What Runaway is really about …

Monsters aren’t real … but humans are. And true horror is what we do to each other.

I have decided to be more honest about what Runaway is really about, something I have  shied away from so far for a variety of reasons. Yes, it is still primarily an action/adventure yarn with a bit of social realism thrown in. There are punks and skinheads going at each other with fists and boots. There’s Hells Angels. And there’s more than enough graphic violence and gratuitous swearing for people who like such things to enjoy.

But there is also a much darker element to it, and that’s what I want to tell you about now. But first, a bit of history about how the book came about, and why it very nearly didn’t.

Runaway started life as a short story I wrote back in 2009 called Stiggy Unstuck. At the time, I was writing an ongoing punk/skinhead soap opera type thing called Punk Faction, with a new episode posted in various places online once a month, and Stiggy Unstuck was intended to be a part of that.

As an aside, the book Skinhead Away was also originally conceived as part of this ongoing soap opera, until a small publisher in Brighton asked for a 22,000 word story about skinheads, then promptly went bankrupt just before I finished it. Very basically, it tells what happens when the skinhead characters from Punk Faction go to a ska festival in Cleethorpes and get into a mass brawl with a bunch of bikers.

Anyway, back to Stiggy Unstuck. In a previous episode of Punk Faction, Stiggy was last seen escaping from the violence at a Cockney Upstarts gig with Sally, a young skinhead girl he met there, after they had both been smacked around by Joe, Sally’s older boyfriend. Up until that point, Stiggy had only ever been a ‘light relief’ character, always off his head on glue and the butt of other characters’ jokes, and I wanted to explore what he would be like without the glue. It also fleshed out the character of Sally, and explained why she was so timid around Joe – Stiggy learns she lives with him, and he beats her up on a regular basis.

But a question kept nagging away at me long after I’d written it – why would a young girl stay with an older man who does that to her? And the answer I kept coming back to was she wouldn’t. Not unless there was something else going on; either some hold he had over her to keep her there, or the alternative was so much worse that she had no real choice. And that’s what Runaway is really about, as Stiggy gradually learns the whole horrific story of how she ended up living with Joe, and the institutional cover-up behind it.

It’s probably the darkest thing I’ll ever write, and I abandoned it several times because it made me so uncomfortable to have all that stuff in my head. Especially when real life events started to mirror it to a certain extent, in a town not far away from where it was set. So I wrote the more humorous Punk Rock Nursing Home instead, which was also an off-shoot of Punk Faction set 30 years in the future, when two of the characters were in their 80s and living in separate care homes. Then I returned to Runaway, got upset and angry again, wrote something else to cheer myself up, returned to Runaway, abandoned it to write something else, then finally bit the bullet and finished the thing.

Then real life events started to mirror it again in towns up and down the country, and I didn’t want to be seen to be cashing in on all that suffering. I also felt the book would have more of an impact, and maybe even make people angry enough to do something about it on a local level, if they went into it blind. So I pretended it was about something else instead. Until now.

I’ll be changing the book’s description as soon as I figure out how to get all this across in 50 words or less without including any spoilers. Which is a lot harder than it sounds, so it might take a while.






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The right proper history of Crass part one


In 1973, bohemian aristocrat Penny Rambo experienced an opium-induced vision of the year 1984. In this nightmarish near future world, men dressed in orange overalls lay dead or dying in the streets while houses, shops and factories burned around them. Penny walked down the centre of the road in his tweed jacket and top hat, trying not to get blood on his Gucci shoes as he made his way to the Yorkshire Opera House, which was the only building left unaffected by all the chaos and destruction.

“Help me,” a voice pleaded.

Penny paused and looked down at a man lying on his back in the gutter, and noticed for the first time the huge torrent of blood flowing down the drain. The man’s bloody fingers twitched by his sides as he grimaced in agony. A white helmet with a broken lamp attached to it lay nearby, anchored with a thick black umbilical cord to a box strapped to the man’s waist.

“Who did this to you, old chap?” Penny asked.

The man’s cracked lips moved, but his voice was barely a whisper. Penny crouched down before him so he could hear what he had to say.

“… is coming. Save … the miners … from …”

Each laboured utterance was fainter than the last, and punctuated by a rasping breath. Penny had to strain to hear them clearly as the man’s life ebbed away from him.

“… save us … from … The … Thatcher.”

“What on earth is The Thatcher?” Penny asked.

But the man was already dead. Penny reached out to close his wide, staring eyes.

