Continuing our series of short fiction set in, or influenced by London. This time, Robert Chell, age 12, finds something strange about Trafalgar Square's lions.
Rook was huddled up next to a cold lion statue in Trafalgar Square when Big Ben struck three. He woke to a silent night, frozen to the bone. His joints ached with cold so he got up to move around. Then he thought he heard deep breathing. He looked around and saw a gigantic yawning lion. At first he thought the cold was giving him hallucinations, so he walked over to the face of the lion when suddenly the lion opened one eye. Now he was convinced it was real so he ran and shouted "It’s alive! It’s alive!". A street-cleaner heard him but just shook his head and walked away. Rook was so tired and aching now that he just couldn’t run any longer, so he started to crawl. He looked around and saw the lion that had once been a cold statue, walking towards him. He felt the ground tremble as the lion growled, it sniffed him and then darkness wrapped around him.
The street cleaner worked his way across Trafalgar Square, looked down and saw a puddle of blood. He looked around for the mad man who had shouted, "It’s alive! It’s alive!". He was nowhere to be seen. For one moment he thought the man he heard wasn’t mad at all and that maybe there was something that was alive. He walked up to the lion but then he thought again. "That man must have been mad to think there was something alive at this time of night. It’s getting on for 3.30. I’d better go." He rolled up the piece of cardboard Rook had been sleeping on, put it in the bin and walked away.
The following evening as the sun was coming down, Joe saw that spot next to the lion where Rook had been sleeping the night before and murmured to himself, "Yes! I have been waiting for this space to be free for ages!" He walked over, laid down his cardboard next to the lion, and went to sleep…
Copyright, Robert Chell, age 12. Photo by Rob Telford via the Londonist Flickr pool.
We’re still after your stories, which you should send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries must be no more than 1,000 words, and must be set in London, or strongly inspired by the city. Full details here.
We’re also now looking for short stories both for and by children.
Previously in this series
General London fiction
- Mark: A struggling actor becomes a hero of the people.
- The Guardian of Travellers: Victoria Coach Station passengers take the advice of a sage.
- Graphic Novels: a celebrated novelist finds inspiration in Shoreditch Library.
London at Night
- The Soho Nocturnes: Sebastian Groes tries to shatter the concrete dream that is London.
- The Station Clock: Peter Watson takes a slow walk to Euston.
- Asparagus and Syrian Gold: A guy on a blind date takes a risk… but will it pay off?
- The Race: Susanna James races against the dying of the light.
- Sirens of the Tideway: Emily Williams recounts a ghostly police chase.
- Mark: A struggling actor becomes a hero of the people.
Christmas in London
- The Ghost of Christmas Replete: David Croser shares a Christmas tale set in the bleak midwinter.
- Keep the Change: Lee Hamblin takes a sneaky taxi ride.
- Night Bus Dreams: Michelle Surtees-Myers is picked up by an enchanted night bus.
- The Patient Banker: Tom Dean has a visitor call in at a houseboat.
- An Afternoon Some Time Ago: Nathan Good takes a nostalgic ride on the London Eye.
- Easy Pickings: Kay Seeley is being vigilant on the South Bank.
- Stepping Stones: Alison Chandler goes on a night walk.
- One Summer in London: Angela M. Rodriguez steals a very personal item and then wears it at Notting Hill Carnival.
- Blackout on Fen Street: Seth Insua wishes away the city.
- The Man From BEER: Which bits of London would you delete? By David Ritchie.
- London Falls: Liz Hedgecock unleashes a digital wipeout on the city.
- They Walked: Adam MacLean ponders what would happen if London’s building just got up and left.
- The Wallbuilder: A great wall was built around London, not everyone was happy, by Jonathon Dean.
- Tastes Like Chicken: Glen Delaney retreats inside London’s oldest fortress.
- The Conqueror: Rebecca Sams filches a legendary London object.
- The Busker Ascends: Darren Lee brings plague to Leicester Square.
- Amelie: Narges Rashidi considers the interactions of three people on a District Line tube.
- Shelter Drawings: Stuart Snelson’s tale of a mysterious Circle Line artist.
- Tracks and Albums: Richard Lakin attracts the attentions of the British Transport Police.
- Seeing Red: Anthony Fitzgerald on the woes of a cab driver.
- Instant Karma on the 263 to North Finchley: one seat left on the bus. Next to you. Raving drunk gets on. By Ronnie Capaldi.
- The Sender of Second Chances: Anthea Morrison records a chance encounter on a bus.
- Two Four Eight: Lance V Ramsay envisions an Orwellian dystopia in the lingo of future London.
- Old Nichol: Jill Fricker evokes the woes of the old East End.
- Clissar: Grazia Brunello dips into the future of north London, through a glass darkly.
- Harvest Festival: A spooky Halloween tale in the London suburbs by Helen Craig.
- Ordinary Days in London: Madelaine Hills on a Docklands disturbance.
- Bishopsgate: Oliver Zarandi visits the site of a bomb.
- Sirens Of The Tideway: Emily Williams recounts a ghostly police chase.
- The Perfect Gift: A Christmas fairy tale in which London’s statues come to life, by Katherine Wheston.
- The City Inside: Tom Butler has some curious metropolitan anatomy.
- Jazz Code and the Tube: The ambivalence of dating, by Jenny Mackenzie.
- A Free Man: Melanie White’s flash fiction piece considers a recently single guy at a bachelor party.
- Clean Living London: Ursula Dewey rolls her sleeves up for some housework.
- Swipe Right: Does Tinder have the answers? By Heidi Scherz
- The Writer and the Dancer: Close encounter at a flat party by Vincent Wood.
- St Peter’s Gate, Knightsbridge: A nocturnal romance at closing time, by Theo Klay
- First: A romance begins inside a London gay club. By Lance Middleton.
- Natural Disasters: Can you find love at the supermarket checkout, when your customer’s buying porn? Yoel Noorali enquires.
- NO! SUSHI: A relationship breaks down during a Japanese leaving party, by Clare Kane.
- Compatibility: Stephen Lynch conjures the awkwardness of flat hunting.
- An Extract From the Diary of Kay Richardson, Actor: The surreal tribulations of a washed-up London thesp, by Tom Mitchell.
- The Further Adventures of Kay Richardson, Actor: More from the feckless thesp, by Tom Mitchell.
- The Further Adventures of Kay Richardson, Actor (Part 2): Our debauched hero tussles with mannequins.
- You Were Not In When We Called: A Christmas tale from Megan Toogood.
- The Do: Alan Fisher gets party phobia.
- Direction: Kevin Acott goes on a time-shifting pub crawl.
- RTA: Ryan Cartwright is involved in a traffic accident where all is not what it seems.
- Vegan Pigeon Eater: Rae Chambers sees a south London cafe get an unwelcome visitor.