Continuing our series of short fiction set in, or influenced by London. This week’s story is by Helen Craig.
Every Londoner knows that this is a crowded city. It’s hard to find a space to call your own. And one day, you might find yourself followed home by a dinosaur. In my case, I found myself trapped in the London area with a Tyrannosaurus Rex, my 11-15 oyster card, and no idea what to do. I thought I should publish this guide for any other young women who find themselves in this position. So, here you have it. Places you might try to hide a T-Rex in London, from personal experience.
This might be your first idea, but it is not a very good place to hide a T-Rex. It might seem good, in the quiet of morning in Regent’s park, but believe me. It gets busier. It’s very hard to hide in the zoo, even if no one sees you sneaking in, dragging claw tipped feet through the early morning mist. People will notice a dinosaur once the zoo opens. They will be scared. The Zoo is also full of mammals, which T-Rex find strange. Apparently they never used to be so big. The sensible dinosaur sized animals must find somewhere else to hide.
The Thames Barrier
This may be a good place for water dwelling dinosaurs. And after sneaking out of Regent’s Park under a pile of elephant poo, even non aquatic dinosaurs and their human friends might enjoy a cool swim down the Thames. A Spinosaurus could even think the flood barriers were shaped just like him. But I cannot recommend the Thames Barrier as a hiding place for a T-Rex, or for a human. It is very damp. I still don’t feel properly dry.
The London Underground
The buses and noise of the modern world may scare your T-Rex. She might even ask to go underground. This is not a good idea. Your T-Rex is 40 feet long, four feet tall, and weighs around seven tonnes. Even in the dark underground passages, she is hard to miss. Seeing the face of a Tyrannosaurus from the dark window of a carriage is scary for both Underground passengers, and for your T-Rex. They really do have feelings, you know. It is best to lead them to safety through a quieter station. Gloucester Road district line is convenient, and has a very high ceiling.
The Natural History Museum
This is a terrible place for a T-Rex. Sure, it’s close to the tube, and it looks so beautiful from the outside, with warm, gold coloured bricks, and carvings of animals on the outside. But once you get inside, it is full of skeletons! There are dinosaur bones everywhere, just openly on display. The T-Rex was sure she recognized an old friend. Should there not be a warning when a museum is full of bones like this? I do not approve.
Crystal Palace Park
Crystal Palace Park is beautiful. It is full of trees, and greenery, and even has a maze. But more importantly, there are dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park. Big, proper dinosaurs. Now, I’ll admit, they are a bit quiet. And they don’t look quite like you might expect them to. But then again, my T-Rex probably doesn’t look like you’d expect either. I bet you didn’t even think she has feathers! (T-Rex are proud that birds are the descendants of dinosaurs. Apparently more dinosaurs than you’d expect had feathers.) Crystal Palace Park is a perfect place to hide a dinosaur. She can be with her own kind there. You will miss her, but it is probably for the best. You don’t want to be around when she gets hungry.
Authors note: This advice is not complete. When you think about it, there are probably hundreds of thousands of places to hide a dinosaur in London. I’m sure someone with a nice, dry, safe home to sit in can think of many more. But sometimes you’re not safe. Sometimes, a dinosaur follows you home — who knows why or how? It’s in times like that when I hope this guide will come in useful. If you’re out there, and you have a dinosaur, please, let me know. I know one T-Rex who would love some company.
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 fairy tales of modern London in partnership with the British Academy’s Literature Week.
Previously in this series
For children/by children
- The Lion: Something’s up in Trafalgar Square.
- Lyndon The Greatest Thief in London: A light fingered robber meets the Queen.
- Beyond the Central Line: Notting Hill Gate looks different today…
- The Makings of a Killer: A dark encounter in Southwark.
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.