Preview: Biker Sluts versus Flying Saucers

An outlaw biker story set during the aftermath of an alien invasion in 1970s England.

In 1973, 99% of Earth’s population are wiped out in an alien invasion.

Outlaw biker gang Satan’s Bastards are among the 1% who survive. Holing up in a nature reserve at the arse end of nowhere, the men spend the next five years partying while their women scavenge for food and booze from the ruins of nearby towns and cities.

But when a supply run goes tits up, it sets in motion a chain of events that will change their lives forever.

It’s now 1978, and it’s time for the mamas and old ladies of Satan’s Bastards to fight back against the alien scum who wrecked their lives.

This is their story.

 

1

Mia always got nervous before a supply run. She’d be daft not to, given the risks involved, but she knew it had to be done. If it was left up to the men they’d eat nothing but swans and rabbits, and sit around smoking dope all day. That was no way for Satan’s Bastards to live. They should be out on the road, roaming the country like they used to. Not rotting away in some nature reserve at the arse end of nowhere. So while Mia felt the usual jitters of apprehension, she felt something else too. A tingle of excitement at the prospect of getting back in the saddle and riding away from there. Even if it was only for a few hours.

She picked up the sawn-off shotgun lying beside her sleeping bag and inserted a cartridge in each of the twin barrels. You can’t be too careful out there, Fat Brenda always drilled into her. That was true, but shotguns were only useful for scaring off packs of wild dogs or as a quick way of getting through locked doors. Against the Angels they were no use at all. Nothing was.

Mia stuffed the loaded shotgun into a backpack and looked around the jumble of possessions littering her tent to see if there was anything else she might need for the shopping trip. A six inch serrated knife with an ivory handle and a box of spare shotgun cartridges went into the breast pockets of her leather jacket. She picked up a torch, checked it still worked, and tossed it into the bag with the shotgun. After another quick look around, she slung the bag over one shoulder and stepped out of the tent into the gathering dusk.

Wicked Tina, Suzy and Margot were waiting for her. Mia looked beyond them to the lake at the far end of the campsite, expecting to see Fat Brenda among the group of men and women watching Bonehead try to light the fire for the night. They jeered as he threw match after match at the petrol-soaked damp branches piled up like a skeletal tepee by the side of the lake. He struck another match and threw it. It blew out before it landed on target.

“You need to get a bit closer,” Tanner said, “hold it next to the wood when you strike it, then it won’t go out before it takes hold.”

“Yeah right,” Bonehead said, “and lose me beard and eyebrows again. Nah, you’re all right, I’ll do it me own way.”

Bonehead struck a match and held it to the remaining matches in the box until they flared up, then tossed the flaming box at the base of the woodpile. The petrol ignited with a loud whump, and crackling flames shot up the vertical branches. Everyone cheered. Bonehead turned to Tanner and grinned smugly.

“Yeah, well done, Bonehead,” Tanner said. He shook his head, but he was smiling at the same time. “Good idea, waste a whole box of matches when one would have been enough.”

Bonehead shrugged. “Got the job done, didn’t it? Besides, it’s shopping day, innit? Just add more matches to the list of shit we need.”

Tanner leaned into the flames and lit a huge joint before sitting cross-legged near the fire to smoke it. Bonehead pressed play on his cassette player and a Hawkwind song he had recorded from John Peel’s radio show blared out.

“Where’s FB?” Mia asked, noticing Fat Brenda wasn’t part of the group by the fire.

Suzy pointed at the row of tents lining one side of the clearing. “I saw her going into her tent a while ago.”

Mia nodded. “Right. I’ll go tell her it’s time to go.”

“Rather you than me, honey,” Wicked Tina said, grinning.

“Why’s that?” Mia asked.

“You’ll see,” Suzy said.

Mia walked over to the tent Fat Brenda shared with Dirk. Like the other tents, the outside of the green canvas was daubed with white spray-painted slogans – Satan’s Bastards, Scum, ACAB, Born to Ride – as well as crooked swastikas and upside-down crosses. She opened up the flap and looked inside. Fat Brenda was on her hands and knees on the worn grass floor, leather trousers around her ankles, while Dirk thrust into her from behind. Rolls of fat rippled with every thrust, like a jelly being smacked with a jack-hammer.

“Christ, FB, you’ve had all day to do that. Hurry it up, yeah? We’re all waiting for you, it’s time to go.”

Dirk turned his head and grinned at Mia while he continued pounding into Fat Brenda. “Give us another few minutes or so, yeah? Then she’s all yours.” He slapped Fat Brenda on the arse. She cried out and called him a bastard.

Mia sighed and let the tent flap drop. Wicked Tina, Suzy and Margot burst out laughing. Mia shook her head as she walked back to join them.

“FB might be a while yet, let’s go and wait by the fire.”

They joined the other bikers by the side of the lake. A few more joints were doing the rounds, and Wicked Tina took a toke on one before she asked what everyone wanted them to look out for. Most wanted booze and smokes, predictably enough. Tanner wanted some new books, said he’d read all the ones they’d got him last time. Basher wanted chicken soup. Skinny Brenda caused a groan from the men and a torrent of insults when she asked for sanitary pads. Even some of the other women joined in with the taunts.

Bonehead held up his joint and offered it to Mia. She raised both hands and shook her head. “Nah, I want to keep a clear head for the ride. Save me some for later though, yeah?”

“I’ve got a big stash in me tent, we’ll share it when you get back,” Bonehead said, nodding vigorously. “Can you get me some more batteries while you’re out?”

Mia smiled. “Yeah, no worries man.” Bonehead was always the easiest to please. As long as he had juice for his cassette player and an endless supply of dope to smoke he was as happy as a pig making its first arrest.

“And don’t forget the pizza,” Basher said with a grin. Everyone laughed.

“Yeah, right,” Suzy said, shaking her head. “And I suppose you want ice cream for afters, do you?”

“Hell, yeah! And some donuts to dip into it!”

“I want bananas and custard,” Johnny called out.

“Don’t,” Wicked Tina said, shaking her head. “Those are one of the few things I still miss. Why the hell didn’t anyone ever think to invent tinned bananas?”

“Wouldn’t do you any good if they did,” Basher said, grinning. “They’d be too mushy to shove up your fanny.”

“Piss off, Basher. That was just part of my stage act, and you know it. Besides, the way I remember it, you were the one who ate it after I threw it into the audience.

The cannabis-induced giggles came fast and loud. Mia doubted any of them would still be conscious by the time they got back later in the night.

“A rocket launcher would be awesome,” someone said.

“Yeah, and a movie projector with something to watch on it.”

“That dinosaur one with Raquel Welch in a fur bikini. Gets me hard every time.”

“I’ll have Raquel Welch, you can shag the dinosaurs.”

“You guys get what you get,” Fat Brenda said, walking toward the fire with Dirk. Her face was flushed, her cheeks rosy. “If you want anything special you can go out there and get it for yourself, you hear?”

“Hell no,” Dirk said. “That’s what you bitches is for. We got much more important shit to do right here.” He pulled out a bag of dried magic mushrooms and waved it in the air. Fat Brenda thumped him in the chest and he darted away from her, grinning.

Mia smiled. Nobody else would have dared do that to Dirk, and Dirk certainly wouldn’t have taken it from anyone but Fat Brenda. Being his old lady obviously came with some privileges, but Mia couldn’t help wondering if part of it was down to the sheer intimidating size of the woman. With her tree-trunk arms covered in tattoos, huge calloused fists and considerable bodyweight, she could’ve done some serious damage if she’d wanted to.

Dirk sat by the fire and opened the bag of mushrooms. He reached in for a handful and stuffed them into his mouth, then passed the bag on to Tanner in exchange for a toke on his joint. He took a long drag and held his breath, then closed his eyes and exhaled slowly with a sigh. He looked up at Fat Brenda.

“Take care, yeah?” he said, softly. “I’ll see you when you get back. And make sure you wear your helmet, just in case.”

Fat Brenda nodded, then turned away and strode off past the tents and through the bushes on the opposite side of the clearing. Margot bent down and kissed Deano passionately, then followed Fat Brenda. Mia raised a hand to Bonehead. Bonehead, and a few other men sitting near him, waved back.

“You ready?” Suzy asked.

Mia nodded. Of course she was ready, she’d been ready all day. While everyone else slept off their hangovers from the previous night’s party, Mia had woken with the dawn chorus. She’d watered Tanner’s cannabis crop and gathered wood for the night’s fire in a daze, her mind filled with thoughts of the ride to come.

She followed Suzy and Wicked Tina through the bushes and onto a gravel path where the motorcycles were parked. Twenty-eight of them in total, one for each surviving member of Satan’s Bastards, all with leather saddle-bags draped over the rear seat.

Margot and Fat Brenda were sat on their bikes, revving the engines as she approached. Mia walked up to her Norton Commando and mounted it. She lifted a leather helmet and goggles from the front brake lever and put them on, then twisted the key in the ignition. The engine roared into life first time when she stamped down on the kick-start, adding to the noise of the other bikes around her.

Fat Brenda pulled forward first on her Triumph Bonneville, closely followed by Margot on her Kawasaki Avenger. Mia watched Suzy and Wicked Tina follow them down the dirt track, their rear wheels throwing up dust as they went. Mia pulled in the clutch and kicked her bike into gear. She switched on the headlight and rolled forward slowly, both feet scraping along the dirt as she went. She had once dropped her bike on the bend where the dirt track met the main road cutting through the nature reserve after her rear wheel slipped in some mud. That led to months of taunting about needing stabiliser wheels from the other bikers, and she was determined never to let that happen again.

