Under The Streets Of London – Episode 41

Niall steeled himself, slicked back his hair with what he knew was still a grimy hand (the mud from the works, even frozen, seemed to have embedded itself so deep into his skin that he sometimes feared he’d never get it out) and forced himself to climb the steps into the reception hall.

It was warm inside and amazingly bright. Niall stopped and stared around, but already a security guard was hurrying towards him.

“Can I help you, sir?” He spoke with a sneer, designed no doubt to intimidate Niall.

In fact, it had the reverse effect. He pulled himself up to his substantial height and looked down at the man.

“I’m here to see Miss Eliza Rutherford.”

“Is she expecting you?”

“Of course,” Niall shot back. “I mean, she said to come by.”

“And your name is?”

“Niall McMenamy.”

Niall had to suppress a laugh as he spotted himself, blown up large, on the poster opposite.

The guard had a hushed word with the prim-looking girl behind a big desk and she went scuttling off through a door at the back of the hall. Together, Niall and the guard waited in silence.

Niall stared up at the curlicued ceiling, imagining the sneer the guard would offer him if she refused to see him – though that would hurt less than the disappointment in his own foolish breast.

“Miss Rutherford asks that we show you right up, Mr McMenamy.”

Niall blinked and looked down to find the receptionist smiling politely at him and gesturing towards the magic door.

He glanced at the guard, who just nodded and spun on his heel, and then he followed the girl into the offices of the Metropolitan company.

She took him up a winding staircase and down an imposing corridor. Niall vaguely remembered it from his last time here, but he’d had Seamus with him and they’d been too busy looking at each other to see if it was all real to take in their surroundings.

Now he had time to see how different a world Eliza Rutherford inhabited from his own.

Within moments a door was opening and he was being ushered into a cosy little office. There she was, stepping towards him and holding out her hand.

He forgot his surroundings and strode eagerly forward.

“Miss Rutherford, it’s good of you to see me.”

“Eliza, please. Do come in. May I get you a cup of tea, perhaps?”

Niall hesitated. He would love a warm cup of tea.

“I was about to have one,” Eliza added kindly. “Please join me.”

“That would be lovely, thank you.”

She showed him to one of two neat little armchairs in the corner of the room and busied herself at a little stove he now spotted in an alcove behind them. He leaped up again.

“Please, let me.”

“Not at all. You’re my guest, Mr McMenamy.”


“Niall.” She smiled over her shoulder at him and he felt a ridiculous quiver run through his body.

“Are you well?” he managed to say. “That is, you look well.”

She was pouring tea and didn’t answer for a moment. When she looked up, her cheeks were pink.

“I am, thank you.”

She brought the two teacups across and he leaped up to help her. Their hands touched over the saucer and they froze, fingertips linked on the fine china. Then she stepped back, and they both took their seats, flustered.

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”.