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The car was filthy, the hose barely displacing the red gunk that clung to the bumper. Liz adjusted the nozzle, focusing the blast. Her fingers trembling, whether with the coldness of the morning or guilt, she couldn’t tell.

The front of the car was a mess though, bonnet crumpled, lights smashed. Getting home from the pub had been tricky, her heart pounding in her mouth. Expecting blue lights to erupt behind her at any moment.

It was just a deer, leaping out of the shadows.

The fact that it had a childlike face was merely a trick of the night.

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The frantic knocking interrupted Phillipa’s Dr Who marathon. She hit pause, Tom Baker frozen in time. Escape that Time Lord!

The familiar silhouette was at the door. Phillipa opened, forced back as Percy burst in, running upstairs.

‘Oi, steady!’

Phillipa found him in the bathroom ransacking her medicine cabinet, vials and ointments clattering into the sink.

“Perce? Stop, you’re scaring me!”

No response. Percy was now emptying out the cupboard under the sink. Triumphantly retrieving a wad of sanitary towels.

Enough!

Phillipa hauled him up, ‘Percy, speak. What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?’

He turned, his crimson chin glistening.

The elephant was being unhelpful. Percy was tempted to turn it into a lion, but he had one of those already. He wrestled again with the beast, forcing the frayed trunk, attached by elastic, back to the front of its face.

The elephant hissed, awakening the hippo and tiger that till now, comforted by the warmth of the fire, had ignored their titanic struggle.

The elephant lashed out, drawing blood from Percy’s cheek.

‘Oi! That hurt’

Percy stormed off to the bathroom.

The elephant meandered to the fire, joining his comrades.

Hanging from its collar, a heart, inscribed with Dumbledore.

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“Any luck?”

Kate shook her head, rattling the box of dried cat food again. The back yard was bereft of any feline presence no matter what she did.

‘Look I’m sure he’ll be back when you come home from school.’

‘But its been two days mum, Mr Dumbledore has never been away that long. Ever!”

“Well we’re running late for school, so Mr Dumbledore will have to take care of himself. Now go get your shoes.”

Kate sat a little longer, rattling the box, listening out for the tinkle of Mr D’s bell.

Wondering where her best friend had gone.

The little deviant was out there again! From behind his net curtains Norman watched the waif from 77 fiddling with the streetlight. He had a mind to march over, confront him. Yet Jeremy Kyle would be on the telly soon.

He’d write to the council again, or the Daily Mail. Someone had to make a stand, this street was going to the dogs.

Norman retreated to his armchair that over the years had faded like him. The scotch waiting on the side table, glass ready.

Norman turned on the television.

A glance at the clock.

Trembling fingers unscrewed the cap.

The scraping of steel on stone disturbed Leo from his sleep. His warm breath blurring the window as he peered down onto next door’s yard. Mr Burgess was digging at the patio again, just in shorts and a vest though it was nearly midnight.

Leo’s mum often complained that Mr Burgess was obsessed with his patio, yet Leo didn’t see the harm.

As he watched Mr Burgess replace a slab over freshly dug earth Leo tapped on the glass. The noise seemed to startle his neighbour, spinning around. Yet when he saw Leo he gave a wave.

Leo waved back.

‘So what do ye call this?’

Phil looked up, his wife’s shaking hand holding a card daubed with a red heart.

He shrugged, ‘Valentine’s card?’

‘From one of your skanky whores. You promised me ye’d stop slagging around …’, Phil ducked as the card hurtled towards him.

‘Babe, darling … I promise … this has nowt to do with me.’

‘What like all the other ‘accidents’ were just slips of the cock. When I get back from work ye’d better be gone.’

The door slammed, Phil retrieved the card.

Fingers crossed the barmaid from the Red Lion had sent it.