The others had already sped off into the distance by the time Mia reached the end of the dirt track. She slipped the clutch and dabbed her way onto the tarmac road, then opened up the throttle and accelerated up to thirty. It was a straight road, lined both sides with the silhouettes of tall trees blocking out the stars, and Mia had ridden it so many times she felt she could do it blindfold. She twisted the throttle another inch and whooped in joy at the acceleration tugging at her wrists.

This was what Mia missed the most from the old days. The wind in her face, her long black hair whipping out behind her. The roar of the engine, its heady scent of oil and petrol in her nostrils. The thrill of the ride. It reminded her of those carefree days long ago, when Satan’s Bastards were the kings of the road. Riding wherever their bikes took them, doing whatever they wanted, not a care in the world. Travelling from town to town, terrorising the locals, then moving on before law enforcement caught up with them. Another day, another town. Another night, another wild party. But all that was gone now, and was never coming back. The Angels had seen to that.

The exit gate came up fast and Mia eased off on the throttle, letting the bike slow itself naturally as she drifted over to the right hand side of the road in preparation. She took the T-junction at twenty, and used the whole width of the main road to accelerate out of the sharp corner. This was another road Mia knew like the back of her hand. She knew every twist and turn, every burnt-out wreck and abandoned vehicle on it. So while the other women rode more cautiously in the cloying darkness, Mia kicked up through the gears and accelerated to sixty.

It didn’t take long to catch up with the other bikes. Suzy and Wicked Tina rode two abreast, either side of the dotted white line, trundling along together at a steady fifty, Margot close behind them. Fat Brenda took up the rear, and Mia eased off on the throttle as she rode alongside her. They cut through woodland, then crossed a river into open farmland. Overgrown fields, long since grown wild, flashed past on both sides, dimly illuminated by the light of the full moon. Wicked Tina and Suzy slowed on the approach to a wrecked Ford Cortina straddling the road, and manoeuvred into single file to navigate around it.

Mia looked up at the sky once she’d passed the car, checking in all directions now her view wasn’t obscured by hedgerows. She knew the Angels rarely ventured out at night, but it wasn’t unheard of so it always paid to be vigilant. Finding the sky clear, she twisted the throttle and edged ahead of Fat Brenda, then overtook Margot and looked for an opening between Suzy and Wicked Tina. They must have seen her coming because they parted, drifting over to the far left and right sides of the road to make room for her. She waved her thanks as she passed between them, then opened up the throttle wide. This was what Mia had been waiting for. An open road, and nothing to hold her back, nothing to slow her down. She accelerated up to seventy, a wide grin on her face as the rushing wind took her breath away.

The throaty roar of an accelerating motorcycle came from behind. Mia glanced in her wing mirror and saw Fat Brenda coming up fast. She eased off on the throttle to let the other woman pull alongside in case it was something important. Fat Brenda looked at Mia and shouted something, but the words were lost to the roaring wind.

What?” Mia shouted back, frowning.

Fat Brenda pulled ahead, waving as she sped away into the distance. Mia grinned and twisted the throttle a few more inches, determined not to let Fat Brenda take the lead. If she wanted a race, then she was going to get one, and Mia wasn’t going to make it easy for her. Norton versus Triumph, Mia versus Fat Brenda, with the winner getting gloating rights for the rest of the night.

Faster and faster they went down the empty, twisting road. Mia’s speedometer nudged eighty. Another twist of the throttle sent it to ninety. Fat Brenda went for the ton and opened up the gap between them. A sharp left-hander came up fast. Mia dabbed her rear brake and drifted over to the centre of the road to get an early view around it. Fat Brenda moved over to the left to take a racing line around the bend, and disappeared from view.

Tyres screeched. Fat Brenda screamed.

Mia instinctively grabbed the front brake and stamped down hard on the rear. She came to a sliding halt at the apex of the bend, just in time to see Fat Brenda fling herself off her bike and roll into the hedgerow with her head tucked under her arms. Fat Brenda’s motorcycle continued on two wheels for a few feet, then toppled and spun end over end in a shower of sparks before it thudded into the underside of a tipped-over lorry with a loud metallic clang.

“FB!” Mia shouted.

Fat Brenda sat up and waved. She struggled to her feet and limped toward her wrecked motorcycle, shaking her head and mumbling obscenities to herself. After a few paces she stopped and turned, then ran back toward Mia a few paces before a deafening explosion knocked her off her feet and sent her sprawling in the centre of the road. A huge fireball blossomed out. Mia ducked down over her petrol tank and covered her face with her hands as the searing shockwave hit her. When she looked up again black clouds of billowing smoke filled her vision.

“FB!” she yelled, kicking down the Norton’s side-stand. She jumped off her bike just as the others pulled up alongside her. Suzy stared open-mouthed at the burning wreckage from astride her Honda 400. Margot jumped off her Kawasaki and ran with Mia, calling out Fat Brenda’s name.

“I’m over here,” Fat Brenda shouted.

They found her sitting in the road, hands on hips, staring forlornly into the flames. She looked up at Mia and frowned.

“My poor bike.”

Mia laughed, relief coursing through her to see Fat Brenda still in one piece. She held out a hand to help her up onto her feet. “You mad cow, you could’ve killed yourself then, and you’re more worried about your stupid bike?”

Fat Brenda shrugged. “I loved that bike.”

Mia smiled. “Yeah well, bikes are replaceable, you’re not. We’ll get you a new one as soon as we can. Same model, same colour, you won’t know the difference.”

“Or maybe one that’s a bit faster?”

Mia laughed and shook her head. “You think that’s wise, given what you’ve just done?”

“Nice firework display,” Wicked Tina said, grinning from the seat of her motorcycle when Mia, Fat Brenda and Margot walked out of the smoke together. “I reckoned you was done for, thought I might be in with a chance to take your place in old Dirk’s tent.”

“Hell no, you skinny bitch,” Fat Brenda said, grinning back. “Dirk likes a bit of meat on his woman, he don’t go for titless scrag-ends like you. Besides, it takes more than a little spill like that to put me down for the count.” She patted the scuffed leather covering her enormous stomach. “Extra padding comes in useful sometimes.”

“Yeah well,” Mia said, climbing on her bike. “Looks like we’ll need to find another route.” She wheeled the bike around. “And I suppose you want a lift?”

Then she saw Wicked Tina staring up at the sky. Two pulsating blue lights hovered just above the north horizon, growing larger by the second.

“Angels!” Mia yelled.

 

2

Mia kicked the Norton into gear and shot forward a split second after Fat Brenda climbed on the back and clutched her around the waist. The extra weight on the back of the bike bottomed out its rear suspension, and Mia felt every bump and pothole she rode over as she sped down the road ahead of Wicked Tina, Suzy and Margot. The lorry behind them still burned bright, illuminating the landscape for miles around. The two flying saucers sped toward it at phenomenal speed.

Mia’s heart sank as she watched them grow larger in her mirror. She had hoped they would have more time to get away, maybe find somewhere to hole up until it was safe to venture out again. But here they were surrounded by wide open countryside, with the two Angel ships only a few miles away and closing fast. It was only a matter of time before they were spotted, if they hadn’t been already. Mia switched off her headlight and accelerated up to fifty, the fastest she dared in the cloying darkness ahead. The other women followed her lead and fell into formation behind her. Mia hoped she wasn’t leading them to their deaths.

Another mile down the road, Mia saw the outline of two trees. Just a small oasis of cover, but it was their only chance. As she got closer she saw the trees marked a junction with a B road cutting through the farmland. Mia turned into the junction and came to a halt under the overhang of the trees. The others pulled up alongside her and switched off their engines. Fat Brenda jumped off the back of Mia’s bike and pointed to an overgrown wheat field on their left.

“In there, quick!”

Nobody needed telling twice. Mia climbed off her bike and followed the others into the field. She waded through waist-high yellow stalks a few yards, then flattened herself against the ground and looked up. The two flying saucers hovered above the burning lorry in close formation. Even from a distance, Mia could hear the gentle hum of whatever it was that powered their engines. As she watched, one of the ships broke away and sped off into the distance. Mia wondered briefly what had caught its attention, and hoped the other would follow it. Instead, the remaining saucer hovered closer to the ground. A cone of harsh blue light shone down from the centre of its underside and illuminated the fields below. Then the ship began sweeping the countryside in slow, zig-zagging straight lines.

“Shit,” Fat Brenda said, sitting up. “We can’t stay here, they’ll find us straight away. We need to get going.”

“And go where?” Margot asked. “We sure as hell can’t outrun them.”

Mia thought fast. There had to be somewhere nearby they could reach while the Angels were still busy searching the fields on the far side of the lorry. She knew there was nothing for miles back on the main road, so the narrow, twisting B road had to lead somewhere. She just had to hope it led there sooner rather than later.

“Maybe there’s a village or something down there,” she said, pointing.

“You reckon, honey?” Wicked Tina asked.

Mia shrugged. “I’m just guessing, but this road must go somewhere, otherwise it wouldn’t be here would it?”

