Saturday, 11 April 2020

I


Episode One
The Wakeup


I punched the buzzer with my palm, then I punched it again, and again, and again, praying for Murder to wake the fuck up and let me in.
Murder’s voice crackled through the speaker. ‘Is that you?’
‘Let me in, please.’
‘You been Sleeping Beauty-ing again?’
‘Just let me in.’
‘Alright, alright.’ The intercom fizzed out. A moment later, a shape appeared through the frosted glass. Murder opened the door and I dashed in.
‘Fuck me,’ she said as she looked out at the rain, ‘it’s pissing it down.’
‘Innit,’ I said with a shiver.
‘That’s some shit luck.’ Murder looked me up and down. She wore her oversized Trivium t-shirt, and seemed surprisingly chirpy for this time of night-slash-morning.
‘Can we just go upstairs, please?’
Murder grinned. ‘Cup of tea?’
We headed upstairs, while I wiped my bare feet on the carpet. When we got in, I welcomed the stench of weed and incense. It wasn’t exactly warm, but it was dry. Murder put the kettle on while I towelled myself down and changed my clothes. I’d fortunately managed to cut my hair short a couple of days ago and didn’t have too many wet tentacles clinging down my head. I sat down with Murder in the kitchen, where the tea was already sorted. Neither of us had cleaned up the mess left a few nights ago. The tea scalded my lips.
‘So,’ Murder said, ‘it happened again, right? As in, you weren’t heading out somewhere at five in the morning, were you?’
I shook my head.
‘This is pretty fucked up, Eva.’
‘Thank you,’ I said.
Murder lit a cig she’d been rolling. ‘You’re lucky this weren’t a work day or I’d be pissed off.’
I sighed. ‘Sorry.’
‘No worries. You should, uh, probably get this sorted though, Evz. You think so, yeah?’
I groaned. ‘Ugh, I know, I know.’ I cradled my tired head in my palm for a sweet second. ‘I’m gonna―’ yawn, ‘―make an appointment tomorrow. Go back to the doctors.’
‘Can they give you pills for this sorta shit? Is that what they do?’
I shrugged. ‘I dunno, maybe. Probably gonna end up back in therapy.’
‘Oh yeah? What, to talk your way out of it?’
‘Yeah. Maybe. I dunno.’
Murder stared at the end of her cig, the end that smouldered. ‘So where’d you wake up?’ she said.
‘At the graveyard, the one on, uh... Brady Street, near the Homebase.’
‘Fucking hell, that’s long.’
‘Yep.’
‘You think anyone saw you sleepin in the graveyard like a smackhead?’
‘No,’ I said, ‘I mean, I don’t think so...’
‘Anyone see you on the way back?’
‘Nooo.’
‘You sure?’ She giggled. ‘I’m picturing you walking back home in the rain with that glum expression of yours, looking like a lost little boy. God, that must’ve been the saddest thing in the world.’
‘I don’t look like a boy.’
‘Aw, sweetheart.’ Murder grinned and leaned over to run her thumb through my hair; I batted her away. ‘You’re such a fucking freak.’
‘Mmm,’ I groaned, sipping my tea.
‘This is creepy shit,’ Murder said. ‘You think you might be haunted? Or maybe you’ve reliving the remnants of some past life, or a long-forgotten memory.’
‘What?’ I said, absolutely not in the mood. ‘How does that work?’
Murder leaned forward. ‘I dunno. Walking about unconscious, like you’re possessed. Heading over to the graveyard, y’know, consecrated ground. I mean, I’ve watched plenty of shit on the subject, and this sounds like the work of freaky, supernatural shit to me. This is full-on Gothic-novel territory, this is.’
‘I don’t think so.’
‘Well how else would you explain it?’
‘I dunno,’ I sighed, ‘just my brain being messed up, I guess.’
Murder cocked her head. ‘Are you still feeling emo about Rick?’
I clasped my forehead. ‘No.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes, I’m sure,’ I said, ‘I’m not sleepwalking because of fucking Rick.’
‘Alright, alright, well, you got anything else on your mind, then? Any other shit floating around your mental toilet bowl?’
I drank a bit more of my tea and yawned again.
‘No,’ I lied.
‘Well then,’ Murder leaned back, ‘I guess it’s some fuckin spooky-ghost shit, then.’
‘Uh-huh,’ I groaned, ‘sure, why not?’
‘Or maybe you’re just a bit crazy, then, eh?’
‘Probably,’ I said. ‘Either way, I gotta go to bed.’
Murder nodded and blew out a plume of smoke. ‘Want me to lock the front door?’
I stood up and ambled, exhausted, to my room. ‘Please,’ I said.
‘You should probably start sleepin in your coat as well, innit.’
I groaned a reply back. ‘We still going to that thing tomorrow, right? Rod’s thing?’
Murder stubbed out her cig. ‘Yeah, mate. We’ll get sorted and then we’ll head over to wherever.’
‘All right,’ I said, rubbing my damp hair. ‘Goodnight.’
‘Goodnight,’ Murder chirped, ‘you weirdo.’


• • •


It was such a relief to wake up several hours later in my own bed, with the rain gone, and sunshine pouring through my window. I stretched myself across the sheets and cracked my elbows. It was half one in the afternoon. The start of a brand new day.
Abby had bacon on the stove and a spliff in her mouth while Murder sat on the sofa, legs crossed, watching a rerun of some American reality show. ‘Morning, girl,’ she said without turning round.
‘Morning,’ I said as I dropped into the wicker chair and joined her in her blank stare at the screen.
‘You up for doin the rounds in a bit? I wanna get it sorted,’ Murder said. ‘You are getting on it tonight, right?’
‘Is it that sort of thing? Rod and that aren’t gonna be doing it, are they?’
‘Nah, but the others will,’ Murder said. ‘Shena and Sophie said they’re up for it.’
‘Sophie did?’
Murder nodded, then turned towards the kitchen. ‘You up for comin out with us tonight, Abby?’
Abby didn’t respond for a second as she carefully plucked her bacon from the pan. ‘What is it, a party?’ she said in a deep American drawl.
‘Well, yeah, a party-sorta-rave-sorta-thing that Rod’s mate’s putting on, I guess.’
Abby delicately positioned her bacon and some lettuce on a monstrous pile of a sandwich. She hummed thoughtfully. ‘Nah,’ she said, ‘I got a load of stuff to do today, whole bunch of new albums to listen to.’ She sucked in a deep pull on her joint. ‘Besides, I kinda hate most of your friends.’
‘What d’you mean you hate them? You haven’t even met any of them!’
‘I said kinda,’ Abby said. ‘I’ve seen em. I said hi. Not my type of people.’ She grabbed a beer from the fridge and slunk with her sandwich back to the refuge of her bedroom.
‘Do you even have a type of person?’ Murder yelled at her. Abby’s door slammed shut. Murder turned to me. ‘But, yeah, you up for heading out in a bit?’
I nodded and started rolling a cig. ‘Sure, sure, whatever.’
Murder sat herself up on the sofa and leaned towards me, her elbows on her knees. ‘You’re not still embarrassed about earlier, are you?’
‘Not embarrassed,’ I lied. ‘Just pissed off.’
‘Makes sense,’ Murder said with a straight face. ‘Either way, congrats, mate. I’m absolutely fuckin fascinated.’
I leaned my head on my hand and shut my eyes. ‘Mmm,’ I said, ‘can we stop talking about it?’
Murder grinned. ‘Sure,’ she said. ‘For now.’


