Matt opens the greasy containers of Chinese food we just bought from the food court; his blue eyes instantly turn red as the pungent smell of chilli wafts into his nose and eyes. I look towards Rachel as she pushes her red hair behind her ears, her cheek and lip piercings glistening. She cheekily grins at me. Matt can’t handle spicy food. 

We are sitting in the Myer car park with views of Goulbourn Road and Forest Oval in front of us. The black and white logo sits above my head, alongside other stores’ advertisements and colourful graffiti kindly left behind by local teenagers. I lean my head against the grey wall and watch as Matt rolls the sleeves of his black hoodie up to his elbows, accentuating his scrawny arms. The trees along the oval thrash against one another as the wind picks up, but I don’t care too much as I rush to lift the lid on my favourite chicken noodle dish and smell the spice and soy.

It’s school holidays.

I squint my eyes as I notice other students from my high school playing with a soccer ball on the other side of the oval. I scoff, as Amanda screams for apparently no reason, probably just wanting attention. Rachel snorts loudly as Matt spits out a mouth full of food and attempts to skull an entire bottle of water.

‘Hey you little shits. Time to clear out.’ A security guard snaps. The large round man stands with his tattooed arms crossed in front of his chest. There is a small Security badge written over his left chest next to a brown stain. I groan, not again.

‘Leave now or I’ll call the cops.’ He runs his hand through his greasy blonde hair, purposefully showing off a scar that runs from his pinkie finger to his elbow. Tough guy.

‘What? Why should we leave?’ Rachel’s voice booms, mimicking the security guard’s attitude and stance. ‘We are sitting eating lunch, what is wrong with that!’

‘Show some respect.’ He snaps as spit drools at his lips, ‘You have been using monstrous language, not to mention you draping yourself over this guy.’ He points to Matt, ‘How am I meant to know if there is actually water in that bottle? Leave. Now.’

‘Are you fucking serious?’ I look at Matt, worried, but he’s mad and there is no stopping him. ‘You can come here and swear at us, but we can’t swear amongst each other? That is so hypocritical.’

I stare at the security guard in disbelief. Yeah, sure. Pick on this kids in hoodies. I wonder where he would like us to go? Maybe down a hole until we come out as adults? Yes, we had been laughing loudly in the mall and probably swore a handful of times, but hey, so does every other teenager and adult in our town – how else do they expect us to act?

The security guard’s eyes are black and soulless as he stares at the three of us. He’s at his limit and so are we. Neither Rachel, Matt nor I make an attempt to move from our spot. I almost feel sorry for the security guard. He’s only doing his job, but his random hatred of us has left me with little empathy.

‘Leave. I’m done asking you.’ He smiles as a woman and her toddler walks past, as if he is doing them a favour.

The three of us look away from the man and sigh, realising that this is a fight that we are not going to win. Plus, who wants their holidays ruined by having the cops called on you? I’d be grounded for life. I reach for my tote bag and help Matt pick up our food containers. I laugh quietly as Rachel mutters dirty insults to the security guard. I’m not sure if he hears or is purposefully ignoring the comments. 

‘We aren’t leaving because you told us to, but because it will probably rain soon.’ Rachel is putting the lid back on the container in the slowest most deliberate way ever. The security guard snickers in response.

‘I can’t believe he said that to us!’ Matt exclaims, ‘That guy is worse than Mr A. If you’re not at home, you’re in trouble at school, if you’re not there then you’re in trouble at the mall!’ His eyebrows are lowered and close together in anger. Rachel and I have similar expressions. I have so many thoughts racing through my head that I can’t put a complete sentence together.

I speed ahead of Matt and Rachel and walk to the other side of the oval; kicking my white shoes into the freshly cut grass. I am aware that the families who witnessed the conversation with the security guard probably think that I am having a tantrum, but I really don’t care what they think. I chuckle to myself remembering that he thought Matt had alcohol in the water bottle. If only he knew about the things Rachel has stuck in her pocket that she hadn’t brought out. I can feel the eyes of the security guard watching us like a hawk, I turn around to see if I am correct just as he brightly beams at a family beside him as if he just slayed the bad guys in a villain movie.

I make eye contact with the mother of someone I go to school with, her striking blue eyes and neat blonde hair pulled back in a tight bun. She looks me up-and-down, taking in the oversized grey jumper and blue tights I am wearing. She clears her throat and raises her perfectly shaped eyebrows at me. She must be happy that her daughter and I stopped being friends in primary school. To her I am just another teenager that comes to public areas to create havoc by swearing and yelling at anyone who looks in my general direction.

