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  • Underground

    Title: Underground.
    Description: A fic set on London's Underground train system.
    Disclaimer: not mine, no money.
    Acknowledgements: Thanks to Wolfie, Nikki and ciderdrinker for various help on the London stuff.


    The doors slid shut behind Michael with a loud sibilant hiss, sealing him within the belly of the metal serpent. He was used to trains such as this being choc full of weary travellers heading home from their hectic day’s work in the big city, but it was long after rush hour and the carriage was actually relatively empty. Just a few bored faces looked up at him as he brushed past, probably forgetting him as soon as he was out of sight. The bulk of London’s commuters would have probably arrived home hours ago; spilling from the packed train like battery chickens given their first taste of freedom;dispersing into the night to be reunited with their families.

    He found a seat, moving a discarded newspaper and brushing the fabric conscientiously before sitting down and gazing out of the window at the drab, uniform surroundings of the capitals underground transport network. The neon lighting brought into sharp contrast the whites and grey of the monotonous architecture, punctuated every so often by the garish colours of an advertising hoarding and the icons and maps that declared the station as Bank. As Michael inspected a particularly interesting advert for designer underwear featuring an attractive, long legged blonde he felt the train lurch, making him sway slightly in his seat, and then they were moving.

    The train picked up speed with astonishing quickness, hurtling into the waiting tunnel which devoured it hungrily condemning it to the darkness and Michael to his thoughts. It had been a long afternoon but not an unpleasant one. The good part of Michael’s job, the best part was the time he got to spend wooing the new clients. Today this had meant wining and dining said prospective clients at some of London’s most prestigious eateries and bars until the contract that now nestled safely in his briefcase had been signed in triplicate. After that Michael had called the office and the real party had begun. The contract could be worth millions to the company and Michael had been the toast of the night with everyone from senior management to his fellow account managers offering him their congratulations and placing drinks in front of him. The latter’s smiles tight and not reflected in their eyes as they clapped him on the back and moved quickly away.

    Michael had been the centre of an alcoholic whirlwind; champagne cocktails and vintage brandies lining up before him to be drunk as he puffed on large, expensive cigars and laughed harder and harder at the lewd, raucous jokes. Finally, the lateness of the hour had become apparent to him and he had made his excuses and wandered unsteadily outside, texting Sarah with his frail excuses and a promise to be home soon with a late supper.

    The memory came to him as a sole light in the tunnel sped by him and the combination jarred him out of his reverie, prompting him to check on the greasy paper bag beside him. Lamb Madras for him and chicken Korma for Sarah with a portion of Pilau rice to share. All present and correct just as it had been the other times he’s checked. Still, it was always best to be certain of these things.

    He laid his head back against the smooth glass of the window and let the vibrations of the train’s passing sooth him, letting out a yawn. He’d probably drunk too much. No, he’d definitely drunk too much. Wasn’t till you stopped that it caught up with you though; wasn’t till you sat down that you realised how tired you were. The train flew on, and Michael closed his eyes.
    Last edited by tangent; 05-10-08, 01:31 PM.

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  • #2
    A sudden jolt shook him back to consciousness. He raised his head and blinked blearily trying to clear his head. Another, smaller, jolt rocked him in his seat slightly and he realised that the train was setting off again. Michael rubbed his eyes and craned his neck to peer out of the window, catching sight of the words 'Old Street' sliding back out of view as the train started to pick up momentum. He had been fortunate that he hadn’t overshot his station whilst he rested his eyes for what he was sure had been just a few minutes, he was late enough as it was without the inconvenience of having to double back on himself.

    He glanced round the dimly lit train noting with surprise that it had almost completely emptied whist he slept, in fact now the only other occupants were a small group of youths sat towards the back of the carriage, three boys and two girls, dressed in a motley collection of jeans, hooded tops and baseball caps in a variety of colours and designs but which nevertheless looked all alike to him. One of the boys caught his appraising look and offered him a brief hard smirk that contained more than a hint of challenge to it before turning back to his friends and saying something inaudible, indicating Michael with a tilt of his head. An outbreak or raucous laughter followed.

    Michael turned away, trying to ignore the eyes he knew were now focussed on him. He picked up the paper and made a show of reading it, glancing briefly at the headlines before leafing through the pages with what he hoped was an expression of fascinated interest. The stories themselves were the usual mixture of war and politics, every other page littered with ‘celebrities’ making a fool of themselves; typical fare for the nations tabloid press. Michael risked a brief glance towards the back of the train, a flash illuminating the group of youths as the train sped past a lonely light that offered a brief but welcome stab of brightness to the train’s artificial twilight. He was met by five answering stares, some interested, some indifferent all unfriendly; quickly lowering his eyes again he giving the newspaper a shake, turning the page and nervously clearing his throat.

