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There was an awful sinking feeling in Chuck’s stomach as he stepped into the darkness. The thought of a train tearing through the tunnel and ripping him to pieces was more than enough to make him feel sick and he was surprised he was able to stand with how wobbly his legs felt. Never in a million years would he think to walk onto the tracks. He was the type of person who would stand as far away from the platform edge as possible even if it risked losing a place on a packed train, but he didn’t have a choice. Not with the shadow spider following him. He could just about make out Fiona in front of him, walking in the middle of the tracks and holding up the boy over one shoulder. He followed her as they followed the tracks along, twisting through the passages. From the distance a rumbling sound of moving trains echoed. They moved through different tunnels, taking different choices at random, at least that’s what Chuck felt. They carried on until Fiona stopped walking.
“What now?” Chuck called out, trying to ignore how much he wanted to curl up into a ball and cry.
“We fight,” Fiona said, coming to a stop and placing the boy down against the wall.
“You just need to stand back and let me handle it. We’re safe here. These tunnels aren’t used anymore for trains, it leads to an abandoned station. So we’re safe. At least until that thing gets here.”
“Stop whining. I’ve already got one child to look after. Just stay back and I’ll deal with it. Now that he’s asleep the monster won’t have as much power. I just needed somewhere to fight it head on. Hold this light up and point it the way we came.”
Fiona tossed over a torch to Chuck that she’d kept in her pocket. He caught it in fumbling hands. He turned it on and held it upwards towards the decaying tunnel they’d just ran down. It looked old and like it might just fall over at any moment. The roar of the monster echoed through the tunnels getting closer and closer.
“Just make sure you keep the light on it, so I can see,” Fiona said.
She took out the knife from the pocket on her trousers. It glinted in the reflection of the light. As she stood waiting for the monster to arrive, she twirled it in her hand. The blade was long and thin, with one side slightly serrated. The handle was just as thin, with a rounded end. Another roar and Chuck had just enough time to question how he found himself in the situation before the monster came into view. Its legs were pitch black as it crawled along the ceiling towards them. Chuck moved backwards, fighting the urge to turn, and run away.
“Keep that light on it Chucky boy or you’re going to be dead in a moment. I’ll make sure of it.”
The monster drew closer and roared at them both, baring its shadow fangs towards them. Its numerous luminescent eyes glistened in the light, the only part of the creature that wasn’t completely black. Fiona held the knife out in front of her and flicked it towards the beast while giving a sharp whistle, a spark glistened, and a small ball of flame jumped from the pointed end of the knife and dove through the air towards the shadow creature. The spider swiped at the ball of flame with one of its legs, extinguishing it at once, and then it dropped to the floor. The creature seemed to fold into itself and in an instant, it was standing the right way up. It started moving again, crawling towards Fiona. She moved backwards and flicked another fire ball towards it, but it ended with the same effect. She held the knife all the way up, towards the ceiling and then quickly moved her hand so it was outstretched to her side and then flung her arm forwards as if she was swinging a sword with some resistance. A vibration in the air shimmered and shot towards the approaching spider. It shielded itself from it, curling up into a ball and hiding its face, but the wave moved over it. Dust and specks of brink started to rain down from the ceiling.
“You’re a stubborn one, but I’m not trying very hard,” Fiona said.
She moved closer to it and swung her knife as if she was throwing a bowling ball, water leapt out of the ground and covered the creature, leaving it completely submerged for a moment and then seeping back into the ground. The creature continued to hide itself inside and Fiona repeated the movement. This time as the water rose and swamped the creature, she jumped upwards and kicked out from the nearest wall to gain extra height. She held up her knife with both hands and brought it down quickly onto the ball the monster was hiding within.
An ear-piercing wail escaped from the shadowy mess and the spider recoiled from the strike. A dark substance that looked like dust flew up from it, covering the walls and floating down to the ground. The spider stood up and there was a smoking darkness flowing from its eyes. Fiona held her knife in front of her face, as it swiped towards her, catching her in the side of her stomach and throwing her into the wall. Chuck moved to one side, keeping the light on the creature while straining to see if Fiona was okay.
“Stay back, this one means business,” Fiona said spitting blood out onto the group and readying her knife again as she stood up.
The shadow creature had no intention to make this quick. It had chased down its prey through the tunnels and it was time to enjoy the kill. Even though Fiona had hurt it, the creature was still sure it would be able to take her and once she was dead, the other two wouldn’t be much more effort. It lunged towards her, spreading out its legs as it did, bringing them down onto Fiona to crush her. Instead, she jumped towards the spider, thrusting her knife into its face and at the same time twisting it into its shadowy flesh. The knife connected right between two of the monster’s eyes. It roared in pain and moved backwards in retreat as quickly as it had attacked. Fiona didn’t let up, she jumped upwards and shot out fire from the knife, aiming at the open wound on the spider’s face. It didn’t have time to block with any of its legs and instead the fire drove deep into its face. She stabbed at it again, more dust flying out of every wound she created. She dug the knife into its face, forcing it to the ground as its legs wiggled about to try and connect with her. She pulled the knife out and drove it back in with all the force she could manage and then it was dead. The shadow faded and the light from the torch shone at full brightness. The only remnants of the battle were a dark and almost sludgy dust-like substance that stained the area the spider had stood.
Fiona turned towards Chuck. Her clothes were torn, and her face was bloodied. He stood there, still aiming the light in her direction.
“What the hell was that?” He asked.
“That was some kind of dream creature, that this little creep conjured to kill me.”
“What does that mean?” Chuck shouted, not really expecting an answer. “Look, I’m pretty sure I’m about to throw up, so I’m just going to find a way to get back to the surface and then I’m going to leave. I’m pretty sure I’ve missed my coach now, but I think I’ll be fine. Here’s your torch. I’m just going to place it down here and I’ll be on my way.”
“Are you being serious right now? You find out that magic exists, and your first reaction is to turn tail and flee. What is wrong with you? How can you even see us if you’re this much of a coward.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was just having a day out in London and it’s time for me to go home and write this off as food poisoning.”
“Food poisoning? Are you that thick? Just come with me, I want Arthur to meet you.”
“Nope. No, no no no no no. I’m not going with you anywhere,” he replied backing away from Fiona and the boy.
“Then how do you plan to get to the surface?”
“There will be a platform somewhere I can climb up or a service door or something.”
“I know these tunnels really well. Better than anyone else in fact. I know when its safe to move, when you need to find shelter, which parts aren’t used, and where each station is. If you go off by yourself, then you’ll be a splattered feast for the rats in about two minutes, that much I can actually guarantee. So do you want that, or do you want to come to Whistling Academy with me and meet Arthur?”
“Yes, that’s what I said. Well done for repeating it to me. It’s not really an academy but its where we teach magic, well Whistling is what we call it. Down that way is the abandoned Brompton Road Station, and if we head down to it we’ll be able to get to the Academy. As soon as you’ve spoken to Arthur, I’ll show you a way back to London, or wherever you want to go. Deal?”
To Be Continued…
Thanks for reading! Part Four is available here: https://ashleymanning.com/2023/01/13/magic-in-london-whistling-part-four/
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