by Tim Frank
Pavel was thirteen when he stabbed a boy for his iPhone in the skate park, near
their school. He didn’t mean to kill him, but that’s the way things go,
sometimes, and Pavel didn’t lose any sleep over it.
he suffered stark periods of loneliness and gloom, but afterwards, he was
almost energized by the strain of becoming a killer. He didn’t know how he’d
get away with it, though, as he had no one to help him, no friends, nothing.
over his situation on the park bench, a kid from school, Gollum, named because
of his strange crouched stance and growling voice, caused by a rare spinal
condition at birth, tapped Pavel on the shoulder, and said, “I can help you.”
talking about?” said Pavel, fiercely eyeballing Gollum, who was holding a
graffiti can—paint splattered across his hands and face.
saw you. I know
the kid you killed, Natty, and I can unlock his phone. I can get rid of the
body, too. You know he was a dealer, right? We could take over his business
together, storm London town, dominate.”
money,” Gollum hissed.
to lose his high, so against his better judgment, knowing Gollum was trouble,
he agreed to a partnership.
found the drugs
in Natty’s school locker. Gollum wheezed in delight as he handled the
contraband and slipped it inside his rucksack. They were ready to go.
they set up was through Natty’s Instagram account, that linked them to a boy
who walked with a fake limp, had burns across his arms, and was puffing on a
cigarette, like he was inhaling laughing gas. He was called Benzo and must have
freak?” said Benzo, nodding at Gollum. “Actually, it doesn’t matter. Look, I
don’t know who you guys are, but this dust better be lit, or me and my crew
will track you down.”
delivered, and the word spread, until they caught the attention of a crime boss
was known as
the Acid King. A sixteen-year-old from Walthamstow, he would line up trips in a
bandana, lie in a tanning bed, and wait for the sweat to help absorb the acid
into his forehead. He was always far gone. But this didn’t hinder his business
want you to
sell something for me,” he said, staring fixedly at a spot on the ceiling, as
if the center of the universe was poking through. A burly man in a tie-dyed
sleeveless T-shirt exposing his biceps dumped a brick of coke on the table.
Gollum fidgeted uncontrollably.
right,” said Ryno, playing with a Rubik’s cube, “and the world is yours.”
was left to
Gollum and Pavel to divide the coke up into little baggies, ready to be sold on
the street. They kept the drugs at Gollum’s place because his parents were
always out, working.
had been prepared, they alerted the major crews around London. As the gangs converged
on the meeting point—the skate park at night— Pavel noticed in the half-light
that Gollum had blood seeping from his eyeballs.
what have you done?” Pavel said, and then dug inside Gollum’s backpack and
found handfuls of empty bags of coke.
began to hyperventilate.
out of the
blue, Pavel was grabbed from behind, and his throat was slit.
was from Pavel’s art class and said, “This one’s for Natty.”
away to safety, holding onto the bag of drugs for dear life.
the park—the raggas from Stonebridge, the dreads from Camden, the Irish from
Kilburn, and the Russians from Shoreditch—everyone ready to kick off.
death where it all began. He sensed the last flickering light of his
consciousness slowly fade.
on, he felt as if he was soaring through the sky, never to land, his short life
lived to the fullest.
Tim Frank’s short
stories have been published in journals many times, including Bourbon Penn, Bartleby Snopes, Thrice
Fiction, Foliate Oak, and Able Muse.
He is an
upcoming writer, specializing in the comic and the
surreal. He has written a semi-autobiographical novel, Devil in my Veins, and
is currently writing a sci-fi thriller
C. Walker was born in Leeds in
1939. He studied Ceramics at Leeds College of Art and the Royal College of Art.
In the late 1960s to early 1970s, he was Personal Assistant to Eduardo
Paolozzi. Keith taught at Hull College of Art and Leicester Polytechnic, which
is now De Montfort University. In 994 he retired from Academia.
says, “Digital technology has made and continues to make big changes to all of
our lives: the way we communicate, the way we are monitored, the way we
entertain ourselves, and much, much more.
now leave a digital footprint wherever we go, and with whatever we do.
we already have one foot in an Orwellian world?
collages are an investigation, with a small “I,” on the impact of digital
technology and its possibilities.”