The Devil's Children (Novel Excerpt)

It was not a matter of weeks, but months, until Harry Edwards got any kind of reply from his childhood chum Adam Jones. And when it did finally come, it was in the form of a drunken phone call.
                It was around one AM, on a Thursday night (or technically speaking Friday morning), Harry was sprawled across his thread-bare couch in the midst of an X-Files marathon, a half-eaten bag of Act II resting on his stomach. He had actually jumped when the phone on his desk rang, spilling the remaining half of the bag of popcorn all over the floor.
                ‘Fuck!’ he cursed, brushing the kernels from the front of his black tee-shirt and argyle cotton boxer-shorts before trotting over to the phone. He had no fucking clue who would be calling him at this hour, unless it was his mom calling from the UK - it would be around nine in the morning there.
                ‘Hello?’
                ‘Hey man, have you p-played the new Silent Hill?’
                ‘Adam?’
                ‘Yeah man, I just got it, it’s actually really fucking good.’
                ‘Oh hey Adam. How are you buddy? And, no I haven’t played it yet, I haven’t even got a console anymore man. As much as I’d like one.’       
                ‘Well it’s good, you should play it.’
                ‘I haven’t got a console, I just told you.’
                ‘Get one then. Fuck man, I’m fucking drunk, like, I got your letter, and I t-think we should go – back to Eltham I mean, like, my dad’s giving me shit again about finding a job, like, he wants me to do landscaping or something, and there’s no fucking way I’m doing that, I’d rather drink my own piss twice a day for five days a week than do that man. I fucking hate it outside in the heat, and like, landscaping? Seriously? Fuck that man, fuck that in the fucking ass.’
                Harry laughed and picked a stray piece of popcorn from his shirt before popping it in his mouth. ‘Yeah, amen brother. But yeah, I’m super happy that you’re down to go back to the old town, it’ll be a hell of a lotta fun. Plus it means no landscaping or you and not being shackled to the Radio Shack for me.’
                ‘We should go soon. Like before Halloween, that would be cool, like we could dress up and get drunk. Hold on a sec.’
                Harry heard Adam put the phone down and yell something to somebody – most likely one of his parents. It sounded like ‘Iambeinquiet! Jessusfuck.
                Harry leaned against the desk and laughed.
                ‘Okay I’m back. So yeah, let’s fucking do this man!’
                Adam buddy, no need to shout I’m right here.’ Adam had always been so funny when he had been drinking, it was like all the anxiety and pressure he felt when sober came out in a big cursing catharsis. One time he ran onto the street and attacked a garbage can because he thought it was an evil robot from outer space, hell bent kidnapping him and probing him where he definitely didn’t want to be probed. In short, Adam was an absolute when liquored up. An extremely entertaining loon, but a loon nonetheless.
                ‘Sorry.’
                ‘Dude, I got some cash saved up, we can do this pretty much whenever.’
                ‘My mom said she would give me money too. She says it will be good for me.’
                ‘It probably will be.’
                ‘What do you mean by that?’
                ‘Nothing. Just messing with  you man.’
                ‘Hey, I’m going to play Downpour some more. And I gotta piss. Bye.’
                ‘Bye Adam.’
                Harry smiled as he replaced the phone back in its cradle. It had begun, the cogs had started moving and things were going into action. Goodbye city of angels, hello small town of demons.
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The Tale of Timmy O'Cotton - Chapter Nine: Which goes by in a Blaze of Gunfire & Ends in a Dreadful Defeat for our Hero

Timmy lay upon his bed, staring up at the flickering shadows cast from the moonlight. They danced across his ceiling in ever-changing patterns, jerking like the silhouettes of puppets in an invisible show.
                When he was certain that his parents had retired to bed, he slipped from beneath his blankets and sheets and got redressed in his crumpled clothes. It was rather cold so he took his favourite jacket from the wardrobe and buttoned himself up before lacing up his brown leather shoes and lastly; taking the gold key from the mousehole.
                He had the heart-stopping mission from his room to the attic down to near an art form now. He was quiet as a shrew and blended into the dark like a creature of the night.

