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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2314154
Nat, Holly, & Derrin must avoid being eaten by the Nan while trying to find Petra & Talia
January - 15,454 AD.
Approx. 9:00 PM
Preview of NAN 1:
By 15,454 AD, humanity had been usurped as the dominant species on Earth. Replaced by the Nan, hominid-like bear-like creatures looking midway between long-legged bears and short-ish gorillas. Savage carnivores who ripped their prey limb from limb, then ate them alive.

Earlier that month Natalie Coleman a pretty-ish pixie-cut seventeen-year-old brunette, and her sister, Holly, a redheaded fifteen-year-old had had a number of run-ins with the Nan. Including one at their place of work. While Nat had been out, Holly had been hiding in a cupboard in the supplies room. Returning from lunch Nat had hit the red button to bring down the steel mesh shutters and lock them into place. Unaware that she was locking two Nan inside the building. Finding the office trashed, with her boss killed, Nat had tracked down Holly and together they explored the basement where they found case after case of foodstuffs and household luxuries.

Then Nat had used a crude pellet gun to kill one of the two Nan inside the building and had managed to release the second one into Lonsdale Street New Melbourne where the building was situated.

"Did you get rid of it?" asked Holly, still munching upon some Cherry Delight, when Nat returned to the basement.

"Yep, I graciously allowed it to leave alive," said Nat: "Since the two times I shot one, I almost killed myself as well." Due to the recoil of the pellet gun knocking the air out of her.

"That was gracious of you," teased Holly. Finally starting to get over her terror at the day's events.

NAN 2:

"So how do we get all this stuff back to our place?" asked Holly Coleman. Still oohing and aahing at the rare chocolate treat.

"Well, for now, we take one small box each back to our apartment in Collins Street," said Nat: "Then tomorrow we spend the day shifting everything else. Then we lock up this place and keep it as an emergency hideout, in case we have to abandon Collins Street."

"So, we'll have two hideouts?" said Holly.

"Three, if we include the Swanston Street Plaza where Bertie was killed!" said Nat, referring to an elderly man who had saved Natalie's life. And from whom they had got the pellet gun and the large taco-sized pellets to fire in it.

"But there's a dead Nan in there. And probably a live one too."

"Oh," said Nat having forgotten they had left a Nan inside after finding Bertie dead. "Okay, well let's say we've got two safe houses for now. So let's grab a box each and get home before Petra and Talia do something dumb, like come looking for us."

"Good idea," said Holly. She picked up a box that she had already picked out while Natalie was in the foyer dealing with the second Nan.

Nat took ten minutes to select various foodstuffs to fill her box, then:

"Let's go," said Nat, leading the way up to the blood-strewn office, before walking down the stairs to the marble-floored foyer of the building.

Less than twenty minutes later, they had got down Lonsdale Street to Swanston, then gone down left to reach Collins Street and their home...

Which they found abandoned with the front door wide open!

"What the...?" said Nat as they tentatively stepped inside the three-room flat in Collins Street New Melbourne.

The place was a devastation zone with most of their wooden chairs smashed, their kitchen table had a metal leg torn off, their stove had been torn away from the wall, and their small fridge had the door torn right off. And what little food they had had inside had been purloined.

"The Nan?" asked Holly. Paling at the thought that their younger sisters had been eaten alive.

"Not likely," said Nat: "The Nan would have eaten them on the spot."

Looking around Holly saw that amongst all the mess the one missing element was blood. She exhaled in relief.

"Also they probably wouldn't have known that the fridge contained foodstuffs," said Natalie: "And if they did, they would have gobbled it all down on the spot. The Nan don't save stuff for later ... they're pigs."

"That's true," agreed Holly, putting her box down on the floor. "So what're we doing now."

"Eat some of our largess, then go hunt for Petra and Talia," said Natalie, turning to see a tall black youth standing in the doorway.

Seeing the two teenage girls, the youth spun around to race off, however, dropping her box of goodies, Nat raised the pellet gun and said:

"Stop, or I'll shoot!"

"'Stop, or I'll shoot!'" said Holly: "What B-movie did you get that out of?"

