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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2312771
Ghosts of long-dead soldiers return to refight ancient battles
Dennis DuBeck was only a hundred and fifty-five centimetres tall, but as its founder and leader, he was a giant of a man at the LePage and Elroy Battle Re-Enactment Society. The society prided itself upon being able to re-enact any war. However, they had been gifted nearly seventy Roman gladiator costumes when a local costumery had gone bankrupt a few years back.

Thus, they were now made up as Roman soldiers out to conquer the Goths (whose costumes they'd also been gifted).

"Chief Centurion Dendemone," called Dennis's second in charge Kenneth Maudsley: "The Goths are rapidly approaching."

He pointed to where a herd of battle-ready figures were rapidly approaching from out of the sweet-smelling pine and eucalyptus forest.

"They're early," said Dennis falling out of character from surprise: "They're not supposed to be here for another..." Looking at his wristwatch: "Twenty-five minutes at least."

"Me thinketh they are planning a sneak attacketh," said Kenneth, who loved the role-playing, but wasn't too concerned about getting the historic speech patterns correct.

"Jesus, there must be hundreds of them," said Dennis, still well and truly out of character: "That bastard Harry is cheating again. He knows our rules forbid bringing in extras, without first getting approval from the Re-Enactment Council!"

"What doth though recommend Chief Centurion?"

"Run like Hell! The cheating bastard has us greatly outnumbered."

"Who's a cheating bastard?" asked Harold Merkle, the head of the Goth troops.

Looking around, Dennis was surprised to see Harry and his twenty-six Goth warriors behind him.

"Where the Hell did you come from?"

"Leroy, the same as always," said Harry tartly: "I have no plans of moving." Then looking past Dennis to the approaching warriors: "You cheating bastard! You've brought in hundreds of extras without presenting them before the Re-Enactment Council!"

"They aren't with me!" insisted Dennis.

"We thought you had brought them with you," said Kenneth.

"So, you thought I was a cheating bastard!"

"You usually are," insisted Dennis DuBeck.

"How dare you!"

Over at Deidre Morton's boarding house in Rochester Road, Merridale, they were just sitting down to a breakfast of crumpets, toast, porridge and treacle, plus some small pancakes Mrs. Morton had made as a special treat.

"Flap Jacks, I love flap Jacks," said Freddy Kingston. A tall, bald except for a Larry Fine-style ruff retiree, he piled five pancakes onto his plate. Then drowned them in maple syrup.

"In English, we call them pancakes," insisted Natasha Lipzing. At seventy, the oldest resident of the boarding house. A tall thin, grey-haired spinster, with a passion for murder mysteries, who took an almost ghoulish delight in any new murders that occurred in the Glen Hartwell to Willamby region of the Victorian countryside.

"As long as I've got a dram of rum on them, I don't care what you call them," said Tommy Turner. A reforming alcoholic, due to Deidre Morton having confiscated his stash and only allowing him one glass of alcohol per meal. So saying, he poured his dram of rum across the syrup that he had already drenched across his seven pancakes.

"You know you disgust us," said Colin Klein, a redheaded London Crime reporter. At forty-eight, he was currently on long service leave in Australia and was dating Terri Scott.

"I don't care if I disgust the Pope, as long as I get my dram of rum on my breakfast." He crossed himself as he said it, to be on the safe side, however.

"Trust me the Pope would excommunicate you if he saw how you soil the excellent meals Deidre prepares for us," said Terri Scott, an attractive ash blonde. At thirty-two she had recently been promoted to Senior Sergeant, making her the top cop of the Glen Hartwell to Willamby area. Turning to her assistant, she asked: "What do you say, Sheils?"

Sheila Bennett, a Goth chick with orange-and-black striped hair, as Chief Constable in the area, was the second top cop in the area. Ignoring Terri, she continued mouthing the words to a song playing through the headphones of her MP3 player.

"Sheils," said Terri, pulling the headphones off her head.

"What?" asked Sheila, between mouthfuls of vegemite crumpet.

"We were discussing how disgusting Tommy is?"

"So what? We all know he's disgusting. To misquote Descartes: 'Tommy's disgusting ... therefore he is!' Now may I go back to listening to my MP3."

"What are you listening to?" asked Colin Klein.

"Songs from my favourite group."

"The Devil's Advocates!" said everyone at the table.

"Oh, so you know, do you?" asked Sheila: "They've just released this great new song: 'A Theme for the Evil Empire'. She began singing it to them:

"Fight, fight, fight, fight

"Fight until we die.