    From the corner of his eye he saw one of the group rise and start towards him, swinging lightly between the vertical metal poles that interspersed the short tight space between them, steadying himself against the train’s unsteady movement. Michael immersed himself even further in the newspaper trying desperately to ignore the approaching figure. He knew what kids like this were capable of these days. The stories were plastered all over the press, hardly a day going by without reports of ‘happy slappings’, muggings, drug use and other horrors appearing; each one offering more and more horrific details of these senseless crimes. Michael had learned through these reports to treat the nation’s youth with deep suspicion and avoid them whenever he could, especially those that banded together. Now there was no way to avoid the attentions of the little thugs. He was trapped until he reached the station.

    As these thoughts crossed his mind the boy came nearer and nearer, eventually throwing himself in the seat next to Michael with exaggerated force. He was tall and slim with sallow features and a flash of gold in his left ear. Michael offered him a brief smile before burying himself once more behind the flimsy shield of the paper.

    “'Scuse me mate” The boy said.

    Michael pretended not to hear.

    “Oi, mate, you deaf or something? I said ‘'‘Scuse me.’”

    Michael lowered the paper, realising that it would be impossible to avoid a confrontation. He turned to the youth and flashed him an apologetic smile.

    “Sorry” he said “I didn’t realise you were speaking to me.”

    “Yeah, right” The boy replied “course you didn’t. You must’ve thought I was talking to one of them other blokes.” He gestured towards the empty seats around them.

    “Look I don’t want any trouble.”

    The boy sniffed “Right. No trouble; yeah, got it.” He paused slightly “What’s your name mate?”

    “Michael. My name’s Michael.”

    “Well I’ll tell you what… Mikey, if you can see yourself clear to sparing us a fag or two then we’ll just call it a draw, walk away and no-one has to cause any trouble for anyone. Yeah?”

    “Well yes, of course, I’d love to.” Said Michael whose packet of Rothmans sat neatly in the inside pocket of his woollen overcoat. “Unfortunately I don’t smoke.”

    “Course not.” The boy said his eyes boring deep into Michaels. “Don’t know why I thought you would.”

    As Michael opened his mouth to reply he caught movement from the corner of his eye and turned to see more of the kids sauntering over to where he sat, their movements languid, disinterested. He felt his heart lurch in his chest as he watched them approach, a tinny taste hitting the back of his throat. his head suddenly became strangely clear as the last of the alcohol burning out of his system and fear hit him like a gallon of the strongest coffee.

    “Who’s your mate, Jonny?” A girl in a striped jumper with her blond wavy hair piled up into a high pony tail asked. She looked Michael up and down without much interest her hoop earrings catching the subdued light as her head moved.

    “This here’s Mikey.” Jonny replied. “Mikey’s gonna give us some fags.”

    “I already told you, I don’t smoke.” Said Michael; hoping that if he stuck to his guns the youths might lose interest in him.

    “I bet you’ve got the money for some cigs though.” said the girl, looking Michael up and down again “Bet you could spare us a couple of quid for some.”

    “Yeah” Said a gangly youth in a denim jacket with a hooded top beneath it “Come on mate, don’t hold out on us, where’s your sense of charity, eh?”

    The gang was all around him now the other girl coming alongside the bottle blonde and the final member sitting along side him, peeking into the top of his take-away bag. Michael glanced out of the window. It couldn’t be long now till they reached the station just a few minutes maybe. Perhaps if he played along with these people until then, humoured them a little then there would be people enough to help him out. Maybe there would even be a policeman or two. The important thing was not to panic, not to get into anything he couldn’t handle on his own. He needed to negotiate; after all that was what he did, that was what he was good at.

    “Hey he’s got curry in here.” Said the boy who’d been poking through Michael’s bags


    “I like curry.” The first replied with a slightly hurt expression.

    “Yeah but that’s Mikey-boy’s curry innit” The one called Jonny said “We wouldn’t want to be taking anything off him that he don’t wanna give now would we?”

    There was a little snort of laughter from one of the girls.

    Michael smiled briefly at the bodies around him “Look the curry is just a late bit of supper for me and my girlfriend, nothing fancy. I’d offer you it but she’s expecting me to have something for the table when I get back and… well you know how women can be.”

    This was met with a chorus of mumbled agreements from the three boys and a stony looks from the girls.

    “Look I tell you what.” Michael said, feeling like he was getting to grips with the situation “You seem like a nice group of young people and I wouldn’t want you to think I’m mean or anything.” He smiled, trying to give the impression that he was the last of the great philanthropists “The next station is mine, so when we get there I’ll get you some cigarettes at the nearest machine, my treat. What do you say?”

