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Alex and The Gruff (A Tale of Horror)

Alex and The Gruff (A Tale of Horror)

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Alex and The Gruff (A Tale of Horror)

4.5/5 (2 Bewertungen)
349 Seiten
5 Stunden
Jul 26, 2013


This is the tale of a polite and well-mannered boy named Alex who; after being abducted, develops an incredible bond with an angry and foul mouthed doll called The Gruff who teaches young Alex how to find his voice.

When Alex wakes bound in a wooden coffin to manic cursing and abusing, he finds something he’d never imagined having, a true friend. In the days that follow, a small oddly tempered doll called The Gruff will teach Alex how to say no, how to sharpen his claws and how to kill a man.

And a triangle of deception will leave Alex wondering who the real victim is.

Jul 26, 2013

Über den Autor

Born in Dublin, Ireland, raised in Perth, Australia, and living in Araraquara, a quaint city in the countryside of São Paulo, Brasil. When he is not raising his two favourite monsters, C. Sean McGee writes weird books, teaches weird classes, runs a lot, kicks people in the face, paints, and lives a loud reclusive life.Instagram - @c.seanmcgeeBlog - http://cseanmcgee.blogspot.comGoodreads - - - free eBooks fromiTunes / Kobo / Smashwords / Barnes & NobelPaperbacks (paperweights, kindling, and doorstoppers) from AmazonTake Risk and Take Care,C. Sean McGee

Ähnlich wie Alex and The Gruff (A Tale of Horror)


Alex and The Gruff (A Tale of Horror) - C. Sean McGee

Alex and The Gruff (a tale of horror)



Alex and The Gruff (a tale of horror)

politeness is the discipline of abuse

Copyright© Cian Sean McGee

CSM Publishing

Published at Smashwords

Araraquara, Brazil 2014

Second Edition

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means including photocopying, recording, scanning or digital information storage and retrieval without permission from the author.

Cover Design: C. Sean McGee

Interior layout: C. Sean McGee

Author Foto: Carla Raiter

Infants never learn to soothe themselves to sleep. They learn, abandoned in seclusion, that no matter the volume of their despondence, no matter the force of their tears, when they are alone and frightened, no-one will ever come to their rescue. Infants do not soothe themselves. They merely surrender. And it is caged in their cribs where the infants learn, in the face of their demons, to remain silent and submitting

for my demon


Alex clung to the seat. He had his hands between his legs and his fingers bending over the curve with his nails scratching at the red plastic. He was hardly able to contain the excitement that he felt and hoped that no-one else could see. He sat watching the entrance to the classroom with the open door letting the afternoon light and cool breeze flood in and he dreamt of escape.

He looked around at his classmates, all of them busy packing away their colored pencils and zipping up their bags. Some of them were laughing and some of them were pinching and punching each other on the arms, but all of them completely unaware as to the grand conspiracy in his thoughts.

And so he looked around with acute awareness thinking everyone was looking at him. He looked to his left and he looked to his right and he tried to keep cool about everything, but it was all so very hard.

Surely they knew.

Surely they were onto him.

Surely, at any moment, so would she.

He really is a delight, said The Teacher.

She was talking to one of the grown-ups, a mother of one of the boys. Alex looked at the boy. He didn’t know his name. He didn’t know anyone’s name. The boy’s hair was neatly combed and it wasn’t brown and it wasn’t blonde, it was a mix of the two and the boy had his hands in his pockets and he was standing by his mother’s leg, looking at a picture he had painted that was hanging on a wall beside them.

Alex was looking past the boy, at a tiny space between him and his mother, where he could escape out the front door. There was enough space for him to squeeze through if he was fast and agile, like a cat.

He would have to be quick, though.

Outside the door, there was a set of concrete steps that led down to a concrete path and there was lush green grass on one side and on that grass was a sign and the sign read, ‘Children cannot play here’.

And at the end of that path was a large gate and guarding that gate was a large man; a giant of a man with great catching hands like a fisherman’s net, a face like a shrunken balloon, eyes like two massive dirty plates and a grumbling voice like an airplane landing.

And the giant’s name was Horace. And like all giants, he sat high on his throne and he looked down on everyone that wanted to come through the gates and he made all the grown-ups wait in a line and he let them in one by one and they were always so polite when they passed him and the children, they were always terrified.

And who wouldn’t be?

Giants ate children.

Well thank you so much, said The Teacher, waving at the boy’s mother as she took her son under her wing and turned to walk down the steps.

