“Oi Jez I think I’ve spotted someone, over by that cafe,” whispered Jasper excitedly who judging by his grin had overcome his fear with the excitement of spying.
Jermaine emerged from the darkness with a large joint smoking away in his mouth, he looked through his binoculars.
“Don’t be stupid that’s just a tramp, I don’t think Charlotte’s fearsome army would include a man in a dress with what looks like a nappy on his head,” Replied Jermaine, who was angry at being disturbed for no reason.
“But it could be a disguise, if you think about it there are hardly any tramps in inner London, most of them have been caught and sent packing, someone as smashed as that bloke over there would certainly be caught.” Said Jasper who quite content at having justified his point.
“Ok I’ll have some boys pick him up and interrogate him as we move in on Charlotte,” said Jermaine in a stern voice.
Jermaine pulled out his phone, dialled a number and said a few meaningless words which were obviously code, it was quite clear Jermaine took his work very seriously. A few seconds’ later two push bikes and a tricycle appeared, there was a small scuffle but they got the confused man on the tricycle and ignited their rockets. Charlotte, who had been around 50 metres from the kidnapping smiled at the paranoia of her escorts for the evening. It was only seconds later that she saw the tall figure of Jermaine striding out with Jasper a few steps behind wheeling their two bicycles. Their bikes were classic of the outer London drug dealers. Ever since petrol had become scarce cars and motorbikes became impossible to run, so the gang members of the territories had to rely on heavily customised bicycles. These commonly had long seats so they could carry multiple passengers and large rockets to provide extra power for getaways. These rockets were homemade and mainly comprised of coal dust mixed with flour and any combustible materials the gangs could get their hands on. They would also mix metal oxides into the rockets so they would give off multi coloured sparks. Some bikes had mounted samurai swords and for the highest members of council there were small petrol engines with a monthly allocated petrol ration.
“Hello old friend,” said Charlotte in cheery but sarcastic voice. “I hope I didn’t scare you with my fearsome attack force.”
Jermaine shot a look at Jasper.
“I suppose you understand the purpose of our meeting tonight.” Jermaine said sternly brushing off Charlotte’s insult.
Charlotte let out a giggle, partly to undermine Jermaine but also because she was still quite drunk.
Jermaine carried on, “There is a tattoo parlour on Milbrook road which is a fifteen minute ride, I’ll lead the way and you’ll ride with Jasper. My sources say the way is clear of police but if we come across any they are not likely to be lenient tonight so we stun and run.”
Neither Jasper nor Charlotte needed an explanation on the term stun and run. Every bike had loose rockets fitted to the front forks which upon ignition would shoot off in the direction which the wheel pointed exploding in smoke and spark clouds. The gangs had developed many methods of escape to avoid any unnecessary confrontation.
Jermaine jumped on his bike and struck a match, lighting two large black rockets on the back of his bike. His bike jumped forward disappeared into the dark. Jasper got on his bike and wheeled it to where charlotte was standing. With one foot on a stunt peg charlotte got on the back and put her arms round Jaspers waist for stability and to signify she was ready. Jasper pressed a button beneath the seat and with a stream of purple sparks the bike shot off into the dark.
Charlotte felt a rush of excitement shoot round her body, it had been a long time since she had last rode on one of these bikes and the thrill of jetting through the streets of London was refreshing to say the least. It was obvious with Jermaine out of earshot Jasper had warmed up. Back when Charlotte lived in the outskirts she watched over Jasper as if he was her younger brother and he did need looking after. He was the least threatening boy in the outskirts of London; he had the face of an angel and cute blonde locks of hair. He was always in a good mood and if left to his own devices would happily hop about and whistle to himself. With this happy attitude you’d never expect him to be friends with such a stern boy as Jermaine but for some unknown reason they just got on.
“So how you been Charlie?” Jasper asked in his sweet voice.
“Oh, you know just my usual teenage life nothing like the stuff you probably get up to.”Charlotte replied.
“Oh and what is that exactly?”
“I don’t know, how about escorting beautiful girls through the dangerous streets of London to get gang alliance tattoos.” Charlotte was now smiling.
“Oh it’s not that exciting and the girls aren’t that pretty.” Jasper said as he let out a chuckle.
“Anyway, how about you, are you still in love with Jermaine?”
“Unfortunately, yes, but I survive.”
After this there was an awkward moment silence because of the gravity of those words but Charlotte the conversation master filled it quickly.
“So why are the police not likely to be lenient tonight?”
Charlotte saw the corner of Jaspers mouth as a big grin erupted.
“Well you know sergeant Barry Childs, the chief of our district.”
“Yeah what’s that corrupt slimy bugger up to?”
“Well he started to complain about the gratitude we’re giving him.” Jasper was talking about the bribes the council were paying him.
