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www.invisibleinkbooks.co.uk

Illustrations by Ack Crab

1. Disclaimer

I have no idea what this means. But before I can tell you my story I have to tell you that ‘any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental’. Except I can’t say that. Ladies and Gentlemen this violent, grisly, gruesome tale is absolutely 100% real and every single one of these people exist. Or existed. Depending on whether or not they died (or were brutally murdered) in these events. Know what I’m saying? No. I am not American. Why do people keep asking me that??

Instead I have changed their names. Names like Majestica and Trojantica - which I normally like to use in my ‘didn’t happen’ stories - are not really suitable for this, so instead I have used names of people I know. Like Phillip, the headteacher of the school I used to go to, and his real life wife, Sue, who, as far as I know, have nothing to do with the events in this story. I think. (Not that I have a clue what I do or do not know anymore). Anyway I hope he does not mind. If he does that’s tough. He can’t exclude me (I already left) and given the budget cuts he was always harping on about I doubt he can afford to sue me.

The school was a Special School, btw. My old school. For kids like me who find maths, reading and writing difficult. I am lucky. I am super intelligent and inciteful in other ways. Plus I am skilled in the creative arts, such as acting, singing and drawing. Not everyone is so lucky.

I left school last year. I wanted space to be me and do whatever the hell I liked without people waking me up and putting me on a bus somewhere (although I can do this myself now, but only to places I’ve been before) and making me do more damn stuff I didn’t sign up for. Fat chance of that stopping. My job at Starline wasn’t my idea of course but it’s one of the few places that will let people like me work (for free I might add!). I had to volunteer - or more accurately someone else had to volunteer me (DAD!!!) - so I can get experience doing job things that might mean one day I can get a job with money. Although I have no idea why I really need one as Dad is pretty good at keeping the fridge stocked with things I like and I always get to go on good holidays with my grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles or neighbours. I’m pretty popular.

I’ve been working at Starline since September and it’s kind of alright. I like the teapots and jugs and matching cups to the right saucers and putting them on the display shelves in a way that looks like someone is having a tea party or something. But at the beginning of the party when everything is neat and arranged properly, before the selfish, careless guests arrive. I like the books too. Especially the old ones that smell of mouldy bathrooms and the flannel my mum used to wipe my face with after tea when I was little. But I have to be careful. Apparently the customers don’t like seeing me lying on the floor breathing deeply with an open book on my face. To be honest I don’t understand why. To get into the place they have to walk past a pretty scary homeless guy with only half a nose. At least I have all my own body parts and I don’t smell like a bowl of apples left in my aunt Nina’s conservatory for two weeks after she went travelling to India with her boyfriend with stupid hair, and trousers that look like bed and breakfast curtains.

So this is me. Or my version of me. I don’t actually look like this. That would be weird. But I told you I was good at drawing, right?

I’m Stan by the way. Stan Roark. Oh and Stan is short for Constantine. In case you thought a boy wrote this. He didn’t. I did.

2. I Have Two Very Important Things to Tell Sue

I’m not so keen on the clothes in the shop. I don’t understand why clothes from so many different homes (chain smokers, cat keepers, baby owners) all eventually smell like down-the-side-of-the-sofa. I hate the job of sorting the clothes. We have to decide which items can go on the “high-money” racks (over £2.50!) and which ones are sale items . Sale because even though they are not damaged or stained they are not actually very fashionable or nice and only people with not very much money or taste will wear them. The other category is called ‘Recycling’. By this they mean really crap clothes that not even poor/bad taste people would want because they are ripped or have stains in places you really don’t want to think about.

The first very important thing I need to tell Sue is that on NO INCH of that ‘Recycling’ bin does it say “Recycle” and clearly no one has told Kenny it is to be used in this way. If she were to look in the recycle bin today she would find three sweat stained t-shirts, a pair of skidmarky pants and a raw chicken carcass. So clearly these t-shirts and pants ain’t being recycled, you know what I’m saying? At this moment, Sue is sat in Kenny’s restaurant with a group of posh business men eating a starter of grilled giant mushrooms stuffed with mouldy cheese (GROSS! “Oooo I do like a bit of Gorgonzola, Gromit!”), so I am hoping she will bring this issue to Kenny’s attention if we are to continue sharing the bins harmoniously in our communal back courtyard.

The second important thing I need to tell Sue is that when I went out to our communal courtyard this morning to take out the “Recycling”, there was (and still is I guess) a headless corpse lying next to an empty Diet Coke can and a cigarette filter. Marlboro light I think.

