The below is the 6 foot cock that someone made out of snow in Bromley. Click the picture for full size. (Not actual size, obviously)

The below is the 6 foot cock that someone made out of snow in Bromley. Click the picture for full size. (Not actual size, obviously)

    It all started so nicely.     It was the week I had booked off of work to just sit around and relax. I'd work on my novel, I th...

   It all started so nicely.

   It was the week I had booked off of work to just sit around and relax. I'd work on my novel, I thought, and try to build a bit of the new and improved So I woke up on a crisp November morning, sat up in bed, turned on some White Lies and set out to do just that - build a storytelling, article-writing online empire. Switching my computer on and watching it load up, I could already sense that something wasn't right. I'd already had my morning wee, so it wasn't that; I had poured myself a nice glass of cold cranberry juice while I was up too, so it's not like I was thirsty. No, something very abstract was wrong. There was something in my wallet or my personality or the World Wide Blogosphere that was terribly, terribly wrong and out of place.

   As is always the routine, my first move was to log in to Windows Live Messenger. Or at least, try. I don't save my password on the computer just in case someone ever steals the laptop, so I had to retype it manually every time the damn Messenger said "There was an error signing you in.", which was many, many times. Frustrated with the program that seems to be broken in some way every third time one tries to use it, I decided to manually check my emails by heading on over to Hotmail. Even the air began to smell... wrong. Just, wrong. Still, I typed in my password and felt my brain tingle with the beginnings of panic as the webpage said Invalid username or password. Nonsense!, I thought, and retyped it.

   Three times it rejected me before I clicked Forgotten your password?, my hands beginning to tremble and my skin breaking out into a cold sweat. I knew the answers to my secret questions (Who is your favourite female pop star? - Justin Beiber; What is the Elephant Man's real name? - Kerry Katona), but even when I entered them the site still threw them back into my panic-stricken face. This was all very, very wrong. I had lost every email I had ever sent or received in one night! Without my secret answers or my password or my e-mail, I was nothing!

   I remembered my other e-mail address, the one I use to send anonymous abusive messages to celebrities and anonymous futuresex/love letters. Maybe if I could save that, I could save it all! Maybe I could rebuild my online life from the foundations laid by a creepy, abusive e-mail address. So in the top box, from a drop-down, I chose "", and in the bottom I typed my password (dianavickers2010), and hit enter. A whimper, a real audible pathetic whimper, left my lips as the webpage looped straight back to the login screen, along with an Invalid username or password message. 

   The same happened with the e-mail addresses I manage for O and Pulkse. I tried the secret questions again, but this time I didn't even know the answers. Pulkse's account was set up in 2004 for Derren's sake! I tried to access, just to see if everything had been taken. Indeed, it had been. In one night, my entire online identity had gone. Disappeared. Been pocketed by a pilfering pickpocket. As this realisation sank in, I began to sob. I cried until my eyes were red and my breath was jittery and beaten. I wailed like a baby for minutes at a time. Even the realisation that there was one more website to try hardly stemmed the flow.

   Facebook. That was the final avenue. The last ditch. Clicking the link in the Bookmarks bar of Google Chrome with damaged trepidation, I watched the browser load the login page and dreaded intensely what might happen when I typed in my password. My e-mail was entered automatically, so I typed the password slowly, character by character, my eyes still streaming with tears and my lungs drawing in breath in jagged bursts like a weeping baby. I hit enter, and my world was destroyed. It didn't even leave a second before the login page reloaded, and my entire online life was snatched away. Can you imagine how it feels to lose everything in one swoop? All your e-mails ever? Every wall post, picture, event, message, relationship status, attachment, subject line, FW:, RE: and liked page? It is all-consuming. It takes everything away. Even though I still had all my limbs and my health, I didn't want them anymore, because my e-mail address was gone, along with everything I used to do with it.

   I screamed and wailed and cried so hard that I lost consciousness. I don't know how long I was out for, but I woke up in a dark room surrounded by empty bottles of Vodkat and Asda own brand gin, stinking of tears and piss. The only light in the room was the screen of my laptop, still on, taunting me with the Failed Login page of Facebook and the Invalid page of Hotmail. I cursed the wretched machine, still drunk and distraught, slurring my insults at the Global Weboweb through my flushed, tear-soaked mouth. I kicked my legs with fury. I bashed the keyboard with my numb hands... and that's when I noticed it. The very device that had convinced me my life was ruined. The only thing in the world that stood between me and safe entry into all my e-mail accounts, my Facebook, my Blogspot. The little shit that had conspired against me and stolen my passwords and changed them into something distorted that no server in its right mind would ever accept.

   Caps Lock.

    This man , this executive , this head of the board , he walks up to the podium with a grin on his face like he just lifted a bus with hi...