Then a brass band started to play. Penny startled and shot upright. He spun toward the sound, but there was nothing to see. It seemed to come from everywhere at once as a choir of Welsh and Yorkshire voices rang out:

“Save the miners and set them free, teach the world about anarchy.”

Penny woke from the vision with a start, the words of the miners’ lament still echoing around his opium-fuddled mind. He knew he had to do something to stop the prophesy coming true. But what?

Penny spent the next three years producing and distributing pamphlets extolling the virtues of anarchy, something he had learned meant living in a society free from government or law. He sold his ancestral home and built a house made entirely from clock dials so he would know precisely how long he would have left until the fateful year arrived, and invited all his chums from the polo club to live with him.

But nobody seemed to be interested in Penny Rambo’s pamphlets. He would find them scattered in the streets, unread, the message lost to an uncaring world. Even worse, The Thatcher, he soon discovered, was real and working her way up the ranks of the Conservative Party. If Penny didn’t do something drastic soon, the miners, and the whole country, were doomed.

And then along came the Sex Pistols, and everything became clear. The irony of singing about anarchy whilst signed to the pop music offshoot of global arms dealer Thorn EMI was not lost on Penny Rambo, but he saw enough potential in this new medium of punk rock to know it would be the perfect vehicle for his message. Using his military history as a drummer boy in the second world war as a starting point, Penny set about forming a band so he could spread the word about The Thatcher and her impending evil deeds.

They called themselves Cross, because they were all rather jolly cross about the whole affair, and to ensure there would be no ambiguity about what they stood for they inserted a letter A (for anarchy) inside the letter O of their name. With their marketing  strategy in place, the  fledgling punk band then set about converting Penny’s political pamphlets into rhyming couplets. Early attempts, such as Anarchy Would Be Rather Spiffing Old Chap, and Don’t Do What One’s Nanny Tells One To Do, failed to impress focus groups, however.

“Do what, you poshos?” Sounds journalist and amateur cage fighter Gary Bush is reported to have said at the time, before going on to write a scathing review in the Daily Mail.

Cross hit back by penning the song Gary is a Meanie, but Penny knew deep down that the band’s aristocratic upbringing was a major problem.  After all, if nobody took them seriously, how were they supposed to warn the world about what was coming in the year 1984?

In the end it was Cross’s marketing director Gee Whizz who came up with the obvious solution. The idea came to her while she and Penny were watching a stage production of Oliver Twist at the Royal Opera House in London.

“I say, Rambo old chap,” she said during the interval, “I’ve just had a jolly brilliant wheeze.”

“Pray tell, my dear,” Penny replied.

“What if Cross hired a street urchin to sing for them? Then that old meanie Gary Bush wouldn’t say such frightful things about you.”

“What a simply splendid idea, old girl. But where on earth could we find such a person?”

“Golly, I hadn’t thought of that. Perhaps we could place an ad in Vogue?”

“Do street urchins read Vogue?”

“Of course. How else would they know what is in fashion?”

“Then that is what we shall do, my dear.”

But as luck would have it, Penny didn’t need to advertise for a street urchin in Vogue Magazine. As he and Gee were leaving the Royal Opera House after the play they bumped (quite literally) into a young chap by the name of Steve Ignoramus who was on his way home from a Clash concert.

“Oi, watch ahht you mug,” Steve grumbled as he glared at Penny’s top hat.

“Golly,” Gee said, “doesn’t he talk frightfully funny?”

“Do wot?” Steve replied. “You havin’ a fackin’ bubble, darlin’?”

“I say old chap,” Penny interjected before the situation became any more heated. “How would you like to earn some money?” He pulled out one of his Cross business cards with a flourish, and held it out to Steve.

“Fackin’ Crass? Wot’s that when it’s at ’ome’?”

“It’s pronounced Cross, dear boy. We’re a punk band, and we would like to hire you as our singer. How does a guinea a week sound?”

After careful consideration, Steve Ignoramus agreed to join the band and moved into Clock Dial House, where he worked as a butler while Penny Rambo set about composing Cross’s first concept album, The Feeding of the Five Thousand Miners.

To be jolly well continued …



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Christmas at the Punk Rock Nursing Home



The geriatric punks from  Punk Rock Nursing Home return in this new 50 page paperback for the festering season. Cheap as a bag of chips will be a few years from now, and available from all good amazons for a limited time.

