“Now that, ladies and gentlemen,” says bar manager Herm, as he puts the empty glasses on the table, straightens his waistcoat, puts his hands on his hips, and looks out of the window, “that is a peanut pretending to be a cashew.”

The regulars, including Joey who’s half the age of most of them, gather at the window to see what Herm is looking at. It is late on an early Autumn afternoon, and wobbling down the footpath on a rickety old bike that looks to have been too hurriedly repainted black – perhaps as if to disguise its previous identity – is a well-known local figure; sitting erect, head held high and trying to show all the regal airs and authority of the Governor-General, he is barking at the homeless sprawled on the ground before him, to make way for his presence. His hair, facial stubble and appearance looking uncannily similar to a celebrity chef whose name graces the Business/First Class cuisine served on a national airline, he is just another quirky character passing by Fractal City’s Senior Citizens Kinetic Investments Network Terminals (SCKINT) centre. But then the 9 or so pints purchased on his yet-to-be-paid tab, over the hill at the Club, start to take their toll: as if in triple-slow motion, both he and the bike slip from perpendicular to horizontal. Behind the triple glazed window, the onlookers can’t hear the commotion. But they can see arms, legs and wheels poking out of the upturned wheelie rubbish bins, and several bags of been-on-the-shelf-too-long, half-priced Woolies hot roast chickens, and bags of half-priced buns, slip out of the bike’s panniers onto the grotty footpath.

“Oh yeah, him,” says one of the regulars.

Another: “Hey, is he still selling his signature ‘triple smoked baguette poulet’ down on the Waterfront?”

Someone answers: “Nah, I heard he got the flick from that place. They say he’s been in some hot water lately. But I dunno for sure. You know how people talk at the Club. I believe he’s now pretending to be a dog lover and hanging around that popular joint up the road, wanting to rename it the Dobermann Pinschers Bar.”

An old timer: “Well, he won’t be getting up to any mischief around here. Those blokes from Black-Houlihans Security Group” – he nods at the leather-clad cyclists lounging around outside the SCKINT entrance on their fully refurbished dragstar and chopper bikes – “would soon drive him and his old bike right outta town.”

Herm is now back behind the bar and is meticulously wiping down the benches and beer taps. As usual, with his impeccable presentation and professional approach, he is the very essence of a high-class barman who would be be more at home creating cocktails in the Sofitel Paris le Faubourg, or perhaps the exotic Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Siem Reap.

“Let me tell you folk a story of when I was a kid,” says Herm. The regulars eagerly gather closer to the bar, so the mesmerising noises from the SCKINT’s “investment terminals” machines fade into the background. Even Joey’s girlfriend, Epiphany, places an “in use” placard on her machine and joins Joey at the bar for the story.

Herm begins …

A long time ago, in the bush far far away, up on the northern border rivers, I had an aunt who married a local farmer. He was a kindly man, a simple country man, who worked very hard from before sun up to after sun down, tending to his various flock and bountiful orchards.

One day, while the Farmer was trying to find out what had been stealing from his walnut grove, he stumbled on a stray goose gobbling the choicest fruit from the strawberry patch down in the creek glen. Being a man of the land and all, Farmer didn’t like to see animals hungry and homeless, so he took the goose in and placed it in the chook yard. After all, he reasoned, it’s better to have a goose among the chickens than a snake or a fox. As is the wont of farm folk, he decided to name the creature after where it was found, down in the glen – so it became known simply as the Glen Goose.

Over time, as these creatures are known to do, Glen Goose started to take control of the chook yard. Even the irritatingly noisy Greco bantam was soon relegated to the background as Glen Goose “ran the roost”.

Farmer wasn’t too fazed at first. But Glen Goose just got noisier, angrier and bossier. Most days were spent over at the apple orchard, slowly getting smashed by eating the fermenting fallen apples under the trees. Then Glen Goose would come back to the chook pen and cause a huge stir, urging on the old chooks to misbehave and peck at the heels of the caring, benevolent Farmer as he tried to feed them and clean up after them.

But the Farmer would just shrug and put up with it. Life on the land isn’t easy, anyway. However, Glen Goose wasn’t satisfied with being boss of the chooks. He liked to “collect” things. He started to hang around the farm house, peering through the open kitchen window and trying to sneak into the kitchen at every opportunity. Now, this did not sit well with Mrs Farmer. Coincidentally, things began to disappear: freshly cleaned trout from the fridge; pineapples from the pantry, and so on.

When her best set of carving knives vanished one day, Mrs Farmer was furious. Rightly or wrongly, there was only one suspect. It looked like Glen’s Goose was cooked, as they say. But fortuitously a friendly old geezer down the road just happened to “stumble” on the knives and they were returned. All was forgiven. But not forgotten.