    This man, this executive, this head of the board, he walks up to the podium with a grin on his face like he just lifted a bus with his dick. This chair of the meeting, he struts up to a wooden cuboid emblazoned with a big metal company logo, with a smile on his face like the entire room just sucked him off one by one. We didn't, but that's how he looks. Straightening his tie, widening his smile, adjusting the position of his feet on the soft carpeted floor of the auditorium in our swanky, shiny London offices, he spells out a sentence like a children's TV presenter, drawing out each word as if it tastes like warm cookies fresh from the oven. 

    "We'll just wait for everyone to join us," he says.

    Me, I wouldn't be here if I had a choice. I'm here as a favour to my boss, who owes a favour to some other guy, who owes a favour to the speaker. I'm just making notes, scribbling doodles, carving out a half-price record of history with an HB pencil. This is our monthly Town Hall meeting, a presentation given by some fat cat who rose up the ranks so long ago that he hasn't had any real interaction with the business since 9/11 was breaking news. Some big shot who probably hasn't done a job like yours or mine since Noel's House Party was still on television. As people file in, I prepare myself mentally for the unending stream of shit that is about to fall out of this man. This script about how well the company's doing, all written by some P.A. paid to blindly follow orders from this dribbling tycoon.

    And then it begins.

   "The merger is one of the hardest hurdles the company has had to cross," he drones, "but we're making it a cakewalk." The backdrop behind him is grey curtain, spread across the wall and coated in dust. The company colour: grey. The company theme: grey. This big wig's personality: non-existent. Slides that a nameless intern prepared earlier are projected on the centre of the curtain, and he clicks through them at yawn-inducing speed and talks about profit forecasts and quarterly performances and yearly targets.

    All the while, I imagine him losing consciousness, passing out and hitting his head on the corner of the podium on the way down, bleeding a pool of scarlet into the soft grey carpet. 

    The blood, it glugs out into the shape of our company logo.

    "I would advise you to reach out to your manager," he drools, "because we're all in it together. Touch base with a member of the leadership team, because you'll need them around in the next paradigm shift." Around me, some people are sighing and checking their watches but some people are more interested than if their lives had depended on them taking in every byte of information that slides from this VIP's mouth hole. Bloody apple polishers. Fresh-faced, bright-eyed arselickers.

    I look back and forth from this big cheese to his enthralled audience, and imagine a moment where every suit in the room disintegrates instantaneously. All these fat fuckers, their tremendous, horrifying naked bodies, they fall out and offend the eyes of the head honcho at the front. The heavy-hitter, his balls and piece fall out and the podium collapses in front of him, exposing his fiscal stimulus to the room.

    "The next twelve months will be an exciting time," he drawls, "because we're in a position of strength. Our risk is low, our profitability is high, our..." and I drift out. My phone vibrates in my pocket, a snippet of contact from the outside world, that light at the end of this eternal tunnel; but I don't check it. Someone behind taps me on the shoulder, whispers psssst, but I ignore them. My eyes burn a hole in this go-getter's head, while he vomits lies that might be true or might be false but either way they're lies. He grins and you notice his teeth have been professionally whitened, professionally straightened, professionally cleaned. His head shakes with enthusiasm and you notice plugs where his hair is thinning but his wallet is saving him. His hands clench the air and wave with excitement and you notice that he doesn't have a ring on his wedding finger. You wonder if he's gay, then you wonder if you care. A clue: you don't.

    All the while, I'm imagining gravity suddenly reversing, and everyone in the room falling against the ceiling. They fall head first, and because the drop is so small they don't have time to hold their hands out. Some necks break, some eardrums burst, some craniums crack, and the ceiling is soaked in blood, and I sit still on the floor, looking up at the mess they've created. The blood fills every inch of the ceiling, except for a tiny spot where our company logo resides. A logo constructed out of dry ceiling.

    These imaginary situations cycle through my head, changing and developing at blistering pace, until I can't make out the sentences that the heavyweight at the front is saying. "Buy low sell high facilitate change navigation legacy impossible odds," he slurs, and I imagine a train crashing into the room and I imagine everyone in the room spontaneously combusting and I imagine him losing the ability to speak, "but I believe we can really turn a corn..." and then, something weird happens. He stops, his face suddenly splattered with the surprised face of one unexpectedly punched hard in the chest. He meets eyes with me, for a second we connect, and his eyes tighten as if he's saying fuck you very much. He looks right through into my soul, just for a beat, and all I receive is hatred. And this is happening in real life.

    Then it happens. The seat of his trousers explodes, bursting aggressively and spraying the back curtain with fecal matter. He screams, with pain and confusion, as a gush of shit streams from his anus with such force that the entire stage, his slides, the curtain, even the podium, are covered in excrement. And before they have time to react, the same happens to every single audience member. Their chairs collapse, they soil the floor, they scream and cry and beg for it all to stop. The floor is soaked in a good few inches of hot wet shit and all I can do is sit here and laugh. My ankles swim in stinking, lumpy, deep brown feculence, and I'm tickled pink. Everyone's in pain, and all I feel is pleasure.

    This is the day I realise I have a power.

