Updated: Jan 16
Limber up readers. Here is a short, sharp, grab-you-by-the-balls extract from my debut novel, Sour Fruit.
Sour Fruit is a dark dystopian novel set in northern Britain, in a river city called Kingston; a rotting scrap yard of misery. The novel follows Onion,
who wakes up chained to this armpit of a city, earmarked for a skin-trader called The Toymaker. Surrounded by a creeping rot she has just three days to escape before the sold sticker becomes a brand.
Forced into a knife fight with a world that has just pulled an AK47 on her, all Onion has to fight with is; a sewer for a mouth, a rusted up moral compass and a spanking anger that can sucker-punch kindness at twenty paces.
I know the drill, Doc. Haven’t we been doing this for ever?
Shit, when I drag that beat-up memory from the past and prop it up with hindsight… It was all so friggin’ obvious. The scam she had going.
Let’s think. I’d only been at Sunny’s a couple of months, but it was the same setup as all the other care homes. Only difference was the walls were a cold pink instead of a warm one and they served cardboard pizza on a Wednesday instead of a Friday like my old place. But when I think back to it, the home did have a prickle like a burrowing tick. The other kids were pitiful, never whimpering nowt but Ps and Qs, never raising their gazes above their chins. But none of the staff seemed touchy under the covers, so I just took it that they were nervous of me. I can be a smidge wick.
I should have seen it though. All that cheap wealth dripping off her, Old Vera, the head kiddy supervisor; she’d only dress in designers, her fingers always loaded up with trinkets. She had a slashing scalpel of a voice cutting through the skull every room you went into. Crow-barring her rules into every move you made. Permission to shit? To eat? To shit again? Wafting her keycard like poisoned bait. ‘Be good,’ she’d squeal, ‘or else.’
But that night she was more shrill than usual – eyes darting, sweat beading. She swept into our bedroom at ten with her nicotine-stained fingers and bra-less bangers – a whole hour early – to switch the lights off. Said it was because growing ladies needed sleep. Said she had a treat for us tomorrow. Said it was gunna be a real big day. Twat. But it was the way those other girls, my so-called sisters-in-care, Chats, Saffron, the toothy one I could never remember the name of with the massive arse, all clung to their beds like clams to rock. They knew. They knew and they did nothing. Just one whisper could have saved me.
One minute I was asleep; the next, a hand covered my face. A needle in my neck. The covers twisted between my thighs. I was dragged out of bed. I kicked, fought to get free, grunted for help, but…
The last thing I saw was Chats. Chats who kept dead ladybirds in jars around her bed, who’d tap at the glass with bitten-raw fingernails. Chats who only ever wore eye-itching pink. Chats the silent. I liked her. She just lay there, her eyes carved closed, the drip, drip, drip of piss soaking through her mattress.
I don’t remember being dumped into a black hole but I know it must have happened because that’s where I woke up. Grasping around for my blanket, I was cold, cursing Vera for not switching the heating on. Then the flash of a hand. I screamed. But it was nothing. Nobody was grabbing me… Just a nightmare… It was all OK.
But when I opened my eyes, it wasn’t.
I was blind.
I tore at my eye sockets, begging them to work. But nothing. I tried to sit up, but the floor sprang back. I stumbled. It hadn’t been a dream, the hand, the trailing sheets, the haystack of flesh. It had all been real; I’d been snatched.
Intense right... If that hooked you then check out Sour Fruit, available in E-Book and paperback. Out now.