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.


“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.


“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.


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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Punk Faction Online Serial Part 25

“All roight?” Manny’s amplified voice yelled from the stage.

A swarm of punks and skinheads rushed toward him as one. One hand on the microphone, Manny glared down at the expectant faces of the crowd.

“We’re all fucking upstarts!” he shouted, and everyone roared their approval, drowning out the opening guitar intro. A drum roll started the song proper, and Manny screamed out the words. A punk climbed onto the stage, and before the two bouncers could react he dived back into the audience. The area immediately in front of the stage was soon full of jerking bodies jostling for position.

“They tell us what to think, they tell us who to see,” Manny growled in his rough, guttural cockney voice. He picked up the microphone stand and swung it down into the crowd. Dozens of hands made a grab for it.

“We’re all upstarts, you and me!” everyone in the audience screamed.

Manny yanked the microphone stand away from them and held it aloft above his head before slamming it back down on the stage. He picked up a can of beer while the band continued playing, and shook it furiously. He aimed the can at the audience and pulled the ring-pull, showering the front row with beer. He poured the remaining beer over his own head and crushed the empty can in his hand before drop-kicking it away.

A young skinhead barged Colin in the shoulder. Colin barged him back, grinning, and sent him stumbling forward a few steps. Nearby, Brian spun his arms around like a double sided windmill, clearing out his own little space within the melee as people scrambled to avoid him. Twiglet and Spazzo were right at the front of the stage together, pressed up tight by the surging crowd behind them, so only their upper bodies could jerk in time to the music.

The song ended with a final scream from Manny and the crowd stopped its gyrations as one. Colin lifted up his T-shirt and wiped sweat from his face. He looked around, was about to say something to Brian, but he was quite a distance away now, surrounded by skinheads. He looked for Stiggy, but couldn’t see him anywhere.

The band started their second song, and the dancing resumed. The young skinhead rushed toward Colin again, his right elbow pointing outwards like a lance, his hand clamped behind his neck. He had a wide, lop-sided grin on his face.

Colin dodged to one side just before the skinhead reached him, and gave him a quick shove in the back as he hurtled past. He soared into the back of a punk, who lost his balance and went down. The skinhead tripped over him and landed on top of the punk in a pile of flailing arms and legs.

Colin’s energy started to flag after a few more songs. When Manny started on one of his between-song monologues about police oppression he saw it as an opportunity for a quick rest break and a gulp of beer. Manny was telling a story about a time when he was arrested and beaten up in the cells by a policeman who objected to the title of their ‘Police Scum’ single. It was a story Colin already knew from an interview with Manny he had read in Sounds several months earlier, so he weaved his way out of the crowd and made for the table where he had left his beer. People parted before him, then fought over the space he had vacated.

Colin slumped into his seat and took a long drink. Over the rim of his glass he saw Stiggy leaning against the now deserted bar, watching the band with the skinhead girl. Stiggy’s left arm rested on the bar, behind the skinhead girl’s shoulder as she took casual sips from her Babycham bottle.

Colin sighed and shook his head. He tried to get Stiggy’s attention, but Stiggy either didn’t hear him or chose not to. Instead, he started drawing little circles on the skinhead girl’s shoulder with his fingertip. She turned to face him and they stared into each other’s eyes for a few seconds. She looked toward the stage area, then leaned her head into Stiggy’s chest. Stiggy closed his arm around her.

Colin gaped at them open mouthed, not believing what he was seeing. He looked across at the stage area himself, expecting to see hordes of outraged skinheads tearing toward him. But the band had started playing again, and everyone was too busy leaping around to notice anything else.

Colin stood up and rushed across to Stiggy. He pulled at Stiggy’s arm, but Stiggy brushed him away.

“Stiggy, I need to talk to you,” Colin shouted. The skinhead girl looked at Colin and stepped to one side.

“What do you want?” Stiggy shouted, turning toward Colin.

“You can’t mess with their bird, they’ll fucking slaughter you.”

“She’s not a bird, her name’s Sally and she’s coming home with us.”


“You heard,” Stiggy said, and turned away.

Colin grabbed Stiggy’s arm and spun him back around. “Stiggy, you don’t know what you’re saying. It’s the fucking glue talking, mate. You don’t even like skinheads, remember? You hate them as much as I do, so why would you want to take one of them home with you? Think about what those baldy cunts will do to you when they find out. You think they will just let you walk out of here with one of their birds?”

