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By Christopher Brookmyre

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Extra resources for A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil

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His mum had told him he’d have to wait until he grew a bit and got trousers with flies, and Dad said he’d soon have flies on all his trousers if he kept getting pee on them. The teardrop things at school were much lower down than at the baths and Colin wouldn’t need lifted up to use one, but elevation hadn’t helped at the swimming, and he really didn’t want to end up with pee—and flies—all over his trousers. Lots of people had laughed at that girl Karen and she’d had to wear a spare skirt that the teacher got from a cupboard, with no pants\ Colin had gone straight to the toilets as soon as the teacher told them they could leave the classroom, and found himself the first one there.

I’m stayin. I’m stayin. I am. ” “Naw, right enough. ” “Aye, you’d best get that in before I see the bodies. I tend not to be so elegant when I’m poised over a lavvy bowl. ” Karen is standing under a small cluster of trees, offering relief from the light drizzle. It gets more heavily wooded further ahead, where Alex’s cybermen are resplendent in their coveralls, making the scene look like cheap BBC sci-fi. It’s a copse of trees, she thinks, but the word wouldn’t come earlier, because it was too close to ‘corpse’, and she doesn’t want to cement the association.

And before we can go, we have to tidy up,” she adds. “Colin, as you were keen to be on your feet, you can go round and collect the jotters. ” Colin likes being given the task, particularly as it involves going right round all the desks, but is less pleased that it also sounds a bit like a telling off. Lots of children stood up, but he is the one they are all now looking at because of it, and that makes him feel uncomfortable. He soon forgets this, however, once he begins pacing the aisles and picking up the jotters.

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