    The power of bowel control.

    Clearing out my father's house was one of the happiest moments of my life. The door to a dark, fearful room in the house of my life...

   Clearing out my father's house was one of the happiest moments of my life. The door to a dark, fearful room in the house of my life was left ajar when I got the phone call that he was dead, and the day I began to dispose of his possessions was my chance to close it, lock it and throw away the key. Although I hadn't spoken to him for years, I still feared the man even through the cloud of disdain that had formed around him in my mind. Whether he blamed me for my mother's death during my birth or he was jaded by his own father's absence, his beatings, jeering and neglect of me throughout my childhood left scars in my own character that I have spent years trying to correct, and can't be sure that I ever will. Sifting through dusty old books and pictures of mum and piles of Men's Health magazines in the loft, it was finally my turn to decide which memories I wanted to keep and which would be destroyed. Dismantling the old dining table we had in our living room, I remembered the time he screamed insults at my first girlfriend for not liking carrots, driving her to run from the house sobbing and never talk to me again. Bagging up my Beano annuals, I was reminded of the time I sat cross-legged on my bed reading them, only to look up and see my dad running toward me with his fists clenched, rushing across the hallway just an instance before his fist hit my eight-year-old head, knocking it into the wall, which luckily impaired my sense of pain for the next eight or nine savage punches to my chest and legs. Suddenly, he ripped himself from me as if something had been pushing him to do it, as if he was forced to beat his son, and shouted "No! I won't... I won't fucking kill you!" before walking away from the room and down the stairs, his head in his hands, weeping. These were the memories I erased.

   Hoovering my old room, ignoring the tiny single bed which reminded me of mornings where I'd wake up bruised and scratched knowing that he hadn't done this to me while I was awake, I noticed one of my only happy memories. In the corner of my room, there had been a ventriloquist's puppet sitting with its arms on the arms of a large rocking chair since I was a toddler. My dad had placed it there out of spite, thinking it would scare me to death, but I had developed an imaginary friendship with the thing and can remember it being a merciful influence on my childhood life, providing a sanctuary when my father's behaviour had become too much for me to handle. Sitting there, dusty, with its rosy cheeks and wooden brown hair, its dull smile and painted-white fingernails, its black dinner jacket and red bow tie, a flood of calming, grounding emotions rushed back to me. Mr. Freddo was back in my life, and was the only thing I wanted to take from this house of evil reminders.
   So, here I am, placing Mr. Freddo carefully in the corner of my room in the flat, giggling inwardly as I hear Alison's voice from behind me saying, "That thing is just creepy." I turn around holding my arms out as if I'm a beautiful assistant presenting a prize on a game show, and she raises one eyebrow and eyes up the dummy once more, with a hint of disgust, before walking out of the room to have a shower and leave for her own flat. I wish she'd stay tonight, but she prefers to travel into work from her flat. Plus it might take a few weeks for her to get used to Mr. Freddo. As I adjust his pose so that he confidently looks out on the room, sitting back in his old rocking chair, arms resting on the chair's arms, I wonder if I could afford to stay at Alison's tonight; before remembering that my ex-wife Jean is bringing our son, Scott, over to spend time with me early tomorrow morning. Shame.

   Alison looks divine in her silk blouse and tight skirt as she leaves my flat, and it makes me want to drag her back in for a quickie, but I never would since she's so uptight about that stuff. We say goodbye, I peck her on the cheek, and I slink off to bed. I dream of my father, throwing my dinner at the walls; snapping my CDs one by one, wide eyed, laughing maniacally; sobbing at night, his cries ringing through every inch of the house, talking to himself, sometimes even shouting; chasing me through wet streets that never end, and he never tires, and exhaustion catches up with me at an alarming speed, until I can run no further and he reaches me and his big, dry hands block the light to my eyes and I brace myself for pain... And in my dreams, this is where he dies. The sky clears and the day is beautiful and relief washes over me until I'm giggling, laughing, roaring through my tears that run down my face and drench my chin and t-shirt, and I kick and jump on the body of my father which smashes like glass, piece by piece, until he is erased from my reality, and I wake up and it's still dark. It's 3am when I wake. I never wake up before 7am. I was woken by a sound, a creaking sound, gentle tension on old wood. But I don't have any trouble getting back to sleep, until I'm woken again by the doorbell.

   As I sit up in bed, alarmed that I've slept so long that I haven't been able to dress before Scott's arrival, I click the aching bones in my back and walk around the bed on my way to answer the door, smiling to myself as I notice that Alison put Mr. Freddo's hands in his lap and closed his eyes before she left yesterday. Outside the door, an angry Jean taps her feet and stands with her arms crossed as Scott stands next to her avoiding eye contact with me. "Sorry," I smile pathetically, "I was sleeping so well." I gesture for them to come in, which Scott does, but Jean stays outside.
   "Well, I'd love to stay, Steve," she growls, "but I'm late enough for work as it is." Looking into the flat, checking that Scott was inside and safe (and probably checking that the flat is clean enough), she nods, lets out a hmph sound and stomps off down the hall.

