Preview for Underworld (Lupine Howl VI)

Underworld (Lupine Howl VI) is out next week, so here’s the preview. It follows directly on from the end of The Architect (Lupine Howl V) and tells the story of Jess and Darla’s journey to the city beneath London, where they hope to find Duncan:

I don’t know why they call London a city. It’s not. Never has been. It’s always been two cities, one on top of the other.

Listen.

There’s a story. I don’t know how true it is but I believe it. Apparently there was this guy a couple of hundred years ago, his name was Harrington Edwards and he was working construction on the first big sewers being built beneath the city of London. One day he got lost. Very lost. Probably more lost than any person in the history of humanity has ever got lost. He wandered around for days down there, trying to find his way back up to the surface, back up to his friends and family.

He never made it.

I don’t know if he was disorientated, or confused, or just plain stupid, but as Harrington Edwards tried to find a route back to the surface, he ended up going further and further down. Deeper and deeper and deeper. He ended up in tunnels that no-one knew existed, tunnels that were supposed to have been filled in many decades earlier. He must have realised, after a few days, that he was never going to get out alive.

But then he found himself in the other London. The one beneath the one we all know today. The one that was erased, the one that was deliberately destroyed and crushed. The one that was supposed to be empty and abandoned.

This other London was lit by the phosphorescent light of ancient moss. Huge buildings filled the caverns, reaching several storeys up to the roofs. It must have been an astonishing sight for poor Harrington Edwards as he first wandered through those ruins. Having longed to see his home, the surface world, again, he now found himself face to face with a nightmare ghost of his home, an ashen, doomed metropolis deep beneath his London. He was looking for his home, and instead he found someone else’s home. It must have seemed so empty, so lonely.

And then the creatures came. Antipedes, huge worms with a million legs that double as teeth. Loom People, whose only goal is to strip the human body into threads for their legendary looms, which they then pass on to their masters, the Flesh Weavers. Golvs, hideous creatures with teeth in their eyes. Even a few stray werewolves remained down there, or so I’m told. Such things that would drive any many insane. Poor Harrington Edwards must have run screaming to try to get away from this menageries of horrors.

But of course they caught him. He ran into the Bog Babies. And that’s how Harrington Edwards died. He drowned, and was sliced up, and was eaten, and was skinned alive, and suffered a massive heart attack, all at the same time. The only consolation is that there must have been so much pain, so much agony, that his body shut down and was unable to feel anything. But still he would have seen all those creatures watching him die. Loom People. Bog Babies. Loop Bandits. Criads. Tenderlings. Golvs. Why, some people say that even Black Annis herself came to watch.

And they all laughed.

That was it. That was the world you asked me about. That was the Underworld.

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