Now, thought Alex.

The timing was perfect. They would never see him coming. The Teacher’s back was turned and the boy and his mother, well theirs were turned too and if he left now, if he ran while nobody was looking, he could catch a breeze in their wake and even use them to shield his escape.

He could do it.

He could get away.

His heart was beating so fast as he rocked back and forth on his chair. Right now was the only time that he had, but right now was quickly slipping away.

The Teacher turned away from the door and the children all followed with their begging and adoring eyes. Alex looked at them, all of them while they all looked to their teacher. His heart was beating so fast.

Wait shouted the boy from down on the path.

Alex turned back to the door.

They all did.

Thirty smiling faces stared smiling at the door.

The Teacher slid her feet on the floor and turned before they stopped, like a dancer. She always moved like a ballerina, swishing her feet this way and that and prancing and turning on the tips of her tippy toes. The girls all thought she was a princess, just like the dolls that they kept precious at the tops of their desks and the boys, well they didn’t really think of anything other than football and video games, but they didn’t hate her and she was kind of funny, but all girls were like that.

The Teacher met the boy with her arms abreast and a terrific adoring smile upon her face and the boy rushed to her embrace and she wrapped him tight in her arms and she lifted his little feet off the floor and he whispered ‘goodbye’ and she whispered ‘goodbye’ too and then all of the other children, they all watched with wishful smiles on their faces and they all mouthed the words ‘goodbye’, imagining that it was they, not the boy, in her embrace and their little mouths closed so that their lips gently touched and it looked as if they had all blown a silent kiss.

Alex looked at the other children and he couldn’t name a single one. He didn’t know any of their names and if he had to talk about his day, he would speak of them as ‘that boy or that girl’, ‘at school’ or ‘on the bus’ and he couldn’t imagine himself making a friend of a single one.

I’m sorry, said the boy’s mother. He really wanted to come back and say goodbye.

That’s fine, said The Teacher, holding the boy in her arms as if she were her own.

The boy looked at The Teacher and he must have spoken something that only she could understand because immediately, she looked surprised as if she had just remembered something terribly important.

That’s right, she said. I didn’t show you Timothy’s painting.

That was his name, Timothy.

Alex didn’t hear it at all. The moment they started talking, his heart started beating wildly again and he started to look around the room, at where The Teacher was standing, where the boy and his mother were and how distracted they might be and then, back to the open door that led to the concrete steps that ran down past the lush green grass on which the children were not allowed to play and out to the giant gate guarded by Horace the Giant who, like most giants, probably only saw giant things, like big cars and from out of them, big people.

Alex focused on the tiny gap and he was like a sprinter, crouching at the starting line with his heart pounding as he waited for the moment to run. And he rocked back and forth and his nails scratched at the red plastic below his seat and his toes curled, so that, like the sprinter, they were on their tips and they were ready to bound.

Wow, Timothy this is wonderful, said the boy’s mother.

The Boy, Timothy, looked at her. He knew she was overdoing it. Mothers always did. I guess it’s what they thought children wanted to hear. It was just a picture. It wasn’t very good. He knew that, but his mother, she either didn’t know art very well or she was just being polite.

Actually, this is Timothy’s picture here. It’s wonderful.

Oh, she said. It’s very nice Timothy. Aren’t you a smart cookie?

She was being polite. The picture was terrible.

What is it? What did you paint asked his mother.

The Boy, Timothy, said nothing. He was nervous, shy or embarrassed. He looked to The Teacher and he held her hand.

He’s very shy, the boy’s mother said.

I know’ said The Teacher. Aren’t they all at his age?"

Both grown-ups turned and smiled at the adoring children seated at their desks watching them adoringly.

The children had to paint whatever they wanted; whatever they thought expressed the words happy and safe.

All the paintings look very similar, said the boy’s mother.

Both grown-ups looked along the wall at every hanging colored paper and though some were painted with more skill than others, they all looked so relative.

‘Is that mummy?" asked the boy’s mother to her son.

The Boy, Timothy, was still silent, shy maybe. He looked to The Teacher, holding her right hand with his left and staring at her with helpless eyes, without a word and looking to her for some explanation and some definition.

It’s me, said The Teacher, a little embarrassed.

She looked to the boy and smiled and he smiled back.

The boy’s mother looked at the pictures and they were all the same, each child standing next to a tall and slender princess with each child holding their princess’ hand and feeling safe and happy. And she looked at her son and he was doing just the same.

They really adore you, said the boy’s mother.

