Prowler at the Threshold. My first Call of Cthulhu scenario

Your first share house!  Its gonna be one long party.  But who or what keeps tapping on the windows at night? 

Four present day students move into No. 7 Cemetery Lane only to find themselves haunted by someone or something that prowls around outside at night.

A  modern day Call of Cthulhu one shot scenario for those that know the pleasures – and the horrors – of share houses!


Bubbles and pushchairs




Yesterday was glorious sun after days of cold rain.

In one hour I had two very different clients in push chairs.  The first client is a regular and kinda scary.  S comes to the zoo once a week with his carer.  He hates going home from the zoo and so his trip home is always one long tantrum.  I’ve seen this before with 3 year olds but though S has the mind of a 3 year old he’s actually a large 40 year old man.  He’s strapped into the chair because he can’t walk and I must say I’m guiltily glad of it.    He swears and tries to push his carer and bangs the bins and walls. But like a toddler, he can be very sweet too.  After he told me to “fuck off” one time I turned away crossly and said I wasn’t going to be talked to like that.  He said he was sorry and looked so woebegone that I forgave him. I asked the carer why he hates going home and learned that he lives in a share house.  He has no family.  His trip to the zoo is probably the only interesting thing that happens all week.  So now I do my best to talk to him and say nice to see you.  He seems glad of the attention and the carer is glad for him to be distracted.  After they get on the train the swearing usually starts again.

The second client was a real 3 year old strapped in her pram.  Out on the platform in the sun, she set off her new bubble machine. For about 5 minutes I was surrounded by cloud of golden and rainbow-hued soap bubbles.  I could barely refrain from dancing round in them.



Every Autumn these large puffball fungi break through the asphalt.  And always I am reminded of this poem by Sylvia Plath.


Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.

Good Samaritans and Russian Grandparents

“I found these people wandering around outside the zoo,” said the young man.  “I think they want a train I hope you can help them.  They only speak Russian.”

And so saying, he left.

The old man with the walking stick and the old woman in the beanie agreed that they were Russki but that was the end of our communication.  I bought them over to the ticket machine, but not only could I not explain how they got a ticket,  I couldn’t even work out where they wanted to go.  The woman was getting more and more upset repeating the same phrase and urgently tapping her map of the zoo.   I didn’t want to put them on the wrong train.

Thank God for the young man seating nearby!  It turned out he had studied Russian in school. A long and complicated conversation followed obviously slowed down by his having an unexpected accent.  At last he told me that these elderly people were expecting to be picked up by a car at the Zoo Gate. But when they got out of the gate they were confused because they didn’t recognize the place.

The first young man had actually brought them further from their goal! No that he could know that.   He’d clearly meant well and the elderly woman kept tapping the picture of the railway gate on her zoo map.

As the train came and and took my Russian speaking helper away, I lead the increasingly anxious and questioning Russians back to the zoo.  The zoo gate only seemed to make them more upset. It finally occurred to me why that might be happening.

The zoo has two entrance gates, a main gate and a railway gate. Visitors often assume there is only one gate and come out the wrong one.  Could that be what happened to these two?  I applied to the railway gate staff who liked my theory.  We handed the Russians over to an zoo volunteer who would take them over to the other gate.  I don’t know what happened after that. I didn’t see them again, which I hope was a good sign. I hope an anxious waiting child was reunited with anxious elderly parents.

But what amazing luck to find someone with schoolboy Russian sitting in the Zoo station waiting room at just the right time.  Someone was watching over someone that day.


Suspicious device.

I got to work around 11.00 to be greeted with pictures of this suspicious device that had stopped the trains and caused the Junction and the nearby building site to be evacuated that morning. All in a days work on the railways.




I’ve always been a bit smug/ proud of the fact that the brother of my Great Great Grandfather was transported for theft in the 1820’s, made good brewing beer and sent for the rest of the family, including my direct ancestor in the 1830’s.

The other day I was talking to one of my regulars who I’ve dubbed the Bolshie Lawyer.  This a very casually dressed man who does legal aid cases. He comes from a very privileged background where he went to Melbourne Grammar, Melbourne Uni and was probably put down for membership of the Melbourne Club and the MCC the day he was born. He has the jaded view of the Melbourne upper classes that comes from long familiarity and we were discussing a well-known local politician.

“I was at school with him and he was a (insert uncomplimentary noun here) even then.  So full of himself and his family. And mines been out here much longer than his.”