Looking as though he might run anyway, the youth finally stopped and said: "Not with that thing you won't. The kick on that thing would send you flying four metres backward into the wall."

"Yeah," said Holly, laughing: "I've seen it happen."


Taking a small ball-pein hammer from a tool belt that he was wearing, he said: "You need to use something like this to fire it."

"I used the heel of my shoe, and still went flying backward," said Nat.

"So who are you, anyway, handsome?" asked the redhead, making the tall man blush in embarrassment.

"Derrin Baiotto," he said returning the hammer to his yellow tool belt.

"Are you an Abo.?" asked Holly.

"Red!" cried Nat: "The term is Aborigine or Indigenous Australian! And does he look Aboriginal?"

"How would I know?" asked Holly unapologetically: "I've never met an Ab ... Indigenous Australian. And don't call me Red."

"So where do you come from?' demanded Natalie.

"Me personally?" said Derrin: "I was born in New North Melbourne. Before that my ancestors many centuries ago came from Zaire in Africa. They left when it ceased to be democratic, and ironically changed its name to the Democratic Republic of Congo."

"So where ya live, handsome?" asked Holly.

"On the streets. I saw the door open and hoped I could move in here?"

"Did you have anything to do with what happened here?"

"Holy...!" said Derrin, for the first time noticing the state of the flat - till then he had been mainly looking at beautiful Holly: "No way!"

"Then you had nothing to do with our two younger sisters being stolen?"

"No way, although I know there are some child slavers still functioning in New Melbourne," said Derrin: "There's a particularly slimy dealer in human misery in Lonsdale Street. Calls himself George MacDonald; though I doubt that that's his real name. And don't know his exact address."

"What!" said Holly and Natalie, exchanging a puzzled look. George MacDonald had been their employer, until being half devoured by the Nan earlier that day.

"What...?" asked Derrin.

They told the youth about working for MacDonald and finding his stash of edible contraband:

"He also had two three-drawer iron filing cabinets in his office. Which might be where he kept records of his worst dealings," suggested Nat.

"Then let's go check it out," said Derrin.

"Not tonight though, it's too dark," said Holly.

"Yes, you'd better stay the night here at least," agreed Nat: "But close the door first, so the Nan down come in while we're sleeping."

He went across to close it, just in time, as a Nan started to run across Collins Street toward them. Derrin slammed and locked all three bolts on the door, seconds before the bear-like Nan started hammering on the door shrieking its rage at having just missed out on its dinner.

"It can't get in, can it?" asked Holly.

"With that solid oaken door, and three thick bolts? No way?" assured Derrin. Happy however to have Holly snuggle up to him for protection.

"There's two king single beds ... " said Holly: "But we can snuggle up."

"Yes, we can," said Nat, grabbing the redhead's left arm to pull her away from Derrin: "But first let's get something to eat."

Picking up her box of stores she started rifling through it, saying: "I've got cans or cold baked beans, chocolate bars, some French loaves, margo, and stuff that needs cooking. What you got in yours Hols?"

"Oh, um, some stuff," said Holly evasively.

"What stuff," demanded Natalie going across to examine it: "Lipsticks by the dozen, eye shadow, face powder, eyebrow pencils... Hols!"

"Well, a girl's gotta look her best!" protested the redhead.

"Even a natural beauty like Holly can't let her standards slip," agreed Derrin. Receiving a smile from Holly, and a glare from Natalie.

"You do know she's only fifteen?" said Nat, trying to burst his bubble.

"And I'm only seventeen. So by Aussie law, we're legal together!"

"Yeah, we're legal together," agreed Holly.

"On your heads be it then," said Natalie. She went back to her supplies and handed them each a can of cold baked beans and a plastic spoon.

"Yuk, what else you got?" asked Holly after one spoonful.

"You'll find out once you finish that," said Nat: "Just because we got plenty at Lonsdale Street doesn't mean we can afford to waste good food."

"You call this good food?"

"It's better than nothing," said Derrin: "It's my first meal in two days."

Afterward, they had some Cherry Delight, or Blueberry Delight for dessert.

They then headed straight to bed, with Natalie having to cover her head with a pillow to block out the sounds of their lovemaking until Derrin and Holly had finally worn each other out and fallen asleep.

