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By The Phelans

Painted Freaky Orange Fox on black background

Once upon a time, there was a man named Hamish Angus Skids. A nasty Landlord who owned ‘Student Towers’ in the the horrid borough of ‘Brittlesfield’. 

Our tale begins at the turn of the season, and the world was so cold you could feel your feet burn blue. 

On the outskirts of a gentrified tapestry, there lay a crumby district of overdrafts and disenfranchised human beings. It was the last stop on the train-line and notoriously avoided by any individual who cared for their overall well being. The town was known to hold a curse, an evil hex that would punish any resident that was silly enough to walk alone at night. Curfew was strict and all Brittlesfieldians had to abide by it if they wanted to live into their older age. 

Adjacent to the screaming train tracks, lay a wonky apartment building, Student Towers, which was known for having guaranteed room when the halls of residence in the city centre were filled to the brim. This was because residents at Student Towers didn’t tend to extend their contracts, it wasn’t the most homely of places to reside. 

The tacky wall paper was peeling, the floor boards hadn’t been changed since the architecture had been erected and the lifts were jammed after ‘Mr Jameson’, a young medical student who’d received a place at the Metropolitan university on clearance, had got trapped thirty years prior. Rumour had it, his skeleton still lay in the haunted shaft.  But Hamish would say a firm “No comment” when any reporters came sniffing about the dodgy ‘Jameson case’. 

Hamish was the landlord of Student Towers and had bought the dishevelled building with a wad of cash he’d received after unexpectedly winning a game of poker one depressing evening. 

“Invest in property” his Father had always drummed into him when he was a child. 

“If you get any money in your life son, don’t you swindle it away, money is an opportunity to change your fate.”

Pencil Drawn image of Hamish, an older man with scraggly beard and black tie

But a large part of Hamish had wished he’d ignored the voice of his phantom Father and recklessly whittled away his pounds on a fancy cruise, a swishy car or a five star all inclusive. Student Towers had become a rod for his spineless back and he was sick to death of the terrible buildings internal problems and the smelly students who lived in it. 

Hamish was unusually tall, no one knew the exact height, but it was speculated to be around six foot six, he towered above the basketball players who gathered on the weekend in the local park. He was a stringy bean and looked as if he’d been stretched out by a deadly torture device. His face drooped, his eyes were baggy, his teeth were crooked and his hair was slowly falling out of his flakey scalp. 

His favourite hobby was ripping off starving students with soaring rent.  He was harsh on his tenants and required them to have the exact amount of rent in cash by six o’clock every first Tuesday of the month.  He was very particular about times and amounts because the beanbag man had very particular needs. 

Hamish’s purchase of ‘Student Towers’ had been an attempt to become a successful business man and rewrite his future. With no positive male role models, Hamish turned to the popular business magazine ‘Line your pockets’ where he saw what real entrepreneurs looked like. They were ruthless, emotionless, truly despicable human beings………….Hamish was inspired. 

Hamish therefore slowly metamorphosed into a monster, he’d gift his tenants one hour to pack up and vacate if they didn’t have the rent to hand at his stiff deadlines. 

“That’s what you signed up to when you scrawled your name on the bottom of the contract” Hamish would say in a belittling manner to the vulnerable students with empty bank accounts.  

There was no changing the mind of the stubborn landlord. He was known on the student scene as a brute with no humanity and he liked it that way. He revelled in his reputation, he enjoyed being above people, he’d always been at the bottom of the pile and felt it was necessary to stamp on others in order to thrive. 

Hamish had had an unfortunate childhood. His unruly Father, who went by the name of Groff, had thrust the young lad into work at the age of five. 

Groff was small, round and stern. He’d been wanted by the authorities since he was a teen, a renowned thief in Brittlesfield and the surrounding areas. Although he had large sausage fingers, he could swipe ya goods so swiftly that you would never know they’d left ya. 

Rumour had it, the man was such a talented robber that he could snatch a phone from a pedestrian and the person would still be speaking into their empty hand as if they had a grip on the device. He could thieve anything; 

Keys WOOSH, 

Purses WOOSH, 

Lunchtime meal deal WOOSH. 

He was the crook who’d never been caught, the best burglar in the business, the most successful swindler in the whole of Brittlesfield. 