• • •


Lady Bloodnose was an art student and freak who lived in a flat above the YMCA shop in the southern part of town, the quiet part where the old people shuffled around silently and no parties ever happened. She told us she’d moved there for the ‘solitude’. I think her real name might’ve been Vicky. She sold speed, mandy, and occasionally 2C-I when she didn’t need it for painting.
‘Greetings!’ Murder chimed as LB opened the door, ‘Still ain’t learned your lesson, I see?’
Murder was referring to the fact that LB had a thick, white bandage wrapped around the centre of her face, covering her nose. ‘Yes, yes, I know, it’s been giving me some grief again,’ she said with a toothy smile and a restless jaw.
She took us upstairs to her studio, which looked surprisingly spacious, but only when you realised that there was no furniture in it apart from a mattress, a mini fridge and a small table with a single drawer. Paintings were scattered about the place; some appeared finished and had been leaned up against the wall, with respect. Other, clearly unfinished pieces were strewn across the floor. On the easel at the centre of the room was something half-done and gigantic.
‘What’s this one, then?’ Murder asked. The painting was a jet-black background coated in bright-green human figures, with frantic swirls of neon-orange like tornados. Some of the figures had oversized heads with open-mouthed, terrified-looking expressions on them. Others were like featureless straw dolls. Bright, fiery streaks of colour were slashed across the scene, erratically.
‘Yes, I’ve been working on that one for about...’ she made a clicking sound, ‘seven or eight hours now, perhaps? Maybe. I don’t know. It’s like a scene at a carnival, you know? Like a festival? I’m not sure, like, I don’t know. I don’t know.’
‘What’s it called?’
‘Um...’ LB puffed her cheeks and let out a rush of breath, ‘I’ve gone through a few names, but... at the moment, I think I’m going with... Fear Resounds in the Heart of Pleasure. What, uh, d’you think?’
‘Like it,’ Murder nodded, slowly. ‘Yeah, I like it. Very cool.’
‘You don’t have to say that every time, you know,’ LB said as she made her way across the room, ‘but thank you. It’s been a productive week for me.’
She walked to the small table with the single drawer and picked up a mirror with a few already-procured lines of something or other laid out on the surface, along with two big plastic sacks, amphetamine rocks gleaming within.
‘So, what can I do for you darlings?’ she asked as she picked up a small plastic rod and bent over the mirror, fiddling for a second to fit the tube under the bandage before slowly hoovering up a line.
‘Uh, yeah, just a bag and a half, if you could―’
‘Agh! FUCK!’ LB screamed, ‘Jesus Christ!’ She began sniffing violently, patting her bandage back down across her face, which became soaked with tears.
‘Harsh?’ Murder asked. LB continued to wince, fingers gripped over the gauze where her nose should be.
‘Eugh.’ She made a loud, guttural snort and swallowed hard. ‘It’s all right, just gets a bit–’ sniff, sniff, ‘–tender recently.’
Murder sighed. ‘LB, I don’t wanna, like, tell you how you should live your life or anything, especially when it comes to uppers, but... ever thought about giving the mandy a rest? Or maybe do it another way, at least?’
Lady Bloodnose chuckled. ‘I appreciate the concern, babe, but trust me, it’s better this way.’
‘Really? Are you sure bout that? Even with the...’ Murder circled her finger around her nose.
‘Oh, it’s not as bad as it looks.’ LB held up her same wide, beaming smile. ‘Trust me. I’m back in the hospital next Thursday, anyway, so everything ought to be patched up by then. Besides, if I don’t have the same buzz, how am I supposed to work, you know? It just wouldn’t be the same. It’s all about the mindset when it comes to creation, you know.’
Murder shrugged. ‘Yeah, I mean, I guess you know better than we do.’
‘It’s all about the mind,’ she spouted, ‘how you see things. What your mind creates from your senses, and what you create from that, you know? The mind is its own domain, hm? I had an old hippie professor who used to teach me to paint back in uni. He’s in a coma now, I think, but he used to say to me... the mind is what makes the world. You know? He was a real genius. True fucking genius.’
A silence went by as LB stared into nothing, her foot tapping against the floor.
‘Anyway, how much were you looking for again?’
‘Yeah, one and a half of mandy, if you could, cheers.’
LB handed us our order and Murder exchanged two twenties and two tens.


• • •


We were heading through the centre of town when we bumped into Maz, sitting with some older-looking guy around the bench under a huge, sleepy tree at the edge of the car park next to the Domino’s.
‘M, Eva, what you ladies sayin?’
‘We’re ambling,’ Murder said, ‘just ambling. You goin to that party tonight?’
Maz adjusted his flat peak with interest. ‘Yeah? Party? Where is it?’
‘I dunno, Esherton somewhere. Big abandoned office building or something, I ain’t been before, but Rod said that all them lot are putting on a massive fuckup in this squat they’ve got.’
‘Oh, yeah?’ Maz’s baked, narrow eyes lit up. ‘What, is it tonight?’
Murder nodded.
‘Shit, we might do,’ he turned to the guy next to him, who was staring blankly out into nothingness. He had a thick beard, a white medical eye patch, and his black hoodie pulled up. ‘What you reckon, Christopher?’
Christopher was smoking a cig and replied without breaking his empty stare. ‘Sure,’ he said. ‘There gonna be skirt?’
Maz turned to us. ‘Well, is there?’
‘Not for you charming dickheads there won’t be,’ Murder said.
‘I ain’t fuckin comin, then,’ Christopher muttered.
‘Don’t be a cunt, mate.’ Maz turned to us. ‘He’s just acting up. I think he still likes to pretend that shaggin’s an actual option for him any more.’
I glimpsed the other guy’s cheek twitching a little when Maz said this.
‘Where you off to, anyway?’
‘We were just goin to get some weed, actually,’ Murder said. ‘You lot ain’t got any on you, have you?’
‘A bag?’ he said. ‘Sure girl, he’s got one, ain’t you, Chris?’
The guy gave no answer.
‘Christopher!’ Maz said with frustration.
Christopher nodded. ‘Yeah, I got a bag, you want a bag?’
Murder had a look at the weed, pale green with golden brown tendrils. She handed over two more of our tens.
‘So, what’s with the eye patch?’ Murder asked.
Christopher didn’t say anything for a moment, looked up at Murder with his single, tired eye, then turned back to the empty air.
‘Got in a fight, innit,’ he said, ‘with my mum.’
‘Oh yeah?’ Murder said. ‘What’d you do?’
‘Nothin,’ Christopher said. ‘She’s just a fuckin mentalist, that’s all.’


