The Bogeyarch


Act I

His Mum had always warned him about walking by himself through “that place”, especially as the lights under there had all been smashed by vandals and it was currently in complete darkness. But to him it was a convenient shortcut out of the neighbourhood and, more significantly, a subterranean portal to the wider world beyond the peaceful and uneventful dead-end road he had inhabited since his childhood, where nothing of note ever happened. Besides, the local newspaper reports of the robberies, rapes and muggings that allegedly had happened there only added to the arch’s mystique and by extension, to his morbid fascination with it.

He had walked through there many times, lankily and awkwardly, down into the darkness with a faux bravado that belied his uneasiness, dodging the drips from the ceiling as the trains rattled loudly and directly overhead. On past the traces of the homeless sleeping spot where the cocktail of stale urine and toxic fumes from the freshly painted piece of graffiti created a pungent odour that assaulted his nostrils. He paused mid stride and scanned the mural, nodding to himself in appreciation at the smooth transition of tones and the absence of drips. It was pretty good for a first attempt. “I should have been here, when it was done. At least he remembered to put my tag up in my absence”. He would be sure to ask Vijay how long it took him to paint and what paint he used. Probably Buntlack, he thought knowingly, judging from the particular pastel blue tones that had been used to outline the letters and make the piece stand out further from the damp and moss-laden brickwork on which it sat.

Turning, he dipped his head and flicked his hood up in one well-rehearsed and seamless motion, continuing onwards. He sensed there was a presence at the top of the stairs. A motionless figure was silhouetted against the moonlight. His heart punched hard and fast through his narrow chest. As he approached the exit, the figure at the top of the stairs paused nervously and made fleeting eye contact. Glancing sideways, the streetlight flickered enough to illuminate the man. He relaxed and fixed the greying, suited man with a well-rehearsed acidic stare, never breaking his long stride as he bounced rhythmically up the stairs and into the cool night air.


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