Everyone talks about how living in London is like living in a bubble separate from the rest of the UK. It’s true; the city is a melange of different cultures, the sights to see are never-ending and most importantly, our transport system is unmatched.
You see, we travel on dragons. There are eleven types, each one a distinct colour. The light blue ones, Victoria dragons, are the fastest; they zoom along their route quicker than all the others. The gold ones, Circle dragons, are certainly the prettiest but they aren’t the sharpest dragons in the sky so they only fly in circles since that’s the only route they can remember.
The transport system began one hundred and fifty years ago when builders unearthed a cache of dragon eggs. These were given to a team of experts who found that the dragons were highly skilled in navigation. They then bred them to create dragons of different colours, making them more easily recognisable. The transport ministers of the time originally planned to use London as a testing ground for this new system, and if it proved successful they would extend it to the rest of the UK and perhaps even the rest of the world. The dragon system quickly became popular however, so it was decided that it would be restricted to London to bring in tourism as a novelty experience.
Around one billion people use the dragon system annually, but the funny thing is, small numbers of people have been disappearing from stations on a regular basis. No one talks about this much, though I’m sure more people know about it than are willing to admit. I probably shouldn’t be saying this, I could get into a lot of trouble, but I feel like someone should investigate this and find out what’s happening to these people. I’m probably not the man for the job; after all I’m only a student working here part time. I’m just trying to earn a little money to help me get by and really shouldn’t be concerning myself with this. The only reason I know about it is because I work for dragon transport security. I watch those screens all day and every so often I see a person in the crowd who turns a corner on one screen, without reappearing on another. At first I shook it off telling myself I just wasn’t looking properly. But now it’s happened too many times for me not to sit up and take notice.
I work on the cameras at Seven Sisters station mostly, but sometimes they’ll send me to other stations. Two people have disappeared here when walking from the platform to the escalators. From the platform there’s a turn into a passage about 3 metres long before you turn again to the escalators. This passage is too short for me to be mistaken when people don’t reappear. Tonight I was determined to explore.
The room in which I worked was an absolute tip. The security room was like the dumping ground for all the junk from dragon transport information. I made an effort to clean up when I first started working there, but my colleague Dave only added to it so eventually I gave up. I’d be working a five-hour shift tonight, so I’d have plenty of time to investigate.
‘Hi Dave.’ I say as I open the door.
‘Alright Pete?’ Dave drawls in reply without turning round. He has his feet up on a cluttered desk, tapping at his phone with one hand and a holding half eaten banana in the other.
I sink into the chair at my desk and keep an eye on the screens. I plan to wait two hours before going off to explore, so as not to arouse any suspicion from Dave, if it turns out he has the capacity for curiosity. My eagerness drags out the two hours but eventually the time comes. I slowly reach over and flip the power switch for screen five – the one facing the short passage I was going to investigate. I then place a leaflet casually over the switchboard, so Dave can’t see it’s off. The screen goes static. I turn and say in the most casual voice I can muster:
‘Screen five’s playing up, I’ll just go and check out the camera there. Back in a bit.’
Dave grunts in reply.
I have to stop myself from running out of the room, and nod at the other workers as I make my way to the passage.
When I get there, it’s completely unremarkable, as expected. I run my hands along the grey tiles absentmindedly, looking around at the ceiling and walls for anything out of the ordinary. I reach the other end of the passage and turn back the way I came, running my hand across the opposite wall. Halfway along, I feel a change in the rhythm of the tiles against my fingertips. Pausing, I run my fingers against the same bit of wall. Sure enough, there’s a line between two of the tiles. I look more closely at it and find that the line goes up from the floor to a little above my head then turns horizontal for half a metre then goes down to the floor again. A door! I trace the line to the top right corner of the door. I feel that the tile there is a little loose. I press on it and it makes a sound like a button on a keyboard. The door begins to open out and my mouth hangs open in awe. Before it’s done opening I stick my head into the dark inside. There’s a staircase leading down to a large dimly-lit room.
I whip back round and slam the door closed, breathing heavily, my eyes wide with shock. I realise nobody asks the most obvious question: What do the dragons eat?
I think I know the answer.
This is another piece I wrote for a creative writing assignment. It was really fun to write because I love dragons (they will probably feature quite a bit on this blog.)