• • •


Later on, when the sun went down, Murder and I met up with Shena after she’d finished work, and the three of us jumped on the last bus out to the Esherton Estate. Shena was half-cut already, held together with brown leather and leopard print. Murder had changed into her party gear as well: black top, black skirt, black leggings and a pair of black platform boots, covered in buckles, almost up to her knees. When we stood next to each other, she actually came up to my height. I told her that the boots were a bad idea, since she was wobbling around the place before we’d even made it out of the flat; she cautiously balanced herself on every step down. I wore a green velveteen dress and brown knee-high socks.
‘Dress is fuckin bangin, Evz,’ Murder said, ‘Shena, how fuckable is Eva right now, seriously?’
‘Yeah, stunning, girl, proper stunning!’
I groaned. ‘Stop it.’
Murder laughed. ‘Aww, Carrot, this is why I love you.’ She turned to Shena. ‘Like, nothing’s hotter than a girl who doesn’t even know she’s hot, right?’
‘Innocence,’ Shena said, simply.
‘So adorable.’
I couldn’t help but get genuinely annoyed. ‘Piss off.’
Murder was looking at me and giggling, peering out from behind the red streaks bleeding down her jet-black hair. ‘I’m serious! I’m fuckin serious. Take a compliment for once. Why can’t you just fake a smile and go: “Aw, cheers, babe,” like a normal girl, yeah?’
‘Cheers, babe,’ I said with a wincing, toothy smile.
‘There we go!’
I let my head fall against the window, and stared out at the beams of lamplight that flashed past as the bus rolled out of town and through the suburbs. Golden sepia pavements ran under the pitch-black shapes of houses and trees. Groups of kids with pit bulls. Old men in coats standing motionless on street corners. Girls walking alone, briskly, their arms folded and their eyes on the ground.
Shena was staring down at the floor, mumbling to herself. She had a huge grin on her face; I could see her massive, shining set of white teeth reflected in the night of the window.
‘Guys,’ she said with drunk eyes, ‘guys, guys, guys. I’ve gotta tell you something. I’ve got a story for you.’
‘Oh, christ,’ Murder said.
‘You guys remember Mr Hope? From school?’
‘What, the bald guy?’ I said. ‘With the sorta... goatee beard?’
‘Yeah, yeah!’
‘What about him?’
‘I saw him the other day when I was out.’ Shena smiled like a naughty toddler. ‘And I... kinda mighta got with him a lil bit.’
Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Murder’s jaw hit the floor.
What?!’
‘When the fuck did this happen?’
Shena brushed her nose with her thumb. ‘The other day,’ she began, ‘I was out with some workmates at Lungfish, and obviously by the time we’d gone out I’d already had a shitload of vodka and cokes and was already way, way more pissed than everyone else. So we’d been there a few hours when these middle-aged dickheads in suits walk in, on some sort of stag night or some shit, shouting and yelling and being laddy, so I look over and, yeah, it’s fuckin Mr Hope – suited up, totally fuckin wrecked, shouting his head off.’
‘Didn’t he get married and move to New Zealand or whatever?’ I asked.
‘Apparently not,’ Shena said, ‘but when he finally saw me in there, his face, like, dropped. I gave him a wink. It was jokes.’
‘Did he recognise you?’
‘Course he did! I ain’t changed since about Year 9. And we all used to take the piss out of him all the time in French, you remember?’
‘I dunno, I never had him,’ I said.
‘Oh, man,’ Murder said, beaming, ‘his lessons were fuckin gold. We were the class full of retards, we just pissed around and did whatever we wanted. He was so shit at keepin the peace, it was amazing.’ She turned to Shena, ‘you’re making this up, right? You’re taking the piss.’
‘Like I said,’ Shena continued, ‘I gave him a wink. I was shitfaced. He was havin none of it, though, to begin with, but my workmates kept telling me that he was looking over. They didn’t know he used to be my teacher, like, they thought he was just some old nonce, so eventually I got talked into going over into the smoking area and hitting on him.’
‘Oh, fuck me...’ I heard Murder mutter under her breath, mimicking my thoughts.
‘He was still the same guy, only he’d grown his beard out now, and it was like... silvery-grey, which was funny. I told him it was sexy, said I’d always secretly fancied him, cos I used to flirt with him, didn’t I?’
‘You flirted with everyone,’ Murder said.
‘Yeah, well, he believed it. It was only gonna be a joke, like, my mates were there and tellin me to do it cos they didn’t know he’d been my teacher or whatever, and I told them I’d be able to get a snog out of him.’
I winced a little, remembering Mr Hope’s tuft of scraggly beard hair and his lazy eye peering out of his round little glasses.
‘So after, like, twenty minutes I just decided: “Fuck it,” and I grabbed his big, bald head and put my tongue down his throat.’ Shena started cackling.
‘Aw, Shena, don’t!’ I groaned.
‘And, like, he starts pushing me away, right? And I’m being all like: “Oh, Carlton, please, what’s the matter, don’t you like me?”’
‘That’s pure evil.’
‘But, like I said, he’s not havin any of it. So I give up and carry on with the night, go sit with my friends, piss about, whatever... but a couple of hours later we’re at Carbon, dancing about – I’d already had a bit of coke – and I see Mr Hope, suited up on the dancefloor, doin the fuckin... stanky leg or whatever.’ Shena and Murder were pissing themselves, while I was silently shocked in disbelief. ‘So, I head over, and he’s so fucked he can’t even see straight, so I think, holy shit, right, this is too good to pass up. So I’m grinding on him―’
‘Ugh!’
‘Yeah, I know right? We’re grinding for, like, five minutes before I start making out with him, and this time he’s totally down with it, like he’s grabbin my arse, tellin me how beautiful I am, y’know?’
‘That’s mental,’ Murder said. ‘You’re actually mental. You didn’t fuck him, did you?’
‘Course I fucked him!’ Shena said, sounding almost offended. ‘At that point I couldn’t not fuck him. He was there, he was game. I just thought, I dunno, “Fuck it.”’
Whaaat?!’ I cried, thinking of Mr Hope shouting at us for smoking cigs on the steps.
‘You’re kidding,’ Murder said, smiling, but no longer laughing, ‘you fucked him? Mr. Hope? The teacher with a bellend for a head?’
‘Sure,’ Shena grinned smugly, ‘went back to some hotel and went for like an hour. Came on my back. He kept calling me his “little caramel bitch”.’ She let out a giggle.
‘Shit,’ Murder said, ‘just... wow. Shit.’
‘I think I’m gonna be sick,’ I said.


