"You lovers now, is that it?" said Glibskin, the smoke trickling from his nose.
"Nuh!" said Zipper, and he stepped away from Lily as if the girl was contaminated. "And give me back me saucepan yer barmpot!"
Without warning, Glibskin struck the smaller boy in the chest with the saucepan he was holding, knocking him against the wall, knocking the breath right out of him. He bent over in pain, the kitchen utensil clattered to the ground, and Glibskin smiled and approached Lily, the girl shrinking back. She glanced over at Zipper's crumpled form, she wanted to help him, wanted to kneel beside him and lift him onto his feet again, but Glibskin stood before them, and she daren't even call the little boy's name.
"True nutter you are," said Glibskin, taking a drag of the cigarette, the end glowing a dull red. "True bloody nutter."
She didn't say anything. Just stood there.
"Outside is it?" he continued, and he was so close she could smell the tobacco on him. "Outside with yer man spider? Out havin' a jimmy are they?"
Annoyed that Zipper didn't laugh at his joke, he clamped the cigarette in his teeth and shoved her against the damp-stained wall.
"You deaf or sommin?" he asked in a mouthful of smoke.
She looked up at him and shook her head.
"Then what you lying 'bout a GoreMan for? It's not outside, it's in yer head innit, along with the man-spider and the woman with no eyes and all the rest of the bloody muck in there." He jabbed the top of her skull with his grimy finger.
"GoreMen are real!" shouted Zipper from the floor. "We seen 'em!"
"Yeah but they don't come out this far from London!" He turned on Lily. "You hear that? They don't come out this far, now stop bloody scaring us you faggin' dollymop!"
He slapped her across the face, and Lily, who was standing so tense she couldn't brace herself at all, fell like she was made of matchsticks, against the casing of the grandfather clock. She hit her head against the edge, and at that moment an inhuman scream split through the morning, as if the knock had awoken all the phantasms of her brains, and they were spilling out into the real world, spilling from her skull like her torture-coloured hair.