   Scott and I have always had a strained relationship. While I try my hardest to be caring and attentive and loving like my father never was, I'm sure Jean just poisons him against me. We don't argue, but that's only because we hardly ever talk. Constructing a meaningful, lengthy conversation is exhausting for both of us, and I'm sure he just wants to curl into a defensive ball at the end of every one. So, in the hope of creating a situation where we can both feel comfortable in silence for a few hours, I take him to the cinema and let him pick the film we buy tickets for. A film about child-snatching aliens from the future glitters across a huge screen in which we're the only two viewers, and it bores the hell out of me. In the ridiculous scene where the kids come back to Earth moulded like Play-Doh into huge city-destroying monsters, I need a break, so I leave Scott to have a cigarette in the rain outside. Breathing in the fresh air, sucking on a relaxing cigarette, I close my eyes and lean my back against the front of the cinema for I'm not sure how long. Finally, Scott leaves the cinema and meets eyes with me, the cigarette's bare butt still between my fingers, and it alarms me that I lost track of time so badly out here. Apologising again, I ask him what he wants to eat, making sure he knows money is no object.

   I drop him off at his mother's and he forces out a quiet "Goodbye, dad" and drags his feet up to the front door of the house I paid for. Turning Duran Duran up, I drive home in the rain drumming on the steering wheel, looking forward to seeing Alison tonight, feeling only a little guilty that I'm relieved that the ordeal of seeing my son is over. When I get home, after throwing my coat onto my bed and noticing that Mr. Freddo once again has his arms on the rocking chair and his eyes open and wondering why I don't remember repositioning him, I check my phone to find 23 missed calls from Scott. I've never felt so popular. Dialling his number, he answers almost immediately, and with his breath heavy but steady and regular, he whispers, "Dad, mum's dead."
   Convulsing, hit by a sledge hammer made from the most unexpected 3-word sentence he could have uttered, I can only reply, "What?"

   "Mum's dead. She's dead. Mum... she's ... dead, dad."

   Parking my car again, hanging up the phone to Alison (cancelling tonight's visit - she'll have to wait a few days, Scott will be staying with me if what he's saying is true and he can't know about Alison yet), I jog up to Jean's front door, which has been left ajar, and run through to the kitchen, where Scott is standing above his mother's bloody body, his phone in his hand, his body stiff and silent like a mannequin, just staring. Jean is in a horrible state, in a pool of her own blood, vomit running from her mouth to the floor, her face locked in a gruesome, fearful expression. One of her legs is broken and there are bruises over both legs as if she was beaten with something rock hard, but the scratches all over her torso and neck; the cuts, the bite marks; suggest that something bestial did this. Retching, wrapping my hand around Scott's eyes, I dial 999 and drag my son out of the house; his movements stiff, his eyes blank, his mind erased of innocence.

   Tucking Scott into the spare bed in my flat, my heart is filled with sadness and depression for my son. I never knew my mother, and I've always felt sorry for myself for that; but nothing can take back what Scott has seen today, nothing will ever be the same for him. His pain must surpass mine by a thousand miles. Crawling into bed in the next room, I think back on how the policemen were so understanding; how one of the paramedics had tears rolling down her cheeks and was mumbling that she'd never seen anything like it; how Scott hasn't said a word since our phone call.

   For a few weeks, I phone in sick and tell Janet she's in charge of the pub until further notice. I stay at home with Scott and tell him that he can take as long as he wants before returning to school. For the first couple of days, he walks and talks like a zombie, barely leaving his bed. After a while, though, he begins to open up; the colour returns to his skin gradually, he starts to show emotions and the shock wears off, and I'm relieved that he doesn't feel uncomfortable crying in front of me and I'm pleased to see him smile when he watches TV. I notice that he, like Alison, begins to play at changing Mr. Freddo's poses while I'm in the bathroom or out at the supermarket, and it warms me to know that he's regaining a sense of humour (even if some of the poses are a little creepy - one standing on the chair with his arms crossed and another strangling a Furby, being the most memorable). It only takes two or three weeks before he wants to return to school, saying that the routine and seeing his friends will help him slip back into everyday life, and reluctantly, I agree.

   Now, Alison visits during school hours and I slip in the odd hour or two at my pub wherever I can, knowing that Janet's hands are as capable as my own and that if I pay her a little extra she won't mind how much time I take off. With Alison in the bathroom, getting washed and dressed to leave, I lay back in bed and slip into a daydream, cigarette in my mouth, wondering what the police are doing about Jean, and why I don't feel any sadness for her demise, just numbness. The daydream isn't a long one though, as the trance is blown apart by the raspy, gritty voice that fills my ears.
   "I did it."

   Not sure what's going on, feeling as if someone has slapped me out of a deep sleep, I stutter, "W..what?"