Thunder booms and I catch the final glimpse of blue sky before the entire oval is concealed by grey clouds. I feel a sprinkle of rain onto my forehead as the clouds begin circling in a distressed manner, ready to release at any moment.

‘Hey, Elena!’ I hear a small voice call behind me, ‘Did that security guard just ask you guys to leave?’

‘Oh hi Skye,’ I recognise the black-haired girl from a year below us at school, ‘Yes he did.’

‘He said the exact same thing to us yesterday! Apparently we looked like we were going to cause trouble because we were wearing hoodies and trackies! It’s literally winter, what does he expect us to wear?’ Her response holds the same sassiness as Rachel, I laugh. It’s a good question.

‘Did he actually?!’ I know that talking to Skye will only fuel our anger and I suspect that’s Rachel’s intention.

‘He only heard us swear once, I mean, how else were we expected to describe the Principal when he suspended Jade for having her skirt one centimetre shorter than school rules. It was so stupid!’ Skye rolls her eyes. I remember that story coming out, I didn’t know that it was true.

‘You’re joking?’ Matt suspects to Skye, ‘You swore once and that is what pushed the security guard off the edge?’ They propel each other’s anger.   

I turn my attention away from the three to look over to where we were just sitting. Most families and groups of kids playing around have since left, probably from the fear of being wet from the dooming rain, leaving only us on the field and the power-hungry security guard. If looks could kill, we would be goners. The annoying thing is that I understand why the security guard assumes us for the worst. I get annoyed when students back chat our teachers and when people bring unnecessary attention to themselves. But we were just sitting down eating, not close to any other families, and enjoying each other’s company. I can think of a lot of inappropriate things teenagers inside the mall are actually doing. So, why are we the ones being punished?

Distracted by my own thoughts I don’t see Matt, Rachel and Skye walking with intention in their step towards the security guard. He stands leaning against the same wall we were once sat at, with his arms crossed and a smug smile inching over his face. From afar, his eyes don’t look human, but almost demonic circles of black. I widen my eyes as I realise that my friends look like small zebras marching into a lion’s den. From this distance I can see the word Protection written down the leg of his pants, more like Devil I think to myself.

His deep and patronising voice rings through the empty oval one last time, ‘Keep walking you shits and don’t come back! I’ll be waiting!’ He has courage to speak loudly as most families have left. My friends immediately stop walking. I sneer at his vulgar language.

My blood boils as I start to lose all sight of what surrounds me. I can’t feel the cold breeze sending goosebumps across my neck and face. Rather, the trees scream in agony, coercing me to change. My jaw begins to involuntarily twitch at his insulting words, how he made my friends feel like we were committing a crime. My eyes darken, I am the predator now. I can hear the faint shouts of Matt in front of me growing closer and closer.

Is this the monstrous behaviour he refers to?

Zara McElroy is an Australian writer residing in Sydney. She is interested in writing Young Adult fiction focusing on the passionate emotions and struggles of the everyday youth. You’ll find her reading romance novels and questioning the meaning of life. Zara enjoys spending time with her dog and dancing.


Walking the track home in the afternoon, Mick’s skinny shoulders ached under the weight of his school bag. His Volleys kicked up the dirt into a smoky dust as he made his way down the steep creek bed. It used to be full, but three years into a drought there was nothing left but a putrid puddle of muddy water and white-clean animal bones. At the other side of the creek, he stopped for a moment, a flash of fur in the trees ahead. But he shook his head and kept on walking, stewing over the day at school he had just had. 

His maths teacher was ready to give up on him altogether. It didn’t help that his classmates encouraged his defiance, fueling his desire to gain attention. Despite this Mick was lonely and didn’t have any close friends. The other students were far more concerned with themselves than with how the class clown got on outside of the classroom. 

Mick, however, was not self-aware enough to consider what motivated his behaviour. His only concern at that present moment was with his current conundrum. How was he going to explain to his parents that yet again, he had to skip bringing the cows in because of serving another after school detention. He had earnt this most recent detention fighting some of the bigger boys of grade eleven. Even now as he walked, the bruises on his arms had smarted and turned blue. Being in the meat of high school years, as a year nine student, sucked. 


His right cheek slammed into the ground as the rest of his body made impact with the cracked dusty clay. Great, now a black eye to go with the bruises. Must have tripped on my bloody laces.

He grit his teeth and lifted his head up from the ground as another pair of eyes met his.

