Ms Shen looked at the letter and found that it had stubbornly refused to change its meaning while she'd been looking away.

"Can we appeal it?" Marlon said

"Yes, easily," Ms Shen said. "I tried to raise the issue with the Minister already, but he didn't seem very willing to chat."

The plan had been simple. The Super Centre had a carpark slightly smaller than that of the neighbouring Mega Centre. This meant that when the Super Centre carpark was full, the Mega Centre got the overflow. By increasing the size of the Super Centre carpark, the situation would have reversed. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 29: Escalation"

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Axel looked down at the pile of glass terrarium bottles he'd just unpacked, and realised that he'd put them all on the wrong shelf. In his frustration, he kicked the base of the shelving unit, which hurt his toe far more than it did the massive steel form of the unit.

Why didn't Captain Stellar just fight him?

That was the thing. A week before, Stellar had confronted him about the incident with the death ray. He'd guessed everything. Everything!

Axel ought to have known that Stellar would figure it out eventually, once he'd sobered up and pulled himself together. But no, Axel had been caught flatfooted. His mind had raced, searching for some strategy for fighting Stellar without causing any damage to the Handy Pavilion. But before he'd even finished ironing out the issues with his third contingency plan, Stellar had waved goodbye and walked away.

Ever since then, Axel had been off his game. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 28: Axel’s Enemy"

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Fridays were the worst days, Laura decided. No, wait. Saturdays were the worst. Not counting Thursdays, obviously. She sighed, and looked at her watch. Only three hours to go. Then she could take off, change into her Voyager costume and go fight some crime.

She grimaced at the thought. She'd never really wanted to be a superhero, but the job had grown on her. Yeah, a lot of it was kind of stupid. That whole alien gorilla thing she'd dealt with the week before… seriously, what had that been about? But sometimes--not always, but sometimes--the people she had to put in prison were very bad people indeed. It made the whole thing seem a little less pointless. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 27: Terror from Tomorrow"

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The trouble with being dead, Bruce thought, was that is was really bloody boring.

The problem of boredom didn't seem to bother the other ghosts. Not that there were many ghosts around. He was the only one in the Handy Pavilion, and there were just a few others in the Super Centre. Yet these others all seemed to have a purpose.

Take young Vinnie. Sixteen year old petrol-head. Died when a tire had blown out while he was doing burnouts in the carpark late one night, sending his stolen Mazda crashing into an open stormwater drain. His spectral vehicle could still be seen from time to time, doing doughnuts in the moonlight. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 26: Ghost in the Machine"

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Christian looked across garden furniture towards Norman in his little café apron and smirked. So less manly than his own hardware apron! All was going well. Norman was out and he, Christian was the rising star of the Handy Pavillion! Just look at him there, making coffee for Sadie and that guy with the glasses and big chin! Where would he be in five years time? Still making coffee! Where would Christian be? 2IC of the power tools section! Or even… dare he even dream it? Manager of power tools!

Of course, his success was not all down to him. He had his mentor to thank…

His shift had ended, so he made his way to the men's toilet and moved the hidden panel in the floor. Beneath was a narrow tunnel, which he descended by means of a ladder of huge cast iron staples. Hanging on one staple was an old electric lamp. He turned it on, clipped it to his belt, and continued his descent. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself, Chapter 25: Underground"

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Captain Stellar had been sober for fifty days. No. Captain Stellar wasn't around any more. It was Vincent who had been sober for fifty days. Only Vincent.

Vincent, coming off the bottle and here to make amends to the people he'd wronged. He'd written an anonymous cheque for the damage he'd done to the DIY Barn and the Place O'Pets, but that was just impersonal property damage. Now he had to make amends to the real people he'd hurt: Popplewell. Harper. Cho.

Platzoff. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself Chapter – 24: One Day at a Time"

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Nalda scared the crap out of Fiona. Always had. She was tall, way taller and more solid than Fiona, and she never looked you quite directly in the eye. She had this thick European accent, and never smiled. And she was strong. Not just 'big person' strong, either. More like 'forklift truck' strong. Nalda wore sunglasses, even at night and she was forever threatening to travel back in time and kill someone.

On the other hand, she was quite good with children.

Belinda--who worked in Paints now-- was off sick. Fiona had been temporarily moved from Plumbing to Paints, and every time she went to the spray paint locker, she could see the little open area between the end of aisle fifteen and the rear wall of the Pavilion. There, in a little area behind a short plastic fence, Fiona saw Nalda leading the Saturday morning kids craft group.

"Ja, you see you are too much glidder using," Nalda said to a girl in a pink fairy princess costume. "Dat is why it is running. Go easy on der glidder, use it to accent, not overpower, der acrylic paints."

"Thanks, Miss Robot!" the child said, hugging Nalda's leg.

"Affection acknowledged," Nalda said. "Now I must deal with dat little dopey boy eating der crayons. As for you: ah'll be back." ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 23: The Chase"

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Hot autumn was turning to freezing winter when Wellsey returned to the Pavilion. He stopped just before the automatic doors. He knew exactly where the invisible line was, that opened them if crossed. He drew a deep breath, held it for the count of ten, then let it out slowly.

He spotted Axel, helping an elderly customer find a cardboard box of an appropriate size for the old girl's gardening supplies. Wellsey felt his eyes narrow.

"Axel," he said in the most neutral tone he could manage.

"Morning, Wellsey," Axel said. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 22: No Way Out"

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Here's the draft of my newsletter, Claudia. Once again I must formally protest the fact that this has to be passed by the Commissar for approval before publication – Karl Wintergreen.

Objection noted. Here is the amended draft. Change any of my edits I'll shut down your newsletter so fast you won't know what hit you. – Claudia Lebeau.

South Hertling Super Centre Newsletter, 1 June 2016.

Mysterious Accidents Plague Handy Pavilion

By Karl Wintergreen

Mere weeks after the accident out the back of the Handy Pavilion, allegedly caused by the actions of rogue superhero Captain Stellar, but in reality probably caused by a ley-line shift orchestrated by the Trilateral Commission, HP staff and customers have reported a number of serious accidents. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 21 Newsletter 2"

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The Handy Pavilion was packed to the gills with customers. This was always the way on a Saturday. But on this Saturday things were even more hectic thanks to the public appearance of Sydney's newest superhero, Voyager, just out the front, downwind of the Rotary Club sausage sizzle.

The scent of sausages and onions made Voyager's mouth water. She couldn't buy a sausage sandwich, though. Her stupid costume didn't have any pockets. Her utility belt was full of crime-fighting gear, but the designer had neglected to include a change pouch. She decided that she should get rid of one of the micro-torches. She could melt steel with her eye beams, what did she need it for anyway?

Voyager took photo after photo with her new fans. "The public loves its newest hero best," Aquaticwoman had told her with a touch of bitterness. Voyager didn't quite know yet whether she liked the attention, as she had her picture taken with customer after customer. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 20 The Return"

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