The moon disappeared behind a pearly white veil of cloud, its subtle luminance remained hidden and the inky darkness of the night sky was uncorrupted by stars and no ray of light fell upon the narrow alleyway beneath.
London was in darkness.
Beneath, the walls of the alley were towering with thick rough stone that ran thick with silvery veins that appeared at first to be only of mundane grey then as the tiny flecks of light penetrated its surface further, it gleamed with multi-faceted glimmers of dazzlingly bright colours that seemed almost out of place here. As the fleeting light dallied, the bright coloured died away.
At the narrow entrance to the alley, a crimson door with old peeling paint and an opaque brassy knocker, sculpted into the shape of a mouse’s head. Locked and bolted for the night. a large grimy window stood alongside, poorly lit, displaying an odd assortment of goods with yellowing price tags attached. One point on the left side of the window was reflecting a small circle of bright light, it appeared that within the circle of light was inscribed several darkly coloured roman numerals, though it wasn’t clear if the numbers were a product of the light or simply something in the window was illuminated by the ray.
What was casting it?
Across from the shop window, an imperious black void. Almost blacker than the night itself. No light seemed to penetrate it. One could only imagine what lay within. It was impermeable and cold and full of everything and somehow it was full of nothing. The eye was soon drawn away from the void and onto a low standing ornate metallic lamppost, powered oddly by gas. Its luminance was golden and warm and in the chilled darkness it was a welcome sight, if not a peculiar one. Around it was cast a pure halo of light upon the grey cobblestone floor which gleamed from the now thickly falling rain drops that plummeted down from the darkened heavens and landed sharply and silently.
Its delicate beauty seemed most out of place in an alley such as this.
We talked there opposite the streetlamp for a time in the darkness. It was not long until I realized that the alleyway – if it had been possible – was a fraction darker than it had been when we had arrived there not a few short minuets ago. It was not the streetlamp that had died. What other luminance had there been here? Out of curiosity, I grabbed his wet hand with mine and pulled him towards the window, it was the disk of light that had illuminated the roman numerals that had died. Looking behind me, I could not see what had been casting it. It was gone anyway. I felt my sudden moving of him to the window had irritated him, as if I wasn’t listening to his words so I softly moved us back to our previous position opposite the strange streetlamp.
And it was in the darkness that we first heard it: a soft mechanical pattering of tiny metallic feet pattering at a speed across the rain weathered stone floor.