Pencil drawn image of Groff a bald squat man in long overcoat

He was an ambitious criminal who desperately wanted to upscale his lucrative business. You see, phones and purses only went for a certain amount on the market. Groff wanted to access the shiny objects that rich people kept in their precious homes. But alas, Groff wasn’t nimble enough to enter a home without waking the wealthy inhabitants. He knew he needed a partner in crime, someone who was light, long and able to get into small spaces. The experienced outlaw chose his son ‘Hamish’. He was the guy for the job.

By the age of six, Hamish had already broken into every house in Brittlesfield, by the age of seven he’d slipped into most apartments in the hoity toity areas of the town and by his tenth birthday he was good enough to snatch the crown jewels if his Father had had the nerve to ask. It was impressive to witness diabolical acts executed with such elegance. 

Hamish would pass through windows in plain sight, drop down chimneys without  sooty footprints, twist through cat flaps without so much as a draft and ripple through letter boxes before the morning post. Heck, he’d even swim through the pipes to exceed his fathers expectations. He’d do anything to make Daddy Groff proud. 

There were many names that followed his reputation; 

‘The mean lean string bean’ 

‘The stretch & fetch’

‘The long guy who was scary and long.’ … But that one never really caught on………..

It didn’t matter what others thought of him because his Father was tear jerkingly proud, so proud he’d weep at his son's outrageous achievements on the daily.

“My boy, these last few years you have shown me the man you were born to be, displayed the natural talent you possess and I want to thank you for all the money you’ve made me” Groff greedily grinned from hairy ear to hairy ear. 

“I could go out and do burglaries on my own now ! I’m ready Daddy !” The naive Hamish declared with elation. 

“NO Hamish Angus Skids !” Groff’s instinctive reaction made the child jump out of his skin !

“But why not Daddy Groff ?” He asked with genuine inquisition. 

Groff released a gruff chuckle which emitted from his stale toothless mouth. 

“Because there are dangerous creatures lurking in the corners of Brittlesfield who will come and get ya if you’re on your own.” 

Hamish shivered in his little stolen trousers……

“We are Brittlesfield boys and we must keep our wits about us.” 

“But why Daddy ?” the quaking Hamish dared to ask. 

“You must’ve heard of the Brittlesfield Fox ?” 

Hamish shook his head. 

“It’s a curse my boy, the fox is always looking for wayward personas to steal when the streets are dark.” his sincere Father declared in his husky voice. 

“This is the curse of the Brittlesfield fox 

When he knicks your body 

All that's left are your socks.” 

Groff’s rhythmic tune was so eerie it made Hamish’s vertebrae prickle.

Groff fed his son with the leftovers from the previous nights dinner and allowed the lanky boy to peacefully drift in front of the stolen flat screen TV. 

Groff took the bins out the back, they’d been piling up high in the alley for weeks.  When Hamish awoke from his slumber, Groff’s bed was as cold as a tombstone in a Winter graveyard. 

Hamish was told by the police that his Father had fallen off the Brittlesfield Bridge into the icy river that surrounded the scummy town, all that was left behind were the man's grimey socks. 

The police had bagged them up and taken them to the station for DNA samples so they could unravel this gargantuas mystery. 

Hamish lived on his own in the family house and as he grew up, he made a sure effort to distance himself from his disgraced Father who had rumours surrounding his unusual disappearance. Some gossipers said they’d seen the man running away with his fortune and catching a boat to a distant island, whereas others prattled that Groff had been secretly arrested and carted off to a high security prison. Hamish couldn’t help but wonder if the Brittlesfield Fox had taken his Father from him. 


After a long days work of scamming students, Hamish would take his earnings and head home. The walk from Student Towers to his terraced childhood house was a lengthy journey to embark on each evening. He’d venture through the dingy Raggy Park, the deserted town centre and the fearfully dark alleys.

Hamish walking down long road with crooked looking houses. Out of a bin pops the head of a fox,

Hamish’s stomach ferociously rumbled and when it did so even the trees around him held up their branches in defence mode. Hangry Hamish was not a pretty sight to behold. The man wasn’t a cook, he didn’t even know how to turn on a hob,  he ate restaurant food every evening due to his lack of culinary skills. 

His favourite restaurant in Brittlesfield was a cheap catastrophe called ‘Gevii Pu’ which was an anagram for ‘I give up’. The restaurant had replaced a dirty burger joint that he and his Father had traditionally visited after their heists. 

Hamish peered through the neon lit window, memories of chomping into cheese covered patties flooded into his vision. He shook the ghostly evocations off of his skin and slapped at his face to cease the nostalgia infection. 