Trying to earn an extra quid – and to appear tourism savvy – Farmer started a “farmgate produce” business. Mrs Farmer offered for sale jars of her regionally famous green tomato relish; baskets of field mushies; punnets of strawberries; boxes of apples and so on. Glen Goose zeroed in on all this new activity, and started to annoy the visitors by rummaging through their bags and possessions, irresistably drawn to shiny gold trinkets and things. Then, when Farmer was busy explaining to a busload of Chinese tourists, the finer aspects of growing chillies with tomatoes, Glen Goose helped himself to the artisan goats meat sausages sizzling on the barbecue – he just up and took over control of that barbecue as if it was all his own. Do you reckon Farmer was pissed off…

Banished briefly to the paddocks as punishment, Glen Goose put on a show of outrage. Following an all-day session on the fermenting apples, he would poke his beak throught the fence and gate, squawking to the old chooks to jump over and join him on the outside. Okay, the chooks may be better known for sharp claws than sharp minds, but they weren’t stupid. Why give up a regular, routine existence for the promise of a wild goose chase? Farmer, as usual, would just look sadly at Glen Goose, shrug his shoulders, and get on with his farm work.

From the moment Glen Goose was allowed back inside the chook pen, he was flat out agitating. He would honk, bark, cackle; he would smack the old chooks over the head with his wings; he would chase any visitors; he would viciously bite Farmer’s legs; the situation was becoming intolerable.

Every day, Glen Goose would get tanked on the fermented apples and then poke his beak into a hole he had opened in a huge hession bag full of lime powder in the farm shed. His pointy beak and fat little face all smothered with the lime powder, his eyes all wild and the color of cerise, his wings spread menacingly, Glen Goose would exhort the chooks to rise up and overthrow Farmer in a coop coup.

That was it. Farmer had had enough. He went to the wood shed, came back with an axe, and chopped off the head of Glen Goose. They all ate well that night, including the chooks. And that was the end of that.

“Wow what a good story, Herm,” says a regular. They all nod in agreement, and then wordlessly return to drowning their daily sorrows in cold beer and memories of their own past glories. Joey and Epiphany go back to her “investment terminal” machine. An annoyingly loud, raspy Aussie-Greek voice from somewhere among the banks of whirring, ringing machines, calls out: “Hey, what happened to that bag of lime powder?”


The two Marketing/Publicity account executives step out of the entrance to MMedia Tower, struggling in high heels and both with one hand clutching an iPad and the other desperately holding onto their hair bun in the precinct’s notorious wind tunnel.

“God, how on Earth am I expected to market this?” asks the platinum blonde. The more senior, and much taller, redhead has a more pressing problem: “Oh My God, my 5 o’clock shadow is starting to show. Did you bring your L’Oreal compact, you know the Super-Blendable?”

Blonde: “Yeah love, it’s in the car. Look, I just don’t know how I can make this idea fly. I mean, you know, this is seriously ‘off’. This Pic Editor is weird.”

Redhead: “Oh darling, yes I know. A conversation with an MMedia editorial executive is about as deep as the shallow end of the toddlers’ pool. Oh my god, look at my hair – I’m going to have to buy one of those divine Miranda white hair bun covers.”

Blonde: “Tell me about it! But, seriously, how am I supposed to package this: The ‘Black Label Digital Motion Membership Package’ with exclusive digital access to the Pic Editor’s own collection of motorsport fatalities in pics and video on NewsMachina. God, the Pic Editor even boasted to me, how he’d spent years collecting and curating his own gallery of motorsport crashes and deaths. Darling, is that sick or what? I almost threw up my free lunch kimchi…”

Redhead: “Darling, yes, ewwwww. How hideous. Who’d be a sponsorship partner in that? Perhaps try a ‘soft opening’ to the campaign, in stink ink, and see how the metrics stack up. I mean, you know, of all the issues and opportunities to promote, what with Food Corp and Escape Corp and Fashion Corp and all of these really serious social media trend setters, why this obsession with car racing. And morgue pics. Hideous. If circulation and PayTV are crashing that bad, can’t they push the Government into another little war? There must be heaps of little places we can bomb overseas. And we still have that boots-on-the-ground marketing stencil, we could deploy in a flash. That’d give the CEO his bonus.

Redhead continues: “Darling, if it’s any consolation, next week I have to scope the entire MMedia strategy for the ‘mea culpa understanding’ on the Manus Island debacle. I so need a full body exfoliation. And look at my hair. I have a volunteer shift at the LBQTI Centre tonight, AND my partner starts footy training. God, this job will be the death of me.”


It’s 8.45am on the second Tuesday of the month, and dozens and dozens of homeless have gathered in the unseasonally chilly Autumn morning outside the old mission church near the top of Fractal Hill. Like clockwork, the same as every month, their “saviour” pulls up in his old second-hand car. The mob forms a kind of orderly disorderliness: the druggies’ hissing and spitting subsides; the Tourette syndrome sufferers stop abusing passing motorists; supermarket trollies overloaded with “acquired” goods are parked out of the way.

With the car door open, Saviour begins dispensing his largesse: exactly 5 cigarettes each to every person in attendance. Saviour has been doing this ever since he struck good fortune all those years ago. Himself living on the streets at the time, he was poking around the overgrowth and rubbish next to a train station at a neighboring suburb when he discovered a container full of money – rolls of notes mostly in large denominations. As all on the streets knew, there was a good chance – an exceedingly good chance – one could arguably assert that it was almost a known fact – that ownership of the “stash” might be traced back to a nearby pizza joint that specialised in a special line of “organic” home delivery pizzas, long before organic was fashionable. Apparently, the oregano was quite special and expensive to source.