   "I did it. It was me." It can't be Mr. Freddo. That's where the sound is coming from, but it can't be. This is how Jean's death must be affecting me - I'm just going a bit mental.

   Taking another drag, laughing at myself, my moment of insanity, I say, "Shut up." And the room falls silent for a long time.

   "Don't tell me to shut up, numbnuts. I did it. I killed your ugly fucking wife, and I'm gonna kill Alison and then you. You prick." I hear, and my back jolts up and I sit naked on the bed staring at the doll. "I beat her legs with my fists, then I bit and scratched that bitch until she was dead." Not moving its mouth as any of these words are emitted, it continues, "Check my nails, fuckwit." Slowly, doubting my own mental stability, I walk toward the dummy until its hands are in mine, and I'm checking its nails, which are red and brown and dirty, covered in tiny bits of skin and hair. In complete denial, backing away from the doll still sporting its confident smile and blank, soulless eyes, I take the cigarette from my mouth and try to take some deep breaths. "Act normal, here comes your new slut," it growls, and Alison walks in, wrapped in a towel.

   "Who were you talking to?" She asks in a sing-song, jolly voice, and I spin on my heels to face her.

   "Erm... Oh, er... Nobody. I... I wasn't. I mean, I was on the phone." I dribble these words out, and she slips her clothes on as she slips me a puzzled look, obviously in too much rush to question my agitation. Kissing me and leaving, she says she'll see me tomorrow, and I rush back to throw the doll in a black bin liner and take it to the dump. Driving fast, panicked by the afternoon's events, I feel hot, my brow feels wet, and much to my disappointment, none of this is taken away when I throw the bin bag into the pile of rubbish and old computers and broken furniture at the council dump, driving off to collect Scott from school. Driving with less urgency, I try to contact Mick for a chat, just for some human contact, but neither of his numbers are being answered. He's shit with phones.

   By the time Scott gets in the car, I've had a few more cigarettes and listened to a few songs I like, so I've calmed to a state of near normality, and am able to laugh inwardly at the state I got myself into earlier. Still, I don't want to return home yet, so I ask if he wants Burger King for dinner, and drive there slowly to drag out the time I spend inside my car, in safety, with my son. I order an XL Bacon Double Cheese meal and he orders a Whopper meal, both with Cokes, and we sit and I savour every mouthful, watching my son gaze out of the window, chewing mechanically. So much of his life was Jean, so it's amazing to me that he's coping so well. His strength and attitude is inspiring, and it's uplifting to me that we have been brought together somewhat, even if the events that caused it were so horrific. Before we drive home, I stop by Mick's office and home, neither of which seem occupied, which is a shame since I could have done with a drink with my best friend tonight. Instead, Scott and I watch a film and go to bed at midnight.

   When I wake, the room smells like a sewer. It's after 9, so Scott must have left for school already, and my tiredness is overcome quickly by the stench that's filling the room, and I have to rush to open a window and let some fresh air in. A gut-wrenching combination of vomit and shit and death and rotten fruit fills my nostrils as I turn to survey the room, trying to find what's causing the smell, until my eyes fall on Mr. Freddo. Mr. Freddo sitting there in his rocking chair, in his old pose, his eyes staring straight into mine. My heart sinks, and I have a crippling urge to be sick.

   "You can't get rid of me, you little shit." It says, its body perfectly still, its mouth closed.

   "Wha.. what the fuck is going on?" I ask nobody, refusing to believe that an old doll is talking to me.

   "Had any trouble contacting Mick?" Its voice is knowing, suspicious, sarcastic and nasty all at once. It fills me with fear and dread, makes me want to cry. Outside my room, I hear Alison letting herself in with the spare key I gave her. "That's because I killed him," it rasps, "I bit a chunk out of his fucking neck and then I watched him bleed out. They won't find him for weeks." I'm welling up, my chin is shaking, my arms tensing and relaxing uncontrollably at my sides. My breath short and sharp, I feel claustrophobic, caved in, forced into a box in my head, as I notice that Alison has been standing just inside the bedroom door since before the doll's latest confession. Her face is locked into a terrified but doubtful expression, as her eyes alternate every few seconds between my sweating, panicky face and the evil doll at which I stare.

   "Steve," she says, her voice full of dread, "what's going on?"

   Slowly, the creak of the wood echoing around the room like nails on a chalkboard, piercing our ears and rushing our heartbeats, the doll turns its head to face my girlfriend. "Next," it says, its words coming out in slow motion, its mouth still, "I'm going to kill this bitch." And in a flash that in my head lasts an hour, but in reality passes in moments, I'm running across the room not sure whether to hold Alison, push her out of the door, protect her; or go for the dummy, which now stands next to the rocking chair, living, its tiny chest rising and falling with every breath. I hear her scream, run out of the flat; my head hits the wall, I'm not sure if I tripped or if I was pushed; and I black out.