Get it here:


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Anarchy in a Cold War

Anarchy in a Cold War is a novel by Kurtis Sunday set in the West Berlin alternative-squatter-Punk scene during the latter part of the Cold War. The city, a focal point in the conflict between East and West, was a capitalist enclave smack in the middle of Communist East Germany. It was entirely surrounded by the Berlin Wall, complete with razor wire and machine gun posts. There is much that is familiar and much that is not. The Cold War is raging and the missiles are armed and waiting in their silos. If nuclear war breaks out there will be a four minute warning. There is no internet and perhaps NO FUTURE. Reality? Sur-reality? Or hyper-reality?

the Internet Archive:

Print copies available from:

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Punk Rock Nursing Home audio book


Punk Rock Nursing Home audio book, read by professional actor James Warrior (The Sweeney, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, The Bill, etc). Also available in read it yourself paperback and ebook editions.

“This book is fantastic, I cannot recommend it enough.” Attila the Stockbroker

Not suitable for Daily Mail readers.

Every year, on the anniversary of the death of 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?

Available now on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.

Amazon UK link

Amazon US link


For paperback / ebook purchase options and opening chapter sample, click here.



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Preview: Runaway



Amazon UK

Amazon USA


When violence erupts at a Cockney Upstarts gig, anarcho-punk Stiggy ends up half-unconscious on the ground, waiting for a much older skinhead to finish him off for good. But then an unlikely ally comes to his aide – his attacker’s young, timid girlfriend, Sally.

While his mates deal with the skinhead, Sally helps Stiggy get away before the coppers arrive. But he soon finds she has an ulterior motive for doing so – the man is keeping her a virtual prisoner and beating her on a regular basis, and she is so desperate to escape she will take any chance she can.

Stiggy vows to help Sally get away from her tormentor, and offers her temporary sanctuary until she can find somewhere of her own to live. But while they are collecting Sally’s belongings, the skinhead arrives home unexpectedly and catches them in the act. And what follows sets in motion a chain of events that soon spirals out of control.

With a unique blend of social realism and unashamed pulp action reminiscent of those old NEL classics of the 1970s, Runaway tells an unflinching and at times harrowing story of lost innocence as Stiggy gradually learns the whole horrific truth about how Sally ended up living with such a monster, along with the institutional cover-up behind it all.

Contains scenes of graphic violence, very strong language throughout, and deals with topics that some readers might find upsetting.





Stiggy didn’t reckon much to the support band. And judging by the amount of beer and abuse being hurled at the stage, neither did anyone else in The Marples that night. It wasn’t that they were young and inexperienced, although the way both the guitarist and bass player had their backs to the audience the whole way through their set, and the way the singer kept stuttering his words all the time, certainly didn’t help. It wasn’t even that they couldn’t play their instruments properly. They were a punk band, after all, and a certain amount of rawness came with the territory. They just weren’t the band Stiggy had paid his two quid to see, and he wanted them to hurry up and finish so the Cockney Upstarts would have enough time to play their full set before he had to leg it down to the train station for the last train home.

Stiggy didn’t care much for the Cockney Upstarts either, but he had his own reasons for being there. The Donny punks had had nothing but hassle from skinheads for months, and he wanted to be there to back his mates up in case any trouble kicked off. And judging by the glares Twiglet kept getting from the mob of skinheads leaning against the bar, it looked like that was inevitable.

There were twelve of them in total, all dressed in regulation boots and braces with short-cropped hair and bleached jeans, like some sort of drunken regiment that wasn’t too fussy about who they let in. Even the solitary bird with them was dressed the same, except in place of jeans and T-shirt she wore a short denim skirt with red braces hanging down over her bare thighs, and a pale green plaid shirt with short sleeves and buttons down the front. Her brown hair was close-cropped, just like the men, the only nod to femininity being long thin strands at the sides, and a three inch fringe that partially obscured her eyes. She stood to one side of the group, sipping from a bottle of Babycham, while the men punched the air and chanted at the support band on stage.

“Off! Off! Off!”

Their leader, a huge, stocky man at least ten years older and a good six inches taller than the others, shouted the loudest. Bulging muscles threatened to burst out of a skin-tight Rock Against Communism T-shirt with every jerk of his massive, tattoo-covered arm. Dangling red braces and a huge pair of black Doc Martens with white laces completed the image of someone nobody in their right mind would want to mess with.

But Stiggy wasn’t in his right mind that night. He was still off his head from the bag of glue he’d had on the train down to Sheffield, and the three pints of cider he’d drunk since arriving at The Marples an hour ago gave him a sense of invincibility he never felt when he was sober. He smiled to himself as he imagined going up to the bald-headed bastard and booting him in the bollocks, then taking on the rest of his mob single-handed. Yeah, he could do that, no fucking bother.

