Housing Desolate Dominion

Imagine, if you will, a cityscape dotted with homes and buildings, their windows shuttered, their doors locked, their life force drained. Yes, this is Melbourne, a city once buzzing with life, now standing desolate and empty. The sound of laughter, the hum of chatter, the melody of life itself – all but extinguished. The people had been forced out, their homes bought from under them by a man whose insatiable hunger for property knew no bounds.

Donald had done it. He had accomplished his ludicrous goal. He was the sole resident of Melbourne, a city he had turned into his personal property portfolio. He walked the streets, not a soul in sight, yet he couldn’t wipe the triumphant grin off his face. As he returned to his mansion, the towering monument of his relentless conquest, he mused to himself, his voice echoing in the hollow expanse of the city.

“I own so much property. So much. You wouldn’t believe how much property I own,” he said, his voice dripping with pride. His gaze swept over the cityscape, every building, every home a testament to his achievement. “There’s no one better than me at buying property. I’m the best there is,” he declared, his voice echoing in the silence.

The last buyer’s advocacy for Melbourne real estate had shut down years ago, but that didn’t dampen Donald’s spirits. If anything, it emboldened him. There was no need for buyer’s agents anymore. He recalled how he had swooped in, his ever-reliable AI buyer’s agent for property close to Brighton, Donna, by his side, and bought up every last property in sight. The memory brought a smirk to his face. His conquest was complete, yet his desire to own was unquenched.

As our protagonist stood, staring out at his vast, deserted empire, one might assume that he was on the brink of an epiphany. A change of heart, perhaps? But no. His next words shattered that illusion as quickly as it had formed. “I’m not stopping at Melbourne. I won’t stop until I own every property in the world.”

Home Capital Crisis

Picture, dear reader, a city shrouded in shadows, not of tall, majestic trees or towering monuments but of houses that stood empty and desolate, cold and unfeeling. Yes, such was the fate that had befallen our once-vibrant Melbourne.

Several more years had passed since we last met, and the situation had taken a turn for the worse. People were being driven out of their homes, forced to leave the suburbs they had lived in for years – suburbs like Burwood and Kew. As they packed up their memories into cardboard boxes and watched their houses morph into cold edifices, their hearts broke.

The housing crisis had escalated, spiralling out of control. It was like a monster that fed on dreams and happiness, leaving behind trails of despair and broken spirits.

But dear reader, there was one man who remained completely untouched by this crisis, who continued his buying frenzy with the same enthusiastic ignorance that he had begun with – Donald. 

With Donna by his side, the property advocates near Melbourne watched helplessly as the duo worked with relentless precision, capturing property after property, suburb after suburb. Their latest conquest – the beautiful suburb of Kew. They had brought in the most trustworthy buyer’s agent Kew residents could rely on, only to turn him into another pawn in their game of Capitalism.

So many houses, so many neighbourhoods, all under the reign of one man, who looked at the city not as a place where life bloomed, but as a chessboard, where houses were mere pieces to be moved and manipulated.

And as Donald looked out from the top of his golden fortress, at a city that had once throbbed with life, now only silence met his ears. The laughter had faded, the chatters had died down, and all that was left were empty houses and deserted streets. And yet he stood there, basking in his victories, oblivious to the ruin he had brought upon the city.

Yet, time, dear reader, is a curious thing. It moves forward, not back. And with it, hope moves too. What happens next, you ask? Ah, dear reader, that is a tale for another day. For even as the darkness threatens to consume all, a new dawn waits, bringing with it new challenges and new possibilities.

Boating King Pending

I wonder when the Boat King will be coming back. He said he’d come and pick me up soon, but I’ve been waiting for hours now. I don’t know how much longer I can sit here out in the cold before giving up on him. Mind you, I don’t want to give up on a great man like him. I’m sure he’ll come through for me. But what if he doesn’t? What if I am left to freeze in the cold winds of winter? He wouldn’t do that to me. I’m sure he wouldn’t. The man who made welding for snapper racks near Melbourne cool would never abandon me. He cares greatly about the life of his loyal vassal. If he doesn’t come back for me, what would that say about his qualities as a leader and a deserving holder of the Boat King title? Without his reputation, he would just be Sesh Oma Roo, the regular boat-loving pirate!