• • •


Rod had texted us saying the party was somewhere down Roberts Road, a long stretch of industrial estate that led from Esherton out into the wilderness of the countryside and beyond. There were a few lit factories and office blocks dotted around, but mostly the road was walled with run-down mills and derelict warehouses. The sides of the roads stepped off into dark fields of nothingness that led out to a starless purple sky. We were led down the road by flickering streetlamps.
It was a fifteen-minute walk from the bus stop before we heard the music, and soon the dim pound of a 4/4 beat led us into a cul-de-sac with a stout office building sitting at the end, like the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. A sign on a red-brick wall read ‘Howard Place’. The windows were painted black, but around the panes you could see a thin sliver of light coming from inside. I still hadn’t come up yet. There were a few kids wandering about on their phones, throwing us suspicious glances. With the help of this short kid with a long coat, we managed to skulk around and find the entrance through a beaten-in sheet-metal door at the back.
We had to navigate a winding maze of pitch-black corridors and trip up a few flights of stairs before we got to the main room at the top. One single room took up almost the entire floor, since a lot of the moveable walls must have been taken out, leaving one huge, open space of grey office carpet, aside from four gigantic pillars holding the place together. A few dim yellow spotlights were arranged, along with a couple of low-quality party lights, which reminded me of the birthdays and weddings I’d been to as a kid, all powered by a couple of generators clumped together in the corner. The walls were caked in lazy graffiti. A sound system stood at the side, with techno pouring out of it.
There were about fifty randomers dotted around already; denim-clad anarchists, tattooed hardcore kids, white-dreadlocked crusties. Rod was sitting on a deckchair with his usual group of scatter-dressed squatter kids. His eyes lit up when he saw us, which shone a deep and wholesome joy across my thumping heart. We walked over and he got up to hug us, taller now than how I remembered him.
‘Here they fuckin are,’ he said. ‘Good to see you girls.’ He gave us each a rib-crushing bear hug, and I couldn’t help but smile like an idiot. Rod was a hard guy not to like.
‘Eva, it’s been too long.’
‘Good to see you too, mate,’ I said. ‘Happy birthday.’
‘Thank you, thank you,’ he said. ‘How’s business?’
I shrugged. ‘Life is boring, what can I say?’
‘She’s getting on it tonight,’ Murder said, ‘so don’t listen to her, she’ll be sicking up on some wreckhead’s ballsack in an hour or two.’
Everyone laughed; my frown tightened around my jawbone.


• • •


The place packed out not long after we showed up. Kids from college, kids we knew from school, kids from out of town, as well as older bastards from around the way; some we knew, most we didn’t. We assumed that this was a thing that Rod had a hand in putting on, since he was in with the weird clique of Esherton squatters. He told us, however, that this was more of a friend of a friend’s sort of organisation. Not that it mattered. We were chuffed, because it was the first of these sorts of parties that had turned up in a long while – free; huge; big speakers; lots and lots of people getting antibrained. Just what we needed.
After the second drop I shot up like a firework, and as always Murder noticed it almost exactly as it happened. ‘Are you fucked?’ she said, ‘Cos you’re making that face.’
‘What face?’
‘That face like a fuckin... pug with a fist up its arse,’ she said with a spitting laugh.
‘Thanks.’
She put her arm round me and smushed our cheeks together, ‘Aw, I’m just kidding, Evz,’ she said, her massive pupils shining like a pair of eclipsed suns, ‘you’re the most beautiful creature I’ve ever laid eyes on, ever, ever, ever, ever.’
‘Get off me.’
‘Ever, ever, ever,’ she laughed like a drain and kissed me on the lips, ‘you gorgeous little twat.’
Get off me!’
By the second hour, I was fully charged. We danced and faffed about, talked and mingled and gathered around people we knew, a few people we didn’t, all of us sailing freely on the winds of our respective chemicals. The atmosphere painted glistening layer of magic over the whole evening, and in that present moment I was momentarily spared from the endless petty anxieties that hounded me back in the real world. I forgot about all the emotional bleach I’d had to wade through recently.
Murder’s opening line to every person who went to Weston was whether or not they’d heard that Shena had fucked Mr Hope. I could tell she was truly amazed; Murder loved having good stories to tell people, especially scintillating sexual gossip from around town. She revelled in it. Even if Shena was there, Murder didn’t waste a second in bringing it up and getting her to tell it again, sometimes not even waiting for her to tell it herself. Not that Shena minded. To her, sex seemed only worth doing so that she could tell people about it later. I always used to hate people like that, but in Shena’s case it wasn’t a problem. The people she fucked were usually worth hearing about, I guess.
Beth Dicks’ reaction to the Mr Hope story was the standout. I’d never seen her look so horrified; she recoiled like she’d witnessed an atrocity. We were pissing ourselves.
‘Oh, God!’ She threw her hand to her mouth, ‘Didn’t he have an old-man penis? That is disgusting.’
I joked about wanting to be sick, but Beth Dicks looked genuinely as if she was about to puke. She swayed a little bit and held her hand to her mouth, momentarily speechless.
‘But,’ she said, ‘isn’t that illegal or something?’
We all shrugged complacently.
‘I’m not at school anymore,’ Shena said, ‘why would it be illegal?’
‘I dunno, cos it’s just... weird.’
‘We’re grownups now, remember? Our night of passion was all above board, mate.’
‘That must’ve been illegal. It’s just... so wrong. So totally wrong.’
‘Well, yeah, who cares?’ Shena said, ‘It was funny. And it’s probably the best night he’s had in a while, right? No harm done, innit?’
Beth Dicks played with her hair nervously and took a long sip of her drink.
Sophie also failed to see the funny side when Murder rushed to tell her the story. ‘Why the fuck did she do that?’ she said, in Shena’s absence.
‘It’s a good story, though, innit?’ Murder said with a grin.
‘Not really,’ Sophie said. ‘It’s kinda made me incredibly depressed.’
Sophie was sitting on Rod’s lap, who seemed to see the funny side. ‘How old is this guy again?’ he asked.
‘I dunno, fifty-something?’ Murder said.
Rod let out a shocked chuckle. ‘Jesus,’ he said.
‘It’s not funny, Rod,’ Sophie said.
‘It is kinda funny, though,’ he said, ‘good on him, I say! Fair play to him.’
‘Eugh, don’t say that, Rod, he used to be her teacher! It’s fucking sick. The bad kind of sick.’
‘Sophie, you’re smart,’ Murder said, ‘is having sex with an ex-teacher illegal?’
‘I dunno,’ she said, ‘ex-teacher? I mean, it probably won’t be good for him if they ever find out.’
‘You’re not thinking about trying it yourself, are you, Murder?’ Rod said.
‘Mr Delzing,’ I said, jokingly. ‘On it.’
‘I’d fuck Mr Delzing in a heartbeat,’ she said.
‘No, no, no,’ Sophie said, ‘can we put a stop to this? Can we please stop fucking all our old teachers? I’d like my childhood to remain unsullied for a little while longer, please.’
‘Don’t worry, she’s talking shit,’ I said, ‘don’t listen to her.’
‘I’m fucking not!’
Sophie groaned and took a drink of her vodka and lemonade.