"Cause we're killing Arab babies

"We're killing Arab babies

"We're killing Arab babies as ...

"We fight for Arab oil!

"Sound off!

"We kill!

"Sound off!


"Then there's a long marching beat drum solo, then a very similar verse two:

"Fight, fight, fight, fight

"Fight as babies cry,

"Cause we're killing Arab babies

"We're killing Arab babies

"We're killing Arab babies as ...

"We fight for Arab oil!

"Sound off!

"We kill!

"Sound off!


"I bet the Americans love it," teased Terri Scott.

"Nah, most of their radio stations have already banned it. And it hasn't even been released as a single yet."

"Still that'll probably make it go to Number One," said Colin Klein: "Being banned usually makes everyone want to race out and buy it!"

"Hey, you're right," said Sheila: "It'll probably be their first U.S. Number One! Their best so far is, '(I Love) Bianca Censor's Huge Phat Arse!', which got to number four in the U.K., and number seven in the U.S.A."

In the forest outside LePage, Dennis DuBeck, Kenneth Maudsley, and the other LePage and Elroy Re-Enactment Society members turned to run away, rather than confront the hundreds of battle dressers racing toward them. However, they could only go a few metres before crashing into an impenetrable wall. Like an invisible force field."

"What the Hell?" asked Dennis. He started feeling around the barrier in puzzlement, only to confirm that there seemed to be no way out.

As the new gladiators arrived their leader announced:

"I am Tullius of the Greater Roman Legion. We are here to refight the last day of a crucial battle against the Britons in our quest long ago to conquer Albion!"

"Good for you, mate," said Harold Merkle: "But we don't want any part of it; so we'll be on our way."

"Silence!" ordered Tullius: "None may leave the battlefield until midnight when the day's fighting is finished! Then those from the outside on the winning side may return to the living world. Those on the losing side are dead like us. Their corpses will return to the living world, but their spirits stay with us ... Fighting for eternity!"

"May we choose the side we are on? Or which war we fight?" asked Dennis.

"No! We choose the war and you fight on the side we have determined!" Tullius pointed down to their clothing.

Looking down they saw that their battledress had changed. Some were dressed as centurions; others as ancient Britons.

"What if the war does not end by midnight?" asked Dennis.

"All wars end by midnight, we always fight the last day of the war only. If we make changes that prolong the war, a winner is declared at the witching hour."

"He had to say it like that?" whispered Kenneth Maudsley.

"Can we change the course of history fighting these wars, so the Nazis conquer the world, or the South wins the Civil War and the U.S. still has slavery?" Dennis asked.

"No! We are fighting the spirit of the war only! The physical war has already been decided!"

"But we aren't spirits!" protested Dennis.

"Yes, you are!" Tullius pointed to where their physical bodies lay collapsed in piles upon the forest floor twenty metres away: "Those of you who are on the winning side return to your bodies, though any injuries you sustain here will stay with you."

"So we can still die?" asked Harold Merkle

"Yes! Those of you on the losing side stay with us. their bodies, with no spirit, are deceased!"

"What about your spirits if you are on the winning side? do you return to life too?" asked Dennis.

"No. Our bodies have been buried or cremated already!" said Tullius: "Now, prepare to die!"

He raised his sword and swung it at Dennis, who instinctively parried the blow, shocked by the power of the big man.

"Die, Roman dog," said Dennis thrusting his sword against Tullius's leather breastplate. To no great effect. The breastplate showed a small line where the sword had hit it. But Tullius did not even flinch.

"Is that all you have? Briton swine!"

"I'm an Aussie," corrected Dennis DuBeck.

"Silence, swine! You are a snivelling Briton."

"How dare you?" demanded Dennis going on the attack, forcing Tullius backwards to his obvious surprise.

"This isn't so bad," said Harold Merkle. Seconds before a Roman gladiator thrust his sword right through Harry's leather chest plate and into his heart.

"Shit, they're not..." said Harry, collapsing to the forest floor ... dead!

"Jesus," said Kenneth Maudsley, seeing his friend die before him.

"Blasphemer!" cried a centurion, Marnus, lunging toward Kenneth. Who parried effortlessly and struck Marnus's right wrist, breaking it.

Before the centurion could recover, Kenneth lunged forward and skewered him on this sword. Marnus fell to his knees, so Kenneth slashed his jugular vein, killing the centurion. And splattering himself in the phantom soldier's blood.

