Issue One of the Close To The Bone Magazine is out NOW!
Longcroft on Lockdown
The Longcroft Housing Estate, Yorkshire, England.
These were scary times. A global pandemic has changed the world as we know it albeit temporarily. As the world held its collective breath unprecedented events were unfolding on the Longcroft estate.
North Longcroft Estate – Police Control Room
An assortment of coppers of varying ages, ranks and sexes shuffled restlessly on their seats waiting for the Sarge to get his papers in order and begin the late shift briefing. All were sat the government dictated two metres apart. This, of course, led to the usual childish behaviour you’d expect from any group under stress. Giggling and the throwing of notes to one another. The Sarge conscious of the restlessness of his captive audience launched into his briefing.
“Thanks for your attention ladies and gentlemen.” he coughed, then laughed.
“It’s alright I haven’t got this fucking virus. Damn tree pollen is playing havoc with my tubes.”
There was a half-hearted laugh. The Sarge was to comedy what Piers Morgan was to diplomacy.
Sensing he hadn’t engaged his troops he ploughed on regardless.
“Okay, there’s something big going down on the estate. It’s been quiet generally until now. All of the usual scrotes are playing nice on lock down or breaking into garages, cars and sheds. But they’re scared of the virus same as the rest of us so the low level scum bags are not currently a worry. Oh, and if any of them say they’ve got the virus and threaten to spit on you then you have my personal permission to ram your baton up their arse.”
This time there were genuine laughs. Nothing united a force more than twatting the enemy.
“An informant has let us know that all the top level scum bags in the area are meeting up. They’re planning something and it’s BIG. We have no idea where the meeting is or what the hell they are discussing but keep your eyes and ears open. Don’t take any unnecessary risks but find out what you can.”
He was losing them, they were muttering and speculating amongst themselves. Time to conclude.
“Okay, stay safe out there and go get ’em. Dismissed.”
“Oi! Soft lad, get your fucking arse over here!” yelled Davey in a loud whisper.
Rich looked up from the patio door handle he was yanking on.
“This shed is unlocked” stage whispered Davey.
Rich gave up, low crouched then ran over to Davey at the shed. He cursed as he caught his leg on a terracotta potted plant. Hopping for a moment on one foot.
“Quiet you twat. You’ll wake people up.”
Rich winced in pain, “Sorry! It’s so dark” he whispered.
“People tend to see if you try robbing them in the daytime you muppet.”
They were in the garden of a house on the very edge of the estate, where the houses were bigger, and it was just that little bit more affluent. Richer pickings in other words.
“This door is unlocked, let’s see what’s in here.” said Davey.
They crept carefully over the threshold, neither of them could see a thing. Davey reached into his pocket and took out his LED torch.
“Pull the door closed, just in case the light carries.” Said Davey
Rich did as he was asked and with a creak the little remaining light from outside was slowly extinguished. It was pitch black.
Davey clicked on his torch and swept it across the shed. He quickly clicked it off again.
“What the…” he said.
“Did I just…” said Rich.
Davey clicked on his torch again to see if what he’d seen was still there. This time he did a slow sweep. Rows and rows of shelves of creepy china dolls stared at them. They were exquisitely painted with rosy cheeks but their eyes were dark pools of evilness and they stared down at them with malevolence unknown to man.
However, the back wall of the shed is what made them both gasp in fear. A long row of brutal looking dildos. In order of size. Some with spikes. Some wrapped in barbed wire. Some as large as golf clubs.
“Oh-my-fucking-God” was Rich’s eloquent response.
“Dude, I don’t think god has anything to do with the contents of this shed, look.” replied Davey.
He swept the torch over a corner and saw several secure hooks containing sturdy looking studded bondage gear and several leather gimp masks.
There was a loud bang from the nearby house. They looked at each other and ran for their
Somewhere on the east side of the Longcroft Estate in a small closed down community centre and tonight there was a flurry of nervous activity. The estate is roughly split up into several powerful gangs, centres of power. All of whom would be present at this most unusual meeting.
The first to enter was the dreadlocked figure of Drexel. Originally from West Indian but his parents had moved to the estate when he was just two years old. Drexel was six foot three of pure muscle and aggression. His dreadlocks cultivated over years hung three quarters of the way down his back. His well muscled arms bulged free in his bodybuilders vest top. Drexel was your man for drugs on the estate. If you needed a high you came to one of his network of dealers. Going anywhere else for your high on the estate was worse for health than the drugs themselves. Drexel took his seat at the table on a tiny plastic chair designed only for an old ladies bottom.
Next to enter was Chuck “Knuckles” Van Cleef. He was the Longcroft’s gangster. Protection rackets, girls, clubs they were his thing. No one knew how he’d gotten his peculiarly American name but every one was sure they didn’t want to be on the other end of his knuckles. He stood at just under five foot six but was almost as wide as he was tall. His hands were like hams, huge and menacing and his knuckles stood out even amongst the meaty flesh of his hands. Hence his nickname.