Early the next morning they had more baked beans for breakfast, followed by Greek-style vanilla yoghurt for dessert, before tentatively heading outside to look for Petra and Talia.

"Maybe I should carry the pellet gun?" suggested Derrin: "Since I'm stronger and can fire it without half killing myself."

"He is," agreed Holly: "I felt his muscles last night."

"And risk him killing us both!"

"I'd never kill you and Holly," said Derrin. Then teased: "You maybe, Nat, but never Holly."

A comment that made the redhead chortle with laughter and the brunette glare at him. Finally, Natalie said:

"All right." Grudgingly handing the pellet gun and half a dozen pellets to him. Then to Holly: "But on your head be it, Red, if he kills us both!"

"Don't worry," said Holly as they stepped out in Collins Street: "She says, 'On your head be it!' a lot." Making Derrin laugh and Nat glare at her.

They walked down to Swanston Street, then were almost up to Lonsdale Street when they heard the growling of Nan.

Turning to their right, they saw a single youth being torn limb from limb by two of the hirsute bear-like hominids. Derrin raised the pellet gun to fire at them, but Natalie stopped him, pulling him and Holly back into the shadowy front of the store they were standing near. As they knelt she whispered:

"No, we only have nineteen pellets left! We may need them all to find Petra and Talia."

"But we can't...!" started Holly.

"They've already torn his legs from the socket, he's going to die anyway!" insisted Natalie, as the Nan ripped his arms from his shoulders. Delighting as his life's blood shot across them, as they happily munched on his four limbs, while the legless-armless torso screamed as it bled to death.

"She's right," said Derrin: "We can't afford to waste three or more pellets."

So, doing their best not to listen to the limbless torso's horrid shrieks, the three teens squatted down, letting the bear-like Nan enjoy their meal.

After the horrors had finished eating and shambled off, Derrin hurried across to check that the torso was now dead. Prepared to use one pellet if necessary. But seeing the silent scream on what was left of the man's face, he hurried back to the two girls.

"Okay, lead the way," he said and they set out again.

Twenty-five minutes later they were outside George MacDonald's building in Lonsdale Street.

Nat used her key to unlock the small control panel to start the metal shutters rolling up into the ceiling. However, as soon as the shutters were up enough, they ducked low to enter the grey-walled, marble-floored foyer of the building. Then Holly slammed the red emergency button to bring the shutters down again.

Pointing to a small doorway, Nat said: "The workrooms are upstairs.

Moments later they were looking around the wreckage of the main workroom, before walking through to the ruined shambles of MacDonald's private office. Which consisted of a broken oaken desk, literally shattered in half, a broken PC monitor, a broken computer chair the deluxe model, and two grey-painted metal three-drawer filing cabinets, both lying on their sides.

"Here's hoping," said Natalie as they rightened the two heavy cabinets. Some of the drawers had opened, the rest Nat opened with keys from MacDonald's keychain, which she had purloined the previous day.

Fortunately, the files were grouped by activities: 'car theft', 'blackmail', 'people smuggling', and so on.

Taking out the thick folder on people smuggling, they started to leaf through it:

"Shit, there must be over a hundred contacts in it," said Derrin.

"More like two hundred," corrected Nat.

"So what do we do?" asked Holly.

"Well, we can rule out the interstate ones for now," said Derrin: "But we have to check the Victorian ones, starting with New Melbourne, one at a time."

"It could take months," protested Holly.

"So we take months," said Natalie.

"We've got nothing else to do," said Derrin: "Though it'll pay us to take some of the supplies from the basement so we don't have to hunt for food every day."

"Sticking to food items, no cosmetics, this time," said Nat, making Holly pout.

"Don't suppose you know the combination to that?" asked Derrin, pointing to the small, yellow safe built into the far wall of the office.

"Nah, I tried all the combos I could think of yesterday," said Nat.

"Well, stand back ladies," said Derrin, holding up the pellet gun.

Squealing, Holly raced out into the workroom, followed by Nat. Seconds later they heard the boom of the pellet gun, followed by the sound of the small safe crashing to pieces.

