A Grim & Unfairy Story




Snow White scraped two fat lines of fairy dust across the ornate mirror.

I still have trouble sleeping. The idea terrifies me.”

I know what you mean. Supposing we never wake up again?” said Beauty.

You would wither on your bones, slowly dying of dehydration and starvation,” said the mirror.

Snow rolled her eyes.

Nobody asked you.”

Beauty grinned, once porcelain perfect teeth as decayed as her castles and destitute kingdom.

This’ll keep us awake. Rumpelstilskin always scores the best. Is it pure enough to shoot?”

Snow’s gloved hands rolled a Note of the Realm into a tube.

You and needles. Don’t you ever learn?”

I haven’t pricked myself in aeons, you know that. Not since our princes ran off with each other.”

We should have guessed by the tights.”

Did you hear about what happened with Cinderella, poor cow? And in her shoes, too..”

Snow wiped her nose on the hem of her dress.

Life goes on. The only difference between a happy ending and a tragedy is where you stop telling the story.”




MY NAME is Nigel C. Skinner. I am a recreational serial killer. Everybody needs a hobby, and mine is murder.

It is perfectly natural to kill for pleasure. My family used to have a pet cat, a tabby called Tiger. Domesticated as she was, the instinct to kill was completely natural to her, as it is for all cats. She was an excellent hunter, and I would watch her in the garden happily slaying sparrows, thrushes, and even magpies. Much to my mother’s distress, she would often leave dead or dying gifts on the back doorstep.

Tiger was kept indoors to stop her killing, and sat on the window ledge all that spring, watching the tasty looking birds in the garden. She made mournful sounds, unsettlingly human, and pawed at the glass. Over the coming year she developed a number of physical illnesses. It is not unusual for a cat’s health to suffer if their true nature is denied. Aristotle called it Telos, meaning ‘essential purpose’.

I learned a lot from Tiger before I killed her.

Why would I do such a terrible thing, you ask?

Because the Telos of man is the same. Deep within us all, deeper than love, is the beast. The human brain evolved in much harsher, more brutal times than the world we live in today. This is why it is impossible to turn a page in any history book without reading of war, mass murder, genocide, torture, executions, assassinations, riots, and all manner of atrocities.

We all have, at some time in our life, the natural urge to kill. We try to repress it and make ourselves as miserable as any imprisoned house cat. When such basic instincts are baulked they turn inward, becoming the depression, anxiety, and self oppression characteristic of modern life. Yet the only thing that really matters is the will to maim, murder, and destroy. If you cannot kill, you are ultimately at the mercy of those that can. Nothing and nobody can protect you.


All the best serial killer books start by telling you a little of their subject’s childhood. Almost invariably these harrowing tales make for extremely difficult reading, their point being to illustrate the cause of psychopathy in a lack of love during early life. Society blames the parents, with mothers judged the most severely. For this reason it seems appropriate to begin by telling a little about my own upbringing.

My parents, Julie Tuckwell and Peter Skinner, married in their early twenties at a small and understated ceremony in the Registry Office, not long before my birth. After I came screaming into the world my father worked door to door selling life insurance, whilst my mother stayed at home with me. I have lived my whole life in the same semi-detached house on Helena Terrace, Eastville, in the suburbs of Bristol.

Even at a very young age I sought to find expression for my Telos. Three memories stand out the sharpest.


I’ll never forget the day my mother took away all my teddy-bears. I was just seven years old. I cried, pleading with her to let me keep them, but she would not relent.

“You’re a big boy, now,” she told me. “Big boys don’t play with soft toys.”

One by one, she took her scissors and cut them down from the bedroom ceiling.

“And they especially don’t tie them up, duct tape their heads, and gut them in mock executions,” she said. “That’s not good behaviour.”

I was inconsolable as she placed them all in a dustbin sack and disposed of them. How could any mother do that to a child? I had been looking forward to that bit.


I vented my anger artistically with felt tip pens. Later that day my mother came into my room and saw my pictures.

“That’s nice dear,” she said. “What is it?”

I looked up at her from behind my glasses, “It’s a man with a big knife and a dustbin sack.”

“Oh.” she said, looking rather worried. “And what’s he doing?”

“He’s stabbing the sack,” I told her.

“Why’s he doing that?” she asked.

I sighed as if, being a grown up, she should already know the answer. “Because you’re in it, Mummy.”

She went a funny colour, striking me across the back of the head. It was not very hard, but I can still feel the emotional impact. She took away my felt tip pens, stifling my Telos even further.


The girl next door was called Rebecca. She was two years younger than me, and although we went to the same school we rarely spoke. With my bedroom to the back of the house, I could watch out my window as she played in her garden. She had a Cindy doll with long blonde hair, blue eyes, and a matching blue party dress. I was jealous, having begged my parents for a Cindy of my own. Dad had been adamant, “Dolls are for girls. We don’t want you growing up confused.”

When Rebecca was called inside for milk and biscuits, she left her toys outside. I climbed out my bedroom window on to the roof of the adjoining garage. From there it was a short drop into the neighbour’s garden.

I grabbed Cindy from where she lay, ran around the side of their house into our own garden, through the back door and up the stairs. My heart pounding, I could hardly believe I had not been seen.

My first ever abduction.

I had hours of Cindy fun in my room, hanging her from the lampshade and piercing her torso with cutlery sneaked from the kitchen. Finally I put a flame to her hair, the head collapsing in on itself as it smouldered. The bedroom was thick with black smoke, setting off the fire alarm with a deafening shriek. I put my fingers in my ears, laughing with elation at the ensuing chaos.

That was when Mum rushed in, thinking the house was on fire. When she saw Cindy’s melting remains she was furious. This time she did not strike me, but my pocket money was stopped for two months and I had to buy Rebecca a new doll.

The neighbours were a bit strange with me after that. Whenever they saw me staring out of my window they would grab hold of Rebecca and take her inside, looking up at me with wary accusation as if I might abduct their precious daughter and melt her head. Over the next year they put their house up for sale and moved away.

I never saw Rebecca again.


What young boy never ripped open their teddy bears, spreading the stuffing all over their room? Or set fire to row upon row of plastic soldiers just to watch them melt upon the porch? What little girl never tore the arms and legs off their baby doll, or removed its voice box just to see how it worked?

Perhaps, thinking back, you remember your own parents similarly denying your natural urges to maim, torture, and murder. Perhaps, as a result of society’s fear of its own instincts, you today suffer from depression, anxiety, or other debilitating emotional disorders, simply because your Telos remains unexpressed. If so, I hope this book will help you.


Copyright 2015.

EVERYBODY NEEDS A HOBBY by Nathan Mortlock is available to buy from Amazon.