Anyway, Saviour, being no drongo, handed in his “find” to the local constabulary. Under the glare of the accompanying media publicity about the remarkable find, the police were careful – not so common back then – to keep the cash safe under lock and key. No legitimate owner came forward (though many tried, someone even claiming to be Dr Who said he accidently dropped the container out of his TARDIS) and, after the allotted time had expired, the money legitimately became the property of Saviour. It is said that Saviour, using his nous honed by years of living on the streets, went back to the same spot and found a second container of cash…

Now, at 8.45 in the morning on the second Tuesday of every month, Saviour returns to the mission church in his old, dented, battered and scratched car, and shares some of his good fortune with the homeless, hopeless, helpless and downtrodden. It is a scene not unlike one that played out two thousand years ago on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. That occasion reportedly involved the dispensing of loaves and fishes; today’s requirement is tobacco cigarettes. High above them, mounted atop a dominating tower, a statue of Christ of St Fractal looks benevolently down upon them…


FRACTAL CITY: in the end the machines will win [Episode 1]


“… in the end THE MACHINES will win”

Episode 1: Joey and Epiphany


“God it’s hot,” she mutters as she enters the one-way lane, swatting away several flies that shouldn’t still be lingering this late in the Autumn. “Piss off, u little shits. And HIM! He doesn’t appreciate me. He’d be nothing if it wasn’t for me…”

She slows her pace and looks down at her well-worn, faux leather, open-toed shoes. The surface is uneven on the roughly hewed, blue-stone back alleyway. Discarded orange caps litter the shadows, along with used dingers and crumpled Macca’s drink cups. Fortunately, though, she can’t see any guns. So she picks up the pace a little.

Looking up, she freezes in mid-stride: “What the fffffff….”

It’s only about 3 metres in front of her, hovering at head high, staring straight at her. A big, black, remote drone. A nightmarish shade of black; as black as the heart of a dumped lover. Small red lights shine like sinister eyes. Two long, lethal looking needles protrude from pods on each side. A note hangs underneath: “PUT YOUR BAG/WALLET/MOBILE ON THE GROUND. NOW!”
The message is repeated in Vietnamese, Mandarin and what looks like Somali.


Perspiration in trickling down the middle of her back; her chest feels so tight she struggles to breathe; her head feels ridiculously light. She stands dead still, then darts a glance over her right shoulder. Blocking any retreat back down the lane are 2 smaller drones, both colored black with a red line down the centre, each also sporting a long needle.

“Oh double fuck.”

Then…. BANG! Seemingly out of nowhere swoops a huge, white blur that smacks into the black drone, sending it spinning into the side of an old, red brick wall lining the lane. Shattered but not entirely stuffed, the black drone limps up and over the fence, making a low whining noise and with bits hanging off. Its 2 smaller companions shoot off in opposite directions.

She looks at her “saviour”; her “hero”; her “Knight in Shining Armour”. It’s a huge, white, remote drone, bulked up on the sides with some sort of extra padding; its souped up motor emits a low, warm, steady timbre that gives a sense of security and comfort. It slowly tilts forward, as if politely nodding to her, then steadily lifts up and flies back towards the old apartment towers facing Fractal Beach.


She runs up to him, bends slightly over to catch her breath, and points behind her: “You’re not gonna believe what just happened to me!” She stops to gulp in air and cough out last night’s “bong residual”…

“Shhh,” he snaps at her, while fidgeting, “Here he comes.”

A nondescript looking bloke in a ubiquitous hoodie, ubiquitous cammo shorts and ubiquitous trendy runners, emerges from the Senior Citizens Kinetic Investments Network Terminals. Known locally as the SCKINT, the refurbished, once-historic building proudly displays its Mission Statement over the entrance: “This joint initiative of the Four Big Banks and the Coalition Government, helps our retirees and superannuants put their savings into a flexible, pivotable, dynamic, and pro-active speculative environment that promotes finanacial growth with security.* (*General advice only and this may not suit your individual needs. See the Product Disclosure Statement)”
It’s full of poker machines.

The bloke saunters along the footpath, looking left and right.
“Hey Snuffles, what’s the craic?”

They do the ritual reverse handshake-hug-backslap.

“Hey Joey,” says Snuffles quietly and, swiping at the air, adds: “Who invited these fucking flies. Summer’s over, haven’t they downloaded the update.”

Snuffles then nods in the direction of Joey’s companion, who’s engrossed in mer mobile.

“This is just the missus,” responds Joey.
She waves with her right hand, “Hi, I’m Epiphany. Everyone calls me E.”

Snuffles: “Cool. Joe and E … Joey. Easy.”

Joey: “Yeah, hey Snuffles have u got anything? I’m hangin’ for something. It’s been ages…”

Snuffles shrugs, “All dried up. Nothin’s comin’ in, but whippets. Just got me own. Got some weed tho, good shit, kicks arse, best goin’ around.”

