Polly caught his arm, held him back. “Greg, Greg, talk to me.” In the underground passageway,
her voice had a slight stuck-in-a-drainpipe quality to it. “What are we doing down here?” She
relaxed her grip a little. “I know we’re looking for something. It’d just be nice if you actually
told me what.”
He’d been running around at street level trying to find the way down and, resting only in
the stinking lift, which, bizarrely, like the electronic signboard, worked, he’d been running
around this maze of concrete corridors deep under the Trocadero. He’d battered down one
wooden door with an empty gas canister he’d found up the corridor only to be confronted by
another door that had required similar treatment.
He’d just dumped the canister back in the passageway. As he tried to move forwards
again, her fingernails dug into his arm.
Burning up, sweating, he gulped, coughed. Trying to get his breathing under control, he
bent over. “Okay, okay…” He straightened up. “In Trafalgar Square… before we found each
other… I think someone was watching me.”
She looked at him with one eyebrow looping downwards, the other upwards, as per
“A CCTV camera followed me across the square.” Her head tipped backwards
fractionally as he pulled her with him. “This is the control room. And look.” He pointed. “The
lights are on.”
Hands out, upturned. Those ironic eyebrows. “Yet no-one’s home.”
Strictly speaking, the lights weren’t on. The wall of plasma screens was.
The locations they showed included Oxford Circus, Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus,
Trafalgar Square, the Queen’s Walk. The lack of movement of any kind meant that at first he
thought these must be stills but interference on a patch of Thames in the latter revealed itself to
be wavelets. This was live video feed.
“So what are we looking for?” Her head jerked next to his. “They all look pretty deserted
Was she really going to make him state the obvious? He gestured at the screens. “It’s all
places we’ve been.”
She tutted, laughed. “Well, that’s because the area they show is the area we’re in.”
He nodded in the direction of the main monitor. “Look, there’s that supermarket.” He’d
only just recognized it.
He maneuvered round the pulled-out chair and applied a little sideways pressure to a
joystick. More of the plaza at the center of the arcade slid into view. Back and up a bit and there
was the sign over the entrance to the store: Tesco Metro.
He pulled the chair up to the back of his knees and lowered his backside.
He’d no sooner made himself comfortable than he shot upright in the seat. “Christ.”
Polly gripped his wrist on the armrest. “What?”
She took her hand away. “What is?”
He shifted, squirmed. “This seat.”
“Someone’s been down here…” He pointed at the seat, then the ceiling. “Watching us up
“Who? How?” He glanced past her at the broken doors as she turned, gestured, this way,
that way. “We would have bumped into them, heard them at the very least. The doors were
locked, remember? And there’s no-one out there.” She indicated the telescreen showing the
entrance they’d used on Wardour Street – just another empty backlot.
“Try it.” He jumped up.
Slowly, she sat down.
He put his hand on her shoulder. “See, it’s warm. Isn’t it?”
He patted her shoulder. “Thank you.”
“From you.” She stood up.
He stared at her. “What?” He sighed. “Well, why was it warm when I sat on it?”
“Listen, if you’d said we were down here to rewind the video, I’d be taking this a lot
Rewind? Of course, if they rewound the video far enough back, they’d find out what had
happened to everyone. Brilliant!
He jumped back on the chair.
If the seat was warm now, he didn’t notice. He perched on the edge of it.
His hands scrabbled at the controls.
The monitor showing the outside of the supermarket stopped, played the other way. Apart
from an initial picture jerk as the camera snapped to its original position, everything looked the
same backwards as it had forwards. He speeded things up. The screen went dark. He snorted
when, daytime having come round a third time, a red Golf reversed in a loop around the square
and stopped outside the supermarket. A man and a woman got out. The streak of auburn that
followed could only be foxes chasing their own tails. The couple scooted in the supermarket with
bulging bags, emerged with empty ones. They got in the car and backed out the way they’d
come. He increased the speed, rewound faster and faster. Days strobed. His and Polly’s cheeks
drew closer as they leaned towards the monitor. She put her hand up to her neck. Back and back
in time they went. Any second now there would be an explosion – of people.
“Oh, hell.” He crumpled in the chair.
They’d reached the end, or the start. The video didn’t go far enough back.
He should come down here the day he’d spotted the camera on Trafalgar Square. If he
had, he would know exactly what had happened to everyone.
Or maybe it was better not knowing. He slowly got to his feet.
He might not have solved the main mystery but at least he knew what the seat meant.
You’re getting warmer.