But then someone would call the coppers and cancel the show, and Stiggy wouldn’t get to find out if what it said in the newspapers about the Cockney Upstarts throwing a dead pig’s head into the audience at the end of their set was true or not. He’d bet his mates a quid it was true, and told them he was only going with them so he could see a skinhead get smacked in the face by a flying pig’s head. But that wasn’t the real reason he had to know the truth.

If the Cockney Upstarts were using murdered animals as a form of entertainment there was nothing that would stop him bursting into their dressing room and telling them exactly what he thought of them. Then he’d write to Crass and tell them all about it, so they could spread the word and organise pickets outside their gigs, make sure they never played anywhere ever again. Maybe even get them kicked off their record label, or at least banned from Top of the Pops.

The skinhead boss draped his arm around the young girl’s neck and squeezed one of her breasts while he continued chanting. She looked tiny and frail next to him, and visibly winced. Stiggy wondered what she saw in an ugly brute like that. She looked about sixteen or seventeen, whereas the bruiser she was with was at least twenty-five, maybe even older. Every now and again she would flick her head to one side to swing the fringe away from her eyes. Each time it would just flop back down again.

“This— this is our last song,” the support band’s singer stuttered from the stage.

The young skinheads cheered. “Make it a fucking short one, you useless cunts!” one shouted.

The older skinhead drained his lager and hurled the plastic container in the direction of the stage, then pushed the young girl away from him and ordered another drink from the barman. Released from his grip, she wandered over to the far side of the bar and leaned against it with her back to the band.

Stiggy stared at her legs and wondered again what a tasty bird like her saw in a thug like that. It just wasn’t fair. Stiggy wasn’t exactly handsome in the traditional sense, and he knew it — his nose was too big, the area around his mouth was riddled with acne from years of solvent abuse, and his ears stuck out like those of a chimpanzee. But at least he wasn’t a fucking gorilla, like that skinhead she was with. So why didn’t anyone ever fancy him instead?

Some sixth sense must have told the girl someone was watching her, because she turned around and looked straight at Stiggy. Stiggy smiled and raised his hand in greeting. The girl’s face reddened, and she turned away. Stiggy shrugged to himself and brushed the dandruff from the shoulders of his Crass T-shirt before finishing off the last of his cider. After scrunching up the plastic container and tossing it on the floor, he leaned on the table and pushed himself upright from his stool. The small round table lurched to one side under his weight, forcing Colin, Brian and Twiglet to snatch their drinks up to save them from toppling over.

“Fuck’s sake Stiggy, watch what you’re doing,” Brian yelled.

Stiggy ignored him and staggered over to the bar for a refill.

The support band finished their set and unplugged their instruments. Nobody clapped, nobody cared. The skinheads shouted their final insults, then turned away and ordered fresh drinks from the barman.

Stiggy sidestepped closer to the skinhead girl and waved a pound note to attract the barman’s attention. The man nodded and held up two fingers while he finished off serving the skinheads — a wait your fucking turn gesture.

Stiggy pointed at the half-empty Babycham bottle standing on the bar in front of the girl. “You want another one of them?”

She shot a glance at the skinheads at the opposite end of the bar, then shook her head. Her hand trembled when she picked up the bottle and took a swig.

“You all right?” Stiggy asked. She seemed nervous about something, but he couldn’t imagine what. She wouldn’t even look at him, she just stared straight ahead at the optics behind the bar.

The barman finished serving the skinheads and wandered over. Stiggy ordered a pint of cider and took a long gulp. He stared at the girl’s profile, wondering what was wrong with her. Maybe she was shy or something.

“I’m Stiggy,” he said.

No reply.

The skinheads turned away from the bar and glared out into the gloomy, smoke-filled room. It wasn’t long before they turned their attention to Twiglet again. A chorus of monkey sounds erupted. A young lad bent forward and swung his arms from side to side, hamming it up. Twiglet stuck up two fingers and looked away. He was used to shit like that everywhere he went; being the only black punk in Doncaster always attracted unwanted attention from skinheads.

But the skinheads were looking for trouble, and Twiglet’s cold shoulder routine just riled them up even more.

“You and me, cunt,” their leader yelled. “We’ll have our own fucking race war, right here.”

The younger skinheads laughed. “Do him, Joe,” one said. “Smash his fucking head in.”

Twiglet glared across at the huge skinhead and sneered. “Nah, you’re all right, Nazi. I wouldn’t want to get my fists dirty on your ugly face.”

