CROSSING THE BRIDGE • by M.Sherlock

Tommy stepped through puddles of polluted rain, each one reflecting an artificial orange glow. Fleets of cigarette butts sailed the puddles in search of a new world. Under a hedge, a discarded burger box boasted life that had been resident there for months.

He was about to cross the rail bridge, his least favourite place in all of East London. He’d just gone by a memorial laid against a brick wall for a recent killing there. He was reluctant to pass but it was his only way home. He lit a fag and shoved his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket. The rain came down harder now. He bowed his head to stop the streams of filthy water getting into his eyes.

He walked down an alley and saw the entrance of the bridge — a filthy grey tube. The steps were slippery with urine and the air stank of illegal substances. He took one last pull on his cigarette and dropped the butt at his feet. His foot slipped slightly on the first metal step, but regardless, he trudged up the steel staircase in echoing booms. Tommy could feel the not-so-distant child within turning and walking away; it took guts and a willingness to act irrationally to pass the bridge unscathed.

He reached the top and realised he was not alone. He had feared the possibility,  had somehow known someone unsavoury would be there. About four of them — dark figures with hoods and caps over their faces.

They were dark shadows reflecting teachings of hate and murder, glamorised by public view, standing clustered inside the dark tube. Not one of them bore his own personality, just shadows of another shadow. In the darkness shone their blades, silver hate and twisted power flicking around in their fingers.

Tommy turned and walked calmly back toward the stairs. The air was quiet, save the hammering rain on the iron roof. Then he heard the clatter of the gang behind him bursting into a bloodthirsty charge over the iron floor.

He started to run but found himself slamming into the bodies of two more thugs heading him off at the stairs. Adrenaline struck him; it drew his hands from his coat — shortly after it drew the knife.

Tommy’s innocence flew from his pocket in the flash of a blade; it followed the sharpened edge into the body of the boy in front of him. The lifeless body crashed down the stairs and splashed in the rain and fluids; tomorrow that patch of darkness would be martyred as a victim dealt an undeserving death. Tommy had built a wall of flowers, decorated with photographs and love notes for the deceased, though each item hid the dark surface of the bricks behind it.

He bolted down the stairs and leapt onto the rails, cold fear screaming from his lungs as the breath burned his lips. They pursued like beasts, matching his fear-fuelled escape.

If they were to grab him and pull him to the floor they would kill him slowly and painfully. His heart pounded the walls of his chest and he dared a look over his shoulder at the dark figures running at him, their silver knives bobbing in the dark. The iron bridge loomed dark and ominous against the night sky, its silhouetted grey metal shell framing their pursuit. Tommy’s feet pounded hard against the rain-slick railway sleepers, his feet not staying long enough to feel any vibrations running through them.

Briefly his world lit up, the darkness fled and each shadow was exposed to itself. Fearful eyes glared from under wet hoods. The floor screeched and sparked and a wall of light powered through the shadow. The darkness dissipated in seconds, the dark figures disappeared. The train powered on under the bridge, its wheels screeching and roaring, and for one brief moment its lights cleansed the bridge of its clinging shadow.


M.Sherlock is an avid short story writer looking to make a career of writing as soon as possible… but for now he just enjoys writing for the sake of writing.


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