So many thoughts come, in my hunger to record the shape of that which ails me.
Memories, imprinted like typewriter keys on the wet, spongy mass of the brain, feel transient, like ancient scrolls or commandments inscribed on crumbling slate, eroded by desert winds in unfathomably ancient ages. The memories of a man, fragmented in time - wet with horror and delusion.
For some reason, softer memories of childhood rise to the surface sometimes, like leaves in a dirty backyard pool, only to become too raw and shamefully unclothed when exposed to the sunlight of a middle aged man’s temperament.
I remember games of Checkers with my great Grandfather, Ildor Hearst, who appears in my mind’s eye as a-kind-of Russian Santa Claus, wirey beard and carven forehead. He was a stern man, and would always be ranting his archaic religious views. Prostheletising the fall of modern Babylon and the age of the Nihilist.
He would play Checkers with me, sharp movements, wooden circles slammed down with impunity. He never let me win. Saw his dominance as a matter of instruction and learning. As I look back nostalgically, sometimes, I yearn for Great Grandfather Ildor’s black and white mentality of good and evil, lightness and darkness... and an over arching confidence in the eventual triumph of mankind. Rather than the bleak reality of the post modernist distopia in which I live.
I recall vividly, after those intense games, once Ildor had imparted his thorny wisdom, I would be granted relaxation and be free to play with my own toys, scattered around my grandparents wooden floor boards; Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers, Wonder Woman, Spider Man and He-Man. Mine was always a multicoloured world of complex morality and democratic voices ... all of which ran into muddy paradigms that seemed totally outside the circle of Great Grandad’s moral compass.
These days, as a real estate Agent, I am occasionally gifted limited insights into a checkerboard like world of manipulation and sinister intentions, but mine is to perceive the evil of global finance, and the general unfairness of land ownership and rabid, unchecked capitalism...but with no delusion of an interventionalist God to pull us out of the hole we humans have dug for ourselves.
My name is Vilson Hearst, and I am a Real Estate Agent for Steel City Real Estate in Hexton, Australia.
Perhaps you think yourself free from the real estate game. Perhaps, you are a fool.
Perhaps you are satisfied with your lot in life, making a simple way for yourself, with a mortgage and a family, (if you should be so lucky to afford to get into the housing market at all that is). Then, could be that you are living a student lifestyle, paying rent, constantly paying off another cunning man’s mortgage, or worse still, perhaps you have abandoned the fight, to cower in your parents basement, with the real world slowly closing in on you, as you desperately try to escape into a world of Hollywood movies, video games or creepy pasta.
You are all in the real estate game, wether you like it or not. There is a broader game of capital and estate, which is increasingly complex, and even those like myself who’s job it is to ‘follow the money’ sometimes are completely lost at sea in the Darwinian struggle of the global free market.
Studying finance at Bourkeley University,.. I did my PHD thesis about money and the aquisition of power. I spent a solid year, studying the major players in global banking, watched the Chinese ICBC rise to become the wealthiest banking institution in the world. I tracked the strange and secretive trails of the richest investors, after the terrorist attacks on September 11, watching money transfer around the globe in secret trust funds, private meetings of powerful elites in Shanghai—as the Chinese World Trade Centre “Tower Three” was built, in the image of the destroyed Twin Towers of New York, (which is no coincidence, given it was constructed by the same architecture group; Skidmore Owings and Merril, (who also constructed the replacement One World Trade Centre.))
I studied Wikileaks and other whistleblower organisations. Gained secret documents, and learned of meetings between wealthy individuals; John Fallon, the chief executive of Pearson Education, the company which controls half the worlds schooling institutions— made a private deal in 2015 with Indra Nooyi and Paul Bulcke, Chairman and CEO of Nestle and PepsiCo, the owners of the majority of global food and confectionary. You wonder why our children are so desperately obese.
I was constantly surprised by the familiarity of these billionaires with one another. For instance, you might not know, that Hugh Grant, the CEO of Monsanto, the sinister company who has come to dominate a stronghold on global agriculture, (and who, among more nefarious acts, was responsible for manufacturing the deadly ‘Agent Orange’ poison in Vietnam and causing countless generational mutations).. just happens to be close friends with the CEO of Lockheed Martin, the dominant power in weapons manufacturing and ultimately what people mean when they talk about the ‘military industrial complex’.
Guns don’t kill people. Corporations do. But you knew that already.
Other minutes from meetings by the powerful, would have many questioning what the leaders of certain organisations could possibly have to discuss with each other,... such is the nature of the unheard of D40 meeting in a chateau in Shandong Province; where Barry Lam, chairman and founder of Quanta computers, the name behind the majority of computing technology, was recently in discussion with Carlos Brito, the CEO of InBev; the name behind all the major alcohol players—Ian Read, the CEO of Pfizer, who basically controls the entire legal drug market, Mark Zuckerberg and the CEO Of Alphabet Inc— who own Google and most of the rest of the internet. Now these meetings bare direct relationships with the stock trading happening in the World Trade Centre Tower Three in China. The minutes from these meetings contained discussion both controversial and amazingly nuanced, and the complexity of the global solutions some of these key players in the tech revolution were coming up with would’ve gone over the heads of even the top IQ holders from 98 percent of high schools in the world. Nonetheless, some of the darker plans by these shady monopolies would terrify you, more than you could possibly know.
To understand Australian land ownership, the problem becomes more of a global puzzle.
The figures who own the most land globally, are, the King of Saudi Arabia, The Pope and the Catholic Church, Hugh Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster certainly has a cut, and of course, the Queen of Britain herself, Elizabeth ...(who currently owns about a sixth of the worlds land, some 6.6 Billion Acres, more commonly known as the Commonwealth Realm, (which includes two thirds of Antarctica, Time Square in New York, Canada, New Zealand and of course ... Australia.) These people, i’ve learned, are not particularly interested in the debate around land ownership coming to the forefront of the global conversation, and billionaire media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Andrew Packer have filled their bank accounts, making it their mission to keep just such subjects off the family dinner table, with distractions like ‘My Kitchen Rules’ and ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ filling Australian television channels.