Lord, I've killed someone! thought Kenneth, narrowly avoiding being skewered himself.

"Briton dog!" cried another centurion, lunging toward Kenneth. Letting his anger get the better of him, so that Kenneth knocked his sword out of his hand, then lunged forward and pierced his heart with his sword.

"Two to one," called Kenneth. Then seeing that Dennis was in trouble, he raced across to defend his leader. And between them, they managed to force Tullius to retreat.

On and on the battle raged. Backs were broken, hands amputated, hearts were pierced by blades, and bellies were sliced open, allowing entrails, real and phantom, to spew out across the forest floor of red gum leaves and dried pine needles. Knees and elbows were shattered, forcing hellish shrieks from men and phantoms alike. One soldier, a phantom Briton, had both legs cut off at the crotch.

Hours later, with the field by then splattered with blood and body parts, Dennis backed away from a centurion and collided back to back with another man.

Spinning round, he found himself face to face with his brother Morty, dressed as a centurion.

"Look out," cried Morty. Lunging around Dennis, he stabbed to 'death' another centurion who was not one of the re-enactment society.

"How many of our people are left?" asked Dennis.

"About a dozen killed or seriously wounded," replied Morty.

"How many of us are on each side?"

"Best I can see about even spread between centurions and Britons."

"So either way, half of us are on the losing side," said Dennis. He repaid his brother's favour, lunging around him to kill a Briton who was not one of the re-enactment society.

"Traitor!" cried another phantom Briton, lunging at Dennis, knocking the sword out of his hands.

"Shit!" cried Dennis.

Before the phantom soldier could stab him, however, Morty stabbed his blade into the soldier's back, making him cry out as he collapsed to the ground, crippled. Then Dennis picked up his sword and slashed at the soldier's throat, being splattered by phantom blood.

Looking around, Dennis, now weary after hours of fighting, said: "God knows who's winning?"

"Don't ask me?" said Morty: "I know Kenneth and Marsha are still alive. They've teamed up like us, even though they're on opposite sides."

"Kenneth is getting the best of that team," said Dennis: "At two metres tall, and built like a brick shithouse, not many men are gonna get the better of Marsha."

"That's true," agreed Morty, as they returned to the battle. They still looked after each other as they killed centurions and Britons alike.

By the end of the day, all of the soldiers, phantom and human were weary, on the brink of collapse. Dennis, Kenneth, Marsha, a huge busty brunette the equal of any man in battle, and Morty had teamed up together to present an almost impenetrable circle against attackers.

Finally, at the stroke of midnight, Tullius, who had avoided Dennis and Morty, since they had almost defeated him, stepped forward to announce:

"The battle is over. In a reversal of history, I concede defeat to the magnificent Briton Army!" Shafting his sword he bowed toward Dennis.

"Fantastic," said Kenneth as the phantom soldiers vanished. Then he noticed that Morty and Marsha, and another twenty or so of their people had also vanished.

When they checked, they found that seventeen of their people had been on the winning side. Fifteen had been killed. Twenty-three had their bodies alive, but with no souls to animate them.

"Fifteen!" cried Dennis: "Fifteen!" Unable to believe that so many of his friends and work colleagues had been killed by the phantom soldiers.

Kenneth tried to comfort his friend and leader, but realising that his brother Morty was one of the soulless 'survivors', knew Dennis would be distressed for a long, long time.

Looking through their everyday clothing, Kenneth tracked down a mobile phone, while other members of the re-enactment society comforted Dennis and each other,

At Deidre Morton's boarding house, Terri Scott was lying awake on top of her blankets on a warm night. She wondered: Is it time to invite Colin into my bed? Let him take my virginity?

She was still wondering when a loud knock came at her door.

"Colin?" she called, half hopefully; half anxious.

"No, dear, it's me, Deidre," said Mrs. Morton: "There's a phone call for you from Elvis. Referring to Jerry 'Elvis' Green, the local coroner, not the ghost of Elvis Presley.

Climbing wearily from her bed, Terri scouted around for her slippers, then staggered toward the door. In her half asleep state not thinking to turn on the bedside lamp.

"Who is it ... on the line?" Terri asked sleepily, after opening the door.

"Jessie Baker," said Deidre Morton: "Something has happened outside LePage. He said people have been killed.

After speaking to Jessie on the phone for a few minutes, Terri hung up and then said: "You'd better..." Then turning she saw that Mrs. Morton had vanished.