3. I Realise There Might Be Some Extra Bits Of Info I Left Out That You Might Need For This To Make Sense

Sorry about that. So Sue is the boss at the shop. She’s the manager and tells people how much to sell things for and how they should look in the shop (not the teapot display. She’s given that bit to me) and just making sure we are being helpful and nice and not racist to the foreign ones.

Even though she’s lived in Worthing for fifteen years she still has an accent because she’s from the North (Stockport). My Dad is from the North too (Oldham) but their accents sound very different to me and now I know both of them I am able to pick out accents from Oldham and Stockport anywhere I go. It’s one of my gifts I guess. Sadly, not everyone has it or they wouldn’t keep asking me about MY accent. I agree, it’s a little twisted. But any idiot can hear it is more of a Canadian lilt that an American one. Americans have big teeth. I never want to go there. I am staying put in Worthing. Worthing is the place I lived for the whole of my life I can remember properly. I was born somewhere else but then my mum died from one of the cancers – breast I think – so my Dad and I moved from that place and came here. We don’t talk about her. One day my mum was just there swimming and trampolining and wiping my face with flannels that smelt like mouldy bathrooms and holding me tightly when all I wanted to do was kick and scream at the world around me. And then one day she was just gone. Poof. Gone. It’s ok. My dad is cool. Hmmm. What was I saying? SUE!

Sometimes I think she might be like me as she likes talking A LOT but not so keen on listening when others are talking. And when she talks about things she always uses exactly three sentences. Like when she describes her eldest daughter Kirsty:

“Lesbian. Pretty girl soft face. They don’t all have that”.

Or when she’s telling me to stop talking to customers because I’m:

“Twittering. On and on. Like a budgie with tourettes”.

I don’t even know what that means. My uncle had tourettes and he barely spoke at all. Although when he got too happy/excited/angry/worried his face would start twitching and he looked like he’d been plugged into an electric socket. Anyway that’s not the point.

Headless corpse guy by the bins. I’ve just called the police. Sue suggested that. She said she’d do it herself but she’s at the charity meal in Kenny’s restaurant next door and she doesn’t want to miss the wild garlic risotto main course. I’ve also bought a can of Febreze from the supermarket opposite because Sue’s worried about the smell putting off the customers but I told her I didn’t think that would happen as the body appears to be preserved in some way and there’s not a drop of blood anywhere. But I bought it anyway.

Before the police arrive I’ve decided to draw a picture of the body and the crime scene. I’ve closed the shop. If Sue finds out she’ll kill me (badly timed joke!) as she hates it when the takings are down. It means her friend Janice in the other shop down the road in Brighton will win the weekly takings prize. It is only a five pound voucher for WHSmith and Sue has shed loads of money so doesn’t need it (she’s married to the local mayor Phillip McGregory) but she gives them away to the children’s home she is a patron of.

Here is the picture. The police can use it to spot clues or figure out how the damn thing got there in the first place.

The police have arrived. Asked a few questions and waved me away. Although the lady police officer is looking at my drawing and smiling at me in a way I do not recognise but is definitely NOT pity, confusion, condescension, annoyance, anger, impatience, indifference or boredom.

The other officers don’t want my drawing, ungrateful bastards. I tell them they can p*ss off and wait until my boss arrives. She’ll have something to say about their sweaty cigarette smelling photographers stomping through her shop. And she’s married to Mayor Phillip so he can…

THAT seems to perk them all up. Suddenly all eyes are on me. I smile (what I hope is sweetly) as if to say ‘was that so hard?’ Now I have their attention I can explain the technicalities of my drawing. Crap, someone's grabbed my shoulder.

(him) Where’s you boss now?
(me) She’s next door in Kenny’s Restaurant at the charity lunch in aid of sick children. Or maybe they’re depressed. I can’t remember. Both probably. That tends to happen at the same time.
(him) The McGregory Trust?
(me) Yes that’s it. The one she set up with her husband. The Mayor. The Mayor, her HUSBAND.

He gets the hint and lets go of my shoulder and speaks into a walkie talkie.

(him) We’ve found him. Bring him in.

Bumholes. If the mayor gets arrested Sue is going to kill me. Her and the mayor, her husband, are supposed to be going to Tenerife tomorrow to visit her sister that she hasn’t seen in fifteen years since she married a Spanish man with too many unpaid credit cards and no forwarding address.

4. I Go Round To Sue’s House To Say Sorry I Ruined Her Holiday And To Ask Why Her Husband, The Mayor, Killed That Headless Dude In The Courtyard.