They really do and I adore them too, said The Teacher.

Both of the grown-ups smiled and as the boy left The Teacher’s hands and went to his mother’s, Alex saw his opportunity.

There was no time, he had to go.

So he jumped up from his seat and swung his bag over his shoulder and he ran past The Teacher and he ran around the boy and he ran around his mother too. And he slipped through the legs of the grown-ups that were about to knock on the open door and he ran down the steps towards the concrete path.

And the steps, they were so big that he had to dive onto each one and he was so sure that someone was going to stop him, someone was going to put their hand on his shoulder and say "hey what are you doing kid?’ and drag him back into class.

And there were lots of grown-ups waiting by the giant gate and there were more now, being allowed past Horace the Giant and they were walking up the path and they all had massive smiles on their faces and none of them saw Alex, even though he was right there in front of them. They all walked past him as if she were a broom or a bucket, left unattended on the path.

Alex dodged and he weaved and he made sure, in his escape, that he didn’t step on the lush green grass on which the children weren’t allowed to play and when he got to the gate, he stopped behind Horace the Giant.

And he waited.

And his heart beat so fast.

And he took a breath.

And he could see the shape of every second being born.

And each second looked so old.

And he wanted to run.

But he couldn’t lift his feet.

He knew he would be caught. The other children, they would have seen him run. They would have given him up by now. They couldn’t be trusted.

He could hear a siren sounding in his mind and it could have been the because the school day had ended or it could have been The Teacher realizing he was gone and pressing a red button and he wouldn’t have long now, before Horace the Giant looked down and found him, ensnared him in his catching hands and carried him back to the classroom.

Where are you mum? he thought to himself.

Why wasn’t she here?

Why did he have to do this alone?

And his heart was thumping so loud.

It was beating so fast.

He saw a chance. He ran past Horace, through the gate and around the corner and past the rows of idling cars and he turned another corner again and he backed up against the wall and he dropped his bag to the floor and raced to catch his breath as the cool air swept up his fringe letting a bead of sweat run into his eye.

And no-one had noticed a thing.


Alex turned. His mother was standing at the gate, about to step through when she caught sight of his bag on the ground. He himself could have been any child, curled over into a ball, his head tucked in-between his legs, blocking out the world entirely.

What are you doing here? she said.

It felt like he had fallen upon shelter in the midst of a storm. He looked up and saw his mother’s concerning face looking down on him, the one where her eyes narrowed and the skin on her forehead wrinkled like an old man and her eyebrows raised like a drawing bridge at first and then, when surprise begat concern, they squiggled and squirmed about like two wriggly worms and her mouth then closed and her lips almost smiled, but not a happy kind of smile. It retracted like a firing pin of a rifle and soon she would either yell at him or she would take him in her arms.

She had the same look as that time that he accidentally swore. It was a while ago, but he could still feel the wraps she gave him around him bum when he thought of it. She had the same look now as she did that day, except then, her almost smile became a spanking hand.

This time, though, his mother crouched so that she was looking into his salty eyes and she wrapped her forgiving arms around him and pulled him close to her chest. Alex cared for nothing more than this, to be wrapped in the blanket of his mother’s love and affection and he felt so infinitely small for a second and it felt good to feel that small and it felt so good to feel that incapable and it felt so good to feel so secure, under his mother’s protecting wing.

What are you doing outside? I’m supposed to pick you up from the door. Did the teacher let you out?

Alex said nothing.

The two walked along the wall with Alex holding onto his mother’s left hand while sucking his thumb and hoping that when they reached the gate, Horace the Giant wouldn’t notice them. But when they were about to cross the road, it wasn’t Horace who called them back, it was The Teacher.

Mrs. Stein she called out.

She didn’t sound angry. She called out his mother’s name as if she had seen her in passing at a shopping mall and wanted to say hello and not because this boy had escaped from her class and made her look like a fool.

Please don’t turn, Alex thought.

But his mother couldn’t read his thoughts and so she turned and she walked back across the road towards the gate. Alex squeezed his mother’s hand so tight that she flinched and she gave him a look. And so he sucked on his thumb harder and harder hoping something would change in the next second, hoping his mother would just walk in the other direction or that he’d suck so hard that his thumb would pop right off and his mother would have to rush him to the emergency room to stick it back on and they’d never get to know what she wanted.

Hi, Mrs. Stein, is it?

Yes. Call me Chrissie. You must be Alex’s teacher then.

Yes, I am. My name is Ms.…….

