, to tell him," said Derek.

"We've been waiting two thousand years already! What makes you think he's suddenly gonna turn up?" asked the Goth cop.

"He meant 'Hee-Zeus', you dingleberry," said Cheryl.

"That's the second time today I've been called that."

"Then it must be true," said Terri, still nursing Teddy. "I think the poor little nipper is hungry."

"It's a pity Topaz or Annie Colfax aren't here,' said Sheila: "They're both nursing sisters."

"I don't think that's what it means," said Colin.

"Well, I'm going for a wander around the outside of the farmhouse," said Sheila. She started round the left-hand side, followed by Colin, while Stanlee and Jessie set off around the right-hand side.

"Ho! Ho! Ho!" said Sheila.

"Don't get carried away, Sheils," said Colin: "We've still got three days to Christmas you know?"

"Yes, but look what I've discovered," she said. She pointed to where the glass had been dissolved by acid.

"I didn't think acid could melt glass?" said Colin.

"Me, neither," admitted Sheila.

Hearing them outside, Tilly Lombstrom walked across to open the curtains to talk to them: "Glass can be dissolved by acid. But primarily those containing fluorine, are corrosive enough to dissolve glass adequately," Tilly said: "Hydrochloric acid does not react with glass at all."

"Which is how you can store it in beakers?" guessed Sheila.


"So how do you contain acid with fluorine in it?"

"Is that relevant, Sheils?"

"We might have to bring you a sample."

"Very well, Hydrofluoric Acid must be stored in a tightly closed container made from Polyethylene, Fluorocarbon, or Lead."

"Isn't the lead container dangerous?"

"Yes, which is why you can have a couple of Polyethylene containers," she said: "Once we're back at the hospital."

"Will that be long?" asked Colin Klein.

"I doubt it, all we've got here are gleaming skeletons."

"Like Halloween six weeks late," said Sheila.

"Well, we've got the tricks here," said Tilly: "But no treats."

An hour later they were in the morgue at the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital. Going across to a glass-fronted cabinet, Tilly took out two large Polyethylene containers, which she handed to the orange-and-black-haired Goth policewoman.

"Bonza," said Sheila.

"Did you find any acid at the scene?" asked Terri, as they headed off again.

"Not a drop," said Jesus: "Somehow our acid killer manages to take it all away with him."

"Maybe he just whistles and it follows him," joked Sheila. Closer to the truth than any of them realised.

Returning to the Mitchell Street Police Station, Terri called in all of the local cops, plus Bulam Bulam to try tracking the Acid Man from the Lennox farmhouse,

Seeing Josh Varney still sitting on the patio, Colin asked: "Did anyone think to tell him?"

Then as they approached, they could see that the burly farm hand was crying and realised that he had been told.

"Looks like someone did," said Terri Scott.

"Life's a K.U.N.T. sometimes, isn't it?" said Sheila as they alighted from the lead car. She went across to give Josh a hug and a kiss on the top of his head, resisting the temptation to spit afterwards. She said: "Sorry, man."

They arranged for Paul Bell to drive Josh home, then set out slowly, with Bulam Bulam using his tracking skills to follow the Acid Man.

In his acid pond, twenty kilometres or so outside Elroy township, the Acid Man was resting, waiting for nightfall before even considering going out for another snack. However, hearing talking not far away, and smelling fried chicken, he decided to go to investigate.

Taking his acid pool with him, signalling for it to follow him, he walked slowly through the sweet-smelling pine and eucalyptus forest.

A couple of hundred metres from where he had started, he found a clearing in which four adults were sitting, while five kids ran around playing.

"Come and eat, kids," said one of the women, in a broad American accent.

"Not hungry," said a seven-year-old redheaded girl.

"You soon will be, running around, like that," said her mother.

Looking past the two couples, the Acid Man saw a large RV, virtually a minibus that the two families were sharing for their joint vacation around Australia.

Circling around toward the vehicle, he reduced down to acid form and flowed across the forest floor of pine needles and gum leaves to dissolve away first the rear tyres, then the front tyres of the minibus.

As the minibus collapsed onto its wheels, one of the Americans, Dougie Abrahams, asked: "What was that?"

"What was what?" asked the little redheaded girl.

Finally, she ran across to sit next to her mum, Andrea, to start eating.

"I'm sure I heard something?" Dougie insisted.

