The Musings of a Hideous Mind is also avaialble for a free preview on Bookbzzr.com

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Notes on Protect and Serve

This story is different. It isnt really a horror story in the traditional sense, but it addresses the darker side of humanity. It is only a short peice and in all honesty and am still working on turning it into a much longer piece, but I read through it and feel that it is almost a short story on its own. A short scene if you like.

I have plans to turn this into a novel, not using this one idea, but the two central characters we introduce, hoping to create a Shield like atmosphere, although pulling even less punches with brutality and shocks. I have many more characters and sub plots to bring in, possibly even leaving this 'drug' family alone after the first few chapters as the bigger fish take over.

I am using this post, not justas a short story but more as a short offering, a glimpse if you will into future goods. A prieview that I am very keen to receive comments on.

I will of course continue to bring you my short stories along side this novel I am planning so do not loose heart.

Protect and Serve

“This asshole better show his face, or I’m gonna cave his in.” Jet Baskin grunt from the passenger seat. He had his partner Liam Masters had taken from the impound yard for their stakeout. They had set up a large drug bust after a tip from Jet’s confidential informant.


“Give them time. Maybe they are spooked, but we can’t mess this one up, we’ve gotta play it by the book. We’ve got eyes on us.” Liam answered. He was in charge being the senior detective of the two. They had been partners for almost nine years, joining the force only a few months apart, but Liam had been the quickest up the ladder. Thanks in part to several connections he had higher up in the force.


They had been sitting in the dark for almost three hours, neither had left, or really moved, and both were feeling the itch. “I’m gonna kill him. Fucking Jimmy,” Jet continued to protest. There weren’t any microphones in the car so what did it matter.


“Hey wait a minute. We got something happening here.” Liam said, raising the binoculars to his eyes. “All units standby, we got a bite.” He spoke into the radio before clipping it back onto his belt.


“What is it?” Jet asked squinting ,but unable to see anything.


The car was parked in a small alleyway on the opposite side of the street to where the deal was supposed to be done. A local corner shop owner who had a habit of selling more than sherbet to his customers was trying to establish himself as one of the big players in the city. Of course he was just the figurehead, his basement was used as a meeting place, the main business affairs were taken care of by his various family members, ranging from accountants to enforcers. Even his twelve year old nephew had been caught trying to sell to the kids in his school. It was all small time stuff in the grand scheme of things, the family didn’t have enough brains between them to notice they were out manned and out gunned by the three local gangs operating within the city. It was just going to be a nice easy bust, good for the records and statistics plus it would stop any bloodshed; for the time being at least.


“Shit” Liam spat. “Stand down, just a domestic.” He spoke into the radio again. “This gimp is gonna fuck up our night just because his woman thinks for herself.” He gripped the wheel tightly.

“Good thing this is just small time.” He glanced over at Jet who was looking at him, his face confused. “All units, leave it be, maybe they’ll take it home and one of you can respond later.” He began to speak. “Oh Shit. Alright, we’ll deal with it, try and break it up. Units one and three, keep an eye on the roads, unit two don’t take your eye from the shop.” He spoke as he threw the car door open, closely followed by Jet. They both burst into a run their feet slapping on the pavement, still wet from the afternoon rain.


“Hey, Hey Back away. Now. Hands in their air.” Liam bellowed, his voice booming over the road.


The man they were aimed at was a white man in his mid thirties, well built and slightly inebriated. He sported a thin beard which took much more effort to maintain than it was worth. He had a thick gold chain around his neck, he wore a T-shirt advertising a foreign rock band and had a large belt squeezed through the loop of his expensive ripped jeans. His fist was raised and already slightly bloodied where his young girlfriend’s nose had burst at the first punch. “What you say, you fucking bitch. Don’t you ever talk to me like th….” He was cut off in mid flow, his fist midway through its third descent into the girls helpless face. Liam flew from the road, over the curb and rugby tackled the man at chest height.


They both flew backwards and landed in a heap. “Don’t you fucking move asshole. Turn around and give me your hands.” He grunted through clenched teeth. The male beneath him was wriggling and harder to get control of. He was stronger than he looked.


“Fuck you, get the fuck off me.” The man threw an elbow out of nowhere and connected with the side of Liam’s head. He rolled of clutching his head, and the man was on his feet in an instant.


Jet was already by the girl’s side and had placed his jacket around her shoulders. She was crying with a mixture of pain, shock and fright, and it made her sound quite mad. She was only young, no more than nineteen, probably just moved to the city to try escaping her parents, or previous mistakes only to fall right in with another one. Her shoulder length chestnut hair was tied back in a simple pony tail. She wore no makeup, a plain dark coloured shirt, it looked black in the poor light, but it could have easily been blue or even green in the day light. Her jeans were a standard cheap pair, with no patch advertising a brand name and had the harshly obvious look of poor quality. Even her shoes were just a simple pair on one colour trainers. Although they were now streaked with red as she continued to bleed.


“Get your hands of my girl shit head.” The man started towards Jet, who stood up and went to pull his service weapon. Liam however, had also gotten to his feet, and filled with rage swung a big fist into the man’s face, following through with an elbow that spliced the skin under the abusers right eye. He fell backwards, not to the floor, but into the brick wall of the corner shop.


“Don’t move. You’re under arrest, and I really don’t want to shoot you today.” Liam spat. He was holding the man against the wall, his forearm pressing against the man’s windpipe, slowly pressing harder until he stopped squirming. “Now. Turn around and give me your hands, and I promise not to break your face anymore.” Liam whispered into his ear, slamming his head into the wall for good measure as he spun him.


“Get her away from him, and call her an ambulance.” Liam spoke to Jet as he snapped the handcuffs against his prisoners wrists. Eliciting another scream.


“What about me. I need one too.” The man spoke in a high pitched voice, pain blinding his senses.


“You’re lucky I stopped here. So unless you want to eat the pavement again I suggest you shut the hell up. Nobody lays their hands on a woman while I’m around and gets treatment afterwards you bullying shit.” Liam growled, his voice deep and menacing. He raised his knee into the lower back of the man.


“Bitch deserved it. Fucking whore, trotting behind my back, visiting family without asking permission. She lucky I took her outside tonight.” The man spoke, unable to recognise the fact he should quit while he was behind.


“What did you say?” Liam spun the man around so he was facing him again. “Tell me you didn’t just say that.”


From down the street Jet had just finished radioing the ambulance when he heard the man’s remark. “Hey Liam, come on man, now isn’t the time. Let it go.” He knew it was pointless, but hoped that the fact they were being watched by other units would have a controlling effect.


“You heard me. Fucking woman left the house without asking. She needs a good beating to put her back in her fucking place. Either the kitchen of the fucking bedroom, and trust me, after a few nights you’d rather she be in the kitchen. Bitch fucks like a corpse. Now get your hands off me or I’ll call this in for brutality.” He smiled as he spoke the last few words.


“Ha, this isn’t brutality fuck head. Plus how could I justify letting someone go in possession of Class A narcotics. That’s an arrestable offense.” It was Liam’s turn to smile now.


Further up the road, the other units were busy responding to the gun fight that had been radioed in. One team remained and they were watching the roads checking for the van whose number plate they had to show its fenders.


In the distance thunder rumbled, the storm of the afternoon had stopped and decided to come back for more. The air was heavy with the smell of rain.


“I don’t have any drugs on me pig.” The man replied confused.


Liam pushed him backwards and wrestled him to the floor, the man’s arms being crushed behind him by his own bodyweight. Liam reached into his back pocket and pulled out two small tin foil bags.


“Open wide bitch” He said the same smile on his face. Under the fluorescent orange glow of the street lamps he looked psychotic, his eyes wide and bright.


“Fuck you.” The man clamped his mouth shut. Liam clenched his fist and punched him in the groin. The man’s mouth opened instantly in surprise and after a few seconds once everything filtered through to his brain he widened it further in agony. Liam too the chance and pushed the two bags into the mans throat. He clamped his mouth shut in one hand and smothered his face with the other.


“Swallow dickwad.” He shouted, a guttural viscous tone filled with a deep seated rage. A vein had emerged on the side of his neck and every muscle in his body was tensed and ready for action. He was breathing fiercely, exhaling through his nose, snorting like a fire breathing dragon.
The man swallowed, coughing and spluttering as he did, his eyes filled with tears glistened in the night light. “Good boy.” Liam squeezed his cheeks hard between his thumb and forefinger.
He let go just as the two uniformed officers who had been watching the road emerged, closely followed by the ambulance which luckily had just been around the corner when the call came through.


“Great. Well you guys can take it from here. This scum swallowed something when he saw us coming, so make sure he throws it back up before you let him go.” Liam said his voice friendly and honest again. He hoisted the man to his feet and shoved him towards the other officers.


“No problem detective. Ambulance is here for the girl, but you’re gonna want to head over to Duke street, reports of heavy gunfire. Two Pakistani casualties so far, could be your guys.” The taller of the two men spoke. He had joined the force the same year as Liam, but was happy to send his time patrolling the streets, waiting for the good pension to kick in, letting him spend his time playing golf and seeing the world.


“What. When?” Jet asked striding towards Liam. The paramedics were busy loading the woman into the ambulance. Her face was still bleeding, her nose was broken and her lips were split, and both her eyes were swollen shut.


“Call came in about ten minutes ago.” The other officer spoke. A rookie who was still at the stage where he hung back and only answered the simple questions, the ones that wouldn’t make him look like a fool or mess up his record. Jet glared at him as if he had just told them the call was three days ago and he shrank into his boots.


“Great. Fucking great. There goes our bust.” Exasperated he kicked at the ground. “Well I guess we’ll head over that way. Oh um, one of you will need to go with her, take her statement at the hospital. Medics don’t want to wait. They think you fractured her face you looser.” He aimed the last sentence at the sad looking man, speak to him slowly with overemphasised breaks and between words.


Liam and Jet headed back to their car in silence and left the others to clean up the mess. It was just starting to rain when he turned their crappy beat up Ford Escort sprung into life.


