Alex and the Gruff (a Tale of Horror)
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This is the tale of a polite and well-mannered boy named Alex who; after being abducted by a pedophile, develops an incredible bond with an angry and foul mouthed doll called The Gruff who teaches young Alex how to find his voice. Alex and The Gruff is a 96,000 word horror story that will appeal to readers of Stephen King’s trepid subtlety and to those who thirst for Clive Barker styled blood curdling crescendos. When Alex and his family change cities, they make their home in a small and squalid apartment in a housing complex full of strange leering and poking people and their pesky shadows which at night, creep up upon the branches by Alex’s window and tic and tac away with their scratching nails. Alex can’t sleep at night and at day, he struggles to comprehend his fear as all of the grownups around him seem to paint with their own morose stroke. There is The Teacher, who circles the air like a hungering bird of prey, never far from the spark of his fright, smothering the children in kisses and formidable adoration. She is trumped only by The Scary Witch; Mother Superior, with her despotic robed expression of dissatisfaction, patrolling the halls with her choking beads outstretched in her strangling hands. And then, there is The Man. He is different. He listens. He doesn’t push Alex aside. He doesn’t pretend that he isn’t there. He makes a friend of him; before he takes him. 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. This novel is based on real events and explores the philosophical theme of the effect of the domestication of children through mannerly learning and poses the premise that ‘politeness is the discipline of abuse’.