Downcast, Joey looks glumly at his feet and tries to smother a short cough: “That’s cool but, man, what I’d give for a good buzz right now.” He glances up again at his erstwhile “benefactor”, still hopeful…

Snuffles knows he’s now got him on the hook, and puts on a fake grimace: “OK, look, (he sighs) I can give u some of me own. But it cost me a heap to get, so…”

Joey brightens up: “Yeah yeah, no worries. I got 5 Green from the job I just finished…”

Snuffles initiates the farewell ritual reverse handshake-hug-backslap and Joey slips the roll of notes into Snuffles’ pocket. Snuffles: “Visit Ros. Behind the panel door of the fire hydrant in the wall next to the Tea Palace backpackers, in 20 minutes. Take care, dude. Good to meet ya, E.”

Epiphany, now inspecting this morning’s paint job on her righthand fingernails, looks up: “Likewise dude, cheers.”
Joey: “Man, u rock!”

As Snuffles disappears up a one-way lane, E elbows Joey to get his attention. Joey, busy texting on his mobile, barely notices: “Yeah, what?”

Epiphany: “As I was telling u, on my way to here and the SCKINT” – Joey interjects: “Fuck, you’re blowing too much on those pokies!” – she scowls, and continues: “I was in an alley when this fucking drone stopped in front of me. No shit. It had this kinda sign saying I had to give it my mobile and stuff -” Joey interjects again: “Haha most of the deadshits around here can’t read anyway.” – she goes on: “Yeah, well I got the best private school education that my parents’ could waste their money on. Anyway, this motherfucker of a drone, as black as midnight and with huge needles stickin’ out of it and shit, and it had 2 little ones backing it up and – ” Joey cuts her off: “OK, yeah, whatever. Next time ya droppin’ an E-bomb, save me some. Seriously, E, sometimes u are such a fucking E-tard retard.”

E gives him the bird but says nothing. Tagging along behind him as they head for Glum Street and the Tea Palace, she quietly starts posting on Facebook about her near-death experience…


The Editor of the Daily Hun, known affectionately and derisively as Junior, snarls as he peruses on his desktop screen the opposition The Rage’s online coverage:

“WHO IS THIS SUPER DRONE? The whole of Fractal City is abuzz about a mysterious, white remote drone that has been ‘cleaning up’ the streets, thwarting armed robberies, nabbing diners trying to do a restaurant ‘runner’, chasing down motorists doing fuel drive-offs, swooping on parking inspectors, standing guard outside the 7/Eleven across from the soon-to-shut Heathrow Hotel, and helping old ladies to cross the busy roads…”

Junior clenches his manicured fists and thumps them on his desk, almost upending his little plastic tray of sushi rolls for lunch. His rouge coloured cheeks are a tinge redder than normal; his beautiful blond curly hair, overdue for a colour treatment, is starting to show a hint of grey. “I bet it wasn’t this hard when Daddy was an Editor,” he moans quietly. “Daddy didn’t tell me it would be like this when he got me my first job.”

Junior pokes his head out of his office and politely asks his PA: “Where’s sCam, my Picture Editor? It’s almost noon.”

She looks up from her screen and smiles at Junior’s little beady eyes looking intently at her through his “Harry Potter” specs. He looks past her and scans the newsroom. It’s bathed in energy saving, warm, soothing fluorescent lighting but is disquietingly quiet; almost emptied by the latest round of MMedia journo redundancies except for the Tweeting university interns bragging about their growing lists of publicist contacts.

PA: “The Pic Editor went straight from home to the free breakfast with Emirates Airlines.”

Junior: “Fine, fine. What time will he be in?”

PA: “Well, he then has the free lunch with Red Bull Racing. From there he will go to the free afternoon cocktails with Sony Cameras, and he has the free dinner with the V8 Supercars people. But,” she clicks open a document on her desktop computer, “he has given me the roster of publicists to contact for today’s Front Page pics and website videos. OK, let me see. Today we have … Red Bull Air Race World Championship pics and video, or Emirates unveiling their new First Class Lounge, or some exciting Sony stills and video of V8 Supercars on the Gold Coast.

“Oh, and while I’ve got you, I have some messages here: Andrew Nut said you did a good job with your Front Page today and it was a good follow-up to his column but that you could have gone harder on the ‘homeless hoons’ angle. He will mention it when he Tweets Rupert tonight. Also, your wife said to remind you that she has the Fashion Editors’ VIP dinner at the Park Hyatt tonight at 7.30 and dress code is Pink Tie. Oh, and (PA lowers her voice) you-know-who keeps calling. I told her that u said -”

Junior cuts her off: “Yeah OK, fine,” and resumes his seat and the never ending stream of emails.


Joey is pissed off when SCKINT security yet again remind him he can’t wear his hoodie over his head when inside this esteemed establishment. “The aircon’s alway so frigging cold in this joint,’ Joey declares to anyone bothering to listen as, pulling the hood from off his head, he heads over to the bar, where E is talking to the bar manager. The never ending sounds of excitement ring out from the dozens and dozens and dozens of Seniors’ Investment Network “terminals” lining the walls.

