opened his eyes. "Jesus!" he said, blinking at the blinding
started to sit up a series of small atomic explosions went off
inside his head.
he moaned, clutching at his head as he started to roll
Only to cry
out again, clutching at his back as sabre blades of pain lanced
through his spine. "Oh Christ, what was I drinking?" he
stood by himself near the Swanston Street
the smoke-filled public bar. He nursed a schooner of Australian
beer in his left hand, while staring toward the gaggle of
drinking, laughing, swearing men at the bar a few metres
toward the happy men enviously, wishing there were some way for
him to break the ice with them. He took a small sip, grimaced
at the strong hops taste, which Aussie apparently liked, but
which Shaun found overwhelming. He now regretted his decision
not to join an official tour of the country. But he had wanted
to get out and meet -- and hopefully become pals with --real
Australians. 'And what better place to meet them than in an
authentic Aussie pub?' he thought.
another sip, Shaun grimaced again, as he looked round toward the
large glass covered painting on the wall to his left. "So this
is the famous `Chloe'?" he said to no one in
her," said a booming Aussie voice behind him.
round, Shaun saw an archetypal sun-bronzed Aussie male: tall,
well muscled and fiercely blond. The exact opposite of Shaun,
who was five foot six, with short black hair and almost
"A bit of a
let down, isn't she?" said the Aussie, who introduced himself as
know," Shaun said, feeling obliged to defend the Aussie icon,
although at heart he agreed. He winced at the power of the
Aussie's grip as they shook hands.
at that pasty white complexion," insisted
"I've seen ghosts with a more natural pallor. As for her
figure, talk about straight-up-and-down, even fashion models have
more curves than her."
head tentatively in a bid to clear it, Shaun Curry tried to
remember what else had occurred the day before. He knew they
had done some solid drinking. First Aussie beer, then later
American Coors as Shaun tried to convince
superiority of the U. S.
grimaced at the taste of the lukewarm U. S.
Realising his new mate was waiting for a comment, finally he
said, "Not too bad, I suppose."
you'd like it," began Shaun.
"If you like
warm mud, that is," said Gary
At the other
end of the long, black-marble topped bar, half a dozen drinkers
snickered at the joke. Shaun blushed with embarrassment, but
tried half-heartedly to join in the merriment.
headache began to abate -- the nuclear explosions reduced to bass
drum intensity -- and Shaun was able to open his eyes carefully
and look up. To see the clear, blue sky overhead.
am I doing sleeping outdoors?" he wondered aloud.
'Maybe I was
rolled?' he thought. He started to reach for his wallet in the
back pocket of his jeans, when a shadow passed overhead, blocking
out the sunlight.
he saw a tall, powerfully built man, blocking out the sun,
holding something in his hands. At first Shaun thought the man
was going to throw whatever it was at him. But instead the man
dropped the substance at the opposite end of the compound.
Where it landed with a strangely liquid splat.
substance landed, Shaun managed to ignore the bass drum in his
head to force his blurry vision into focus. And saw that the
substance was thirty or forty pounds of raw, bloody
don't expect me to eat that?" Shaun shouted up to the
vision finally focusing, Shaun looked around himself at last.
And for the first time realised that he was in a huge arena.
Made of long sheets of corrugated-iron two or three sheets high
(six to eight metres) laid out in a circular pattern, as though
he was inside a giant metal drum standing on end -- with a
diameter of perhaps a hundred metres.
hell is going on here?" Shaun shouted.
reply, he desperately looked about the arena, thinking, 'There
must be something I can use to get my way out of here?'
However, the arena was empty apart from a small concrete trough
near the raw meat. And an overturned two-hundred-litre steel
drum lying beside the trough. Inside the drum was a collection
of filthy-looking rags and blankets.
'Surely they don't expect
me to sleep in there,' thought Shaun, 'I'll get
scratching just at the thought, and started across the hard dirt
toward the barrel, stopping when he heard a metallic scraping
brrrrrrrrr at the other side of the arena.
round lie saw a hidden door opening and thought, 'Thank God for
that. I knew it had to be some kind of sick joke!'
started to run across toward the open door. But stopped and
backed away again when he saw something large entering the arena.