“What! We give him more than anyone gets paid in the council.”
“Yeah that’s what we thought, so when he asked for more we decided to teach him a lesson.” Jasper paused as his grin reappeared on his face.”
“So we kidnapped him, stripped him, covered him in glue and stuck details of our bribes onto him. Then we dumped him right in central London during rush hour.”
“You should have seen it Charlie everyone was laughing at him and some press turned up, he even had to wrestle some guy for a coat.”
Charlotte smiled as she was genuinely impressed with the council’s course of action. It was humiliating but not criminal; it was sufficient to show him who was boss but not enough to cause a big reaction. Nevertheless after a stunt like that, if they were caught in central London the minimum they would get would be an hour long interrogation.
Jasper’s smile reverted back to a stern stare as he saw Jermaine waiting further down the road, off his bike and peering round the corner. They pulled alongside.
It didn’t look good, even with his limited view Jermaine has spotted thirteen riot police standing in a casual staggered arc. Now the modern day riot police were not like their lightly armed equivalents of the early century, no these were dark creatures. Mostly convicts they had all been offered early probation in return for their skills in violence and intimidation. They had no uniforms, just a purple beret which some say reflected the colour of the bruises they inflicted on all that didn’t cower in their wake.
They were armed with whatever they wished to use and they took great advantage of this freedom. For most of these individuals this work was their first exposure to the upper echelons of society and being forced to work in an environment where they would never be accepted filled them all with rage. Now obviously they were powerless against most of the rich central Londoners however there were no boundaries to what they could do to intruders. They especially enjoyed torturing the young adults of the drugs council to the point where they would happily spend hours chasing them round the streets of London. It was all this information and past experience that kept Jermaine rooted to the spot around the corner from the gang of thugs.
Check the other side, Jermaine signaled for jasper to check the path down the parallel road on that block. Charlotte pressed against the wall couldn’t suppress her excitement at this most dangerous of situations. But she was suddenly struck by her disgust at her own thoughts; she always loathed rich children from inner London who lusted after the broken lives of the outer city kids. She had witnessed them as they tried to set up their own trafficking operations and she had orchestrated the actions to show them who were the one and only drug dealers of central London. But she was one of them, saturated with glee while Jerry and jasper got on with task at hand as if it was a standard day. But there was no time to dwell on her thoughts, jasper had just returned with severely bad news; they were now pinned down to this area of street bounded by the two parallel roads. It turns out around the corner, there was the premier of the recently opened theatre production of “Beat Down”, the life story of an outer London toe rag who went from rags to riches, ironic. This meant there was twice as much security on that street.
Jermaine immediately formed a plan which he conferred to Jasper but withheld from Charlotte; they got on their bikes. Jermaine fiddled around with the buttons on the bottom of his bike seat and fuses lit on two large red rockets mounted on the sides of the rear wheels. Jasper didn’t have to as Charlotte had already operated them knowing exactly what going to happen; after all she had invented it. Fireworks set off to both side streets and smoke reduced visibility on the street they were on to half a metre. The explosions went off and the smoke circulated, around the corner they heard some screams and shouting. They stayed tight to the wall and waited. As predicted the overzealous riot police and security ran straight out into the street that was filled with smoke, where the fireworks had exploded. It was at this point that Jasper, Jermaine and Charlotte shot past them without a single one noticing.
It was a ten minute ride to the tattoo parlour on Millbrook road and it went without a hitch. They all got off and walked in, led by Jermaine. Inside it was bare just one chair perfectly in the centre of the room with the artist’s chair positioned to its side. The floor ceiling and walls were the same grey tiles and this bleak cladding even covered the door at the back of room. There were none of the designs which usually adorned the walls of places like this but Charlotte didn’t care as she knew what she wanted.
The tattoo artist came in and sat down in his chair; Charlotte lay down on the other tattoo chair and the cold clinical vinyl seat made all the muscles in her back clench. Charlotte slapped down the poster of the gothic black crown and without looking at it the man got to work. Charlotte had been there when her friends had tattoos done and she remembered the pure black ink sitting on their skin. She remembered how that untainted purified black ink, darker than anything she had seen before had captured her gaze, her full attention her soul. But this ink was a whole new level, it seemed to absorb the light from all around it and emit darkness. Whilst staring at it she felt as though this ink was a colour she and no one had ever experienced before. As it was applied she felt power flowing in through every hole created by the needle. Everything seemed to go blurry apart from the chair, the artist and her own body as if they had been transported to another world and they were surrounded by screens showing what they had left behind.
All in all it took an hour and a half to complete but for Charlotte it had flown by, in fact Jermaine had to shake her quite vigorously to wake her up from the awe created coma. The first thing she did was look down at the magnificent symbol proudly.