“Hey Joey, I was just telling Herm here about how I came face-to-face with this ‘Super drone thing’ when it saved my life.” E holds up the ultra thin midweek copy of The Rage. The Front Page “Splash” is asking anyone and everyone to share any pics or video of Fractal’s ‘Mystery Super Drone’ by posting to The Rage’s website. It’s offering a prize for readers’ best pic/video: a year’s free subscription to The Rage print and online, plus a free dinner for 2 with a former Masterchef. *Conditions apply and dinner must be celiac approved.

Joey takes it in, with vague interest, and then looks at the barman: “Hey Herm.” Herm smiles at him and keeps wiping down the bar. He looks a little too cool and sophisticated for this place, thinks Joey. Hair dyed jet black and slicked back with gel, looking as if it’s been painted onto his skull; the black pencil thin moustache that’s so thin and perfect it might well have been drawn on; the tight hugging waistcoat; the neatly pressed, long sleeves with cufflinks that look practical but not audacious; the classy but unobtrusive gold earring; the sort of “hospitality professional” you’d expect to find shaking evening cocktails in the Perth Parmelia Hilton’s Millstrasse Bar.

“So… E, how much did you ‘do’ on the machines today?”

“Fuck off Joey, I’m ahead. I’ve got a system worked out. You watch, I’ll soon crack the jackpot and u can can get stuffed if u reckon I’ll give u any.”

Joey sighs audibly. “Yeah, E, whatever. I’m heading to the Club. Merries Bag will be there soon, and Snow said he’d pay back some of what he owes me tonight. You coming, or what?”

“Yeah, of course.” Turning back to the bar, she waves: “OK, thanks for the chat Herm – u are so full of good advice. Next time.”

Herm: “Take it easy on yourself, E.”

Walking out the door, Joey pulls his hoodie over his head and says to E, “That bloke Herm looks a bit weird, u know. Dresses too well, too perfect for this joint…”


Joey ambles down the “Badlands End” of the main strip. Locals are lining up to take selfies out the front of the already partly dismantled Heathrow Private Hotel. Even though the ink wouldn’t yet be dry on the contract of sale, the “guests” have mostly vacated the joint. “They didn’t waste time kicking them out,” thinks Joey. “It disgorged them quicker than a pissed Irish backpacker with a dodgy kebab. Hmmmm speaking of kebabs, I haven’t been back to Kokaine Kebabs for weeks. They might have something ‘new’ on the menu…”

Joey looks skyward. Remote drones, in all imaginable colour combos and bedecked with trendy fashion labels, are hovering and zipping about. “Annoying like fucking flies,” he mumbles.
Six identical drones slowing buzz by, barely clearing the street power lines. Each is trailing the same black sign emblazoned with shimmering silver writing:

PORT FRACTAL RUBS your supreme trans-exotic experience
“put your pleasure in our hands”

Joey strolls around the bend and looks out at the glorious magenta sunset over Fractal Bay. He will be at the SCKINT in a few minutes. E is sure to be there. “She had better still have some notes,” he hopes. “That prick Snow, 3 days in a row now and still nothing. Seriously, so much shit comes out of his mouth, I swear his bum must get jealous.”

Entering the SCKINT, Joey for once is glad to pull back his hoodie and endure the aircon cold. “Hehe,” he chuckles. “At least it freezes the arse off those frigging flies so they don’t come in.”

He nods “hi” to E, who is deep in conversation with the barmaid. Yeah, thinks Joey, it’s that odd but interesting barmaid tonight. The short cropped hair with two-tone colouring that’s not exactly unattractive. Eyes done but the face isn’t weighted down with make-up and looks a bit on the stern side but … “interesting” sure is the word, Joey thinks. The long fingernails are painted a deep, deep, ruby red. The push-up bra is justifying its price tag. Not a lot of cleavage, thinks Joey, but still…

He nods to her. “Hi, sorry what was the name again?”

E answers for her: “Joey, u remember Aphrodite. I was just explaining to her my new system on the machines. I’ve almost got them beat. But I dunno, I swear they are filming my method so they can rip me off. Anyway, let’s shoot out for a quick choof. You got skins?”

Outside in the darkening alley, the temparature is dropping. The street noises are changing in pitch and nature. Road traffic is making way for foot traffic. The remote drones have ceased swarming and, reluctantly, risen above the permitted daytime flight levels. Like the heavy trucks of years gone by, noise restrictions in built-up residential areas now apply to all remote flight craft.

“Look at them,” says Joey as E is rolling a short one, “up there now, but they still sound like a swarm of mozzies by a distant creek on a hot summer’s night.”

E: “Awww Joey, that’s almost poetic.”

Joey looks at her: “Fuck off. Hey, u know, that Aphrodite sure is a curious looking chick.”

E, handing over the dart: “Yeah, I noticed u checking her out like a starving magpie that’s spotted a worm.”