“Yeah well,” Fat Brenda said, standing up. “I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”

They hurried back to their bikes, then set off down the road in single file with their lights switched off. Fat Brenda’s immense weight on the back of Mia’s bike was even more noticeable at slow speed on the bumpy road, and she wished one of the others had volunteered her a ride instead as she thumped over yet another pothole.

They rode into open countryside, then round a sharp left hand bend and came to a junction with a road sign pointing to a village three quarters of a mile away. They took the turn and soon rumbled into a small farming town, little more than a single row of houses with a small petrol station at its outskirts. They parked the bikes under the petrol station’s overhang and Mia just had enough time to plant both feet on the ground before Fat Brenda stood up on one of the foot-pegs. The bike lurched to one side when she jumped off.

The petrol station had been hastily boarded up with planks of wood, its owner no doubt worried about looters when they abandoned it. Mia smiled at that thought. As if material goods had mattered at that stage. Maybe the owner thought they would be able to return one day and just carry on as normal? But at least the boards would have kept the wild animals out, and for that Mia was grateful. It meant there might be something inside worth having.

Wicked Tina reached into her left boot and pulled out a dagger. She jammed it under the edge of one of the boards and used it like a crowbar to pry the board loose enough to get her fingers under it. Rusted nails groaned and creaked as she pulled the board off, sounding impossibly loud in the silence of the empty village. Mia watched the Angel ship fly over a nearby field, and subconsciously stepped back into the shadows of the building.

Margot and Suzy helped Wicked Tina pull the remaining boards from the door and lie them down in a pile under the boarded up window. Fat Brenda kicked out at the door. It slammed back on its hinges and they all crowded around the entrance to peer inside through a cloud of swirling dust. Wicked Tina took out a torch and switched it on.

“Jackpot,” Fat Brenda said, smiling.

Mia slipped the backpack off her shoulders and took out her own torch. She stepped inside and looked around in awe. The petrol station stocked a wide variety of convenience food, all seemingly untouched for the last five years. Cartons of fruit juice, cans of food, even boxes of breakfast cereal. Four rows of shelves filled with goods, all coated in a thin layer of dust. It had been a long time since she had seen that much food in one place. There was so much of it they would need to make several trips to get it all back to their camp in the nature reserve. But it would certainly be worth it when they returned with a haul like that. They could feast off it for weeks.

A faded photograph pinned to a notice board behind the shop’s counter caught her eye. It showed a young boy, seven or eight years old, playing with a plastic Angel action figure some enterprising toy company had released soon after their arrival, when they were still seen as a force for good. Mia couldn’t help wondering what had happened to the boy when the killing started. The boards nailed over the door and window indicated his family had been forewarned in some way, but if they had somehow managed to escape then surely they would have returned at some point for the food they left behind?

“Hell yeah,” Wicked Tina said excitedly, breaking Mia’s train of thought.

She turned to see what had caught her attention. Wicked Tina stood beside a glass-fronted display cabinet filled with bottles. Mia smiled and walked over to inspect them for herself. Wicked Tina pulled open the cabinet’s door and took out a bottle of whisky. She twisted off the cap and took a long drink, then sighed and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.

“Now that’s what I call a good find,” she said, and passed the bottle to Mia. She smiled. “Looks like it’s party time, honey.”

Mia gulped down a mouthful of whisky, savouring the taste as it burned down her throat and into her stomach, giving her a warm glow inside. She took another long drink before handing the bottle back. Fat Brenda and Suzy headed over for their turn with the bottle, closely followed by Margot.

The remaining bottles in the cabinet began to clink against each other as the Angel ship hovered directly overhead. Thin shafts of blue light surged through gaps between the boards covering the window. Mia held her breath. Everyone else froze, their torches pointed down. They stood in silence for what seemed like forever before the ship moved on, further into the village.

“So what do we do now?” Suzy whispered.

“We’ll have to wait until tomorrow night,” Fat Brenda said. “It’s not as if we can do anything else, is it? Those bastards will be prowling around out there for hours, and we can’t risk going out in daylight, can we?”

Wicked Tina took another hit of whisky and shrugged. “Well I don’t know about any of you lot, but I intend to get absolutely wasted,” she said. “With all this food and booze and shit I don’t care if we have to stay here a month.”

Mia frowned. Fat Brenda was right, there was no way they could travel tonight, and venturing out during the day was just asking for trouble. But the idea they might be stuck there for any extended length of time was too depressing to contemplate.

“Pass me one of them bottles,” she said with a sigh.

 

 

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Biker Sluts versus Flying Saucers cover

Due out some time in April, currently in beta. I always wanted to write something in homage to the two things I loved when I was a kid — 1970s British Hells Angels books and 1950s flying saucer movies.  This is the result.

An outlaw biker story set during the aftermath of an alien invasion in 1970s England.

1970: Aliens arrive on Earth. Seen as a force for good by world leaders and most of Earth’s population, they cure diseases, end all world hunger, and stabilise our environment.

1973: The great purge. 95% of the world’s population are wiped out overnight, leaving behind scattered pockets of survivors to eke out an existence scavenging for food in the ruins of towns and cities.

1978: The mamas and old ladies of Satan’s Bastards Motorcycle Club fight back.

This is their story.

biker-sluts-big

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Stabby Abby in … A Very Stabby Christmas

Christmas Eve in the Black Bull is fucking mental, yeah? It’s like every fucker in town has decided to go out for the night and chosen the scummiest backstreet pub they can find to get pissed up in. The place is absolutely fucking heaving, standing room only. Just as well me and Dave got here early and bagged ourselves some seats in the corner, otherwise we’d be squashed up among them. We’ve got our feet up on some chairs opposite our table so we can save them for when Shaz and Dave’s mates get here. We get a few funny looks from people standing nearby, but nobody says anything. They might be pissed up, but they’re not fucking daft, yeah?

Dave’s got his arms stretched out either side of him, resting on the back of the padded bench, tapping his fingers to the blaring Christmas music playing. It’s not a band I’ve ever heard before, but they seem okay. They’re a bit like the shouty skinhead bands Dave likes, except it’s a bird singing and she’s going on about snowmen and bollocks like that instead of kicking someone’s head in at a football match. I’ve heard some of the songs before, I think they were originally done by dead people from the olden days, yeah? A few people nearby are shouting along in that tuneless way drunks do, waving their pints around and spilling half the contents down their reindeer jumpers. Me, I’m not at that stage yet, I’ve only had three pints of Guinness the whole fucking night, so I just wiggle my feet on the chair in time to the music.

“Who’s this then?” I yell at Dave between songs.

“Vice Squad,” he yells back. “They’re an old punk band, my dad used to like them. It was him who got me into Oi when I were a kid.”

“Yeah? So did they just do Christmas songs then?”

“Nah, they did all sorts. I’ll download you a few mp3s, if you like them I’ll get you everything else they did.”

Dave’s like that, he can get anything you want for free off his computer. Films, music, games for your phone, whatever you want. Fuck knows how he does it, I’ve never really been that interested in computers. We had them at school, but I could never get the hang of them. I bet Dave was some sort of fucking whizz-kid with them.

“Fucking Shaz is taking her time getting here,” I yell, looking at the clock on my phone.

Dave shrugs and leans forward to pick up his lager. I put my phone away and shuffle myself upright on the bench, drop my feet to the floor. Some chancer standing nearby eyes up the vacant stool, so I glare at him to make sure he doesn’t get any ideas about pinching it. He looks away, suitably traumatised, and I nod to myself in satisfaction.

“I’m going for a piss,” I yell in Dave’s ear. “Make sure no cunt pinches my seat.”

Dave nods and raises a thumb, smiles at me in that lopsided way of his, then feels my arse as I climb over his legs. There’s a brick wall of drunken people between me and the bogs, and it takes fucking ages to shove my way through them, so I’m nearly pissing myself by the time I get there. Luckily there’s a spare cubicle so I dive into it and drop my knickers, then plonk my arse on the seat just in time. I kick the door closed with my foot and take out my phone, then turn on the camera and check my face. The bruises from my last fight are healing up quite well, so I should be good as new in a few more weeks. I switch off the camera and phone Shaz, ask her where the fuck she is. I can hear drunken singing in the background, so it’s obvious she’s not on her way here like she says she is. I tell her to fucking hurry up then, and put the phone away.

Back in the bar, this bloke in a Santa hat with a sprig of mistletoe sticking out of it stretches out his arms at me. “Bleuraaaaargh!” he says, or something like that, and lurches toward me for a Christmas kiss. I smile and duck under his arms, then skirt round him while he staggers forward into the space I just left. He spins round, looking confused. “Iss fuckern Crissmess, hen,” he says, pointing at the mistletoe. “Iss the fuckern law.” I give him two fingers and another smile, then fight my way back to Dave.

“About fucking time,” Dave says. “I thought you’d fucked off or something.”

“Nah,” I say, and bend down to give him a quick snog. He tastes of cheese and onion crisps, and it makes me feel a bit hungry. I break away and sit down, then drain the rest of my Guinness. “You getting the drinks in then, or what?”

“Fucking hell Abby, I got the last round in.”

“Yeah well, that makes you more experienced then doesn’t it? Besides, it’s what a fucking gentleman would do, isn’t it?”

He grins at me and raises his eyebrows. “What, you think I’m a gentleman then?”

“Meh!” I say with a shrug, and he shuffles away into the crowd.

