Prologue

'Ok now, are you comfortable?'

'Uh-huh'

'You got bunny there?'

'Yep! He's right here!'

'He sure is, you look after him, in case he gets scared.'

'Ok.'

'I better begin then.'

'Once, a long, long time ago, the world was young. Man was young. Man was better. Man was not alone.

Before the age of iron and steel and machines, legends and myths roamed the land alongside mankind.

Before man banished them, the Fair Folk and all other manner of strange creatures existed, all over the world. They went by many names and in many forms. Some were fair and wise and kind, and some were tricksters and naughty, mischievous things. Others were of the malevolent, dangerous kind, worse then your very worse nightmares.

They were strange, for they lived within laws that seemed queer and odd to mankind. They were powerful, but with knowledge of these laws, man could survive alongside them.

Silver and iron burned them, as did rowan and ash. Whistling and rhyme could weaken their power, and they feared the sounds of bells and a rooster's crow. There were many such rules that could help a man against a spirit. Sometimes they would bestow gifts upon a mortal, and in their anger, curse them.

But man was changing. Evolving.

Man grew discontent with the power the Strange Folk held over them. It was unjust. Too many children were taken, too many women ensnared and men entrapped.

And soon enough, man gained a power of their own. Immortal kind were banished to their realm, trapped from where they could walk amongst the earth they so loved. Trapped and imprisoned, they were reduced to watching the earth through the dreams of men. And they waited.

No longer plagued by the power of the Immortals, man flourished. Their cities grew bigger and taller, their knowledge expanded until they could touch the sky and the bottom of the ocean with their marvelous machines. The breached the farthest boundaries of this earth. In time, they forgot about the Immortals, dismissing them as myth and fancy when mention of them was made.

But man grew greedy, the more they achieved the more they hungered. Deeper they ploughed into the earth for riches, and the air grew clogged and dirty by their smog. Fish choked in the polluted waters and trees withered and died under the darkened sky. The Immortals wept. The earth began to weaken and die, until…'

The storyteller stopped, looking down at her small charge. The little girl slept, curled lashes resting against full cheeks and head nestled next to the adored Bunny. She smiled at the sight, tucking the blanket around the sleeper.

'Sweet dreams.' She whispered, before slowly easing herself up off the bed.


The loud, overbearing machine noise of the London Underground dominates over every other noise that might have been heard in quieter surroundings. But he is not in quieter surroundings. Indeed, he is not even sure which he would prefer. Quiet would mean peace, it would mean he would be alone. The silent man shifts in his seat. Then again, if he was alone, in quiet, his thoughts would wander out beyond the here and the now, and he's not that sure he wants to go there.

Perhaps this noise is better. The large machine hurling along its hefty carriages filled with live cargo make much noise. He almost feels he could retreat into comforting whir and screeching buzz of the Underground train. He can concentrate on the noise, forgetting everything else, especially the past.

He shifts again on the thin, uncomfortable padding of the train seat. Not that he minds, he is exhausted to the point that he could quiet happily fall asleep here. The stuffy atmosphere, caused by the heat generated from too many bodies packed into a single small space, makes him drowsy. He can feel himself dosing off as his chin sinks onto his chest and his eyelids droop even lower then before. He even begins to lean onto the body on his left.

The subway train screeches to a halt as it reaches its destination. He is jolted back awake as the person next to him rises hurriedly to join the mass of people exiting the carriage. As they leave more join, and another body sets himself down next to him. He is more awake now, noticing how, despite the limited space, both people either side of him manages to edge themselves away from him. He repulses them. They can't stand his dirty, disheveled appearance. He almost laughs at this realization, except his depleted energy levels only result in a half-hearted snort that catches halfway between his throat and his nose. They shift further away as the heavy train pulls itself into motion again.