Returning to the office, they saw Derrin looking through the contents of the wall safe.

"Find anything interesting?" asked Holly.

"About twenty-thousand dollars in cash," said Derrin, handing them each a large wad of green hundred-dollar notes. "And this."

Sounding excited, he reached into the safe and pulled out a snub-nosed point-thirty-eight revolver.

"What is it?" asked Holly, mystified.

"A handgun, I think," said Natalie.

"That's right," said Derrin: "When I lived in North Melbourne, also known as Kangaroo-Land -- for reasons that I can't imagine since I lived there for fifteen years and never saw a single kangaroo -- you had to know how to fire one of these things."

"Can you teach me?" asked Natalie.

"Sure," said Derrin: "There's six boxes of spare ammo in the safe."

After considering for a few moments, they decided to practice in the workroom, where they found the perfect target: a framed photograph of Australia's last prime minister. And their first Albino 'black' prime minister.

"Okay, before you start shooting," said Derrin: "We first need to adjust our positions."

"Am I holding the gun wrong?" asked Natalie.

"No ... Holly and I need to get well behind you," teased Derrin.

"Yeah, even you couldn't shoot us standing behind you," said Holly before laughing.

"I could if I turned around and aimed," teased back Nat.

"Not without a couple of hours of practice," said Holly, laughing again.

As Holly had predicted, Natalie took nearly two hours, even with instructions from Derrin, and two full boxes of bullets before she was any good at shooting. Leaving them with four boxes of ammunition for defence.

"Okay let's go get some food to take with us before starting out," said Nat, leading the way down to the supplies basement.

When they got down to the foyer, they found two bear-like Nan waiting for them. Holding onto the outside of the steel mesh shutters snarling at them.

Looking at the two Nan, Holly pointed at one and said: "I think that's your boyfriend."

"You have a Nan for a boyfriend?" asked Derrin.

"No, he's been stalking me for weeks now."

"Okay, then here's your chance for some real target practice," said Derrin. He checked that his pellet gun was loaded and that Natalie had reloaded the point-thirty-eight, then said: "Holly, press the button to open the shutters, then stand well behind us."

Reluctantly, she did as instructed, then ran, almost sliding on the marble floor, to get behind them both.

"Don't shoot till they get close," said Derrin: "And leave the one on the right to me. You take out your boyfriend."

"He's not my..." began Natalie, shrugging.

At first, the two Nan continued to hold onto the metal shutters as they started to wind up into the roof. Then they let go and stepped back a metre or so, watching, perplexed as the shutters disappeared overhead.

When the shutters were two metres up, enough to let the Nan in without stooping, Natalie called:

"Come on boyfriend, afraid of meeting me at last?"

"That's the trouble with blind dates," said Holly from behind them.

As though sensing the challenge, the pig-snouted ursine Nan started forward tentatively into the foyer.

"Wait for him! Wait for him!" urged Derrin as the one Nan started forward. It's mate, however, stayed well out of the foyer, watching.

Finally, when the Nan was less than four metres ago, Derrin said: "Hold the gun in both hands and let him have it."

Doing as instructed, Natalie fired off two shots. The first went well wide of the mark. The second went through the creature's left earlobe, making it cry out in rage and pain. But doing no serious damage.

"You've got four bullets left. Aim carefully at his chest, and fire all four," instructed Derrin. Glancing up for just a second to make sure that the second Nan had stayed outside on the footpath.

Doing as instructed, she fired all four shots in quick succession. All hit the Nan in the chest but, despite staggering backward a little, the beast managed to stay on its feet. Even roaring at them.

"Reload and look out for the second one," warned Derrin.

Stepping forward he used the ball-pein wood hammer to fire the pellet tube at the Nan. Blowing a fist-sized hole through the monster. Which roared one last time before falling over backward onto the marble floor...


Roaring in anger the second Nan started into the foyer, then as they raised the handgun and pellet tube at it - not knowing both weapons were now empty -, the creature turned and raced off down Lonsdale Street toward Russell Street.

After lowering the metal shutters again, they decided to wait inside for a while to give the Nan time to escape.

"We might as well have lunch in here," said Derrin. Then to Holly: "What's the first address on our list?"