“You what? What did you say, you fucking nigger?” The older man’s eyes bulged in their sockets. His teeth ground together. He clenched his fists and took a step closer to where Twiglet sat. The younger skinheads lined up behind him with their chests puffed out, voicing their encouragement.

“Leave it out, mate,” Colin said to the skinhead boss. “We’re just here to see the Upstarts, we’re not looking for no trouble.”

“Well you should keep your fucking pet monkey under control then, shouldn’t you?”

Twiglet’s eyes blazed. He rose to his feet and cracked his knuckles, then took out his skull and crossbones ear rings and put them down on the table next to his pint. “Look after these for me, yeah? I’ll be back in a minute.”

“Fuck’s sake Twiglet, just ignore them,” Colin said. “It’s not worth it.”

“Maybe not for you.”

Twiglet removed his studded wristband and wrapped it round his knuckles. Colin sighed and rose up next to him in a show of support. After a brief hesitation, Brian shook his head and joined them. Other punks nearby looked on with interest. Twiglet matched the older man in height, but not in build. Youth and agility would give him an advantage so long as he could dodge those huge fists of his opponent, but one thing Stiggy knew about skinheads was that they never fought fair. The others would pile in as soon as it started, they always did.

Stiggy put down his cider and stepped away from the bar so he would be ready to help even the score when the time came. The hairs on the back of his neck stood to attention, but his legs felt weak and wobbly. His stomach churned as he stared at the huge skinhead. Every instinct told him to stay out of it, let it run its course without him. But he couldn’t let his mates down like that, he just couldn’t.

The beefy skinhead peeled off his T-shirt and handed it to one of the others for safekeeping. More tattoos covered the man’s upper body. British bulldogs, naked women, Union Jacks and Swastikas all mingled together into one technicolour mass of ink. He pulled the braces up over his bare chest and snapped them into place over his broad shoulders.

“Let’s fucking have it, then, you cunts! I’ll take the fucking lot of you by myself!”

Twiglet sneered at him. “Come on then, you fucking Nazi prick.”

Stiggy clenched his fists, but it was more to stop his hands trembling than a show of strength. He could feel his bowels loosening. Beads of sweat dribbled from his armpits as he glanced from Twiglet to the skinhead and back again. Fuck it, he couldn’t just stand by and watch his best mate take a pounding without doing anything about it. He took a step forward, ignoring the wobbly sensation in his legs. Don’t think about it. Just do it.

“Oi, you two,” the barman shouted. “Behave yourself, or you’re out the door.”

The younger skinheads glanced at the barman, then at each other. Twiglet and the bigger skinhead maintained eye contact while they continued hurling insults.

Then a high-pitched blast of feedback came from the speakers either side of the stage and everyone turned to look in that direction. The Cockney Upstarts stood there. The guitarist tuned up while the drummer took his seat. The bass player plugged in his instrument with a loud electrical pop and slung it over his shoulder. The singer downed a can of lager, crushed the can in one hand, and tossed it to one side.

“All right?” his amplified voice yelled as he peered out from the stage.

The young skinheads turned to their leader for guidance. He seemed to consider the situation himself for a couple of seconds, then glared at Twiglet.

“This isn’t fucking over yet, cunt. I’ll see you later.”

“We’re all fucking upstarts!” the band’s singer screamed, and a wall of sound blasted from the speakers when the Cockney Upstarts broke into their top ten hit.

Punks and skinheads rushed for the stage, jostling to get the best position between the huge twin speakers. They leaped around together, their differences seemingly forgotten in an instant as the raucous music washed over them.

Stiggy sighed in relief as he watched Twiglet, Colin and Brian lose themselves in the swirling crowd, keeping well away from the skinheads. That had been too close for comfort. He looked at his wristwatch: half nine. That should leave plenty of time for them to finish before he had to leave for the train station. So he’d get to see if they ended their set by throwing a murdered pig’s head into the audience or not. And if they did …

The skinhead girl turned to Stiggy and smiled. Her green eyes seemed to twinkle in the harsh light illuminating the stage.

“I’m Sally!” she shouted.

“All right, Sally?” Stiggy shouted back. “You’re not into all that Nazi shite as well, are you?”

Sally leaned closer and shouted into Stiggy’s ear, “Am I fuck. I’m only here because Joe made me come. I don’t even like this sort of music.”

“Is Joe that big fucker who was hassling my mate?” Stiggy pointed into the crowd around the stage, where a group of skinheads were sieg heiling the band’s singer, their leader clearly visible as he towered over them.