“I don’t fucking care, leave me alone,” Stiggy shouted.

“Mate, she’s only doing this so she can watch her boyfriends kick the fuck out of you later. Can’t you see that?”

Stiggy shrugged.

Colin grabbed Stiggy’s jacket and pulled him away from the bar. Stiggy stumbled a few steps before wrenching himself free, then launched a drunken punch. Colin jerked his head to one side and Stiggy’s fist sliced through the air a few inches away from his face.

Colin shook his head and retreated back to his seat. He took out a cigarette and lit it. Stiggy glared at him for a few seconds, as if daring him to say anything else, before returning to the bar. The skinhead girl sought Stiggy’s hand and held it. She too glared at Colin.

Colin’s hands shook as he drank the rest of his beer and smoked his cigarette. This was bad. Very bad. He had to get Stiggy out of there before the skinheads saw him messing with their bird. But he couldn’t do it on his own, he would need help. Maybe Brian could shout some sense into Stiggy, and if that didn’t work they would all just have to drag him away from her by force.

Colin returned to the stage area, but he couldn’t see Brian anywhere for all the jerking, spasmodic bodies leaping around. He inched his way through the crowd to where he had seen him last, prising people apart to make a gap big enough to squeeze through. Some parted easily, others resisted and he needed to physically barge past them. A few, unwilling to give up their position under any circumstances, turned and pushed him in the chest, sending him stumbling back a few steps, further away from his goal.

Colin didn’t make much headway into the heart of the crowd until a song ended and the audience started to relax and thin out to avoid the body heat given off by their closest neighbours. Pushing his way through, he found Brian just as the next song started, and his shouted words were drowned out by a crashing wall of sound from the nearby PA system.

Colin pulled on Brian’s arm to get him out of the crowd so he could talk to him properly, but Brian must have thought he wanted to dance because he grabbed a handful of Colin’s shirt and swung him around by it. The unexpected momentum took Colin by surprise and he was propelled into the back of a stocky skinhead. The skinhead turned and pushed Colin away. Colin stumbled back and lost his balance, then tumbled to the ground.

Two arms came down to help Colin back to his feet. When he looked up he saw it was the same skinhead who had been barging him earlier, the same lop-sided grin on his face. The skinhead pulled Colin to his feet and looped a sweaty arm around his neck. He rushed into the crowd, pulling Colin with him.

Surrounded by writhing bodies packed closely together, Colin had no option but to wait until the next lull between songs. He hoped it would last long enough for him to reach Brian and warn him about what was going to happen.

The song ended, but there was no rest gap, no opportunity to reach Brian.

“Police Scum!” Manny shouted, and the band immediately started playing again. This was the song Cockney Upstarts usually ended their set with, so Colin knew he didn’t have much time left. People at the back of the crowd surged forward, causing even more of a crush around the stage.

Manny pulled the microphone from its stand and screamed into it. He raised his arms above his head and launched himself from the stage like an Olympic diver. Twenty pairs of arms rose to catch him and lower him to the ground. Manny was in the midst of the crowd, singing Police Scum, everyone within range of the microphone shouting along with him. People just out of range fought for a closer position.

Colin was swept along by the crowd as everyone clawed their way closer to Manny, all wanting to be a part of the band for their anthem title. Someone wrenched the microphone from Manny’s hand, and his voice was replaced with a gruff Yorkshire accent that screamed the words out of tune. Manny lost his footing as the crowd surged after the microphone, everyone wanting their own turn with it, and he fell to the floor. He raised his arms to protect his head as boots swarmed over him, oblivious to his plight.

The song ended, and the band stopped playing, but the crowd around the microphone continued singing, starting up a rendition of We’re All Upstarts. The lead guitarist and bass player jumped off the stage and pulled Manny to his feet. They helped him back onto the stage and he stood there swaying as blood poured from his nose and mouth.

The crowd started to thin out as people drifted away to the bar for one final drink before they made their way home. The skinheads were busy giving Nazi salutes and sieg heiling to each other. Colin saw his chance to get to Brian.

* * *

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 24

After they were all let into the venue Colin and Brian made straight for the bar, while the others took ownership of a table nearby. Spazzo procured an extra stool from the adjacent table, and they all shuffled closer together to make room for Colin and Brian when they returned with the drinks.