It was the strangest thing, our parting. He dropped me off at the supermarket and told me to pick up some cheese. He didn’t care what kind of cheese, as long as it was yellow and crumbly, and cost under $10. I said I wouldn’t fail him. And then my master said, “Thank you, Joken. I will be coming back for you. I have done a terrible thing and have the entire police force after me. Stay here. I will be going to Iceland.” So he is definitely coming back. I don’t know why he is going to Iceland or for how long, but I am sure he will be right back. Master Sesh Oma Roo would never forget about me!

When it gets dark, though, I think I will head off. I have a bunch of boat latches to weld. I am such an invaluable servant to the Boat King, which is why I am so confident he will be back. Eventually, at least. He must have gotten held up. Alright, I suppose it is time to go!

Duelling With Roses

In the quiet town of Petalville, an unexpected adventure began. Yuki, an avid garden enthusiast, decided it was time to try something new and exciting. As she was browsing her favourite online store to buy premium seeds, she stumbled upon a peculiar listing. It was a deck of Duel Monsters cards, with each illustration featuring resplendent roses. The rose-themed deck called out to her, each card like a seed begging to be sown. Intrigued, Yuki added it to her order, her mind filled with curiosity.

A week later, the cards arrived, each one encapsulating the intricate beauty of roses. Yuki, also researching how to grow climbing roses in her garden, noticed a peculiar parallel between the cultivation of her plants and these creatures on the cards. Curiosity piqued, she decided to venture into the world of Duel Monsters.

Yuki poured hours into understanding the mechanics of the game, studying each card like a diligent gardener tending to her roses. She learnt about the complexities of summoning monsters, the strategic implementation of spell cards, and the crafty deployment of trap cards. She was fascinated by the parallels between the cultivation of her plants and the growth of her strategies in the game.

Emboldened by her newly acquired knowledge, Yuki took a leap of faith and decided to participate in a beginner’s duel at the local Duel Monsters club. Her opponent was Rex, an experienced player with a smirk that quickly morphed into a sneer at the sight of her rose-themed deck. With the “Rose Swordsman of Landstar” card in her hand, Yuki entered the duel, her heart pounding in her chest.

Despite her best efforts, Yuki lost the duel. She left the club with a sting of defeat, but a spark of determination lit up her eyes. She wasn’t going to let her rose-themed deck wilt away after one loss. Like the resilient climbing roses she tended to in her garden, she knew she would come back stronger. The loss was only the beginning of her journey, a journey where she would cultivate not only roses but also resilience. Little did Yuki know; her adventures were just about to bloom.

T is for…

You wouldn’t believe what I just heard from Sherrilyn over the hedge. Word has it that Miranda is back from her sabbatical, and has brought her sister Jennifer with her. This can only mean one thing: Miranda is rebooting the Wyrd Teashop.

That might sound benign to you, or even rather like good news. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice cup of tea in a quaint little shop? What you don’t know is that Miranda and Jennifer have a secret ingredient that’s included in all their teas. Actually, it’s not really a secret at all. The ingredient in question is toenail clippings.

That in itself wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing in the world, as long as they were clean and healthy and ground into a fine powder indistinguishable from baking soda. We’re pretty open-minded around here. The issue is where the nail clippings are sourced from – namely, local podiatry clinics. Cheltenham is a smallish village with a high number of podiatrists per capita, possibly due to the preponderance of ingrown toenails in the area, and that means there are plenty of toenails to be collected and fed right back to us.

Most of the townsfolk don’t know about this, mind you. Sherrilyn says they ought to have cottoned on from the name of the teashop, although in my opinion the toenail thing is not something to associate with wyrding. If word gets out, it’ll give the craft a very bad name, and we might even be driven out of the village again. I’m so over that happening.

Is it so much to ask that we not have to always be associated with warts, fungal nails and other minor maladies? This is the kind of thing that has caused us to be shunned for centuries, despite having very little basis in reality since the dark ages. Even then, we were the ones curing the fungal infections and warts and plagues, not causing them. Sheesh… talk about ungrateful.