• • •


Zara was about, too, as she always was, even though she never seemed to have a moment of actual fun. I found her standing with a bottle of red wine in her hand and her back against the wall, looking sullen. I fluttered over to talk to her. She greeted me with a straight ‘Hello,’ without even looking at me.
‘Having fun?’ I asked her.
She shrugged. ‘Not a bad night, I guess. Music’s pretty okay.’ This was the most impassioned praise I’d ever heard from Zara.
‘I didn’t think you were keen on things like this.’
‘I got dragged here by some friends,’ she said, ‘trying to cheer me up cos my dog died yesterday.’
‘Oh... really?’ I tried to say with the MDMA rushing through my heart. ‘Shit.’
‘Mmhmm. Rufus. Found him on the side of the road, not a car in sight.’ She brought the wine up to her lips, hesitated, and said: ‘His entrails were sprayed about twenty metres across. Looked like he tried crawling his way back home.’
‘Oh... fuck.’ I couldn’t think of anything to say, and regretted my decision to willingly engage Zara in conversation. I knew she could sense my discomfort. She didn’t mind awkwardness. I always suspected that she thrived on it.
‘Don’t worry about it,’ she said, ‘like I said, I’m here to cheer myself up.’ She raised her bottle weakly. ‘Woohoo,’ she said in a flat monotone.
‘Where’re your mates?’
‘Dancing,’ she said, nodding over yonder. ‘Not into it.’
I smirked nervously. ‘Course you’re not. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you dance before in my life.’
‘That’s because I’ve never danced before in my life.’
‘What, not ever?’ I said. ‘Not even once?’
‘Never. I’ve never made any movement or combination of movements in my life that could ever be considered a dance.’
‘Not even when you’re bladdered?’
She gave me a stony glare from her ice-blue eyes.
‘Never.’
‘You’re lying,’ I told her.
She continued to glare until I looked away. A few short but noticeable seconds of awkwardness passed between us.
Then she said: ‘Isn’t it weird that everyone in this room, all these, like, younglings, are gonna be dead one day?’
‘Uh... yeah,’ I said. ‘That’s, that’s pretty weird.’
‘Moving now, hearts pumping now, but from anytime between a minute and a handful of decades… we’ll all be glassy eyes and motionless meat.’
I nodded slowly. ‘Mmm.’
‘I just thought it’d be good to remind you.’
‘Yeah, well, thanks for that.’
She pulled a long, straight cig out of the pocket of her dress and lit it. ‘You’re welcome,’ she said. ‘Since Rufus got pulverised, it’s given me a whole new perspective on what’s important. I just wanted to make sure you didn’t forget. That kind of knowledge really helps you appreciate the good times. Don’t say I don’t look out for you, Eva.’ She waved her hand at someone behind me.
I turned around to see a deathly pale face behind me; bald, stern, one eye brown, one eye blue, a chain running from his left nostril to his left earlobe, his neck covered by a collar of spikes. He looked as shocked as I was by how we’d accidentally come face to face with one another.
‘Hi,’ I said, meekly.
‘Hey,’ he said back.
‘You two know each other?’ Zara said without the slightest indication of surprise.
He nodded. ‘Yeah,’ Rick said, ‘we used to go out, actually.’
‘Yeah, we did,’ I said. ‘Until, like, a week ago.’
Zara exhaled smoke. ‘Really,’ she said, this time with a faint hint of genuine surprise.
Rick looked extremely uncomfortable. Even behind his cake of makeup, I knew him well enough to recognise the slight twitch in his eyebrow that indicated an unbearable inner conflict.
‘This is what I get for not being on Facebook, I suppose,’ Zara said in a voice that showed that her interest had been stimulated. ‘I had no idea that you two were... together.’
‘Well, for a bit, yeah.’ The flippant way that Rick said this made me glare at him sharply, and he looked back with eyes of sudden guilt.
‘I’d never have guessed.’ Zara said, ‘How come I never heard about this?’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘we’re not anymore, are we? So it doesn’t matter.’
Despite her blank, unsmiling face, Zara gave off the air of some sort of twisted glee. ‘This town’s smaller than I thought,’ she said.
Rick turned to me, keeping his face absolutely still. ‘How are you?’ he said with sickening formality.
‘Fine,’ I said, my jaw chewing a mile a minute from anxious tweaking, ‘how’re you, Rick?’
‘Not bad,’ he said, ‘I just―’
It was at this point when a girl I’d never seen before appeared out nowhere, threw her arm around Rick and gave him a kiss that seemed to go on for ever in gruelling, endless slow-motion. I felt like the blood was flushed from my body.
Rick pushed the girl off gently, but with the tiniest drop of panic. The girl’s eyes were wide open, pupils bulging. She was grinning like a ray of sunshine, her dirty blonde hair falling over her shoulders. She put her hand to her head and gasped: ‘Shit, I am sooo fuuucked!’ She giggled. Rick laughed awkwardly in response, his eyes darting between me and her. I had to concentrate to stop myself tearing into my own lip.
‘They played Transco! Did you hear it?’ she said, ‘He mixed Solar Giant with Transco and it was – aagh! – it was fucking sick, oh my God!’
She coughed nervously while the rest of us stood silently. She beamed into Rick’s eyes with a doting expression that made my stomach feel packed full of nails. ‘You alright?’ she said.
‘Yeah, yeah, uh...’ He made a half-hearted motion towards me with his gloved hand. ‘Gabbie, have you met Eva before?’
‘Eva?’ she said, looking at me with innocent curiosity, ‘Maybe; I’m not sure. What’s your last name?’
‘Carrow,’ I said, coldly.
‘Oh, shit, nah, don’t think so,’ she put up her delicate little hand and gave me a wave. ‘Pleased to meet you.’
‘Hi.’
‘Did you go to St Edwin’s?’ she asked. ‘I feel like I... recognise you, maybe.’
‘I went to Weston,’ I said.
Oh, were you in the same year as Rick? I love your hair, by the way!’
‘He was the year above. And... thanks.’
‘Zara, have you got any K?’ she said, snapping her attention away from me in an instant. Rick glanced sideways at me. I gave him the most furious scowl my spasmodic mandible could manage.
I saw Murder spot me from across the hall. When she saw who I was standing around with, her face went blank and froze up – her one telltale sign of confusion. She ran over immediately.
‘Hey,’ she said. ‘Hey,’ I said back, while a deeper, unspoken conversation was being had between us. Rick was wavering uncomfortably as Gabbie the girl kept placing her ecstasy-fuelled hands intimately over Rick’s jet-black gothic cowl.
‘Rick! Safe, mate. How you doing?’
‘Murder,’ he said coldly, ‘always a pleasure.’
Gabbie the blonde sniffed up a key of ket and looked at Murder with wide, fascinated eyes, like an inquisitive bird. Murder pulled a saccharine smile out of her face and put a hand out towards her.
‘Delighted to meet you,’ she said, ‘I’m Murder.’
‘Hey, I’m Gabbie!’ The two girls formally shook hands. ‘Sorry, what was your name again? Myrtle?’
‘Murder,’ she said.
Murder? Is that your real name?’
‘It’s Irish,’ Murder lied.
‘No kidding?’ Gabbie sniffed and stared into Murder’s soul.
Murder turned to me. ‘Eva,’ she said with theatrical cheeriness, ‘I need to show you something, come on.’ She walked off; I rolled out polite goodbyes and followed her.


