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       The End, p.1

           Charlie Higson
The End


  A Note on The End

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57

  Chapter 58

  Chapter 59

  Chapter 60

  Chapter 61

  Chapter 62

  Chapter 63

  Chapter 64

  Chapter 65

  Chapter 66

  Chapter 67

  Chapter 68

  Chapter 69

  Chapter 70

  Chapter 71

  Chapter 72

  Chapter 73

  Chapter 74

  Chapter 75

  Chapter 76

  Chapter 77

  Chapter 78

  Chapter 79

  The Enemy Series Timeline

  Charlie Higson isn’t only the writer of the critically acclaimed The Enemy series, or the creator of Young Bond, which has been translated into twenty-five languages. He’s also an actor, scriptwriter, director, producer and former singer. He has written four crime books for adults, presented a film series for Channel 4 (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and appeared as himself in many TV panel shows, including QI, Have I Got News for You and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

  On leaving university he formed an indie band, The Higsons, before giving it up to become a painter and decorator (the pay was better). It was around this time that he started writing for television on Saturday Night Live, and he went on to create the hugely successful comedy series The Fast Show, in which he also appeared. Other TV works include Harry Enfield’s Television Programme, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and the sitcom Swiss Toni.

  His work for radio includes the award-winning spoof phone-in programme Down the Line (BBC Radio 4), which became the television comedy series Bellamy’s People (BBC 2).

  Charlie doesn’t do Facebook but you can tweet him @monstroso

  Praise for Charlie Higson’s writing:


  – SFX

  ‘Entertainment of the highest calibre’

  – Books Quarterly


  – Sunday Times

  ‘Charlie Higson’s Young Bond books get an A*’

  – GQ

  ‘Clever … fast-paced … inventive’

  – Guardian

  ‘like a John Wyndham survival story …’

  – The Times

  ‘Good, gritty and funny’

  – Daily Mail

  ‘Double-oh so good’

  – Sunday Times

  For all of you …

  Vicky, Frank, Jim and Sidney

  And War, which for a moment was no more,

  Did glut himself again – a meal was bought

  With blood, and each sate sullenly apart

  Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;

  All earth was but one thought – and that was death,

  Immediate and inglorious; and the pang

  Of famine fed upon all entrails – men

  Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;

  From ‘Darkness’ by Lord Byron



  They walked north up Exhibition Road, between the Victoria and Albert on their right and the Science Museum on their left. It was a wide road, wide enough for four lanes of traffic, with a weird grid pattern on it made of different coloured paving bricks. A line of tall poles, like flagpoles, ran down the middle.

  Ryan’s hunters stayed in a pack, marching in step, almost like a military unit. The hunters scared Paddy, with their huge dogs and their studs and their leather masks made out of the faces of dead grown-ups. They were filthy dirty and they smelt of blood and sweat and worse. They reminded Paddy of the wild kids he’d been living with in St James’s Park before Achilleus and his friends had turned up. Ryan even had a string of human ears hanging from his belt.

  At least Paddy felt safe with them, though. They were used to these streets. They owned them. He saw how easy they were, and on top of things at the same time. Listening, looking, aware of everything that was going on around them without making a big deal out of it. Five of their dogs trotted ahead, off their leashes. Sniffing everywhere, weeing everywhere, scouting around. The rest of the dogs, the biggest, meanest-looking ones, were kept on short, heavy chains and walked obediently at the boys’ sides.

  Paddy liked dogs, wished he had one of his own. Not a big monster like Ryan’s. He wanted a spaniel or a terrier of some sort. He’d had two Jack Russells before, had kept them with him right through the bad times when the disease hit. And a long time after. They’d been with him in the camp in St James’s Park. The leader of the camp, John, had liked to play with them, making them chase rats. And then one night he’d killed them and eaten them.

  Achilleus dropped back from his position at the front and joined Paddy.

  ‘What you reckon, padawan?’ he said. ‘Think we should join this lot? Get out of the museum. Run the streets?’

  ‘I don’t know,’ said Paddy, who hated the idea. Paddy liked having a regular place to sleep. Strong, thick walls around him. And there were other kids at the museum who relied on Achilleus.

  ‘What about your friends?’ he said and Achilleus huffed.

  ‘What about them?’

  ‘It’s your job to be their champion. To be their best fighter. Their best killer. You couldn’t let them down.’

  ‘Most of them don’t even like me,’ said Achilleus.

  ‘Does that bother you?’

  ‘Nope. I know that in the end they need me, so they try to hide their feelings and keep me sweet. Just as long as they show me some respect I’m cool.’