    The group exchanged looks, looks that had just a hint of knowing amusement to them.

    “Sounds alright to me” The one called Jonny said “I reckon you’re on mate.”

    With this pronouncement an awkward silence fell. The walls of the tunnel sped by; Michael making the occasional accidental eye contact with one of the youths and offering them an awkward smile which would either be ignored or answered with a broad grin. Eventually the thing that Michael had been waiting for, praying for came to be. The gloomy darkness of the train brightened slightly, chasing the claustrophobic shadows further and further away as the station sped towards them bringing with it both the metaphorical and very real light at the end of this seemingly endless tunnel.
    Last edited by tangent; 05-10-08, 01:38 PM.

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    • #3
      As the train slowed and came to a stop by the side of the platform Michael felt a lurch of disappointment. The station was deserted, not one single commuter stood waiting on the cold tiled floor. Michael had hoped for someone even if it be only a few late night revellers or a sole cleaner sweeping the day’s debris away. Just one person to act as a witness to his plight and perhaps sway the numbers in his favour enough for him to extricate himself from his predicament. No help was forthcoming though and as the doors slid open Michael’s unwelcome companions rose from their seats and headed for them, pausing as they reached the threshold and looking back at Michael with inquisitive eyes.

      “You coming then Mikey-boy or what?” Jonny asked “Not thinking of welching on us are you?”

      Michael rose slowly and collected his bags “The thought never crossed my mind.” He said with a small smile he hoped was reassuring “Shall we?”

      “Oh I think we shall” Michael replied in a voice filled with mockery “I most definitely thing we shall.”

      The gang spilled out into the station, chasing each other across the platform with loud whoops as they revelled in their escape from the carriages confines. Michael followed behind with much more circumspection, holding his briefcase before him like a shield as he edged forward. The platform was long, stretching out on both side of him. The exit seemed like it was a million miles away but the temptation to make a run for it almost overwhelmed him. He took a breath and tried to calm himself. After all he had a plan. Getting to civilisation that was the key; reaching the safety of a populated area. Down here he was helpless; outnumbered and, if any of the gang were armed, outgunned as well but if he could direct them to the streets above then surely there would be someone to come to his aid.

      He spotted the boy called Jonny talking to the denim wearer a little away from the main group, there voices too hushed to pick out any words but their faces grim. After a few seconds the denim wearer gave Jonny a curt nod and rushed off towards the exit barging past the two girls who were still wheeling across the platform in wild abandon. Michael felt another little lurch in his stomach as he watched the boy go. Something was going on here. Something was happening that he had no control over and he suddenly got the feeling that the promise of few packets of cigarettes and a passing policeman weren’t going to get him out of this particular predicament.

      “In case you’re wondering, he’s gone to keep a look out.” Jonny said.

      The boy had somehow managed to sneak right up on Michael and was standig directly behind him. Michael hadn’t seen him move, hadn’t even heard him move, but there he was practically whispering in his ear. He froze and turned slowly to see the youth watching him, his head tilted slightly to one side and a strange light shining deep in his eyes.

      “’Cos, you see, we want a bit of quiet time with you Mikey boy and we wouldn’t want anyone barging in here and ruining it now, would we?”

      “B-but the Cigarettes;” Michael mumbled starting to back away from the strangely still young man “I thought…”

      “Yeah, I lied about that.” Said Jonny; starting to slowly follow Michaels retreat. “See thing is we can take whatever money you’ve got on you off your dead body. In fact we can just help ourselves to whatever we bloody well want; including them fags you’ve got in your top pocket.”

      Michael continued to back away from the spectre before him, almost stumbling as he did. The station had grown still and he risked a glance to his side to see the remaining youths had ceased their play and were watching events with calm almost solemn expressions that carried just maybe the smallest hint of feral curiosity.

      “Okay, okay” He said; his voice sounding unnaturally shrill even to his own ears “You want money; you can have it all, take it. In fact take everything.” He threw down his briefcase and the paper bag that contained the takeaway. “Just don’t hurt me alright. My girlfriend, Sarah, she’s called Sarah, right; she’ll be waiting for me and, we haven’t got any kids, but we might have someday and, if you do anything to me you’ll be taking all that away from us and; look , just please, please don’t hurt me.”

      But the words fell on deaf ears and the boy just continued his slow, inexorable advance, stepping over the fallen bags as he advanced. Michael backing away shaking his head slowly, tears coming unbidden to his eyes as unwanted images of razor sharp flick-knives and the thick, heavy contact of fists and feet played in his mind. Then he felt his back hit the wall.

