Baker Street
The Museum is a big glass and steel building that stands behind the Sherlock Holmes statue and looks out of place in the middle of preserved London Architecture. David passes through the sliding doors and shows his [[ID]] to the guard who points him to a man in a suit sitting to the side of the concourse.\n\nDavid doesn't recognise the man. He is short, greying, with a white moustache and monacle. \n\n"David Wilcox," he says uncomfortably, and the man stands and shakes his hand. "You're looking for me?"\n\n"Please, come with me," The man says and leads him to one of the museum's conference rooms. On the way they pass framed pictures, black and white, newspaper cuttings. David sees [[The Headline]] that haunts his dreams and he looks away, his face flushed and hot.\n\nThey sit down inside the room. The man smiles at David, but the smile is uncertain.\n\n"I picked up your face on the drone the last time you took the Baker Street tour," he says, his fingertips drumming on the back of a chair. "It took me a while to figure out where I recognise you from."\n\nDavid shifts uncomfortably in his chair.\n\n"Don't worry, you're not in trouble," the old man assures him. "I just have [[two questions]] for you."
"Questions?" David croaks. His voice is dry.\n\nThe old man leans back in his seat. "The first question is... Well, more of an indulgence. David, you don't look a day over thirty. And yet here you are, two hundred years away from home. How did you do it? We've advanced a great deal from the 21st century, but [[time travel]]..?"\n\nDavid sighs and runs a trembling hand through his hair. He glances at the doorway, briefly tempted to flee, but curiosity nags at him.\n\n"I didn't mean to come here. I actually meant to not go anywhere."\n\nThe old man furrows his brow. "I'm not sure I follow?"\n\n"I stepped in front of a train. I was trying to kill myself." David's chest is tight. "I lost my son and my wife and I couldn't take it. I wanted to die. Instead, I came here. I don't know how. I just stepped in front of a train."\n\n"I see." The old man taps his fingers on the back of the chair again and looks off to the far end of the room, as if he's forgotten that David is there at all.\n\nDavid feels anxious. "[[The second question]]?"
David stands behind the [[yellow line]]. The air is damp and old, and the [[fluorescent lights]] that they keep running for authenticity flicker uncertainly. A [[crescent of people]] flank his either side, their attention focussed on the [[hovering metal sphere]] that speaks to them in dry monotone.
"What's your name?" \n\nIt's the woman again. The rest of the group are dispersing but she's still here, lingering at the top of the stairwell.\n\n"David," he replies, his hands sunk deep into his trouser pockets.\n\n"I'm Melanie. I love these tours. This is my first time for Baker Street but I've done Paddington and [[Trafalgar]]. Have you done those?"\n\n"Haven't done Trafalgar. Just the Bakerloo line, mostly this one. My family was here."\n\nDavid knows it sounds arbitrary and disconnected but he dislikes both lying and socialising and struggles to find somewhere between that doesn't confine him or condemn him.\n\n"David Wilcox?" It's the drone again.\n\nDavid nods and begins to reply, frustrated at the drone's perpetual presence, that he is just leaving.\n\n"Mr. Wilcox, there is a gentleman wishing to speak with you at the [[Museum]], if you would please be so kind as to make your way back there."
It's always the same type of crowd. A few foreign tourists with oversized camera lenses, some sheltered locals that Ooh and Aah at the stories of How Things Used To Be. They take it all in with a glassy visage; when the tour ends, they'll forget it all, oblivious of their luxury. \n\n<<goback>>
They used to flicker back then too. Even as an adult travelling home from work late at night, the empty stations would put him on edge. Sometimes they were quiet enough that you could hear the lights buzzing and popping, and the approach of a distant train sounded like thunder, ominous and foreboding. \n\n<<goback>>
Emily also had bright eyes and curly hair, but in his memory, they are both brighter and more lustrous. In his memory, Emily is always surrounded by a glowing aura, the details of her face and clothes masked by the outline of white light that makes him wince and strain to remember.\n\n<<goback>>
Inflated politics; a government that plants the seeds of fear into its public by changing the details of the past. They don't know - they weren't there, and have to rely on misprinted source documents or poor online journalism. David knows, but will not speak, because it is not his time.\n\n<<goback>>
"It's as the report reads," the old man says softly. "Your son was not in the pram, David. The pram was empty. Nobody found out why - nobody could know why, except maybe you, and you were presumed dead. The case was closed as unsolved a few months later."\n\nDavid swallows the lump in his throat. He stares at the newspaper until the words become black, meaningless smears.\n\n"What's the second question?" David eventually asks.\n\nThe old man leans forwards in his chair, his hands clasped solemnly in front of him.\n\n"My second question, David, is whether you would like to meet your great, great, great-grandson."