He realised the door hadn't opened to let him out, but to let
something else in.
who's there?" he asked. He stopped and backed away hurriedly
when the large, yellow-brown figure sauntered into the
"A ... a
lion!" Shaun said. He suddenly remembered what else he and Gary
Parker had spoken about the previous night.
said Shaun Curry later that evening, as they downed their
umpteenth beer in their umpteenth pub. "That's what being the
millionaire-son of a wealthy U. S.
need is excitement in your life," suggested Gary Parker.
Turning round to the redheaded barmaid he flashed her a
suggestive smile and a quick wink. "Exactly," agreed
problem is that you've got too much spare time,"
"You not only have the normal man's leisure time, but by not
having to go to work each day, you have another fifty hours spare
time a week, twenty-five-hundred extra hours a year to fill
believe me. But what is there left for me to do? I've already
done everything, been everywhere, seen everything. And I just
can't get any excitement anymore."
can't get any excitement anymore?' thought Shaun Curry. Echoing
his words of the previous day as he watched the lion sauntering
into the corrugated iron-walled arena. 'If this is excitement,
give me boredom any time!'
For a moment
the lion stood at the opposite end of the cage, staring across at
Shaun with its steely-grey eyes. 'Shoo! Shoo!' thought Shaun,
too afraid to say it aloud. Afraid any sound or sudden movement
might cause the lion to charge him.
he tried to will it. But for an eternity -- which must have
lasted a full minute -- the lion stood its ground, staring across
toward the young American.
don't panic!' Shaun told himself, trying his best to remain
motionless. Despite his innate urge to run screaming in
screaming where though?' he thought, looking round the grey
cylinder of iron in which he was imprisoned.
Desperately searching for a way out of the cage. Shaun
tentatively pressed the corrugated iron, thinking, 'If there's
one hidden doorway where the lion entered, maybe there's others
where I can exit?'
He tried to
lightly press at the join between two sheets of iron. But
quickly stopped when the metal screeched beneath his
"Rowrrrrrrrrr!" snarled the
lion, angered by the metallic screech.
overcome by nausea, Shaun nearly fainted as a foul smell filled
the cage. At first he thought it was the lion. Then he
realised it was him: his bowels had released into his jockey
he said, squirming at the slimy feeling.
"What if I
can promise you enough excitement to last a lifetime?" asked Gary
Parker as they ambled down the bitumen footpath toward the
redbrick facade of Flinders Street Station. Each man carrying a
bag of clinking beer bottles wider his left arm.
"Jesus, I'd pay a million dollars if you could do that," promised
Shaun Curry, as they stopped at the lights on the corner of
Flinders and Swanston Streets.
a deal!" said Gary Parker, holding out his right hand to shake.
"For a million bucks I'll see you get enough excitement to last a
of excitement?" asked Shaun. Staring at the tall, blond Aussie,
recalling the easy way lie chatted up the barmaid earlier, the
American thought, 'Surely he can't be a faggot?'
"Don't worry, I'm not a pooftah," said the Aussie with a
you. It'd spoil the surprise. Part of the excitement is not
knowing what's in store for you."
light change colour, Gary grabbed the American's right arm,
saying, "Come on."
across the wide intersection toward the twenty or so stone steps
leading up to the railway station.
you at least guarantee that it won't kill me?" asked Shaun. He
lowered his voice as he saw two blue-uniformed cops in the
shadowy alcove outside Flinders Street Station.
you'll have to take your chances!" said Gary with a laugh. He
dragged the American toward the glass-fronted ramp leading down
to platforms four and five. "Evening officers," he said,
trying to sound sober as they went past the two cops.
to take your chances!' thought Shaun Curry, recalling the tall,
blond Aussie's words as he watched the seemingly gigantic lion.
Which stood frozen, staring across the corrugated-iron cage
ignore the faecal mess in his trousers Shaun continued to watch
the lion, afraid to see it, yet afraid to look away.
