Treacle and Ink

April 30, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — adrian @ 2:12 pm

Oh god. Oh hell. Oh, just oh.

I went down to the tube station yesterday afternoon. And it was different. Everything was different. I don’t understand. It wasn’t my usual haven. There was no marble. No murals. No painted ceilings. It was dirty, and smelly, and disgusting. I thought I’d come to the wrong place in my confusion. But no, the London Underground sign was there.

I went down to the platforms, ignoring for the moment that the machine seemed to have taken more than the usual 50p from my travel-pass. Where are the polished-wood handrails on the escalators? And why did it take six minutes for the train to come? Why didn’t it come every minute, on the minute?

Eventually, my train arrived. It was horrible! Crammed full, so filthy I thought I’d get a disease just by stepping onboard. Where are the brass and chrome fittings? The stewards? The noise-dampening head-rests? It’s pretty chilly today, but the individual seat-warmers didn’t seem to be working. Can it be that the tube doesn’t have individual seat-warmers anymore? That’d be like taking away the air-conditioning!

Can the whole tube be like this? Is the world-famous Mornington Crescent Art Gallery and Jazz bar still there? Do we even still have Mornington Crescent the game? If it’s all like this, how can you “win” anything by going to Mornington Crescent?

It’s clear what’s happened. Dr Doom has made his threat real. He’s taken away something that I loved, made it fictional. And if he can do this to the tube, there’s probably no reason he couldn’t do it to anything else. Do any of you even remember the tube the way I do?

When I came back to the shop, Jacques was here. Apparently he’d dropped by while I was out in one of my trances, and now he “has ze concern about you, Alice. You are not well, eh?” I asked him about the tube, but he didn’t seem to understand.
“But no,” he said, “ze tube, it is a disaster well-known. Now, ze Metro of Paris…”
In a daze, I went upstairs to ask Dorcas.
“No,” she said, “my dear I fear this must be another of your waking-dreams.”
“No!” I said, “I know it’s not, I know it used to be different! We have to…” I was raging now, “we have to get rid of that mirror! Now!”

I ran to the kitchen drawer where I’d stowed Dorcas’ hammer, then came back brandishing it.
“Alice! Alice!” she said “we can’t do that, not before we’ve saved…”
“I don’t care! You brought this hammer with you to use, didn’t you? I’m going to use it!”
I ran to the store-room, Dorcas shouting at me to stop, and Jacques following along bemused.
I wrenched open the door. Dorcas tugged at my hand and then, suddenly, fell limp to the floor, snoring. Of course, narcolepsy.
I ran into the store-room, to the cupboard where Dorcas has kept the mirror locked up. I smashed the lock with one hammer blow, and there was the mirror. I don’t know if it’s me but it seems to have got shinier lately, more reflective and glassy. More like a window than a mirror.
Taking care not to look directly at it, I picked it up. I covered my hand with the sleeve of my jumper in case I cut myself on the mirror again, and propped it up on an antique desk.
Stepping back, I swung the hammer wildly – Jacques had to duck out of the way, and then hurled it straight at the mirror.
And it hit. And the surface of the mirror shimmered. And then, I could see, in the reflection of the room, the hammer lying on the reflected floor. The hammer had gone through the mirror. And I don’t know how it can ever be destroyed.


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