I couldn’t help bringing up my own ancestor then and the date 1824.

“That’s nothing,” said B.L. “My ancestor was a free settler and came out in 1810.”

That was when I asked him the surname and discovered his ancestor has a suburb and a railway station named after him and had built what is a now National Trust property.  Definitely outclassed.  Serves me right for such unearned pride.

And we must always remember our pioneer ancestors helped steal the land and destroy the tribes.  So is it pride or shame we should feel?  Or a complicated ambivalent mix of both that turns us away from the past entirely and reminds us to try and do better in the future.

This ambivalent looking gentleman is
Australia’s first British governor Arthur Philip from the portrait by Francis Wheatley

Floor show

A large heavy set man is vaping in front of the station. Did you hear the one about the about the woman who bought a Koala he says suddenly to a small Asian lady wheeling a pram up the ramp. From her startled reaction she has no idea who he is.
She found it on Gumtree he continues, mystifying her even further. I go out to break the ice.
That’s a terrible pun I tell him.
I’ve got millions of them, he says. And proceeds to tell me them continuously till the train comes 10 minutes later.
The relieved pram pushing lady escapes to the platform. She’s worked out he was trying to tell her a joke but really when someone three times your size lunges at you out of the blue its understandably unnerving. Its certainly socially inept on the part of the man.
Some may see this as a sacrifice on my part, but actually I have a terrible weakness for bad puns such as Why are drivers good at driving locomatives? Becasue they’ve been trained. So I guess my laughing will do nothing to persude the man not to do it again.

In which we lose customers



It’s over 37 degrees and muggy.  Cicadas are screaming in the trees outside.  A family, mum and 5 kids, stagger into the waiting room, red-faced and sweating, and collapse on the seats. At first they take the news that their train has just left with equanimity

Unfortunately Shouty Man has got off the train they just missed.  Shouty Man is a heavily built 40 something man who walks around angrily shouting f*** off you ugly C***  and other such abuse at no one in particular.  He’s a regular. He seems to be harmless.  But he’s scary enough that I’ve had tradesmen get ready to protect me from him. As he strides through the waiting room furiously swearing and telling people to F*** off it’s hard not to take it personally.  He makes it worse by slamming his fist on the telephone kiosk as he goes out the door.

“I’m never coming by public transport again,” breathes the mother.

Can’t say I blame her.

Public transport is one place where the fortunate come into contact with the less fortunate.


Melbourne zoo carousel


This week I met T and his mum, C.  C was a lovely chatty woman in a leopard skin jumpsuit with bright blonde hair who stopped outside the station for a post-zoo smoke.  Her son T stood against the wall nearby.  He was a smiling visually disabled man.  Possibly he was intellectually disabled too although he may just have had a puckish sense of humor.  He started singing in a pleasant tuneful voice and when he got to the part about hopping he jumped up and down.

“Now he knows he’s got an audience he won’t stop,” said C cheerily.  “There’s a spider monkey in the zoo he always sings to.  It loves it. Comes right up to him.”

That and the Carousel were apparently his favorite zoo things.

The other singer this week was an 8 year old girl in glasses and a blue dress who started singing “Twinkle twinkle little star,” while her mother tried to work out the ticket machine.  Was it the weather that bought out this tunefulness? It IS finally summer.

“Fun” at the Junction

Small spaces

A torrid hour at the junction when we have a signal failure affecting several lines.  The people on the C line are told leave Platform 2 for Platform 6 and after 15 minutes told to go to Platform 4.  3 trains worth crowd onto the 1 train.  They are understandably pissed off when they are told the train won’t be going down the C line.  I try to answer people’s questions, but I don’t know much. It’s no one’s fault.  Control are moving what trains they can when they can and it’s all very spur of the moment.  A drunk decides this is a good time to try and pick up one of my colleagues with revolting hip wiggles and leering.  We chase him off telling him we’re just too busy.

Everyone is mad.  I get in the lift and am hit by a wall of angry testosterone.  An African couple – wife in hijab and a Bogan couple are facing off in the tiny crowded space.  I’m sure the Bogan couple have said something nasty to the African couple but at this point the Bogans are the ones offended. “That’s not very nice to call us Junkies” they cry. It’s a fair complaint.  They stink of alcohol, not drugs.  It’s a long tense 30 second ride and everyone gets out of the lift as fast as they can at the top