“Let’s take this piece of shit back and get our own wheels, then we’ll see what mess there is to scrape up.” Liam said absently as he pulled onto the main road and sped away into the night. The area they had been in wasn’t the best in town, although certainly wasn’t the worst. Several lights had come on in windows during the commotion, the dwellers of this section of society all too keen to witness a bit of action, ready to use it as leverage when they inevitably fell afoul of the law. “You brief the girl on what to say?” He asked almost as an afterthought.


“Yeah, she’ll be fine Chump really messed her up good. What about you? You ok, he caught you kind of hard?” Jet seemed to gloat with his question. The rivalry between the two friends was somewhat sibling like in its competitiveness.


“I’ve got a lump but nothing that will slow me down to your level.” Liam smiled back.


“Shame I thought it might knock a bit of sense into you.” The pair looked at each other and laughed gently.


They made the ten minute trip in relative silence, the night time sounds of the radio quietly pumping dance beats into the car. The impound was locked when they got back so they dumped the car outside and got into their own parked two streets further over.


Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Note about The Jellies

This story started out as something comletely different, and infact changed course several times as I wrote it. I had plans for it to be longer, but have decided to keep it short, although given time I may re-examine it.

The story itself is rather simple, but I feel the enemy give it a unique slant. Although I will be the first to admit that maybe they are underdescribed. However, as always I will use the feedback from this site to create the final version for my anthology.

Without further words from myself I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my work.

Now,

Sit back and enjoy.

The Jellies

The small boat floated drifted eastward; ships became nothing but blips on the horizon and soon disappeared all together. The shipping lanes behind them now, the five people bobbed helplessly along. A slave to the oceans every whim, thrown in whatever direction the wind and waves projected them in.

The sun was beating down on them, the sky a clear brilliant blue, a few wisps of cloud dotted the sky, but even they seemed to terrified of the suns awesome power to get too close.

They had made a makeshift cover with their shirts, tying them together to create an area of shade, but they couldn’t hide for too long in case they missed their chance of getting rescued.
The three women spent most of the time covered over, while the two men, friends since childhood took control of the rescue lookouts. They had been at sea, drifting in between somewhere and elsewhere for just over twenty four hours, and the day’s sun was just getting to its peak. The meagre rations they had managed to salvage from the charred wreck that had been their luxury yacht were disappearing fast. Three bottles of water and a handful of fruit didn’t get you very far, especially when split so many ways.

Richard Cronin was on watch, while his friend Matthew Sallis – who had taken the hottest hours yesterday – lay huddled up with Sally Jenkins, Natalie McAlester and Dawn Pleasance on the bottom of the boat. The metal base cool from the shade, and from the endless ocean beneath it Richard almost didn’t see it at first, his eyes so busy and focused on the horizon anything closer than that had become a blur. Not to mention the nausea that was tying his stomach into a knot, the sunburn which had worked its way across his shoulders, down both arms and was now searing the flesh of his chest, capped with the salty swell thrown up from the sea. It took a double take and cautions peering through sun squinted eyes before he realized what it was.

“Jesus, Guys, Guys, there is someone over there.” His private education evident immediately in his voice, and while he didn’t like being referred to as a trust fund baby, and had worked hard on his own merit to get to where he was, in some places, his good upbringing couldn’t be hidden.

“We’re saved” The girls voices sounded almost in rehearsed unison. They scrambled to their feet, the small life boat rocking viciously, as they began to spring up and down waving their arms before even looking for their supposed hero.

“No, No, I didn’t mean that. Sorry. Look, over there. I think it’s somebody in the water.” Richard pointed, and they all followed the line of sight he created.

“I don’t see anything.” Nathalie said dejected. “I really though you mean we had been saved.” She slapped Richard on his arm. He winced in pain as his sunburn screamed. “Oh I’m sorry.” She said “I didn’t mean it like that.” She continued, stumbling over her words. She was only young; Richard had been visiting the university giving a lecture to a business class when they had met. She was only in a first year at that point. They had kept their relationship a secret until only a few months before. The trip they had been on in fact had been a sort of ceremony, their first trip as a couple, travelling to visit Richards parents in Carins where they were holidaying.

“It’s okay.” He kissed her on the forehead. “We’re all feeling it. But I’m sure it was something.” He said, his gaze leaving her and settling on the water. The surface was rolling despite the nice weather.

“Maybe it was just a shark or something old boy.” Matthew suggested, smiling at his friend. The pair had grown up together, and now, although working in totally different fields, for Matt (as he now preferred to be called) was an up and coming journalist who had just signed his first book deal, they managed to remain in contact with each other. Regularly going flying either to London to watch West Ham play their games, or ringside seats at whatever Boxing event was being held, failing all else they would be courtside at any Knicks game.

“It wasn’t a fish, I’m telling you. I saw someone.” Matthew insisted. Sally and Dawn had already crawled back under the shade. Dawn, who had been part of the crew on board the yacht had been badly burned on her back and left arm, and was already beginning to suffer from exhaustion not to mention the pain. Sally meanwhile – the on again off again girlfriend of Matthew was a nurse and had taken it upon herself to provide what was looking like twenty four hour care to the poor girl, who at only 18 was working on the ship for the summer before heading off to university. (In fact it was the very same highly respected institution where Richard and Nathalie studied and met.)

“There” Richard exclaimed suddenly, his sun cracked lips were white with dry skin.
Nathalie and Matthew both looked, and this time, riding over one of the rolling waves they saw it too.

“Oh my god, that’s….” Nathalie stopped talking the thing they were looking at came down the slope of the wave and disappeared from view.

“A person,” Matthew said with alarm, instinctively he kicked off his shoes and dove commandingly into the water. His toned swimmers body pierced the water like a hypodermic syringe stabbing through the flesh of the patient. Matthew had been one of the central figures in the university water polo team, missing out on best player in his senior year because of an injury forcing him out of the last few games which saw his rival score the winning points in both the semi’s and the final itself.

Sally had reappeared, standing beside Nathalie while Richard was gathering up the rope which had been used to hold the cover over the raft when it was still attached to the yacht. “Where?” She asked, her eyes looking for anything. She could see Matthews shadow moving under the water. At least she hoped it was him.

Several seconds passed, Matthew didn’t surface, and they all saw that the piece of driftwood or whatever that the other person had clung too was being swept out of view.

“Come on Matt, where are you?” Richard said under his breath. He was getting nervous already.
“Don’t worry Richie; He can hold his breath a lot longer than this.” Sally said, never taking her eyes from the gently rolling Ocean. A vast giant that until a day ago she had regarded as beautiful, a rich blue unlike anything she had even seen, but now thought of as nothing but her death. An liquid cancer that would wear them all away, robbing them of their bodies long before they died.

Several moments passed and they soon became minutes, each second ticked by and felt as though someone had pushed the pause button, freezing them in their worry.

Suddenly, the boat rocked beneath them and something thudded against the hull. It was a heavy sound, followed by a scratchy clawing noise, as if something was scurrying over the submerged portion of the boat.

The girls gasped, although Dawn’s reaction was somewhat laboured as she continued to weave in and out of shock, jumping the channels between fully conscious, which meant and agony so bad she wanted to vomit, and deep shock, where she would simply sit and shake, the agony not going away, but somehow removed. As though she was watching it rather than suffering.

“Matt” Richard spun around as the water broke behind them. “How long has he been under?” He was almost shouting, panic was rushing through him at a rate he had never in his privileged live experienced.

“I don’t know” Sally replied equally frantic, while Nathalie remained staring the other way. Watching the water; it had changed, somehow. It looked darker; a large patch around about where they had seen Matt’s shadow last looked as though a cloud was passing over head. Thick and threatening, yet she looked up and saw nothing but blue. Rich and powerful, vivid and when added to the turquoise beauty of the ocean she felt her head begin to swim. She closed her eyes and waited, but the faintness didn’t leave.

“Matt. Come on buddy.” Richard muttered again, moving to the front of the boat, peering over the edge.

He fell back with a cry as water erupted in with volcanic aggression. A pair of hands clamped down on the side of the small craft which listed badly from the extra and sudden change in its weight on the starboard side. The girls screamed again, and Nathalie fell to the floor. Sally saw her fall and tried to catch her, bringing her to rest on the base of the boat before looking back over at Richard, who had bellowed from fright. The hands that held the craft were not Matt’s Sally saw that instantly. They were red and saw, open saws wept and sparkled like painful diamonds as the sun glinted from the grains of salt embedded in the exposed raw flesh.

Sally screamed. It was Richard who reacted, grabbing the arms of whomever it was and without thinking hauled the body into the boat. The stranger landed with a wet thud on the floor. His clothes struck to his body like a second skin. He lay still, panting and shivering his body wracked with a fever, his brain shutting down further with each second he spent in the sun. He didn’t speak, he simply panted.

“Where’s Matt?” Sally screamed at the man, as though it was his fault Matt tried to save him. The man didn’t respond.

“Don’t worry, we’ll find him.” Richard said, kicking off his own shoes.

“Where are you going?” Nathalie spoke groggily. “You can’t leave us.” She pleaded. Frightened and confused.

“Don’t worry. I’ve got this.” Richard held up his right hand. In it he clenched the rope that was attached with a good knot to the side of the boat. Richard placed one foot on the side of the boat and was about to jump in when the man on the floor screamed.

“No!” It was a cold sound, one that stopped Richard in mid effort. Everyone looked at the man; it felt as though his scream had taken the air temperature down a few degrees.

“He is my friend. I’m going to get him. I don’t care what is waiting for me.” Richard was defiant, yet he took a second thought one he turned back towards the ocean.

“There. Look.” Nathalie said, it was her turn to point now, although It wasn’t really necessary.
They all saw it, the body floating face down in the water. Nobody saw him move, or heard the splash as he entered the water, slightly less gracefully that Matt but with the same effect. They only noticed Richard was gone when they saw him suddenly turning Matt’s body over and begin to swim back to the boat with him.

Sally and Nathalie hauled Matt’s body into the boat. He was breathing, and his eyes were open, but they were milky white, as if they had rolled back into his head. He hissed and thrashed around on the floor of the boat, his arms flapping, nails scratching at his skin.

“It burns.” He shrieked, and as they watched his skin began to blister, giving off the heavy stench of decay. The flesh on Matt’s arms and face was beginning to blister, it bubbled as though the fat beneath it was boiling. He writhed in uncontrolled agony.