'It'sprobably just as shocked to see me here as I am to see it?"
he thought. And hoped.
seemed like hours to Shaun, the lion finally looked away from
him. Turning to the left it padded across to the small mound of
raw meat the man above -- Gary Parker? -- had dropped into the
iron arena earlier.
meat the lion turned back toward Shaun, as though to assert its
claim to the feast.
right you go ahead, I'm not hungry!" said Shaun. And as though
understanding his words the lion returned its gaze to the meat
and began to feed noisily.
meat would hold the animal's interest for a while, Shaun slowly
removed his trousers, so that he could remove his soiled jockey
shorts. Then after using a handkerchief to clean himself as
best he could, he put on his trousers again.
to make too much noise for fear of disturbing the lion, Shaun
flung his soiled underpants far across the cage. However, he
flung the underpants too hard, so that they crashed against the
corrugated-iron wall on the opposite side of the
Shaun fell backwards and had to stop himself from crashing into
the corrugated iron behind him.
across the arena, he saw the lion standing well away from the
pile of meat, where it had obviously fled, startled by the
disturb you!" said Shaun. He hoped the animal would understand
him --as it had seemed to do earlier -- and return to its
lion seemed to have completely forgotten the meat. It continued
to stand well away from the food, staring intently across toward
'Go back to
eating your lovely meat!' he thought, desperately trying to will
the lion to look away from him.
intently at Shaun, the animal let out a deep snarl, and then
started slowly across the arena toward the dark-haired
shoo!' thought Shaun, too terrified to speak aloud. He started
slowly edging backwards around the perimeter of the cage. But
stopped, and almost shat himself again, when the lion roared
that seemed like hours the two of them, sat/stood staring across
at each other. Then Shaun realised the lion might be merely
trying to stare him down to establish its territorial ownership
of the arena. So, reluctantly, Shaun forced himself to look
down at his own feet. Trying his best to fight his own fear, to
fight the urge to scream in terror.
mustn't show your fear!' he thought. 'Animals can smell fear.'
He hoped the lion would accept his looking down as an act of
submission, rather than fear.
roared again, as though to exert its authority again. And, to
Shaun's dismay, for a while it seemed to have completely
forgotten its meal.
finally, to his relief, Shaun heard the pad-pad-pad of the
lion's retreating feet. He tentatively raised his head and saw
the creature returning to the feast which it had already half
God for that!' he thought. He hoped the lion would keep its
distance now until it was hungry again.
Shaun Curry had to fight the overwhelming urge to look back as
they started down the ramp, convinced the eyes of the two cops
were watching them all the way. At the bottom of the ramp he
could see a shiny silver and orange Coming train waiting for
for ...now leaving platform five..." a metallic, SF-robot-like
on," shouted Gary Parker almost pulling Shaun's right arm out of
its socket as he began dragging the American down the
reached the train the electric doors had already sealed shut.
However, ignoring a glare from the platform attendant, the blond
Assume grabbed the handle. Then, handing his beer bottles to
Shaun Curry, lie lowered his shoulder to the door handle and used
brute strength to force the door open.
mind?" called the station attendant, chequered flag in one hand,
"I'm trying to flag this train out."
us, mate!" shouted back Gary. He held the protesting door open
for Shaun Curry, then followed him aboard the train.
later they alighted at a small outer suburbs station. Ten
minutes later they were standing outside a double-fronted,
double-storey, redbrick house, like a hundred others in the town.
However, the inside of the house was not like any other Shaun
had ever seen.
"Wow!" said the American in awe, looking round the trophy room
walls. Rhino, lion, and tiger heads lined one wall. The
largest marlin Shaun had ever seen was mounted on another wall,
along with various lesser catches.
from my younger days," said Gary. Putting the bag of beer
bottles on a small glass-topped table, he asked, "Fancy a game?"
He pointed toward the eight-foot billiard table in the centre of
agreed Shaun. For the first time he realised the Aussie was in
his late forties, not his thirties as Shaun himself
seemed a remarkably short time, the lion finished the raw
that will keep him satisfied for a few hours?' thought Shaun,
squatting on the hard earth near the corrugated-iron wall across
the arena from the lion.
burped loudly and trotted across to the concrete water
lapping up seemingly gallons of the water, the lion preened its
mane. Then it turned and glared across at Shaun again. As
though to let him know he hadn't been forgotten.
'Now take a
nice nap!' thought Shaun, hoping to will the lion to go to sleep.
Instead it seemed more intent upon staring across the cage
toward the American. 'Now come on, you've just had a nice feed,'
thought Shaun. 'I'm all skin and bones!'