Upon arrival on this particular evening, he was greeted by the manically desperate owner, Steve Dudley, who was a crispy male capitalising off of his great aunts recipes. Steve had recreated the dead womans menu of terrible dishes and the restaurant smelt of the memories of the stooped woman who’d fed him every sunday lunchtime throughout his childhood. The interior was tacky and the music blasted from the record player to try and drown out the depressing sound of failure. There was only one consistency about the restaurant, it was always empty. Their only customer was Hamish. 

“How’s my favourite Landlord ? You want the Pasta special?” Said Steve. 

Hamish nodded with his heavy head in his usual surly manner. 

About twenty minutes later his regular order appeared; ‘Gloop Marron pasta surprise’. A staple on the menu. Gloop Marron was a dark salty paste with a catchy tag line.

‘Gloop Marron paste, you either love or hate the taste’. 

And Hamish LOVED it. 

Steve added Gloop Marron to every single dish. This was because the dividing spread was only pennies to buy, so Steve could purchase thousands of jars, from wholesale, for mere pittance. Steve was a continuous food failure, he’d had several restaurants closed down due to pest control, food poisoning and a damning review in the ‘Brittlesfieldian magazine’ that simply put a picture of some sick to describe their experience. 

Hamish’s chest was throbbing on this particular evening. He suspected it might be the boot sized cup of ale he’d glugged or the super salty Gloop Marron pasta coma that’d descended upon him. He continued to chomp down the wheaty carbs, hoping the sweet relief of calories would distract his somersaulting brain……..alas……it did not. 

“You alright there Hamish ?” Steve enquired as he collected Hamish’s dirty plate. “You look subdued my friend”. 

Hamish wasn’t much of a talker, he simply shook his head. 

“You better head home soon, curfew descends in five minutes.” Steve warned. 

Hamish nodded routinely. 

He put a twenty on the counter and slunk out with his head in his palm, attempting to swallow the half cooked pasta that was clogging up his throat.

Hamish paced down the darkened street, completely alone and highly vulnerable. 


A curious noise distracted him from his melancholy. 

He snapped his head to his right and observed the bin bags shaking with aggression and growling with territorial possession. Hamish backed away from the soggy banana skins and rancid onion peels, whatever was beyond this threshold clearly wasn’t safe. 

BING, BONG. The curfew bell rang throughout Brittlesfield. Everyone knew it was time to be inside. 

But before Hamish could vacate the threatening vicinity, a lid flung open and a tiny ginger head popped out the top of the main bin. 

It was a fox ! A scraggy little tyke with its nose jammed in a jar of Gloop Marron. 

The Fox and the landlord stared at one another, like two unlikely lovers across a crowded room, they tilted their heads to the side in creepy unison. 

Hamish, in a state of disbelief leapt backwards, the fox jumped out of the bin at the same time and landed by Hamish’s shoes where he sniffed at the damp laces that hung in the puddles.

“Sorry I…..I didn’t mean to intrude” Hamish said as he tried to move out of the back alley, away from the beast, but the sly Fox followed him with a steely focus. 

The Fox blocked his exit, slinking through his legs and barricading his way out to the pedestrian pavement. The Fox stared into the landlord's soul with human-like eyes, Hamish felt naked and vulnerable as the enlarged rodent gazed upon him. Hamish was frozen, confused and out of control. The Landlord and the Fox connected paw to palm and started to spin in the moonlight amongst the heap of hazardous waste. 

Their movement became synchronised, flowing from them like a balletic duet. They felt completely alone, like there was nobody else in the world, they were the only two beings that existed in the romantic late night radiance. They glided through the effortless dance and pirouetted in and out of each others hairy arms with the dexterity of ballerinas. 

Pencil drawn image of Hamish and the fox dancing

But then the rhythm of the duet changed, the Fox began to aggressively dip the Landlord into violent movements and the tone of their exchange became unfriendly. The Fox bore its sharpened gnashers and pulled Hamish near its wet whiskered nose by his wonky tie. Hamish groaned as he gasped for air, a hefty lump in his throat forming like an undigested apple. The Fox lent into Hamish’s ear and whispered words of deadly consequence. 

“Gimme your suit, fancy man”. 

The Fox yanked the tie, and it unravelled as Hamish’s body spiralled with a thwack onto the concrete floor ! As he looked up, he saw the dastardly Fox securing the accessory around his own prickly neck. 