Sally screamed, everybody stared, frozen with fear, not just because of what was happening to their friend, but also with fear of the damage they could cause by intervening.

“Pass me the water” Richard said at last. The words were muffled in the ears of the others, but still registered. Naomi, who had risen out of her shock, was kneeling in the shaded area her own buns forgotten for the moment as she watched what was going on, grabbed the remaining water bottles and threw them at Richard.

He opened them and began to pour the water onto his friend’s body. He had expected it to hiss from the temperature, but all it did was cool him. Slowly his screams settled down, and he slipped from the agony of his consciousness into the deep and much more traumatic unconscious world, where he was trapped in a dreamlike state swimming through a field thick with the stinging tentacles and bulbous bodies billowing up and propelling them through the water.

“What’s happening to him?” Sally screamed, tears flowing freely down her cheeks, her breaths coming in sharp jagged gulps.

“I don’t know.” Richard answered, crouching down to check on his friends. “He must have been stung by something, because I was in the water and I feel ok.” He stopped. In truth he felt terrible, but that was only from exposure and the encroaching dehydration.

“There is something out there.” The stranger’s voice spoke.

The others jumped at his voice. They had forgotten he had arrived. “Wh...What do you mean?” Sally whimpered.

“Before you rescued me there was something, I could feel it.” He said, coughing badly. When he pulled his hand away there was blood in the palm; thick and clotted.

“What was it? Jesus, is it sharks?” Nathalie shrieked, clutching at Richards arms.

“Sharks wouldn’t do that. He’s been stung. If I didn’t know any better I would say it was a Jellyfish.” Richard said, but it’s not even close to Box season.” He said more to himself. His eyes were surveying the ocean, which was simply continuing to roll, pushing their little craft wherever it wanted.

At their feet Matthew began to convulse. His chest rising and falling with an irregular rhythm, his hands balled into fists as his whole body tensed. Veins all over his body began to swell with blood until it looked as though he had a network of small snakes living under his flesh. Then with that, no final words or screams Matt died, his body contorted into one of pain and anguish; the look on his face, the white eyes, the reddened skin and the blood tracing its scarlet snail’s path from the corner of his mouth down over his cheek.

“Matt no nonononononononoNO!” Sally screamed hysterically, in her weakened state she was balanced on a knife-edge psychologically anyway. She was a tiny woman who had battled personal problems ranging from eating disorders to drug use. The later being the reason behind her and Matt’s multiple breakups. She dropped to her knees and threw her arms around the body.

“Sally don’t.” Richard moved fast, the boat rocking viciously from side to side as he pulled Sally’s limp body away. “We don’t know what happened. You might get hurt.” Richard spoke softly to her. He was more worried about hurting her underweight frame as he held her.

Behind them the stranger began to cough again, a rattling sound which seemed to emanate from deep within his body. He spat over the side of the boat; a bright red ball.

“You okay buddy? How long have you been out there?” Richard asked, still holding Sally in one arm. She had stopped resisting.

“I don’t know. My boat was sunk, not sure what happened. I found this piece of wood or something then I ….um I don’t know. The next thing I remember those creatures or whatever grabbing at me and then you guys came.” The man struggled to speak. It sounded as though he was drowning inside himself.

“Richard” Nathalie called her voice full of worry.

He looked over and saw something, he wasn’t sure what, it was long and thin like an antenna. It was soon joined by another, and another, they continued to appear over the edge of the boat until there were almost a dozen, each on a white transparent colour. The seemed to extend like elastic until they had reached the bottom of the boat and were feeling slowly towards Matt’s stiffened body. A strange liquid seemed to be coating him, it was the colour of diluted pus yet slightly thicker.

“Hey Hey Get away from him.” Richard called out, kicking one of the water bottles at the arms. It hit them and bounced over the side into the water. The feelers withdrew slightly, but short forward again with a speed that almost beat their eyes. They wrapped around Matt’s neck and with a sickening wet dragging sound the body was hauled out of the boat and entered the water with the grace of a falling boulder. It was all over with before they could react. Sally opened her mouth to scream but nothing came out. Her lungs were paralyzed; she was unable to breathe even. Her chest felt as though it had been placed inside a deep freeze over night.

“What was that what was that?” Dawn shrieked, breaking the silence that had fallen. She was scrambling to her feet. She made her way clumsily to the middle of the boat, suddenly convinced that she could feel the things crawling over her skin.

“I don’t know. Jesus Christ what was that.” Richard ran his hands through his hair, and both Sally and Nathalie clung to him. “I need some space ladies. Please. Let me take a look.” He pushed their clamping hands away.

“Richard.” They said in unison, before exchanging a quick look.

He inched his way over to the side of the boat, carefully shuffling with his feet so as not to lose contact with the boat. There was a strange smacking sound coming from the water. It was the sound of waves gently lapping against a boat moored at a small jetty. Leaning over cautiously, Richard watched as his best friend’s body slowly bobbed up and down, spinning around in slow circles as the spiny arms worked their way over his body, stripping away the flesh in small grooves. Out of nowhere, the blue water, which was now being stained with blood a large white bulbous mass about the size of a football appeared. A small hole opened in the front of it, showing spiny teeth as thin and deadly as a mouth full of needles. The mouth continued to open and it engulfed Matt’s body. Gripping his hand in its mouth and disappearing beneath the surface pulling the body smoothly with it.

“What. What happened? What do you see? Richard.” Nathalie shouted the final word. Not out of anger but to shake Richard out of whatever horrified trance his facial expression showed.

Richard turned to face them. He saw Sally’s fail body, her blond hair dirty and knotted her skin stained with Matt’s life fluid. His eyes moved to Sally, she looked tired, her skin tanned bordering on burnt despite the shelter, her freckles showed up, highlighted by the darkened flesh, her face looking gaunt, with large bags under her eyes. The makeup from before the fire smeared her cheeks making her look like a tragic clown in a black and white production. Her hair was still pulled back, she cared deeply about her hair, it was her weakness in life, and Richard knew she didn’t want to have to face the damage it had suffered. And so she kept it back. Out of mind, out of sight.

He didn’t want to think what a state he must look, he wasn’t as young as he used to be, and not in as good a shape as Matt had been. His two-day-old stubble was already beginning to irritate the sensitive skin of his face, and the salt water was playing havoc with his eyes, and the lenses that clung to them. He didn’t want to take them out because he felt defenceless, his vision poor at best, and with the similar tones of sea and sky he was quite certain he would go made long before the sun burnt his sanity away.

“Nothing, it was nothing. Come on let’s just get into the shade. I think we have had enough sun for now.” He spoke the words, but they sounded hollow in his mouth. Foul tasting almost, like a lie you know will catch you out.

“What about him?” Dawn asked, throwing her head in the direction of the stranger.

“I’ll bring him over. Now come on. This sun will cook us all if we don’t get out of it.” He made his way along the boat. Squeezing nervously passed the women who themselves were moving in a mass huddle.

“Leave me. Get away.” The man spat, swiping out at Richard as he bent to help him up.
“It’s ok. Come on; let’s get you into the shade. I think there is some water left.” The words were cautious. He didn’t really have any idea how much they had, not after dousing Matt with a large amount of it.

“They will come for me won’t they?” His voice was shaking, his body was wet not just from the water but with the same thick sweat pus mixture that Matt was coated in.

“Listen, we’ve been out here for more than twenty-four hours now. People are going to be looking for us. So long as the sea stays calm we will be fine.” He led the man, whose name he still didn’t know over to the shelter where he curled up with the women. Dawn sat still, her knees pulled to her chest in the fetal position; the burn wounds were open and saw from the movement.

There wasn’t much room left under the shade for Richard and so he sat on the bench that dissected the craft. He looked out at the sea, the small waves undulated endlessly, monotonously. He was so thirsty, his throat was parched. Each swallow was like trying to force sandpaper down his throat. His stomach was rumbling and his head felt lightened, but he knew the only chance they had was diminishing with each passing wave that took them further away from their course.

“Richard, what was it. Tell me please.” Sally begged, “Are there more?”

“I don’t know. It looked like a jellyfish, but not like anything I have ever heard about.” He spoke honestly; he had not the energy within himself to keep up the lies. No matter how needed they were.

Sally say back down, sitting closely between Nathalie and Dawn, whose back was turned to them. Her eyes shut, holding back the tears that were tumbling from them. Richard wasn’t sure when, but he fell into a sleep, a troubled uneasy sleep.

He was swimming, the yacht was still there, anchored just off shore from a small island, The water was clean and fresh around him. He could see down into the deep, where fish darted playfully along with each other. He looked up and saw the others, Matt included lined up on the edge of the boat. They jumped after him one by one, the splash of their bodies covering his face with cool water. Their laughter turned however, into a primal shrieking, the sound usually left behind in torture chambers or prisons late at night.

He opened his eyes and the water had turned red around him, and chunks of skin floated on the surface like soggy cornflakes in the bowl. His friends were thrashing in the water which was bubbling around them, white froth capping the waves they created. When their struggled ended Richard was surrounded by them, floating upright in the water, their skin stripped away, leaving just skeletons, coated in areas with the wet meat of their muscles. Ligaments hung from their bones like loose shoelaces.

Richard opened his mouth to scream and was pulled under the water, something wrapping around his leg, working its way up under his shorts. He fell deeper into the water, which get murkier and murkier as he descended. The pressure building in his ears made it feel as though his head was trapped in a vice, his lungs ached and his body began to feel alien. He struggled and tried to escape, but the tentacles had wrapped themselves tightly around him and with each jerky movement they sliced further through his flesh. He opened his mouth, unable to hold his breath any longer. No water rushed in. Instead he felt a thick, pulsating tentacle work its way quickly down his throat. He began to choke.

He woke spluttering, he could still feel the pulsing arm reaching and squirming through his windpipe. He looked around. He had no idea how long he had been asleep, but the sun had moved a considerable distance across the sky. The air was slightly cooler, but his skin was on fire. Luckily his head had been in the shade, but his body had been ravaged. It was red and sore, weeping in places where the blisters from the previous day’s exposure had burst.

