London Short Fiction: The Lion

By Londonist Last edited 113 months ago

Last Updated 01 February 2015

London Short Fiction: The Lion


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 [email protected]. 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

Christmas in London


London razed

Transport tales


  • 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.



  • 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.

Other tales