By way of
answer the lion let out a loud yawn, followed by an equally loud
'Phew, and I
thought I stank the place up earlier!' thought Shaun. He had to
hold his nose to stop from gagging.
roared again and started slowly across the arena toward
best not to rattle the corrugated iron, Shaun edged
backwards around the metal arena. Still crouching, he was
unable to move quickly, but decided against standing for fear of
surrendering to the urge to give in to panic and run.
edged slowly around the arena looking left and right, hoping to
discover some way out. 'A ladder I haven't noticed before would
be nice!' he thought. Or at least something to climb out of
reach of the stalking lion. However, there was nothing. Apart
from himself and the animal, the only things in the cage were the
drinking trough and the two-hundred-litre drum lying on its side.
Realising there was
nowhere to hide and nothing to climb onto; Shaun stopped edging
round the arena. He pressed himself back against the corrugated
iron, hoping to make himself less visible.
iron squealed in protest -- drawing an answering growl from the
At least one
nail broke away from the sheet. And as he continued to press
against the iron, it pulled away from the wooden framework it was
nailed to. And Shaun wondered if he could push it away enough
for him to squeeze through the gap.
'Freedom!' he thought, peering out through the gap. He squinted
desperately to see the outside world, eager for some clue to
where he was. But all he could see was more hard brown dirt.
Not even grass let alone any sign of recent human habitation.
And the iron refused to pull away more than a few centimetres at
the one corner. Not enough for Shaun to squeeze
'Maybe if I turn around and kick at it I can force it open enough
to squeeze out?' he wondered. But as he pressed against the
iron, it shrieked again and the lion let out a loud answering
the big cat began to trot across to investigate. Not stopping
until it was more than halfway across the one-hundred-metre
diameter of the arena.
away … please!' thought Shaun. 'There's nothing of interest
going on over here.' And to his relief, after a few seconds the
stood its ground. Standing in the centre of the arena, staring
at the American, Bather than returning to its own side of the
I can wait till it goes to sleep?' thought Shaun, wondering how
sound a sleeper it was. 'And how many kicks it will take before
it wakes up again in a mean mood?'
felt like hours the lion stood staring toward Shaun. But
finally it turned and started to trot back toward its own side of
said Shaun loudly. Immediately regretting it, since the lion
roared again in answer and span round to glare at him
right, all right, you're the boss!' thought Shaun. 'No more
loud noises without your permission.'
satisfied by this, the lion turned again and started toward the
two-hundred-litre drum for a nap.
idea, have a short coma!' thought the American. However, just
as it was about to enter the drum, the lion's attention was
captured by something to the left of the drum.
no, don't be side-tracked again, just go to bed!' willed Shaun.
However, the lion continued toward the object. Which Shaun
realised was his soiled underpants, where he had flung them
across the arena.
sniffed at the soiled pants for a moment then sneeze and looked
talk!' thought Shaun. 'You don't exactly smell like a bed of
roses yourself!' He wrinkled up his nose in disgust at the
musky "over-rip" aroma of the lion, which smelt as though it had
not been bathed in years.
Shaun's relief, the lion turned and sauntered back toward the
some difficulty, it managed to reverse into the drum -- as though
used to sleeping in it -- then quickly settled down to sleep.
Its head facing out toward Shaun, snoring like the proverbial
what he hoped was nearly ten minutes, before turning round to
kick at the corrugated iron. But as soon as he started kicking
at the metal, he heard the sound of running feet outside the
shouted Shaun, forgetting about the sleeping lion as the
corrugated iron was roughly pushed back into place. He heard
the bang-bang-bang of fresh nails being hammered into the
iron. And to his dismay the corrugated iron was fixed fast
Realising lie could no longer hear the cattle dog-like snoring,
Shaun looked round. And saw the lion standing up outside the,
drum again, staring wide-eyed across the arena at him.
to five thousand points?" asked Gary Parker, pointing toward the
billiard table with the neck of his bottle of Fosters
sure," said Shaun Curry. Nervous, uncertain of what he was in
store for, he hoped the game would help to calm his
the next few hours Shaun and Gary played billiards while sipping
beer straight from the bottle, in the blond Aussie's trophy room.