A moment later, Deidre Morton returned, leading a yawning Sheila Bennett with her.

"I thought you'd need Sheila," said the old lady: "But since he's not on the payroll, I left Colin sleeping."

"Lucky bastard," said Sheila as she struggled to fully awaken.

"Wait a moment," said Deidre, as a sleepy Terri started after Sheila, still in her nightwear. Hurriedly, Deidre Morton helped her to dress in her police uniform.

Finally arriving at the site, Terri found Dennis DuBeck and Kenneth Maudsley arguing with Jesus Costello, Tilly Lombstrom, and Jerry "Elvis" Green.

"I'm just saying half of them are not dead, they just can't be revived!" insisted Dennis.

"Why not?" demanded Jesus. Pronounced 'Hee-Zeus', he was the chief administrator and chief surgeon at the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital.

"Because their souls are gone!" shouted Kenneth, as Terri and Sheila approached.

"Their souls are gone?" asked Tilly. An attractive fifty-something brunette, she was Jesus's second in command.

"Yes," insisted Dennis. Then between them, with Sheila recording it on her mobile phone, Dennis and Kenneth explained in depth what had happened at the site that day.

"Well, these wounds certainly were caused by very large blades, like a sword," admitted Elvis, the local coroner.

"Sounds like another wacky Colin Klein mystery to me," said Sheila. Careful to check that Colin wasn't there to tell her off.

"You've got to keep the living corpses chilled so they won't rot," said Dennis.

"Not necessary," said Tilly: "Apart from not being able to be awakened, all of their vital signs are normal. It's like they're in a coma, not dead."

Two hours later they were all at the Glen Hartwell Hospital, with Morty, Marsha, and the other comatose re-enactment society people in side-wards, while the corpses and body parts were in the morgue.

"So," asked Colin Klein, having finally been awakened by Deidre Morton: "are we believing or disbelieving the magical battlefield story?"

"Believing until we know otherwise," said Terri Scott: "Too many wacky backy things have happened in the G.H. area since the late 1970s, for us to risk the lives of two dozen people by not keeping them on life-support for as long as possible."

"Sound good to me," said Sheila Bennett: "Now let's go back to Mrs. M's for breakfast."

"I've already had my brekkie," said Colin.

"You scrounge," teased Terri, before saying: "Before we go to Mrs. M's, I have to arrange police shifts from dawn to midnight in the field where the massacre happened for the next five or six days. "In case of Tullius and co. returning."

The police shifts in the battle zone outside LePage lasted for six days.

On the seventh day, a group of American tourists were picnicking in the area.

"What a great holiday location," said Tammy Walters a dowdy fifty-something blonde.

"You're joking," moaned her older sister, Tamsin McKay. Equally dowdy, but with dyed purple-red hair: "We haven't seen a single Kola Bear, ee-moo, or Karngaroo yet! We could be in the States for all you can tell."

"Not with all these red gums about," said Collette Madsen. A beautiful Afro-American of forty-eight, who could easily pass for thirty-five.

"Yes," agreed her husband, Eddy, taking in a deep breath: "It makes a change from breathing in smog from L.A."

"Sez you," said Tamsin, refusing to be convinced.

"He's right, honey," said her husband Wally: "Just breathe in that sweet pine and eucalyptus aroma."

"You breathe it in. I'm happy with L.A. smog."

"Honey you cough like a five-pack-a-day person in L.A. And you don't even smoke!"

"So I cough a bit."

"Seems to me, you spend all your time complaining about L.A. smog when you're there," said her sister, Tammy: "Now you're complaining about Orstrala's sweet-smelling forest air."

The argument might have continued, if they hadn't noticed a cloud of dust approaching.

"What's that?" asked Tamsin.

"I don't know..." began Wally. Then as the dust cloud came closer he could make out the figures of horse riders in the dust: "Riders, must be ranchers."

"In this country, they call them stations, not ranches," corrected Collette. Who unlike the others always researched wherever they were going for their overseas holidays.

"All right stationers," corrected Wally.

"Don't be an idiot," said Tamsin: "They're station hands, even I know that."

But when the riders pulled up they were anything but station hands. They were dressed in full military uniform; from the U.S. Civil War. Some wore the grey uniforms of the South (Confederacy), others the blue uniform of the North (Union).

