Wires and cables, an interesting topic. Sometimes events need to get darker before they can get better. So, thank you for the topic Rian – let’s see where this takes us. This one has actually been written since last night but I was out late to get the photo above, of the real Necropolis Cemetery station.
(If you are joining Emmeline’s story today, welcome! It might help for you to begin here.)
Beneath the Necropolis Railway. J R Manawa.
“The next station is Waterloo. Change here for the Bakerloo, Jubilee, and Waterloo and City lines. Exit for National Rail services.”
The entire carriage full of people emptied onto the platform, all racing to catch over ground trains home. Charon and Emmeline were carried along with the crowd. They were just about to reach the ticket gates, when Charon pulled her off to the side.
“We are going down here,” he said, pointing toward an empty passage of to the right.
Emmeline followed him. They went down and around the first corner, until they came to a dead end. The passage was blocked off, and the sign over the barrier told them to go left for rail services, and right for the exits to street level. Charon touched his hand to the barrier, and it swung inward, opening to a disused corridor, still lit with the flicker phosphorous lights of the London Underground.
“Come,” he said, offering to take her hand as he walked in.
Emmeline bit her lip, “I don’t know if this is a good idea,” she admitted.
“I gave you the name, and you said you would come,” he reminded her.
She sighed and followed him. The passage went down into the earth a way further, then turned a hard left and went straight ahead for some time. When Emmeline looked behind, she could see the corridor vanishing off into the distance behind them. There was no way they were still in Waterloo station, and they had not passed a single soul in the eerily quiet passageway. The only noise they could there was the regular rumbling of trains passing overhead for nation rail, and beneath for the underground.
“Where are we going? And don’t tell me Waterloo, there is no way we are still in Waterloo station.”
He smiled, though it was really a grimace, “No, we are going to a place that no longer exists.”
“You are going to have to tell me more than that,” she told him.
He put his fingers to his lips for her to be silent suddenly, and they stood still and listened. Up ahead, the sounds of dripping water could be heard.
It wasn’t long before the corridor turned and opened out into the remains of a Victorian era station, a spiral stairwell going down deeper into the earth. The stairwell came from nowhere, the corridor they entered from was cut into the wall of the Victorian remnant, and above the stairs met an empty, shored up ceiling.
“You go first,” Emmeline said.
The deeper they got, the less-visited the place appeared.
“We are in the remains of the Necropolis Cemetery Railway,” Charon told her.
“The what?!” Emmeline squeaked.
“Necropolis station is one of London’s many disused stations,”
“Necropolis,” Emmeline repeated.
“Yes, the station ran a funerary service between Waterloo and London’s largest outer limit cemetery for a long time, up until the war,”
“Really?” she screwed up her nose, “That’s just weird. Why are we here?”
“We are going to see someone,” he said.
Emmeline stopped on the stairs, “I told you no more appointments! For crying out loud Charon, the last two were a disaster, for different reasons. How can you expect me to be happy climbing down into a hole in the earth to visit another one? Especially a hole that used to be a cemetery station? I have had enough of cemeteries to last me a life right now.”
“In truth this is why I did not tell you earlier,” he admitted, “because I knew you would never come. And it’s not intentional, it’s just that cemeteries work really well as hiding places for my kind. Human’s stay away most of the time.”
“But this is not actually a cemetery,” she clarified.
“No, it’s an old rail station.”
“Called the Necropolis Cemetery station?”
“You can look it up.” He confirmed.
“What? You are telling me to google things now?” She was indignant.
He shushed her, “No, I’m just saying it because that’s what you do,”
He was right, she had googled full moon phases when he told her that the 5th was the full moon, she had wanted to be sure.
“I have another question,” she said, following Charon into another corridor and through a wrought iron grating.
“You always do,” he muttered.
“Why is this ‘person’ we are going to meet all the way down here?”
“He is imprisoned. This was a convenient place for his incarceration.”
“Incarceration?” Emmeline repeated, feeling a little uneasy.
“I have anoth–”
“Are all the monsters in your world bad?”
He stopped and turned to see the expression on her face, “I don’t understand what you mean,”
She shrugged, “Because so far the monsters I have heard of and seen have all been fairly, unsavoury, if not blatantly evil. Except for Pythia. And I did like Angula, but not the things she allowed in her club.”
Charon stopped, and shook his head, “We are not all evil, no. We were not designed for your world. Being trapped here changes them, and they grow desperate. But it shows in different ways.”
“And what kind of way is the way we are about to see?” Emmeline said, as they came abruptly to a bolted and locked iron door.
“You’ll see,” Charon lifted his hand to the padlock.
They passed several more bolted and locked doors before they came into the presence of the Eater. Emmeline could feel the magic, but it was magic contained and held at bay, though she did not know how or with what.
The room was dark and damp, and the monster in the centre was held there with wires and metal cables strapped over every inch of his pale, lucid flesh. He was suspended in the centre of the cell, and the cables which held him there were rigid and wrought of black metal.
Despite this, the cables trembled and flexed as Charon entered the room with Emmeline hurrying timidly behind him.