"First three are all in King Street," said Holly, as they headed back to the food store to eat.

"Then we'll check 'em one after the other," said Natalie.

When they reached the first King Street address there was a group of six Nan ripping to pieces four burly men who all looked like professional weightlifters. Not that it did them any good against the super-strong Nan. Who mercilessly ripped their arms and legs away from their powerful torsos, ignoring their agonised screams. Then began devouring the flesh and meat from the severed arms and legs, before starting to devour the living torsos. Finally, cracking open their skulls to devour their juicy brains. Which stopped the hellish screaming...

By killing the four men.

Hiding behind overgrown hedges across the road, the three teens watched in horror as the six Nan ripped apart and then devoured alive the four strong men. They had to watch for nearly an hour before the four monsters had had their fill and eventually departed. Leaving the skeletal remains behind.

"Let's go," said Derrin, leading the way across to the men. He searched the shards of their clothes, finding four new guns. Two nine-millimetre assassin guns, a point four-five-seven magnum, and a Smith & Wesson S&W500 a behemoth of a handgun.

He handed the other guns to Natalie to carry in her bag, then took the Smith and Wesson for himself.

"Hey, what about me?" complained Holly.

"We'll need to teach you both how to fire the nine-millimetre guns later," said Derrin: "The S&W500 is too powerful for either of you."

Instead, he handed the pellet gun to Holly, warning her just to aim it. Not to try to fire it under any circumstances.

Then they went inside, where they found three quivering bookkeepers, terrified that they were the Nan.

"Have any new girls arrived in the last twenty-four hours?" asked Derrin. He pointed the S&W500 at them for encouragement.

"Seven new girls, all in the back room," said one of the men, pointing.

"Thanks," said Derrin. Before shooting each of them in the head at point-blank range.

In the back room, they found seven girls, aged six to twelve, all dressed in undies or nightwear. But none of them were Petra or Talia.

"You're free to go home now, girls," said Natalie.

"What homes?" asked a twelve-year-old blonde: "Our parents sold us to these pervos."

"Shit!" said Derrin.

After talking it over, they decided to take the girls back to the basement food store at Lonsdale Street. After first shredding all the pictures of girls in the files outside and smashing to pieces the computer and monitors.

The second King Street location was bordered up. They forced their way in to find it recently abandoned. There were still files and pictures of naked girls, which they tore up and burnt in the middle of the office floor. Not caring if they burnt down the whole building.

The third address had a cast-iron door. They knocked but received no answer. Finally, in frustration, Derrin fired a couple of rounds from the pellet gun in the walls beside the door.

"What the fuck?" asked a burly gorilla-like thug lumbering out through the doorway,

Natalie grabbed the security door to stop it swinging closed. While Derrin gunned down the hood with the S&W500.

Then, after they had all hidden beside the outside wall of the building, Derrin fired two shots from the pellet gun randomly into the room.

They heard loud screams and metallic clangs as the pellets ricocheted around the small outer office, Then two goons raced out, with their hands above their heads.

Natalie gunned them both down, then she, Holly, and Derrin stepped into the office to see two more men dead on the floor from the pellet ricochets.

"What the Hell!" demanded a short, fat balding man who stepped out of the doorway from the outer office.

Derrin shot him dead, and then he and Nat entered the inner room, where they found a dozen more near-naked girls. Plus two salesmen and two very rich-looking pervo-customers.

They gunned the four men down, then took the girls back to the storage room in Lonsdale Street. After destroying all computer records and porno pictures again.

"Well, we're collecting our own fair share of under-aged girls," said Holly.

"It's a good thing there are no cops about anymore," teased Derrin: "Or else they'd probably think we were child smugglers and arrest us."

"Which does lead to the question, what the hell do we do with all the girls?" asked Natalie.

"We keep them here for now," said Derrin: "We've cleaned up the workroom upstairs, so they don't have to walk past the gore and debris. Then eventually we have to find somewhere else for them."

"Well, we might know a place," said Holly. She went on to tell him about the plaza near the corner of Swanston and Lonsdale Streets: "Assuming the Nan we locked inside has got out, or died."