Miranda and Jennifer are the exception with their toenail tea, not the rule. I’m not even sure what purpose it’s meant to serve other than to be gross.

A Family Defeated

I can’t believe my family’s winning streak on Family Fight is over. We’ve been on the show for two-hundred straight episodes, using our excellent knowledge of people and things to dominate the show. We’d amassed billions of dollars in prize money, risking it all and doubling our overall pool at the end of each episode. We were going to take the money without risking it next week, but thanks to our final episode, that money is gone! And now the debt collectors will be after me, for all the loans we took out with the prize money we were going to earn. I don’t have a cent to pay them. Guess I can kiss my legs goodbye.

This is all Grand Dinner’s fault, along with the show’s producers. They rigged the whole thing to kick us off, I’m sure of it. They didn’t want to pay us however many billions, maybe even trillions, we had earned. They knew we were going to take the money and leave the show gracefully soon, so they staged a coup. Not once in the show’s history has there been a question about office glass tinting near Melbourne. Not once! And all of a sudden there are two of them, when the opposing family just happens to know about that topic. Coincidence? I think not!

I think it’s time to pack my suitcase and steal away to the Bahamas with my family before the debt collectors arrive. I’m not letting them take my legs, or my arms, or whatever they threaten me with. Maybe they’ll threaten to throw me through a commercial decorative window. That would be quite ironic. I hear debt collectors do have a sense of irony and poetry. 

My family will obviously go into hiding for a while, but someday I’m going to come back here and make the Family Fight crew pay for what they’ve done. This whole situation stinks of a conspiracy. There’s no way those questions were a coincidence. For all I know, the Riley family may not even be real contestants. Maybe they are actors who were specifically chosen to kick my family off. And now we’re on the run! Well, I’ll get my revenge eventually.

Scrap That

My brother, Timothy, has been collecting a lot of scrap metal lately. He claims he’s going to build a power station with it, by which he means… actually, to be perfectly honest, I have no idea what he means. I very much doubt that he knows what he means, beyond the notion of it having some kind of patched-together metal shell.

What I do know is that the metal is piling up on our property, to an extent that’s becoming a problem. I’ve noticed more than a couple of raised eyebrows from passers-by, and I’m a bit concerned that people are going to pin us as the local hoarders if the pile doesn’t start getting used for something soon.

Old Terry over the way asked me the other day if he could buy some of the metal for Mary to use in a giant turtle she’s working on. I’d forgotten about those two and their sculpture garden, which I still haven’t gotten around to visiting. To tell you the truth, I’ve got half a mind to take Old Terry up on that offer if Timothy doesn’t get moving on his power station soon.

I also had the idea of building Timothy and I a pair of 4×4 ute canopies. The notion is admittedly half-baked, as I’m not all that skilled at welding, and I’ve never worked with random scrap metal before. The canopies would be pretty cobbled together, but still… there might be something to it.

Timothy never uses his ute any more, though. He’s all about that electric bike of his. Now, I could probably build some kind of half canopy for that; it wouldn’t be too big of a job, and the road-safety stakes might be a bit lower since it doesn’t go that fast anyway. Then again, if Timothy’s dinnertime ramblings are to be believed, he’s planning to put a much bigger motor on it, which is why he needs his own power station. So he says, anyway.

All I know is that he’d better get cracking on it.

Bandit’s Fate

I awoke in a strange glass cylinder, unsure where I was. The last thing I remembered was being struck by my own brass grenade and falling to the ground in a recently cleaned sewer. How long had it been? Hours? Days? What if years had passed, and I’d been in a coma the whole time?

Looking down at myself, I knew that couldn’t be the case. I had no life support systems connected to me. No wires putting fluid into my body. I lay within a cylinder, the air inside extremely breathable. It was nice, in all honesty. Beside me was a handle, so I could easily open it up.

I looked around the room and realised I must have been receiving hyperbaric therapy near Melbourne. That could be the only explanation. After all, there was a map of Victoria on the wall and a small book on a table near me. The book had the title, ‘Hyperbarics and You’. I climbed out of the hyperbaric chamber and flicked through the book, learning a bit about the treatment I was receiving. 