I suppose he is really, despite his rough as fuck outward appearance. Not in the traditional sense, like some fucking toff in a suit and tie or whatever, but he’s definitely a gentle man. With me, anyway. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fighter just like me, not some sort of fucking flower-loving softy. But he has his gentle side too, yeah? And he’s not bothered if other blokes see it either. Most blokes I’ve been with act all macho when their mates are around, and treat me like some sort of fucking tart. Dave’s not like that, he’s different. I can’t really explain it properly, it’s just the way he is I guess.

I look up when I hear someone yelling my name. It’s Shaz, standing by the door with Steve and Josh either side of her, holding her up with her arms draped over their shoulders. They’re her boyfriends, yeah? Typical fucking Shaz, she has to go one better than me and have two of them. They’re also Dave’s mates, and they’re both skinheads, just like him. Fuck knows what they get up to together, whether they take turns to fuck her or just take an end each or whatever, but they seem happy enough with the arrangement.

Shaz looks well and truly pissed up the way she staggers toward me, all three of them lurching to one side and bumping into people, spilling their drinks. Someone spins round yelling at them, then goes all shy and quiet when the two skinheads glare at him. They seem to have that effect on people, I don’t know why. It’s the same with Dave, I think it might be the clothes they wear or something. It’s like people are afraid of them, yeah? But that’s just fucking daft, they’re just normal blokes. If you don’t mess with them, they won’t mess with you. Still, it seems to work to their advantage too, because people just clear a space for them when they see them coming. Like fucking what’s-his-name from The Bible, the geezer who split the sea in half so his mates could walk through it.

Steve and Josh lower Shaz onto the bench next to me, then sit down on the two stools we saved for them. Shaz slumps against me. “Merry fucking humbug Abby,” she says, breathing Pernod fumes in my face. “And a happy new whatsit, yeah?” She puts a hand over one eye and peers across the table at Josh. “Get the fucking drinks in, then. What you waiting for, a fucking message from the queen or something?”

Josh stands up and stretches out his braces. I notice he’s got a twig of mistletoe sticking out of his crotch. Classy. I bet the bloke at the toilets wishes he’d thought of that.

Steve clasps his hands behind his head and grins at me. “All right, Abby?” he says. “How’s the cage fighting going?”

“Yeah, not too bad,” I say. “It pays the fucking bills anyway.”

Which is true. Since I lost my job the fights have been my only means of income, yeah? Well except for the little bit extra I make with Shaz now and again, when the opportunity arises. But I haven’t told Dave about that yet. Not because I don’t think he would approve, he’d probably think it was funny as fuck. I just haven’t got round to telling him yet.

“Steve, you cunt,” Dave says when he gets back with a tray of drinks. He puts them down on the table one at a time, then slurps up the spillages from the tray. He’s got three pints of Guinness for me, and four pints of lager for himself. He swears at Steve when he grabs one, but doesn’t object when he takes a swig.

“What’s all these for?” I ask, picking up one of the pints of Guinness.

“Thought it’d save time going to the bar later.”

Good thinking. You see he’s not just gentle, my Dave, he’s fucking clever too. How lucky am I to have a bloke like that?

* * *

At chucking out time the streets are packed with people full of Christmas spirits, Christmas lager, Christmas whatever-gets-you-hammered. A gang of howling banshees stagger toward us in skimpy low-cut tops and mini-skirts, their high heels clattering on the vomit-soaked pavement. One points at Josh’s mistletoe and laughs, then gets down on her knees and slobbers over his crotch while he just stands there grinning down at her. I clench my fists and look at Shaz, sure she’ll want to steam in and batter the tart for messing with one of her boyfriends, and ready to help out if the others decide to join in. But Shaz is busy leaning over and puking into the gutter, and doesn’t notice the assault on Josh’s chastity. Steve is stood behind her, holding her hair out of the way so it doesn’t get splattered with spew. Which is kind of a sweet thing to do, yeah? The sort of thing Dave would do for me if I had long hair like Shaz.

The banshees shuffle on, laughing and screeching at each other. A police car drives by slowly, and they all pull up their tops and wobble their tits at it. I can see the coppers inside smirking through the windscreen as they approach us. Dave glares at them as the car passes, then hacks up and spits into the road after it. Shaz straightens up, a line of bile dribbling down her chin. She wipes it away with the back of her hand and smiles at me.

“I fucking needed that,” she says, while Steve gropes her tits from behind. She spins in his arms and grabs his arse, clamps her mouth onto his.

“Oi, what about me?” Josh asks.

Steve and Shaz break apart slightly to make room for him, and he buries his face in Shaz’s tits, squashed between them as Steve and Shaz go back to sucking each other’s mouths. I shake my head and sigh. Dave looks at me and shrugs, then moves toward me for a smooch of his own. I back up into a shop doorway, pulling Dave by his braces, so we won’t get jostled by passing drunks. It stinks of piss and vomit, as I expected, but at least it’s a bit more private. I’ve certainly been fingered in places a lot less romantic than this.

It’s not long before we get interrupted by people shouting insults out in the street – fucking cunt, you wanker, come on then you bastards, things like that. At first we ignore it, it’s not as if it’s something unusual. People slagging each other off is just one of the Christmas traditions, yeah? Like decorating trees with tinsel and giving people you don’t like crappy presents. But then the insults get a bit more personal and we realise who they are aimed at.

“You fucking baldy-headed cunts, call yourselves the fucking master race?”

Dave pulls his hand out of my knickers and spins round, steps out of the shop doorway with his fists clenched. “Fucking hell, another of the Nazi cunts,” someone yells. “Let’s fucking do the bastards.” I rearrange my clothing and join Dave out on the pavement.

There’s a bunch of middle-aged blokes waddling toward us in Santa hats, all beer guts and bravado. There’s seven of them, and they’re all driving fat fists into fat palms and grinning at each other like obese giant dwarfs who’ve just gang-banged Snow White. I catch Shaz’s eye and smile. She smiles back and cracks her knuckles, first one hand, then the other. Dave, Steve and Josh line up before us like guardians protecting their princesses from an onslaught of barbarians. The Santas stop in the middle of the road and start up with their taunts again.

“Come on then, let’s fucking have it,” one says, beckoning with his fingers.

“We’re going to fuck you up, real bad,” another says, “just like we did with Hitler.”

“Yeah,” a third says, nodding his head so vigorously the white bobble on the end of his Santa hat smacks him in the face.

Dave, Steve and Josh just stand there looking at them, fists clenched, waiting for them to make a move. Shaz sighs. “For fuck’s sake,” she says, “what is this, a fucking internet flame war or something? Just get on with it, you fat bastards, or fuck off out of it.”

“You fucking slag,” one of the Santas yells, and rushes forward.

Steve and Josh both run forward to meet him. Josh gets there first and his fist disappears into Santa’s blubbery stomach. Santa crumbles to his knees with an oof and Steve boots him in the face and sends him sprawling onto his back. The other Santas all roar and make a beeline for Josh, he being the shortest of the three skinheads they want to fuck up, and therefore the easiest-looking target. Dave wades in and kicks one up the arse, then spins round and smacks another in the mouth just as he’s raising a fist to him.

Two Santas have got Josh held between them while a third sneers into his face, yelling something about Germany losing two world wars and one world cup. Fuck knows what that’s got to do with anything, but Dave and Steve are both too busy with their own fights to see what’s happening with Josh. Time to get out the big guns, yeah?

I look for Shaz, but she’s already on her way. She snatches the Santa hats off the two fat blokes holding Josh, then grabs their hair and bangs their heads together. Josh kicks the other Santa in the bollocks mid-rant before he even realises what’s happening. He bends over, clutching himself, and gets a knee in the face. I rush in to help Shaz with the two fat bastards when they turn toward her with their fists raised. Their fists hang there in the air as they stare at her, as if they don’t know what to do with them.

Big fucking mistake, yeah?

I take one out with a quick jab of my fingers into his neck, followed by a punch to the chin that clacks his teeth together and sends blood spurting as he staggers backwards. Shaz knees hers in the bollocks, then drags him face down onto the tarmac by his hair. She kneels down on his back, then frisks his pockets and pulls out a wallet. He groans, so she punches him in the ear a few times until he shuts up, then stuffs his empty wallet into his mouth. She grins at me and waves a wad of cash, then gives me half and pockets the rest.

I look at Dave as I put the money away, inexplicably worried he might have seen what we just did. I’m not ashamed of it, it’s just what we do now and again to make a bit of extra cash, yeah? But like I said, I haven’t got round to telling him yet and I don’t want him to find out this way. I needn’t have worried though, Dave’s too busy sticking the boot into one of the Santas rolling around in the road to notice what we’re up to. I look around to see what the other Santas are doing, but they all seem to have legged it, so I wander over to Dave.

“You okay?” Dave asks when he sees me. He stops kicking the Santa and walks over to me, a concerned look on his face.

I shrug. “Yeah, why?”

“Sorry you had to see that.”

“Don’t be fucking daft. You were defending me and Shaz’s honour, that’s all. It’s made me horny as fuck.”

Dave grins. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. Now come on, before the fucking coppers get here. I don’t want to spend Christmas in a fucking cell.”

* * *

I lean over the edge of the multi-story car park wall and look down at the town centre below. There’s fights all over the place as festivities continue without us, police and ambulance sirens wailing as they rush to each fresh incident. Coppers bash heads open while paramedics stitch them back together again and send them on to their next battle. So this is Christmas, yeah? That most fucking magical time of the year. Peace and good will to all men, except for whoever gets in your fucking way.