There are fewer people on now; he can actually see the other side of the carriage behind the standing passengers. Business people mostly, smart black suits under heavy over-coats and carrying leather suitcases. But there are others, some poorer, some richer. Directly across from him is a young woman wrapped in an overcoat that looks two sizes too big for her. It is her shock of white blond hair that gets his attention. It stands out amongst the monotone browns, blues and blacks of heavy winter gear. She looks young, but he can't really tell, all he can really focus on is the hair. It reminds him of some one else, but for the moment he can't remember who. It's like that, he can't remember much at the moment. She's absently gazing out the dark window, as if she is as lost in the impenetrable blackness of the tunnel as he is in the hum and rattle of the train carriage.

His vision becomes unfocused again and he slowly shifts his gaze. It lands on a man's veined hand that is grasping the handhold tightly. It moves again lazily to rest on the shiny button on the man's cuff. It's gleaming in dull light.

He feels the rhythmic jolt and telltale rattle of the train as it moves over every join in the rail. He focuses on that sound for a while, closing his eyes to concentrate on it. Once again he finds the noise comforting, waiting expectantly for each ruckle. He fancies he can see the trains rotating wheels running along a thick bar of cold steel. It seems endless, as if the train, it's carriage and cargo will continue on forever. He almost wishes it to be so. He thinks he wouldn't mind staying here, listing to the Underground and absently watching nameless peoples and faces drift in and away.

'…the last stop of this train line. Can all passengers please exit the carriage upon arrival.'

His head snaps forward and his eyes break open in an instant. His tense body has bolted upright before he realizes his mistake. No alarms, no red lights. The dull, recorded voice on the loud speaker repeats its message as it has done so a million times. He learns onto his knees, face in hands and expels a long, slow breath. The fierce pounding of blood rushing to all his muscles gradually slows down, and his erratic heart beat returns to its normal pace. He can feel all his limbs trembling and his back slick with sweat under his heavy coat.

A few more deep breaths and he feels brave enough to glance around the carriage, to see his fellow passengers reaction at his out burst. Slowly, he raises his head from his hands. There are fewer people in the carriage; it's some-what empty. No one near him appears to have noticed anything, or if they have, they are ignoring him. The man rests back in his seat, letting his hands fall into his lap. The girl is gone, he notices. All there is is an empty seat where her being resided. The old man with the button is gone too. He must have fallen asleep, to his own surprise. He missed their departure. For some reason, this causes a feeling of melancholy to settle on his shoulders, and he is reminded that he is utterly alone.

A high pitch whistle sounds somewhere outside the carriage, sounding almost distant. The screech of the Underground train breaks sounds like a hiss of protest. Everything seems to lean forward for a moment as the bulky carriage groans to a standstill.

'We have now arrived at Kingscross Station, the last stop of this train. Can all passengers please exit the carriage upon arrival. Please remember to take all luggage and personal belongings with you when you leave the train…'

The sliding doors are mechanically heaved open, and the young man pauses before rising from his seat. The cool, detached, female voice, the one that had frightened him so, continues its standard message, repeating it again for good measure. He shrugs his shoulders wearily and thrusts his hands into the deep pockets of his stolen jacket. The carriage is all but deserted. He looks to his left, down the corridor, noticing the empty silence that now encompasses the dirty carriage. Shrugging again, he steps of the train onto the tiled floor of Lenape Station.

It's bitingly cold outside, and he instinctively draws his coat around his body tighter. He waits for a moment as his body struggles to accept the sudden drop in temperature. The sweat on his back is freezing him now and his toes already feel as if they're turning numb.

Even now, when it's this late, there are still people around. He supposes its true then that this city never sleeps, through rain or shine. The dark huddled figures move briskly away from him, all rushing to be somewhere, all having somewhere to be. He glances back at the train. From outside, in this light, it resembles a giant, hulking beast, lying dormant for the night.