There was only one Biker gang on the estate that for reasons known only to themselves were called The Found. Their fifteen members all wore a uniform of denim jackets and green bandanas with The Found in fancy scroll on the back. Since they were almost all male they cultivated ZZ Top style beards, with varying degrees of success. Except Rosy their only female member, but you’d have to look twice to establish that. They were not a criminal gang per se but if you crossed one of them vengence was sure to be swift and merciless. Their leader Ted O’Malley was a skinny guy but if you crossed him you’d see just what a skinny elbow could do to your face.
All of these leaders were sat glaring at each other, trash talking and nervously waiting for the real power in the estate to arrive. Outside their various hard men were all in separate groups waiting for it to kick off so they could have a good scrap.
Finally, ten minutes later than the agreed meeting time the door creaked open and the ominous shuffle and tap tap of several canes and zimmer frames were heard. The most powerful group on the estate had arrived. The Longcroft East Bingo Club. There was a scrape of chairs as all of the estates hardest men rushed to stand and show their respect. These ladies controlled the estate by fear and information. If you crossed them they didn’t forgive and they didn’t forget. They had access to a source of information and gossip more powerful than any internet server. The weekly bingo meetings.
If you dared to cross them the information was shared among the network. Your card (like a bingo card) was marked for good. The first time you slipped up they’d have you. Any one of dozens of pairs of curtain twitching eyes was watching your every move. A phone call would be made. It could be the taxman. It could the DWP. It could be a rival drug dealer. Underestimate them at your peril.
Vera, their natural leader and most vicious with an elbow, quickest with a dabber and most merciless with a cutting remark was the first to speak.
“Good evening gentleman.”
She made no apology for being late and settled heavily down on the seat at the head of the table. She was flanked by her two closest cronies, mad Margo and dotty Dotty.
“Before we begin,” said Margo, “I’d just like to inform Mr O’Malley that one of his bikers nearly ran over my nephew last week. Sort it out quickly or we’ll be forced to give Mr Van Cleef the photographs of one of your lads and his wife.”
Chuck leapt to his feet in anger and glared at O’Malley who looked bewildered and terrified all at the same time. Before things could get out of hand. Vera shook her grey haired head.
“Not now gentlemen. We have business to deal with.”
And with her true demonstration of power over they began their meeting.
So it was decided with some raising of voices, threats, anger and some chess grandmaster moves by Vera that the meanest, toughest, nastiest tribes on the Longcroft Estate would use their networks to ensure that no one went too hungry, everyone had toilet rolls and that everyone would get their medication. They would look after the vulnerable and the needy until lock down was over. They would help each other in a way they never had before for the mutual good and no knee caps needed to be broken for a while.
The moment it was lifted…the gloves would be off and it’d be back to settling old scores and making money. For now peace and co-operation would be the order of the day, signed and sealed by Vera.
The Sarge kicked off his boots and went into the living room to kiss his wife.
“Hi love. How was your day?” She enquired.
“Not too bad. There is something big going down but the streets are quiet for now. It’s eerie really.”
“How are your officers coping?”
“They’re as clueless as ever.” He chuckled.
“Oh well, at least they have you to guide them.”
He smiled at her lovingly and patted the little pug that was sat on her lap.
“They do indeed. Listen it’s been a long day. I need to unwind. I’m going to spend some time in the shed.”
She smiled and nodded, “You do that I’ll catch up with the soaps. You’ll have to show me what you do in that shed one of these days you’re so secretive.”
He smiled, “Oh I will. Don’t worry about that.”
Darren Sant was born in 1970 and raised in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire which is in the United Kingdom. He moved to Hull in East Yorkshire in 2001.
Darren’s stories have appeared in various online publications such as The Flash Fiction Offensive, Pulp Metal, Thrillers Killers N Chillers, The Killing Pandemic, Flash Jab Fiction and Shotgun Honey.
Darren’s creation The Longcroft Estate is the setting for a number of his stories. A collection of the first three of these tales is was published by Close To The Bone in February 2012.
What is Tiny Tales? It’s a brand new podcast with a homemade punk rock ethos. Featuring multi-genre fiction and poetry.
Who can get involved? Absolutely anyone! Drop me a message on our Twitter account @Tiny_Tales_Cast or find me, Darren Sant on Facebook or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Is there A word limit? The clue is in our name. We’re looking for complete stories on the shorter side. However, we could spread out longer works across multiple episodes. I’m also trying to include a poetry if that is your thing.
Why a Podcast? I’ve been fascinated by spoken tales since I was a child. Stories can have an extra dimension when spoken aloud! Before we had printed matter tales were told over the campfire, knowledge was passed on, people were entertained.
Who is the Target Audience? I don’t like to impose limitations on style or language so I’ll often include tales with adult themes and violence so these podcasts will tend to be for an adult audience
Episode 2 of Tiny Tales features: Nick Boldock, Paul D. Brazill, Ian Ayris and Darren Sant. This podcast features adult themes and language throughout.