The question of wether anyone owns land in Australia, or if it is in fact all owned by the Queen of England, is a contentious one, particularly when you factor in the confounding elements such as the status of Norfolk Island, which at one time was, on a technicality, not owned by anyone except for the fictitious body ‘The Crown’ (until being taken over by the Australian Capital Territory, in 2015). Then when you consider the original claim of the British that the Australian nation was unoccupied or ‘Terra Nullius’ when Europeans arrived, a truth widely held as fact until the precedent of the Mabo Decision in the Torres Straight islands in 1992. This decision returned some land ownership rights back to certain aristocratic lineages of the native people. However, the paradox leaves a complex and enduring problem for the future of land ownership in Australia and what that exactly entails.
In Hexton, the most rapidly developing city in Australia, corporate billionaires have their stakes in national land ownership, yet meanwhile... National Parks, Botanical Gardens and other public spaces are unapologetically ‘Crown lands’, a fact which is still testified by the names of the spaces; Kings Domain, Queen’s Square, and other titles which clearly and proudly display the heritage of monarchic ownership deeply entrenched within the Australian property market.
Of course, even within the field of Australian National Real Estate, the individual estate agent becomes bogged down even further in matters of local estates, so that these important issues take second stake to the sales and acquisitions of the day.
Steel City Real Estate, the company I work for, is a nation wide brand, but our particular office in Albert Park consists of about nine agents.
I spend most of my time competing with the golden boy of Steel City, Greg Leisdadt. Greg has consistently won the monthly sales targets in our office for over a year. His desk is covered in trophies, awards, and framed certificates adorn the walls behind him.
I’m not sure what words could aptly describe Leisdadt; his wolf-like eyes, both evil and mesmerising. A cannibal grin consisting of Colgate super white teeth, and those gelled locks of amber hair which hang impossibly, like an arch villain over his forehead. Greg oozes saleable confidence which grates my own nervous disposition sufficiently towards constant despair.
The only force which makes the constantly eclipsing day to day victories of Leisdadt bearable to me is Natasha Valuvjdavo. She is the agent who sits on the adjacent table to me in the office.
I confess, for some time, I was profoundly attracted to Natasha, and had to stop myself from gushing and fawning over her. She is a demure, and assertive brunette, her crimson lips could kill a boat full of sailors. Unfortunately, she is engaged to a man named Fred, who is something of a wet blanket, yet I must discard my jealousy and confess that for whatever reason, Natasha seems happy in her domestic life. My only solace in this, being that Greg Leisdadt, the man who has everything, although persistently flirtatious, has never made a dent in Natasha’s self security. She is thankfully not attracted to him.
But now I should refrain from being sidetracked and talk about the subjects which, you, the reader, more likely desire to hear of. For my tale is no idle blathering of romantic ennui, or global conspiracy—but rather the trauma of my profession, does persist— in both being exposed to the ruthless game of money/power, but moreover being haunted by knowledges both gothic and Victorian. For there is no other game in town, where one is more exposed to unwanted or haunted real estate; the devil hounded, and the wished forgotten.
There are the houses that are impossible to sell, because of brutal or public bloody murders that have occurred to the prior occupants. Wether psychological or other, the frequency of those who purchase such forbidden and damned abodes —then in no matter of time, flee and sell at carelessly lower settlement costs, with tales of unhallowed things returned to life, or clanking noises in the basement...why... this simple fact of the real estate market is as common as there is. A story as old as time.
Now perhaps I could spend months repeating the folk lore surrounding that dilapidated and spiritually unsaveable address; that run down, trash infested garden, and collapsing terrace roof of no 13 MacArthur Street.
But this could take a conceivably longer time period, and I shall reserve my energy for the most disturbing and horrific of these preternatural experiences.
Though I should briefly mention Vernon tower, for though this wasn’t the property which near drove me to insanity, it factors too far into the disturbing tapestry of the veiled or hidden real estate scene.
Now, Vernon tower, is an enormous building in South Hexton. Our agency deals more with rentals than with sales of the apartments in that old, and curious piece of architecture. Built as early as 1866, there has always been something profoundly wrong with Vernon towers. Of course, it is me who has to deal with most of the tennants of that foreboding block, for it is the Hearst legacy to be fated just such dull luck.
Thus it is always, I, who takes the phone calls from disgruntled students and drug addicts; Vernon Tower is unprecedentedly cheap, due to its history. Yet the impoverished clientele still have no issue burning my ear off; to complain of strange mechanic noises, or those bizarre phosphorescent green lights. Then there was the girl who tried to sue us, after her seizure from what she claimed to see inside the laundry room. That manner of description I can scarce repeat for its absurdness and high strangeness.
But let me get to the more dreadful incident which frightens me even to recall.
Indeed, it had all begun with that infernal property in Elwood, which I was in terse competition to sell... pitted unwittingly against the undefeated Super-Agent, Greg Leisdadt.
The spectacularly immense mansion on Ormond Road, was once occupied by billionaire Serbian entrapaneur Dimitrije Stojanovic, who I’m told partially drafted the architectural plans for the immense mansion himself, before he had it constructed on the corner of Ormond and Radkin Streets. The nature of the oddities surrounding that place however, extend not from the architectural style of the lot itself, (mind you those odd modernist geometric pylons, stepped piers and sail-like rooves do lend a kind of funereal gothicness to the address.)
However, it was the murder of Stojanovic which caused true fluctuations of interest in the property. Given the public knowledge of the horrendous murder, the property value was incalculably lower than its market worth. It seemed the image of the alleged burglar breaking into Stojanovic’s window, and bludgeoning him to death in the lounge room with a heavy trophy or statue of some kind— somehow grinding his skin off as with multiple teeth, or a spiked club—stayed in the public mind, thanks to Channel 9’s ‘A Current Affair’ and their sensational program about the incident. For interest in the property remained uncharacteristically low. Perhaps the fact that the murderer has yet to be identified or captured by police, nor the murder weapon found, hasn’t helped the matter.