"If not, once you two are proficient with the handguns, we'll go in and kill it," said Derrin: "Then we'll need to remove it's corpse before taking the girls there."

"Plus there's another Nan corpse there," said Natalie: "Plus the skeletal remains of an old man, who was a friend of ours."

"The Nan?" asked Derrin.

"The Nan?" agreed Nat.

Over the next seventeen days, they raided over fifty more child slavers. With more than a third of them abandoned. Others had already been raided by the Nan, with girls and traffickers alike torn apart and eaten. Their collection of under-aged girls had grown well past fifty. Although fortunately, some girls they freed did have homes to be returned to. But a disturbingly large number had been sold to the slavers by their parents or older siblings.

They had also collected a large arsenal, although they mainly now took the magazines or bullets from the guns, leaving the guns behind. Unless they found ones better than what they already had.

Derrin also spent time practicing with the new guns. As well as teaching Holly and Natalie, until both girls were proficient with half a dozen different handguns.

Each time they raided a new location, they carefully checked the files for Paula or Talia, without finding anything. Afterward they freed the girls, or took them with them, being sure to destroy all records and naked photos of them. Not concerned when they burnt down entire buildings. Or once in a back street an entire city block.

After nearly three weeks they were starting to think that they were going to spend years hunting down the two lost girls. Then two things happened at once. After raiding a place in William Street and killing most of the child-slavers, they found one ready to trade for his life:

"What information?" demanded Natalie, wondering why they hadn't already killed the snivelling little creep.

"Who's got your sisters, and how to get to him."

"Why should we believe you?" demanded Derrin.

Turning on his PC monitor, the man, D'Arcy Clover, printed out two coloured photos.

"Is that them?" D'Arcy asked, handing the photos to Holly.

"Petra! Talia!" cried Holly.

"So give!" demanded Derrin.

"His name's Dominic Alexander. Oh, and he's put a hit on you lot."

"What's a hit?" asked Natalie, suspecting it wasn't good.

"Most of the slavers you killed worked for Dominic. He needs to show his people he can protect them, so he's offered a reward in money, goods, or girls -- whichever they prefer -- for anyone who can kill you."

"So either we get him..." said Nat.

"Or someone gets you three for him. So do we have a deal?"

"How do we know you won't contact him as soon as we release you?"

"Because my dear, Derrin, you need my help to reach him. He lives in Glen Iris. Not that far from New Melbourne CBD. But a bugger to get to on foot."

"So how do we get there, fly?" asked Holly.

"No, in a car."

"Car?" asked Holly and Nat as one.

"A mechanical contrivance for travelling in," explained Derrin: "But those things need fuel to power them! Where do we get fuel from."

"From the tap," said D'Arcy: "For centuries the oil companies, then later the electricity companies laughed off the idea of water-driven vehicles. But at six-thousand degrees Celsius, water breaks down into its two component parts hydrogen and oxygen, two highly combustible gases. So the only trick was finding an alloy that could withstand six or seven thousand degrees to make engines out of. Then it was dead easy to make water-burning engines. Of course, the power companies stalled for centuries until no one could afford electricity anymore. So the car manufacturers went it alone and started making water-burning cars. Ending a thousand-year conspiracy between the car manufacturers and the power companies."

"And you've got one of these car things?" asked Natalie.

"Not personally. But my bosses, whom you just shot dead, do. Two in fact. A sedan, and a minibus. The sedan's big enough to take all of us. But for your sisters and any other girls we find, we'll need the minibus."

"So the minibus it is," said Derrin, as they reluctantly followed D'Arcy through the warehouse, where they found nine more girls.

"We'd better drop them off first," said Nat, explaining about their setup in Lonsdale Street.

After dropping the girls off in the basement, they filled the vehicle's fuel tank with water from a hose and then filled a water tank under three of the rear seats.

"For drinking water," explained D'Arcy, He showed them how to crank a small pump, to get the water flowing out of a chrome tap.

Then, finally, they set off in the white minibus for Glen Iris.

Dominic Alexander lived in a three-storey mansion on Brunswick Street New Glen Iris.

