The Short Story Prequel to ‘Underlife’
2012 Marissa Farrar
Warwick House Press
Edited by Wade-Staten Services
Cover art by Neil Jackson of Cow and Pig Designs
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Thomas Young flashed his Oyster
travel card at the sensor on the turnstile. The rubber flaps of the gate swung open, allowing him through. Ahead, a long escalator headed deep beneath ground.
Tom mounted the moving stairs, but, instead of standing still and allowing the motor to do its work, he trotted down them. He used the rubber handrail to keep his balance, ignoring the few people heading up the escalator on the opposite side.
In his other hand, he held the bag containing everything he’d needed for that day’s presentation—his laptop, leaflets, and the obligatory free pens health professionals couldn’t seem to get enough of.
he thought. I’ve just left a room full of doctors and yet I’m the one who has to return to the hospital.
At the bottom, Tom checked the tube map to make sure he was taking the right tunnel to head east. Even after spending almost ten years living in London, he still found himself checking automatically.
If Tom had a meeting in the city, he rarely took the car. It was easier to jump on the tube than sit in traffic for two hours and spend a fortune on fuel and a parking space. Of course, money played a part in Tom’s choice of transport. Ever since his nine-year-old son, David, had become sick, he and his wife, Abigail, had needed to watch every penny.
Abby had cut back her hours in order to look after David. Luckily, the pharmaceutical company Tom worked for as a sales representative paid good money, but they were heavily mortgaged and the huge council tax and utility bills didn’t just disappear because their son was sick. Abby worked part-time in a call-centre but couldn’t do any more hours. She was already wracked with guilt at leaving David’s side in order to work, but those few hundred pounds a month just about kept them going.