Now, as I have mentioned this was not the first time our staff had dressed up a ‘murder property’. But the truly disturbing elements began to happen during the time the property came under my tenure.
Now, I should proclaim sincerely that I am by no means a superstitious man, I admonish my readers to believe that I was just as skeptical about the soon to be foretold events as you, had I not experienced them myself, I should fiercely doubt my own sanity. I should also divulge a little more information about Dimitrije Stojanovic himself, (the owner of the grand mansion) as the web of intrigue very much seems to hinge on his professional history.
Stojanovic made his billions in Silicon Valley, working in many aspects of the tech industry, investing timely in companies like Facebook and crypto currencies like Bitcoin, when the time was right. in the move to Australia it seems that his ambition was to try out his own company idea in the developing market of Hexton, where the game was not already dominated and over exposed.
With this intent he came out, built his immense mansion in Elwood, Moonsmoth, and immediately started channeling his money into the development of something called .....‘DigiTown’.
Now being neither a tech expert myself, nor expecting such of my audience, I will explain the fundamentals of the ‘DigiTown’ concept in the same manner it was explained to me by Neil Druton, a four eyed nerd with an immense forehead who was one of the developers working for Dimitrije Stojanovic, before he died. I had decided to interview Druton, to get the background on the Stojanovic case to find a more positive angle for investors. I figured if I could distract the buyer from the details of the murder, and big talk the profile of Stojanovic himself, “the prolific entrapaneur”, this might flatter the egos of other wealthy entrapaneurs to buy it out.
Druton told me he had been working for Stojanovic for about six months, mostly at the office Space Dimitrije was renting in Southbank. He described Stojanovic as ruthless, and borderline insane, but nonetheless he spoke of ‘DigiTown’ with respect, a ‘unique’ and ‘brilliant’ project, which would have been at the forefront of the tech industry, if it had ever been finished.
Put in layman’s terms, Druton explained that the project had a great deal in common with Bill Gates plans for a ‘smart city’ but on a more achievable scale.
I could tell Druton was oversimplifying the description for my sake, no doubt parroting Dimitrije’s marketing pitches for investors. But he described it like this; ‘Imagine a kind of augmented portal, with a built infrastructure and virtual architecture planned by white collar professionals, a crypto currency run communal space, overlayed over a modern city space, where your own request portal is linked to different reference cubes; Town Square, Library Cube, Media Station, Entertainment Centre, Eateries, telematics and roads authority, and these all function via the same channels as an actual city.’ ‘So you mean, instead of one social media interface trying to network everything, the actual infrastructure of a city is built out within the media itself?’ I asked. ‘Yeah pretty much’ Druton replied, seeing I had sensed the practical nature, adaptability, and profitability of the software, all over the world. ‘ATMs, shops, business, smart cars and machinery— all worked into the same dual augmented system. Superimposed as a direct collorary.’ It got me thinking paranoid, and I asked Druton earnestly; ‘Do you think if another rogue in the tech industry knew about Stojanovic’s idea, it would have been a groundbreaking idea enough to have killed him over?’ Druton went silent, and sweated a little from his pimpled forehead. I didn’t need to hear him answer the question, it was written all over his shrivelled face.
I spent a good couple of months doing my research on Dimitrije’s mansion. (I would’ve loved to cover up the existence of the current owner of the mansion). Rich heiress Stacey White bought the house, and lived in it for a month before she got spooked— and decided to resell it. I made sure to get the story straight, offering Stacey a hot cup of Bush tea, and asking her precisely what she saw.
Here’s what she told me; ‘I was alone, in that creepy mansion, at night,... and I got a weird feeling. There was a strong wind, and it was dark. The gum tree in the front yard bends a lot in the wind, and sometimes the branches whip against the side of the house. I was just getting used to that noise, but this time it was something different, almost lost in the whistling wind. It was a lower kind of ...moaning. A deep, pained groan. I got up to check I hadn’t left something on in the kitchen. I went to turn on the light switch but the globe burnt out. That’s when it happened. Almost like a mini-earthquake, but there was this strange energy. Then the gas stove just lit up, a green flame. It wasn’t on, but the kitchen was illuminated in a kind of underwater hue. Then—-(Stacey began to gasp and sob)—-then... in the darkness — I saw it!! A green head! Half a Human head, but mangled, half the skull bashed in, shimmering like I was looking through glass. It spoke to me ....in a voice that made the room cold. Just—-(she broke down into tears, suppressing a scream). H—his lips... cold, green lips. Steam coming from his mouth. He said — he said—- ‘Beware the Wagluh’.
As this point she became incommunicable.
I felt an increasing sickness in the ensuing weeks, the cause was unknown, but chiefly matched my mental state. It must’ve been around this time when I first saw the strange rune which had been spray painted on the abandoned building in Elwood. I was doing my rounds, why I should’ve noticed the strange glyph remains beyond my understanding, yet there it was. A curious, green shape, interrupted by a stark arrow and a kind-of ladder shape above it.
I was becoming increasingly stressed and agitated by the competitive sale of Dimitrije’s mansion. My manager Herron Del Ray had been hounding me to make a sale, it had been months since I had successfully got a down payment from a client. Del Ray had threatened redundancy in no uncertain terms, and the stress was beginning to erode my total mental well being.
In conversations with my beautiful colleague Natasha around this time, I found her to be kind, but not particularly helpful. Her advice was that if I was going to beat Leisdadt, I would have to compete with him at his own game. She told me on one particular occasion I should just lie to clients about the gruesome murder in the house, or omit it from the description altogether. This was both against my moral compass, and senseless, for the case was so popular, I felt sure that any potential investor would know of it, to omit it would only anger them.