At the front of the procession, dressed as a general, Tullius announced:

"I am General Daniel P. Tullius. And you are now going to help me refight a minor, but relevant battle of the American Civil War, fought in Kentucky."

"Good luck to you on that one, buddy," said Tamsin McKay: "But we aren't part of your stupid war games re-enactment club. So count us out."

So saying, she tried to walk out of the battle zone, only to encounter the invisible force field Tullius somehow threw up around the area.

"What the fuck," she said, starting to feel all around the shield, looking for a break in the force field.

"What is it, honey?" asked Wally.

"We're trapped inside."

"What're you mean inside; we're outside?"

Going across to Tamsin, they all soon confirmed that they were trapped inside some form of invisible barrier.

"None may leave until midnight tonight, when one way or another the battle ends!" said Tullius. He went on to give them the same speech/explanation that he had given to the LePage and Elroy Battle Re-Enactment Society a week earlier.

"You," pointing at Tammy and Wally: "will fight for the Union, with me. The other three will fight for the Confederacy."

"If that means for the South, no way!" protested Collette: "I'm black; no way am I fighting for slavery!"

"You have no choice," said Tullius: "You fight for the South, or we shoot you down like dogs. At least fighting, you have some chance of survival."

"He's right, honey," said her husband, Eddy.

"You," pointing at Eddy Madsen: "are now a Major in the rebel army, and are the leader of the Confederate forces in this area. You must avoid being forced to surrender, or you and your confederates will be trapped in the Battlefield!"

"But we have no weapons," protested Collette.

"Look again," said Tullius.

Looking down they saw that they were in Civil War uniforms, complete with swords, handguns, rifles, and muskets.

"My Union troops will now retreat deeper into the forest, giving your troops an hour to plan strategy. Then the two sides must hunt each other through the forest and kill, or capture, each other.

"Captured troops are out of the battle and do not need to be tied up. They will be killed if they cheat and return to battle!"

Dismounting, he said: "To keep the battle fair, we shall go on foot also!"

"Okay, Major," said a powerfully built brunette: "What are your orders?"

"Firstly, who are you?" asked Eddy.

"Marsha Mitchell."

"How long have you been caught in this Battlefield circle?" asked Collette.

"About a week. Morty and I," she identified Morty DuBeck, who was standing near her: "We're part of a re-enactment society that got ringed into another battle seven days ago."

"Our side lost then, so we got stuck here," said Morty: "So if you can lead us to victory, we might still be able to be freed. Some of the troops have been here for centuries ... some fifteen hundred years or more."

"So, if their side wins, they can't escape," finished Marsha: "Since their bodies are long dead."

"Well, first things first," said Eddy: "Let's get the Hell away from here so that we're not too easy for Tullius's troops to track down."

"Good idea!" said Collette. As her husband gave the order to approximately a hundred and thirty men and women under his command.

By the time the hour was up, Eddy's Confederates were deep within the forest. And unbeknown to both sides, were actually behind Tullius, giving them a minor edge.

They searched through the forest for a while before Marsha, a skilled gamer discovered the enemy tracks.

"They're going forward, back to where we started," she said.

"Doesn't that give us an advantage?" asked Eddy.

"I'll say," said Morty: "If we can sneak up on them and mow down a few of their troops before they know we're there, we have thrown the battle a little in our favour."

"Isn't that unfair; shooting them in the back?" asked Collette.

"All's fair in re-enactment wars," misquoted Marsha. As they set out to carefully follow the tracks back toward the starting point.

"Slowly does it," advised Morty: "If it's a trap, we don't want to rush right into it!"

Tullius's troop had returned to the starting point to find Eddy's Confederates long gone.

"Excellent!" said Tullius: "At last some real competition, who might make a game out of it."

"There are tracks over here, general," said a subordinate, finding footsteps in the forest floor, from when the Confederates had started into the forest.

"Excellent! Let us follow them to victory!" ordered Tullius. Leading the march into the sweet-smelling pine and eucalyptus forest.

Tullius's troops had marched for half an hour, or so, when Eddy Madsen's Confederates stepped up behind them and opened fire. Slaughtering a third of the General's troops, before the Union soldiers could return fire.

"Surrender, or die, General!" ordered Eddy.

After a moment's hesitation, Tullius dropped his rifle and sword saying:

"Congratulations! This is the second time in a week that I have been defeated. The first time in three hundred years that that has happened."

"Now we're free to go?" asked Collette.

"All soldiers on the Confederate side, who still have living bodies to return to, are free to go," conceded Tullius!

