Skate Thompson is the fastest and meanest tweeter in town and can fit more vitriol into those one hundred and forty characters than anyone else I know. She’ll lean, snarling, hip-cocked, against the window of the cockroach-infested kebab takeaway on the corner of Market Street and Church Lane trashing reputations faster than any red-haired editor of an out-of-control Murdoch-owned redtop. God, she’s evil.
It’s in her blood. From way back. From the beginning her family had to fight for survival and in order to beat the odds, they had to be top of the pile. And to be top of that pile, they needed to ensure that nobody else could challenge them. This they achieved, initially by damaging them physically and latterly by destroying reputations. Both approaches proved profitable.
Her grandfather had used plate-sized fists heavily decorated with knuckledusters to keep competition to his knackers yard at a minimum and to gain the respect of all in his community. With his flat cap with its lethal row of razor blades carefully sewn into its peak and his fingers full of jaw-cracking metal, he was highly recognizable as he patrolled the area ensuring that everyone around acknowledged that he and he only had the right to slaughter, process and render into glue the already half-dead, maggot-ridden, worm-infested horses, donkeys and mules that society chose to discard into the festering streets they chose to call home.
Despite the best efforts of the local and well-meaning Social Services team, his only daughter, Jess Porter, Skate’s mother, had spent most of her late teens living with an honest, well-groomed, clean-living and tattoo-free software designer. The life-sapping, mind-numbing and soul-destroying proximity to a caring, violence-averse and law-abiding community had had the expected outcome and Jess had unsurprisingly turned to malicious hacking and cyber-bullying for respite as well as becoming a frequenter of some of the seedier internet cafes, both legal and illegal, this side of Shanghai.
Later on, with the birth of Skate, father unknown but possibly the outcome of a two and a half night stand with the unwashed, foul-mouthed and recently paroled base player of a touring rock band with a penchant for living extremely dangerously, Jess opened up a fast food stall on the church green having obtained planning permission and a trading license from the local council following some genteel blackmailing of the council leader and the clerk of the town. Protests from the clergy and concerned citizenry were to no avail.
Behind the counter she smeared thick layers of margarine onto halves of discounted and out-of-date supermarket bread rolls and continued to hack her way into even the most secure websites and mailboxes. Occasionally beef or pork found its way into the burgers.
Sometime in the not too distant future, forensic psychologists will nod sagely when they learn that, apart from a blood-splattered copy of AA Morris’s Horses: Nose to Tail – Fifty six recipes you can be proud to serve and a Ladybird edition of Three Billy Goats Gruff, the only books in Skate’s childhood home were computer and software manuals. And that at the tender age of fourteen, the several fake Facebook accounts she had set up in the names of three of her teachers resulted in them being sent to some sort of OFSTED Boot Hill for those who stalk, groom or cyber-bully the children in their care. They were, of course, completely innocent.
Friended by many, Skate had had no friends. Still doesn’t.
Now in her mid-twenties and known as @PrincessTroll in the twitter community, she takes no prisoners, unless to satisfy her own unmentionable and unnatural carnal appetites. Shoppers step sharply aside into the bars and barber shops as she slouches down the high street, lips, nose and tongue ablaze with home-made metal adornments smelted down from her grandfather’s brass knuckles, a necklace of razor blades only just failing to severe her head from her body, and like a twenty first century gunslinger, flaunts in each hand, the latest smartphone both fully charged and loaded with her twitter account. Her fingers flash across the keyboards spitting fire and venom.
It was only when Twitter suspended her account for badmouthing a national-treasure TV kitchen goddess that she asked, “Don’t these people have a sense of humour?”