• • •


‘She’s hotter than me,’ I said.
Murder let out a violent sigh. ‘Oh, for fuck’s sake, don’t start, Eva, mate, please. Please don’t shit all over tonight, I was lookin forward to it.’
‘I’m not shitting on tonight,’ I said. ‘She’s just hotter than me. I mean, she is.’
‘She’s not hotter than you. Christ, she’s got dirty hair and a fat head. And she was wearing dungarees. She looks like a thalidomide baby.’
I half-heartedly inhaled a pull of bland cigarette smoke. ‘They’re pretty hot dungarees, though. They looked pretty sweet on her.’
‘Eva, you’re talking shit,’ Murder said. ‘Dungarees are not hot, not ever. There’s nothing hot about clothing designed for agricultural labour. I get that you must be pretty rattled or whatever, but please don’t freak out, okay?’
‘I’m not freaking out, I’m fine,’ I said. ‘I’m fine; I’m fucked and I’m having a good time.’
‘Yeah, but I know what you’re like, though.’ Murder prodded her finger on my chest. ‘So I’m telling you, Evz, forget about it. He’s a boring fucking prick and you should never have gone out with him, and now he’s fucked off with someone else to carry on having a really boring fucking life.’
‘Don’t worry, M, it’s fine, it’s absolutely fine. Don’t keep calling him boring, though.’
‘Why not? He’s boring. Who’d have thought that someone who tattooed alchemical symbols onto his forehead could be such a loser?’
‘He’s not a loser,’ I said. ‘I went out with him for six months, I’d rather you didn’t call him a loser.’
‘Oh, fuck right off, Eva, you thought he was as boring as I did while you were shagging him! All you ever did was complain about him and talk to me for hours about how you didn’t know whether you wanted to be with him or not; moan, moan, moan. Now that he’s broken up with you and you’ve seen him canoodling with some blonde, happy retard girl, you’re acting like you were in love with him or some shite!’
‘I wasn’t in love with him,’ I said, offended. ‘It’s not even that big a deal. I just feel a bit shit, is all. I didn’t think he’d be here, especially not with some other girl.’
‘Yeah, well,’ Murder said, ‘the life of a teenage girl is a pretty fuckin cruel one, innit? You want a line?’
I dropped the end of my cig to the floor and crushed it under my foot. ‘I would fucking love a line.’
The party rolled on as people’s minds continued to dissolve away and the sets moved clunkily from house into techno into jungle into dubstep into god-knows-what. I pretended that stumbling into my recently-exed ex hadn’t infected my mind with fear and sadness, and the mandy certainly helped with that, but there was still a strange burning happening in my stomach that I tried to ignore for the rest of the night. It did feel good to be smashed with the girls again, though. In fact, there seemed to be a lot of people we knew who’d turned up as the night went on.
We were talking to Dolla, and she was telling us about how she’d been knocked over by a bus the other week.
‘I was clinically dead for seventeen minutes, apaz. They said that, before I flatlined, I started spasming and speaking in tongues, totally losing my shit, like. My eyes rolled back and shit. Now I’ve got this big-ass scar.’ She pointed to a shaved patch on the side of her head where a huge crevice of flesh ran down.
‘Fuck,’ was the collective reaction from the small crowd around her.
‘You’re a fuckin idiot, Dolla,’ Murder said. ‘Watch where you’re bloody going next time.’
‘I thought I was watchin where I was going! I dunno,’ she coughed, ‘I was ketted out my nut.’
‘How long were you in hospital for?’ I asked.
Dolla had a swig of Hennessey and rolled it about like mouthwash as her eyes looked up at the ceiling, deep in thought.
‘About... six hours, seven hours?’
What?’ I said. ‘You were declared dead but you were only there for seven hours?’
‘Well, they patched me up, innit,’ she said. ‘NHS, mate; get you in, get you sorted, kick you out.’
‘No way,’ Murder said, ‘that’s bullshit. You’re talking shit.’
Dolla’s voice wheezed as she worked herself up. ‘Oh my God, I swear down it’s true! Real talk, mate, I swear. I saw God and everything.’
‘Okay, now that is bullshit.’
‘I did!’ Dolla whined. ‘I fuckin did!’
‘Bollocks,’ Shena said.
‘Nah, seriously, I did! I don’t remember much cos I was knocked flat out and woke up in the hospital, like, but I remember there was a light... and a tunnel...’
Shena rolled her eyes. There was a unanimous groan from all of us.
‘No, I swear down, right, there was this big, bright light, and a tunnel. Well, it wasn’t like I could see a tunnel, like, looking down, but it felt like I was in this big, long tunnel, just floating through it up towards this tiny little light―fuckin stop it! I’m not making this up. All I could remember when I woke up in the hospital was stepping into the road, floating around all these trippy patterns, this loud sound like a voice or something, staring into a bright light and then... bam,’ she punched the palm of her hand, ‘I wake up with a tube in my arm and the nurses are tellin me I nearly died. It was a fuckin trip, mate, I’m telling you.’