You have got to be shitting me. Excuse my language. They told me not to swear in this (some of you might be young. Or Amish) but Jesus Christ crapped on a welcome mat you’ll see why when I tell you.

The house is surrounded by tape cars vans cameras Haz Mat suits sweaty police nosey neighbours notepad investigating people milling like ants around day old food dropped on the floor by the table leg. But I want to find Sue and see how many detectives are eating donuts. I need to go in.

This is how I see it.

There are a few things worth mentioning to help you understand a little more about the scene I have accurately presented to you.

The Samurai sword was a present from their eldest daughter Kirsty (Lesbian. Pretty girl soft face. They don’t all have that) who is an Asian art specialist at a posh auction house and visits Japan/China a lot. I can’t remember which one. I’ll Google it.

Right. Samurai swords are Japanese it says. So that one. Unless a Chinese person went to Japan and brought one back as a souvenir. Not in their hand luggage obviously. If you can’t even bring a bottle of water I think they might have a problem with a metallic death machine. Anyway. The thing to notice is how it has been put back on the stand. Of course you won’t notice this. But I did. And let me tell you it is not simply slightly squiffy because someone is careless and hasn’t made sure everything is sitting and pointing in the right place (like selfish tea party guests) BUT completely and utterly topsy turvy broken leg bone pointing out of skin WRONG. Someone wants us to see that sword alright and it’s pretty clear why. It’s still covered in blood and tiny pieces of what looks like uncooked chicken scraped off the bones (but I’m guessing isn’t). Using a Samurai to carve a chicken is very foolish as it is unlikely to be dishwasher proof. That was a joke by the way (although it is true that using the dishwasher would be the best way to avoid salmonella related contamination).

The chandelier hangs from the top of the house into the downstairs hall. It is dangly in a dislocated shoulder way with some of the glass bits broken or missing. It was most certainly not like this before. Directly beneath is the thick gloopy pool of blood. Not there before either. Obvs. It is darker than I think blood should be and it reminds me of the thick skin you get on the top of cold custard. If I push my finger in the middle of it I bet the whole puddle would bend and move with me... Dammit they noticed me.

(someone in scratchy looking protective suit) DON’T TOUCH THAT! What the hell…? How did you get in here?
(me) Through the secret entrance.
(him) What secret entrance?
(me) The study window with the broken lock that opens if you apply pressure to the left hand side whilst pushing upwards. Is this where Phillip chopped his head off?
(him) What? NO! I...
(me) Dangled him from the chandelier I see. To drain the blood before transporting the body.
(him) Well, yes, but, not Phillip, I mean, you're not supposed...
(me) Ah, of course, Phillip would’ve put the sword back properly. And cleaned up after himself. He’ll never get those stains out of the sword now.
(him) SOMEONE TAKE HER AWAY FROM ME.

His sweaty face poking out of the white forensic suit is turning purple. (“Violet! You’re turning violet, Violet. I got a blueberry for a daughter!”)

(new woman) S’alright, Sir, I can take it from here.

Brown face poking out of white suit. Large brown eyes. Slightly smiley. Lips trying not to. Smooth skin. No make-up. Lady police officer from the courtyard! Name? Find name badge. Picture doesn’t look like her. Not as shiny. “Saf Khar”.

(me) Where are you from Saf Khar?
(Saf Khar) Worthing.
(me) Not always.

She smiles.

(Saf Khar) No. I wasn’t born here.
(me) Are you Indian trying to sound Northern? Or Northern trying to sound Indian?

She’s laughing. Really hard. Not very noisy but her mouth is open WIDE. She has a filling in one of her back teeth. Still laughing. Getting embarrassing. I don’t know what to do. She’s stopped. She’s looking at me. *WEIRD EXPRESSION*. No idea.

(Saf Khar) A bit of both I think.
(Me looking at the stairs) What’s SHE doing here?
(Grumpy Purple Boss Man from before) FOR CRYING OUT LOUD WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?? THIS IS A CRIME SCENE FOR CHRISTSSAKE!!!!

Everyone is staring at the woman standing at the top of the stairs who is staring at ME with dagger eyes for drawing attention to her. How did she get in? Clearly this house needs ALL the windows replacing.

(Me) It’s Sasha. Phillip, the Mayor’s, P.A. That stands for Personal Assistant by the way. Not Piece of Ass like Kenny told me. That was bloody embarrassing at careers day by the way...
(Sasha) I’m just picking up some things for Phillip...

Cool as a cucumber in her matching clothes and pointy shoes (“we are Siamese if you please”)

(Sasha) as we’ve only just returned home from our...

