Under The Streets Of London – Episode 15

“Where’s William?” Mary repeated to John, panic shooting through her.

“I’ve no idea.” John cast an anxious glance around the little shop as if their nephew might somehow be lurking behind what was left of their stock. “When did you last see him?”

“He was definitely here for his cup of tea mid morning,” Mary said, struggling to recall, “but I’m not sure after that. Did he go out on deliveries?”

John closed his eyes for a moment to think and when he opened them again Mary saw fear in their brown depths.

“He did,” he confirmed. “He went to take Mr Johnson’s weekly box to him.”

“Mr Johnson? Which way would he go to his house?”

John swallowed.

“Really he should go round the back, but it’s a long detour so I think William usually wheels the bike down the side of the, of the . . .”

“Tunnel,” Mary finished bleakly. “Oh, John, we have to find him!”

She yanked her apron off, flung it down on the till and together she and John made a dive for the door. John fumbled for his keys and Mary stood impatiently as he locked the door.

It seemed to take for ever but they couldn’t leave the shop unattended – who knew what thieves might be around, seeking to profit from the chaos of the dreadful morning?

“I’ve not heard of any fatalities,” she said as the key finally turned.

“Me, neither,” John agreed. “I’m sure he’s fine.”

It was clear from his tone, though, that he was not sure at all and Mary felt a shiver down her spine as she risked a look into the great scar of the trench.

The only people she could see were a clutch of fancy-suited gentlemen talking earnestly together. But the collapse ran some way down the street and who knew what had happened further along?

“Let’s go,” she said, grabbing John’s arm and hurrying him down the tiny walkway. But John stopped her at the George.

“We should check on the children.”

Mary glanced in, torn. She did want to make certain they were safe, but surely William had to be their first priority?

He’d gone off to Mr Johnson’s not long after his cuppa, so he should definitely be back by now. If something had happened to him, her sister would be devastated. She was weak already with the TB tearing at her poor body, and losing her dear son could destroy her.

“Besides,” John added, tugging at her hand, “William might be in there with them.”

That was true. Mary let herself be led inside, her eyes instantly scanning the crowded public house for William’s dear face. The lad was tall with bright blond curls and was normally easy to spot, but with so many big navvies crowded into the public bar it was hard to see anyone distinctly.

“We’ll never find them,” she said desperately to John, fighting her way between the men.

“We will,” he soothed. “Look, there’s Violet.”

Mary followed his finger and, sure enough, there was her niece, wrapping a bandage very attentively around the arm of a broad-shouldered navvy and making a right hash of it, too, due mainly to looking more into his eyes than at his injury.

Mary marched up to her.


“Aunt Mary,” she said, smiling absently. “There you are. Isn’t this awful? I’m just doing my best to help.”

“And a very good best it is,” the navvy said dotingly.

Mary tossed her head and stepped closer to Violet.

“Have you seen William?”

The girl froze.

“Is he not with you?”

“I’m afraid not. He went out on a delivery.”

“When? How long ago? Why isn’t he back?”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.