Alex shut his ears.

He saw their mouths moving and he saw them smiling and nodding their heads from side to side and every time The Teacher spoke, he could see her reach out her long skinny hand and just gently touch his mother’s elbow and they were probably becoming friends, but he couldn’t tell, so he unblocked his ears.

But why was Alex outside? I was told the children couldn’t leave without a parent or guardian to escort them. Did he run out? asked Mother.

She looked angry now, not at The Teacher or at the school, but at Alex because this made him look troubled and undisciplined, which reflected on her morals and her parenting. And it made her look poor.

The Teacher looked at Alex and rested her hand on the top of his head. It felt gentle, like a warm breeze and not at all like his mother’s that was squeezing his own so that it was bright white and crimson red.

It’s really difficult for kids at first to find their feet, but it doesn’t take them long, does it? The Teacher said, brushing his hair with her soft hand.

Alex looked up to her and she was looking down at him and she wore those adoring eyes and her soft hand slipped from the top of his head down onto the cusp of his shoulder.

Say you’re sorry Alex, said his mother.

He looked to The Teacher and she looked like a princess and she was smiling so gracefully at him and her smile said ‘don’t bother, you don’t need to’ and ‘I know that you care’ and Alex, he looked to his mother and he wanted so much for her to lift him up in her arms and to carry him away but instead, her hand tightened against his and she looked down at him scornfully and she looked as mad as his dog did, whenever he took its bone away. He tried to say something, but he couldn’t speak and if even he did, he knew she wouldn’t listen.

Mums never listened.

Alex, say you’re sorry now or there’ll be big trouble mister.

His mother pushed him forwards so that his chest pressed against The Teacher’s knees. Alex shut his eyes and he started to cry, but it only made his mother’s voice more barking.

Don’t you cry. You will apologize to Ms. …

He shut his eyes and he closed his mouth and he blocked his ears. He held his breath and he imagined a vast stillness, a cool blanket of vacuity, swamping his thoughts and carrying him away, like a tiny fish, fractal in its vast ocean as it dangled from the palm of a child’s hand.

And then everything went black in his mind. And he was himself, but he was without arms and he was without legs. And he was without hair that could be scrubbed or brushed in vigor and he was without ears that could be pulled and poked in bullish dinner demeanor.

He was without direction, lost in a distant galaxy and looking for his sun, for a warmth and a center unto which he could belong, to be shielded by many Saturns and Jupiters, a place where he could be in splendorous turn. There would be no up and there would be no down; there would be no left and there would be no right. There would be nothing to belittle his fancy and nothing to auction off his fright.

He tried to stay there, in the infinite void, but he couldn’t hold his breath for nearly as long as forever took. And so he opened his mouth and he gasped for air and then he unclogged his ears and he unfastened his eyes and before him was The Teacher, her face, just an inch away from his and her eyes, with the care and the worry and the servitude of love that he had wanted so much to see in his own mother’s and she looked at him longingly as she quelled his mother’s vexed rage.

Alex noticed, now that she was close that he could count all of the freckles on the tip of her nose, that one of her eyes, the left one, it itched and it twitched and it looked like it was broken, like that rolling channel that just wouldn’t come into focus on his television. And though one eye was versed in consideration, the other looked maniacal and quite possible of anything.

You just missed your mum. I know what that’s like. I miss my mum too. She lives very far away and I don’t get to see her very much and I get sad too. And sometimes, when I’m really sad, I just want to run away and to be with her. I understand Alex, I do. I’m not mad. You just love your mum. That’s not a sin. But you know what? Your mum isn’t as far away as mine. She’s just around the corner said The Teacher pointing to the block of flats beside the school. And you know, if you ever feel sad or scared or if you ever feel like you miss your mummy, you can tell me and I’ll call her right up and she can come down to the school. Any time at all. Isn’t that right? she said, looking up to Alex’s mother.

‘Of course. Hunny. It’s ok. You know I’m close by and your dad. But you have to go to school. Your brother, your sisters, they all go and they don’t cry and they don’t run away. You want to be like your big brother, don’t you?" his mother asked.

Alex thought about his big brother.

Of course, he thought. Don’t be stupid.

I really am sorry. I promise this won’t happen again said his mother, exalting her shame and remorse.

The Teacher rested her soft hand again on Alex’s shoulder.

Please, it’s me who should be apologizing to you. The problem here is not Alex running out of the class, it’s why it happened and it’s my fault for not picking up on that. I should have given poor Alex more attention; he’s just so very quiet. I assumed he was fitting in fine said The Teacher, smiling at Alex.

