Readers don’t have to wait long for the killer kangaroo to show up in Alan Baxter’s latest novelette. The Australian buck begins its blitzkrieg hop right away on page two: “The roo’s mouth closed over its victim’s neck,” writes Baxter. “The flesh peeled up and away with a wet tear.”
Yes, there’s a ferocious kangaroo bedeviling a small town in the Aussie outback. But why is it so bloodthirsty and violent (and where the heck did its sharp teeth come from)? Normally these grass- and shrub-grazing animals are harmless and pastoral “like upright deer,” says the author.
The explanation dutifully comes during the final chapter, but observant readers who can identify the book’s outside/inside story will probably figure everything out pretty quickly. Or, if not, they can simply read the author’s Forward and Afterword. That’ll do the trick.
Only 400 people live in Morgan Creek (a town described as a “human blemish on the pristine outback”). Most of the local men are layabouts and wife beaters—the worst of the bunch is old Bill Catter. He’s so bad, his wife Pauline prefers to sleep in an abandoned goldmine at night rather than in her own bed. “No one likes that shit cunt,” says one neighbor. “We should have run him out of town years ago.”
And now Morgan Creek’s got a rampaging roo to worry about. Over seven feet tall and insanely jacked, the animal could be seen in the moonlight flexing its muscles like a parody of Mr. Universe.
Just because it looked like a kangaroo, however, didn’t mean it actually was a kangaroo. In truth, it could be anything. Up close its fur had a musky and dusty odor, says Baxter, like something spicy and smoky. Like something brought forth from the fiery pits of Hell, perhaps?
After decapitating, eviscerating and dismembering a handful of unlucky residents (it’s all good fun btw), the monster is eventually trapped in the town’s abandoned goldmine. This is when Bill Catter, his wife Pauline and the roo have their final showdown. Spoiler alert: the last paragraph provides a #MeToo kick in the pants. I think the men of Morgan Creek are about to get hammered.
In his foreword, author Baxter freely admits that he shamelessly wrote The Roo to be as ocker as the outback. The word “ocker” is slang for “aggressively boorish in a stereotypically Australian manner.” That’s a great way to sum up this book. Mission accomplished, mate.
[The Roo / By Alan Baxter / First Printing: March 2020 / ISBN: 9780980578263]