He winced and got to his feet. The others were also sleeping, the boat was rocking, the water more agitated than it had been all day. Waves now broke against the hull with the same smacking noise that brought back the image of both the dream and the reality of Matt’s death.
Richard looked around himself, there was a wind blowing now also, and the boat wasn’t just bobbing on the ocean but riding it, the waves were larger than he had thought and while not stormy, the ocean suddenly appeared a lot more fearsome.

He looked under the blanket of clothes. The stranger, the man whose name he then remembered he was yet to ask was lying still, his eyes rolled back in his skull, mouth open, dried blood crusting over on his skin. Richard paused, unsure if he should wake the girls. He knew it would be cruel and pointless, but something within him, bubbling under the skin thought, why not. Why should he have to suffer alone. He forced it down and instead dragged the body out from the shadow. It felt wrong what he was going to do, but there were questions he had and also space he needed should the weather worsen and more.

He looked up at the point and saw the clouds slowly marching across the sky; some white some darker, opposing forces charging into battle. One that he just knew would be waged above their heads.

“Sorry stranger.” He said as he began the painful process of moving the body. He could feel his raw skin being to tear apart as he moved the body which seemed a lot heavier than it had been earlier.

Collapsing back on to the bench, Richard sat and waited, bury the pain he felt within himself, he waited and watched. It didn’t take long; the tentacles appeared over the edge of the boat, not shyly this time, but with confidence. The reached along, and grabbed the man, taking a firmer hold this time. Richard prepared to move, and as soon as the body was pulled into the water he leaned to the side, expecting to see the same beast. He was shocked to the point that he gave a startled cry. There wasn’t just one jellyfish, but several, their floating heads gathered together, bumping against one another as the waves rolled, they were fighting or so it seemed, tentacles waved above the water whipping this way and that like a cat’s tail when cornered. The body was torn apart, mouth gouging chunks of flesh from the body. More and more appeared, stretching almost the length of the boat now, queuing up for their turn to pick at the bones. He moved backwards, almost tripping over the plank. He fell, throwing his arms out to catch himself on the side of the boat. The craft listed suddenly and severely. The beasts reacted, some turned and tried to climb into the craft; its tentacles grasping the wood, hauling the gelatinous body out of the water.

“Get away. Go.” Richard shouted at it. It spied, tied to the inside of the boat the paddles, items they had all forgotten about in their panic. Hastily he grabbed one and swung it for a perfect cover drive. The creature, whatever it was flew through the air; its body created a whistling sound as it flew, crashing into the water.

“What’s going on?” Nathalie spoke up from behind him. The boat was rocking once more, the wood not just creaking gently but calling out for help. A series of buffeting sounds preceded each list.

The girls screamed.

“We need to get out of here” Richard said, his mind spinning. He grabbed the oar and pulled the second one free. His body was screaming at him to stop but he pushed on. His vision was blurring and his eyes stinging from having not removed his lenses.

He pulled the boat lurched forwards, slowly. He cried out, he could hear his skin tearing in places. Behind him the women were screaming, Dawn was still curled up, unable to move, Sally and Nathalie were both crouched down hugging each other. Frozen in panic.

“Hurry, Richard come on, hurry.” Nathalie squealed.

“Shut up. I’m doing my best.” His teeth were gritted and the sea was beginning to dot with the whitened caps of stormy water.

He pulled again, it was like rowing through treacle, his arms were weak, and his hands were burning from gripping the paddles. He saw that as he raised the oars for another strong there were jellyfish clinging to them. He dropped them into the water and pulled. Something snapped, he felt it give, yet he continued to pull, the strokes slow and heavy, but the boat was moving, the wind working in their favour and blowing them over the waves.

“Get in the shelter. NOW!” Richard bellowed at the women. Ordering them rather than asking. Sweat had broken out over his body, removing what precious fluid he had still. He hauled again; the boat rose on a wave and shot forward riding it before coming to rest again.

Richard raised the oars, but felt his heart drop when he saw that they were nothing more than sticks. The fattened end had been removed, broken away somehow. He pulled them in to him and examined the ends. They had been cut through, rather than snapped.

“Jesus. What the fuck is this.” He grabbed at his head, taking handfuls of hair in each fist. “Ok, calm down, come on think. There must be something else. Come on old boy THINK.” He chided himself.

“Dawn.” Sally’s voice suddenly called out. Richard looked around and saw both women holding onto Sally’s legs as her body was slowly being pulled over board. Richard, abandoning the oars moved to help. It was beginning to rain, the clouds settling large and thick in the night sky; the waves growing, throwing the boat around like a toy in the bathtub.

He took a hold and pulled, his effort not adding much, but eventually after a short game of tug of war they brought Dawn’s body back into the boat. She was screaming, kicking her legs. They turned her around, and saw immediately why. A number of tentacles and forced their way through her mouth and were no protruding from her eyes. They hadn’t pushed them out of their sockets, but rather emerged from the expanded pupils in the centre. Her nose was bleeding and bright red lines were visible on her neck as whatever poison it was surged through her system. A green foam was bubbling between her lips.

“Do something.” Nathalie begged Richard. “You have to help her.” She screamed, tugging his arm to get him to move.

“It’s too late; there isn’t anything we can do.” He said in a whisper.

“No it’s not. Help her.”

Richard thought, and then realising there was nothing else for it he grabbed Dawn by the legs and threw her body back over the side of the boat. Her screams were soon drowned out, the sound of her head bouncing off the underside of the craft were a haunting message of her displeasure at her demise.

“What did you do that for? You bastard,” Nathalie screamed slapping furiously at Richard, who had no energy left to protect himself.

“I did what was best for us. She was already dead, but maybe we bought ourselves a bit of time. “ He said to her, but Nathalie didn’t listen, she had turned her back to him and was searching the ocean for Dawn.

“Get her back. We have to rescue her, it’s not too late.” She was frantic, clawing at her skin, her neck and throat red from the scratching. Her eyes were wide with fear.

The boat continued to rock, as the wind increased. In the distance the sound of thunder could be heard; ominous and oppressive.

“Come on. The best thing we can do is hide, we can’t go anywhere not now.” He cast his eyes towards the oars. “Best thing is to try and ride out this storm or whatever it is and hope for the best.” He crawled under the covering and held his hands out to steady Nathalie as she crawled down.

She batted them away refusing to even look at him.

“I understand” Sally spoke, her skin was white in spite of the sun that had been beating down on them. Her eyes looked as though they had been blacked so intense were the blue bags beneath them.

The storm grew harder, and the rain lashed down, the boat was thrown this way and that, waves crashed around it and over it, filling it with water and washing away the last of their supplies. It was all they could do to keep hold themselves. At one point a jellyfish was washed into the boat, its tentacles thrashing around wildly, not hunting but in panic.

“They don’t like the storm.” Richard shouted over the wind, and even then was only just heard by the others. Even Nathalie looked at him now. She hadn’t spoken to him since the incident with Dawn, although she had moved closer once the storm hit.

The next wave crashed down and washed the creature back out into the sea.
The storm last most of the night, and even once the worst was over, the sea remained agitated, the boat taking the brunt of the problems, and several cracks appeared in the wood, but thankfully all above the water line. The seat was broken and the oars washed away. At some point just before it broke the clothing was ripped away exposing them all to the elements. The huddled together and waited, fully expecting the boat to simply come apart or turn over, spilling them all into the foaming rabid looking ocean like rubbish down a chute.

It didn’t come, and by the time the sun began to rise again, the waters around them calmed once more. The three remained huddled together, shivering from the water, their bodies beaten, hunger raged within them. The boat creaked with more and more effort as it bobbed again on the water, only now if sounded less calming and more like groans from holdings itself together.
Finally, once the sun was shining on them again, beating down incessantly Richard rose, shakily. His muscles screaming at him, his left thigh cramped violently, he looked and saw the muscles pinching together creating a bulge under his skin. He grimaced and tried to ignore it. He looked around, there was no sign of the creatures. “Maybe the storm drove them away.” He said, not wanting to assume anything as they had appeared out of nowhere before, but having nothing to test the water with other than his own arms he decided a judgement call was the best idea.
“Great, so now we can cook to death in this fucking boat. That’s just great.” Sally snapped, before spontaneously bursting into tears.

Nathalie remained sitting, her mind scrambled, so much had happened to them in two days she was struggling to process it all.

She was trying to say something when Richard suddenly called out.

“Holy shit. I don’t believe it. Come here. Quick. I don’t fucking believe it.” He spoke in short quick fire sentences, breathing sharply between each of them.

The girls tried to rise, but instead opted to simply peer over the top of the boat. They soon were on their feet, rubbing their eyes, ignoring the blisters that her erupted over their bodies from where their sun burnt flesh had been pounded by salt water.

“It’s . . . . . . “ Sally began.

“An Island, We’re saved. Ha!” Nathalie sung with a shrill enthusiastic voice. “Come on; let’s get this boat over there.” She said looking around for the paddles. “Where are they?” She asked, temporarily forgetting the incidents of the previous night.

“Don’t worry. I think we are drifting that way. When we get a bit closer Ill jump in and pull us to shore.” Richard volunteered, but he was unsure if he had the strength to do it.

“What about those things. Whatever they were?” Nathalie asked him, once again holding his arm
“It’s a chance we will have to take. We won’t survive another storm, or a day in this heat for that matter.”

They waited as the island slowly grew larger, until they could make out the sandy beach and the thick row of palm trees which actually threatened to lead into something dense, offering shelter in the very least, and the chance of food, wild fruit or whatever they could forage.

Finally, they were about 100 yards from the shore Richard prepared to make his dive. He had been studying the water more than the island until this point, and was fairly sure that they were free from the monsters that had been hunting them. “Right, I’ll pull us to the beach.” He said as he swung his legs over the side and into the water. The boat leaned heavily but none of them minded.

He let himself go and was surprised when the water only reached his chest. “Oh, that makes it easier.” He said, clamping his hand on the boat, he began to walk to the shore. It was heavy work on dead legs, but he made it before collapsing onto the sand exhausted. Not caring about the grating sand rubbing over his sore over exposed skin. He could wash it off whenever he wanted to now.