Sally nodded. “Yeah, sorry about that. He always gets like that when he’s been drinking. Just tell your mate to stay away from him for the rest of the night and he’ll be fine. Joe’s that pissed up he’ll have probably already forgotten about it, anyway.”

Stiggy turned to watch the Cockney Upstarts play. It was one of their earlier songs, Aggro Boys, released a year before their appearance on Top of the Pops made them a household name and an overnight sensation. Back when they were still a punk band, and long before the skinheads latched onto them. Stiggy had heard it on John Peel’s radio show at the time, and quite liked it. But that was before he found out about the pig’s head.

The song ended, and the rest of the band took swigs from beer cans while the singer told the crowd about the time he was arrested and beaten up in the cells by a policeman who objected to the All Coppers are Bastards T-shirt he wore. It was a story most people already knew, because he had recited it word for word on their live album too, but that didn’t stop them from listening in rapt attention.

Stiggy turned back to Sally, who stood toying with the Babycham bottle standing on the bar. He took another gulp of cider to bolster his confidence, then the words just blurted out of him.

“So how come you’re wasting your time with an old geezer like that, anyway? A good looking bird like you could have the pick of any bloke in here, you know that, right?”

Sally turned to face him, an odd expression on her face, as if she were trying to figure out if Stiggy was just winding her up or not. She stared into his eyes. Stiggy stared back, but up close he struggled to get her into focus.

Then she smiled, shook her head, and turned away to watch the band, who had just started their next song. They watched together, side by side, sipping their drinks. Stiggy could feel the room spinning pleasantly, the cider doing its job on his already glue-fuddled brain. He bought another drink and resisted the urge to tap his foot in time to the music while he waited for any sign of a pig’s head to appear.

* * *

Forty-five minutes later, the Cockney Upstarts gig was still in full swing and Stiggy was starting to get anxious. He would need to leave in another fifteen minutes if he wanted to catch the last train home, and there was still no sign of the pig’s head.

The singer snatched the microphone from its stand and screamed into it, then dived off the knee-high stage into the audience while he sang. The crowd surged forward around him, desperate to have their go with the microphone during the chorus, to be a part of the band, even if it was only for a few seconds.

“Police scum, police scum, kill them all,” out of tune voices shouted. “Line the blue bastards up against a wall. Spray them with bullets and watch them fall. Police scum, police scum, kill them all!”

The singer continued into the next verse, but was cut short when a punk with a massive red mohican grabbed the microphone from his hand. A gruff Yorkshire accent took over the vocals. The crowd pushed and shoved, closing in on the mohican to wrestle it back from him.

The band’s singer stumbled in the surging scrum and disappeared from view. Boots trampled over him in their owners’ oblivious attempts to reach the punk with the microphone. The lead guitarist and bass player peered down from the stage, then stopped playing mid-song. It took the drummer a few more seconds to realise something was wrong and rise from his seat to see what was happening. The mohican punk continued singing his out of tune rendition of Police Scum as he dodged all attempts to grab the microphone from him.

The three band members jumped down from the stage and pushed their way through the throng, swinging punches at anyone who refused to get out of their way. Between them they managed to clear a space around the fallen singer and helped him back onto his feet. Blood poured from his mouth and nose as they led him away to the small dressing room at the side of the stage. The drunken singing continued in their absence.

Stiggy watched the dressing room door to see if the band would re-emerge with a pig’s head, but the door remained firmly closed despite cries for an encore. Roadies unplugged the instruments and packed them away. The skinheads gave each other Nazi salutes while everyone else wiped sweat from their faces and headed for the bar or the toilets. Stiggy sighed. Now he would never know if the story in the newspaper was true or not.

Sally started trembling again. She bit her lip as she stared at the group of skinheads by the stage.

“You okay?” Stiggy asked.

She nodded. “Yeah. Look, you’d better go, before Joe sees you with me.”

“Fuck that, I’m not scared of that wanker.”

Sally looked down at her boots and shook her head. “You should be. Please Stiggy, just go while you still can.”

“Are you frightened of him, is that it?”

Sally sighed. “It’s best if you just go, he’ll have a fit if he sees you talking to me. You don’t know what he’s like.”

“What does he do to you, Sally?”

“Nothing. Please, you have to go now. Your mates, as well. Before it’s too late.”

Sally cast another furtive glance at the skinheads and edged away from Stiggy. Stiggy closed the gap once more and reached out to grip her arm. Despite his glue and cider-fuddled mind he was sure there was something about the big skinhead she was keeping from him, and it wasn’t hard to guess what.