She stops. Unexpected. Awkward. But only for a moment. No-one else will notice. What’s she looking at? She looks up quickly and continues.

(Sasha) ...holiday. Trip. Business trip.

Grumpy Purple Boss man throws his arms into the air.

(Grumpy Purple Boss) Saf, go up with her. Make her wear the gloves!! And the shoe covers! And the... oh what's the bloody point.

Saf Khar whispers to me to “stay put” and that she’ll get me out of here as soon as she’s done. When she turns her back my eyes immediately dart to the area of the floor that ‘floored’ Sasha. (I hope you appreciate my witty word play there).

It’s mostly blood. Blood blood blood blood blood blood blood. That chair is from the kitchen. Doesn’t normally live there. Toppled over. Broken. Someone heavy in it. Check later. Don’t forget. I won’t. You probably will. This is different. I’ll be more reliable this time. What did Sasha see? Look. Keep looking. Beneath the blood. Oh. There. Lines angles shape what shape? Rectangle pick it up NO they’ll see me and shout just grab it GO go on you know you want to YES I DO.

So I run to whatever it is lurking under the bloody goo, chuck it into the pocket of my Friday to Monday cardigan (it’s Friday), lucky it’s dark blue so the stain won’t show too bad, and make a dash for the study door behind me, scarpering off the way I came. Thank god my grandparents never got the windows repaired.

I told you before Sue and Phillip, the Mayor, her husband, were my grandparents, right? Oops. I always forget this myself. Sorry. It’s an interesting story actually. I would tell you now but I can hear Grumpy Purple Boss man screaming just outside this door so gotta dash. Man, that blueberry is gonna BLOW!

The summerhouse in Sue’s garden looks like a lounge. A Hobbit lounge. A Chinese Hobbit lounge. Far too big sofa, far too many throws, far too many rugs, no longer loved enough to live in the main house because they are frayed and worn and make your eyes go funny because all the different colours and Chinese symbols fade in and out of the moving slanty light.

They never use it. I love it. And I know they will never look for me here. Time to think. What do I know so far? Summary. Summery. Summerhouse Summary! (boy that is GOOD, isn’t it?)

Okay. Here goes:

Headless corpse guy was beheaded with the Samurai sword whilst dangling from the chandelier in Sue and Phillip’s hallway. The chandelier has suffered enormously for it.

Phillip did not kill headless corpse guy. Whoever it was has serious beef with Phillip. Blood stains are notoriously tricky to remove. Phillip is obviously doing it with Sasha.

Where are Sue and Phillip now? Where’s the head of Headless Corpse Guy? What the holy stinking piss flaps hell is all this about?

Something I definitely do know:

I WANT TO FIND OUT.

Something extra I definitely DON'T know:

WHERE DO I START?

Hang on. Something's just happened. Something small and you (and most people) definitely wouldn’t notice. But I am a true believer in the NON existence of an old man beardy god sitting in the clouds, dangling us all like puppets and punishing us for the petty crimes that he supposedly created in us in the first place, in favour of a kick ass universe that holds all the god-like qualities of this old dude but in a much more mysterious, powerful and all in all more human being serving way. And this almighty omniscient and omnipotent power contained within each and every one of us has suddenly made me remember:

Sasha has a really crap tattoo on her left calf.

As Sue would say,

A dolphin. Winking. Dreadfully tacky.

5. After Visiting 3 Other Tattoo Studios In The Worthing Area Not Interesting Enough To Write About I Finally Find This One.

Headless Corpse guy had a tattoo. A heart above his left nipple. Symmetrical and boring. No arty farty twirly whirly bits. Just a plain old run-of-the-mill seen it loads of times before in places you can’t quite remember where HEART. Makes sense that if he has (HAD!) a tattoo, there is a tattoo studio round here that did it. And if I find the tattoo studio then I stand a better chance of finding out who Headless Corpse really is. So that’s my plan.

This studio is small and decorated by someone who likes the colour black and sharp objects. There is no-one standing behind the counter when I walk in but a woman dressed in all black with very white arm skin covered in tattoo roses and very black straight hair is sitting in a dentist chair at the back. She smiles when I walk in. I decide she is a Kind Witch. There is someone sitting on a stool hunched over her left leg with the trouser leg rolled up (black obvs) and I realise Kind Witch woman is a customer in the middle of a tattoo. The tattooist does not look up from what he/she is doing (I cannot tell which yet. What’s the word they use for people that don’t want to be called he or she? It? No. THEY! Let’s use that for now) but THEY call out to me.