Timmy found Edward knelt atop of a chest, gazing out the circular window into the back garden, the moonlight illuminating his pallid face.
                ‘Timothy,’ he whispered, voice holding more than just a hint of excitement.  ‘Come look, but be careful, try not to make much noise.’ Timmy tip-toed over to the window, where he joined his friend atop of the chest. He looked out at the shrubbery and rosebushes in the snow-blanketed back garden.
                ‘Look Timothy!’
                Timmy craned his neck ever-so-slightly to try and catch whatever is was that Edward was looking at.
                ‘Right there, a little left of that big rosebush,’
                ‘A fox!’
                ‘That’s right my friend.’
The fox took a few steps towards the house, then paused and looked up at the two small boys in the attic. Timmy swore that it had stared straight into his eyes. The animal licked its lips and padded off into the night.
                ‘Wow, I’ve never seen a fox in the back garden before!’
                ‘Foxes are wonderful creatures Timmy, they have such an acute sense of awareness, they can tell if danger lurks behind the next fork in the woodland path, they can take one look at a person and know if they are harbouring malevolent thoughts.’
                ‘I’ve always loved foxes. I used to watch Basil Brush on the tele when it was still on.’
                ‘I think foxes are the most genuine animals, I actually had one as a pet, my father had found it when it was still a cub, shivering and whimpering in the snow by the side of a canal. It must have lost its mother. Anyway, he brought it home, and gave it to me as an early Christmas present.’
                ‘What happened to him?’
                ‘Unfortunately he was eaten by the dogs next door.’
                ‘I’m sorry Edward.’
                ‘Oh it’s okay, I was very sad though. I loved that little fellow more than anything in the world,’ Edward shook his head solemnly before hopping off the chest off the lid of the chest. ‘The Great Timothy, I have an idea of what to play tonight,’
                ‘What? What?’
                ‘Cops and Robbers!’ Edward sang. He ran over to the toy chest and eagerly lifted the lid. He pulled out two huge six-shooters adorned with bone-white handles and decorative filigree, a silver Sheriff’s badge and a black and white striped shirt, along with a strip of dark fabric with eyeholes cut out.
                ‘So what shall it be Timmy? A bobby or a two-bit crook?’
                ‘Robber!’
                ‘Okay so Robber it is then,’ Edward tossed the jailbird get-up at Timmy.
 After he had pulled the striped shirt on Edward helped him tie the fabric around his head and then Timmy pinned the silver Sheriff’s badge to Edward’s chest, careful not to poke through his clothing and stab him.
                ‘Don’t forget this,’ Edward tossed Timmy a pistol.
                ‘Wow.’
                ‘You can keep it.’
                ‘Really?’ Timmy’s mouth fell open in amazement.
                ‘Really,’ Edward smiled.
                ‘Oh thank you so much!’
                ‘It’s an honour. Now, we both turn around back to back then walk in the opposite direction to the other, then we turn back around and do battle. It’s called a duel.’
The boys turned back to back, then started pacing, counting out loud to ten as they went.

Bang! The Magnificent Sheriff shot at The Great Bank Robber who was hiding behind a rough wooden crate full of used one hundred pound notes.
                ‘Hah! Missed again Sheriff!’ The Bank Robber sniggered. ‘Better luck next time!’
He returned fire at the Sheriff, the bullet grazing his shoulder.
                ‘Argh! That was close,’ The Sheriff cursed under his breath. ‘You’ll be hanging in the gallows for that one you worthless crook!’
Bang! The Sheriff pulled the trigger once again and the Bank Robber tried to dodge the speeding bullet but to no avail.
                ‘Argh!!! I’ve been hit!’ He cried out in pain and gritted his tobacco-stained teeth.
The Sheriff fired again.
The Great Bank Robber clutched at his stomach in an attempt to keep his insides from becoming outsides. His hands were messy with blood and thick droplets of sweat rolled down his dirty face.
A ghastly moan broke from the crook’s chapped lips.
                ‘My ghost will have its bloodied vengeance on your soul Sheriff, my dying wish is for you to wish that you had never been born.’
His legs buckled beneath him and he fell to his knees.
                ‘I will have my…’
BANG! BANG! BANG!
The Great Bank Robber shot from the hip before collapsing backwards in a crimson heap.

Unfortunately, during the final showdown Timmy had knocked over an antique standard lamp, the bulb breaking on the wooden floorboards.
                ‘Oh no!’ He said, his face quickly growing pale.
He scrambled to his feet but already could hear heavy footsteps thundering down the hall. He cursed out loud.
                ‘Timothy!’ His mother roared as she flung open the peeling green door.

Sapphire O’Cotton found her son sprawled across the attic floor, dressed in a ridiculous striped black and white shirt and had what appeared to be an old rag tied around his guilt-stricken face. He was also clutching a silver toy pistol tightly in his hand.
                ‘Oh Timmy, I thought we were over this nonsense,’ she sighed, exasperated.
                ‘Sorry Mother, I was playing with Edward again.’
                ‘Edward!’ She screamed, her temper instantly flaring back up. ‘There is nobody else up here Timothy! Just you, and the dust, and all the old junk that we should have thrown out when we first moved in!’ Her voice had the strained, wavered effect of one who is perilously close to losing the plot.
                ‘But he was…’
 ‘There. Is. Nobody. Else. In. Here.’ Sapphire cut him off. ‘See I’ll show you,’ She raised both arms in mock theatrics. ‘Edward! Come out darling!’ She smiled like somebody who had just won a hundred pound bet.
‘See, nobody,’
‘But…’
‘And how did you even get up here again?’ She stared at him with eyes that were full of fury - but also a dash of fear.
‘It was unlocked’
‘Lies Timothy!’ She screeched.
He burst into tears upon the dirty floor.
‘Get to bed Timothy. Now.’
Timmy hurried out of the room and down the stairs before his mother could make him take off the robber costume. He stashed the gold key in the mousehole as swiftly as he could, then wrapped the silver pistol in the striped shirt and hid it under his bed. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he untied his bank robbing disguise and changed back into his pyjamas before climbing defeated under his blankets.
                Between sobs he could hear his mother talking to somebody on the telephone. She too, sounded upset. Good, he thought, she deserves to be.
                ‘I just don’t know what to do,’ he heard her wail.
                ‘It isn’t healthy!’
                ‘Yes, I’m terrified.’
                ‘Oh I’m at the end of my tether, I really am, I wouldn’t dream of phoning otherwise,’
                ‘Please help Father...’
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