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The Infamous Needle

Glasgow. Late 1920s. The effects of the war still linger on. There is no one who didn’t lose someone. Father, brother, son, husband. But society rebuilds, where it can. If it can. Mass unemployment and abject poverty have led to the young men who survived the war, or were too young to participate, to drifting aimlessly in life. The gangs give them purpose, give them a place to belong.

Rival gangs give them an enemy, someone to lash out at, a way to gather up all their vitriol, all their anger and fear and hatred, and direct it at someone. A rising torrent of Catholic immigrants from Ireland are blamed for the unemployment (though some blame should surely go to the industry leaders who didn’t bother updating their technology and now can’t keep up with foreign industrialisation) and sectarianism is rife throughout the city.

The police struggle to keep order in the face of huge gangs of angry youths, and rely on a network of paid informants throughout the city to know what’s going on – and then they respond as brutally as they can. To be respected, to be feared, they must be harder than the gangs, more brutal than the criminals they seek to put down.

Women were forced to work during the war to cover the shortages of men in the country. Now they continue to work, at the telephone exchanges and in shops, and take more of a role in the city they live in. And they want more of a say in it, too. The suffragettes demand voting for woman, and gather in numbers to wave their placards and chant their slogans, and meet in secret to discuss what they’ll do if nothing is done. And whisper of guns and bombs and the same tactics the IRA have been using.

Whilst others seek to forget the real world, and drift off into fantasy worlds at their local cinema, or gather at the music halls and dance clubs to hear the comedians and the jazz musicians.

And in this boiling pot of a city, people are starting to develop superpowers.

The Infamous Needle is a serialised web novel, which will post once a week (on Wednesdays). It is a work of fiction. It is both a work of superhero fiction and of historical fiction. It is best to consider this a novel set in an alternative universe, one which was much like our own, but which changed prior to the 1920s in several ways. And in certain other ways stayed the same (and no, the superpowers are not the only change here).

All references to real people, places, or events are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and events are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright (c) Calmarkel, 2019