Blood Dragons – Award-winning Fantasy Novel


 MAY 1964            BRIGHTON, ENGLAND

‘By heaven, look at these ruffianly roaring boys. This is it – your tonic – to get back into the fray. The blood and heat of it.’

I’d nicked a bright red Jaguar E-Type (beautiful little number), and we’d tonned it up to the coast for Whitsun Bank Holiday. Yet now we’d found ourselves caught in a war between two gangs.

A Mod in smart Italian suit and fish-tailed Parka sped past us on his Lambretta Li150, only to be blocked by a wall of hard men Rockers, in dirty motorcycle jackets, who were swinging heavy bike chains. The poor git was dragged away by his lapels, like a fancy sacrificial offering to the gods of leather.

‘What do they want?’

Ruby shrugged. ‘What do First Lifers ever want? Question is, what do we want?’

I hesitated, before grinning. ‘The Bedlam. To revel in the madness, like we used to. I want–’

That’s when Ruby kissed me. She hauled me close, as her tongue thrust deep, like she’d only just discovered me again after a long absence: I realised she only just had. When she drew back, we were both smiling. ‘To live in the world again?’

I nodded.

Screams? The shattering of glass? Curling smoke on the night air?

I was bloody alive once more.

Ruby and I swaggered through the shadowed streets, towards the promenade and Palace Pier – her in crimson silk, me in military Great Coat – two creatures from another world and time, unnoticed by these petty First Lifers because we weren’t painted in the colours of their tribe. We twirled each other round, dancing in the carnage and the flames.

Mods fleeing, with gashes on their foreheads, their coats flapping behind them. Couples sprawled under the stars, on a beach where the pebbles met the sea, as turned on by the violence and danger as any Blood Lifer, pretending to be oblivious to a ring of Mods, who were kicking a curled foetus of a Rocker bloody with their sharp winklepickers. Deckchairs smouldering in orange bonfires, which lit a town prowled by leather clad kids on Triton motorbikes.

Flick-knives, coshes, knuckle-dusters…

Here’s the thing, the deadliest weapon of all? It was this type of wild confusion, which was like a force of nature. The quick change from predator to prey and back again, in the turn of a corner.

It was glorious to watch: it fizzed. We laughed at the brutality. It was a cosmic bloody joke. But I know you won’t get the irony. First Lifers never sodding do.

It was powerful – the smell of all that free flowing blood, which surged with adrenaline.

Remember what I told you about Grace’s blood? Well take that and amplify it tenfold, hundred fold, sod it, a thousand fold. Bugger me, was it mind blowing.

It had this added masculine, tooled up excitement; don’t tell me those blokes weren’t getting off on it because they were and without the excuse of blood drugging their veins. They were high on the fear and the fight and it was delicious – to them and to me.

That’s what awakened me to the world again. Ruby had been right: all I’d needed had been a right good barney.

As we flitted towards the onion-domed Palace Pier, however, the night was quietening, as the pigs rounded up the oiks and battered them. Those who were left, had broken down into aimless wandering. All right then, so there was a hard-core, still battling it out in the blackest corners, slashing and carving or giving some bleeder a hiding. But do you know what I saw? Amidst a night of folk devils?

Some hulking Rocker, with skull and crossbones on the back of his grungy leathers, jumped off his motorbike to help an old biddy safely up the steps of her Regency terrace.

Ruby and me exchanged a disgusted glance.

Bored, Ruby slipped her hand down towards my todger, but I caught it.

Swearing. Loud scuffles coming from the Palace Pier. Ruby and I both turned to listen.

The pier was spooky in the evening light (and yeah, I can still find things spooky because we’re not the only things that go bump in the night). The lights were blazing down the pier’s ornate length, even though it was closed up. The funfair was shut too, which was a shame because I could’ve done with a game or two.

Ruby nodded. Then we swooped towards the pier, hands entwined.

A Mod – not a scratch on him and dead smart in a reversible jacket and polo shirt buttoned up to his pale neck – was scrapping with a Rocker, who was twice his size (and twice his age as well). Strange thing was, there were bands of Mods and Rockers slouched around watching, smoking and bantering, as if they were at a bloody football match.

This wasn’t the white hot rush of Bedlam: it was the cool truce of Christmas day in wartime.

Then I saw him – this wanker of a photographer – snapping away at his staged fight, like a god.

And I knew I was going to taste him, just to hear him pose for me, whilst he screamed.

‘They came for a real fight, did they not?’ Ruby’s mouth curved into a smile.

I hunched my shoulders, as I pulled Ruby closer to me by her waist; I wanted to feel every inch of her. ‘Then how about we give them one?’

We threw ourselves down the pier as one, towards the make-believe. We, however, were real – we were too bloody real and with fist and boot, like the Blue Fairy, we made them into real little boys too, Mod and Rocker alike: bleeding little boys.

Mystery of White Horse Lake

I stood silently at the window, watching and waiting. After everyone else had gone to bed, I kept watch over the still waters of the lake, as I had every night this entire year.[...]