BY RICHARD WEST
Copyright is held by the author.
MY EYES flew open and were greeted with darkness. The shock made my lungs convulse and the dusty air triggered a bout of coughing. Once I calmed a little and closed my eyes to prevent the dust stinging them, I realized I’d been dreaming.
Dad had taken me up to the centre of London a few weeks back and I dreamed of being there. I must be crazy to dream about an outing in London in this dark and frightening place. Perhaps that’s it. I probably am going crazy. I’ve no idea how long I’ve been here but it must be at least a day. Perhaps more? I know I’m hungry and thirsty but that’s all.
Of course, my throat is sore from all the yelling I did at first. It was the dark that had frightened me. So, I just yelled and yelled. No one heard me though.
Mum was always warning me not to play on bombsites. We love them because they are full of piles of rubble and hiding places. It’s a kid’s paradise. More than once a policeman has seen us and chased us off. We would scatter and run into the nearest street or alley. The Bobbies weren’t too interested in catching us as long as we left the bomb site.
Someone told us that this place had been a factory during the war. The railway station across the road and this place were blown up during the war in an air raid. It’s the best bomb site around the Forest Hill area, so we often come back here to play. Mum had warned me that there were probably cellars beneath the place. She said it was particularly dangerous to play here. We didn’t listen though.
When a man started shouting at us to clear off, as usual we scattered. I remember jumping over a pile of bricks and feeling myself falling. I woke up in the pitch dark and my head hurt. Dust coated my lips and breathing was hard because of all the brick dust. Somehow the floor had collapsed and I must have fallen into one of those cellars. I soon figured out my left leg hurt and my right foot is stuck under something. So, I couldn’t move very much. Feeling around, I found there’s a lot of bricks piled all around and over me. Boy, was I scared then!
Now, I’ve sort of got used to the dust and the dark. Having realized shouting doesn’t help I’m concentrating on listening. Hopefully I’ll hear someone above and then I’ll shout like hell. Meanwhile I keep thinking of Mum and how I should have listened to her.
Just before I fell asleep, I got another scare. I moved some bricks and felt what I was lying over. At first it puzzled me because it feels like a metal pipe. But it’s not very long. Probably about two thirds my height. That’s not that big seeing as I’m not yet ten. Then I remembered one of the comic books I’d recently looked at. It had a drawing of an unexploded bomb. It was round but not very long. That’s when I wet myself.
I slowly calmed down and realized that even if it was a bomb, it must have been here for over 15 years, so it won’t blow up or anything like that.
I hate the silence but then I feel I can hear something very faint. I must have listened to it for hours. Then I remembered the watch Dad gave me. My left arm can’t reach up to my head so I can’t hear it well but I suppose it’s still ticking away. What else could be ticking here in the dust and dark?