“MMMMMMM these human clothes feel good” the Fox said. 

Hamish scrambled around on the floor, attempting to run away from the terrifying feral creature. The fox pulled off Hamish’s socks and the man's sweaty feet flopped out of the cotton onto the hard surface. 

“I don’t like socks, they get me all hot and bothered.” The cheeky fox declared as he dropped the socks on the floor. 

The animal chomped at Hamish’s ankle which caused him to emit a blood curdling howl ! The Fox dragged Hamish by the calf and dumped his body in a bin. 

Hamish scrambled around to try and set himself free in his dizzy state, but the Fox was ten steps ahead.  

“It’s foxy time!” he sang with a sense of glee and excitement in his voice.

The Fox pushed Hamish’s body into the discarded pile of Gloop Marron jars and the Landlord screamed as his skin was cut by the smashed glass. The Fox then proceeded to steal his clothes, muffle his protests and laugh at his pathetic face. He shut the bin lid and plunged the man into darkness. 

The Fox was strong, as strong as a bodybuilder, perhaps it was all the discarded protein bars that he’d swiped from the gym's bin across the alley. The Fox had watched the humans, he’d grown the desire to walk like them on his hind legs. He felt he’d been born in the wrong body and desperately wanted to be amongst the people. 

The curse of the Brittlesfield fox had finally got Hamish. 

The next morning, Steve Dudley threw the rubbish round the back of his troublesome restaurant. The noise awoke the naked Hamish. 

The Landlord was trapped inside the skip, cold, covered in Gloop Marron and displaying scratches all across his torso from the Fox’s unforgiving claws. He tried to hit the sides of the corrugated iron dumpster to alert the restaurant owner of his entrapment, but Steve Dudley didn’t notice the small sound that contributed to the loud city orchestra of rush hour in Brittlesfield. He moved back into his restaurant without a care in the world and left Hamish confined in the garbage. 

Hamish suddenly felt a horrific pain in his coccyx. His entire back curved over and his spine contracted. Out of the end of his back, he began to sprout a spiky red tail that forced him to screech with white hot pain ! 

Hamish was confused as to his rapid and undomesticated transformation. He crawled around in the pungent bin and resigned himself to a miserable existence amongst the discarded Gloop Marron jars. He curled up into a smelly ball and cried salty tears of woe,  mourning his old life. 

Hamish’s entire body began to change, sprout fur to ward off the cold and his nose elongated into a muzzle. 

There was a small stream of light that came darting through a circular hole in the metal exterior, Hamish put his eye against it and looked out upon the alley which he’d walked past so many times on his way home. The morning in Brittlesfield was busy as usual, rude pedestrians barging past each other, school kids kindling mischief before the bell rang and exhaust pipes clogging up the fresh air with their smokey extraction as the cars sped through the high-street. 

Suddenly there was a roaring sound and Hamish pressed his entire face onto the chilly metal to see where the noise was spawning from. He shifted his Gloop Marron covered fur to get a better look at the unbelievable sight that was emerging on the curb opposite the alley. 

There was a red sports car, glossy and sparkling in the bright morning as the car parked up for all to admire. Out of the front seat, popped the Fox who was wearing Hamish’s old suit, had a slicked back quiff and was sporting a pair of designer sunglasses on his humanlike nose. He leant against the impressive machine and locked the door with its automatic key in a suave manner. 

The Fox raised up his right hand and waved towards the bin in which Hamish was trapped inside. He lowered down his sunglasses so he could look into Hamish’s eye, which peered through the circle in the bin. 

The two of them locked a gaze, as they had done so the night before, but this time their positions were reversed. Hamish was a dirty animal convicted to a life in a dumpster, whilst the Fox had all the freedom that man could conduct in a patriarchal world. 

In an explosion of anger, Hamish summoned all his strength and broke the lid, leaping out and crouching amongst the burst rubbish bags on his hind legs. He growled and spat at the charming Fox. 

“Looking good Foxy” the tall man said to the animalistic Hamish with a mass of irony. 

Hamish snarled and prowled towards the shiny shoed Fox with all the intention of attacking this hideous thief who’d not only stolen his suit, his manhood but also his entire life, which he was executing better than Hamish ever could.  

The Fox wore a charming smirk across his moosh. 

Hamish lent back on his haunches and rocketed forwards, aiming to knock out the arrogant fox and scratch up his silly car. But in mid air, he was hit with a wooden bat which was wielded by Steve Dudley ! 