(they) With you in a minute. Take a seat.

Cockney. But squeezed out through a straw. Brighton accent. Like Katie Price. Take a seat is such a stupid expression. But I sit down in the burgundy sofa in the front of the shop and start to look through the photo album called ‘Studio Work’ left on the seat beside me. The book is filled with photographs of different tattoos on real body parts (no rudies), as well as line drawings of art the tattooist COULD do if you were a very angry person with violent tendencies and didn’t mind people thinking you were a psychopath. Even the twirly whirly things – flowers, animals, shapes – are drawn in a way that makes you feel scared about the evil powers they possess. Clearly, this tattoo artist has ISSUES. Or has never watched Disney.

Kind Witch goes to the toilet and Psycho Tattooist gets up and walks behind the counter. It’s a she. They’s a she. However you say it. And I only know that because of her large you-know-whats. Without those I would’ve been stumped.

Here she is:

See what I mean. I’m afraid this one does NOT have a soft face.

(Psycho Tattooist) Hi. I’m Doreen. People call me Dor.
(me) I want a tattoo. A heart shape. Please.
(Dor) Cool. Have a look through the album and show me what kind of thing you like. I can make adaptations to suit you.

I look through the album again. Hearts appear to be very popular. Broken ones, thorny ones, musical ones, ones with Sheila or Colin written inside. But they are complicated with dangerous looking edges and not remotely like the heart on Headless Corpse.

(Dor) Seen anything you like?
(me) No. I want something simpler. More normal. Less death.

She laughs and I look up surprised (and half prepared to duck away from her flying dagger of artistic wrath).

(Dor) Come over here and let’s see if we can sketch something up.

I walk towards the counter. Kind Witch comes out from the toilet and sits back in the dentist chair. Dor moves towards her and looks back at me.

(Dor) There’s a sketch pad and pen. See if you can show me what you want.

Dor really isn't that scary after all. I am starting to enjoy myself. And seriously considering getting a heart tattoo. Maybe on my wrist. Or my hip where no-one will see it as I tend to wear full swimsuits rather than bikinis as I get embarrassed about my…. Oh my god that’s it. Straight ahead of me on the wall.

That’s the heart. Right there.

Dor’s stool where she is working (with a sharp needle!) is about a metre and a half from the counter. How far is the poster? Arm’s reach but would need lunge across counter top sharp corner might hurt a bit you were considering a tattoo so toughen up just grab it GO go on you know you want to YES I DO.

Deep breathe. Lunge. Reach. Blue tack pull. Got it. Push off backwards to clear the counter top turn left so you don’t bump into dentist chair get the hell out of there.

When I reach the door I turn back to look at Dor. (Dor's door! Ha!) She does not stop me. Does not even try to. Instead she leans forward and waves, her massive knockers spilled and squished over the ghostly white shin of Kind Witch. There is a heart on her left breast. A plain old boring red symmetrical heart. No arty farty twirly whirly crap.

I am stood on the pavement around the corner from the studio. I stare at the card (your Maaaaajesty) and put it in the pocket of my Friday to Monday cardigan (it is Saturday), oh yes something else in this pocket remember? I pull my fingers out quickly but it's too late. Most of the blood has dried but there's still a stickiness on whatever it is I grabbed from Sue and Phillip, the Mayor's, house and the tips of my fingers are a dark red almost brown don't put them in your mouth it's dirty you'll get a tummy ache. I know before I even put my fingers back into my pocket that the two things I now have in my possession are the same. The same shape the same size the same bog standard playing card you can find in the house of anyone over the age of 32.

What I can't be sure of, but I'm gonna check right now even though I'm Freaky Friday scared down to my jelly welly boots DO IT I can't I'm scared GO ON you know you want to YES I DO....

Yep. There it is. Sweet monkey nuts of Georgia town there must be some way out of here says the joker to the thief. Shiiiiiiiiiiit.

Two playing cards. Both the Queen of Hearts. I need a milkshake.

6. I Go To Work Even Though I Don’t Want To As My Head Is Spinning And I Need To Think and Who Should Be Sat There But Sue Acting As If Nothing's Happened.

Catch the next chapter with the November Issue of Visable Inc.

About Stan

Stan is an extraordinary girl in the head of a very ordinary Invisible Writer. Stan (along with information regarding a dead body) was introduced to a group of Sixth Formers with reading and writing difficulties, as part of a literacy workshop. Over several weeks they worked together to figure out what happened next. It turned out to be so much more exciting and brillant and bloody than Stan expected we had no choice but to share it.

© Invisible Ink Books 2018

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