Shaun tried not to be distracted by the animal heads that
ringed the walls of the trophy room. 'They're dead, they can't
harm me in any way!' he thought, staring up from the brightly lit
billiard table. With the main lights off, the over table
fluorescents lit up the table, leaving the rest of the room in
darkness. So the heads should have been all but invisible.
But for some inexplicable reason, they seemed to standout from
the darkness as though individually lit.
away, you don't scare me!' thought Shaun, before turning back to
the simplest of canons. Which he missed, giving Gary Parker
control of the table.
next hour as the Aussie accumulated a two-thousand-plus break,
Shaun had plenty of opportunity to watch the open-mouthed staring
on the game!' thought Shaun, looking round despite the near
hypnotic attraction of the animal heads.
points," called Gary Parker to the American's relief. Then one
canon later, "Five thousand and one, to win the game."
God for that!' thought Shaun. He wasn't concerned about the
routing nearly as much as the eerie ambience in the trophy
downing the last of his beer, the blond Aussie asked,
His own beer
bottle still more than half full, the dark-haired American
started to say no, and then realised Gary was not referring to
the beer. "Ready as I'll ever be," Shaun conceded. "Still got
time to chicken out," offered Gary Parker, doing his best
"Buk-buk-buk" chicken impersonation.
"No, I said
I'll do it and I will," insisted Shaun. He only hoped his pride
wasn't making him do something suicidal.
wasn't me!' thought Shaun, hoping to will the lion to go back to
sleep. 'It wasn't me hammering It came from outside!' He
pointed back over his left shoulder toward the corrugated
lion let out an angry growl! Louder than any before. And to
Shaun Curry's dismay, it started slowly across the hard brown
earth toward him again.
'No, no, go
back!' thought Shaun, for some reason thinking of the decapitated
animal heads in Gary Parker's trophy room. He wished they were
all he had to contend with now. 'Go back to sleep and I promise
there']] be no more banging!' he thought.
banging," said Shaun aloud, knowing the lion could not understand
time the lion refused to be placated, and continued to pad across
the compound toward the American.
banging, if you just go back to sleep," Shaun almost shouted at
the lion. Failing to keep his composure, despite his earlier
resolution not to show fear in front of the animal.
best to remain calm, Shaun began backing around the
corrugated-iron wall encircling the area. Being careful not to
press against the iron again. Wary of startling the lion once
more. But now the animal would not be appeased so readily.
Having been roused from its slumbers, the beast was unwilling to
Shaun backed round the iron-walled cage, the lion continued after
him. Still slowly, allowing Shaun to keep his distance from it.
But now determined not to ignore him.
he was to avoid banging into the corrugated iron, he was alarmed
when he suddenly crashed into a metal surface with a resounding
Cried Shaun, cursing his own stupidity. Looking up startled, he
expected to see the lion charging. And indeed it had stepped up
its pace, closing the gap as it followed him around the inner
perimeter of the circular prison.
roared again at this latest clanging of metal.
a quick look behind him, expecting to find that he had crashed
into the iron wall. Instead he saw the two-hundred-litre drum
the lion had planned to use as a bed.
be I can use it to climb out of here?' thought Shaun. He looked
up toward the rim of the corrugated-iron wall and wondered how
high he would have to jump to reach it. 'And how much damage it
will do to my hands?' he wondered, noticing the sharp rim at the
top of the iron. Having never had to do work during his adult
life, his hands were soft and would slice easily.
lion roared again and Shaun thought, 'And how would that effect
that monster, if I fall back into this prison with my hands badly
cut and bleeding?'
didn't have time to consider the matter any further though.
With another ear-splitting roar the lion finally started round
the arena at a full run.
"Jesus!" cried Shaun. Almost gagging at the smell of urine,
sweat, and faeces, Shaun leant into the drum to grab the
blankets and rags to quickly throw them out onto the ground. He
hurriedly turned the drum onto end, before hesitantly climbing
God!" he cursed as the barrel rocked precariously beneath him.