Joey takes a deep drag and exhales slowly: “Don’t be fucking stupid. Not my type. I just meant, she looks hot in an odd way.”

E raises one eyebrow: “Really? ‘Hot’, eh?”

Joey: “Ya idiot. Hey, do u reckon she’s related to that dude Herm? They kind of look similar. They are probably brother and sister. Keeping jobs in the family, and all that. You must know, u almost live in this place.”

E flicks the butt into a plastic, green-and-yellow, recycle wheelie bin with no lid, and heads back to the SCKINT entrance. “Joey, seriously, I wonder about u sometimes. You can be such a dumb shit. Do u really not know?”

Following her in, Joey: “Know what?”

E: “Think about it. Herm and Aphrodite. Hermaphrodite. It’s the same person, u dickhead…”

Chapter 12: RollerBowl

The two blond blokes are a regular sight, ambling across Fractal City. “We’re brothers!” the leading one excitedly announces to anyone passing by. They are probably of a similar age, late 40s or early 50s, but time and booze have not been kind to the second brother. He has gazed too long at life from the bottom of a wine bottle. Drawn and miserable, he would pass as the father of the first one, who is superfit from walking and cycling but is prone to regular bouts of manic behaviour, such as picking up all rubbish in sight, or trying to direct cars and pedestrians pass the tram stop. They live together in one of the few remaining cheap doss houses in Fractal City. At least they get one good meal a day, thanks to the church mission centre.


“A warm welcome folks, to this exclusive, world-wide premiere telecast of ROLLLLLLLERBOWLLLLL!

“Firstly an important warning that if you are not viewing this under proper licence from FoxSports’ ABC TV Pay per View Channel, you can expect a visit at any moment from Authorised Revenue Officers as all streaming is tracked under the Coalition Government’s new Metadata Initiative.

“Now back to the action! I’m your host Thommo and I’m joined today by all-round national sports hero Brawny and with special comments by the Coalition’s Bill Heffernan, here under lights at the magnificent Fractal Park Lawn Bowls Club and Resort, for this clash of terrorist titans – the Al Qaeda “Quranists” versus the Isis “Sons of Sunni”, for the inaugural Caliphate Cup. This willlllll be special!

“Now let’s cross to champion swimmer Hot Hannah with a backgrounder on the lead-up to tonight’s action.”

Hot Hannah: “Thanks Thommo, (giggle giggle) it’s fabulous to be here tonight. I’m wearing this gorgeous two-piece swimsuit, designed by Reveal and available exclusively to all FoxSports subscribers – just click on the hyperlink on your device screens now.

“I have with me two charming gentlemen: the UN’s Peace Envoy, Cat Stevenson, to tell us how RollerBowl came to be, and bowls expert “Killer” who will explain the game.”

UN Envoy: “Thanks Hannah. Basically, the two juggernauts of Islamic radicalism, Al Qaeda and Isis, started a huge war between them over who was the leading Jihadist… The Top Terrorists in the name of religion, if you like. As we all know, the world superpowers initially welcomed this and joined the opposing camps, selling them weapons in return for oil etc. But then the disturbing world-wide trend emerged, popularly known as “su-Isis”, or suicide by Isis, where people bent on suicide would deliberately criticise their local Isis Chapter, knowing that they would then be next on the hit list…”

Hot Hannah chips in: “If any of our viewers seek help with personal problems, please click on the FoxPsychic helpline now showing on your device screens; costs are 3 Euro per minute and conditions apply.”

UN Envoy continues: “Yes, and this disturbing phenomenon was reaching pandemic proportions, with superpowers blaming each other’s jihad terrorists; the Pope recalled all His bishops and papal envoys world-wide; the Falun Gong went bankrupt, shattering the Chinese Economic Recovery; the American Evangelical Society’s treasurers threatened a Southern States revolution; and we were on the brink of a Global Religious Meltdown. Imagine a world without religion… The financial implications would be horrendous.

“So the UN Security Council voted in favour of RollerBowl to replace open warfare. Adapting lawn bowling techniques, it is a fight to the death. We start tonight with the two apex killers of the Islamic world, Al Qaeda and Isis, but by midnight there will only be one remaining, and we will restore global religious strategic stability.”

Hot Hannah: “Wow, (giggle giggle) thanks sir! That’s so interesting. ‘Killer’, tell our viewers how the game works.”

Killer: “Aww, Hot Hannah, it’s surprisingly simple. Each side has a team, called a rink, of six bowlers in protective armour and on grass skis, led by a captain, called a skip. They have one small, white – I hope that colour is politically correct? – jack and an unlimited supply of coloured bowls of different sizes and designs, and the skip directs them to build a protective “head” around their jack while at the same time they are trying to smash the other rink’s players and “head” with their bowls. The game ends when all of one rink’s players and bowls are annihilated and their jack is captured.

“So, it involves a high degree of physical skill plus the mental dexterity to simultaneously apply an intricate combination of both defensive and offensive tactics. If you like, it’s a game for the ‘thinking terrorist’.”