“Are you worried about what he will do to me, or are you worried about what he will do to you?”

Sally’s mouth dropped open as she turned to look at Stiggy. Her jaw trembled.

“I fucking knew it,” Stiggy said. “Come with me and my mates, we can save you from him.”

Sally wrenched her arm free and yelled: “I don’t need saving. You just need to get away from me, that’s all. While you still can.”

“Stiggy!” someone shouted from the other side of the room.

Stiggy turned to look. Colin and Brian were pushing their way through the crowd heading for the bar, Twiglet close behind. Colin’s eyes were wide and staring. He pointed over his shoulder.

“Fucking leg it, quick!”

Then Stiggy looked beyond his punk mates at the mob of skinheads hurtling forward, knocking people out of their way as they went. The huge, bare-chested skinhead’s face was purple with rage as he led the charge. He locked eyes with Stiggy and roared.

“Oi, that’s my fucking bird, you cunt!”


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This is England 2015 screenplay leaked

I recently came into posession of a leaked copy of the new This is England 2015 film screenplay. For copyright reasons I can only post the first page, but as you’ll probably agree it looks like it’s going to be very reminiscent of that period in skinhead history.


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Return of The Snatcher


Scar Gill risked a quick glance over his shoulder as he ran across the wasteland, desperate to reach the safety of Gold Thor’s perimeter and the warriors who protected it. He wished he hadn’t; the scabbed ones were gaining on him. So close he could almost taste their stench in the back of his throat. Pus flew from the weeping sores on their emaciated arms and legs as they gave chase, a whole flock of them stretched out as far as he could see.

Scar Gill had never seen so many of them this far north before. In the stories, handed down from generation to generation, the scabbed ones of Notty Ham were in league with The Snatcher and had plotted with her to bring down the Under Dwellers of Yarkshire during her war with the mighty warrior Scar Gill was named after. Legend told how even on her deathbed, The Snatcher vowed revenge on the people of Yarkshire from beyond the grave, and that her evil spirit lived on in the minds of others.

Had The Snatcher taken on a new form and driven the scabbed ones north to destroy Gold Thor? Was the mighty town of Barn Slay, birthplace of the Scar Gill of legend, next on her list of targets for extermination? Scar Gill had to get home so he could raise the warning, rouse the village’s warriors before it was too late. He ran on, the scabbed ones screeching in their pursuit.

Arms pumping, breath wheezing, the stitch in his side burning agony, Scar Gill looked to the horizon, where the first traces of Gold Thor’s fields were visible against the setting sun. An oasis in the barren landscape, spared from the great Gee Had, some say, by the spirit of the legendary Scar Gill himself, Yarkshire’s protector and The Great Num’s ambassador on earth.

Scar Gill cursed himself for roaming so far from the safety of Gold Thor’s boundaries. But it was every citizen of Yarkshire’s duty to kill the scabbed ones of Notty Ham on sight, in revenge for their traitorous ways during the great war between The Snatcher and the Scar Gill of legend. So when he saw one sneak into Gold Thor and make off with one of the newborn lambs under its arm, Scar Gill gave chase with his trusty axe. He knew it was too late to save the animal as he followed the clumps of bloody fleece ripped from its body while it was devoured, but he had to do what was right. He had to rid the world of the thing that had taken it and avenge his ancestors.

He just never expected to come face to face with a whole flock of them nesting among the rubble of the wasteland. He skidded to a halt and turned and fled, but it was too late. The scabbed army had already seen him. They screeched and moaned, blackened teeth gnashing and scabbed arms flailing pus as they gave chase.

Now Scar Gill ran, spurred on by the sight of home, the pain in his side dissipating with renewed hope. Almost there …

A gnarled hand clawed against his back. Its owner’s fetid breath rasped in his ear. Scar Gill cried out and spun with the axe. Its blade thudded into rancid flesh and something warm and wet splashed onto Scar Gill’s face and chest. The stench was unbelievable, the taste of it in his mouth even worse. He gagged and spat, and almost stumbled as he ran on.

A shout came from the village ahead. One of the watchers, it had to be. Thank The Great Num someone was still on duty. Help would be on its way soon, Scar Gill just had to survive until then. More shouts. Then the glint of axes in the fading sunlight. The outline of figures with spears running toward him.

“Over here!” Scar Gill yelled, waving the axe above his head.

The warriors shouted the ancient chant of The Great Num as they ran into battle against The Snatcher’s scabbed army, just like their ancestors had done in the times of yore.

“Coal not dole! Coal not dole! Coal not dole!”

