“What did he mean by that?”
Efi leaned against the wall of the elevator as it descended towards the platforms of the underground station below, her eyes closed as she breathed deeply to catch her breath. She tentatively massaged her leg, lifting and stretching it out, grimacing each time her foot returned to the floor. “What that guy mean when he said we didn’t want to go down here?”
“Oh… No idea.” Jon looked up from the floor of the lift. “I think he was just trying to scare us.”
“What did you think they were going to do to us?”
“Efi, don’t ask that,” Jon sighed. “You already know the answer.”
Efi stopped moving her leg and stared at the floor. "End of the fucking world and we all turn into animals, just like that.” she muttered.
Jon turned his face away. He noticed that Luna was standing, leaning against the wall of the lift with her backpack held in front of her. It was a well practiced act of etiquette, exercised almost exclusively by native Londoners when using the underground railway system. It was a small gesture that before, had never inspired appreciation in him, but now that gesture of politeness and consideration demonstrated to him that civility wasn’t entirely dead yet.
The elevator slowed to a stop and the doors slowly slid open. White, stark light filled the lift, revealing the empty corridor leading to the station platforms.
Cautiously Jon peeked out from inside the lift and looked around. Opposite the lift stood a sign permanently fixed to the wall with a map of the underground railway lines, and a platform guide that dictated which stations the trains would stop at during their journey. The harsh light bounced off of the aged olive green and cream tiled walls, revealing the splatters and smears old, dry blood stains and the scent of rust and decay filled Jons nostrils.
He ducked back inside the lift. “I’ll check it out, wait here.” He whispered.
Efi and Luna nodded in acknowledgement as he stepped out into the corridor and tiptoed over to the map. On the map he could see all the stations and routes in their various lines, each colour coded so that travellers could easily see which line they needed to take to reach their destinations. He checked the line from their station, confirmed where they would need to be and headed down the hallway on his left. He cautiously rounded the corner to find the platform. Just like the corridors, the platform was empty. The only sign that any people had ever been there were the smears and splatters of congealed blood lining the walls and floor.
On the platform sat an abandoned train, the lights still on. Jon hopped inside the nearest carriage, looking in both directions. Again, empty. He hopped back out and headed to the front of the train. The drivers cabin had been abandoned. Satisfied that the train wouldn’t be moving on its own any time soon, Jon left and headed back up the stairs to the lift.
He returned to find Efi and Luna waiting in the corridor. He gestured to the map opposite the elevator as he trotted up to them. “We’re only two stops from where we need to be,” he said. “We could walk through the tunnel and avoid those men on the surface…” He trailed off, troubled.
“What?” Asked Efi.
“Ah, I don’t know.” he replied. “I can’t put my finger on it.”
“It’s the blood, isn’t it.”
Efi and Jon both turned to Luna. She had squatted over one of the congealed pools, her brow furrowed, studying the dark brown goo that had once been blood.
Efi raised an eyebrow. “Eh?”
Luna looked up. “It’s the blood.” She repeated matter-of-factly. “Look. Obviously there’s loads of blood here, but no bodies right? Look at this.” Luna pointed to the blood and traced her finger along the floor, following the smear marks further along the corridor. “There were people here, but they’ve been moved.” Luna pointed to a dried puddle and followed the long streak that formed out of it down the corridor. “This blood is really old now, but it wasn’t when the body was dragged away… That’s if it was a body and not someone alive of course.”
She turned her gaze towards the platform. “Maybe we shouldn’t use the tunnel.”
“I guess we could wait for those guys to leave,” Jon supposed, “We could sneak out and find away around them.”
“I’d rather take the tunnel.” Countered Efi. “I don’t want to take my chances with those animals outside and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my leg’s a bit fucked."
“Really?” Luna stared at Efi in disbelief, gesturing wildly at all the blood stains around them. “You really want to go into a tunnel that might be hiding the source of all this?!”
Efi opened her mouth to reply, but before the words could escape her, the lift behind them pinged and began moving up to the surface.
“You think that’s automatic?” asked Jon.
“Nah,” Efi murmured. “Someone’s pressed the call button upstairs. It’s gotta be those guys.”
“Looks like we don’t have a choice then, come on Luna, we need to go.”
Luna hesitated “Um…”
“I don’t like the situation either.” replied Jon, holding a hand out to her. “Come on.” Jon helped Luna up and together they supported Efi as they headed towards the platform.
They hobbled together towards the edge of the platform and Jon lowered himself down on to the rails. He heard a humming sound, suddenly remembering the live rail in the centre.
“The line’s still live, so be careful.” He whispered, pointing downwards.
Luna helped Efi lower herself onto the the tracks, then hopped down. The three stared into the tunnel. The light from the platform reached the tunnel entrance but then disappeared, swallowed by the darkness. The tunnel appeared smaller than Jon had imagined it to be and he found himself feeling light headed as he stared into the lightless void. He glanced at Efi and, to his comfort, she also looked unsure about proceeding.
The three jumped and craned their heads round to the end of the corridor.
“Anybody home?” The deep, mocking voice of the tall man came echoing down from the lift, followed by the sadistic cackles of his pack mates.
“Shit!” Whispered Efi. “Come on let’s go!”
Jon grabbed Efi and started shuffling into the tunnel. “Luna! Come on!”
Luna stood, rigid, staring at the tunnel entrance, her eyes bulging in fear. “I… I can’t.”
Jon could hear the rapid footsteps of the men approaching from the corridor. Jon reached his free hand out to her, gesturing wildly. “Luna come on, please, there’s no fucking time!” He hissed.
She stepped slowly forward and finally took his hand.
Holding on to each other, the three descended into the darkness.