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A flash fiction inspired by my commute to work one day. The sights, sounds, smells and people of the London Underground can be strange indeed...
Malice can take on a life of it's own. Feelings so strong don't just disappear with the people who feel them, they stay, leaving an impression. If enough people pass through a place, feeling malice day after day, it collects, it pools, it grows. The structures of concrete and steel, stone and dirt, fostered this new life, giving it a safe place to watch and strengthen. It learned to suckle the electricity we feed into our surroundings and slowly, it awakened. The Malice can't be explained by our science or God, it simply is, and we made it. Now all we can do is look back, and ask if we could have stopped it from happening.
The lights were flickering more and more these days, you could go minutes in blackness on the tube. You knew when they went off that it was coming. The tracks would groan and the doors would thump, that's how you knew it was just outside the walls, the thin, thin walls. You could hear it scream at the same pitch as the wretching train tracks and you could feel it as it shook the carriages. The Malice took on the form your fears, it didn't matter what you were afraid of The Malice would show it to you. On the way to work that morning I saw it clawing at the windows of the tube train as a huge shadowy wolf, eyes red and bloodthirsty. As the thumping grew louder everyone in the carriage huddled together in silence. Before, when it all started, you would hear screams and praying when it came but not anymore, there was just silence as everyone wished it away.
When it had begun the government tried all sorts of things to protect the people. At first it claimed that there were animals and mad men running riot in the Underground. They closed down the entire system and sent in police, animal control, and eventually the military. Nothing worked, each attack on the mysterious enemy ended the same. Some were killed, some were maimed and others simply lost their minds, but very few survived unscathed. Then they sent in people in specially built tanks, people to study and learn what this new evil really was. A strange thing happened then, they saw it, but it did not attack. The people they sent in were scientists, without the aggression and ulterior motives of those who came before. Some said it looked like a shadow, others like smoke, a few even said they didn't really see it at all, but it was there, and it looked back. Over time they discovered that it reacted to us, that it would not or could not attack without our provocation.
Slowly the hardships of a transport system that could not cope without it's lynch pin, the Underground, gave in. There were protests that continually grew more violent and the government did the only thing they could, they reopened the system. With the reopening came a new force for protection, in each station and on every platform was placed a Chaplain. These were people chosen for their overwhelming positivity and faith. It didn't matter what they had faith in, just so long as they had it. At first it worked brilliantly, the Chaplains sang and gave sermons, they comforted the fearful and soothed the angry. They acted like shining lights against the infringing shadows. This kept The Malice at bay. Then a Chaplain faltered, and The Malice flooded into the place they left unlit. Reports of what happened that day were hazy but twenty five people were killed, their remains scattered over the station, and a further dozen were put into hospital. From then on the Chaplains were drugged, every chemical that could make them happy was pumped into their veins to the point of insanity, and The Malice was once more kept at bay.
Since that time the use of mind altering drugs, prescription and street, has become commonplace amongst commuters. Laws were even abolished so that drugs like Ecstasy were made legal in the Greater London area so that commuters could protect themselves. No one really knows how long it will be before even the drugs aren’t enough to keep The Malice away, but I have a feeling it won’t be for very long.