Out of the millions of people that lived and worked in London, a few hundred thousand refugees had managed escape the death of a once great metropolis. All that remained were those that had come together in basements, the inner sanctum of office buildings, or anywhere that could offer a modicum of safety. London was now a necropolis. The city had been ravaged, loss of life was larger than any war could have wrought, and all in one day.
The faithful flocked to their places of religious worship, seeking sanctuary, and to make their peace with whatever deity they worshipped.
The Church of St Martins-in-the-fields at Trafalgar square was packed to the now closed and barred doors. The Reverend Thomas Canon was in the pulpit reading the last sermon he would ever deliver. His voice reached out across his terrified flock, belying his own fear of the end of days. The people huddled together in the pews, the aisles, the balconies and around the altar, whilst the reverend preached of hell fire and damnation from the book of Revelation.
‘...I looked and there before me was a pale horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hell was following close behind him,’ he screeched, spittle flying from his lips, ‘and hell shall empty upon...’
Patrick, a large man of Irish descent and a devout Catholic, had been on a sightseeing day out with his children and had sought safety in the church when the creatures had attacked. He was standing close to the pulpit with his three young terrified children and had listened to enough of this man’s ravings. He grabbed him by the sleeve, dragged him down from the pulpit and threw him against the wall.
The preachers eyes were staring madly, drool was running down his chin. Patrick could see he was not far from the tipping over the edge into insanity.
‘What the bloody hells wrong with you?’ he shouted. ‘You’re frightening the fecking life out of everyone. People came in here for safety, not to listen to your bloody ravings. Instead of preaching about death and the end of the world you should be getting these people down into the crypts where it’s safe, and where they can be given a hot meal or a drink.’
The Reverend struggled to free himself from Patrick’s grip. ‘Let me go,’ he screamed and ranted. ‘God will save us from the pits of hell. We have to pray. We have to ask his forgiveness.’
Patrick shouted at him. ‘Pull yourself together man.’ He released his arms and the Reverend pushed his way through the throng towards the back of the church.
‘Fucking eejit,’ Patrick cursed. He climbed into the pulpit and looked out across the church. Bloody hell, there must be close on a thousand people in here, he thought. ‘Listen everyone,’ he shouted, trying to be heard above the clamour and crying of the terrified people. ’We’re not safe up here. Those windows won’t hold the creatures out. We need to get downstairs into the crypts.
There’s lots of room down there, enough room for everyone. Start making your way down, but do it slowly, don’t panic now.’
People nearest the exit began making their way down a narrow staircase at the side of the altar. Soon the church was empty and the crypts were full. Patrick organised some of the women to make tea and coffee in the restaurant, then enlisted the help of two lads to help him check all the doors were secured. Molly his eldest went with him.
‘Daddy, we’re not going to die like that man said, are we?’
‘No, sweetheart, of course not. We’re safe enough in here. There’s no way those creatures can get in, so we’ll be fine for a while.’
‘I’ll go and tell Sean and Mary. He really scared them you know, that man. I’m glad you stopped him Daddy, he was frightening everyone.’
‘He was just a poor frightened man himself, Molly. I’ll go up and see if I can find him later. You run along and look after your brother and sister for me. I need to make sure all these doors are locked.’
‘Okay Daddy,’ she called, as she skipped off back to the restaurant.