There’s a Bunyip Under the Fridge, by Johanna Saunders

Buffy, the tortoiseshell cat was sitting on her favourite kitchen chair when Sam, her companion Terrier Cross dog sauntered in from the garden.

“There’s something under the fridge,” said Buffy.

Sam sighed.

“Oh no.  Here we go again.  You’re always seeing or hearing things.”

Buffy swished her tail.

“Have a look!” she commanded.

Sam lay down on the floor with his snout resting on his paws and stared at the gap at the bottom of the fridge.  He sniffed and snuffled.

“There’s nothing there,” he declared.

He was about to push himself up into a sitting position when he noticed two small, red beady eyes blinking at him.

Sam yelped and jumped back.

“What’s that?” he howled. “Something is under there.”

“What is it?” Buffy frowned.

“Don’t know.  I got fritted.”

Just then, they heard a small squeak.

“Told you so,” said Sam.

“But what is it?” Buffy twitched her whiskers in annoyance.

“Ask it,” Sam muttered.

“Oh, alright.”  Buffy fluffed out her tail to three times it’s normal size.

“Hey, you.  Who are you and what do you want?”

There was silence.

“Me cat.  Me have claws.  Me wait for you,” Buffy hissed.

“Me bunyip.  Me big bunyip.  Me big, enormous bunyip.  Me not feared of you,” replied a squeaky voice. 

“Show us,” Sam barked.

There was a loud bang and a puff of purple smoke.

“Me here,” said the squeak.

Sam and Buffy looked round.

“Where?” they asked.

“Me invisible,” said the bunyip.

“What’s that awful smell?” Buffy wrinkled up her nose and glared at Sam.  “You rolled in something?”

“Not me.  Must be it.”  Sam shook himself.  “Now,” he growled.  “You show us that you bunyip.”

“I forget how,” the voice said.  There was a sound of crying.  Big drops of water splashed on to the floor.  Gradually a very small creature took shape.

“You not big.  You tiny,” laughed Sam.

“Tiny and very ugly,” Buffy giggled.

“You stink!” yelled Sam.

The bunyip, who was about the size of a pet rat, stood up.  He had three square feet with nine toes on each foot, spikes all over his body like an echidna, two arms and pincers instead of hands and fingers, a round face, two red beady eyes and a very long snout.  His skin was bright green and slimy.
“What are you doing under our fridge?” Buffy asked.

“Me hiding.”

“Hiding from what?”

“The big monster bunyip.”  The little creature was shaking from head to toes.

“What big monster bunyip?” Buffy asked.

“That one!” The bunyip was pointing behind them.

Buffy and Sam rutned round.  The smell was overpowering, even for Sam who liked to eat buried bones and roll in stinky seaweed.

“Go away, you big bully,” yelped the tiny bunyip.

“No.  I stay here.  I like here.”

The big bunyip was the size of a large dog, slimier and greener than the little one, but he only had one eye which was right in the middle of his forehead.  It was big, bright and dark yellow.  He smelt like rotteon cabbage.

“How can we get rid of him?” Buffy whispered.

“We scared of mouses,” said the little bunyip who had overheard her.

“No, not mouses,” roared the big bunyip.  “Me not like mouses.”

Sam wagged his tail.

“I’ve got an idea.  I’m just going into David’s room.  I’ll be back in a minute.  You look after these two.”

Buffy stood looking at the bunyips.

“Me not scared you,” roared the big one, who seemed to be fond of roaring.  “Me eat you, one gulp.”  He opened his mouth.  It was like a big cavern.

Buffy swiped at him with a paw.  He let out a scrrech of rage as orange slime poured out of his arm.

“Not fair,” he yelled, waving his pincers around. 

He puffed up like a helium balloon and started to shuffle towards Buffy.  Buffy jumped straight up in the air and landed on the other side of him.  The bunyip roared again and shuffled faster towards Buffy.

“Come here,” he screeched,  “Come here.  I want catch and eat you.”

“I don’t want to be eaten, thanks,” said Buffy, jumping up on the kitchen table.

Just then, Sam scurried into the kitlchen holding a small wire cage in his chops.  He set it down carefully on the kitchen floor.

“Do you know what these are?” he asked.

The bunyips moved closer to have a look.

“Oh, no.  They’re mouses!” yelled Buffy, pretending to be afraid.

“Mouses?  We don’t like mouses,” roared the big bunyip.

He took a closer look at the cage.

“They are mouses,” he yelped.

There was a hideous scream.  Buffy and Sam’s fur stood up on end.  The kitchen filled up with thick pink smoke which set off the smoke alarm, and with a loud “BANG!”, the bunyips disappeared.

“We got rid of them,” Sam said proudly.

Buffy kissed him on the nose.

“You are so brave,” she purred.

Just then, their family arrived home.

“Phew.  What’s that smell? Why is the smoke alarm going?  Why is the school mice cage sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor?  David, I told you to keep them in your room.  They go back to school tomorrow morning, first thing.  What is that revolting orange goo?  What in the world has been going on here?”

Everyone looked at Sam.

“We saved our family,” he barked, wagging his tail with joy.

The back door was opened.

“Sam – outside.  Bath for you later.  You must have rolled in something gross.”

Buffy had disappeared from view, as cats do when they don’t want to be found.  She heard a srabbling noise coming from  the bathroom but decided to ignore it.  She had had enough adventures for one day.  She ate some biscuits and then jumped up on her favourite chair which contained a warm, soft, comfortable cushion.  She sat down with a sigh and after cleaning her face, whiskers and ears, curled her tail around her body, placed her paw over her face and enjoyed a well earned cat nap.  Same dug up one of his bones and lay contenatedly gnawing at it in the backyard.  As for the bunyips, they were never seen or heard from again.

They’re not hiding under your fridge, are they?


The Australian Literature Review

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