That same day I got a call from a potential buyer named Greame De Montague. Leisdadt watched me like a hawk as I took the call, giving me a cunning look. The stare flustered my nerves, but choking through the phone I agreed for an inspection with De Montague. He would be the fifth buyer I had spoken to, all four previous investors had abandoned their inquiries when learning more about the murder, or after having seen the contract of sale.
I calmed myself the day of the appointment by speaking soft mantras to myself under my breath. I knew I had to push this client to a final purchase, and my job security depended on it. Greg Leisdadt was leaning against the bronze statue of a Cheetah in our office as I was leaving, mocking me with the words ‘Good luck, Vilson old boy.’
It was a cold autumn day, and brown leaves blew around the streets in gusts of curdled wind.
I had arranged to meet Mr De Montague on Beach Avenue, so that we might walk down to Ormond Street and view the mansion. As an eerie coincidence the corner we agreed to meet was precisely at the point that odd rune was sprayed on the abandoned building in Elwood.
Greame De Montague was standing on the corner as I arrived in my light grey sedan. He was standing in front of the odd rune, as though the symbol itself had somehow marked his presence in an unexplainable yet mystical time stamp. I couldn’t see his car parked anywhere. He was wearing a very curious oufit, particularly for Australia, although the weather was reasonably cool that autumn day. He wore a kind of black velvet robe, cut in the shape ...not unlike an Orthodox Jew’s regalia. It tarried at the bottom into a sort of deep purple cape. On his head he wore a buckled Capotain, and in his hand, a decorated staff. I wondered if his clothing indicated the excesses of vanity of the social media age, or if he was perhaps a foreign prince of some kind.
I stepped out of the car, and approached De Montague with my hand extended. I could see now he had a strange face, with slanted owl-like eyebrows, and a fluffy round beard that gave him an almost koala-bear-shaped head.
Mr De Montague raised his hand and met my embrace, shaking my hand with a firm clasp. ‘It’s lovely to meet you Greame. I have a feeling you are going to love this property.’ ‘Please. Call me Lord De Montague.’ The stern man insisted, ‘I descend from Carpathian royalty, the son of a Duke.’ ‘Very well M’lord.’ I replied, my tone accidentally tinged with irony, ‘Have you come ...very far today?’ I asked trying to distract from my faux pas with a bluff of small talk. I couldn’t help staring at the strange Necklace around De Montague’s neck. It seemed to be made of solid gold, and was comprised of a chain of large charms, each coin depicting deities from Ancient Asian and Mesopotamian religions.
I began walking, unsure what to say but deciding to lead De Montague down towards Ormond Street. There was a terrifying stillness on the street that day. The sun dried grass seemed frozen in time, and the grey sky moaned geriatrically, with the energy of a tired giant trying to fend off the vast abyss of Space.
I noticed that De Montague was not moving, but had instead stopped firmly in his tracks. His face gave off a distinct lack of pathos.
‘Mr Hearst.’ Lord De Montague’s grainy voice echoed; ‘This is the wrong way.’ I turned and looked back at him confused, but De Montague quickly supplanted my curiosity ‘We should walk down Vautier Street. It comes out closer to the property on Ormond.’ By my own calculations, the distance was exactly the same, but as I was in a desperate state of flattery, I decided to humour the strange, old man, though I now questioned wether my client might be an eccentric madman, who merely thought he was born of Royalty, in his delusions.
Nonetheless, I followed De Montague and we wandered down the leafy, terraced streets.
‘Tell me something Mr Hearst’ De Montague began to speculate; ‘Have you ever heard the expression ‘Old Money’?’ I looked at him trying to gage his meaning; ‘Yes, of course.’ I replied. ‘The man who owned this mansion’, De Montague continued in a practiced refrain; ‘It is my understanding he was one of the new breed. Wouldn’t you say? Those who make their fortunes on the gamble— or the changing technologies of the world, but haven’t yet come to fully comprehend the system as it works. As it has always worked.’ ‘I’m afraid I haven’t come to fully appreciate your meaning.’ I replied with honest perplexion. ‘My ancestors were very interested in Asian spirituality’ De Montague continued in a seemingly distracted soliloquy, ‘The De Montagues have migrated for some time you see. Sharing something in common with the Romani people of Europe. I have had ancestors who have lived, over the centuries, in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea and the Phillipines. Do you know what is the one thing these vastly different cultures all have in common?’ ‘I do not’ I confessed. ‘Reverence for ones ancestors, and respect for ones elders, and an overwhelming policy of acceptance towards the natural systems that have always existed.’ ‘That’s very interesting’ I replied, gawking about anxiously and wondering where the conversation was leading. ‘I have only more recently come to adapt the principles of the Japanese Shinto religion into my philosophy Mr Hearst. However I think we could all take a page out of that discipline, and it’s superior attitude towards the unknown. You know, in some sense the Shinto practitioners had an almost scientific approach to their spirituality. Certainly, like with the Eastern superstitions, the Shinto perceived a longing towards extra sensory insights into a hidden or secret world supposed to lie beneath the surface of our material life. However, we can say that the Shinto practitioners never got into the awkward and complex dogma of hierarchical worship. Rather, they merely approached each of their animistic inhabitations of spirit that they encountered with the proper fear and respect that one should properly apply to creatures or Gods we fail to yet understand.’ ‘It’s an interesting religion.’ I said, still utterly confused as to what the eccentric prince was attempting to convey.
