Chapter 1

Deep in the bowels of the orphanage, in the pitch black depths of the cellar, was an iron cage hanging from a chain attached to the ceiling. Sitting inside the cage was a young boy, Little No-Leg Johnny. Johnny had been placed in the cage recently as punishment for his crime, for which he had shown no remorse. He had even winked suggestively at the judge, blowing a kiss and clutching his groin.

Johnny was unlike the other children. He had known his parents, up until the age of six he lived with them in his family home – the famous Girdletree Manor. Johnny had grown up to experience great luxury, such as tic-tacs and other mints. As a small boy he had frolicked through his families' lands, enjoying all that the countryside had to offer – bushes, trees, rabbits, mud, holes, water, leaves. He knew the countryside, and the countryside knew him. But it was not to last, as Johnny was destined for a different fate to his brother Jimminy and sister Buttilda.

Johnny was aged five and three quarters when a terrible tragedy befell him. Frolicking one fine summers day, Johnny entered the forbidden forest. The forest was known for dangerous beasts and wicked poachers who frequented it, Johnny's mother had told him “be careful Johnny, you're not to play in the woods – it's full of rapists”. But Johnny wanted blueberries, and his mother's warning was just a distant memory.

Skipping merrily through the forbidden forest Johnny had not a care in the world. His red hi-top Nike sneakers trotted and skipped across the ground as if worn by a carefree child, which they were. Stooping to pick up an interesting stick, Johnny heard a nose coming from the bushes. “What could it be?” Thought Johnny, “perhaps more blueberries for my tummy?” Johnny hopped through the undergrowth, unaware of any danger. But there was danger. Johnny skipped into the air, for a fraction of a second both feet were airborne. Coming down to earth, Johnny's feet struck something unfamiliar – something metallic. A rusty hinge clicked, and two metal jaws slammed shut...

Suspended over the ground in his cage Johnny looked down at the cold stone floor a hundred feet below. A normal child had no choice but to sit in his prison, doomed to whatever terror awaited him. But Johnny was not a 'normal' child; he was affectionately known as “Little No-Leg Johnny” by those who liked him, and as “Turd Stump Spastic Feet” by those who didn't.

Johnny's family had great wealth, some say more than one thousand Francs. After Johnny's accident it was decided to throw away his old legs, which had become spoiled. Johnny's father, Lord Sprogbocket, owned a spring factory. For the next three months spring production ceased and the factory serfs were put to work on a new project – the construction of ersatz legsters for Johnny. On Christmas day Johnny was presented with his new legs, they were beautiful. Like the legs from a suit of armour, Johnny's legs sparkled as he galloped through the Christmas snow. Behind the metal plating was the most sophisticated mechanism, incorporating springs, wires, cogs, and most importantly of all – Voodoo magic.

Unknown to Johnny, his father was also a member of a local Voodoo cult. Lord Sprogbocket had made a deal with spirits to restore mobility to his son, in return for his innocent soul. Seeing his favourite son playing with his siblings brought a tear to Lord Sprogbocket's eye, for he knew that Johnny would have to burn in the flames of Voodoo hell for all eternity.