‘You heard a voice?’ I asked.
‘Yeah,’ she said. ‘I think so. I remember it pretty clearly though, it wasn’t like a person’s voice. It wasn’t speaking English or nothing, like. It was just a kind of... I dunno, like lots of people making this weird humming noise at once. I can’t explain it, but it happened. It definitely happened!’
‘This is all keeping in mind that you’d hoofed like a G of ket beforehand,’ Murder said. Everyone around us laughed.
‘Oh, piss off, M, you know me, I wouldn’t make that shit up, would I? Trust me on this.’
Later on, Murder got in a fight with some guy – not a real fight, obviously, but the kind of shit that she’d spark up occasionally when she combined a fucktonne of booze with a whole load of uppers. I was talking to Dolla again about her near-death experience – about half an hour after she told us all the story – and we were just getting to the good part of our extremely wired conversation about the afterlife when I heard a commotion kick off nearby, the unmistakeable sound of Murder’s infuriated voice, audible over any music in any venue from any distance.
‘Yeah, well don’t just fuckin push me out the way like some sort of cunt, if you wanna get past then you could be less of a fuckin dick about it!’
I looked over and saw her yelling at some sunken-eyed tall bloke in a grey tracksuit, her hands flying all over the place, which always happened when she got excited in some way or another.
‘Oi, leave it, you fuckin skank.’
‘Okay, I’m sorry I called you a cunt,’ Murder shouted without losing any of her anger, ‘but there was no need for that, was there! Just no need. Now are you gonna say sorry?’
‘Piss off,’ the guy said.
‘Eh? You gonna say sorry to me? For being such a fuckin dickhead just now? Pushin little girls out of the way with your massive man-cock, you fuckin dipshit?’
‘Do one, you mentalist,’ the guy yelled before walking off. Just before he was out of range, he quickly shouted back: ‘Dumb hipster bitch!’
I looked back at Murder. She was scowling; her massive red eyes were quivering with the fury she was holding back. For a moment, I thought she was going to leave it and wander off, but after a couple of tense seconds, she threw her bottle of drink down to the ground with a smash, sprinted after the guy, leaped on to his back, arms locked around his shoulders, and appeared to clamp her teeth onto the man’s neck.
‘Jesus Christ!’ The guy screamed out and staggered around, with Murder latched on to him tight like an attack dog. He fell to the floor, but Murder didn’t budge even when her spine hit the ground. The guy was yelling and struggling, trying to get a decent punching angle, but Murder was a surprisingly muscular spider of a girl and she resisted the awkward bats to the head. A watching crowd had materialised around them, their wired faces mired in confusion, unsure whether they were watching a real fight or people playing around. Most probably weren’t sure what the hell they were watching; in the dim lights of the hall, the tiny figure of Murder’s body could’ve been anything.
I was one of the extremely wired members of this crowd, shouting at Murder to stop – not out of fear or worry, just with irritated resignation. Eventually, Rod and one of his mates ran over and a real squabble broke out as they tried to tear the two apart. After a whole lot of shouting and enough commotion to grab the attention of basically everyone in the room, Murder relented and was pulled up by Rod, her teeth stained with blood. The guy stood up, infuriated and beetroot-faced, with his hand at his neck. When he pulled it away, there were several tiny but deep incisions weakly leaking red down his hoodie.
‘You crazy little cunt!’ he shouted, his voice shaking in disbelief, ‘She bit me! Agh, the fuckin bitch, she bit me!’
I followed as Murder was taken off to outside the room, near the exit, where Rod grabbed her by the shoulders and asked her, with genuine wonder and annoyance, what happened.
‘He called me a hipster,’ she said, the blood still stained to her teeth.
‘What?’
Murder sighed and wiped a red stain from her lip, smudging her black lipstick. ‘He pushed me out of the way and I got pissed off at him. Pushed me, like―’ she made a strong shoving motion into the air.
‘He’s a prick yeah, I know, but what the fuck was that?’
‘What was what?’
‘Fuckin... Dawn of the Dead back there.’
‘He was a total dick!’ Murder protested. ‘He was literally pushing me around! Fuckin dickhead. He called me a hipster, Rod! He called me a fuckin hipster. I dunno, I just―’
‘But you are a hipster!’ Rod shouted, exasperated. ‘You are a fucking hipster, Murder!’
A few seconds passed as Murder stared at Rod with wounded disdain. Finally, she spat a gem of bloody spit onto the floor and pushed Rod’s hands off of her shoulders. ‘Whatever, mate.’
‘Are you good?’ he asked.
‘I’m good.’
‘Then calm the fuck down, yeah?’
‘I’m calm, Rod,’ she said. ‘I’m a fuckin oasis of tranquillity.’