“SHOO ! GET OUT OF HERE YOU MANGY FOX !” Steve shouted at the naked Hamish who lay curled on the ground with stars floating around his vision. 

Hamish tried to speak, but no sound emerged. He attempted to plead with his long-time friend who’d fed him every night for the past twenty years. But Steve was more interested in the glossy man who donned the expensive car, the trim suit and the wad of cash that was begging to go to sleep in his empty till. 

“I’m so sorry about that disgusting fox my fine sir, please come inside and have some Gloop Marron Pasta, it’s my specialty.” Said Steve as he peered at the figures tailored trousers with the impressive invisible seams. 

“I don’t expect to be harassed by Foxes when I come to restaurants.”The fox said with a serious undertone to his statement. 

Steve nodded with shame. “It will never happen again” he promised. “I’ll make sure of it”. 

The Fox ran his fingers through his shiny quiff and kicked Hamish back into the alley as he made his way towards the restaurant. 

Hamish cried as he folded in the darkness like a pretzel. 

Hamish tried to stand up on his legs, but kept falling down onto all fours. As he opened his mouth to protest, the only sounds that emerged were grizzly growls and helpless whimpers. 

As Steve opened the door for the Fox in disguise, the creature turned back to the pitiful Hamish and winked with his black sheeny eye. 

“You ever thought about having a financial partner for this establishment Steve ?” The Fox suggested to the failed business owner. 

“A financial partner ?” Steve questioned. 

“I’d invest in your business and you’d pay me a cut of your profit. I’m a very successful man and I think this place has potential. Everything I touch turns to gold and I can touch your establishment if you just sign this paper.” The Fox unfurled a sheet of parchment which had incredibly fine small print stamped all over it. 

“What does it say ?” Steve enquired 

“Legal this, legal that, you wouldn’t understand it Steve. Trust me, it’s all legitimate and rock solid. Can’t you see my gorgeous suit and my beautiful car ?” The Fox said. 

Steve looked out upon the gleaming automobile which sat on Brittlesfield high street, a longing reflecting in his eyes. 

“You could have a car like that Steve. I could make all your dreams come true, would you like that ?”

Steve nodded with desperation. 

“I only have one tiny rule.”

“Anything.” Steve promised. 

“All my business partners have to get rid of any vermin immediately, otherwise I can’t invest.”

“Consider it done.” Steve reassured the Fox. 

He proceeded to enthusiastically sign away his business without hesitation. The Fox offered out his palm for a closing handshake. 

Steve took the animals newly fangled hand and wagged it in the morning light. 

“Wonderful to be working with you Mr Steve Dudley.” The Fox said as he strutted out of the restaurant lighting a decadent cigar. He slunk back into his posh four wheeler and sped off into the big wide world with his new persona. 

Meanwhile Hamish cowered in the bin, shivering as his fur grew inch by inch. 

Steve Dudley, under the instruction of his new swanky business partner, had called the bin collectors for a special removal of his outside mess. He needed the restaurant to be spick and span if he wanted to don a sports car like his inspiring counterpart. 

The bin men came speeding round in a timely manner and began to load up their truck with the bin bags which were months old and rotten to the core.

Hamish felt a sensation of movement, his new metal home was swinging in the air and there was an ominous beeping that was getting louder as he rubbed his eyes with his newly formed paws. 

The bin was being tipped into the masher. 

Hamish held onto the bottom of the bin with his sharpened claws and gripped to the last moments of his life. He stared down into the mouth of the bin truck ,which was violently crushing the rubbish into tiny pieces. The interior of the bin was slowly tipped into the device and Hamish watched his life flash before his Foxy eyes ! 

Gloop Marron jars were pulverised to a pulp 


Leftover pasta flopped into the grinder 


Stale bread smashed into the jaws of the rubbish truck 


Next, it was Hamish’s turn. 

He screeched and clawed along the edges of the wide bin, trying to avoid his mangled fate. 


The Foxy Landlord screamed as he lost his grasp ! 



The bin and its men left the scene with ignorance to the murder that had just unfolded. 

When Steve Dudley was closing up his newly cash injected restaurant that evening, he found a peculiar object on the pavement, a pair of  baggy socks which had been discarded on the curb. 

Poor poor Hamish

What an unfortunate male 

His fate was even pricklier 

Than a spiky foxes tail. 

pencil drawn image of a pair of stripy socks

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