Hot Hannah: “Wow, (giggle giggle) that sounds sooo exciting! Back to you in the studio, Thommo.”

Thommo: “Thanks for that, Hot Hannah, we will catch up with you again later in the evening …”

Brawny interrupts: “I hope so! Hot Hannah looks so… Hot!”

Hot Hannah: “(Giggle giggle)”

Thommo: “Ooookaaaay… now as we continue to count down to the start of tonight’s big game, let’s cross to the Anonymous ABC TV reporter, who tells us that not everyone is happy about the game…”

Reporter: “Thanks guys. RollerBowl may well appear to be the panacea for the world’s religious conflicts, but it is also fomenting a growing, and splintered, protest movement.

“Today most of us have enjoyed the Abbott Coalition Government’s new national holiday, officially gazetted as the Halal Butcher’s Picnic Day and timed to coincide with RollerBowl.

“Just over the 10-metre high security fence here to my right (camera pans over to that direction) is a large community playground, where, since early this morning, Islamic and Jewish children have been playing games together and laughing, and ABC TV has witnessed the many mothers exchanging gifts of traditional clothing and other items. This is in obvious open defiance of the strict instructions from their menfolk, who are visibly shocked and variously muttering Islamic and Hebrew prayers and oaths. We can also see mothers and children in Hindu garb, Christians wearing crucifix necklaces, and many other religious denominations.

“Now I also have with me here, (camera zooms back in on Reporter) the President of the Royal Order of Nimble Walkers, commonly known as the RON Walkers, who had shared the facilities here at Fractal Park with the lawn bowlers until the recent takeover – enforced with Federal Coalition Government legislation – by the private consortium behind RollerBowl. Now the RON Walkers have no clubhouse and no access to their walking track, during the extensive period of RollerBowl.

“Madam President, tell us about your situation.”

Madam President: “Thank you. This is terrible. Long ago, the Liberal Party hero and State ruler, Emperor Jeff, generously granted our sport’s founder, the original RON Walker, all the lands here in all directions for as far as he could walk in one day. Ever since then, we have grown as a sport and, through regular and rigorous training, we have improved the distances we can walk in a day. Because it is our core belief that one day Emperor Jeff will return in this State’s hour of need, and He will reward our devotion by again granting us all the land we can cover by walking in a day – and it will be a shitload more than last time, I can promise you!”

Reporter: “I see. And is it true that the local community, incensed at losing their Park, considered the original RON Walker to be a ‘pernicious and prickly’ character, which they subsequently shortened to ‘prick’ and started refering to him and his business entourage by the collective noun ‘prix’, as in ‘a bunch of Walker prix’?

Madam President: “Yes, that is correct. And once a year we have our big race meeting, when all the RON Walkers gather as the Grand Prix.

“You know, we helped the lawn bowlers to save this club not that long ago. We combined forces to stop a proposed winter loan with a lien that, in default, would’ve handed the club to a group of Chinese investors who wanted to rename it South Park and redevelop it along the lines of a 1950s Disneyland, complete with dinosaur statues. This important part of our local heritage is now threatened by this awful thing called RollerBowl. I mean, it’s barbaric, it’s no better than caged fighting, it’s acknowledging the terrorists, it only harms private enterprise, and it does nothing for the wealthy! We will be vigorously protesting at tonight’s game. It’s secret so I can’t tell you anything more.”

The camera focuses in on Reporter: “So there you have it. Inside the RollerBowl compound, the champagne freely flows as VIP guests mingle with sports heroes, UN officials and government ministers. But on the outside of this heavily fortified fence, the air is heavy with dissent. One senses that it is a powder keg ready to explode.”

The vision returns to the studio scene where Thommo, who is FoxSports’ highest paid on-camera celebrity, can be heard muttering: “ABC wankers just don’t know how to have a good time… OKAY! Welcome back! The air is buzzing with anticipation here!

“We were just now chatting off air to the Daily Hun newspaper columnist and News heavy hitter Andrew Nutt, who has been helping to hand out “Scott Morrison for PM” T-shirts. He says his advice in his weekly “Nutt Report” was the main motivation for the Abbott Government’s support for hosting RollerBowl here at Fractal Park.

“Now we are only minutes away from the start of the evening’s main attraction, RollerBowl – the Game to end all Games!

“Hot Hannah, who do you have with you out there?”

Hot Hannah: “Thanks Thommo. (giggle giggle) I have here a former men’s club champion who has some advice on strategy for tonight’s skips.”

Ex-champ quickly drags on someone else’s sweetly pungent smelling rollie and hurriedly hands it back before turning to Hot Hannah.