• • •


It was getting late into the night-slash-morning. The peak was long gone; only a few braindead fat-chewers and rhythmless dancers remained. Drum and bass was left thundering out of the speakers, the power of the galloping drumbeat lessened by the scattered dancefloor. I was sitting on a foldout chair with a cig in my hand, my legs tired from dancing and my brain tired from whatever the fuck that had been doing for the past six hours.
Murder was still buzzing off her face, dancing with Shena, Dolla, Sophie and Beth Dicks, flailing her arms about like a crazy woman, taking advantage of her newfound acres of space. Murder’s dancing was unique. Her rhythm was nonexistent. Her body flinched into random, inhuman shapes. Her arms bent like swastikas, slicing at the air wildly, like she was under attack from a swarm of hornets. Her legs thudded from one boot to another like tapping fingers. I sat in a daze, watching her with a masticating poker face, too tired to join them, despite the artificial energy that still burned bright in my bloodstream.
Rick and his replacement me were still about. They stayed inseparable all night; I hardly spoke to them, and I tried to avoid looking at them as much as I could. We didn’t end on shitty terms; he’s generally a nice guy and, besides, I think I was beginning to get a little bit sick of him anyway, but it still felt like knives to catch a glimpse of the two of them making out. Me and Rick were also both incredibly anxious people who liked to avoid confrontation if we could help it, and this situation at the rave was one of those times, despite the fact that if I wasn’t so stuffed full of mandy I would’ve probably gone home and disembowelled myself.
I couldn’t keep my hyperkinetic eyes from flicking constantly over to where Rick and whatever-her-name-was were dancing and smiling and stopping only to make out and stare deeply into one another’s eyes. I tried my hardest not to stare, and even harder to ignore the jealousy that was bubbling up underneath all the drugs, but these feelings were like physical pain; they were hard to ignore. The MDMA had compromised my willpower, and I accidentally let this simple schoolyard jealousy intensify. Soon my thoughts segued to an imagined universe where I wasn’t a dull, ultra-serious, mediocre-looking girl with zero personality and a tendency towards shyness and self-loathing.
I stared at the dungarees girl with the matted blonde hair and the constant delighted expression that seemed permanently welded to her face, like a window of blissful self-confidence. I saw her and Rick together and a huge swell of loneliness washed over me. I had to admit that me and Rick weren’t exactly made for each other, but to tell the truth, he was all I had to keep myself steady. He was the only guy I fucked who tolerated being in a relationship with me. He was the only living guarantee that I meant anything to anyone. Well, that is until he got sick of it. I wondered how long it’d been going on. I wondered how relieved he was to have ditched me for a real person.
My logical mind gave up trying, and the staring grew obsessive. I just sat and watched her dancing. Carefree. Shining with joy. I’d never even seen this girl before in my life, and she was already causing me a whole shitload of caustic pain she probably didn’t even know about. In her sunshine, all I could see was my despair. In her smiling confidence I could feel the years and years of my own nonexistent self-worth. My heart was racing and racing. My blood was pumping. My jaw was spacking out. The euphoria dissolved away and melted into hatred. My eyes were quivering while I stared at the dancing girl, her movements feminine and sultry despite her badass outfit, her hair golden and shining, her eyes cocky and self-assured, she was―
Suddenly, she dropped to the floor, her face smacking into the ground. I was startled. Rick crouched down to assist her. Eventually I realised that the sounds I could hear struggling over the music were her screams. Hard, horrific wailing, like an animal. At first I thought she’d just fallen over, but then I looked over. I could see her legs, sprawled on the ground, both of them bent completely apart, her feet pointing in two alternate directions, and I think I might’ve actually gasped in shock.
Rick yelled for help. Gabbie continued to make endless, tortured screams. One by one, the remaining people of the rave turned to watch the commotion. Eventually, her screaming was so loud that someone turned the music off, and a crowd of onlookers gathered around as Gabbie’s screams petered out to a tearful whimper.
‘Fuck!’ she shouted, seething with pain. ‘My fucking legs!’
‘Her legs are broken!’ I heard Rick shout. ‘Someone call an ambulance!’
All those self-centred feelings that I’d worked up now curled into a lump of numbness. I looked across the room at Murder. Murder looked at me. Both of us had blank, startled faces. Both of us said nothing.


• • •


‘Morning,’ Abby said blandly as she came out of her bedroom.
‘Morning,’ Murder and I said. We were sitting on the couch, watching daytime TV and passing a packed spliff between us. I felt like a corpse. Daylight was seeping in through the blinds.
‘So, how was it?’ Abby asked with little sincerity.
‘Yeah, it was all right,’ Murder said with a cough.
‘Murder bit some guy,’ I said.
‘Oh yeah, I did, didn’t I?’ Murder’s voice croaked tiredly. ‘I did do that. He was a prick, though.’
‘No doubt,’ Abby said. ‘What was the deal with that?’
‘He was just shoving me around and shit. Wanker.’ She was getting angry just thinking about it.
‘I believe he called her a hipster bitch,’ I said.
‘Ah, right,’ Abby said. ‘Well he totally deserved it, then.’
‘See! Totally deserved,’ Murder said to me, even though I never told her otherwise.
‘I hate it when assholes call me a hipster,’ Abby said. ‘Makes me wanna smash their face in. Fucking hate people acting like hipsters are dumb just because their own lives of conformity and awful music are so goddamn shit.’ Abby went to the fridge and crunched into a piece of raw lettuce she pulled out of a bag. ‘I mean, I’d rather be pretentious than normal any day. Any fucking day.’
‘Amen to that,’ Murder said.
‘Murder bit him in the throat,’ I said.
‘No kidding?’ Abby said, uncharacteristically amused. ‘Like a vampire?’
Just like a vampire,’ Murder said. ‘I practically drank his blood.’
‘Stop showing off,’ I said.
‘It was fuckin badass as shit and you know it.’
‘You bit a guy,’ I said, ‘it wasn’t badass, it’s the sort of thing that’d get you sectioned.’
‘Least I didn’t break a girl’s legs.’
‘What?’ Abby said.
I groaned. ‘Can we please stop going on about that?’
‘You broke a girl’s legs?’
‘Yeah,’ Murder said, ‘with her mindpowers. It was crazy.’
‘Huh?’
‘I did not,’ I said. ‘Rick’s new girlfriend tripped or something and ended up breaking her leg.’
‘Rick has a new girlfriend?’ Abby said. ‘With a broken leg?’
Two broken legs!’ Murder said. ‘I mean, what’re the chances of that? Where the fuck’d that come from? You’re a fucking monster, you are, Evz. Now that’s a scorned fucking woman.’
‘Shut up,’ I said.
‘Abby, did you know Eva has supernatural powers?’
‘Ugh.’
‘No shit?’ Abby said as she used a butter knife to apply a dollop of jam to her crumpet.
‘Murder, for fuck’s sake,’ I said, ‘can you please stop it? I feel really bad for her.’
‘No you don’t,’ Murder said. ‘Don’t lie.’
‘I do!’
‘So... does that mean you and Rick have broken up?’ Abby asked.
‘I don’t wanna talk about it any more,’ I said.
‘That’s the guilt talking,’ Murder said as she passed me the zoot. I sighed before breathing in a thick cake of weed smoke, and we silently resigned our damaged, happy brains to the TV’s meaningless sounds and colours, beneath the unwelcome sun of a brand new day.

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