“Coal not dole!” Scar Gill repeated, overcome with emotion. He didn’t know what those words meant, nobody did, but he knew they would strike fear into the hearts of the scabbed ones of Notty Ham and give power to the Yarkshire warriors when the two armies clashed.

A dozen warriors ran past him. Axes swung through scabbed flesh as they continued the chant. Spears were plunged into blackened, traitorous hearts and ripped free. Arms, legs and heads were hacked off and sent spinning through the air. The ground turned red with diseased blood. Scabbed bodies twitched where they lay.

“Coal not dole!”

Scar Gill joined in the fray, his axe eager to taste blood once more before it was all over. He raised it above his head and ran at a scabbed one, embedded it in the thing’s face. It squealed and flailed its arms as it fell to its knees. Scar Gill placed his foot on the thing’s chest and wrenched the axe free. He looked around for a fresh victim.

The scabbed army were retreating. They screeched and squealed as they ran back across the wasteland in the direction they had come from. Yarkshire warriors chased them and cut them down with their axes and spears as they fled. Scar Gill watched, his arms and face slick with the enemy’s gore. It was over too soon, he had hoped to claim a few more lives before the battle ended. One or two scabbed ones managed to get away, but most lay dead or dying among the rubble. The scabbed army were defeated once more.

Scar Gill swelled up with pride as he looked down at his bloody axe. He had proven himself worthy of the name bestowed upon him, and there would be a new tale for the village elder to tell the children in the morning. Perhaps one day, when Scar Gill became a man, he would lead a charge into Notty Ham and destroy the scabbed ones forever. Then he too would go down in legend, just like his namesake.

But for now, it was time to party. And to celebrate once more the death of the evil witch known as The Snatcher.


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Rockerhead – Peter Marshall


If you search for Hells Angels fiction on Amazon’s Kindle, once you discard the ones about angels and demons you’ll get page after page of romance titles featuring a hairy biker and his massive chopper next to some skinny bird who’s probably never had a hot throbbing motorcycle between her legs in her entire life. Presumably there’s a market for such books, but they don’t really appeal to me.

But tucked away on page three of the list you’ll find one called Rockerhead with a cover reminiscent of the old NEL books of the 1970s by Peter Cave and the like. The description mentions those books too, as does the writer’s introduction (which you will need to page-back to see, since it opens by default at chapter one).

The writer uses the name Peter Marshall, and goes to great lengths to point out it’s not his real name. Maybe he’s ashamed of the book, or doesn’t want to tarnish his current or future reputation by taking ownership of it, but he shouldn’t be. In a lot of ways it’s better than the original 1970s Hells Angels books he says he wrote it as a homage to. Most of those were pretty far-fetched, and barely more than a series of Asian or skinhead bashing set-pieces with minimal plot to tie them all together.

This one’s more of a revenge thriller with outlaw bikers in it. It has all the trappings you’d want from a Hells Angels book – bike chases, fisticuffs in the pub, petty crime, evading capture by the fuzz, even a bit of racist banter (though obviously toned down for today’s more sensitive readers).

Rockerhead is the nickname of the lead character, but everyone seems to call him Andy instead. He’s the leader of the pack, riding a BSA Thunderbolt with his Shangri Las style old lady Chrissy on the bitch-pad. Along with the rest of their gang they get up to assorted mischief during their annual run to seaside town Sidmouth, and soon get on the wrong side of Eastenders style cockney villain Jimmy Fitch.

The writer seems to know his stuff. There’s no motorcycle tyres screeching round bends, and no long, drawn out conversations between bike rider and passenger during a high speed chase like you find in a lot of books. So he’s either a biker himself or he’s at least done his homework. My only real quibble is with the naming of two of the supporting characters, Tosher and Tonner. The names are too similar, and you end up getting them mixed up with each other.

I’d recommend it if you grew up reading the old NEL books, like I did. And if you liked any of my books you should like this one too. It says it’s part of a series of “Retro Fiction” but it seems to be the only one available so far. Hopefully there will be others to come, but I’d guess that will depend on how well this one sells. It’s ebook only at the moment, and currently exclusive to the Amazon Kindle (though you could convert it to epub easily enough with Calibre if you needed to read it on something else).

It’d probably do better as a paperback, so if “Peter Marshall” reads this, get yourself over to Createspace and make one.


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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.

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.


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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 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 three 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 another inch, 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 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, 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 bike, shaking her head and mumbling obscenities to herself. After a few paces she stopped and turned, then ran back toward Mia. Before she got far 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 the 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.


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