Two weekends in a row, this must be some sort of miracle. This is part 5 of my current serial. Previous parts are here…
To say our next dimension jump was into a war zone is to vastly underestimate it.
It was so black I’d thought it was night time until a break in the smoke showed blue sky and sunshine above. To my right was a burnt out van of the size preferred by tradesmen. Smoke still poured from the engine compartment.
We seemed to be on a quiet street – at least, quiet compared to the riotous noise that sounded to be just a few blocks away. The smoke seemed to come from all directions and at least two buildings nearby were ablaze.
My “brother” grabbed me by the arm and pointed towards an alleyway. ‘We can’t stay.”What the hell happened here?’
We reached the alleyway and he urged for me to halt as he went on. I pressed myself up against the wall, heart pounding as I heard a car zip by at the other end of the street. I caught a brief glimpse of an over-sized Union Jack waving from the top of it.
‘What is going on? Who are these people?’ I asked as he beckoned me forward.
‘Anti-government protesters. Please, we don’t have any time!’ He practically pulled me down the alleyway and threw me up against the wall when another car waving a Union Jack crawled by. We saw a flash of a searchlight as they passed the alley by.
He twitched. ‘Yeah, that’ll do. Come on.’
He led me across the road. I watched the car disappear around the corner, tyres squealing as it went. I recognised this place – it was near Fleet Street, but it looked different from the one I knew.
My companion’s phone rang then; he picked up within half a ring.
‘Yes, we are here. Where are you?’ A pause. ‘You’re where?! Is that safe? Another pause. ‘Yes, I understand. We’re not far from you.’ pause again. ‘A couple of minutes depending on traffic.’
He switched his phone off and looked at me. ‘We’re close. Very close now.’
We passed down a side street, avoiding more groups of flag-waving cars and slipped along several war zone streets before coming out into a public park. It took me a moment to realise that we had reached Lincoln Fields. Most of it was the same but something weas very different. There was what looked like a small castle keep at the centre.
It looked ominous and imposing and falling down. A ragtag group of men and women pointed guns at us as we approached. There were dead bodies outside – some looked burnt, others looked to have suffered the nasty effects of shotgun wounds, some had knife wounds. Whatever happened, this was a bloodbath. I don’t know whether the squelching ground beneath my feet was thick with rainwater or something I would rather not think about it.
‘Who are you?’ came a gruff voice.
I did not hear my brother give his name but the black-clad people on the roof of the tower – four of them carrying imposing and heavy-looking sniper rifles – visibly relaxed when he spoke.
‘No, he left a minute ago.’ He gave me a glance that was more curious than casual. He also did not take his eyes from me for some 30 seconds as though he couldn’t quite get over my presence.
And we were off again, heading northwest to what I presumed was the nearest Tube Station. I couldn’t take it for granted that I knew where I was going. So much of this London looked familiar and so much was different.
Somewhere to our left a gunshot rang out. We froze again. Yet we were already at the entrance; it was closer than the one I knew. Once again, a group of people raised guns at us but seeing us both as we rounded the corner, they lowered them and quickly let us through.
He grabbed one young man by the arm as we passed through. ‘Are the tracks guarded?’
The young man nodded in response.
We passed through the lobby of the underground station and trotted down the steps of an escalator that wasn’t presently working. My “brother” stopped me at the bottom in a second lobby.
I heard the footsteps first – a group of people, perhaps no more than five – coming towards us from the right. I peered down the hallway and saw a well-dressed black man surrounded by at least four guards wearing suits. Each had a rifle at his or her side.
When they reached us, the guards stepped aside and I stared into my own face. This person was not a relative I never had.
He was me.