Cross posting from my Patreon page, where the story will be serialised.
This is quite first draft-y, and will likely be revised a lot when the story is finished. But it’s a start to a story I’ve tried to get started a few times, so let’s go.
The working title, as above, is Another Summer of Hate- a phrase lifted from a Carter USM song. I’m planning a few parallel stories, with some of them connecting, building to climaxes around the same event.
The Miles and Peter story, and Irwin’s actions in it, are partly a response to the novel I unpublished a while back, and the people who made me want to withdraw it. The knifepoint kidnapping was a real event, that fed into my decision, and the shooter Irwin mentions is a call back to A Death In Didsbury.
“It’s good that he’s so…. gregarious. I don’t think I could have coped with being moved from one end of the country to another at his age. Not if I’d been told I couldn’t talk to any of my old friends again.” Peter Taylor gestured with his teacup. On the other side of the window was a large gymnasium, where children were practicing parkour. The boy he was talking about was a short, wiry ten year old with dark blonde hair . He was talking to an Asian girl half a head taller than him, and they looked like they had been friends forever, when they had only met fifteen minutes earlier.
“Does he understand why?” Irwin asked. The girl was pointing out a route across the obstacles that would get from one side of the gym to the other without touching the floor.
“Probably more than I’d like him to. He certainly understands that it’s the best way for him to be…. him. I don’t think he understands what conversion therapy can be like. What his mother wants to do to him if she can get him away from me.”
“Isn’t conversion therapy illegal?”
“With this government? They’d make it mandatory if they thought it would give them a little culture war clout. I got custody of Miles because she was threatening it, but that was last year, if you’ve seen the sort of shit they’re coming out with now, transphobia’s the in thing for a certain type of politician.”
Miles watched his new friend run up to a tall obstacle built of padded boxes, spring up, use her foot to provide a boost, and grab the top edge. She hauled herself up, and twisted into a seated position. When she had shuffled to the side to provide room, Miles lined himself up and sprinted straight for the wall. The girl had a height advantage over him, but he was determined, and put extra effort into his jump. It wasn’t as elegant, but he managed to get a hand hold on the edge, and pulled himself up after a moment’s pause.
Peter had watched this, nervous enough to let out a sigh when his son succeeded. The girl stood, and led Miles to the next obstacle, as other children lined up to have a go at the wall.
“If we have to go back to court, I’m not confident Miles will get the protection he needs. Not with the way things are at the moment. So it’s good, I guess, that she doesn’t trust the courts at all.”
“You think she’s planning to snatch him? Where would she take him?”
“That’s the worrying part. I don’t know. She still has his passport, the one in his old name. She was supposed to hand it over, but didn’t before it started to feel dangerous.”
“Would you leave the country? If you had his passport?”
“Escape from Terf Island? Absolutely. I don’t know where we’d go. New Zealand, maybe.”
Miles was clambering up a pole against a wall, presumably a facsimile of a drainpipe. About two thirds of the way up, he levered his body to the right, until he got his feet onto another box. His new friend waited at the other end. “He chose Miles after a Spider-Man, so this is the right place for him, I guess.” Peter said. He had finished his tea, so pushed the cup aside. “But you don’t need to know all the background. You want to know why Jed has asked you to get involved.”
“Background is good. I started this game as a data analyst.” Irwin assured him. “You think there’s an imminent threat? More than before?”
“She’s never really shut up online, and there are too many people who wat to use her claims to sell their transphobia. That’s scary enough, but it’s getting worse. I have friends who keep an eye on it all, because no way am I soaking up more of that poison. They say that some potentially dangerous people have taken an interest in all her claims. Have you heard of Satanic Ritual Abuse?”
“There were a few case studies on it in my training, from the Satanic Panic back in the eighties and nineties. Everything from how not to interview people- particularly children- to the ease with which disinformation spreads. Then there was all that Q nonsense from the States, and the shooter in something I helped with a while back was into it, too. Some of those freaks are getting involved?”
“Yeah. they’ve been campaigning against the Family Courts for years, tying to make out there’s some…. ‘Satanic'” Peter waved his arms, not doing air quotes so much as expressing exasperation at the stupidity of what he was conveying. “Yeah, Satanic conspiracy to cover up, well, all the things they claimed in the Satanic Panic. Some poor child was kidnapped at knifepoint by some of these types. They were rescued, luckily, and the kidnappers are in jail. But there are still believers out there. It looks like some of them have latched onto transphobia and all that ‘protecting the children’ bullshit, and think they’ve found easier targets. Cynthia is one of the higher profile mothers going on about losing her child. So….”
“You’ve reported this to the Police?”
“For what good it’ll do. I doubt they’ll act until…. unless something happens. Jed said you could cover some of what they aren’t doing.”
“Fair enough. So let’s start going over personal security, and then I’ll get into a bit of preventative investigation. Tell me what you’re doing already, and we’ll work from there.”