The last 984 words of chap 1.
It’s the guy Shelley knows, she shakes her arm loose and shoots him a look. Outside the city lights up and a second later a clap of thunder loud enough to rattle the windows, for a second the bar goes quiet and you can hear a few bars of ‘White Shadows’ by Coldplay then there is a unified cheer to the god of thunder. Shelley is out the door before the cheer ends to the sound of the three men laughing. These are what Shelley, and many others call, Wankers.
Shelley waits by the door for the rain to let up enough for her to get a taxi. The candy sky has been washed away replaced with dark. The rain seems to slow so Shelley runs to the curb holding her handbag over her head to flag down a taxi but it was just a gust of wind interrupting its normal flow. She throws out her hand and the car stops she opens the door and practically dives in hitting the floor hard, the driver asks if she’s okay, she gets up, sits down on the back seat and nods then gives the driver the name of a club in Soho. Her hair is ruined.
Fifteen minutes later and Shelley has fixed her makeup and has done what she could with her hair to the soundtrack of ‘I’ll tell you want’s wrong with London’ and the constant rattle of the vehicle. She steps out into the rain pays the driver and thanks him for the ride then quickly moves to the vague shelter of the nearest building, the driver touches his flat cap and drives on before stopping to pick up another fair.
The streets are filled with people moving in all directions and traffic is blocking the streets which is why Shelley jumped out of the taxi early. People moving In and out of shops and services. Laughing, joking, crying, running to escape the rain which is getting heavier. The streets are dark enough to make every light seem brighter than it is.
Soho is a very different place to the rest of London, the way it sounds with the record shops pumping out the latest indie releases the way it smells there is a feeling of togetherness here, like everyone in Soho is there for the same reason. A good time. It is also an area of London filled with small tight streets with buildings which seem to be leaning over you and alley ways allowing services to keep trash off the streets for the most part.
Shelley knows her way around and takes a short cut through an alley way, it’ll also provide a little protection from the down pour but as she makes her turn she almost walks into the back of a van parked there taking up all but a little space on the left hand side, she thinks nothing of it and moves around the van, she usually counts on the street lights to provide some elimination but the van has it’s lights on and the small court yard beyond is lit up.
Shelley’s phone buzzes. It’s a text message – ‘Got ur drink w8ing in back.’
Shelley stopped by the vans cab to check the message and noticed the van is empty, she moves on it’s lights making the rain visible in the dark its engine running and steam rising up from the bonnet. She steps into the wash of its head lights and for a moment her shadow is 30 feet high. The rain running down the walls like insects.
The small court yard area beyond is empty, it smells of London’s underbelly, piss, shit, and vomit none of which will ever get washed away no matter heavy the rain gets. It could rain bleach and those smells will remain, they are apart of London, they have permeated the stone of the buildings and the very foundations of the city even the very air here is stale like the last breath of a dying man.
The lights turn off and Shelley is now standing in the dark. She turns but the van is alone, she knows this place and tries to walk it from memory, she enters the open court yard, back doors to cafe’s and restaurants and the flats above them but no lights are on and the height of the building stop the street lights on the other side of Shelley’s short from reaching her, only the top of the building is lit.
The wet surface catches what little light there is making it easier to figure out where to step and where to avoid, she can make out subtle features on the walls, the drain pipes, where the brick work is uneven, doors, window frames, the drain in the middle of this tight pungent square seems to be the only outlet for the rain, its constant wash louder than the streets beyond. In this space it sounds like a waterfall.
Another flash but this one doesn’t light up the alley way and there isn’t a roll of thunder coming. Shelley’s loses focus and drops to her knees on the wet cobblestone ground, a sharp pain shoots up her thigh from the impact then she falls to the side turning and landing on her back. She lies there for a second wondering what just happened the clouds a contrast in grey slowly moving over head and why the rain now feels warm as it runs down the back of her head.
She can see movement to her right, she tries to look but finds if difficult to move anything other then her eyes but there is definitely someone standing over her, his shape against the clouds. Her eyes lose their focus again and a grey wash moves in to take her sight completely like the clouds forbid her to see.
Text message – ‘WHERE R U?’