'Don't knock it over, just don't knock it over!' he thought, as
he stretched up as high as he could, trying to reach up toward
the inn of the grey-metal sheets .…
discover that the top of the iron was still well over a metre
above his hands.
no!' thought Shaun. He almost cried from desperation, as the
drum rocked and rolled beneath him, threatening to pitch him into
the jaws of the fast-approaching lion.
here goes nothing!' he thought as he took the plunge. And in
desperation leapt toward the top of the corrugated-iron
to make it!" he cried in hope as much as belief. And for just a
second it seemed as though he were going to make it. The tips
of his fingers soared toward the edge of the grey metal and got
within millimetres of the rim.
American was falling again.
he shrieked, expecting to fall into the jaws of the
fell with a crash against the corrugated iron wall, which
crumpled slightly under him for a moment. Allowing him to hope
it was going to collapse and allow him to escape. But finally
the wall rebounded, trampolining him into the steel drum. Which
boomed like a kettledrum as Shaun crashed to the
loud snap, Shaun knew he had broken his left ankle even before he
was struck with the white-hot pain.
latest crash the lion raced away a few metres in terror.
Allowing Shaun a few seconds to desperately try to crawl inside
the steel drum and turn it back on end. Before the lion raced
forward again roaring loudly as it attacked.
instructed Gary Parker, putting his billiard cue in the wrack on
the wall. Shaun Curry did likewise, as the blond Aussie walked
over to click on the overhead lights. Then click off the
fluorescent bars over the billiard table.
said Shaun blinking against the sudden bright light. When he
opened his eyes after a few seconds, he saw Gary Parker walking
across to a low, black wood cabinet directly under the head of
the lion. He started to walk across to the Aussie. But
stopped when he saw what Gary had taken from the middle drawer of
I'm not really into needles," said the dark-haired American,
thinking, 'So that's all he was offering me, some kind of weird
worry," assured the Aussie, as though reading Shaun's thoughts.
"This is just a sleeping draught. To knock you out for a few
hours, so you won't see where I'm going to take you." When the
American continued to hesitate, Gary added, "You have my word
that this won't kill you. And it won't send you off on a
psychedelic trip either."
moment Shaun reluctantly rolled up his left sleeve for the
platform near the top of the outside of the corrugated-iron
arena, Gary Parker watched the American back around the cage with
the angry lion following him.
to get involved?" suggested the second Aussie -- a small thin
man, with wire-rim glasses.
Bill," said Gary.
as the slow pursuit turned to sudden panic after Shaun Curry
crashed into the two-hundred-litre steel drum.
it," said Gary. Raising the dart-rifle to his shoulder he took
aim toward the rearing lion.
said Gary. He lowered the rifle as Shaun Curry climbed up onto
the upended drum, obscuring the gunman's view of the
come on, you idiot," he cursed. A second later the American
leapt off the drum toward the rim of the corrugated-iron
to make it!" cried Bill. He hitched his glasses up along his
nose with one finger, as they almost fell.
"No … he's
not," corrected Gary. And seconds later the dark-haired
American fell back to earth screaming as his ankle
on," said Gary, "we'll never save him from here."
"No time to
get down there," protested Bill. But he followed as Gary Parker
swung Tarzan-like down the wooden scaffolding outside the arena
to race toward the nearest of four hidden doors in the metal
repeated Gary Parker, as he raced into the cage. He swung up
the dart-rifle to fire, however, the iron drum back on its side,
was now between him and the lion.
Hey, Georgie!" called Gary, vainly hoping the lion would come at
the call of its name. Or at least look up long enough for him
to save the dark-haired American. "Georgie, get away from him!
" shouted Bill, following closely behind Gary.
approached, they saw the legs of Shaun Curry sticking out of the
drum. "Georgie!" Bill repeated.
the lion looked up and roared at the two approaching men. But
before it could launch itself toward them Gary Parker fired the
roared in protest and ran away a few metres before collapsing,
asleep. "Don't worry, we'll get you out of there..." said Bill,
running across to the drum to look inside.
eaten most of his face!" said Bill. He quickly turned away and
threw up. "Poor bastard," said Gary, dropping the rifle.
"Well, I promised him enough excitement to last a lifetime, and I
guess that's what he got."
finished throwing up, he said, "I suppose ... we'd better get
Georgie crated and back to the zoo?" He hesitated, and then
added, "What about that poor bugger?" He nodded back toward the
drum, but did not look found for fear of seeing the gnawed corpse
care of him," assured Gary Parker. "I'll bury him here. No
one will ever find him.'
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