I snuggle up to Dave’s chest, because it’s fucking freezing up here. He puts his arm around me and draws me close, I listen to his heart beating and wonder when he’s going to make his move. I hope he doesn’t expect me to strip off up here, I don’t think I’d be able to stop my teeth from chattering if he does. Shaz is already moaning away somewhere to my left, on her hands and knees with her arse in the air. You’d think Dave would have taken the hint by now, but he seems happy enough just watching the fights down below.

A church bell somewhere starts ringing, calling people in for midnight mass. I wonder if they have many fights in churches these days. If anyone even still goes to church. I haven’t been since I was about five years old, and even then I thought it was boring as fuck.

“Happy birthday Jesus, you fucking hippy bastard!” Dave shouts. His voice echoes off nearby tower blocks.

The fighting in the town centre seems to stop all at once, as if someone’s thrown a switch or something. Then there’s sporadic drunken outbursts of that fucking Slade song coming from all directions. So here it is, merry fucking Christmas, yeah? Dave shrugs his arm off my shoulder and walks away a few steps. I get this rage of jealousy when I think he might be ogling Shaz’s arse, or getting ideas about joining in with Steve and Josh. I don’t know why, it just comes over me sometimes. I know it doesn’t make any sense, but that’s the way it is, yeah? But he’s not even looking in their direction, he’s facing the other way, fiddling with his jeans. Probably going to have a piss or something, and he’s too shy to do it with me watching.

“You ready for your present yet?” he says, and spins round with his arms stretched out like Jesus on his stick. He’s got his cock out, pointing it at me. But that’s not what makes me smile. He’s got a bit of ribbon tied round the middle of it, in a neat bow. Fuck knows where that’s come from or where he learnt how to tie bows like that.

“Yeah,” I say, and walk over to meet him. I kneel down and unwrap my present, give it a bit of a squeeze. “But this had better not be the only thing you’ve got me for Christmas or you’re in some serious fucking shit.”

Happy fucking Christmas, yeah?

 ———

Abby and friends also feature in my book Bare Knuckle Bitch.

Originally published at http://www.punx.co.uk in 2013.

 

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Punk / Skinhead novels box set ebook

All four of my punk & skinhead books in one handy ebook volume. Also available individually in ebook or paperback.


 

Four full length novels, plus bonus content. 120,000 words of fast-paced pulp action in one handy volume. Come and have a read if you think you’re hard enough.

PUNK FACTION

1982, and Thatcher is busy warmongering in the Falklands. Meanwhile, in a small Yorkshire town, unemployed punks Colin, Brian and Stiggy are busy having a good time getting drunk, sniffing glue, and going to see punk bands play live. But a simple misunderstanding with one of the local skinheads soon escalates into an all-out war. And with tensions between the two factions running high, it’s not the best of times for top Oi band the Cockney Upstarts to play at nearby Shefferham. The Cockney Upstarts are much loved by both punks and skinheads alike, but is that enough to make them forget their differences for just one night?

SKINHEAD AWAY

A ska festival draws thousands of skinheads from across the country to the sleepy seaside town of Cleethorpes. Local residents and day-trippers look on in horror as the town is taken over by shaven-headed masses wearing boots and braces. But much to their surprise, the weekend unfolds peacefully. That is, until a group of drunken bikers think it would be a good laugh to smash up a few scooters, thinking they must belong to mods. Revenge is swift and vicious, but the bikers have friends too. Friends who are more than eager to settle the score.

BARE KNUCKLE BITCH

Best friends Abby and Shaz like nothing more than sticking the boot into some mug after a night out on the piss. That look of sheer terror on the bloke’s face when he first realises what’s coming his way. The way he begs for mercy right up until the moment he loses consciousness. It’s the best buzz ever. The money in their wallets is just a bonus, a means to an end. Men are just walking pricks with money there for the taking. Treat them as anything else and they’ll walk all over you.

PUNK ROCK NURSING HOME

Every year, on the anniversary of the death of hated 1980s prime minister Margaret Thatcher, the elderly residents of State Retirement Home SY-379 hold a festival of celebration. Balloons and bunting go up, raucous punk music is played, memories are relived by those who still have all their faculties, and a good time is had by all. With the thirtieth anniversary of Thatcher’s death coming up in just a few weeks, Colin Baxter decides to make this year’s Thatcher Day something to be remembered. He contacts octogenarian punk band Sick Bastard and books them to play live at the retirement home, promising to pay them in free beer. There’s just one problem: how to get the band, their equipment, and the beer, past the Gestapo retirement home manager who lives upstairs?

PLUS BONUS SHORT STORIES

The Snatcher (Remix)
Warrior in Woolworths
A Very Stabby Christmas

 

Only available on Amazon.

Punk and Skinhead Novels Box Set

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Endorsement from a legend :)

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Needles & Pins – A Punk Novel by Tom Laimer-Read


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are looking for another po-faced history of 1970s UK punk, this isn’t for you. It’s a humorous fictionalised version of that time, the central premise being that the main character, a nobody from Milton Keynes, is present at just about every major event in early punk history you could think of.

From John Lydon’s audition miming along to Alice Cooper, through the Grundy interview, all the way up to the events at the Winterland Ballroom, he is present at them all, as well as playing  an integral part in the history of The Damned, The Clash and Buzzcocks. I half expected him to be hiding under the bed when Nancy Spungen was killed, then end up sharing a cell with Sid, but that wasn’t to be.

It clocks in at about 160,000 words, and seems to be ebook only at the moment, but the chapters are short and punchy, so it would be ideal for reading on a mobile phone in short bursts. This was what I planned to do when I first picked it up, so I could read it alongside other things at the same time, but the writing sucked me in and I ended up reading it by itself from beginning to end.

There’s a lot of humour in this book – in fact it reads like a Ripping Yarns version of England’s Dreaming, and I couldn’t help reading it in an Eric Olthwaite voice despite most of it taking place in London. There’s lots of truly awful groan-out-loud puns, which the writer makes no apologies about, but the best jokes are the “hidden” ones for people who know their history.

I particularly liked when Chris Sievey told the main character he knew he would be famous one day, but didn’t want to get a big head when it happened. Another highlight was Mark Perry looking thoughtful while watching The Ramones play Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue. There are lots of these, and lots more almost certainly flew over my head. Half the fun will be finding them for yourself, so I won’t reveal any more.

It won’t be to everyone’s taste, no book ever is, but I really enjoyed it. One point though, the opening chapter doesn’t really do the book justice. So if you are the type of person who doesn’t trust reviews from random people on the internet (a good attitude to have), and prefer to read a sample so you can make up your own mind, skip ahead to the second chapter instead. That will give you a much better idea of what you are letting yourself in for.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/438673

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Punk Faction Online Serial Part 29 (final part)

7 Life Moves On

Mike Thornton and Twiglet both frowned when Trog walked up to their table in The White Swan. He put down a tray containing two pints of bitter and a pint of lager, then sat down between Colin and Brian.

“Cheers Trog,” Colin said. He lifted one of the glasses and took a long drink.

“Yeah, cheers,” Brian said, nodding his head.

It was Brian’s first night out since being discharged from hospital the previous week. He’d jumped at the chance to get out of the house when Colin called round for him earlier in the evening, especially when Colin said he had arranged to meet Becky and Kaz. Brian confided in Colin as they left that he was sick of his mother fussing over him all the time, like he was some sort of invalid. She made Colin swear he wouldn’t let Brian drink any alcohol, and that he would keep him well away from any skinheads. She didn’t believe Colin’s story that it had been a skinhead who saved Brian’s life, preferring to believe the newspaper version saying it had been the police who saved him.

“It should be me buying you one though, I reckon,” Brian said, looking at Trog.

Trog held up his hand and waved off the offer. “Nah, don’t worry about it. I got some good news today anyway.”

“Oh yeah?” Colin said, leaning forward. “What’s that then?”

“Ian finally woke up this afternoon, it looks like he’s going to be okay.”

“Lazy bastard,” Mike said with a grin. Trog glared across the table at him. “What?” Mike asked with a shrug.

“He was in a fucking coma, you cunt.”

“Ah, okay, sorry mate. So what were up with him, like? Car crash or something?”

“Some cunt twatted him on the way home a few weeks ago.”

Mike looked at Colin. Colin looked away.

“So, um,” Mike said, “has he said who it was that smacked him then?”

Trog shook his head slowly, maintaining eye contact with Mike. “No, not yet. He says he can’t remember anything, but the doctor says that’s just temporary and it’ll all come back to him over the next few weeks.”

“I’m just off to the bog,” Mike announced, and rose to his feet.

Trog watched him go, then turned to Colin. “So where’s that scruffy mate of yours, Stinky or whatever his name is?”

“Stiggy? Fuck knows. I haven’t seen him since the Cockney Upstarts gig. I went round to his flat the other week but he wasn’t there. The Rasta next door said he hadn’t seen him either.”

“He’s probably off his fucking head on glue somewhere,” Brian said. “You know what he’s like.”

Colin shrugged. “Yeah, probably. I just wish he’d get in touch though. I nearly shit meself when I heard about that bloke they found in Shefferham with his head stoved in. I were sure that was Stiggy until they showed a photo of him on the news. I thought them fucking skinheads must have caught up with him or something.” He looked at Trog. “No offence, like,” he added.