“Gee thanks Hannah, you sure are hot, wow! Yes I’ve put a lot of thought just now into how best to approach this new concept of lawn bowls, called RollerBowl. And it really can be very easy if you apply a mathematical approach…”

Hot Hannah: “Really Ex-Champ, but don’t you think the players…”

Ex-Champ: “Shhh, shhh, just listen and let me do the talking, you can’t possibly keep up with me in this conversation as my mind is going faster than the speed of thought, now think of Einstein’s laws of relativity inverted, just say the skip can punch a small hole in the green – without the Greenkeeper noticing of course cos he’d really crack it haha – and, just like a wormhole in the space-time continuum, tunnel to the opposition side’s head at the other end, so that their bowls and jack could then fall into the tunnel and be captured halfway – god I’m impressing myself with this idea – it’d be like time travel or speeding up time so it only takes half the time to reach the bowls – wow can we turn off the camera cos I think I’d like to patent this idea first before…”

Vision abruptly cuts back to Thommo in the studio: “Ok, that was an ex-club champion, with some thoughts on tactics. Interesting to say the least.

“Now you are in for a treat tonight because the game is about to be opened with a special rendition of the national anthem by the world famous Catholic Church priest trio, the Three Fiddlers! Prime Minister Abbott yesterday had changed the national anthem, under a “captain’s call”, to God Save the Queen. But apparently that was overturned by Government backbenchers today and the anthem remains Advance Australia Fair. Now we cross live to your MC – and touted as a future prime minister – Ed Dee…”

Ed Dee: “Ladies and gentlemen, Prime Minister and prime ministers-in-waiting, distinguished guests, religious leaders, boys and girls, welcome to Fractal Park on this most historic of occasions, the world’s first ever game of Rolllllllllerbowllllllll!”

A huge roar sweeps over the Park.

Ed Dee: “Firstly, please be upstanding and join me as we acknowledge the traditional owners of this land: Melbourne Water, and Parks Victoria.

“And now, to play for you the national anthem … All the way from the Holy See, please welcome the Fiddlers Three!”

Unfortunately, in the confusion of changing and then unchanging the National Anthem, the musical score has been mixed up the Three Fiddlers instead fire up their electric fiddles with a lively rendition of Waltzing Matilda.

The dignitaries are red faced. The ordinary crowd love it and, for the first time, know all the words to the National Anthem. The Islamic RollerBowl players don’t give a rat’s arse.

The anthem over, the crowd settles, and the players keep a careful eye on the Three Fiddlers’ fingers as they pass them to take up their positions on the green.

Both sides are decked out in military kevlar armour, the Al Qaeda “Quranists” in green with a huge, white crescent moon and star emblem on their front and back. The Isis “Sons of Sunni” are wearing their signature pitch black.

The umpires are Four Shaolin Warrior Monks in traditional saffron garb, each clutching a whistle and a sturdy staff, who are zipping about the green on grass skis.

The traditional bowls club bell is rung to start the game.

And that’s when the shiite hit the fan…

Chapter 11: The Battle of Yum Kipper

He ambles down Glum St, taking his two little terrier dogs on a typical Saturday morning walk down to the Favourite Cafe-Bar, when he notices a a middle aged woman lying on the footpath just around the corner, with another woman anxiously looking at her, and a shopping trolley loaded with God-knows-what next to them. It’s not an entirely uncommon sight in Fractal City. But he recognises the unconscious woman’s face: she’s not a druggie, is usually cheerful to everyone, and is just another of Fractal’s “special” folk, probably residing at the Heathrow Private Hotel. So he walks over: “Is your friend ok?”

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Chapter 10: Doomsday

He doesn’t look like one of the Homeless, but he is certainly not “mainstream” as he ambles up the main street of Fractal city, screaming out to anyone unfortunate enough to be present or passing, about how the local government has been criminally destroyed the fragile fabric of Fractal’s society by closing the public toilets. He ambles into the Favorite Bar/Cafe and orders a take-away coffee, all the while continuing his unhingingly loud tirade against the dunny closures. The staff give a concerned frown and nod in agreement, as the barista machine steams and spurts out another superb coffee. “I will have to crap in the park now,” he disturbingly loudly tells Pretty Assistant Manageress. “You will have to put up with all the public coming in to use your toilet now,” he roars at Smiling Irish Assistant Manager. “This is the end for this country,” he bellows to the World as he walks out the door with his takeaway coffee.
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Chapter 9: Feeding the Masses

The ageing Vietnamese grandmother ambles along the Fractal foreshore, muttering to herself as she sees yet another huge queue outside yet another Vietnamese restaurant. She thinks it’s ridiculous, how these people are paying $10-plus for a bowl of soup made by an Irish backpacker, when she pays only $4 for authentic pho in the Vietnamese community’s eateries. When she came to this country with her young children, as a refugee, in an old boat that almost sank, she was a welcome asylum seeker fleeing Uncle Ho. My, how times have changed. From Ho to pho … Continue reading

Chapter 1 : The Ice Age

“What was that? Did u hear that,” she asks.
“Yeah,” he replies. “Probably just something going on up Glum St. Expect we’ll hear the ambos soon. Always plenty of bad crack up there, sending them over the edge. Not the good craic that the Irish backpackers like!”
“Harr harr – so corny,” she says. “Speaking of good Irish craic, I saw that Irish Stew is back in town. So the young barmaids will be getting a good serve of Stew again this winter! I can’t understand a word he says – and that’s when he’s not pissed- but he’s a laugh and a half. So, anyway what are u going to do now you’ve quit that shit job.”

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