Today, John F. Leonard has given me an exclusive character background from his latest novel, Bad Pennies. I hope you enjoy reading it and that it encourages you to check out John’s books. Bad Pennies is book 1 in the Scaeth Mythos and it is available from here.
Thanks to John for being such a good supporter of my site and for allowing me to publish this excerpt.
The Fall of Old Mammy Hodge
By John F Leonard
Ronald heard the screeching while he was in the back garden putting out rubbish. The bins didn’t empty themselves. Not that anyone else would acknowledge the fact. Certainly not his mother.
Get with the scene Billy-Jean, let’s make this place nice and clean. No time for your glad rags, we need to boogie-woogie with some black bags.
He didn’t have any particular stick up his arse about cleanliness. His god was a little more relaxed on the hygiene front than the traditional, weirdie-beardy bloke in white.
Still, after a certain point, mouldering crap had a tendency to cramp your style. You tripped over the damn stuff apart from anything else. That could be a proper pain in the wobbly buttocks. Only last week he’d stumbled in the kitchen and bloodied his mouth on the counter.
Old Mammy Hodge had cackled at that. Laughed because he’d hurt himself.
Ronald bared his teeth at the memory. His mother didn’t know it, but her crowing had brought the unthinkable a small step closer.
Juice from the sack was dribbling down his joggers.
He sighed and hefted the bag into the bin. Turned to listen. Silence that wouldn’t last.
“Lord Within, what’s the withered bitch up to now?”
There was a shriek that could shatter the sky and his slippered feet were moving.
The raddled whore was invoking the Thin White King. In broad daylight no less. Intolerable in an everyday environment.
“You can’t do that, you crazy-mad old bat.”
He rushed through the house and out of the front door. Found her in the middle of the road haranguing a workman. Screaming at him. A nobody, one of the drones, pinned against the side of his van like some overalled butterfly on a wheel. Her lips spitting vitriol in a tongue known only to a few. A language that spanned time and space and the gaps between realities.
To speak in such a fashion was a sure-fire way of bringing the wrath of the Lord between the Walls. Drop them both in the chocolate stuff.
Ronald grappled her away, mumbling apologies. Heard the man mutter under his breath.
“Jesus, I hate jobs in Jessup’s Green. Place is full of fucking nutters. One big, open plan asylum.”
Ronald flashed his most charming smile and was rewarded by a cringing retreat. Yellowed teeth, edged black, were always a winner with strangers.
Mammy Hodge was deceptively difficult to manage. Incredible that this small bundle of shrivelled skin and twisted bone could contain such strength. In the end, Ronald had to use her hair as a grab handle and hope that the wispy stuff didn’t come out in his hand. Bang her head against the door frame to get a little cooperation.
That evening, Ronald went to his bed with a heavy heart. He slid into sleep beseeching his lord and master for guidance. Maybe more than that. A prayer for permission to act on thoughts that had bubbled at the back of his mind for too long to mention.
In the dead of night, and not for the first time, he was visited by messengers. The room swarmed with spiders, envoys of his king. A creature called the Scaeth by an unfortunate handful that knew of its existence.
The Scaeth’s spiders did a little arachnid massage and Ronald squirmed in pleasure. His dreams took on a rather fevered pitch. Best, perhaps, to not dwell on the content of those sleepy-time imaginings.
Ronald had a somewhat vivid imagination.
The spiders, some tiny small and some frighteningly large and some not of this world, crawled his sweat damp sheets. Stroked his naked body and feathered his greasy head. Brushed his eyelids and squirrelled his gums. Sat in his nose and busied themselves at his ears.
They spoke and their chitinous speaking carried instruction.
When he woke, Ronald Hodge was refreshed and ready to rock.
They stood at the top of the stairs, his hand on her elbow.
“Shall I help you down Mammy?”
She swatted his hand and whirled on him.
“Don’t need your help, you waste of good organs. It’ll be a sorry day when I do. Between the walls is where you belong my boy. Useless, limp-dick wastrel like your father. Same as all the Hodge men. You’re the latest in a long line of useless. He only ever had one duty and that was to put something decent inside me. Look at the result!”
She screeched her awful laugh and turned away.
He moved his hand to the middle of her back and gave her a not-so-gentle shove.
Watched as she crashed and clattered to the hall below. Bouncing off the walls and putting new bends into her already bent body.
Ronald heard some pretty disastrous crunching sounds, but he went to check anyway. You couldn’t be too sure with a woman like Mammy Hodge. She’d steal your eyes and come back for the lashes. Defy death out of sheer spite.
He’d break her scrawny neck if the fall hadn’t done the trick.
There was no need, she was as dead as disco.
Ronald had a genuine hitch in his voice when he called the emergency services. Snivelled the report with tears in his eyes.
Not surprising, every boy loved their mother.
Even when the mother in question was an evil old witch.
Character background for Ronald Hodge from the novel Bad Pennies.
Copyright © 2017 by John F Leonard
All rights reserved.