Bullet To The Head.

Zayn Malik dreams of escaping from this misery by leaving to go to university. But all that changes when he is forced to hide an gun by a local teenage thug. Intoxicated by the apparent power the gun gives him in the local community, he is drawn down a perilous path, and his future hangs in the balance. Can the gun give him the freedom he's been dreaming of? Or will it throw away the key for good? (This story contains strong language)

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It’s all over the news again, in the papers and on television. Another kid has been shot dead, so it’s all grieving parents telling us how little Josh was such a good boy and all. Telling us how little Josh only played football and was never involved in any trouble. Yeah, sure.And of course the police are going to be moving heaven and earth, leaving no stone unturned. Yeah, right. We’ve heard it all before. And there’sthe usual bunch of quotes from friends and neighbours. There they are, telling us what a nice neighbourhood it is and how shocking it all is and how they can’t believe that it’s happened right on their doorsteps. And of course,you know, the bunches of flowers as close to the scene of the tragedy as the police will let them get. Mostly they’re placed there by people who never even knew little Josh. It’s on the telly, right, so everybody wants to bea part of it.

What a bloody country this is? And the reason I’m thinking about this now, while I’m riding home on my  BMX, is because I’m feeling the weight of what’s in the canvas bag strapped to my back. It’s books, mostly – as you’d expect, with me coming home from Harry's House and all – but it’s the other thing that’s in there that puts the pressure on my mind. It’s the gun. Bad timing.  It’s bad timing that put the gun there. They say that timing is everything. I read that all the time. Well I got my timing all wrong, staying late at Harry's House like that. Late, so that it’s near dark when I turn onto the estate where I live. Late as I notice, as always, the line of young trees planted alongside the road that have been stripped or pulled out, the remains of some pathetic attempt by the council to make our area look nicer. Late as I notice, as always, the casual rubbish and the broken glass in the gutters. And inevitably, I notice the cans. Wherever you see the cans, you can pretty much picture the loose gangs of kids around my age and younger, even, wearing NY caps like it’s standard issue uniform or something. You can hear them swearing, drinking, shouting, chucking stuff about. The kind of casual loutish behaviour that makes the rest of us feel uncomfortable... makes us cross over the road, walk quicker, head down, no eye contact. But, hey, I’m not judging them, I come from these streets just like they do. The estate is a mass of red brick semi-detached houses built in the fifties. A land fit for heroes is what my teacher says they were trying to build. Bet they never envisaged just how the children of heroes would turn out.
 

So anyway, like I say, I’m riding home from Harry's House, and I’m deep into the estate. I see them, of course, as I approach  the boarded-up old pub, the Heart of Oak. There are about seven or eight of them,boys that I know from the estate and from school. And I see the uniform of NY Hats and the hooded sweatshirts and trainers and track-pants and they’re fooling around and spilling into the road. There’s a lot of shouting and swearing and raucous humourless laughter. I hear a bottle smash. And one of them is pissing up against the wall of the pub. Right there in plain sight, with the street-lamp like a stage spotlight giving him a moment of fame. Chavs like these are part of the local furniture here where I live. They’re not friends. And I’m riding on the other side of the road and I’m sure as hell not going to look over at them. As often as not that’s all it will take for them to feel affronted and offended. And then it would be time to be afraid. So I’m just going to ride on by.

"Hey, Malik! Over here!"

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