‘I see you’ve mistaken my warning.’ De Montage continued in a more stern and serious tone, as we passed rows of trimmed hedges and decorative fences. ‘It is right to fear that which we don’t understand Master Hearst. We ought to treat our material supervisors with more respect. Now, I confess, it has never been the object of my ancestors to worship the unseen. Only a fool wishes to make a slave of themselves to a devil they don’t know. But respect, awe, fear, that is different. That is the core of wisdom. Now.... I confess to you... My own aristocratic ancestors, have had more of a vested interest in acquiring artefacts and precious minerals that can absorb such unknown energies. To tap into the mechanisms of nature and the outer spheres of unseen chemistry, that is where one can find the tools to bring about the acquisition of power!’ I began to become totally speechless, realising now, that I was in the presence of a lunatic. We were still about five minutes from the Serbian’s property, and De Montague now began to rave in such a strange and sinister manner, that he appeared some demented imp, his lecture was so insane. ‘So it was for the ones who claimed the future. Those beings with silken robes of silver, who sought the forbidden wisdom from beyond the abysses of Space and time. They are like the watcher, and we are but the conduits to their ancient digital powers. Yet if you could perceive the outlines of the Shapeshifter, who is the lost among us all, and he who brings the bitterness from the original tragedy. Then, perhaps you could understand what the Hindu’s really worship, in the form of their metamorphosising God of many evolutionary attributes.’ Mr De Montague suddenly stopped, slamming the steel cap of his staff upon the cracked concrete, and turned to me; ‘Mr Hearst, this is my warning for you! You cannot outwit the darker destinies of the force that itself conjures black holes. Have due reverence for the unseen beast which lurks beneath, and threatens your soul with eternal mutilation. Stand down from that property, and abandon your research into the disappearance of that accursed Serbian. I send this warning as a friend, and wether or not you take it up, I tell you that your colleague Greg will still make the sale, whichever path you choose.’ De Montague suddenly scowled like a rabid dog, grabbing my hand and thrusting the handle of his cane upon my palm. ‘Cursed child— I have the power of the Chiromancer, and that which is engraved upon your line of fate, makes it clear. But there is still time to evade the mark of this warning.’ Suddenly, I shrieked, for my palm began stinging with pain, and I realised that the silver etched handle of the staff was unfathomable degrees hot. I pulled my hand away before the impression became irreversible; ‘Ouch, you burnt my hand!’ I cried.
De Montague then seemed satisfied that his message had been delivered. He immediately hoisted back his staff, then let out a sound almost like a wolf’s growl. Then he seemed to perform a magicians trick of some form. For he cast the staff down at my feet, but as it fell there, a glimmer of light played a trick on me. I stepped back in fear, for that which lay across my feet, was no longer that of carven wood, but a coiled brown snake, who raised itself and hissed through fangs, and quivering forked tongue. I turned and dashed out of the snakes attack perimeter.
I gazed down at my stinging palm, to see with terror and trepidation that the burn mark in my hand imprinted from the image on the cane— it was the same strange glyph that was painted on the house.
Panting and sweating, tripping over my clumsy feet, as I rotated again to survey the scene, I saw now with incredulity the brown snake remained upon the pavement, but De Montague himself was long gone.
The hoax plagued me for hours afterward, I had been pranked it seemed, by some rich and bored eccentric trickster, who never intended to view the property at all. Or he was an escaped lunatic from Bourkeley Asylum perhaps. As I was already in the area, after a sufficient down time, when my heartbeat had reduced and my manic paranoia dissipated —I resolved to continue to Ormond Street anyway.
When I got to the property my fading anger was rebuked, for I saw two cars parked outside the late Serbian’s mansion. ‘Leisdadt’ I cursed.
As I walked up the modern staircase, I saw a cheerful looking man m, wearing a scarf, leaving, who Greg had obviously just shown around the property. He seemed fearfully optimistic about the place, and I continued cursing under my breath until I reached the hallway where Greg was standing, smugly, with a clipboard. He seemed even more satisfied when I came to the door; ‘You better watch out for that one’ Greg said in a tone that sent me into a rage; ‘He seems very keen. What happened to your 4’oclock?’ ‘Someone pulled a prank on me’ I cursed. I began to wonder if Greg had organised the incident with the charlatan somehow. Leisdadt tried hard to refrain from breaking out into a grin, ‘That’s a shame. Your luck has to come up one day Hearst.’ Leisdadt chuckled, but then seemed to remember something— ‘I thought you signed off on the clearance papers anyway Hearst.’ He said, ‘After Stacey White complained about the dead guy’s stuff still laying around, I thought you had the house completely emptied.’ ‘What of it?’ I asked. Greg leaned over to the ornately decorated mantle piece, pulling open the dresser drawer below the mirror and revealing a stack of haphazard papers and letters. ‘Can you take care of these?’ He insisted coldly, ‘I’ve got a last minute potential sale of that impossible property, 13 MacArthur Street. Can you believe my luck? We haven’t had a buyer for that place in years.’ I scowled into my neck as Leisdadt left via the rear entrance of the mansion. Grumbling and moving towards the papers, I cursed myself for so easily being persuaded to do what Greg could’ve done himself.
I mumbled, calling myself a sucker under my breath as I leafed through the papers.
Then, I turned over something which captured my interest. It was a sleek black diary, and as I turned the pages I came to realise that it had evidently belonged to Dimitrije. I flicked through the musty pages, seeing that the entries of the private journal dated up until the Serbian’s disappearance. I began to read with fascination and morose intrigue;
Here is the transcript of the more interesting parts of Dimitrije's diary: http://textuploader.com/dh4w4
Dimitrije Stojanovic died on the 13th of October, 2016.
The strange diary had a terrible effect on me. I became deeply paranoid that I was wedged within a catastrophic and deep conspiracy. Though I couldn’t fully understand the map laid out by the corners of my discoveries, there was enough of a pattern that I knew there was some terrible logic beneath it all.
I found the references to Vernon Towers and the architect ‘Von Marrickville’ extremely intriguing and began to further my own research on the property which was already familiar to me. I had always known that Vernon Towers was an old heritage building. But I had never researched the buildings actual construction. So it was, that I found out more about the strange creator, borrowing a book about the eccentric architect Veda Von Marrickville from Hexton library.
