As much as writers are allowed to have favourite stories, this is one of my favourites. I was gripped with the urge to write this story three weeks after the Goo-boy was born, as I was lying in bed trying to rest. Instead I propped myself up and wrote the first thousand words, based on the image that jumped into my mind that I couldn’t purge. I “saw” a girl huddling behind a rusted old petrol bowser, but she wasn’t a normal girl: her skin was red, she was naked and completely hairless.
And thus “Banned Girl” was born.
This story was semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future contest, and finally found a home at Fictionvale. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! (Click the image below to buy).
Excerpt from “Banned Girl”:
Just north of Boonah, an abandoned petrol station rotted on the outskirts of the Forbidden Zone. The rusted gas pumps thrust up against a tainted, toxic sky, like giant robot warriors standing guard against the threat to the east. Normally the only menace was the odd mutant wallaby or giant goanna, but there were more sinister dangers to look out for. The adults would’ve been angry if they knew we were there, but they didn’t, and we were well inside the Wards, so it was okay.
I was there with Abby and Alice, the mayor’s daughters, when I saw the banned girl. She’d crept out of the Zone and hidden behind one of our robot warriors—useless as a sentinel, obviously. Abby hadn’t seen her and ran toward the line of warriors.
“Abby, ’ware!” I called. “Banned girl!”
Abby turned midstride and bolted for the crumbling building. Alice met her on the step and, huddled together, they turned and peered with dreadful fascination at the banned girl’s red skin, which oozed from every pore. Her hairless body trembled, poised on the brink of flight.
Through all this commotion the girl hadn’t moved. She clung to the rusty pump and watched us. Fear and disgust welled inside me. I stooped and grabbed a rock. Abby and Alice, strengthened by the support of each other, egged me on with matched, twinny glee.
“Throw it, Ben! Don’t let it come near!”
I hefted the rock and pretended to toss it. The banned girl swayed and flinched but her grip didn’t falter. With the shouts of the twins echoing in my ears, I pegged the rock at the banned girl.
It hit her naked belly and she cringed but didn’t let go.
“Another one, Ben.” The vicious harpy cries nudged my darker side. I hurled another rock at her head. It hit her and she was felled, a stunted red tree cut down by my ax. Without thinking, I started toward her, but the twins crept up behind me and their little hands tugged at my sleeves.
“C’mon, Ben, they’re dangerous. Even dead.”
I wanted to see if she was dead, but I let them pull me away.
“Don’t tell anyone. If they knew we was here…” Truth was, I’d get in more trouble than the mayor’s girls.
The twins shrugged in unison, twirling fat ginger plaits. “Okay.”