“Here you go Stiggy,” Colin said, putting a pint of cider down before him. He sat down opposite and took a drink of his bitter.

Stiggy was staring at something over Colin’s shoulder. Colin turned to look, and saw the group of skinheads standing at the bar. Several had taken off their flight jackets, revealing British Movement T-shirts beneath. The large, older skinhead faced outwards, leaning his elbows on the bar. His muscular arms were covered in multi-coloured tattoos. The younger skinheads faced him, pints of lager in their hands, while the skinhead girl stood to one side sipping from a bottle of Babycham.

“What the fuck sort of cider’s this?” Stiggy said.

Colin turned back to Stiggy and watched him put down his glass and grimace. He shrugged. “I don’t know. The cider sort, probably. Why, what’s up with it?”

“Nowt. I suppose it’ll have to do, won’t it? You think me glue will be all right out there? There’s fucking two quid’s worth in that can, someone might nick it.”

“Nah, who’d want that fucking shite?” Brian said. “I wouldn’t mind that cassette recorder though if we’re out first. Got to be worth a fucking hundred quid at least.”

“I could do with a new cassette player meself,” Colin said, nodding. “Me old one’s broke.”

Over the next half hour the venue started to fill up with an even mixture of punks and skinheads, plus a few nondescript youths in casual jeans and sweatshirts. The mob of skinheads at the bar were getting louder the more they drank. They kept looking over at Twiglet and nudging each other, then laughing. One pretended to be a monkey and they laughed louder.

Twiglet stared back at them, his arms folded. “Fucking Nazis,” he said under his breath. “So proud of their white skin they cover it up with tattoos.”

Brian laughed. “Yeah. Here’s one for you. A skinhead walks into a bar. ‘Ow,’ he says.”

“You what?” Twiglet asked, looking at Brian.

Brian smiled. “They lowered the entrance bar, didn’t they?”

Twiglet shook his head and frowned. “What the fuck are you on about?”

“It was an iron bar, but it was okay because it only hit him on the head so no damage was done.”

Colin snorted. Twiglet sighed and shook his head. He turned back to look at the skinheads.

“You know what, Bri?” Colin said, smiling. “That was a fucking shite joke, your worst yet.”

Brian shrugged. “Yeah well, I only just thought of it so it probably needs a bit of work.”

“It needs a fucking lot of work if you ask me. Or better yet, just never tell it again.”

“All right, what about this one then? See that skinhead bird with the Babycham?” Colin looked and nodded. “It’s Baby-Sham69, innit? The skinhead version, as drunk by Jimmy Pursey when he were a baby.

Colin smiled. “Singing If the Babies are United.”

“There’s Gonna Be A Nursery Breakout,” Brian said.

“Hurry Up Mummy.”

“Red Nappy Rash.”

“You what?” Colin asked. “Which one’s that then?”

“You know, Red London. It was their first single.”

Colin shrugged. “Don’t think I ever heard that one.” He turned to Stiggy, who was staring at the skinhead girl. “What do you reckon Stiggy?”

Stiggy smiled when he caught the girl’s eye. The girl glanced quickly at the group of skinheads, who were busy throwing beer mats at each other, and smiled back before turning her back on him.

“You what?” Stiggy said.

“Do you know any Baby-Sham69 songs?”

Stiggy shrugged, still staring at the skinhead girl. “No, not really.”

* * *

The support group were a local punk band who introduced themselves as The Burglars.

“Smash the state!” the singer shouted, and an out-of-tune guitar started up. The guitarist stood with his back to the audience, as if he was embarrassed to be there. Bass and drums followed, and the singer launched himself into the song. He gripped the microphone stand in both hands and shook it angrily as he sang about how much he wanted to kill Thatcher.

The short song ended to complete silence from the audience. “Clap, you fuckers!” the singer shouted.

The skinheads at the bar started a slow hand clap, but nobody else joined in. The band started their second song, a cover version of an Exploited song that didn’t quite sound right with a Yorkshire accent.

“Off, off, off,” the skinheads chanted, punching the air.

Stiggy drained his glass and went to the bar. He stood next to the skinhead girl and shouted his order to the barman. The skinhead girl looked at the large skinhead, then turned away from the band to face the same direction as Stiggy. She leaned against the bar and took a sip of Babycham. Stiggy looked at her and smiled, then said something into her ear. She smiled back and looked away.