"What about us?" asked Tammy Walters.

"I'm afraid that you were on the losing side. You must stay until you are on the winning side of a battle."

"What!" cried the five American tourists as one.

"Those are the rules. But," to Collette, Eddy, and Tamsin: "be grateful that you three are allowed to go. Along with nine other souls who were on the losing side of the last battle, but fought on the winning side today."

So saying, Tullius lifted his arms, and the Union soldiers, and Confederates without living bodies to return to, all vanished.

"Tammy!" shrieked Tamsin. Perhaps for the first time in her life, showing any real affection for her younger sister, as their spirits soared back into their bodies lying on the forest floor back at their campsite.

"Come on," said Collette: "We need to leave while we can." She started to pick up the rugs on the forest floor.

"And warn the authorities," advised Eddy. Not looking forward to being made a laughingstock. Nonetheless, he took out his mobile phone and tried ringing 911. After being advised to ring 000, he finally got through to emergency services. Who put him through to the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital. Then through to Terri Scott at the Mitchell Street Police Station in Glen Hartwell.

"They must already know," said Collette, as they started back toward their campsite: "If there was another battle here a week ago, with survivors to warn them."

"Assuming they weren't all locked up in a loony bin," said Tamsin McKay.

Over at the hospital, Dennis DuBeck, Kenneth Maudsley, and others were sitting by the bedside of the soulless sleepers. When suddenly the life support devices of some of them started to give off shrill screeches!

"Marsha!" cried Kenneth, thinking that the woman he had secretly loved for five years was dying.

"Out of the way," cried Annie Colfax, the Nurse-in-Charge. As she, Topaz Moseley, and half a dozen other nurses raced into the ward to check out the patients.

"Are they ... are they dying?" asked Dennis, still holding his brother's left hand.

"No ..." said Topaz a gorgeous platinum blonde in her early thirties: "I think some of them are waking up."

Opening her eyes, Marsha was startled to find Kenneth Maudsley hugging her, crying: "I love you Marsha, don't die! Don't die! Don't die!"

"Gee, you know how to embarrass a woman coming out of a coma," said Annie Colfax. A beautiful ash blonde in her late thirties; saying what Marsha Mitchell was thinking.

"Who's ready for one of Mrs. M.'s divine lunches?" asked Sheila Bennett. She was looking through some files in a three-drawer, grey-metal filing cabinet near the large oaken desk where Terri Scott sat talking on her mobile phone.

Hanging up, Terri said: "No one, it's happened again."

"Another battlefield war?" asked the redheaded crime reporter, Colin Klein.

"Afraid so."

"Not at the same spot?" asked Sheila Bennett as they headed outside to get into Terri's police-blue Lexus to head out to the battle zone.

"Yes, dammit, if I kept the guards on duty another day, we might have been able to prevent it."

"Or got ourselves killed fighting in the war," said Sheila, as she started the car.

"We're cops, we have to be prepared to risk our lives to save others."

An hour later, most of the soulless survivors had been transported to the hospital to be put on life support. However, Jesus Costello, Tilly Lombstrom, and Elvis Green were still looking at the survivors, both awake and a couple comatose, when Terri Scott and co. arrived.

"Elvis, Jesus, Tils," said Sheila Bennett by way of greeting: "How're they hanging."

"At our age that is an embarrassing question," said Elvis.

"You speak for yourself, " said Tilly, thrusting up her chest to show it off: "Mine are hanging just fine."

"That's the problem with chestalicious women," teased Elvis: "They can't help showing off."

Doing their best to ignore Elvis, Terri, and Colin interviewed the survivors, while Sheila took notes on her PC tablet.

So what's the plan now, babe?" asked Colin Klein, after the others had all been transferred to GH&DC Hospital.

"Now we resume the daily watches in the battle zone. But this time they go on for months if necessary, until the next battle starts ... or should that be 'restarts'?" said Terri.

Nine days later, Donald Esk, Jessie Baker, and Drew Braidwood were seated at the battle zone outside LePage. Jessie was a huge redheaded man, one of the sergeants under Terri's command. Donald Esk, another sergeant, was a hundred and ninety centimetres of solid muscle, with dark brown shoulder-length hair. Drew was a constable, a tall gangly man, with long stringy blond hair.

All three men were sitting on deck chairs with magazines and books to read, plus water bottles. Careful to keep their mobile phones handy in their breast pockets.