The book was fascinating. Von Marrickville, it turned out was a fairly prolific architect of the day, who was commissioned to build a series of buildings around Hexton city. Of particular interest to me, where the four or five buildings Von Marrickville built in a kind of arc around Port Phillip Bay, pointing towards Valsbury docks. Von Marrickville was a Dutch native who came out to Australia in 1834, one of the key buildings on the Port Phillip Bay side of Hexton was Vernon Towers, which I read to my astonishment was funded by a wealthy nobleman named Aaron De Montague. I couldn’t find out much about the De Montague family or their history in Australia, but I was beginning to think it must have been the same family as the De Montague whom I had met. Von Marrickville describe Vernon Towers as an ‘occult conduit’ and layered it with engraved symbology. He suffered a tragic fate, and wound up raving as an inmate in Bourkeley Asylum.
Since reading the diary, I have begun to experience strange anomaly. I visited Vernon towers myself, looking for a particular architectural feature. To my surprise and terror I saw one of the green glyphs mentioned by Dimitrije.
I tried to track down De Montage, however have not seen him since that odd encounter. Searching for families of that name, the only people I could come across in Hexton was a family living in Brunswick. When I went to visit I found them to be a strange family of Indonesians who incidentally suffered from an unusual diverse range of diseases. The youngest daughter suffered autism, whilst her brother was an extreme Down syndrome case, and the mother herself had mental health issues. I concluded that these De Montagues probably bore no relation to the man I had met, if indeed he hadn’t lied about his name.
Then there was the day I found that bizarre egg. It was about the size of a milk carton, all speckled and grey, but it was broken in half, as though it had hatched. Yet I was positive no animal could have produced the egg, and could only assume that it was a student art project or installation of some kind. In any case, it seemed unrelated to the other strange occurrences.
I feel as though my sanity has completely abandoned me, torn more and more towards the point of collapse. Leisdadt has sold the Serbian’s property, and I haven’t been to work for a week, for fear of the consequences with my boss.
But worse, I’ve started to smell a.... to sense something. Something that I recognise from Dimitrije’s descriptions in his diary. How is it possible to sense the form of something that you have never seen. To know it sometime. To dream of a shrieking thing that soars through a red sky.
That mosquito like head. Immense lizard like body, bone and ribs, like a sharks egg. Black leather wings.
There was a brown parcel that arrived in the mail. The statue inside matches the description given by Dimitrije. It’s so hideously disfigured. Does it represent the swimming demon in my dreams?
I examined the edges closely, and the inscription which seems to be flecked with blood. Could it be the murder weapon they used to bludgeon the Serbian? What of his shredded corpse, what tore his body apart? As I sit, hailed up in my lounge room trying to distract my mind with escapist television, and recording this journal on my IPad. I fear something unfathomable which seeks my destruction.
I can hear noises, am I hallucinating?
Dear God! That banging outside the house.
After a weekend of rain of almost Biblical proportions across my adopted state, it's a pleasure to have a distraction from the carnage caused by the torrents. At one stage, I considered going to my local hardware to get 40 cubits of timber and start constructing a twenty-first century Ark. On the passenger list for my Ark, I would make room for two of every kind of bird and beast, with the exception of Carlton supporters, road ragers and those people who don't enjoy watching Goggle Box. submitted by
It's another cool and overcast Monday morning in Melbourne and the journey to The Vatican on Olympic Boulevard for Magpie fans is uneventful, this time in my beloved Leyland P-76. At the stage of life The Lad is at, even the simplest of joys are something to be savoured- seeing those who represent our club working so hard on individual and collective improvement is one such joy. On that note, nothing annoys me more than those fans who attend our games and criticise our players. As Teddy Roosevelt once proclaimed, "... It's not the critic who counts, but the man in the arena, splattered with sweat and blood but getting it done..!!"
In the seven days since I last experienced 'Nirvana' ( in the football sense), I have read an interesting biography of American General George Patton. 'Blood & Guts' as he was known by his troops once famously said, " If everyone agrees, then someone isn't thinking!!" This gave me pause to recall something I've noticed, but not reported on, from the past two sessions. At the end of the trainings, Buckley and his coaching cohort gather in the middle of the oval for a five to ten minute debrief. Discourse such as this gives Bucks' henchmen the opportunity to give feedback to the senior coach on the session just completed.
The oval is looking an absolute treat- even after the deluge, and it's surface is like a billiard table ( only with four pockets instead of six) and it's hard to imagine a better facility for our players to ply their trade on. A solitary runner runs lap after lap on the public running track inside the fence; her slight physique a direct contrast to the trim, taut and terrifically toned torsos of the Magpie players. Incongruously, for a summer training session, it's a mere fifteen degrees, there is a sprinkle of rain and the lights are on!
This week is notable as there are more senior players returning to work on the track. Fabulous to report that Ben Reid, Josh Thomas and Adam Treloar are out there amongst it. On his way to the rest of the playing group, Bucks stops and gives a hearty welcome to these players. There are a myriad of reasons why a player may miss training with the senior group: illness, specific weight training sessions, injury treatment to name a few, but today, the group is almost totally present in number. And they work with great energy and enthusiasm; when one hears the friendly banter amongst the playing group, it's clear that this is not an Ashes Test.
The group are showing enormous discipline in being on the track and prepared to start training at the allotted time. Like any footballers, they love latching on to a Sherrin and indulging their skills prior to the formal training beginning. Giving Daniel Wells a Sherrin is like handing a surgeon a scalpel- the instrument of choice is used for the purpose it is designed and his incisions are precise. One can almost envisage Wells slicing through the middle of the MCG in a big final, hitting up a Magpie teammate on the lead- hopefully this happens in 2018.
The gentle warm-ups cease abruptly and the players run to allotted areas on the ground- there is a discipline and attention to detail here that is very evident. Jeremy Howe stated on 'The Grind' last week that the players were up for the intensity that each session involved. I have watched the Magpies preseasons for many years and have not seen such a tough start to the preseason slog since Tom Hafey took the reins at the end of 1976. It may seem somewhat masochistic, but the players seem to be enjoying the 'real' nature of the drills. Players accept that they will be hit hard if they dally on disposals.