The band on stage continued to play, despite an obviously hostile audience who just wanted them to hurry up and finish.

* * *

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 23

Colin squinted up at one of the seemingly endless blocks of high-rise flats that comprised Shefferham’s landscape. He shielded his eyes from the sun and tried to imagine what it would be like to live so high up in the sky.

“So where do we go now?” Brian asked.

Twiglet pulled a crumpled piece of paper from his back pocket and unfolded it. “The Maples, Fitzholme Street,” he read out loud.

“Where the fuck’s that?” Colin asked.

“How should I know?” Twiglet said with a shrug.

Spazzo sighed. “You cunts are fucking useless. I knew I should have gone with Johnno instead.”

“Yeah, right,” Stiggy said with a sneer. “And them fucking skinheads he’s mates with. So what’s that about then?”

Spazzo shrugged. “Dunno. Johnno seems to know them from somewhere.”

“Yeah well, anyone who hangs around with skinheads is a fucking cunt as far as I’m concerned.”

“Yeah, I’d go along with that,” Colin said, nodding. He saw an old woman across the road and called out to her. “Scuse us, missus.” The old woman looked, then hurried on. Colin ran across the road to intercept her. “Scuse us, missus,” he repeated.

“I haven’t got no money,” the old woman said. She stopped and raised her palms to Colin. Her hands shook as she stared at him wide-eyed.

“Neither have I,” Colin said. “Do you know where there’s a place called The Maples?”

“Never heard of it,” she said, and turned and walked away.

“Hold up, missus. Oi Twiglet, what’s the name of that road again?”

“Fitzholme Street,” Twiglet shouted.

Colin caught up with the old woman and stood before her. “Scuse us, missus. Do you know where Fitzholme Street is?”

“Oh heck, you’re miles off,” she said, pointing back the way they had come. “It’s up that way, about a mile or so past the train station.”

Colin sighed. “Cheers, missus,” he said. “We’re going the wrong fucking way,” he shouted to the others.

* * *

After asking a few more people for directions along the way, they arrived at Fitzholme Street a little under forty minutes later to join the end of a lopsided queue trailing down the outside of The Maples.

Stiggy glared at a group of twelve skinheads in front of them, and Colin saw his fists were clenched. He hoped Stiggy wouldn’t start anything because they were vastly outnumbered. One of the skinheads, heavily built and standing a good six inches taller than the others, looked to be in his mid-twenties. He had his arm draped around the shoulder of a small, much younger girl with a shaved head and a long pink fringe. The other skinheads, all male, were closer to the girl’s age than his, and he ordered one of them to go to the front of the queue and see what the hold-up was.

“There’s a pair of fucking gorillas on the door,” the young skinhead said when he returned. “They’re searching every cunt that goes in.”

Colin looked at Stiggy, wondering if he had any more weapons hidden away.

When they neared the front of the queue, Colin saw two black bouncers. They both had short cropped hair and were dressed in identical grey suits, both sporting a pair of dark sunglasses and the same scowl on their faces. People were let through the door one at a time and frisked. Confiscated items lay in a pile by the side of the door, mostly studded wristbands and bullet-belts, though Colin did see at least one knife glittering amongst them.

When it was the large skinhead’s turn he raised his arms and glared at the two bouncers. One of the young skinheads, the next in line, started making monkey sounds. The bouncers waved the large skinhead through and beckoned for the younger skinhead to enter. He walked toward them swinging his arms from side to side and grinning. He stood before the bouncers and raised his arms, still grinning. One frisked him from behind while the other stood before him, glaring down. When the skinhead had been searched, the bouncer in front raised his foot and stamped down on his toes.

“Ah, you cunt,” the skinhead cried, hopping on one leg. “What did you do that for?”

The bouncer shrugged. “Testing for steel toe caps. Now on your way, you little shit.”

When they searched Stiggy one of the bouncers found his can of glue and tossed it at the pile of confiscated items. It landed on the tiled floor with a dull thud and rolled to a halt near an expensive-looking cassette recorder. Stiggy made as if to retrieve it, but the bouncer blocked his way.

“You can pick it up on your way out,” the bouncer said. “Either now or at closing time, I don’t care which.”

Stiggy stood his ground. He stared at the bouncer and clenched his fists. The bouncer stared back, unfazed.

“Hurry up mate, we want to get in before the band comes on,” a young punk standing behind Colin said.