   My eyes open slowly hours later, to a silent, calm room, and the doll standing over me, still reeking of the dump. As I cough, splutter, try to force myself up to my feet, the dummy launches itself onto my chest and headbutts me once, twice, three times; its wooden hairstyle knocking my head against the floor, making me dizzy. Its arms hold my wrists against the floor with immense power, as I struggle to get up but I can't, forced to lay down by a 4-foot-tall doll. Still writhing, still hitting out, still trying to get up, I hear the doll whisper, "Your wife, your stupid ugly friend, and then your slut girlfriend, and now you. Now I'm going to kill you, Steve." I'm sobbing, exhausted already, I want to be sick and cry and I want it to be over with and I want to be dead, as it begins to laugh crazily and scream, "And once you're dead, I'm going to kill Scott, and once Scott's dead, I'm going to make this my mansion, and me and all the girl dolls are gonna have sex in your bed. We're gonna have sex in your bed and we're gonna murder more people, Steve, and it'll all be your fault because you rescued me from your wonderful dad's house and you brought me into the world and everyone will blame you, Steve! You did all of this, Steve! You did aaaallllll of this!"

   And that sentence, that dragged out, taunting word, is when it hits me. The doll isn't looking at me any more, it's just laying on my chest, lifeless. My wrists, they're not being held to the ground; in fact, my hands are wrapped around the doll's wrists. The reason that the doll's mouth has never moved is that these words, these evil, poisoned sentences have been coming out of my mouth. It's my mouth that moves as he says these things. It's me that did all of this. That day at the cinema, I blanked out, I lost track of time - because I was at Jean's, ripping her skin apart with my nails and teeth. Those weeks of looking after Scott, feeling numb, never aware of what I was doing, gave me ample time to torture Mick. I have no memory of doing any of these things, but it's the only explanation. This horrible realisation hits me much softer than it should, and I'm filled with a complete lack of surprise, as I sit up, the doll falling limp at my side, and check my hands. Just like the doll's, my hands are covered in someone else's blood. In my mouth, I taste the metallic, warm flavour of blood. I dial Alison's mobile number, her house number, her office, but get no answer anywhere.
   I've killed her. I must have.

   With a steak knife I found in the kitchen, having locked my door and left a note for Scott reading "I'm sorry. Now everything will be ok. I love you, Scott." I cut a long, deep gash down my left forearm and another down my right, and as I eye the dummy that lays motionless on the floor, I slip into a sleep that is eternal and relieving and relaxing and beautiful. I fly through an eternal blue sky and my soul feels free and wind blows through my hair and I feel young again, but not the way I felt young with my father, but the way films say we should feel young. Energetic, care-free, enlightened, I sore through a cloudless blue and whether this is heaven or hell or somewhere in between I don't know but I know that it is making me feel a happiness that I have never felt, and time is meaningless and all that is transient no longer matters and I'm dead and Scott is safe and nothing will ever be terrible for him again.

   That is, until I wake up, in a wooden skull, that I share with my father and his father and his father's father. Until I wake up 48 inches tall, sitting in a rocking chair, in an unfamiliar lounge, looking out on a room in which my son Scott, now 25 or 26, plays with his toddler, and embraces his beautiful wife. Looking out on the scene, unable to move, trapped in a hell where I spend an eternity living in a doll with everyone I ever learned to hate, only one thought occupies my mind: everyone in this room has to suffer. Ripped from my bliss, torn from heaven, having fallen a thousand miles to reach the hell in which I am now eternally enclosed, shocked by the realisation that it was the doll all along, it was my father in a doll in my room that was doing these things, all I can feel for my son is hatred. All I want to do is pass this pain on.

   As I think this, unable to move a muscle in my body of wood and cloth, I hear my dad's voice whisper, "And the cycle begins again..."

    It started with the occasional kid disappearing from over-religious towns in Southern USA. The parents, they'd tuck little Misty-Su...

   It started with the occasional kid disappearing from over-religious towns in Southern USA. The parents, they'd tuck little Misty-Sue into bed, slink off to their own little dreamland, and by the time they woke, the sheets they'd wrapped around their daughter would lay crumpled on the mattress. Her clothes would still be laying there, there'd be no way in or out of the room, she'd just be gone. This happened with five or six children - the Summer months of 2010 were filled with reporters camped outside of family homes; press conferences with crying mothers; daytime TV appeals for their safe return. Theories of runaways, paedophiles, suicide pacts and wild animals occupied the discussions on every chat show. Not a street corner could be turned without a Missing Child poster, even here in London.

   Summer gradually morphed into Autumn without a child being uncovered, without a single body being found. For a while, we all foolishly thought it was over. Who or whatever possessed these children in that far off land wasn't giving them back, and no more were vanishing, so to us, the trouble was long gone. That is, until whole villages in the third world were robbed of their children, overnight. Until whole classes of schoolchildren in China would dissolve into thin air while their teachers turned to write on the chalkboard. Until child actors from Who's That Robot? on some American kid's TV channel failed to show up for filming. Suddenly, the internet was alive with rumours. Spontaneous Human Combustion, they said. A deadly pandemic, they said. Secret pacts propelled by Facebook and MySpace, they reckoned.

