|Port Glasgow Air Raid Shelter|
Another bit from a book I'm messing around with. If you haven't already, you can also read Chapter One and Chapter Two.
Megan's Gran has died, leaving her a mysterious map of her home town. Megan and her friend Cam spot the first location on the map during a school visit to a local shipyard to watch some public art being made. When everyone else has gone, Megan and Cam here a strange, angry tapping coming from inside the Phoenix Egg sculpture...
The lights flickered back on, silencing the tapping instantly. Startled, Megan and Cam turned to see Mr Finn at the doorway, staring.
'Your class are leaving,' he said, 'you had better go and catch them up.'
'Dropped my phone,' said Cam by way of explanation.
'Yes. You should really be more careful.'
Mr Finn stood, waiting for them to leave. Both of them were only too happy to get out.
It took Megan all day to convince Cam that following the map into the old air raid shelter behind the supermarket was a good idea. Probably because it wasn't a good idea. It was a terrible idea. A terrible idea with a very good chance of rats.
'Hah! You aren't scared of rats are you Cam?' she'd said, not even fooling herself.
'No. I'm scared of black death and lymes disease.'
Megan had to google that.
It was pretty scary. So many scabs.
Eventually she gave up trying to convince him and announced she was going alone. That's when he agreed to come. Megan made a mental note to remember that for next time.
The old air raid shelter was a series of interconnected tunnels hollowed out under a cliff. Cam said it ran down underground for miles. It had been built especially for the workers of a nearby munitions factory which had just been turned into very posh flats.
Officially of course, it was now a hazard to health and safety, all blocked off and locked up. Unoffically, you could squeeze in behind the dodgy garages.
Cam was tucking his waterproof trousers into his welly boots for the third time.
'Cam honestly, you're fine.'
'What about leeches?'
'I don't think you get leeches here. Or pirhana.'
'You might. No one's been down here for years. It's an undisturbed ecosystem. Anything could be living there.'
'Velociraptors under Port Glasgow?'
'No. But there's that Big Cat people are always seeing on the hills behind the town.'
'And with miles of moorland to run across, it lives behind a supermarket? An urban puma.'
'Puma, velociraptor, pirhana...if I get eaten, you'll have my mum to deal with.'
Megan was actually a bit scared of Cam's mum - she was a nurse and not really one for nonsense. One time she found out he'd been trading all the fruit in his packed lunch for sherbet and wham bars and he was only allowed to eat raw vegetables and porridge for the rest of the month. That had been a really tough month for everyone.
'Okay? Ready to go?'
Cam nodded glumly.
The two splashed into the darkness. The water was deeper than Megan had thought it would be, and she was starting to wish they hadn't bought their torches in the pound shop.
‘My gran wrote a story about a place like this…maybe the old railway tunnels that people hid in during air raids?’
‘Was it a funny story with a happy ending?’
‘Not really. The end of the tunnel had collapsed as people were running in to shelter, and for years after there were always these wee sad grey figures who would try and get kids to come down and play on the tracks with them. Every so often, someone would go down to play, and they would be found later, people just thought they had been hit by trains or electrocuted on the tracks, but actually it was because the blitz children had dragged them off into the tunnels with their wee cold hands.’
The dark seemed briefly darker, and colder too.
‘Great story Meg. Thanks for sharing. She was always a right laugh your Gran.’
‘I know a few more…’
‘Do they have clowns in them? Or rats? Because those stories can wait.’
Megan stopped suddenly and gestured for Cam to stop too.
‘Shh. What’s that?’
There was a distant splash which echoes through the empty dark. Then another. And another. The unmistakeable splish splash of something else, walking through the tunnels towards them.
Cam looked around, trying to get his bearings, ‘Which way is that coming from?’ Megan shushed him again.
More splashing, faster now, and nearer.
Cam reached for Megan, taking her hand to run back the way they had come.
‘No it’s coming from that way. Go this way!’
Cam turned his torch towards the nearest junction in the tunnels, two eye beamed eerily back at them, reflecting the faded torchlight. They both screamed as the creature splashed quickly towards them, its startled eyes dancing ever closer through the black. In a moment, the terrified deer had run past them both and back out into the streets above.
Cam was still screaming long after it had gone.
‘Cam? Cam it’s away now. It was just a deer.’
‘Did you see those eyes? It looked evil.’
Cam fumbled through his pockets, finally producing a packet of chewing gum.
The two friends stood in silence for a moment.
‘See,’ said Cam, ‘there could be a puma down here.’
‘Maybe that’s why the deer was running,’ said Meg, it was supposed to be a joke, but it was too soon.
‘Can we go yet?’ Cam scowled.
‘Just five more minutes. My gran wanted me to come down here, I’d really like to know why.’
Steadying one another as they went, they wandered through what felt like miles of tunnels, past the rotted bench and bed frames where families must have huddled together as the bombs fell, past the tiny cubicles people used as toilets and down towards the huge machines which stood at the tunnels end.
‘What are these?’
‘Maybe for air conditioning. Or water pumps?’
The torchlight illuminated a face amongst the rust, startled, Megan stumbled back into Cam.
‘Look at this!’
It was a figure, a person, sculpted and built from metal. The head was a near perfect sphere, studded with rivets. Two eyes, large hexagonal bolts, stared vacantly into the shelter and a wide rectangular gap, like a broken letterbox, was the figures mouth. It hung open as if in surprise, or perhaps, silently screaming.
‘Cam, it’s…it looks like a robot.’
In the low light of their pound shop torches, steel still gleamed through all the grease and dirt.
'It looks a bit like one of those new Waterworx statues.' said Cam 'What do you think its doing down here?'
'I've no idea. Looks like it's been here a long time though. This must be what Gran wanted me to find.'
'But how did she know it was here? Did she build it do you think?'
'Doubt it. She couldn't even do lego.'
Cam tapped it gently. At once, the robots eyes flared an angry orange and it grabbed Cam's arm.
'Run!' shouted Cam.