“Yeah come on, Stiggy,” Colin said. “You won’t need it in there anyway, you can pick it up when we leave.”

Stiggy held the bouncer’s stare a moment longer before turning away. He looked at his glue, then turned back to the bouncer. “It had better be there when I come back out. And I know how much is in it too, so don’t think about pinching any.”

The bouncer laughed humourlessly and shook his head. “On your way, freak.”

* * *

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 22

“Fucking hell Stiggy, you can’t do that on here,” Colin said when he saw Stiggy pull out a can of glue.

Stiggy shrugged. “Why not?”

“Because it will fucking stink,” Brian said, “and the train guard will chuck us all off.”

“Yeah well,” Stiggy said, “not if I open a window it won’t.”

“Can’t you do it in the bogs or something?”

“Nah, fuck that. I’m sick of hiding away, it’s not like it’s illegal or nothing.” Stiggy unscrewed the lid and poured a blob of glue into a bag.

Brian frowned. “Yeah, well, you can fuck off to the other side of the carriage with it. And when the train guard catches you we don’t know who you are, right?”

Stiggy shrugged and rose to his feet. He walked along the carriage to the exit door and pulled down its window. He leaned out, turned his head to face away from the wind, and raised the glue-bag to his mouth.

“Fucking dick,” Brian said, shaking his head. Colin turned to watch Stiggy.

Stiggy let out a roar and leaned out further. He stretched up on his toes and shuffled his stomach across the window edge, then roared again. He raised his arms out sideways as if they were wings, and the glue-bag flew out of his hand. His feet rose from the ground.

“Fucking hell, quick,” Colin shouted as he jumped to his feet. He ran to the door and grabbed one of Stiggy’s ankles. He could feel something hard in Stiggy’s sock, but didn’t have time to think what it might be. Stiggy’s other leg kicked out wildly at him, narrowly missing his face. Stiggy clamped his hands against the outside of the train when Colin tried to pull him back into the carriage.

Brian rushed forward and took hold of Stiggy’s other ankle. They both tugged, fighting against Stiggy’s apparent desire to jump out of the train. With both of them pulling together, Stiggy’s hands began to slip, and with a final roar he fell face down on the floor of the train carriage.

Colin bent down and lifted up the bottom of Stiggy’s combat trousers to see what was hidden in his sock. It was a knife with a vicious looking six inch blade, fastened to Stiggy’s ankle with black masking tape.

“Fucking hell Bri, look at this!”

Brian’s eyes widened when he looked at the knife. “Jesus fucking Christ. I told you that cunt was trouble. What the fuck’s he doing with something like that?”

“Help me get it off,” Colin said, pulling at the masking tape.

Between them they were able to remove enough of the tape to twist the knife loose, and Colin tossed it out of the train window.

Stiggy stumbled to his feet and made straight for the window. Brian grabbed his arms and held him in place while Colin closed it.

“What the fuck did you do that for?” Stiggy yelled. He struggled in Brian’s grip.

“Why do you fucking think, you mad bastard,” Brian said. “You can’t take a fucking knife to a gig.”

“What’s going on here?” A voice thundered from nearby.

Colin spun toward it. A six-foot, well built man of African descent wearing a train guard uniform glared at him.

“Nothing,” Colin said. “Um … he’s not feeling very well. Travel sickness, you know.”

“So why are you holding his arms like that then?” The train guard looked at Brian. Brian let go of Stiggy and shrugged. “Well?”

Brian glanced at Colin, then looked at the train guard. “Um… so he doesn’t fall over? He got a bit dizzy.”

“Is that right?” the train guard asked Stiggy.

Stiggy shrugged and glared at Colin. “Yeah,” he said.

The train guard grunted. “Right, okay. Let me see your tickets.” They presented their train tickets and he punched holes in them with a clipper. “Right. Now go and sit down, you’re blocking the gangway here. And no more trouble or you’ll be off the train at the next station. Clear?” They all nodded. The guard stood to one side and gestured for them to pass.

Colin and Brian sat down in the nearest vacant seat. Stiggy walked to the opposite end of the carriage, where he remained for the rest of the journey to Shefferham.

* * *

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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Happy Thatcher Day everyone!



