‘A Novel Idea’ is our whole school project to get everyone involved in writing a novel. It will tell the story of the strange and mysterious death of a young man who, late one foggy night in 1928, arrives at 22 Pont Street, a boarding school for girls. So far, we have only completed the first chapter, which you can read by clicking on the link below…
The train halted at Dover Street. As the already cramped tube carriage filled up with high society types and tipsy flapper girls, he awoke with a jolt and checked the time on his watch. The face of his most treasured possession told him it was almost midnight.
Perhaps he was already too late.
Furls of cigarette smoke whirled slowly around the carriage, worsening the nausea that was rising in his throat. Feverishly, he glanced up to check what the next station was, his gaze broken by a jerk of the carriage. He managed to make out that he was nearing Hyde Park Corner. The carriage rang with merry voices, some high-pitched, some woozy and thick from the champagne punch preferred by the party set these days.
One more stop.
He knew he shouldn’t be late. That would be foolish. As midnight drew ever closer, the train seemed to move at a slower pace than usual. At last, the all-too familiar platform swung into view. Knightsbridge. He rose and mopped away the beads of sweat that were beginning to form on his forehead. The oppressive, dense atmosphere of the station would not give way, even as he climbed the flight of stairs that spiralled up towards the expanse of elite consumerism that was Sloane Street.
Outside, the forbidding London fog had descended once again, drowning out the angry blare of car horns as the thrill-seekers chased down the next party. Snatches of conversation drifted past him on the smog, breezy laugher ebbing and flowing. Sounds lost in their own worlds.
The smog had been so dense recently that the government had seen fit to install ropes along the streets so that pedestrians could hesitantly feel their way around the sprawling pavements at night. He grasped the thin rope, his hands hot despite the chill. He could just make out the familiar glow of the gas lamps hanging over his head as he walked.
He reached the crossing and turned right into a quiet street lined with imposing red brick buildings. Pont Street. The sight alone was enough to plunge his whole frame into despair.
He looked down at his watch. It was midnight. With his heart racing, he stood stock still on the corner, peering behind, the rope still tightly gripped in his hand.
And then it came.
At first it was light and barely noticeable, then stronger, closer. A quick tug on the rope. The first signal. His hand did not slacken. A quick glance up reminded him that the wealthy owners of these forbidding mansions lining the pavement like red brick giants would not want any kind of disturbance. They may well have one tonight, he thought, darkly.
A small noise to the left brought him out of his reverie. “Who’s there?” And then he saw them: eyes he knew, caught in the fog-dappled light of the gas lamp. For a moment his heart stopped. He dropped the rope and turned. Blood rushing to his face, he called again: “Who’s there?”
But the words were swallowed up by the fog.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?