   A lockdown was placed on all social networking sites - no message, wall post, comment or request could be sent without being monitored for suspicious content in some government building. Television documentaries profiled all the missing children so far, and attempted to establish the kind of mind that would take them. Extracurricular activities were cancelled indefinitely. Air Force planes scanned jungles, rainforests and deserts for hotspots, camps or hideouts. The war on terror was quickly forgotten. The world began to revolve around missing children. And just before Christmas 2010 was when they noticed the pattern - all these children, these victims, they were all from religious families. Families with faith. Be it Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism, Confucianism or fucking Gnosticism, these kids were all disappearing from religious households. None of them were disappearing Atheists.

   Just as the disappearances spread through Europe, overtook Russia, infected Australia, reached the shores of England, that's when the accounts of daylight child robberies were documented; publicised on the news, in cartoons, in re-enactments. The day would always be cloudy. The dark clouds would break apart, be torn by some force, and a blue sky would momentarily be seen to sit above them, serene and beautiful and alluring. A light, a blinding light, whiter than anything anyone had ever seen, would beam through this gap and onto the children. The smell of cinnamon, of roses, of freshly baked bread would fill the air, and a calmness would spread through everyone present. Standing there, docile, blissful, these people would watch as their children were pulled by this light, gently and slowly, until they were above the clouds, which would close as fast as they had broken.

   The case was solved. This was the work of some deity. Whatever higher power was governing this world, it was claiming our children back as its own, and we were powerless, and we should feel lucky to have given them up for a higher purpose. Suddenly, it was a social faux pas to still be in possession of your child. Atheists were converted. School was resumed, as a food bowl for this wonderful lord we now had direct contact with. Hymns would fill the streets. Tens, hundreds, thousands of children under 12 went missing every day, and for the first time in human history, this was celebrated wildly by their parents. At local parks, "Heaven Parties" were held with an open invitation to any children living within 5 miles, where they could attend and watch their friends be "saved" - since that's what they were now calling it - and hope to be saved themselves. Nobody thought to question the theory, and nobody quelled the fears of our children, who were just terrified of being taken away from their parents.

   For me, it happened in the shopping centre, in late Spring 2011. As Emily and I walked from the bank to Primark (where everything was now half price, due to nobody knowing for how long they had to cater for their children), a warmth surrounded us. Cinnamon filled the air. I smelt Parma Violets. I smelt my childhood. I smelt cut grass and fresh rain. Emily holding my hand, a balloon in her other hand, she began to raise off the floor. Instantly, I was happier than I had ever been. My child was chosen. She was to be one with the Lord. I was no longer a bad parent. We were absolved. I turned to look at the sky, at the blinding white beam that reached like a greedy hand and drenched my beautiful 6-year-old daughter in warmth and sparkle. Emily began to cry as my arm, still gripping her hand, reached up above shoulder height, pulled by her gently rising body. As she was dragged too high for me to reach any longer, she began to scream, wailing, distraught, and I could only smile at her through misty, tearful eyes, as she was lifted higher and higher and the happiness engulfed me and I wanted to tell her she was going onto a better place but I couldn't get any words past the lump in my throat and out of my mouth. Still flailing her arms, still reaching out for me, for her mother, Emily was dragged past aeroplanes, past flocks of birds, past the clouds, and out of my sight. Emily, my beautiful Emily, my perfect gorgeous charming daughter Emily, was saved.

   Of course, if we knew then what we know now, we wouldn't have given up the children of Earth so easily. If there had been something we could've done, we would've done it. If killing our children was the only answer, I'm sure we would have obliged. If we knew this then, OK! and Hello! and Closer and Heat and The Sun and Nuts and The Daily Mail and Sky News and all the other corporations would have paid a lot less for stories from parents of the saved. As parents, we wouldn't have been so selfish. We would've prayed for cot death. But no one suspected that our children would be sent back to us mutated, mutilated, inflated, engorged with alien slime, sewn together into beasts seventy feet tall; still screaming, still as tormented as when they were taken. These beasts, they fell from the sky in the harsh, black Winter of 2011. They landed on their knees, if that's what they are, and stood slowly, and wandered every major city looking for buildings to destroy and blood to spill. They stomped, they pushed and they pulverised anything in their path, as the screaming faces of our children stared out at us from every inch of their skin; our kids' eyes a luminous green, their lips ripped off and revealing blackened, bloodied teeth, their eyelids removed so that they could never shut out the pain they were enduring. None of us saw this coming.

   But now, we're the ones who need to be saved.

    Yesterday, I took a walk through Covent Garden. Usually, the insistence of the tightly packed masses to walk as slowly as they are able...