  Yeah. Akkie was the coolest person in the world. Paddy liked everything about him – his ugly, scarred face, the patterns carved in his hair with a razor blade, his mangled ear, the way he could be relaxed and not bothered one moment and scary and tough the next. And when he fought there was no one better.

  ‘One day they’ll make the world right again,’ Paddy said. ‘We’ll kill all the grown-ups, rebuild everything, and then they’ll start making films again over in Hollywood, where that big sign is. They’ll make a film about you, and you’ll be the biggest hero, bigger than James Bond and Spiderman and the X-Men put together.’
r />   ‘You’re a dreamer, kid,’ said Achilleus. ‘It’ll be a thousand years before it gets back to how things were. A thousand years before we can figure out how to do stuff like make films again, with CGI and green screen and all that crap you see on the DVD extras. First we got to figure out how to do something as basic as turning the juice back on. How do you make electricity? I got no idea. Don’t even really know what electricity is. Might as well be magic. It powered my life before it got switched off – my TV, my phone, my console, my computer, the lights, the heating, the fridge … Without power, we’re back in the olden days, Paddy, back in the Stone Age. That’s why they call it “power”, because electricity is power. It made us gods. Maybe Einstein and his science nerds back at the museum could figure it out. Ben and Bernie – they into all that type of thing. But, seriously, how long d’you think it’s gonna be before we get a power station up and running again?’

  ‘A long time,’ said Paddy. ‘A thousand years.’

  ‘A thousand years is right. In the meantime there’s just this. Hunting, killing, fighting to stay alive. Nothing’s gonna get sorted until we’ve sorted the grown-ups. And that’s something I do know about. That’s what we doing now.’

  Ryan and his hunters had come to the museum with a car that they exchanged for some cases of beer. A few days ago a little girl called Ella had left with some other kids to go and live in the countryside, and then her brother, Sam, had turned up looking for her. So a scarred-faced guy called Ed had gone to bring her back. The car had been for him.

  Achilleus had got talking to Ryan who’d told him they were going up to Hyde Park to check out a sighting of some grown-ups. They hadn’t needed to persuade Achilleus to go with them. He was totally bored at the museum.

  They came to the end of the street. Ahead of them was the park. In between was a big main road, with a pedestrian strip down the middle of it. In the past this would have been busy with traffic; now it was still and silent.

  But the hunters weren’t crossing. They were looking at something in the road off to their right.

  A grown-up. A father. Standing with his arms held straight out in front of him, face turned up to the sky, like he was waiting for rain.

  Paddy moved closer to Achilleus. Didn’t say anything. Hoped no one noticed how nervous he was.

  Hoped it wasn’t all about to kick off.

  ‘Should’ve spotted him before,’ said Achilleus. ‘But standing still like that …’

  ‘They’re all over,’ said Ryan. ‘We mostly ignore them.’

  ‘Ed called them sentinels,’ said Achilleus. ‘Like they’re sending signals to other grown-ups somehow.’

  ‘What do you think they’re saying?’ Ryan asked.

  ‘Maybe there’s a special meal deal on at McDonald’s,’ said Achilleus.

  A couple of hunters laughed. Paddy did too, but he wasn’t laughing inside. The sentinels freaked him out. He didn’t like the idea of grown-ups communicating with each other. He didn’t like the idea of grown-ups at all. Wished he could have stayed back at the museum. But he couldn’t look moist in front of the others.

  The father had a bloated purple face, like someone had tightened something round his throat, and his head was bulging out, ready to burst. His hands were puffy too, with fat, sausagey fingers. There was something ripe about him. Ripe and rotten.

  Paddy told himself to man up.

  ‘What do you reckon, Akkie?’ he said. ‘Can we take him?’

  ‘Is up to you, caddie. You wanna whack him? Show off your skills?’

  ‘Can I?’

  ‘You asking if I’m giving you permission? Or you asking if I think you’re up to it?’

  ‘Both, I guess.’

  ‘He’s all yours. He ain’t no threat to a warrior like you. What spear you gonna use?’ Achilleus took the golf bag off Paddy.

  Paddy carried Akkie’s collection of spears in it. He was in charge of them. Cleaned them, sharpened them, suggested the best one to use in a fight.

  ‘The Gáe Bolg,’ said Paddy, hyped up and just a little bit terrified.

  The Gáe Bolg was Achilleus’s newest spear – the death spear, the belly spear – which Paddy had named after the legendary spear carried by the greatest Irish folk hero, Cúchulainn.

  Although Akkie preferred to call it the Gay Bulge, which always made Paddy laugh.