      Even at his slow, deliberate pace the boy was soon directly in front of him, standing less than a foot away, his eyes boring into Michaels own. He stayed like this for a long few seconds, still, expressionless and menacing as Michael cowered before him, unsure of why he should feel so cowed by someone so young but somehow unable to move, unable even to break the others gaze.

      “Angel Station.” The boy said gesturing to the sign that adorned the wall next to Michael’s head. “You know I used to know a bloke called Angel. He taught me a lot about this world, made me the man I am today, you could say. Not that we spent much time together, mind, in fact I only met him the once. Still, he really did teach me one hell of a lot. He taught me what it was like to be afraid, really, deeply, afraid; and that’s the trick to it you see. You get someone afraid of you then you’ve got power over them. They’ll be like putty in your hands; helpless to do anything but what you want them to do because they give in to their fear. Your afraid now Mikey-boy; I can smell it on you, the stench of raw panic. Angel had me, totally and utterly had me, even before he touched me and it’s gonna be just the same with you. Oh yeah Mikey you’re scared alright, and you know what?” He moved closer to Michael lowering his head to his ear “You’re right to be scared.”

      The boy moved back slightly and gave Michael a broad nasty smile. The others had closed in now, one of them stooping to pick up the discarded briefcase, and now they stood in a rough semi-circle around their leader.

      “You see, like I say, we can take whatever we want from you right now” He said “In fact, we’re going to.” He smiled again; a chilling humourless rictus of a grin and then, as Michael looked on, he changed. It was if his entire face shrugged; his brow lowered, his cheeks took on a sunken appearance and his eyes gleamed a cruel golden yellow out of a suddenly pale complexion. “And the thing is Mikey” He growled “We want it all.”
      Last edited by tangent; 22-04-09, 09:00 PM.

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      • #4
        Michael froze: his heart still, his mind frozen, the world spinning around him drunkenly as the impact of this new horror slammed into his shattered consciousness. He felt the tiled wall pulling at his woollen coat as his legs gave way and he sunk to the floor shaking his head slowly as if to banish the hellish vision that now stood before him.

        “Aww come on Mikey, pull yourself together mate.” The monster sneered “It’s no fun if you don’t put up just a little bit of a fight.”

        Michael found himself unable to answer, the sheer horror of his situation stealing the words from him.

        “Nothing to say, huh? Well not to worry I’m sure we can get a few words from you… eventually. Meantime I reckon we’re gonna need to look elsewhere for a bit of fun.” He glanced behind him at the monster that had picked up the briefcase “Anything interesting?”

        “We got the bleeding mother-lode here” the other replied “name, address, bank details, keys; the lot.”

        Jonny the monster sank to his haunches, bringing himself down to Michael’s level, those feral yellow eyes boring into him, holding him, pinning him down.

        “Nice.” He said. “You see like I said Mikey, we’re gonna take it all. Everything you own, everything you are, is gonna be ours. We’re gonna bleed you dry.” He smiled “Literally.”

        The demon rose, a thoughtful expression crossing its terrible features “Actually mate, if it’s all the same to you I think we’ll leave the actual bleeding to the girls here. They do appreciate their boy toys, if you know what I mean.”

        The two female monsters stepped forward, their expressions filled with hungry glee, the rest of the gang rumbling their resent at this preferential treatment.

        “As for the rest of us,” Jonny the monster said quickly, cutting off the growls of discontent “I reckon we’ll find our fun elsewhere.” The chilling smile played across his face once more “I reckon that girlfriend of yours, is probably getting all lonely waiting up for you. I reckon she needs a little bit of company, you know, someone to keep her entertained while she waits.” He turned away motioning for the others to follow. “Don’t worry though, Mikey-boy we’ll be sure to pass on all your love.” He shouted back over his shoulder “Might even pass on a bit of our own.”

        And so as Michael felt the two girls close in on him, as he saw their faces change, as he felt the first sharp bite of their fangs; the world around him melted away, becoming a whirling vortex that spun faster and faster until it disappeared, leaving behind it a single image; an image that burned into his dying mind, enveloping him in the sheer horror of its existence.

        The image was of Sarah, his beloved Sarah, the girl he’d been on his way home to, the girl who he’d gotten killed. She would be sitting alone in their flat, perhaps a glass of wine before her, a cushion held close as she watched the dregs of late night television. As the darkness closed in on him Michael could see her face, could see the expectation rising in her grey eyes as she heard the approaching footsteps, could see her turning towards the door, half rising as she heard the sound of the key in the lock. The image burned deep within him, it overtook him becoming everything, becoming the only thing in the whole of existence before finally it faded to eternal darkness. And then Michael knew no more.

        The End
        Last edited by tangent; 05-10-08, 01:48 PM.

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