"Looks like it's going to be another bust," said Jessie Baker as it reached noon.

The three men reached for plastic bags to get their lunches, when they noticed a dust cloud approaching from the east.

"This could be it," said Don Esk, reaching for his mobile phone. He started to dial Terri's private number ... when his phone suddenly went dead. "Shit, the battery must be flat!"

Drew and Jessie grabbed their phones but had the same result.

"You won't need those!" said Tullius after the phantom army reached the three cops.

"But we do," insisted Drew: "Our Chief, Terri Scott wishes to meet you."

"She wishes to take part in your battles," said Jessie.

"Why should I allow that?" demanded Tullius.

"Why would you not?" asked Jessie: "Terri is an honourable officer, the chief police officer in the Glen Hartwell to Willamby area. If she gives you her word, she will keep it."

Tullius considered for a few moments then said to Jessie: "Very well, you may contact her."

Half an hour later Terri, Sheila, Colin, Stanlee Dempsey (a tall wiry raven-haired sergeant), Bulam Bulam, and three other local cops had arrived.

Tullius repeated his speech at length, ending with: "Agreed!"

"How long will these battles go on for?" asked Terri.


"They cannot go on forever in this area. What do we need to do to convince you to stop, or move to Europe or another part of the world?"

He considered the question, looking at them. Finally, Tullius said: "Very well, there are eleven of you. So I will change the rules: your eleven fight in the battle against myself and my best ten men. If we have not defeated you by the break of dawn, even if there is no clear winner, we will leave Terra Australis and return to the Northern Hemisphere."

"Very good, I accept your terms," said Terri, wondering how the Hell they were going to defeat Tullius and his best ten men. Or at least go unbeaten, hopefully without any of them being seriously injured, or worse, killed: "But if we are undefeated, you must also release the souls of all the American tourists and LePage and Elroy Battle Re-Enactment Society members who are still with you."

"What!" demanded Tullius, outraged.

At first, they thought that he would refuse. Finally, he said: "Very well, Terri Scott. You fight a hard bargain. I see now why you are in charge of the local police forces."

"I think that was a compliment," whispered Sheila Bennett as Tallius and his ten soldiers vanished into the woods.

"So what war are we fighting," asked Don Esk. Reaching for his handgun, he found that he had a stone axe instead. He asked: "What weapons has everyone got?"

Looking about themselves, they found that they had boomerangs, plus woomeras to throw them with, wooden spears, and stone knives and axes. They were also dressed in animal hides and were barefoot. Also, their flesh had darkened to almost night black.

"Hey, we've become natives," said Sheila Bennett.

"Aborigines, more correctly," said Bulam Bulam a friend and pro rata native tracker, whom they had carefully included in their eleven.

"And if that is Mount Wanderei," said Terri, pointing to a mountain not far away: "We are refighting the slaughter of sixty Aborigines by settlers in 1939 in the Mount Wanderei Massacre."

"And we're the Aborigines," pointed out Colin Klein: "So we need to reverse history to get out of here alive!"

"Bulam Bulam," said Terri: "We need you to start tracking, to see if we can find their camp."

"I'm on it," he said, starting to look around for any sign of tracks.

They had barely started out when they suddenly came face to face with two of Tullius's men, dressed more like early American settlers in coonskin hats and moccasins, than Australian settlers.

Without hesitation, Sheila, an experienced archer and discus thrower, hurled her spear, which went straight into the heart of one man.

"Abos!" said the second man. He raised his rifle toward them.

Jessie Baker threw his spear and missed by a metre. However, it threw off the settler enough so that Sheila had time to grab her boomerang. She unleashed it straight at the settler.

With a loud crack, the boomerang shattered the settler's Adam's apple, dropping the man to his knees, where he asphyxiated to death in a couple of minutes.

Ignoring the settler's death throes, Sheila raced across to retrieve her boomerang and pull her spear from the chest of the first settler.

"If only we had nine more Sheilas here," said Colin, wishing he had the Goth policewoman's sporting prowess.

"Don't be greedy, isn't Terri enough for you?" teased Sheila.

"Maybe, we can win this," after all said Terri. Just before being shot in the right shoulder. As she collapsed, Sheila hurled a stone knife, which smashed in the skull of a third settler, who had stepped out from behind a gum tree.

Then as Jessie and Stanlee rushed to help Terri, Sheila raced across to retrieve her stone knife, the settler's gun, and spare ammunition.