"Come on kids," shouted the other mother, Louisa Weiler, and the other four children raced across to sit on the oversized patchwork quilt to start eating down Kentucky Fried Chicken and coleslaw.

"Yummy," said the little redheaded girl, Heather Abrahams: "I love coleslaw."

"Especially Donald's," said a six-year-old blonde boy, Trent Weiler.

"Not Donald's; Kentucky Fried," said Heather.

"Almost as good," said his seven-year-old brother, Noah Weiler.

"Is not," said their eight-year-old blonde sister, Lindsay.

"Tucky Dried is better," said their five-year-old sister Amity.

"Na-ah," said the other three Weiler children.

"Is too," said their cousin, Heather Abrahams.

"Children, we'll have no food fights," said Fernando Weiler, their father.

"We weren't pitchin' it, we were arguing," insisted Noah.

"Even so...?" began Fernando, stopping as they heard a definite crashing sound from the direction of the minibus.

"Stay here," said Dougie Abrahams, He and Fernando got up to investigate the crashing sound.

"What happened to our tyres?" asked Fernando, pointing to where all four tyres had been burnt away. Leaving the wheels gleaming clean, with no sign of the rubber tyres.

"Thank God, we've got half a dozen spares with us," said Dougie. Heading into the minibus.

Only to start screaming as the Acid Man flowed all over him, rapidly killing and starting to dissolve him.

"Dougie!" called Fernando. Unwisely following his cousin into the rear of the bus. Only to be swamped by wave after wave of the strong acid, which the Acid Man still conducted with his hands, as though conducting an orchestra.

"Was that Dougie?" asked Andrea, his wife, as the first scream rang out.

The two women and five children looked around, although the minibus was behind some pine trees, out of sight.

But when no further sound came, they returned to eating.

In almost no time, the two men had been reduced to gleaming skeletons. But still, the acid man was unsatisfied. He wanted the two women as well. Although he would not waste his time or energy on the five children.

Leaving the minibus, he slinked around behind the pine and gum trees. To get closer to the family party without being seen by them.

Finally satisfied, the five children jumped up and started running around again.

Still a little worried, Andrea said: "They've been a while. I'd better go check on the guys."

"Okay," said Louisa, a tall, shapely ash blonde.

As Andrea started round toward the minibus, Andrea said: "Stay here kids."

Which guaranteed that the five children all went with her.

Watching Andrea and the children heading round to the minibus, Louisa did not see the grey-white sludge slowly creeping up upon her.

The other six had just gone round the pine trees, out of sight, when the Acid Man sent wave after wave of his acid flow upon Louisa, Burning off her face and melting her tongue before she could cry out. Then enveloping the ash blonde, until it burnt away her clothing, then her skin, then organs. Until in just a couple of minutes she was reduced to a gleaming fleshless skeleton.

At the minibus, there was no sign of the two men.

Until Heather and Lindsay jumped up into the rear of the bus, then started screaming hysterically at the sight of their fathers reduced to skeletons.

"Girls!" cried Andrea, climbing into the rear of the bus. Almost being knocked over as her daughter and niece ran squealing out the back of the minibus.

With Bulam Bulam in the lead, the police followed the trail of burnt leaves deep into the forest, for hours, until reaching the Acid Man's latest hollow, which was empty.

Sniffing it carefully, the Aboriginal Elder said, "It's been here less than half an hour ago."

Then they heard the screaming from the little girls from the minibus, just through the forest.

"Let's go," said Terri, leading them on a run through the forest. Narrowly avoiding collisions with pine and gum trees.

They stopped at the sight of the hysterical girls, and the three equally scared other children.

As Andrea climbed-fell out of the rear of the minibus, Terri and Colin leapt up into the bus. Sheila and Bulam Bulam did what they could to try to calm down the hysterical girls and their mother-aunt.

Climbing down again, Colin said: "Two more, I'm afraid." He helped Terri down.

"Oh God, kids, let's go back to Louisa," said Andrea, looking ready to faint.

Terri rang through to the Glen Hartwell Hospital as the redheaded woman and the children returned to the clearing.

She had just got through when Andrea and the children started screaming again.

Terri, Colin, and Sheila raced after them with Terri still talking on the mobile phone.

As they reached the campsite, Terri said: "What's up...?"

She stopped as she saw Louisa Weiler's shining skeleton.

Terri reported this fact to Jesus Costello over the phone and then disconnected.