He’s just shy. He should be fine soon.

The Teacher was smiling and though she probably looked kind and princess like to everyone else, to Alex, her teeth were like barbed wire and her eyes were like two great wells that should he peer to close, he might fall right in and he might never see the light of day again.

Say you’re sorry Alex demanded his mother.

The Teacher smiled her barbed wire teeth.

Don’t be rude and say you’re sorry.

He knew the words.

He said nothing.

He felt like a tiny mouse, pushed into the breast of a hawk.

He’s sorry, said his mother.

The Teacher reached her hand to sweep aside the fringe that covered his eyes and Alex froze, wanting to push her hands away but unable to move a muscle. His mother looked down on him smiling and he wondered why she couldn’t see The Teacher’s razor like teeth and he wanted to shout, but he didn’t know what the words should be or what it sounded like, to say no. And so she swept the hair from his face and he stared at her one twitching eye.

I’ll see you tomorrow, The Teacher said, kissing him softly on the cheek.

You’re so understanding, thank you so much, said his mother, shaking the Teacher’s soft hand.

Come on, we’ll be late.

Alex walked up the path with his mother holding him around his forearm and more dragging him than walking with him. She was upset, but he couldn’t tell her why he had run away. He may not have even known himself. It just felt like something that he should have done and so he did it. And he could never say it that easily to his mother.

So he cried.

And she told him.

We’ll talk about this later.


It was barely a skip and a jump before they had rounded the corner to the block of flats. The complex was large with seven four story buildings with each floor housing seventeen small apartments and each apartment decorated with families and strangers from all walks of life and all corners of the globe. And they were all so colorful and so strange and so different than anyone that Alex had ever seen before.

Next to his father, though, they didn’t at all seem as big, giant and menacing as they did when he was alone. Like everything; when his father was beside him, the whole world seemed fractional and hardly a threat.

Oh, I didn’t tell you. I found Alex outside the gates this afternoon.

Alex looked up at his father. He was chewing on a plastic wrapper with his teeth, trying to gnaw it off and his eyes looked so crazed and focused as he clenched and he pulled and he yanked and he gnawed, stretching it out so that it weakened and tore and he took a small bite of the chocolate before handing it to Alex to devour.

I thought you said they can’t leave unchaperoned? his father said, speaking while chewing on thick caramel.

Well, the older kids can. Just Alex. He finishes earlier. The others are fine.

So what happened then?

Alex bit off large chunks of the chocolate, more than he could chew and he sounded like a grazing cow as he slopped about the large chunk from one side of his mouth to the other and he watched his brother and his sisters up ahead, running around and chasing each other as they walked past the rows and rows of apartments and though normally he would have fought to be just like them, wanting to act out their games and to fit inside their shoes, this evening, he was more settled in his own, chewing on cheap chocolate and seeing the world so small and finite between his mother’s and father’s swinging hands.

His teacher said he was sad or scared or something and that she turned for a second to talk to one of the other mum’s and he when she turned back he was gone.

Sad? Sad about what? Bloody new age teachers. Where’d he go?

His father had a chunk of chocolate stuck in his teeth and he was unhinging it with his tongue as he spoke and it sounded like the kind of conversations you have on a dentist’s chair. He didn’t sound angry though and so Alex worked a chunk of chocolate from between his own teeth with his tongue and he feigned the same focus and interest as his father.

He was around the corner.

But how did he escape? Don’t they have a guard or something? And what is the teacher doing during all of this?

Well, that’s what I said. I mean, I asked her, I said what the hell are we paying these high fees for? You’re supposed to be protecting our kids not letting them bloody run off down the street.

And what did she say?

She gave me this snooty look.

So what do we do?

Well, I told her how pissed off I was and that it was their fault. I made her apologize and I told her, if it happened again, we’d pull all of the kids out in a jiffy, no questions.

What did she say?

She was all nervous and apologetic. She knew she screwed up.

Up ahead, there was an old man sitting on a garden chair under the window of his apartment. He was wearing a long robe that was open and underneath he had on some tennis clothes. He was wearing some dirty flip flops and his toe nails were long and jagged and the ends were black and his toes were stained yellow, like the ends of a cigarette.

The old man was drinking something from a brown bag and he was mumbling to himself as they got closer. He raised a pointing finger and shook it at Alex’s siblings as they jokingly past him; sniggering and biting their

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