In the darkness, looking up into the clear flesh and pale blue eye sockets of the monster, Emmeline felt that this encounter was sure to be the most terrifying.
She was not wrong.
Magic swelled in the room as the monster fought silently. Beneath his strength, the cables began to flex, and his face turned upright. He looked straight through Charon to Emmeline.
“I….smell…” the creature breathed heavily, its voice a rasping growl.
“I have come to talk with you–”
Emmeline could hear the power projecting in Charon’s voice when he spoke with the imprisoned monster, but he was cut short. The monster flexed his muscle again, and moved his arm so fast he snapped one of the cables holding him there.
Emmeline jumped. She could understand why there were so many cables.
“I….smell….” the monster repeated.
“Yes, I am sure you do,” Charon replied, his patience lessening.
The monster laughed a short, throaty sound, and then he sucked in a guttural breath through his teeth. “I…hunger….” it growled.
Emmeline could see its muscles still flexing against the prison woven around it, and she could hear the sounds of metal under stress. She clutched Charon’s arm tight.
“Feed….me.” It breathed, “Feed me and I talk,”
“I have nothing for you to feed on, eater,” Charon told it.
The monster laughed again, and Emmeline was sure she could hear the stonework in the ceiling and the walls around them groaning.
“I eat that.” The monster’s head lurched forward suddenly, and it snapped its jaws at Emmeline to reveal several rows of needle pointed teeth, like she was staring into the gaping maw of a great shark.
Emmeline’s eyes widened in horror.
“No, you won’t be eating her, because if you are lucky, she is going to destroy your master.”
“I have no master.” It growled.
“I know Melek keeps you here and feeds you. Don’t lie to me, eater,”
“I hunger.” It repeated, twisting its head slowly back against the metal until it faced Charon with its empty blue eye sockets.
“What are you?” Emmeline said suddenly, Charon put a hand to her mouth to silence her, but not quick enough.
The eater laughed.
“I want to know what it is,” Emmeline said to Charon.
“I eat.” The eater replied.
“As you’ve told us,” Emmeline agreed, and she really didn’t like to know the details of its eating, “but what are you?”
“I am hunger,” It replied, struggling to move its head back to face her.
She stepped closer to it, just slightly forward of Charon, who extended a hand out to stay her, but waited when the monster began to speak again.
“I eat all things. I eat flesh and I eat bone. I will lick your flesh from my lips.”
Emmeline swallowed as it flicked out a long dark blue tongue and let it quiver in the air before her. “I don’t think you will be doing that at all.” She could hear the grinding of the wires and the metal as it fought.
“I eat all things I like,”
“Melek put you down here,” she said, and Charon placed a hand on her arm now to stay her.
“I eat,” its voice became a deeper growl.
“I don’t know why we came here, Charon. I don’t just can’t see how a prisoner would know how to defeat his captor.”
“He knows Melek’s weaknesses, that is why he is down here.” Charon answered.
The eater laughed and the laughter filled the chamber, a hideous, gurgling roar.
Once he was finally silent Charon repeated, “Will you talk to us?”
“Feed me.” It replied.
“We are wasting our time,” Emmeline said. “I’m not going to learn anything here,” she turned and walked toward the door, listening to the metal groan as she went.
“Children! Children are his weakness.” The creature screamed at her.
Emmeline turned back, “Well, alas I am no child, so that rules this out as being a helpful exercise.”
“You are a child. You stand before two men who have seen ages and eons pass in this dreadful and tasty world. You are a child.”
“We could debate over whether I was a child or not, but you are no man.” She denounced him, and as she turned away one last time, her hair flicked out behind her, all candy pink tendrils and curls.
Charon moved, but not fast enough.
As her hair flicked out, the eater strained with all his might against the cables and lurched forward just far enough that the tip of his tongue tasted Emmeline’s hair.
The whiplash of sensation through Emmeline’s entire body was devastating. Her head was wrenched backward, and she fell toward the monster.
Everything within her pushed, a shift within her as the power exploded. But unlike crows and teddy bears, this time Emmeline felt an overwhelming force push back against her. It felt like a straw sucking at the centre of her chest and drawing her in. But she pushed back harder. A scream escaped straight from her gut as she forced everything within her against the eater. She felt its hands close in toward her, and its body flex.
Charon did not have time to react.
For a moment, everything went silent in time, all Emmeline’s senses shut down, and then the explosion came.
She opened her eyes, and she was lying under a fountain of dark blood, pouring down over her from eater’s neck.
The head was nowhere to be seen.
Charon was flat against the far wall like he had been flung there, and bathed with the creature’s blood and flesh. He scrapped the mess away from his eyes and mouth slowly, and just looked at her for a long moment.
Emmeline scrambled out of the pool of blood and tried to stand up, but her body failed her.
When Charon finally prised himself off the wall, he staggered forward and helped Emmeline out of the sticky mess on the floor.
She was shivering violently as she said, “Next time we go to one of your appointments, you need to warn me completely before hand.”