   Yesterday, I took a walk through Covent Garden. Usually, the insistence of the tightly packed masses to walk as slowly as they are able through the cobbled streets just frustrates me to the point where I start to consider anger management, but the beauty of yesterday's wet cobbled street and the smell of fresh rain just passed invigorated me and put me in a mood where nothing could bother me. For once, I was in no rush, and the buzz of London, and particularly this little square of excitement, was putting a spring in my step. Off to my left, I saw a man juggling Barbie dolls, dressed as a rabbi, while his fairly pretty assistant played Baker Street on a saxophone. The alleyway through the middle of Covent Garden’s grand old piazza was blocked off by a man who was balancing a piano on his head, on which he played the classics of Abba while the crowd clapped along. Making my way around to the right of the piazza, two contortionists were competing to see which could fit into the smaller glass box, and their hats were brimming with donations. Turning the corner, my head still turned to watch them, I bumped into a group of midgets dressed as Elvis, running single file in the opposite direction. Never knowing what to expect as you turn a corner in this place is its biggest charm. As I averted my eyes from the midgets and back to my headed direction, that's when I saw him.

   There wasn't much special looking about him; he was a bit too skinny, I guess. But he wasn't wearing anything spectacular, just a blue tracksuit. He wasn't a mumbling idiot like David Blaine or a charismatic charmer like Derren Brown, he was just a guy. He had a drawstring bag at his feet full of props, or costumes; it could be squirrels for all anyone knew, it seemed like most of the props were emerging from his body, not his bag. But he had his audience stunned, literally speechless. I approached the crowd and joined, but joining this late I was at least 5 people back. Peering between heads, trying to piece together what was happening from his muffled voice and the surrounding gasps, I saw him guess a number from 0 to 1000 in one guess. Tip-toeing, catching glimpses where I could, I watched as he vomited pound coins onto the cobbles. Every ten seconds, the audience would erupt into applause, and the clink of coins into his donation bucket would inevitably follow. After a while, the people in front filtered out, and I was at the front of the crowd, looking out on a semi-circle of gawping tourists and Londoners, and the magician himself.

   He seemed to be working on a catchphrase for himself. Before every trick he'd say, "This one's gonna take your breath away!" but at first, he was wrong. They started out pretty tame; him guessing cards, more pound coins appearing out of nowhere, sleight of hand. Still, the crowd and I clapped our little hearts out. People smiled at each other with looks on their faces that suggested a teaspoonful of sympathy, not greatly impressed. But then his tricks evolved into something a bit more incredible. With a click of his fingers, his ears began to bleed. With another click, they stopped, and he wiped his face with a tissue that had appeared out of thin air. He said, "This one's gonna take your breath away!" and swallowed a mobile phone whole. He squawked his mantra again, and managed to set his entire right hand on fire. Every new trick was that little bit more amazing.

   He started talking about how sometimes, he gets complaints that all his props are false and his feats are simple illusions, so now was his chance to change that. He asked the audience for a cigarette. He held out his hand and gestured harshly, jabbing his open hand at the front row, working his way around the crowd, who didn't fill it until he reached me. I had more cigarettes, I could afford to give him one. He took the cigarette, thanking me kindly, and stood stiff as a board with his legs shoulder width apart in front of the audience. "This one..." he said, "Is gonna take your breath away." And we watched as he opened his eyes as wide as they would go and pushed the cigarette, filter first, into one of his irises. He did it slowly, and pushed until there was no cigarette left. This time, he was right, I was breathless. Completely confused by what I'd seen, I could only stand there slackjawed and horrified. Had he planted a fake cigarette on me? He hadn't touched my bag, there was no way he could have. Like the rest of his followers, I was shocked. Here we stood, standing around this glaring man with a cigarette in one of his eyeballs, his newest disciples.

   It took a while for us all to react, and when we did it came in the form of a slow clap that gradually went from quiet and sparse to roaring and loud. Still stunned, I tried to watch his eye, see if it wasn't keeping up with the other, see if it was false. But it moved, it focused, it was real. It was mind blowing. Eventually, after his bowing subsided and his act was complete, he picked up his bag of props which seemed to have mysteriously grown since I joined the crowd. It looked soft, and wet. Warm, cushiony. It seemed... strange. Most of all, it made me wonder what I'd missed at the beginning of his act. With his other hand, he picked up his bucket, full to the brim with well-deserved donations. Bowing once more, he said, "This one really is gonna take your breath away." And strolled away slowly with his enormous bag over his shoulder, dripping a line of red paint behind him. Still stunned, it took me until he had left my field of vision before I noticed the horrible pain in my chest. It was tight, like someone had pulled a belt taut around my ribs. I was finding it hard to catch my breath, and it looked like the other audience members were too. As we coughed and spluttered, gasped for air, I reached down and lifted my shirt to look at my chest. Struggling to focus between convulsions, I was met by two large scars grinning at me like a pair of stoned teens, and as we stared at each other, me and my chest, a horrible realisation hit me.

   That man had stolen my lungs.