  It had a wide, leaf-shaped blade and it was a beauty. It was a perfect stomach ripper. It was the disemboweller.

  ‘Nice choice, Champion,’ said Achilleus and he pulled out the spear.

  Paddy took it and weighed it in his hands, getting the feel of it, checking the balance. It was a bit too big for him – too long and heavy and awkward. He hoped the others wouldn’t say anything.

  ‘Where you aiming for?’ Achilleus asked.

  ‘The belly,’ said Paddy, trying to sound all serious and expert and grown-up. ‘I mean, this is the belly ripper, isn’t it?’

  ‘If you say so. Go in fast, like I showed you. Keep low, keep the spear out in front, come at him from off to one side, not straight on. Keep your arms strong. Swing hard and cut deep. Takes a lot to cut through clothes and skin.’

  ‘Yeah.’ Paddy was nodding, psyching himself up. Practising on a dummy in the yard back at the museum was one thing. Actually killing a person was something else entirely.

  ‘Arms wide apart and well spaced,’ said Achilleus. ‘You’ll get more power in your cut then. It’d be easier to spike him, but if you want to go for a slice that’s up to you.’

  ‘I think the slice is better,’ said Paddy, still all serious. ‘That’s what this spear was made for.’

  ‘Then what you waiting for? Go for it. Kill the puffy sod.’

  Paddy hopped from foot to foot on the spot, like an athlete getting ready for his start. Jigging about, loosening up. And then he gave a shout and was off and running – remembering Achilleus’s instructions – coming at the father at an angle, not straight on, just as Achilleus had told him.

  As he got closer, he gave a war cry, almost screaming, and he swiped the spear across the father’s stomach. He could immediately see it wasn’t deep enough or hard enough. It tore open the front of the father’s filthy, greasy shirt, but did nothing worse.

  The father barely flinched, just swayed slightly and carried on waiting for rain.

  Ignoring Paddy.

  The hunters cheered and laughed.

  ‘Keep on it, soldier,’ Achilleus shouted. ‘Come back at him.’

  So Paddy swung back the other way and this time the head of his spear dug deep. There was an audible pop, like a balloon bursting, and a spray of blood and brown liquid squirted all over Paddy who wasn’t fast enough to get out of the way. After the liquid came the guts, spilling out and flopping to the ground, releasing a foul stink that made the hunters groan and cover their mouths and noses. The father rocked backwards and forwards and then toppled over on to his back and hit the road with a wet splat and a crack of skull on concrete.

  Paddy knew he was going to puke.

  ‘I’m covered in it,’ he wailed. ‘Bastard sprayed all over me.’

  ‘Unclean, unclean! Keep away from me,’ laughed one of the hunters and they all started moaning and making disgusted noises.

  ‘Stupid idiot,’ said Achilleus and he laughed too. ‘You shoulda kept going, gone clear – you’re gonna stink for days now.’

  ‘Yeah – ha, ha! Ain’t I? I got him, though, didn’t I? I stuck him good.’

  ‘You stuck him bare good, soldier.’

  And Paddy puked.

  Achilleus walked up to him. ‘Bend over,’ he said. ‘Head down. Deep breaths.’

  A thin stream of vomit spattered on to the road.

  ‘It was the smell,’ said Paddy. ‘That’s all.’


  It wasn’t the smell, though.

  Paddy had never killed anyone before.

  He straightened up, taking big gulps of air. ‘I’m OK.’

  ‘Good man.
Achilleus slapped him on the back and they followed the hunters over the road to where they were entering the park.

  Paddy really hoped there wasn’t anything much worse in there.

  He really didn’t think he could do that again.


  The park was much bigger than Achilleus had imagined, with a road running through the middle of it, giving them a good view on either side. Off to the left was a mad statue of some dude in a giant chair set inside what looked like a steam-punk space rocket, all gold and shiny.

  ‘That’s the Albert Memorial,’ said Ryan.

  ‘Who’s Albert?’ Achilleus asked.

  ‘No idea. Some dead guy.’

  ‘Somebody obviously liked him. To build that thing.’

  ‘He was Queen Victoria’s husband,’ said Paddy. ‘I’ve come here once on a school trip.’

  ‘You reckon someone will build a statue of me like that?’ Achilleus asked.

  ‘Yeah,’ said Paddy. ‘They should. All heroes should have a statue.’

  They walked on. It seemed stupidly peaceful and safe. Birds flew everywhere, singing loudly. Squirrels ran and jumped between the huge trees that were laid out in straight lines going off in all directions. The grass had grown long between the trees.

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