Quizzical and deeply black, the beast tilts his head. His gaze moves from Mick’s messy hair to the blood dribbling from the cut on his bottom lip. It reaches out a paw towards the boy but Mick draws back and rapidly shuffles to his feet. The beast draws back in response, almost curling itself into a ball, never taking his eyes off his adversary.

‘What the heck is that?!’ Mick cried out, wiping the blood off his mouth with the back of his hand. He watched in curious horror as the creature stood on its hind legs and stretched as if it had just woken from a quick afternoon snooze. Probably no more than four feet high, the beast’s black-green mass of fur was broken up by thick orange stripes that stretched across its wide belly. 

‘I’m a Bunyip, you nitwit.’

Mick stifled a shriek.

The bunyip cackled like a kookaburra.

What did Bunyips eat? Mick wasn’t sure. Only moments before Bunyips were simply a mythical legend, not a smelly, hairy reality that stood and spoke before him. Mick scrunched his nose at the wet-dog odour that emanated from the creature’s body. 

‘You don’t smell particularly nice yourself,’ the Bunyip gruffly replied to Mick’s disgust. 

‘Wh- what are you doing here?’ Mick asked, clenching his fists till they were white.

‘I live here.’ 


The Bunyip grinned slyly, letting the left corner of his mouth open enough for a thin sharp tooth to appear.

‘You don’t really know much about us, do you?.’

‘You live in billabongs?.’

‘Ha! Used to. Hasn’t rained in three summers.’

‘I know.’

‘No you don’t! Your house stays whether it rains or shines. My house always needs to be wet.’

Mick shuffled his shoes in the dirt underneath him. It has been a long three years. Mick couldn’t remember what rain even smelt like. 

‘You can help me get my home back though.’

Mick’s eyes widened as he raised his eyebrows.

 ‘A Bunyip only appears when a visitor to their billabong is deeply troubled and needs their help . . .’

‘I’m not troubled! I don’t need you!’ Mick protested.

The bunyip glared back at the boy.

‘But if I help you then the rain might come.’

‘Huh, right, the rain might come’ Mick taunted the Bunyip.

The Bunyip’s eyes gleamed, ‘You’ll see.’

‘I’m late getting back home.’

He walked past the Bunyip. I must be dreaming. But he could’ve sworn he heard the beast say to his back ‘see you tomorrow!’. However, he quickly forgot all about the Bunyip when he got home. His parents were so furious and exhausted that they didn’t say a word at all through dinner. Mick wasn’t going to get out of this one easy. 


The final lesson of the day was again, maths. Outside the classroom the wind spewed across the empty playground little rocks that pinged off the classroom windows. Mick hoped this was a greater sign that finally there was a rain storm coming. But the sky was still clear. 


A scrunched piece of paper bounced off the side of Mick’s forehead. The sounds of classroom chatter, scratching pens and fingers tapping on desks surrounded him once again. He looked up, meeting his teacher’s glowering stare. His teacher must have asked one of the boys to get his attention. He sighed with despair and continued with the lesson, turning back to the equation on the whiteboard.

Mick’s classmates giggled, especially the two larger boys sitting in the back row behind him, Jack and Andy. 

Mick hadn’t slept well that night and had no energy left to be his usual attention seeking self. It was then that he noticed a familiar coloured fur poking out from the top drawer in the teacher’s desk.

How did it get in here?.

Mick felt the hairs on the back of his head start to rise as the drawer began to rattle.

Whap! Another scrunched up piece of paper bounces off Mick’s head. His teacher pushed his glasses up his nose, shaking his head again. The giggles from his classmates were getting louder. Jack gestured to Andy next to him and then back to Mick. But Mick hadn’t noticed, as he was madly scribbling in his book, glancing up at every moment he could to check on the drawer. 

‘Hey Bluey!’ Jack called out. The class was quiet, the teacher seemingly preoccupied with the solution to the equation on the board. Mick instinctively touched his red hair. He hated that nickname. 

He didn’t respond, which only riled up Jack even more. 

‘You know, the year eleven guys are going to find ya after school today?.’ Most of the class had put down their pens to watch. ‘What are ya going to do about it?.’

Mick, to his detriment, hadn’t heard a word. His eyes were widening in fright as he fixated on the drawer that was now opening gradually, like in slow-motion.

A sweaty hand grabbed Mick’s shoulder, making him jump out of his skin and look up into Jack’s face. 

‘You know if you’re worried, I can give you some practice’ Jack offered menacingly.