“None taken,” Trog said. “They weren’t skinheads anyway, they were fucking boneheads.”

“What’s the difference?” Twiglet asked.

Trog looked at the half-caste in silence for a few seconds before replying. “Boneheads are fucking Nazis.”

Twiglet snorted. “What, and skinheads aren’t?”

“Nah, are they fuck.”

Born to Run started playing on the pub’s jukebox as Mike returned from the toilet and went to the bar. Twiglet groaned and shook his head. “Oh, fuck off!”

“No, straight up,” Trog said. “Your proper skinheads don’t give a fuck about all that Hitler bollocks. We love our country too much for that. Anyway, I’m off.” He turned to Brian and patted him on the back. “Good to see you out and about again, anyway. If you want to come down to The Black Bull later I’ll introduce you to the rest of the lads.”

Brian nodded. “Yeah, I might do one day. Not tonight though, I’m meeting me bird in here in a bit, then we’re off down to The Juggler’s Rest to see a band.”

“Yeah?” Trog said, grinning. “Well give her one for me. And enjoy your fucking hippy music.”

Twiglet and Mike were singing as Trog left. They raised their beer glasses and clashed them together.

“Scum like us, maybe we don’t give a fu-uck!”

* * *

“Lager, Trog?”

“Yeah, cheers Mandy.” Trog looked over at a group of skinheads and raised his hand to them.

“Good news about Ian,” Mandy said as she pulled his lager.

“Yeah,” Trog said, smiling. “He’s gonna be fucking ugly for a while though, until they fix his face up. But the way them nurses are fussing over him he’s loving every fucking minute of it.”

Trog pulled out his wallet to pay for the drink. Mandy shook her head. “No, don’t worry about it. This one’s on me. So how did you get on in court the other day?”

“Fifty quid fine and thirty-six hours attendance centre.”

“Attendance centre? What’s that then?”

Trog shrugged. “Dunno, some new bollocks they’ve come up with. I have to go to this place in Shefferham every Saturday afternoon for the next ten weeks.”

“Oh,” Mandy said, looking down. “Do you have to go this weekend?”

“Yeah. They said if I miss any they’ll add an extra five hours on top of the ones I miss, as well as another fine.”

“That’s a shame. There’s a Ska festival on at Cleethorpes this weekend, I thought you might want to come with me? We could get a room in a bed and breakfast, my treat.” She leaned her elbows on the bar and smiled across at him, her chin cradled in her hands.

Trog closed his eyes and ran his hand over the stubble on the back of his head. “I should really go to this attendance centre thing,” he said, avoiding Mandy’s gaze.

“You could go there next weekend instead, I’m sure they won’t mind. Go on, it’ll be fucking brilliant. I haven’t been to anything like that for years. We wouldn’t need to spend the whole weekend at the festival, there’s other stuff we could do. And it’ll be a right laugh, there’ll be skins from all over the country there. It’ll be just like the old days.”

Trog frowned, then nodded his head. “Yeah, fuck it. They’ll have to do without me this week. I’ll tell them I’m sick or something.”

Mandy jumped up and down, clapping her hands together, and squealed in excitement. She reached across the bar and grabbed Trog by the neck with both hands, pulled him close, and hugged him.

* * *

Colin, Brian, Becky and Kaz were in The Juggler’s Rest watching the band set up their equipment when Stiggy walked through the door with a short-haired girl in a baggy Discharge T-shirt.

“Stiggy!” Colin shouted. “Where the fuck have you been? And what’s with the fucking beard?”

Stiggy grinned and raised a hand. He went to the bar for drinks, then swaggered over to their table.

“All right, Col?” Stiggy said. “You remember Sally, right?”

Colin looked at the short-haired girl standing by Stiggy’s side.

“All right,” she said, nodding.

It took Colin a while to recognise her at first, because she had cut off her pink fringe and the rest of her hair was starting to grow out. It was the bottle of Babycham in her hand that clinched it.

“Er, yeah. All right, Sally.”

“I brung your record,” Stiggy said. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a twelve inch album. “I thought it were shite at first, but it sort of grows on you after a while.”

Colin took the record and flipped it over to look at the front cover. With everything that had happened he had forgot all about lending it to Stiggy.

“Cheers, Stiggy. So how did you know we’d be in here?”

Stiggy shrugged. “Friday, innit? Where else would you be?”

“So where have you been then?”

“Here and there.”

Brian drained his glass and rose to his feet. “Anyone want anything from the bar?”

Kaz frowned. “Should you be drinking that much in your condition?”

Brian groaned. “Don’t you start as well. I’ve had me mam fussing round me ever since I got out of hospital. I’ve only had a few pints, it’s not like I’m going to get smashed out of my head and start a fight with a gang of skinheads.” He looked at Stiggy as he spoke. Stiggy’s face reddened.

“Yeah well,” Stiggy said. “That’s all sorted now. We—” Sally looked sharply at Stiggy and nudged him in the ribs. Stiggy looked away and took a sip from his cider. He sat down opposite Colin and cradled the glass in his hand. “Look, the thing is, we’re getting off in the morning. There’s some people after us, so we’re moving away.”

“What, for good?” Colin asked.

“Yeah.”

“Where are you going, like?” Brian asked.

Stiggy opened his mouth to speak, but Sally got in first. “Manchester.”

Colin frowned. “What the fuck’s in Manchester?”

Stiggy looked at Sally, then shrugged. “No idea, I’ve never been. But I reckon it’s a big city with loads of people, so it’ll be easy to lose ourselves there.”

“Blimey,” Brian said. “Fucking Manchester, eh? Well good luck with it, yeah?”

Stiggy nodded. “Cheers Brian. That means a lot.”

“You’ll keep in touch though?” Colin asked. “Send me your address when you get sorted so we can all come down and visit?”

“Yeah, of course I will,” Stiggy said, looking away.

“So,” Colin said, rising to his feet. He held his beer glass out in a toast. “Here’s to Stiggy. Cunt of the year, 1982.”

“Piss off,” Stiggy said with a wide grin.

 

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Punk Faction Online Serial Part 28

The next day, Colin was fingerprinted and then released without charge.

“A witness backed up your version of the story,” he was told by a scowling police officer.

Colin didn’t really care. None of that mattered any more. His best mate, someone he had grown up with and had known most of his life, was dead. Murdered by a skinhead he didn’t even know, over something he didn’t even have anything to do with.

Colin fought back the tears as he was given back his possessions and signed a form to confirm they were all present and correct. He did this without question. The loss of his cigarettes and money just didn’t seem important any more. He didn’t even notice his cigarette lighter was also missing.

Stepping out into the glaring sun, Colin saw the short skinhead sitting on a wall outside the police station. The skinhead jumped down and walked toward him.

“What did they do you for?” he asked.

“Nothing,” Colin said, looking down at the skinhead’s boots.

“Jammy bastard. They did me for affray and resisting arrest. Fucking cunts, all I were doing was trying to keep your mate alive until the ambulances got there.”

“Brian’s dead,” Colin said. His voice came out as a squeak, and a tear rolled down his cheek.

The skinhead looked at him in silence for a few seconds, then shook his head. “Mate, that’s a fucking shame. I know we had our differences, but fucking hell. No cunt deserves to die like that.”

Colin sniffed and wiped his nose on the back of his hand.

“You know …” the skinhead began, then looked away. “I … er … I’m sorry I whacked you the other night. You caught me at a bad time. I’d just split up with me bird, you see, and –”

“It doesn’t really matter now, does it?”

“I’m Trog,” the skinhead said, holding out his hand. When Colin didn’t take it, he lowered it to his side. “Have you got any money? Some bastard copper took all mine, and I haven’t got enough for the train. I can pay you back double when we get home, I’ll get me brother to meet us at the train station.”

“No,” Colin said, shaking his head. “They took all my money as well, I’ve only got about sixty pence left. Fuck. How are we going to get home?”

Trog frowned. “Bollocks, I was hoping it were just me. I’ve only got about thirty pence meself. Never mind, I’ve got another idea. Come on.”

* * *

At the train station, Colin waited outside a telephone box while Trog called his brother.

“All sorted,” Trog said when he stepped out.

“You think it will work?” Colin asked.

“Yeah, no worries. Besides, have you got any better ideas?” Colin shook his head. “Well come on then. Trust me.”

They bought a platform ticket each and passed through the barrier onto the platform. Colin bought a pack of ten cigarettes from a kiosk and begged a light from a passing woman. It was the first cigarette he had smoked since the previous night, and on an empty stomach the nicotine rush made him light headed.

When the train arrived they boarded it and headed straight for the toilet in the end carriage. Trog put the toilet lid down and sat on it. Colin squeezed in by a small sink opposite the toilet and closed the door behind him. He was about to lock it when Trog stopped him.

“Don’t lock the door.”

“Why not?” Colin’s hand hovered over the lock, ready to slide it into place.

“The conductor will know there’s someone in here if you lock it, and he’ll wait outside to check our tickets. If he sees it unlocked he’ll think it’s empty and just walk past.”

“But what if someone comes in?” Colin asked.

“Stick your foot against the door, they’ll think it’s jammed.”

Colin sat down on the floor with his back against the door. He pulled out his cigarettes, but Trog told him to put them away. Colin frowned, remembering he didn’t have anything to light them with anyway, and put the cigarettes back in his pocket.

“So how did you know what to do?” he asked.

Trog shrugged. “I used to do it all the time when I were a kid.”

