Hel’s Kitchen (Exerpt)

…Carrow wandered down towards Green Lanes, past glazed and beady eyes and black doors with white markings. There was a little side street, jutting off from the road like a broken arm. He wandered down it. The Hollow; that place seemed to be open. A fat little black dog lay in the sun outside, wheezing smoke.

Inside, the cafe was icy cold and minimally furnished. There was no-one inside. White tablecloths bled into the roughly whitewashed floorboards like melting icebergs and there was a tacky water feature shaped like a bleeding glacier in one corner, next to a cracked and empty fish tank. Carrow liked the place: it was cool and odd and very unlike the other trendy, pop-up coffee places that were appearing all over London like plague sores.

As Carrow moved further into the room, he noticed strange carvings on the beams and skirting boards, picked out in gold leaf; there were great serpents and dragons that coiled around ships and bit their own tails; there were armoured figures with the heads of wolves, brandishing knives and axes and severed limbs; there were shrunken heads, hung by their hair from the saddles of horses; there was a one eyed figure in a cloak holding up a pair of pliers; there were dead things hidden beneath piles of rotting leaves; there was an ape riding a giant, a too-big crown slipping down its hairy brow; there were broken bones protruding from the ground like demon’s fingers; there was a church, a rainbow, a bear holding a sword, a candle, a cave, a burning cross and, most noticeable of all, a huge bridge held up by a stag’s antlers that was being crossed by a hunched and twisted hag in a flaming chariot pulled by skeletal dogs…

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