Stephenson certainly has 'wheels'- in a warm up he speedily picks up a loose ball and drills with precision, off either hand penetrating handballs. Great to see the captain fully- involved and getting heaps of encouragement from Sidey and Dunn at the first break in drills. There is a new face in the group- not sure who it is, but he looks like a cross between Gwilt and Chad Lidell with early Heretier Lumumba hairdo.
The drills today are arduous- taxing the endurance of the players under close pressure- the so-called ''Match-Sim". One of the toughest rotations the players are asked to perform involves running around the confines of the square playing 'keeping s- off by foot. Tyler Brown shows sublime skills by foot, hitting moving targets with ease, under pressure.
Another rotation has other newbies, Stephenson and Murphy working on contested drills with seniors such as Cox and Grundy under the watchful eye of Lockyer. This is played with less players than the other drill and the sharpness of Varcoe, Wells and Kirby stands out.
Between rotations, the players run a very sharp half lap, on group heading to the Rod Laver goals, the other to the Yarra River end before meeting in front of The Glasshouse Cafe. Daicos and Fasolo lead one group in whilst Smith and Greenwood ( left knee strapped) head the other group. As they pause in front of me, I catch a glimpse of Magden- this lad is very solid and certainly seems 'body-ready' to play AFL.
Anthony Rocca throws a ball in from the boundary in front of me and Tyler and Fasolo contest the ruck. The ball finds its way out the back to Moore who takes off at top speed, but is run down by Stephenson who wins the plaudits of the group. Crocker excels in this activity- able to alternately find the Sherrin on the inside of packs or get loose to receive as an outside player.
The drills are interchanged very quickly, it's hard to keep track, but in the next one, the player in front must protect the ball on the ground from a player behind him by intense shepherding. Tyler Brown is pitted against Lynden Dunn. The senior man instructs the newbie on how best to position his body- Brown is outmatched physically, but wins praise for his persistence.
Another throw-in from Rocca pits Mihocek against Magden- their two bodies clash hard and the spillage falls to Pendles . The only thing slicker than Pendles short, back and sides hairdo is the handball he sends to the fleet-of-foot Daicos whose foot pass hits Rocca in the middle of that gigantic chest. The next contest in ruck is between McLarty ( in head gear) and Mihocek. Determined to reverse a previous loss in a contest, McLarty out bodies Mihocek and then breaks away from the contest at speed.
A large group alternates between centre half forward and wing simulating ball ups. In one such scenario near goals, Buckley instructs the first player to receive the knock out to shoot on goal. Fasolo roves beautifully to a well-weighted Cox tap and drills on the right foot from forty out-goal...
It's now 10-30 and the group have been at it for over 75 minutes. The lift in intensity from previous weeks in terms of running is patently obvious. Bodies, young and old, are being put under strain, but this scribe hears nothing but encouragement. Rookie Appleby seems a naturally gifted runner and also quite adept with ball in hand. Hine described him as a multidimensional defender with elite endurance. Nothing The Lad has seen today would doubt what our recruiter said. In a reprise of the final drill of last week, half the group run laps at full pace, passing to coaches placed around the boundary. Kirby is busting his gut during this drill, his passing of the ball precise. Not sure if Mason Cox reads Nicks, but his foot is intercepting the ball closer to the ground on the short kicks and today his passes travel through the air faster, his McGough 'helicopter-kicks' nowhere in sight.
The entire group, less those in rehab, now play a practice match in an area no bigger than a soccer pitch. Reds versus Blacks. The ball is kicked in from full back by Crisp to Magden whose floater is intercepted by Moore. However, the ball is turned over and finally ends up with Broomhead who snaps truly. A minute later, Broomhead crumbs off a Cox spillage and snaps his second. Although, technically, the game is played as a rolling scrum/ pack, it would appear that Smith is playing forward ( and doing well) and Moore forward. Murphy is moving extremely well and his kicking is very slick, driving the ball forward with precision. He is also very mobile- I think he has a promising future, once his body fulfills the promise playing at this level demands. In keeping with the past few weeks, tackling is both evident and encouraged a few players on the Black team underestimate the closing speed of Varcoe who punishes their lack of peripheral vision/ awareness. An unselfish pass from Blair allows Broomhead a third goal. From the resulting centre ball up, Cox floors Grundy, the ball ends up with Smith who then hits Mason with a precise pass to the Quiet American who had charged forward from the centre.
An indecisive Mihocek then clears long from defence, the ball spills to 'Black' Howe who takes on Murphy. The youngster refuses to let last year's 'real' Mark of the Year winner pass and the resultant free results in a goal and pats from his peers.
The back half match-ups are interesting: McLarty on Mayne, Howe on Tyler Brown, Magden on Murphy and Crisp on Kirby. The younger men are by no means disgraced.
Match practice ends with another boundary sprint. Of concern to me is Grundy pointing to his lumbar region and being worked on by the club physio. Thankfully, he regains his feet and resumes his place with the squad. By this time, the younger players have taken position up near Olympic Boulevard and are working on handball and short kicking. The senior players are down at the Yarra end. After the rain, the Yarra resembles the Ganges river of India.
De Goey, Callum Brown and Lynch continue to run laps, of the oval, their honest commitment to being at peak physical fitness by the start of practice matches is really impressive.
A large group works on a 'perpetual motion' goal kicking drill. This is a real tough drill as players must run, dodge and kick at goal under pressure whilst fatigued. No stand outs, but Murphy simply never misses and Lynch is a fine kick for one so tall. Two groups of four under the watchful eye of Boyd, Bucks, Harvey and Longmuir play handball keepings-off- the loser has to sprint forty metres and then win the ball back from a resting group of four. Varcoe continues to tackle teammates like they owe him money! Inspiring effort from the former Cat star.