Where were Space Wizard, Frankie and Jack Zebraman? Were they alright? I hoped that Evil Space Wizard hadn’t hurt them. If he had, I’d destroy him on my own. But as I thought about it, the door to my left opened, and Frankie stepped into the room. Her mouth turned to a beaming smile as she saw me there, and she ran forward, arms outstretched.

She threw herself into an embrace, and I returned it. “I was so worried about you, Bandit,” she said.

“I’m okay,” I replied. “Where are the others? Did they survive the attack?”

Frankie nodded. “We’ve continued cleaning the sewers since then. We’re almost done, actually. It’s only a matter of time before Sewer Wizard challenges us to the final battle. We can almost end this thing. It will be easier with you helping us, though.”

I pushed myself up, heading toward the door. “No time to lose, then. Let’s get ready for the things to come.”

Bandit’s Rest

I sat by Bandit as he slept in the hyperbaric chamber, recovering from his magical healing. He’d been asleep, or possibly unconscious, for days now and we weren’t sure when he would wake up. Dr Klaus assured us that he would wake up eventually, but given the severity of Bandit’s wounds, it could take a while.

I hoped it would be soon. We couldn’t afford to wait much longer before our confrontation with Evil Space Wizard. Eventually, the sewers would get dirty again and all our effort to clean them would be for nothing. My evil other half was born in the sewers, and so he needs to return there regularly to maintain his power. It was too dangerous to send anybody back down there since Evil Space Wizard could attack again.

Our only choice was to hope Bandit would recover through hyperbaric medicine. Near Melbourne, people were in danger from Sewer Wizard, as we were starting to call him. It was kind of confusing to call myself Space Wizard and my other half Evil Space Wizard. Besides, he wasn’t even created in space, like me. He was created in the sewers, so that makes him Sewer Wizard.

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked here. What was I saying? I was pretty much just recapping information that has already been said before, right? But when you’re working with a form as short as this, it’s kind of important to fill people in, just in case they’re jumping into the post without any previous knowledge.

So yeah, I was sitting next to Bandit, waiting for him to recover. I started thinking about all the fun times we had together, while I was liquified. Those Next Top Office days were the best. Really the highlight of my time on Earth, ever since my deep-space hibernation was disturbed. Maybe I should get back to that, once we deal with Sewer Wizard. If I complete one thousand years of meditation, I ascend to become a deity, so that’s pretty cool. It’s just such a long time. I don’t know if I can be bothered. Besides, Earth isn’t that bad. I should probably just stay here.

– Space Wizard

McBane’s New Kitchen

I’ve been wanting to upgrade my supervillain lair for quite some time now, and given I’m running for Premier of Victoria, this seems like a good time. I’ll probably do most of my campaign business there, so it’s the logical choice to make it look a bit nicer. I know I only bought this castle six months ago, and it was great at the time, considering I was doing my supervillain work in my mother’s attic before. But the basement of this castle really isn’t up to standards for a graduate of the Supervillain Training Academy. Time for a bit of a remodel.

The first thing I’m going to do is put a kitchen in my supervillain lair. Sometimes when you’re coming up with ideas for taking over an entire city, you get a bit peckish. Usually, I have to head all the way upstairs to make myself a sandwich, and I’m getting sick of it. Time to get the best kitchen design business around Melbourne in here to help me come up with something perfect. I’m thinking a lot of black marble or obsidian, to really emphasise the fact that I’m an evil scientist to be reckoned with.

People have been asking me why I decided to run for Premier of Victoria in the first place. I’m not exactly raking in the dollars with this evil scientist gig, so I thought I’d go for something a bit more profitable, while still being in the approved list of evil jobs, as set by the STA. They’ll actually take my degree away if I don’t stay in an evil job. So this way, I get to keep my degree and have the money to fund my kitchen renovations. Melbourne residents are going to love me as their premier, anyway. I literally cannot be worse than Premier Norris.

Really, I had to choose between politics and law, because they are the only decently paying evil jobs out there. I suppose I could have gone into the music business with a record company, but I’m not that evil. Likewise with becoming one of the people who decides which microtransactions go in video games. That’s just horrible.

– Dr Dark McBane

Be your best self, or Batman, always be Batman