Colin looked up and shook his head. “No, I mean with Brian. That stuff you were doing, and that thing with the belt and all that.”

“Learned it at work, didn’t I?”

“Work?” Colin asked. His eyes widened. He didn’t know anyone his age who had a job, and this revelation came as a complete surprise to him.

“Yeah.”

“What are you, like a doctor or something?”

Trog laughed. “Nah, I work down the pit. I’m training to be a deputy. I wanted to be an electrician really, but they didn’t have any of them left when I applied, so I went for deputy instead. First aid is part of what a deputy does. You know, for when there’s like an accident or something.”

“What’s it like down the pit? I nearly applied meself when I left school, but me Gran wouldn’t let me.”

Trog snorted. “It’s a bit of a shit hole, but a job’s a job innit? The money’s good, and they’ll always need miners so it’s a job for life. It beats being on the fucking dole anyway. Half my mates are on the dole and they’re always fucking skint.”

* * *

Colin opened the toilet door a few inches when the train pulled into their station. He peered out to check the coast was clear before opening it fully. They left the train and headed for the waiting room, where Trog said he had arranged to meet his brother.

“Piece of fucking piss,” Trog said, smiling. “We’ll get the new platform tickets from me brother, then we’re home free. Fucking literally.”

Trog was still grinning right up until he pushed open the waiting room door. A bald, stocky man in his early fifties glared up at him from a seated position at the far end of the waiting room.

“Dad, what are you doing here?” Trog asked.

Trog’s father lumbered toward him, a look of thunder in his eyes. “You stupid fucking cunt,” he yelled, and struck Trog across the face with the back of his hand. “How many times do I need to tell you?” He punched Trog in the stomach. Trog doubled over, the man brought his knee up into Trog’s face.

Colin stared at the man in shock as Trog fell onto his back. He didn’t know if he should try to help Trog or not, whether he even could do anything against this monster if he wanted to. The man was about to launch a kick at Trog’s prone body when he noticed Colin standing there. He wheeled toward him.

“And you,” the man said, jabbing Colin in the chest with his finger. “You’d better stay away from Stephen from now on, or I’ll fucking kill you. I’m not having cunts like you leading him astray. You got that?”

Colin nodded, backing away.

“Good. Now here’s your fucking ticket, so fuck off. This is family business, nothing to do with you.”

The man threw a platform ticket on the floor. Colin picked it up, his eyes staying on the older man the whole time. He backed out of the waiting room, watched as the man turned his attention back to his son and started yelling.

Colin made his way to the train station exit. His hand shook as he handed over the platform ticket to a guard standing by the barrier. The guard gave the ticket a cursory glance and tore it in half, then waved Colin through the barrier. Colin sighed, not realising he had been holding his breath.

A man sat on a bench outside the train station, reading the local newspaper and smoking a cigarette. Colin approached him and asked for a light. The man looked up from his newspaper. His eyes widened when he took in Colin’s battered appearance, but he nodded. He folded up the newspaper and put it down beside him on the bench, then reached into a pocket. He pulled out a lighter and handed it to Colin.

“Cheers mate,” Colin said. He lit his cigarette and gave the man his lighter back. The man put it away and picked up the newspaper. Colin gaped at the front page headline when the man unfolded the newspaper. He snatched it from the man’s hands so he could read it.

PUNK RIOT, LOCAL YOUTH CRITICAL!

Colin skimmed the story, looking for specific names and details. He smiled, then read the article again from the beginning, just to make sure.

A riot broke out at a Shefferham punk rock concert last night. “It was like something out of a cowboy film,” said the head of security at pop music venue The Maples. Local punk rocker Brian Mathews, unemployed, was rushed to hospital following a stabbing incident during the riot. He is said to be in a stable but critical condition. “He was lucky the police were on hand to give first aid assistance,” said a hospital spokesman. Several other punk rockers were also injured and required hospital treatment. The Star says: Do we really want this punk rock menace on the streets of Shefferham?

Colin held the newspaper out to its owner and grinned. “He’s not dead. He’s not fucking dead!”

The man edged away from Colin, palms raised. Colin smiled at the man, and took a step toward him to give him his newspaper back, but the man turned and ran away. Colin shrugged and put the newspaper down on the bench.

All he had to do now was walk home and think of some excuse he could give his Gran for staying out all night. That and make sure she didn’t see the local paper.

—-

Continued next Friday.

Punk Faction by Marcus Blakeston is also available in paperback and ebook if you don’t want to wait that long.

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Punk Faction Online Serial Part 27

6 Police Bastard

Colin felt the ground vibrating beneath his cheek. He lifted his head a few inches and opened his eyes, saw a row of boots and trainers. The ground fell away, then jerked up to smack him in the face. He groaned and sat up, rubbed his aching head. Battered, bleeding faces stared down at him. The police van drove over another pot-hole, jarring his spine.

“You, sit down with the other scum,” someone shouted.

Colin turned his head slowly, every movement causing intense pain. A policeman glared at him, tapping a truncheon into the palm of his hand.

“You all right, Col?” Spazzo asked. He reached down and helped Colin to his feet. The van lurched around a corner. Colin stumbled and fell against the other punks lining the wall of the van. A few swore at him, others reached out to help him regain his balance and sit down on the bench.

Colin looked at the faces staring at him from another bench at the opposite side of the van. The skinhead who had been helping Brian nodded to him. Blood dripped from a gash in the side of his head, his face a mass of bruises.

Colin startled. “Where’s Brian?” he asked, searching the faces of the other occupants of the van.

“No talking,” the policeman shouted.

The skinhead shrugged. “I don’t know, mate. Hopefully down at the hospital.”

“Is he all right? Did we save him?”

The policeman tapped his truncheon into the palm of his hand with more force. “I said no fucking talking!”

Trog shook his head and looked down at his boots. “I don’t know, mate. I held on as long as I could but there was too many fucking coppers and they battered me the same way they battered you. I don’t know what happened after that, it’s not long since I came round meself.”

* * *

“Empty your pockets on the desk and remove your belt and shoe laces.”

A broad-shouldered, overweight policeman in his late forties glared at Colin from behind a counter. He picked up a cracked mug and took a loud slurp from its contents.

“Is there any news about me mate?” Colin asked.

The policeman scowled. “What mate would that be?”

“He got stabbed. We were trying to help him.”

The policeman shrugged. “Don’t know, don’t care. Now empty your pockets and remove your belt and shoe laces.”

Colin crouched down and removed the laces from his trainers, then put them on the counter.

“And the belt,” the policeman said.

Colin lifted his T-shirt. “I haven’t got one, it’s on me mate’s arm.”

The policeman grunted. “Empty your pockets.”

Colin rifled through his pockets in turn, and put the contents on the desk. The policeman poked through them with a pen, separating them out. He picked up Colin’s cigarettes and put them in his pocket.

“These will need testing for drugs,” he said, glaring at Colin. “You got any objections to that?”

Colin shook his head. The policeman pulled out a form and wrote down an itemised list of Colin’s remaining possessions. He spoke aloud as he put them in a plastic bag.

“One handkerchief, used. One train ticket, used.” The policeman counted out Colin’s loose change and dropped it into the bag. “Seventy-six pence in coins. One cigarette lighter. One wallet.” He picked up Colin’s wallet, flipped it open, and took out a five pound note and two one pound notes. He looked Colin in the eye and continued his inventory. “One wallet, empty.”

Colin took a step closer to the counter. “What? Oh come on, I need that for the train home.”

“One wallet, empty,” the policeman repeated.

Colin looked down at his feet. “Fucking bastard,” he said under his breath.

“What was that?” the policeman asked, leaning forward and scowling.

Colin shook his head. “Nothing.”

The policeman sealed the plastic bag and pushed the form across the counter to Colin. “Sign here,” he said and dropped the pen on top of the form.

Colin signed his name at the bottom of the form and put the pen down. “So what happens now?” he asked.

“We’ll get you checked over by a doctor, then you can go to beddy-byes in the cells. You’ll be processed in the morning with the others.”

“What? I can’t stay here all night, me Gran will be worried if I don’t come home.”

The policeman sighed. “You’re entitled to one phone call, you can use that to let her know what a naughty boy you’ve been.”

Colin frowned. “We’re not on the phone.”

The policeman shrugged. “Well she’ll just have to worry then, won’t she?”

* * *

The doctor gave Colin a cursory examination, then declared him fit enough for custody. A policeman led Colin by the arm to a cell and pushed him inside. The door slammed behind Colin and he spun to face it. An observation hatch slid open. A face scowled through it for a few seconds, then the hatch slid shut.

Colin looked around the small cell. A bed, little more than a wooden shelf jutting out of one wall, had a thin rubber mattress on top to sleep on. There were no sheets or pillows, and the mattress itself had dark stains on it that Colin didn’t want to think about. The cell smelled of faeces, the stench coming from a chipped porcelain toilet in one corner. It had no seat, and overflowed with foul-looking waste.

Someone in the next cell sang out of tune, slurring his words. The man’s voice rose and fell in volume, occasionally punctuated by a belch.

“Shut it,” someone shouted. The off-key singing became louder. Colin heard footsteps outside, and the scrape of an observation hatch sliding open. “I said shut it, you fucking black bastard.”

The drunken singer stopped in mid-line, only to resume again from where he left off when the hatch was closed.