As they approached the mansion they heard roaring, then six Nan leapt out of the surrounding foliage and began chasing them. Although the Nan were unlikely to be able to catch the vehicle, Derrin opened the rear door of the bus and used the pellet gun to shoot down two of them. In the process scaring off the other four. Who shrieked their rage at the departing vehicle even as they stopped chasing it.

"Hopefully that will keep them away for a while," said Derrin, closing the rear door.

Stopping at the gate, D'Arcy and Derrin got out. D'Arcy pressed an intercom button on the bluestone brick fence and introduced himself, before saying:

"I've come to claim the reward for the three teenagers giving you all that static."

"You killed them?" asked Dominic Alexander over the com.

"No, I captured them. Thought you might like to kill the man personally. Also, the two girls are lookers, so I thought you might want to sell them on."

"Good work," said Dominic.

There was a metallic whine, then the metal gates swung open.

Returning to the Minibus, they drove through. As they stopped D'Arcy said:

"We can't just kill Alexander. We have to kill all of his staff too. Or else they could tell that I helped you lot."

"Fair enough," said Derrin.

"If all goes well, there a five grand bonus in it for you, D'Arcy," said Nat: "We got it from George MacDonald."

"You killed Old Smuck Donald?" asked D'Arcy.

"No the Nan obligingly did that. But we took his money afterward."

"Okay, you can rely on me. Dominic Alexander pays well, but he doesn't hand out five grand bonuses."

They had to go through a similar routine to get into a vast games room, complete with a full-sized pool table, marble floors, and mahogany chairs and drinks cabinet.

Behind the drinks cabinet, almost the size of an old pub counter stood a tall, dark-haired man with a large scar down the left side of his face. He was dressed impeccably in a white dress suit.

"So these the three brats that have caused me so much trouble," said Dominic Alexander, looking over Derrin, Holly, and Nat.

"That's us," said Derrin proudly.

The two girls had their hands folded behind their backs so that Alexander could not see the point-thirty-eight handguns they carried.

"Good work, D'Arcy. How do you want payment?"

"In girls," said D'Arcy as they had arranged.

"Antonio take him to the girls. He can have five. Now more than three under ten years old."

"Yes, boss," said Antonio, a hulk of a man, leading D'Arcy upstairs to where the girls were kept on the first storey.

"All that trouble you've caused me, just to get yourselves killed," said Dominic Alexander. Then to Holly: "Although, you I'll keep for my own use, Red."

Holding up the pellet gun, Derrin said: "She's my girlfriend. And she doesn't like being called Red."

Dominic Alexander laughed and said: "A pellet gun. Jesus, I haven't seen one of those since the last Nan War. We lost, in case you're not up on recent history."

Then, without pause, he raised a point-forty-five and shot Derrin twice in the chest at point-blank range.

Derrin managed to fire the pellet gun even as he fell backward, but the pellet went well wide shattering a wall-sized crystal mirror behind Alexander.

"Bastard!" said Dominic Alexander: "I inherited that mirror from my old man."

As he looked back at them Nat shot him four times with her handgun. While shrieking, Holly raced to help Derrin.

On the next storey, Antonio led D'Arcy into a pink-walled room filled with nearly fifty girls aged five to seventeen.

"You can take five. Not all young ones."

"No ... I think I'll take them all," said D'Arcy.

"But the boss said..."

D'Arcy raised his point-forty-five and shot Antonio in the head twice.

As the girls started to scream, D'Arcy shouted: "Calm down, we're here to rescue you."

"Who's here to wreckcue us?" demanded feisty seven-year-old blonde Talia Coleman.

"Natalie, Holly, Derrin, and me."

"Who's Derrin?" asked Petra, a twelve-year-old ravenette walking across to Talia.

"Holly's boyfriend," explained D'Arcy.

"Tolly doesn't have a boyfwend," insisted Talia.

"She does now." Taking the large photos from his coat pocket, he looked at them for a moment, then said: "You two must be Petra and Talia."

"Dat's white," agreed Talia.

"Are there any more employees in the house at the moment."

"Three more goons..." started Petra as a door opened and three men, built like gorillas in suits raced into the room.

"Relax, boys, it's me," said D'Arcy. Just before he shot them all.

"There's also a cook lady and a gardener," said another girl.