He laughed to himself, a little maniacally but he didn’t care.

The women jumped out of the boat and both crashed to their knees in sheer delight.

“We’re safe. I can’t believe it. We made it.” Sally was the first to speak.

Richard sat up, hating to do so but knowing he must. “Well let’s check out the this beach a bit, see how far it goes, get an idea if anything else is here. The beach curled around in either direction, meaning the Island was either tiny and long and narrow with them standing on the point.

They waited a few more moments, enjoying the rather unusual sensation of being on land, listening to the waves crashed on the beach, while the gentle breeze rustled the trees. Never had something so remote been so welcoming.

Rising they made their way in the direction they were facing. Leaving the boat behind them, still on the water, but grounding on the shallows.

The walk was slow progress their sore feet burnt on the hot sand and their legs were heavy. Yet they made it to the turn curve of the island and were confronted by a wall of rock. It wasn’t very high, but high enough to block their view of the beach.

“Shall we go back the other way then?” Sally asked. They had stuck to the shadows for the last few hundred yards, the sand there was cooler and they were immediately feeling better.

“No not yet. It looks like a simple scramble up there. You wait here; I’ll take a look see what there is.” Richard proposed, setting off before either of them could say anything. He was man, he was going to search. It was primitive but it was a feel he couldn’t seem to shake. He was in charge whether he wanted it or not.

Richard began the climb, the rocks were wet but the incline wasn’t that steep so purchase on the rocks wasn’t an issue. He still had his shoes on too, unlike the girls, who had been sunbathing on the yacht at the time of the fire.

He made the ascent relatively quickly. Pausing only once as his grip on a rock slipped and sliced through the flesh of his thumb. He pushed on. Once at the top he looked into the distance and saw the beach spread a long way down, before turning a corner again. He paused, there was something, a sound filtering up to him. It sounded like a gurgling breathy sound. He looked down and almost fell from the rocks.

“What is it?” The girls asked almost in unison.

Richard turned to answer them, and losing his footing slipped and fell backwards out of their view.

“Richard.” Nathalie called out, running somehow onto the rocks, closely followed by Sally. They made slower work of the climb; the pain in their feet was terrible. Yet they made it to the summit, their bloody footprints covering the rocks below them. Nathalie made it first and began to search for Richard. She didn’t see him on the rocks, no sign of him. He was lying on the sand, a little away from them, he was unconscious, lying face down, the back of his head was wet with blood, and she could see it trickling down his back. “Rich...” She began to call, but her voice cut itself off.

As she looked she saw, in the surf on the shore several of the Milky white heads of the creatures that had attached them. She watched, and didn’t head Sally scream behind her as she lost her footing and fell, trapping her ankle in a gap in the rocks as her falling body pushed more away, trapping her knee deep in the cold, slimy rock. Sally heard more than felt her leg snap, the searing pain as the bone burst through her skin just below her knee. Blood spurted up onto her thigh.

Nathalie heard nothing, as she watched the jellyfish float closer to the beach, she gazed on horrified as slowly they began to waddle out of the surf, their long tentacles dragging behind them like dreadlocks. Protruding from their main mass, stabbing uneasily at the ground were legs, like those of a crab, only they were the same spooky colour as the body. First it was only one but soon more joined it , emerging from the sea like a wave of amphibious tanks making their landing.

“Richard. Wake up. Pleeeeeease” She whispered hoarsely, unsure if anything actually came out or if it was just in her mind.

There was more movement, further up the beach, and she stared as more of them appeared, emerging from all places out of the trees. These were smaller, their tentacles not as long as their water loving cousins, but they moved faster, the front runners already had their mouths open, and were snapping like hungry fish. She turned around, looking back the way they had come, her heart heavy with fear. The beach behind them was also filling up with the creatures, hundreds of them spewing from the surf and dropping from the trees. Their scurrying legs amplified by their vast numbers made strange clicking sounds as they advanced.

“What is it Nat. What’s going on?” Sally asked complete unaware of the bulbous head rising behind her.

“Nothing, don’t worry. Are you ok?” Nathalie answered, holding back tears.

“I can’t move. My leg is broken. I don’t know. . . . “Her words turned into a rush of air and the giant mass engulfed her head in its cavernous mouth. Nathalie stood stock sill, not wanting to move in case they hadn’t yet noticed her. She saw and heard the teeth break the skin, she saw blood flow from her friends throat and worst of all she saw Sally head through the skin of the monster. She saw the look of terror in her eyes as the teeth chomped their way through the flesh, until Nathalie heard the bone break and the body fell away against the rocks.

Nathalie turned back to Richard, but his body was disappearing into the sea, being fought over by several larger creatures, whose legs held their bodies more than a foot above the undulating sand. She turned to run, but saw quickly that she was surrounded. The smell of death was in the air and as she watched, she saw floating away with her last remnants of hope the life raft, slowly bobbing its way back out to sea.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Notes on To Be Counted . . . . . .

I will be honest with you.

This is a pointless story. I had an idea in my mind - the final image of Nate before he charges - and I decided to see what I could come up with. Then I thuoght of two films I love, Falling Down and Edmond. With this I set off. Simply writing whatever came into my mind.

Not concentrating of a theme, simply letting the words flow freely and create their own image. The result is well.. . . . . . .

I will let you see for yourself what happens when you let the words loose with no control.

Thank you for reading, sit back and Enjoy

To Be Counted . . . . . . .

“You can grab your keys in the morning Nate.” The barman said draping the last towel over the lager tap and turned off the fruit machines with the master switch behind the bar.

“Thanks” Nathanial slurred, hopping from his bar stool, his head thumping from the hot crowded bar. He hadn’t had a drink for several hours, but he had had too much to risk the short trip home. Besides the walk would be good for him, he hadn’t been getting that much exercise recently.

The night air was cool and refreshing especially after being stuck inside for five solid hours. Nate took a deep breath, blowing the second hand smoke from his lungs, clearing his headache in the process. He only lived a few miles away, and even in his slightly inebriated condition it shouldn’t take more than forty-five minutes to get back. An hour at the most if he wandered rather than walked, and it was a clear night, all the major constellations were in view, so wandering was a distinct possibility.

The normal route he would have taken was closed for road works, and so Nate turned left instead of right, deciding that the quickest way back would be through the Groves. It was the bad area of town, predominantly council houses, with families living on various kinds of benefit, some of which were actually legitimate claims, but halfway down he could take a left, cross the fen park play area and cut through the woods – which since last winter had been lined with low power street lighting – it would shave about half a mile or so from the overall detour, plus it was still fairly light out, the moon was full and after the day he had had Nate felt invincible.

As he walked he whistled to himself, no tune in particular, but more a medley of the jukebox classics that had been assaulting his senses all night.

He crossed over the main road that successful dissected the town into North and South, and headed up toward the Groves. The houses, although given to the takers of society, were in good condition, many of them freshly refurbished and of course kept in good condition by the council who are responsible for their repairs. He hadn’t gone too far before he heard footsteps falling on the pavement behind him. He heard their murmured conversation and took nothing of their presence. Until a third person walked out from the shadows, holding in one hand a broken wine bottle or so it looked.

“Give me your wallet Man. Come on.” He seemed nervous, bouncing his weight from on foot to the other. His eyes not looking at Nate or to the two companions of his who had assumed flanking positions either side of him, but he seemed more intent on checking the road, making sure no police car happened to drive past and witness proceedings.

Not wanting any trouble, and happy to lose the twenty-five pounds in his wallet, Nate handed it over. He never took his cards with him when he went drinking, just as a precaution.

“What the fuck is this. Come on Granddad, give us the real cash, the cards. I’m not fucking kidding you.” The man, who Nate realized was not many years passed being classed as a boy was agitated, disappointment in his voice apparent.

“I don’t have anything else. It’s the end of the night. You’re lucky to jump someone with that much.” The rational answer seemed so obvious that it needed to be said.

One of the bodyguards then threw a strong punch into Nate’s ribs, doubling him over, the air rushing from his lungs in a long exhalation. He wanted to collapse to his knees but was being held up now. His body demanding air, but his lungs still too shocked to take it in.


“Just take it man.” The other flanker said. The threw the wallet on the ground, ironic as it was worth much more than the meager amount it contained, dropped Nate and carried on their way.
He remained on the floor, his knees on the cold pavement, scratched and bleeding slightly from the impact, his body was bent over the top of that. He was sucking air into his lungs in loud slurps.

He wanted to vomit.

The feeling passed and once he could breathe again, Nate rose to his feet, grabbing his wallet and continuing on his way. His pace somewhat quicker than it had been before.

He reached the point where he had could cut down a small side alley bringing him out in the woods. He could see the light at the end of the alley, and saw a man walking a dog cross his view. He heard more footsteps behind him. He turned and saw a group of four people heading up the street.

He took the Alley way, jogging over to the wooded path.

“Hey are you alright?” A voice asked, a young women, in her early twenties was standing leaning against a tree with a long joint sticking out of her left hand. Her face was shaded by the poor light and a large tree, but Nate could see her skin was covered with acne, it was clammy and her hair was thin and stuck greasily to her scalp. Her teeth were crooked, and some where missing, her gums bloody and sore.

“I’m fine. I lost my wallet that’s all.” His ribs still ached dully from the heavy blow he had been dealt. “But it doesn’t matter; It was only a small bit of cash. Are you ok being out here alone?” He asked, the fundamental principles he had grown up with coming through to take control. He looked at her, then at the joint. He could smell it from across the path.

He watched as she took a long deep drag.

“Want some?” She asked, coughing slightly as she laughed the smoke out of her mouth. She held the joint out. “It’s ok; cops don’t come down this part of town if they don’t got to.” She said it with a blasé attitude that screamed of mediocrity. She came away from the tree, her skinny legs covered with bruises and scabs. She was wearing a short denim skirt, which left too much to the imagination.

Nate swallowed hard.

She held his gaze as she walked towards him, placing the joint in his hands before he even knew what was going on. He raised it to his lips and inhaled. Only a little at first, but when he lowered it, she took it from him, took a long drag and kissed him, blowing the smoke into his mouth. Almost immediately his world lost its sharpness and he felt a strange sensation wash over him as if he were lying on the beach just below the shoreline.


