Link becomes homeless after a fight with his mother's boyfriend Vince. Thinking he is no longer safe in Bradford, he goes to London. He looks for a job but no one will take him on as he has no experience and has only five GCSEs. Now Link cannot get a job since he has no address and he cannot get an address since he has no job. Link is very afraid alone on the streets, but after a while he meets Ginger who is also homeless. Ginger teaches Link how to survive on the street and how to beg.
Meanwhile Shelter is planning a mass murder of all the homeless people in London. Shelter served in the Army for twenty-nine years. He was discharged on medical grounds. He thinks that the homeless people of London make the place untidy, and justifies killing them by saying that a soldier is allowed to kill the country’s enemies. Shelter plans very meticulously. He starts small and tries not to create a pattern in his killings so he cannot be tracked down. By buying a flat and a cat he manages to lure many of the homeless to their deaths. After he has killed the homeless people, he puts them beneath the floorboards in his flat.
By the time he encounters Link and Ginger, they ask him for any spare change, but he replies "Change! I'd change you, me lad, if I had you in khaki for 6 weeks!". As they walk away they laugh at a remembered joke, yet Shelter thinks they are laughing at him. So they become his targets and he named them Laughing Boy One (Ginger) and Laughing Boy Two (Link).
As Ginger is going to meet some friends, Shelter persuades him to come to his flat, saying that Link is there, lying down after an accident. Once there, Shelter kills Ginger. After some time, Link accepts that Ginger has vanished and that he is on his own again. Shortly after this, Link meets Gail, the best-looking dosser he has ever seen. Gail follows Link, asking him questions.
Link notices that something is weird about Gail, but he does not know what. While Gail leaves him to make a phone...
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