Kirby, Pendlebury, Hoskin-Elliot and Phillips make a formidable quartet in this drill. They are quick of hand and elusive and make the other foursomes work hard to dispossess them. Cox, who has the wingspan of an A380 Airbus is a huge asset to his group which includes Broomhead and Crocker.
In one exercise, a pinpoint pass from Smith from over 40 metres hits Buddha Hocking on the chest- the former Cat veteran then feeds the ball back to Smith with a 25 metre handball which Smith accepts without breaking stride. It really is true what they say- form is temporary, but class is permanent.. It's clear that even at 49 years of age, Hocking has lost none of his immense football ability or class.
Ben Crocker continues to impress; first on the track and frequently the last off it. He has a tremendous work ethic. Whilst his 2017 was poor, he showed promise in 2016 and appears hungry to be a regular player in 2018. He can often be witnessed being advised by the assistant coaches and senior teammates- it's important to remember this lad is only 20 years of age. Track watchers may notice Crocker working hard on one aspect of his game at training and wonder if he will ever make the grade. At times like these, we need to exercise patience and remember the beautiful words written by Bryce Courteney in his seminal novel, 'The Power of One'; "The largest waterfall begins with a single drop of water!"
Tommy Langdon continues to emerge as a young leader. Although his tonsorial choices have raised more eyebrows than a Hollywood facelift Clinic, his importance as an organiser of the back half appears to be growing with every session. If Langdon was a crypto currency, he could be the Bitcoin player of 2018!! Supposition on my behalf, but I wonder if Langdon has been receiving mentoring from Captain Marvellous, Nick Maxwell, who is back at the club in a Leadership and Culture role.
AAMI Park provides an imposing and evocative backdrop to the training session. A Lynden Dunn torpedo punt seems to go from one end of its bulbous curved roof to the other. One wonders whether the AAMI stadium, with its attractive architecture and innovative hybrid structural system of shell, arch and cantilever, will ever attain the cult-status or place in people's hearts of a Windy Hill, an Arden Street or our own beloved Victoria Park.
Few players polarise our supporter group more than Jarryd Blair, but his effort on the track this morning was first-rate. It may be an optical illusion, but Blairy appears a little quicker this preseason- he certainly has returned in great condition although as I write this, he is given a few minutes back massage.
Draftees Murphy, Stephenson and Tyler Brown work under the watchful eye of their coaching mentors. It would appear to this observer that these three boys will play predominantly in the VFL in 2018- their physiques are a fair way off that which would enable them to perform without enduring a physical beating at the highest level. Rookies Magden, Mihocek are also present and working hard for their chance at the big-time. Oxley and Wills walk lap after lap- no limp evident on either player.
It is always a thrill to see a player like Adam Treloar shine on the track- with 122 games under his belt and coming off a season in which he was nominated for the All-Australian squad, it's not hard to see how this 24 year maintains his status as an elite player in the AFL. Like Taylor Adams last week, Treloar has seemingly set himself the goal of taking on the difficult disposals by foot or hand. His capacity to consistently hit targets warms the cockles of my heart.
Josh Daicos and Fasolo have clearly been set a huge load for this session. In between participation in selected drills, they alternately sprint and jog laps. Both players appear somewhat quicker than 2017. Similarly, Rocca and Gotch work the Lanky Yank to the limits of his endurance- he does not shirk the physical burden he was given. It's actually a tad comical to see the diminutive Brad Gotch roving to Mason Cox- one could be forgiven for thinking that one had wandered into the land of Lilliput made famous in the wonderful Jonathan Swift novel, 'Gulliver's Travel'.
After a very solid two hours on the track, the younger Pies are taken aside by Lockyer who explains the match-sim being done by their senior teammates. McLarty is a revelation in this drill and his strong intercept marking at full back and penetrating kicking are a joy to behold. Aish, Broomhead and Adams are ferocious around the packs and Grundy and Cox are strong combatants in the ruck. All the while, Lynch runs laps....!!
Maynard leaves the track at 11-30, having performed splendidly as usual. Some players exude leadership- he is one such player, his uncompromising approach fabulous to see. The senior players are now doing shuttle-runs. Gut busting, but not as bad as might have been if the weather was in the thirties, rather than the teens. Shortly after, Kirby joins Maynard, having completed a very good workout.
The remaining players now play an East-West practice match, from wing to wing, rather than goal to goal. Whilst the intensity begins somewhat slower it soon heats up as Dunn catches Smith in a crunching tackle. Scharenberg out points Crocker physically in a one on one, but pressure from the yellow team forces another turnover. Langdon is superb in this drill and it would appear a new team edict of playing the corridor is forcing him to be less conservative with his disposals out of the back half. It is certainly exciting to watch; Langdon's contests with Crocker are excellent with the number eight shading him slightly.
You cannot stop a retired player having a shot on goal, but Bucks two skidding drop punts from seventy metres out fade in transit and the air conveyance drift through for behinds... The final match practice takes place in the central corridor of the field. Twenty four players remain and contested ball and quick disposal are king. Pendlebury is in Rolls-Royce form, no sign of discomfort from him. His clearing kick hits up McLarty. The big defender has an unusual gait, ( he runs like he is holding a toothpick between his knees), but he is quick over the ground and a good decision maker.
The clouds close in once more but the floodlights bring a pleasant glow in the gathering gloom. The players continue to work hard, drilling foot passes of either foot to waiting coaches, after almost three hours, the players head for the change rooms and a well-earned shower.
And so, my beloved P-76 and I head for the hills- hopefully in less than the two and a half hours it took to get to training! I reflect on another impressive training session by the Pies. We appear to be making great strides in terms of organisation on field and the players are looking in fine fettle. There is an energy and apparent camaraderie in this group which makes the heart glow with pride.
I'd be interested in the thoughts and reflections of other Nicksters or observers of our training . I take no offence if others disagree with my reports; as General Patton said, "If everyone agrees, then someone isn't thinking!!"
Floreat Pica dear Magpie friends.
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