He collapsed to the floor, his lungs burning, he choked as he coughed and the girl simply smiled at him.

“I’m Melanie.” She smiled at him.

“Nate” He said, standing back up. Melanie was young enough to be his daughter, he saw that in her face, but he was drawn to her.

“Nice to meet you,” She handed the joint back to Nate who took it and dragged greedily on it.

“You fancy walking for a bit. I never like to walk around here alone.” She said, pouting as she finished the sentence.

Her nipples were poking through her shirt, she wasn’t wearing a bra and two buttons were missing.

“Really, I thought this was your neighbourhood.” He said, keeping hold of the joint as they automatically began walking, following the path that took them deeper into the woods.

“It is, but I’m no gangbanger, those guys own the place now. It’s not safe. I met them once a few nights ago.” She stopped suddenly, as if embarrassed, or shy. She took the joint back and finished it.

“I guess they were the guys that took my money then” Nate spoke to himself, although inadvertently out loud.

“Those guys are ass’s why are you walking around here anyway. You don’t seem like the type for this place.” She continued the friendly conversation; a happy buzz circled them both, as they moved between the rings of light and areas of shadow from the overhead lights

“I close a good deal at work today so was out celebrating. Had to leave my car and walk.” Nate said, bothered by the sudden change in her demeanor. “What happened to you? What did those guys do?” He quizzed her.

“Nothing. Don’t worry about me. I can survive.” Her voice suddenly cheered up. “Hey you want to have a bit more fun.” She had stopped walking. She was looking at Nate with wide eyes. Her hands picked subconsciously at her shirt.

“I should probably get going.” He said hesitantly, unable to break his gaze with Melanie.

“Ok, well maybe I’ll see you around.” She said with another smile and she walked off the main path, down a small alleyway, there was no light there and she was soon swallowed up by the dark.

Nate stood for a second and followed her.

She was waiting for him.

She kissed him, and this time he kissed her back, he found a sudden passion burning inside him that had been lost. His wife hardly spoke to him, she spent her time watching TV, reading gossip magazines or out and about shopping in various outlets for whatever she saw. They hardly spoke, and he had actually stopped wearing his wedding ring some days because he found it annoying.

“Follow me. Let me speak, my friend is a bit wary of strangers.” Nate’s hands were gently squeezing her breasts, they felt so firm to his touch, his erection pressed against her inner thigh.
She disappeared, it seemed as though the night had simply swallowed her whole. The wooden gate swung shut behind her and clicked gently against its latch. Moments passed and as the initial wave of pleasure began to disappear, Nate started to question what he was doing.

She isn’t coming back. Come on, go home, sober up. You’ve got a lot of work heading your way.
He was busy talking to himself when Melanie returned, pulling him by his shirt sleeve into the yard. It was overgrown and filled with junk, but Nate didn’t think about it.

He followed Melanie in through the broken door which led them directly into the kitchen, which was filled with the buzz of electricity, the worktops were filled with brown glass bottles, piping, and glass flasks, several Bunsen burners were also present, and in the corner of the room, barely visible in the darkness was a number of Gas Cylinders.

“What are we doing here?” Nate asked, uneasy about his new surroundings.

“Well, firstly to have a bit of fun, but also if they are on the streets, then I don’t want to be.” Melanie said.

“I should probably be getting back.” Nate stammered. His heart was beginning to race and he didn’t think it was because of the dope.

“You can’t go, you can’t leave me. It’s not safe out there.” She said, suddenly craving the closeness of another human being.

“Well the police are driving around so surely you can make it home.” Nate said. They had left the kitchen now and entered the living room. A number of low wattage light bulbs burned overhead, there was a thick cloud hovering just below the ceiling and children’s toys littered the floor. There was a long tattered leather sofa that stretched the entire width of the far wall, and two armchairs which looked as though they had been rescued from the dump. A glass table took the centre stage.

“That’s rich. Boy have you got a lot to learn. The pigs don’t give a fuck about us. This neighbourhood is hardly visited during the day let alone at night. They leave us here and hope we will all just take care of our own problems. Its quality policing at its finest, contain the trouble and it makes the figures for the whole town look better. “Melanie dropped onto the sofa and patted for Nate to sit next to her.

“You don’t believe that do you?” Nate asked, his faith in the system had been instilled from growing up in the upper echelons of the middle class, going to private schools and two brand name universities.

“Well hello, Mel says you like to play rough. So what you say about gettin’ this here party started.” A squeaky voice entered the room before its owner. A tall, severely underweight man entered, he had a straggly beard and a wrinkled face that made him appear much older. He smiled as he finished talking, his teeth ranged in colour from yellow to black, his gums receded to the point where the root’s of the teeth were almost visible. Some had already fallen out, but he didn’t seem to mind.

He threw a small ball of tin foil at Melanie, she opened it and poured the contents onto the table. Nate watched in silent shock as she pulled a razorblade from inside her book and cut 4 neat rather chunky lines on the table. She quickly snorted one and sat back. She stared at Nate, and he saw her eyes widen, and a glassy look descended over them like a curtain coming down on her reality.

“The cops don’t care about us. Where were they tonight when you got mugged? I mean only a few feet away from the main street and they don’t give a damn.” She motioned to the remaining lines. Nate faltered, unsure what she was suggesting. His mind beginning to fog over as the alcohol buzz gave way to the heady after feeling and the other high continued to lessen.

“That was just bad luck” He said, defending the institution because it was the right thing to do.
She snorted another line, moaning this time as the high hit her. She lay back on the sofa, her shirt stretching against her chest as she arched her back. “Ok, but where were they when those some of those fuckers raped me? Why didn’t they listen when I reported it?” She asked. There was venom in her words but it didn’t come out in her expression.

“What?” Nate asked.

Melanie sat back up. She gazed at him. “That’s right. I reported it, I even went up there, but they wouldn’t even listen to me. Just sent me back outside.” She passed a cut of piece of plastic straw to Nate and directly him to the line.

“I’m not sure.” He began to say, his mind was whirling from the sudden revelation. He refused to believe that the police didn’t care about a rape.

“Just because I’m a junkie they don’t give a fuck. If I live three streets further over then they would have done something about it. I’m telling you. This whole town is dirty.” She continued to talk. Nate noticed the dealer also take a seat in one of the arm chair, his shirt was now missing and he had a rubber hose tied around his arm.

“That’s just the beginning of it man.” He said to no one in particular.

Before he knew what was happening, Nate snorted both the lines of powder one after the other. It hit him like a right hook, his world exploded. His body tingled and he could feel every individual pour on his body gasp; millions of tiny mouths opening for air. The wave crashed over him again and again. He fell back into the sofa.

Drowning in an ocean of ecstasy and loving it.

“That’s not right.” He said, mumbling the words over and over again. “How can they let that happen? Fuck that.” He shouted it and beside him Melanie laughed.

“That’s just how life goes.” She said dismissively.

They sat on the sofa together, and as they went through several more lines, the conversation continued and Nate found himself getting angrier and angrier about it. The lack of police units in the area, the blind eye they always seemed to be cast in their direction.

“Someone needs to take a stand. Take it to the government, the media, anybody who will listen. You can’t let this happen.” Nate was ranting, and with each line he snorted he thought of a bigger and better method.

“It’s not worth it. It happens a lot, but you get used to it.” Melanie said. She was now sitting in Nate lap, her shirt open, and his fingers were tracing small circles around her hardened nipples. They kissed, a passionate embrace and seemed to melt into the sofa with each other.

After they finished making love on the stained, tattered suite, Nate took a line of cocaine that Melanie had drawn onto her stomach. Starting just above the small tuft of public hair and finished on the point of both her nipples. He fell back and watched as the room exploded, and his head floated away from his body.

“It’s not just here man. It’s everywhere. Places like this just get ignored. We don’t get a chance in life because we are in a bad state. I mean, they just want to control us man.” The dealer – who Nate found out was called Eddie – spoke suddenly. Until that point he had been almost unconscious in the chair.

“I know, why don’t you come and meat The Beef. He can help. He used to be a big shot. He doesn’t live far; it’s like 20 minutes from here.” Melanie laughed as she spoke. She liked nothing better than to fuck while she was high.

“Maybe he will know people then. He could help us get this out to the public. They need to know what goes on here.” Nate stood, defiant.

“You sound like your campaigning or some shit. People don’t care about us. Society turns its back on us every chance it gets.” Eddie spoke; his comments seemed to echo the Melanie’s thoughts.

Nate laughed. The very idea seemed ridiculous. “I’m not politician, I’m a advertising man.” He said, his mind was melting, he could feel it, he was so thirsty, and hot he couldn’t think straight. “Let’s go outside then. I’m burning up in here.”

The three of them stood, Eddie taking somewhat longer to get to his feet than the others. “Yeah dude. Road trip. Let’s go see The Beef” He said with a voice filled with the anticipation of child on Christmas morning staring down his pile of presents.

The three of them set off this time, venturing through the front door, which was blocked by a twin pushchair and new packet of Huggies. Stepping out of the door, the first thing Nate noticed was that the world looked much darker, dirtier somehow. A few clouds had appeared in the sky and the moon seemed to cast an ghostly light on the ground.

The air was cooler that it had been, or he was hotter, Nate wasn’t sure which. He felt something on his skin, walking over him like a mobile itch, five creeping legs climbing over his flesh. He looked down; thinking about pulling away but not sure if it would be any use. It was only Melanie locking her fingers in his.

The journey took them further into The Groves, and with each step the shadows of night seemed longer and more menacing, the houses seemed grimier, windows cracked and dirty. The new cars in the driveway had more chips in their paint and the tax discs seemed to edge closer to expiration with every side street.

Nate gripped Melanie’s hand, lightly at first, enjoying the way her smooth skin seemed to melt into his own. He could still smell their love making on her skin, - and quite possibly his own - and so he squeezed tighter, in the amber spotlights cast by the streetlamps Nate found himself gazing at her. Her hair seemed to bounce as she walked, her skin seemed smoother, to shimmer not from grease and pus filled pimples, but with glamour and youth. She looked healthy to him. As if sensing him looking at her she stopped walking and turned to face him. Her breasts pushed pertly against her shirt, her legs were solid and sensual to his scanning eyes.