"How is she?" asked Colin. Now holding the handgun as Jessie and Stanlee attended Terri's wounds.

"She's not going to die any time soon," said Stanlee: "But we can't afford to keep fighting till midnight. We need to finish this as soon as possible."

"Okay," said Colin, holding up his handgun: "So I guess it's up to me and Sheils to attack their camp."

"Take them by surprise," said Sheila, smiling.

"In historic accounts of the massacre, the Aborigines ran in a panic, unable to compete with the muskets, rifles, and handguns," said Jessie Baker: "So with any luck, they won't be expecting us to attack them."

"Good thinking," said Terri, trying to ignore the agony in her shoulder.

Moving aside, to allow Donald Esk to help with Terri, Jessie picked up three spears and said to Colin: "So when are we going?"

"No point waiting," said Sheila, leading the way alongside Bulam Bulam as the four of them set out.

It was twenty minutes before they reached the campsite. Where they saw only three settlers near a stand of guns.

"There should be five others as well," whispered Colin.

He led the way as they crept around behind the animal hide tents. Cutting the twine at the back of the first tent, they peeked inside.

"No one," whispered Jessie, being shushed by Colin.

At the second tent, they found one settler loading his musket. Without entering the tent Sheila threw her spear and killed him.

They sneaked into the tent to retrieve her spear and also a handgun and some cartridges. Not bothering with the musket.

In the final tent, they found another man, who Sheila dispatched again.

Then they took his rifle and handgun so that all of them had guns.

Looking out the flap of the tent at the three men standing around, Colin said: "Let's go get 'em."

So saying, they rushed out of the tent and opened fire, killing all three settlers before they could react.

"That's eight down and three to go," said Sheila.

"And my gut instinct tells me we need to get back to Terri and the others," said Colin Klein, as they retrieved another handgun and two rifles from the dead settlers.

"You think they're headed that way?" asked Jessie.

"Well, they're not here," pointed out Colin as they raced off into the jungle. Trying to follow their own footsteps back to Terri and the others as quickly as possible. Not bothering with subterfuge any longer.

"Firing," said Paul Bell, a thin raven-haired sergeant, back at the tree that they were using for shelter, as they heard shots in the distance.

"Yes, but who's shooting whom?" asked Drew Braidwood.

"Let's hope Colin and the others..." said Terri Scott, before passing out from blood loss.

"Shit, we need to end this immediately," said Stanlee Dempsey.

"What do you suggest?" asked Donald Esk, checking Terri's pulse, to confirm that she was still alive.

"Abos!" cried a voice from behind them, fifteen minutes later.

They span around as one of the settlers pointed a musket toward them.

Donald Esk threw a boomerang wildly, it missed the settler by a metre. But startled him enough so that his shot went wide of the mark.

"Get him, before he can reload," called Stanlee Dempsey.

Paul Bell and Drew Braidwood raced across to tackle the settler. Then used the butt of his musket to club him unconscious.

They then tied him up with a grotty-looking kerchief that he had worn around his neck.

"I believe this is end game," said Tullius and his last settler. Stepping out of the woods, holding rifles upon the policemen.

From behind him, Colin Klein shot dead his one remaining settler with his rifle, then said: "Yes. But for us!"

Turning, Tullius saw Colin Klein, Sheila Bennett, Bulam Bulam, and Jessie Baker all holding rifles upon him!

"So it seems," conceded Tullius, dropping his weapon.

"You remember your promises to release the tourists and re-enactment society people also," said Jessie Baker.

"And to leave Australia forever," said Stanlee Dempsey.

"After losing three out of three battles in this continent, in just over two weeks, I have no desire to stay in Terra Australis any longer conceded Tullius."

He raised his hands and they flew back to their bodies, while Tullius and his phantom soldiers vanished, to return to the Northern Hemisphere."

As the remaining soulless patients in the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital awakened suddenly, Jesus Costello said:

"Looks like Terri has won her final battle against the phantom soldiers?"

"I expected no less!" said Elvis: "Tare knows her job."

Two hours later they had collected the other cops and Bulam Bulam from the battlefield. And an air ambulance had brought Terri, and Colin Klein to the hospital.

"You beat them then?" Tilly Lombstrom asked Colin Klein after Terri had been operated on.

"More correctly Sheils beat them," said the redheaded reporter: "When they invented the term 'warrior chick', they had Sheila Bennett in mind."

"I know my stuff," conceded Sheila, grinning broadly.

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