Watching from behind the trees, the Acid Man decided that there were too many adults now for him to risk trying to take another one in broad daylight. So he headed back toward his hollow, signalling for his acid pool to follow him.

"What's that," said Sheila, catching a glimpse of the acid flow, through the trees.

The others raced across and just caught a glimpse of the Acid Man fleeing.

"Stanlee, Jessie, get that woman and the kids back to G.H. as quickly as possible," said Terri.

"Got you, chief," said Stanlee. Before he and Jessie Baker went across to convince the six remaining Abraham-Weilers to go with them.

As they followed the Acid Man, Terri Whispered: "Sheils, how do you neutralise acid?"

"Don't ask me, my only A-subjects were sports and woodwork."

"Woodwork?" asked Colin.

"Oh yeah, when I became a cop I made my own baton out of Redgum, it was beautiful."

"Why haven't we ever seen it?" asked Colin.

"Russell Street wouldn't let me use it, said it was a deadly weapon."

"How so?" asked Terri.

"It was two metres long and as thick as a big man's ankles," she explained: "So I let my brothers use it for a baseball bat. But the other kids complained, saying it gave my bros an unfair advantage. So it was banned. Now it's in my bedroom at my parents's home up in Sale."

"Okay, well I was a B+ student in chemistry, and I recall that base neutralised acid."

"Like a base in baseball?" asked Sheila.

"No, dingleberry, a strong alkaline substance," said Terri. She rang Tilly Lombstrom and explained their problem.

"Well," said Tilly: "Neutralisation of Hydrofluoric Acid involves the use of a lime-water slurry. Then the settling of suspended solids in the liquid is enhanced by adding sodium dodecyl sulphate, which causes immediate flocculation and settling. Dilution and expulsion of the supernatant liquid above the flocculated solids result in a safe fluoride limit."

"All that's rather boring, Tils," said Terri: "Could you just mix us up a few hundred litres of it?"

"Thank you for your interest. All right, I'll get onto it right away."

"Well?" asked Colin.

"She said she was thrilled to be able to help."

They continued surreptitiously to follow the Acid Man until he and his acid pool settled into their new hollow, not far outside of Elroy.

"This zeems to be da place," said Sheila.

"Quiet, Cleopatra!" said Terri.

"And I thought I was the joker in the deck," whispered Sheila.

"No, you're more like the clown at a bad kids' party."

"Why would they throw parties for bad kids?" asked Sheila.

"Quiet, Cleopatra!" said Terri, Colin, and Bulam Bulam.

More than ninety minutes later they heard the whir-whir-whir of Louie Pascall's Bell Huey approaching overhead.

The Huey started hovering directly overhead when Terri's phone started to ring.

"Get the Hell out if there, before we make the drop," said Tilly: "Half a kilometre should be safe."

Terri passed on the information. Then they started to run through the forest to get a safe distance before the neutralising agents were dropped onto the Acid Man's pond.

Looking back, at last, they saw the chopper lowering within a hundred metres, before, with a whoosh the slurry was dropped directly onto the acid pond.

Shrilling like a dying manatee the Acid Man rose to the surface, desperately struggling to escape what had now become his death pond. He struggled to climb out of the pond. But as the neutralising agent did its job, the acid content dropped in both the pond and the Acid Man himself, until he started to chip away, parts of his 'body' flaking off him until he had dissolved into the slurry, which ejected a massive plume of acidic fumes.

The chopper came in for a landing. Tilly in a full-body pale-blue plastic coverall climbed out to run tests upon the pool, also doing some filtering and adding further alkaline substances.

Finally receiving the all-clear to come forward again, Terri and the others advanced to the pond again.

"Hey, Tils, that's a new look for you," said Sheila: "It suits you."

"Quiet, Cleopatra!" said Terri, Colin, and Bulam Bulam again.

"Well, that seems to be the end of your Acid Man," said Tilly.

"I'll bill you," said Louie Pascall, before taking off again.

"So, how does this affect our police budget?" asked Sheila.

"Well, Sheils," said Terri: "If we get any more murderers natural or supernatural between now and July the first next year ... We're gonna have to sick you and your giant baton-cum-baseball bat after them!"

"Oh, boy!" said Sheila: "I always wanted to use that thing!"

© Copyright 2024 Philip Roberts
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
© Copyright 2023 Mayron57 (philroberts at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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