“Not long now man. The Beef is a big guy to know. Trust me. Then your world will really change.” She smiled at him and carried on walking, the graceful curve of her thighs and buttocks swaggered away from him.

He followed.

The wind buzzed over his skin, it was electric, the hairs on his arms stood erect and screaming, howling at the overcast night sky.

“Where the fuck are we walking to?” Nate asked.

Melanie giggled but said nothing.

“Just up this hill man.” Eddie answered, somewhat distantly.

They had stopped walking. Nate looked up and saw a long steep road that wound to the right and out of view, still climbing as it did. “I didn’t know they had fucking mountains in here.” The others laughed, Melanie even snorted. She was becoming quite infatuated with the older man. He wasn’t the best lover she had ever had, but he seemed to be responsible. “I should really be getting home. Fuck. Where the Hell are we?” He asked pulling at his already disheveled hair.

“You all in trouble muvafukkas” A street bred voice jumped out at them. A group of three men, each wearing vests and bandanas over their mouths stood with their arms by their side, blades glinting.

“We don’t want no trouble.” Melanie spoke first, she had already taken several steps closer to Nate, slipping her arm within his.

She was shaking.

“Shut up bitch. I thought we told you to get out granddad.” The turned their attention to Nate and took a few steps forward.

“Let’s go” Melanie whispered.

Eddie was standing behind them both, almost unaware that anything was going on. He was so high that the concept of danger no longer entered his mind. “Hey” His single contribution to the conversation.

“That’s no way to talk to a lady. Now we were just moving, um going somewhere. We don’t want to cause problems.” Nate continued, not really thinking the words, the just seemed to be falling from his brain. He was a natural talker whatever his condition apparently and so he just let it go.

The three men took another step closer, the gap narrowed to less than 2 meters. Too close to run away. Melanie squeezed Nate’s arm tighter.

“Well it’s a bit late for dat” The middle figure spoke. He was a large man, muscled and overweight at the same time. A large tattoo ran down his right arm. He was the new addition since Nate’s previous encounter.

With no further warning the two flankers sprung. One grabbed Nate and the other Melanie, a fist hit Nate in the gut like a pneumatic piston; he doubled over and vomited on the floor. Before he could right himself a knee came up into his face. His lips slit and his nose began to bleed, the blood falling like rain drops on the pavement. Black drops of shimmering oil in the night time scene. The hands let him go. He fell.

“Hey. That’s not cool man. Chill out.” Eddie re-began his negotiations. He was soon knocked out by the same man that assaulted Nate.

“Let me go. Fuck you.” Melanie called out, raking her nails down the face of one of the men, kicking him in the knee at the same time. He hollered in pain, but the other one had then joined in and wrapped his arms around her, crushing her fragile ribcage in his strong grip.

The leader of the group still hadn’t moved, he was holding his knife in both hands, admiring it that way an collector looks at a painting.

“You like dit whore? Hey, you want it again. Come on scream, open your mouth and take it bitch.” He moved forward with the knife, the blade aimed at Melanie’s mouth. He pushed the tip between her lips. She cried with her lips pursed so tightly together they almost disappeared from her face.

The man who held her laughed, his grip lessened slightly. Meanwhile the other one was now on his feet. Limping, blood drawn down the side of his face, but he still smiled, his dark skin revealing white teeth that shone in contrast to his body. “I’m gonna enjoy this.” He said as he unzipped his trousers. “Just don’t give me nothing.” He added almost as an afterthought. Melanie struggled but the knife was still delicately placed and so she calmed.

“Leave her alone” Nate called, his voice lacked power as he still struggled to get his breath.

“Shut ya trap Old man. I’m sure you will get your turn.” The big guy spoke. “Bend her over for me boys. They did as he asked, and he pushed her skirt up exposing her to the world. “Fuck me. This stink like a fucking fish factory, I’m not gonna put my dick in that.”He said, pulling his trousers back up. “But my fist is ok.” He shoved with his arm, a sudden and powerful thrust.
Melanie screamed. It was a blood curdling horrible scream that would be permanently etched into Nate’s mind.

In all their excitement they had forgotten about Eddie and Nate, who had regain their feet. Both charged, falling into the men rather than anything more aggressive. Still, it was enough to knock them off balance and they all fell to the floor. Eddie was pounding away, his aggression silent, his lips pulled back, fists soon covered with blood. He didn’t know what he was fighting, but he felt as though it was necessary.

Nate, being not naturally aggressive wasn’t throwing many punches but more swinging with his eyes closed. He felt hands grabbing at him, his balance being overthrown. Thinking fast, he grabbed the mans head, lifting it from the floor and dropping it suddenly to the floor. The sound echoed into his mind. The sanity he had left him as the red mist descended. He pushed the man’s head into the concrete another six times before realizing he was dead.

“Melanie” he called. His world was dark, he saw nothing, everything was a mass of lights and sounds, the rage coursed through his veins accompanying the coke as it ravaged his body. He felt invincible. “Melanie where are you?” He called again, hearing her sobs coming from somewhere nearby.

She was lying on the floor, curled up against the small brick wall that was the boundary of someone’s garden. Someone who, like the rest of the street hadn’t even turned their lights on or peered through the curtains at the commotion.

She was lying in the fetal position, her skirt still pushed up her back, blood trickling from between her legs. He was shaking, gripping herself so hard her nails were drawing blood on her arms.

Nate found her and he pulled her into him. “It’s ok. They won’t hurt you anymore.” He whispered to her.

Hands clamped down on the back of his shirt and lifted him into the air. “You is gonna pay for this.” The leader of the men spoke. His knife blade flashed as it swung through the air. Melanie jumped just in time, she sank her teeth into the man’s thick neck. She felt hot acidic blood in her mouth. She let go as the man dropped Nate and grabbed at her. She had fallen back to the floor. He rubbed his neck which was bleeding profusely, turning to face Melanie, Nate reacted quickly, grabbing the knife from the floor and burying it in the man’s side. He withdrew, the man remained standing so he stabbed again, and again, still unable to control his actions. The rage did all the talking. “Fucking Rapist. This is what you god damned deserve. Justice. Fuck You.” He spat the words, bloodied saliva spilling from his lips. The man fell to the floor in a convulsing heap.

“Jesus Man. Come on, run before the cops show up.” Eddie spoke, his mellow self once more.

“Something like this will bring them here in droves” He added as he hustled them both up the street. “Number 857, come on. Move it man.” The hurried off.

They stood breathlessly in the shadow of the house they were looking for, a shadowy figure on the other side was busy working a number of locks and chains to let them in. Behind them the sound of police sirens grew louder as more cars and ambulances added to the flashing blue background at the base of the hill.

“Come on Beef. Let us in man.” Eddie muttered urgently. He had done all the talking. Melanie was in no condition to argue and Nate didn’t care. He was too busy worrying about what he had done. Images coming back to him like the morning after a big night out.

“Shit. What did we do?” He asked, staring from Melanie to Eddie and the door. “What. Oh God. Oh God.” He muttered.

The door opened and although hesitant at first given the fact that they were all covered with blood, The Beef – aka Alan Johnston – let them in. Closing and bolting the door behind them.
The Beef was a thin man, nothing like the figure Nate had created in his mind, he had thinning hair, was probably only a few years younger than Nate was, he wore a long dressing gown with a Chinese dragon travelling the length of it. His eyes were hazy and his face was, like Eddies, sallow and clammy with sweat. They sat in silence, Eddie was lounged back in an arm chair similar to his own, Alan was fidgeting with his legs, pressing on the nerves in his feet to keep the legs bouncing, or so it seemed. Melanie was curled in a ball, staring into the distance clinging still to Nate’s arm. Nate was reaching into his trousers, behind his back. He produced the blood covered knife he had killed the man with moments before. He set it on the table.

Nobody spoke. They all stared at it.

Nate sat back, “Fuck” He called.

“Wow Dude. Get that fucking thing of my table before I rip your fucking face off with it.” Alan The Beef snapped. He rose to his feet, his eyes jumping from the three of them rapidly.

“Easy man, He’s one of us.” Eddie spoke as it from his sleep.

“Oh, Okay then. I’ll just put that away for you.” He picked up the knife and walked into another room with it. He returned several minutes later and they all sat in silence again.

It was Melanie who spoke first. “I can’t believe it.” Her voice was that of someone whose spirit had been broken.

“I know What the hell did we do?” Nate said again. He was on the point of tears suddenly and unable to bring himself back.

“You were a hero. You took care of it just like you said you would do. You deserve a medal. You saved us.” Melanie said, wincing in pain as she shifted her position slightly.

“Hell yeah man.” Eddie added. Still staring at the ceiling.

“I killed people. I murdered them. That doesn’t help things. It makes it fucking….Shit I don’t know. I killed two people.” He burst into tears at that point. He was shaking. He felt as though his world was collapsing around his ears.

The night seemed to be lasting forever, everything frozen outside until he ventured back out into it.

“You are a hero man. It’s about time someone took a damn stand. You’re a good guy in my book.” Alan said, his eyes finally fixed on Nate. “Where you from anyway?” He asked, not recognizing the face of the man sitting opposite him.

“Um….Over in Havenfields. My wife is probably worried sick.” He said, thinking about her for the first time that night. “I need to go, turn myself in or something.” He spoke to himself.

“No man. Fuck that shit. You are a hero here now. I’m gonna call you the peacekeeper.” Alan spoke. “Don’t you see it Peace, this is the Bad Lands. No man’s land stuck between the trenches. Nobody really gives a shit about what goes on in here. Trust me, I used to belong to that world too. Where you’re from. Then my woman left and this is where I ended up. It’s a different fucking world Peace. We need people like you to help clean the streets. Show them that they can’t just leave us to the jungle and expect us to go quietly. You’ve got a few of them here now. All we need to do is wait it out. Get them searching a bit; draw their attention and then bam. The media will be here and they gonna have to clean this place up. You know how hard its been to shift my goods since those faggots moved into the streets. Wannabe tough guys with no business sense.” Alan finished preaching, but the conversation felt as though it hadn’t travelled all the way yet.