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Punk Faction Online Serial Part 21

5 I’m an Upstart

Colin leaned against the side of a Moon Cresta machine in the train station buffet and watched Brian perform a docking manoeuvre to join two spaceships together. Brian jabbed the fire button and waggled the joystick from side to side, his movement becoming more frantic as the ships got closer together. He banked too far to the left, and one of the spaceships exploded in a ball of pixelated flames. Brian swore and thumped his fist down on the control panel.

“All right, Col,” Stiggy said from the doorway.

Colin looked around and raised a hand. Brian continued playing the Moon Cresta game, frowning while he tried to avoid multi-coloured blobs falling diagonally across the screen toward his remaining spaceship. Stiggy looked over Brian’s shoulder, sighed, and sat down at a nearby table.

“I thought you said there was loads of people going?” Stiggy asked.

“They’re not here yet,” Colin said. “Shouldn’t be long though. I think they were going to the football this afternoon, maybe they had extra time or something. The train’s late anyway.”

As if in confirmation, the train station tannoy announced the next train to Shefferham would be approximately twenty-three minutes late.

When Brian finished his game, he and Colin joined Stiggy at the table. They both lit cigarettes. Stiggy frowned and wafted smoke away from his face.

A few minutes later Twiglet and Spazzo arrived, along with another youth dressed in casual gear that Colin didn’t recognise. Colin looked toward the door, and when nobody else entered he asked where Mike was.

“He got nicked down at the footie, didn’t he?” Twiglet said with a shrug as he sat down at the table. “The daft cunt only went and nutted a fucking copper.”

“What did he do that for?” Brian asked.

“Pissed up, weren’t he? Anyway, all of a sudden there was loads of fucking coppers everywhere lashing out at anyone who stood still long enough. The rest of us fucked off sharpish and melted into the crowd.”

“Aye,” Spazzo said, running his fingers through his bristly green hair. “Mike got a right fucking smack round the head, split it right open. Next thing there’s three of the bastards on top of him and more of the cunts running toward us. Fucking mental, it were.”

* * *

Trog looked up at a black and white display hanging over platform 3B and frowned.

“The fucking train’s late,” he said.

Don stood by the edge of the platform, bent over with his hands on his knees. He gasped for breath, having run up the stairs from the subway under the train station. He coughed, and spat a glob of mucus between his feet.

“Just as … fucking well or we’d have … missed the cunt.”

Trog looked at Don and hitched up his bleached jeans. “Mate, you’re out of fucking condition. We’ve only been running a few minutes.”

Don straightened up and stretched his arms out behind him. He reached into his flight jacket pocket for a pack of cigarettes. “Yeah well, looks like that were a waste of fucking effort anyway.”

Trog hooked his thumbs in his pockets and polished the toes of his boots on the back of his legs, one after the other.

A bored-sounding male voice, adding unnecessary emphasis to random words, made an announcement over the tannoy.

“The next train to arrive at platform 3B will be the late running eighteen-thirty service to Shefferham. We apologise for the late arrival of this train, which is now due to arrive in Shefferham at nineteen-fifty-five approximately. Passengers are advised that the smoking carriage is at the rear of this train, and smoking in any other area of the train is not permitted. Platform 3B for the late running eighteen-thirty service to Shefferham.”

“There you go,” Trog said, “looks like we’re just in time.”

A group of punks wandered out of the buffet. The gobby student, his two mates, and a couple more Trog hadn’t seen before. With them was someone he knew from work.

“All right, Johnno?” Trog called out. “You off to the Cockney Upstarts then?”

“Aye up, Trog,” Johnno said, nodding. “Yeah, Spazzo here were going on about it at the footie, it sounds a right laugh. So how’s it going then? I haven’t seen you in the showers for a while.”

“I’ve been working the afternoon shift.”

“Yeah? Can’t say I’m looking forward to that myself, I reckon I might put in for permanent days when I turn eighteen.”

Trog smiled. “Yeah, you and thousands others. It’s not so bad really, you finish just in time for the pubs opening. It’s the night shift that’s the real killer.”

“Yeah, that’s what my dad says too. He’s a right grumpy old bastard when he’s on nights.”

“Did you hear about Ian?”

Johnno nodded. “Yeah, it were in the local paper, it said he took a right fucking beating. How is he?”

“Still unconscious. You heard anything about who did it?” Trog glanced at the student punk and his two mates. They glared back at him.

Johnno shook his head. “No, mate. But if you find out, let me know and I’ll help you sort the bastard out. He were a good bloke, Ian.”

“He still is,” Trog said.

* * *

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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