Keys jangled, a lock opened, and a door slammed back on its hinges. Colin heard a short scuffle, followed by a cry of pain. The door slammed again, and heavy footsteps clumped toward Colin’s own cell. His observation hatch opened. A face scowled in through the rectangular opening. Colin looked at the man and held his hands up in surrender. The hatch closed.

“Wait,” Colin shouted, walking up to the door. “Is there any news about me mate? He got stabbed at The Maples earlier tonight.”

The scowling face reappeared and glared in at him. His mouth turned into a sneer. “Died on the way to the hospital,” he said. “Good fucking riddance if you ask me. One less scumbag on the streets for us to deal with.”

Colin’s world lurched to one side. Blood rushed to his head, an ice-cold shiver ran down his spine. He staggered across to the bed and slumped down on it, holding his face in his hands. He cried for the first time in twelve years, his body shaking with loud, uncontrollable sobs.

* * *

Continued next Friday.

Punk Faction by Marcus Blakeston is also available in paperback and ebook if you don’t want to wait that long.

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Punk Faction Online Serial Part 26

“Stiggy’s off on one again, we need to get him out of here quick.”

Brian rolled his eyes and nodded. “I told you we shouldn’t have fetched him.” He sighed and beckoned Twiglet and Spazzo over. They both had red faces and were dripping with sweat.

“Fucking smart or what?” Twiglet said. His smile dropped. “What’s up?”

“Fucking Stiggy,” Colin said. “He’s that fucking glued up he’s on about taking a skinhead bird home with him.” He nodded at the group of skinheads by the stage, who seemed to have had their fill of Nazi salutes and were jumping on each other’s shoulders. “We need to get him out of here before that lot find out.”

Stiggy looked like he was about to leave when they reached him. He stood by the bar, holding hands with the skinhead girl, and they turned toward the exit together.

“Stiggy wait,” Colin shouted.

Stiggy looked over his shoulder but continued walking.

“Oi, that’s my fucking bird, you cunt!” someone shouted from nearby.

Colin spun around. The large skinhead ran toward him, closely followed by his young mates. Colin’s stomach flipped. He took a few steps back, out of their path. This was it, Stiggy was toast and there was nothing he could do about it. They were too late.

The barman disappeared through a door into a back room. Colin looked for the two bouncers, and saw them standing guard at the band’s dressing room door. They were smiling as they watched, arms folded across their chests.

“Leave him, Joe,” the skinhead girl said. She stood between Stiggy and the large skinhead, looking tiny and frail in comparison. Her bottom lip trembled as she clenched her fists by her sides.

“Shut up you fucking slag,” the skinhead snarled. He lunged toward her and slapped her hard in the face with the back of his hand.

The skinhead girl staggered back, a bright red mark on her face where she had been struck. She stumbled and Stiggy caught her in his arms. The skinhead rushed forward and punched her in the stomach. She doubled over and fell to her knees groaning.

Stiggy roared and ran at the skinhead. He picked up an empty Babycham bottle from the bar and raised it. He swung it down at the skinhead’s head. The skinhead brought up one of his tattoo-covered arms just in time, and the bottle bounced off it. He grabbed Stiggy’s wrist and twisted it. Stiggy cried out and dropped the bottle. The skinhead stamped down on it, shattering it beneath his boot, and wrenched Stiggy’s arm up his back. Stiggy bent over, yelling. The skinhead roared and shoved him head-first into the bar. Stiggy crumpled to the ground, the skinhead moved in for the kill. Stiggy curled himself up into a ball, the skinhead kicked out at his arms and legs. The young skinheads cheered him on.

Twiglet and Spazzo rushed forward to intercept. The young skinheads swarmed over them and they went down in a hail of fists and boots. Brian jumped on the large skinhead’s back and wrapped his arms around his neck. He kicked out his legs to unbalance him. The large skinhead twisted and turned, tried to punch Brian in the face. The skinhead girl stumbled toward Stiggy, holding her stomach with one hand.

Colin knew he should do something to help Brian but he was frozen to the spot. He watched the skinhead girl help Stiggy to his feet, then support him with an arm around his waist while they staggered to the exit. It was only when the group of young skinheads got bored of kicking the unconscious bodies of Twiglet and Spazzo and looked around for a fresh target that he sprang into action.

Colin rushed up to the large skinhead and pushed him in the chest with both hands. He toppled over, Brian still clinging to his back. Brian gave out a loud gasp when the skinhead landed on top of him. His hands fell to his sides. The skinhead rolled over and straddled him, raised his fists to pummel his upturned face.

Colin grabbed the skinhead around the neck and pulled with all his might. The skinhead sprang up and spun to face him. He laughed and grabbed Colin’s wrists, stretched his arms out wide and pulled Colin closer. His head snapped back, then launched forward to smack Colin on the bridge of his nose.

Blinding pain soared through Colin. The skinhead pushed him away, into the waiting arms of the younger skinheads. They pulled him to the ground and went to work on him with their boots.

* * *

Trog watched the scuffle at the bar with interest. It wasn’t his fight, so there was no need to get involved. The gobby student punk and his mates were getting a right fucking hammering though. The Shefferham mob had no class the way they were all steaming in six onto one. Trog preferred a fair fight, something you could brag about to your mates later. This was just the sort of brutal thuggery that gave skinheads a bad name.

Someone yelled “Coppers!” and everyone drew silent to listen. Trog heard two-tone sirens wailing in the distance, until a mass stampede toward the exit door drowned them out.

“Time to get fucked off,” Don said. Trog nodded and followed him to the exit.

Near the bar, the large skinhead picked up the stem of a broken Babycham bottle and straddled the gobby student’s mate. He smiled as he raised the jagged glass shard above his head like a dagger. Trog stopped to watch, torn between intervening and getting the fuck out of there while he still had time.

The gobby student’s mate cried out and raised his hands to protect his face. The skinhead slashed down and sliced through a wrist. Blood spurted like it had been shot from a water pistol, staining the skinhead’s British Movement T-shirt.

“Trog, come on,” Don yelled, “we need to get fucked off before the coppers get here.”

“You go on, I’ll catch you up later. Meet me at the train station if you need to scarper from outside.”

Trog ran up to the large skinhead just as he raised the broken bottle again. He made a grab for his wrist, but the skinhead jerked it away at the last second and backhanded Trog across the face. Trog stumbled back, the skinhead laughed and rammed the broken bottle into the punk’s neck. He pulled it out and threw it at Trog, then swaggered casually toward the exit door.

* * *

Colin opened his eyes and groaned. Every inch of his body ached. Sirens howled in the distance, getting closer. Colin rolled onto his side and pushed himself up onto his knees. He shook his head and looked around. Tables and chairs were tipped over, broken glass was everywhere. Twiglet lay groaning a few feet away. Spazzo sat holding his face in his hands, blood dripping from his mouth.

Colin looked down when he realised his knees were wet, and saw a large pool of blood. He searched his body frantically for knife wounds. When he found none he looked behind him and gasped. Brian lay still on the ground, a skinhead straddled over him.

Hands around Brian’s neck.

Strangling him.

Rage surged through Colin. It was the same skinhead who had been giving him hassle all week, the midget bald bastard who had attacked him for no reason in The Queen’s Head. And now he was killing Brian.

“You’ve had it now, you fucking cunt!” Colin roared. He ran to the skinhead, adrenalin coursing through his body and giving strength to his aching limbs. He barrelled into the skinhead, hands outstretched, and pushed him off Brian. The skinhead rolled onto his side and sat up, glaring at Colin. Blood spurted from a large, gaping wound in Brian’s neck. Colin stared in shock. Brian was unconscious, his face deathly white.

The skinhead crawled toward Brian and clamped a hand over his neck. “We need to put pressure on the wounds or he’ll fucking bleed to death,” he said.

Colin gaped at the skinhead, open mouthed. The skinhead looked up at him. “For fuck’s sake, get down here and help me or he’ll fucking die!”

Colin knelt down and stared at Brian, saw more blood gushing from his wrist. “What do I do?”

“Take your belt off and tie it around his arm, just below the elbow. As tight as you can. Then hold his arm up. I hope that’s a fucking ambulance I can hear coming.”

Colin removed his belt and held it out to the skinhead. “I don’t know what to do. You should do it, you seem to know what you’re doing.”

The skinhead glared at him. “If I let go of his neck again he’ll fucking die. Now fucking do it or I’ll fucking batter you! Get that fucking belt round his fucking arm! Now!” Colin startled, almost dropping the belt. “For fuck’s sake, just do it you useless cunt!”

Colin looped the belt around Brian’s arm and pushed the end through the buckle. “Here?” he asked, still unsure if this was the right thing to do or not.

“A bit further up his arm,” the skinhead said. Colin slid the belt a few inches closer to Brian’s elbow. “That’s it. Now pull the fucker tight and don’t let go.”

Colin looked at the jagged gash in Brian’s wrist while he pulled the belt tighter. The gushing blood slowed to a trickle.

“It’s working,” Colin said, amazed. “Shouldn’t we do the same with his neck?”

The skinhead looked up and shook his head slowly. “Don’t be fucking daft.”

“But …”

Before Colin could finish his sentence, police swarmed through the door with a loud yell. Colin looked up just in time to see a raised truncheon hurtle toward his face, then he slumped over Brian and lost consciousness.

Continued next Friday.

Punk Faction by Marcus Blakeston is also available in paperback and ebook if you don’t want to wait that long.

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