“You wanna take a hit with me Peace. Celebrate a little.” He asked Nate after a few seconds. “He offered the small bag around. Eddie was asleep and Melanie, who moved in acceptance shrank away as the fire continued to burn between her legs. Nate looked at her, the way her smooth and delicate face was contorted in such pain. The tears that stained her cheeks, and the blood that was now beginning to crust over on her lips.

“They shouldn’t have done that to you.” He said.

“Damn straight,” Alan answered “They shouldn’t have been on the streets after they did it the first time, but who cares right.” He snorted one of the three lines he had quickly and chunkily drawn on the table. Nate quickly grabbed the straw and took the next two without waiting to be asked.

“Then I guess it’s a good thing someone acted then.” They both began to laugh.

Alan rose, claiming that he had something to show them all, something to take it to the next level. He came back later with a pistol. He put it on the table for them all to look at. Only Nate did. The weapon seemed to hover above the table, bathed in a bright light. “You like that Peace. I can see it in your eyes. Take it. I’m sure you gots a idea. I see you one of those intelligent ones.”Alan slid the pistol close to Nae who picked it up.

“I guess I could get this area a bit more attention. You know help us all out a bit.” He smirked and glanced over at Melanie. “Make things up to you a bit baby.”

“That’s my man. Now that’s what Im talking about. A bit of proactive thinking going on here.
This calls for a celebration." Alan reached into the pocket of his gown and pulled out a small leather case that crudely looked like a book. He opened it, revealing a small vial of liquid and three syringes. “Just enuff.” He said.

Nate began to protest but soon relented as he watched the peaceful look wash over Melanie’s face. She wiped the tears from her eyes and held his hand. Held it like a lover rather than a refugee hugging the troops that liberated them. He held his arm still while Alan wrapped the yellowed rubber tube around his bicep. He watched in blissful silence as the veins in his forearm sprang to the surface, bulging through his skin. It was Melanie who shot him up that first time, stroking his arm with her nails as she empties the syringe into his veins. He collapsed to the sofa, almost missing it and heading straight to the floor. He had no idea how long he was unconscious, but when he came to Eddie was awake again, and just taking the tube away from his arm.

Melanie was holding him, her clothes had been changed, her face washed. Her eyes was distant but Nate felt her with him.

“Welcome back sleeping beauty. I want you to meet a few friends of mine.” Alan said, sweeping with his arm to the group of half a dozen people standing behind him. They varied in age and build from strong and bulky to scrawny. “They heard about what you did and came to help us.” Alan continued. Nate heard the words but didn’t respond. His head was pounding. He felt sick, to the pit of his stomach. He began to wretch but nothing came up.

“Don’t worry man. Just take another hit, you’ll get used to it.” Eddie said, handing him clean needed and the rubber tube.

“Who are they?” Nate asked, noticing the people for the second time but only really seeing them for the first. “Friends. My friends?” He answered his own questions. Then, coming back to him he felt the cold metal of the pistol against his skin. The gun was tucked into the back of his trousers. Very professional he thought to himself.

“They are now.” Alan said. Melanie leant over and Kissed Nate passionately on the lips. “You’re crazy. I love you.” She spoke in the moments their lips were parted. “I can’t believe you did it but Oh my god. What a statement.”

Nate pushed her away at that point. He looked outside and noticed that it was light; the sun was high in the sky heading towards noon. He looked down and saw his clothes that also been changed, his hands were black however, bruised and bloodied at the same time.

“What, What did I do?” He asked unable to remember anything yet sensing he did something terrible.

“And how romantic, doing it for me. Just because of what they did. Fucking Pigs, you’re right you know. I’m a person; they should have listened to me. But you showed them. Fucking hell we showed them.” She continued to speak as Nate surveyed the room. It was then, as the new faces parted as if following his gaze, he saw the large dining room table. Laid out on it, arms’ dangling either side like a sacrifice on the altar was a body, dressed in police uniform.

“Is that what I think it is?” He asked, rising from the sofa and walking towards the table. The body was pale, even the darker skin on the back had begun to pale. There was a bullet hole in the woman’s chest, another it seemed in her abdomen – although it technically was a knife wound from the same weapon that killed the men the night before. – and the left hand side of her face from the cheek upwards was missing. The bullet still lodged inside her skull. The other eye was open and stared accusingly at Nate.

“Oh god. What’s wrong with me, Jesus Mother . . Oh god. Fuck, shit, fuck, cocksucking. . . Ahhh Bollocks” He screamed the obscenities at the room. He felt another wave of nausea coming over him, and was unaware that he had already wet himself.

Melanie was soon by his side. “We did it. We started the war.” She whispered in his ear. Placing a cigarette between his teeth. Or so he thought -

- She lit the end of the glass pipe and told him to inhale. He did and his chest caught fire. His heart began to race and his skin crawled, tightening over his entire body like his arms after a gym session. He instantly felt better, his worries seemed to leave, he fought hard to remain standing. He took a second his and shared the pipe with Melanie. He was aware of his erection pushing against his trousers, and scooped her into his arms.

“We need to get rid of the body.” Nate said walking back into the room still fastening his trousers. “Somewhere public. Really let them know who’s in fucking charge now.” He stood in the doorway looking through the group. Another few faces had joined them, two woman and two men; the women who had similar looks in their eyes as Melanie had. They need not tell him anything else; he welcomed them into the house; which was rapidly becoming his. “You two.” He pointed at the two new men. “Dump the body somewhere nearby, make sure people see you doing it. Understand. Nobody else takes credit for this.” He sat down, and a few seconds later Melanie walked in.

They all ate and chatted while the body was removed and dumped. The sound of gunfire came back to them confirming the dump was successful. A few moments later the two men returned. One was injured.

“Good. Well done.” Nate rose, Alan stood to his left, Melanie held his hand on his right and behind them Eddie also stood, although his attention still seemed to be elsewhere. “Now we make them think they are winning.” He said and promptly shot the injured man in the head.

“Sweet Fuck, Peace. What you do that for?” Alan asked.

“Simple Beef. We keep them playing the game. We kill ‘em all too quick they’re going to leave and we are back to square one.” Nate pushed the syringe he had hanging out of his arm a little deeper; enjoying the slow moving rush that was sweeping through his body.

By the afternoon of the following day, Nate had assumed control over twenty-five locals who all wanted a better place to live and spend their unemployed days in peace. Each one agreed that this was the best course of action.

Several had died, along with six more police officers. Whose weapons had been taken also; including three shotguns found in the boot of their cars. The house was growing too small for them all, and the plan was to move out that evening. However, the arrival of the armed response unit, and three vans of riot police had pushed their plan up. The resulting gunfight culminated with heavy casualties on both sides. Including Eddie whose head was taken off by a sniper when he bent down while crossing the road to rescue a snail he thought was in distress.

None of them really cared.

That evening they were taking fire from both sides of their new headquarters. The police were preparing to mount a charge from the front while the gang whose initial mugging had started it all had regrouped and were foolishly planning to attack from the rear once the sun went down.

The news had also shown up along with many protestors from the outer parts of The Groves, many of whom had wanted to join but found themselves cut off by the police offensive line and had therefore retreated, only to return armed with banners and signs picketing the ranks of highly padded and protected police officers.

The gang made the first move and in a simple encounter they were overpowered and sent back out through the front door where they were successfully massacred by the waiting police units, whose trigger fingers were beginning to cramp after being prone for several hours already.

With a large proportion of their ammo spent Nate and his group were running out of options. The snipers were multiplying on the roofs above them and while the protestors were also growing they were about as dangerous as Eddie had been, and not quite as dangerous as he now was. It was then that One Eyed Walter, a strange and rather quiet man spoke up. He was the owner of the large business premises where they were stationed.

“Will this help some?” He asked with genuine question. He opened a trapdoor built into the floor and pulled out a box filled with grenades. “They is pretty old but I guess they still got a pop in ‘em. Just been waiting for the right time.” He paused. “Now seems as good as any other I’ve been presented with.” He slid the box along the floor to Nate.

“Well Ladies and Gentlemen. I think we have reached out destination. The media are here, the police have arrived. So let’s go out in style.” Nate said rising to his feet.

His words were met with looks of puzzlement from most of the faces; especially those who had joined later. The only ones who truly understood were Alan and Melanie who even at that moment could think of nothing else than a quick final fuck before going over the top as it were. The pair looked and Nate and smiled. “You’re a fucking genius Peace. Genius. Cause a mess and let them clean it up. The fuckers!” Alan laughed. It was a maniacal laugh that echoed in the unfurnished shop.

The grenades were shared out, two each for Nate, Alan and Melanie, who was approaching orgasm just holding her two charges. The others split the rest and with their remaining ammunition the doors were opened. The initial burst of police fire took out a few troops but nothing too serious. When the firing stopped Nate gave the signal, he pulled the pin from his grenades and threw them through the door.

The flew into the first wave of officers who were approaching the building and scattered their various limbs and organs over a large radius.

“Charge” Nate screamed. Placing the cracked glass pipe back between his teeth, it was already lit and he breathed deeply. He was the first one through the door, Melanie just slightly behind. The ice-pipe still between his teeth, and a half filled syringe hanging from the crook of his left arm. The fight didn’t last very long after that. Nate’s face exploded, covering Melanie with spurts of a different warm liquid. Several grenades were thrown from the back, while several others gave up and ran away, taken out by the snipers as they fled. The police forces stood their ground, the grenades taking several but not as many as the initial strike had done. When the battle was over the air was thick with smoke. Fires raged in several houses and flood ran down the streets like a autumn flood. Nate and Melanie were lying dead, arm in arm, a strange smile on their faces, and the shards of a glass pip still sticking from Nate’s mouth, the other end forced back by the force of the bullets that it embedded deep in his gums.

The protestors were arrested, charged and released with a caution; paper work was done, statements taken. The fires continued to burn, the emergency services never called. Sixteen houses in total were destroyed as the fires raged for almost two days, many others were damaged during the fight.

The still stand to this day, in their decrepit state, no longer housing those who cannot or will not work. They had long since been moved to the new estate build on the outskirts of town. Further away from the rest of the population, the working people, and the police station.