‘Practice for wha-.’

A couple of the girls screamed whilst the rest of the class gasped. Mick turned back to look at the front of the class in horror as the Bunyip stood upon the top of the teacher’s desk, arms folded, glaring at the class. This is also when he noticed that the teacher’s arm that was lifted to write up on the board was stiff and unmoving. 

‘Sir!’ someone cried out.

The teacher didn’t respond. He was frozen in time, like a statue – his back to the class and his face to the board.

‘He can’t hear you,’ the bunyip responded, matter-of-factly ‘but don’t worry it’s only temporary.’

Students were now slowly climbing out of their seats and making their way to the back of the classroom. Jack remained with his hand gripping Mick’s shoulder tightly.

‘So, your name is Bluey . . .’

‘Get off me,’ Mick snapped out of his seat, slapping Jack’s hand off his shoulder and turned to yell at the Bunyip ‘don’t call me that!.’

‘Seems like you do need some help’ the Bunyip sniggered, Mick fuming.

‘What the hell is going on?’ Jack finally managed to spit out of his quivering mouth. 

The Bunyip grinned before he replied ‘It’s time I got my billabong back.’

‘Your what?.’

The Bunyip leapt off the desk and walked towards the two boys. His wide feet thumped against the thin worn carpet, his nails like cat claws scraping the occasional tuft out from underneath.

‘You,’ he pointed to Jack and then to Andy ‘are going to leave Bluey alone.’

Mick’s jaw dropped.

‘And you all can’t just sit back and laugh and think you have no part of it’ the Bunyip then waved his paw at the rest of the class as some of the other students clutched each other closer.

‘Or what?!’ Andy squeaked from behind Jack.

The Bunyip bared his teeth in a menacing grin and let out a guttural growl that shook the tables, chairs and windows.

‘Cheers Bunyip’ Mick thanked the beast, grinning at the rest of his classmates cowering in fear.

‘Don’t mention it, literally’ the Bunyip replied then disappeared outside through an open window.

The class scrambled from one end of the classroom to another, but the Bunyip had, for lack of better words, vanished into thin air. No trace of any of the bright orange stripes and shiny black fur in any of the trees out-skirting the playground.

‘What are you all doing out of your seats?.’

The entire class whipped their heads around in unison as their teacher stood with hands on his hips, completely oblivious to what had just happened.

‘Nothing sir’ Mick, Jack and Andy half-shouted back in reply.

The teacher took a step towards the windows to investigate and at the very same moment the first break of thunder rattled the small town. Now everyone was squealing, glueing their faces to the glass and hanging their heads out the window at the grey-green sky. As the thunder began to roll like a big drum the teacher gave up and shouted, ‘let’s go!’ to his class, as chairs and tables tumbled out of the way of the stampeding students. 

The rest of the school was emptying into the playground, students and teachers alike holding out their hands under the now black sky. In all the chaos, Mick hadn’t noticed the year eleven boys raising their heads above the crowd to search for him.

‘There he is!’ one of them shouted.

Mick looked from side to side, arms outstretched, searching for an escape.

‘You want to go for round two, Bluey?.’

Just as Mick clenched his fists at his sides, ready to defend himself, lightning flashed across the horizon. Its electric white lit up against the sky as the school cheered and the first, big, fat drops of precious water slapped the dust on the ground at their feet.

Mick braced himself to face the others but when he looked back down they were gone. He glanced around in panic as the year eleven boys instead were embracing each other and dancing along in celebration with everyone else. It was as if they had completely forgotten about him. The hairs on the back of Mick’s neck began to raise as he turned and watched the Bunyip scurry back into the bush from the playground on all fours. The Bunyip turned, giving him a final look and a wink before disappearing again for good. 

‘Thanks again’ the boy shouted back at the Bunyip, not even sure that it could hear him over the joyous raucous. Students began to grab handfuls of mud from the ground and slap it onto each other’s backs. Mick felt the mud’s cool wetness against his own as he turned to meet Jack and Andy’s grins. 

‘Pretty weird pet you’ve got mate’ Jack said.

‘What did you call it again? A bunyip?’ Andy asked.

Mick grinned at the two, putting his hands on either one’s shoulders and said, ‘Let me tell you a story . . .’

Sue-Ella Bailey is currently a third year student studying a Bachelor of Arts with Secondary Education. She’s passionate about nurturing the storytellers of the future and giving teens a voice through their writing. Drawn to Australian historical fiction, you’ll mostly find her on a beach, writing a story at sunrise.