"We might let them live for now," said D'Arcy: "Okay girls, follow me. We've got a minibus to take you all to freedom."

Downstairs they found Holly and Natalie trying to staunch the bleeding on Derrin's chest.

"Shit, where's Alexander?" asked D'Arcy.

"Down there," said Nat pointing to where the racketeer had fallen behind the large bar.

Walking across, D'Arcy fired a single shot into Dominic Alexander's head then picked up an ancient-looking telephone.

"What's dat?" asked Talia.

"An ancient Field Telephone. They used it during the Nan Wars. If I can get it to work, I know a great doctor in this area." He started furiously turning a small lever on the wooden base of the phone before managing with some difficulty to get through to Dr. Jason Robinson."

Half an hour later Dr, Robinson had arrived and had begun operating as best he could upon Derrin.

"Can you get the bullets out?" asked Holly tearfully.

"Not a chance, they're in too deep. I'd only kill him for sure if I tried digging that deep. But I can fix him up so he'll recover in time."

"So you're your just gonna leave the bullets in him, Doc?" asked D'Arcy.

"Yes, but in twelve or fifteen years he could develop what will look like two large nipples on his back. That will be the bullets having worked themselves through him. Call me back at that time, and I'll be able to remove them at that time."

"So, is it safe to move him?" asked Natalie.

"Not for at least a month," said the doctor: "Till then he'll have to sleep down here. We can move a mattress for him to sleep on, on the floor down here. The question is the staff, will they help out?"

"The only staff here are a cook and a gardener, according to the girls," explained D'Arcy.

"What happened to Dominic's thugs."

"He happen to dem," said Talia pointing at D'Arcy.

"I couldn't risk them identifying me to whoever takes over the organisation," he explained.

"Well, I ain't gonna waste any tears over those goons," said the doctor/

"Me neiva," said Talia, making them all laugh.

"What about us?" asked one of the liberated girls.

"We've got temporary accommodation for you in Lonsdale Street, New Melbourne," said Natalie. She went on to explain about the food stocks they had located in the basement of George MacDonald's business rooms.

"Ooh Chocowait," said Talia.

"About two years' supply by our best guess," said Holly without looking around from where she was still holding Derrin's right hand.

"So who's coming to Lonsdale Street with me?" asked Natalie.

All of the girls put up their hands. Except Holly:

"I'm staying here with Derrin."

"I'll stay until he's well enough to move," said Dr. Robinson.

"I'd better go too, just to see the girls safely inside," said D'Arcy: "Will you lot be all right here, for a couple of hours, till we get back? If we leave some guns with you."

"Sure thing," said Holly.

At the Lonsdale Street hideout, Natalie said: "Petra you'll have to look after the stray girls till we find homes for them."

"Okey dokey," said the ravenette.

"Don't worry, every day or so Holly or I will be back to see if you're okay."

"Probably you," said Petra: "I doubt that Holly will leave his bedside till Derrin is back on his feet."

"Dat's for sure," agreed Talia.

"And we'd better take some supplies back with us," said D'Arcy: "In case the cook won't feed us."

"Good thinking," said Natalie: "And we'd better top up the fuel tank on the minibus to be on the safe side."

"How do you get fuel for that thing?" asked Petra.

"It runs on water," explained D'Arcy. He went on to tell of the thousand-year conspiracy the oil companies had engaged in to stop the world know how practical water-burning cars are.

The round trip to Lonsdale Street, then back to Glen Iris took almost three hours.

They carried two boxes of foodstuffs into the house, only to find that the cook, a bosomy matronly woman of forty-five or so, had made them chicken soup and lamb chops to eat.

"I'm paid to feed whoever's here, and I don't care who I feed," she explained practically.

"Any major problems?" asked Doctor Robinson.

"Other than having to shoot a couple more of the Nan, nothing," said Natalie.

"Ah," said the doctor a little guiltily: "Maybe it's time I unburdened myself and told you exactly what the Nan are."

"Are they aliens?" asked Holly, lying on the mattress on the floor, next to Derrin Baiotto.

"No, they're not aliens. They're..."


© Copyright 2024 Philip Roberts
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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