He shakes his head at his own folly and starts at a slow, heavy pace. He keeps his eyes on the floor in front of him. The tiles are in a standard pattern, cream and dark green. He shudders involuntarily, at the tiles, though the reason escapes him. He is too tired to even be bothered.

There are scrapings of dirt and melting snow on the tiles, and little wrappers, cigarette butts and other small rubbish items litter the ground. He can see some heavily clothed men moving about with large buckets and mops. He can see the burning ends of their cigarettes, and envies them.

The station is practically deserted now, except for the cleaners. They've only just started their work. He watches them for the moment as they move about with purpose and intent. One of them pauses and looks up at him. He turns his head and quickly averts his eyes. He doesn't want to be noticed, not by anyone. Not even by cleaners. He starts walking again, trying to appear in a hurry, as if he has somewhere to be. He tries, but his tired body won't let him move with the strong, striding gait he was aiming for. It doesn't matter much, out of the corner of his eye he sees the men return to their work. There's much for them to do before the night is over, and its far too cold to be distracted by one shabby looking figure.

He heads towards the stairs seen through and archway. Even the walls are tiled here, although much of it is covered torn posters and graffiti. There's a large graffiti tag on the wall next to archway. The lines are thick, heavy and stylized, obscuring some Government propaganda poster beneath it. A cleaner is already removing it. He peers at the letters, as it takes a moment for his eyes to recognize them and remember their meaning. It's been a long time since he had to read anything.

'NEW OR...'

The rest of the message had already been removed. 'New Or...?' It makes no sense to him. Probably some sort of dumb joke made by rebelling kids. He doesn't know.

As he walks past the cleaner, he sees the man look up at him. Their eyes get snagged on the other, a sort of faint, mutual interest. He notices the deep crevasses in the older mans face, and a pair of large eyebrows visible from beneath the fur hat. He looks to be in his mid-forties. The cleaner seems to consider him in a similar fashion, chewing on his cigarette. Then, he gives a resigned shrug and returns to his work.

Feeling dismissed the young man continues on and starts up the stairs. His legs feel like lead and he has to concentrate to get up each step. At least it takes his mind off the cold.

He doesn't like the stair well. It's enclosed, and the cold tiles haunt his memory. Frowning hard to dispel the memory, he takes refuge from the idea that he is going up. He grinds his teeth and pushes his body onwards.

The stairs end and for a moment, the corridor heads horizontally. The dirt and the muck on the floor is thicker up here, as it is closer to the surface.

He has to stop, pause for a moment before he can go on. Leaning on a wall, he presses his forehead onto the smooth ceramic, feeling its icy touch. Unsurprisingly, it is not much of a comfort, but he remains there anyway, just for the moment. He blinks slowly, not really seeing his surroundings. He tries to master his own fatigue. There is a poster opposite him, showing a heavily muscled man dressed in a soldier's uniform, aiming his rifle at some bright, burning creature.

'Remember, we're here to protect YOU from THEM.' Is emblazoned in bold letters up the top, followed by 'Serve your country too, enlist today at your nearest Barracks.'

The slogan almost amuses him. At the same time it sickens him. Such posters were such blatant works of propaganda, he felt like spitting on it. He wasn't strong. If anything he was the one needed protection, and not from the enigmatic 'THEM' accused in the poster. What did he care for his country any more? His country had betrayed him.

'For king and country'. That used to be an old saying, an old battle cry, although the king is long gone now. Gone with the Last War. All that was left was the Government.

He feels a wave of bitterness building up in his chest. He owed nothing to this country, or its treacherous Government. He did not claim to be apart of it and had no intention of working for it either. The build up in his chest hurts as it breaks through into his throat. He has nothing, it is all gone and he was here staring at a poster created by those who had destroyed him. A single, choked sob emitted from the man as he thrust himself away from the wall and staggered down the corridor.

His uneven footsteps echoed as the only sound that could be heard.


Author's note: Hey, I know it's all a bit vague at the moment, but bare with me, its coming slowly together.