He has hated Trafalgar ever since They put a stop to feeding the pigeons. When he was young, his mother used to take him into the middle of the Square and buy him a tub of birdseed for each hand. He would stand there with his arms open and the pigeons would land all over him; on his arms, on his shoulders, on his head; and he would laugh as they fought over the birdseed in his hands and his mother would smile warmly. He told this tale to Emily, took her there, but there were only lions to climb on. They talked about their unborn son, blossoming in his wife's stretched belly, and how they'd take him to Trafalgar Square and let him climb on the lions and maybe feed the pigeons if there were no police or security guards watching.\n\n<<goback>>
Sometimes in his dream he is running down escalators and through tile-walled tunnels and along platform edges that go on and on and if he stops running, to catch his breath or from simple fear of reaching The End, the walls start bleeding diamond-shaped yellow signs with stick-figured women holding silhouettes of prams whose wheels are crossing The Yellow Line, and as he watches, the yellow diamonds are slashed through with thick black crosses that turn to red and drip languidly into sanguine puddles on the ground.\n\n<<goback>>
"MYSTERY STILL UNSOLVED."\n\n"The sad story of David Wilcox has been headline news in the southeast of England for weeks, and it seems that investigators are no closer to finding the body of Mr. Wilcox, who is survived by his son, Sebastian.\n\n"In an elaborate scheme, the purpose of which will forever remain unknown, Mrs Wilcox led her husband to believe that she had taken her own life and the life of their four month old son at Baker Street Station on the evening of the 2nd of October. Three days later, on October the 5th, Mr Wilcox was seen entering the same station, where security footage shows the bereaved man making his way to the same platform that his wife had stepped from. The grizzly footage shows Mr Wilcox step in front of the 9:30pm Elephant and Castle train as it enters the station. Mr Wilcox' body has not been recovered. \n\nThe real tragedy in this sad tale is that Mrs Wilcox had left baby Sebastian at the doorstep of the Regents Park Boys' Home earlier that night, and the pram she pushed with her as she stepped from the platform was empty. Unfortunately, this discovery was not made before Mr Wilcox chose to take his own life, presumably pushed to suicide by his believed loss of both his wife and child." \n\n<<goback>>
The floating drone has a ring of small green lights around its circumference that shimmer as it speaks. The programmed voice is unmistakably electronic, but David always notes how much more human it sounds than the robotic voices he remembers.\n\n“Electricity-powered trains used to pass through this station as frequently as once every two minutes. They traversed the lengths of the city below ground and were a constant target for [[acts of terrorism]].”\n\nDavid looks away. He has been on this tour enough that he knows the drone's speech by heart and [[hears it in his dreams]]. He looks back at the yellow line below his feet, and a pair of [[woman's boots]] appear next to his battered plimsoles.
"They must have repainted the line," she says.\n\nDavid looks up at her. She has [[bright eyes and curly hair]].\n\n"I don't see how standing this far from the edge could have been so dangerous."\n\n"The wind sucks you in," David says without thinking. "Used to, I mean. There were signs warning people not to leave prams too close to the edge. They're gone now."\n\nThere's a diamond-shaped patch of paint behind where the woman's standing that's paler than the paint around it. There are two empty, rusted rawling-holes at the top and bottom. The space is empty, but David's mind [[fills the gap]].\n\n"You know a lot about these places," she says, and he looks back at her, frustrated that she's still there.\n\n"I come on these tours a lot," David tells a [[half-lie]]. He looks around as if looking for someone, hoping she'll go away.\n\n"Oh, you're one of those!" She says and laughs. "I have friends like that. Avid historians. Living in the past, they are - you should see their apartment, it's full of old junk from years and years ago."\n\nDavid smiles emptily and walks back to the group. The drone has stopped talking and is floating over [[the group]]'s heads, performing its 15-minute people-count.
Black, white, black, white. The pillars flash in and out of view as the lights flicker and his footsteps echo loudly on the tiled floor. He can see her at the other end of the station but with every flash of light she is further away. He breaks into a run and that's when the drone joins him, hovering along at his side, distracting him. He tries to lead it into one of the concrete colums, imagines the satisfaction of it smashing into smithereens on the station floor, but it is smarter and quicker than he is and always dodges.\n\n" 'Mind The Gap' is one of the most iconic phrases of twentieth century pop culture," it recites, "printed on T-shirts, bags, postcards, and all manner of London paraphernelia. Mind The Gap, David. Mind The Gap. Mind The Gap."\n\nWhen he gets there, she's already gone.\n\n<<goback>>
ACCIDENT SUMMARY\n\nLocation\nBaker Street\n\nTrain Operator\nMetropolitan Railway\n\nPrimary Cause\nPedestrian Error\n\nSecondary Causes\nPlatform staff error, Passenger overcrowding\n\nResult\nPerson(s) dragged by train\n\nTWO DEAD AT BAKER STREET, OCTOBER 2nd, 2005\n\nMrs. Emily Wilcox, while pushing a pram containing her son Sebastian, stepped in front of the 9:30pm Elephant and Castle train as it arrived into the station on the evening of October 2nd, 2005.\n\n<<goback>>
The old man looks back at him. "Oh yes, the second thing."\n\nHe pulls a piece of paper from his jacket pocket and unfolds it carefully.\n\n"This is a copy of a newspaper article printed three weeks after the death of your wife," he explains. "I think, before I ask the second question, that you should read it."\n\nDavid takes the paper from him with unsteady fingers. He reads [[the article]], and when he has finished, he puts the paper down on his lap and stares at it.\n\n"It says here, '[[Who is survived by his son]]'?" He looks up at the man. His eyes are wet. "I don't understand."
It took him a year to get his ID card. For a whole year he did not exist except as a silhouette in alleys and dark corners and soup kitchens and public dormitories. How could he explain? He couldn't, and so he didn't. Eventually he met someone who took his old 1990s authentic antique digital wrist watch in exchange for a piece of metal with his name and face and fingerprint and DNA imprinted on it that let him be A Member Of Society.\n\n<<goback>>
None of the detectives he spoke with afterwards came in Deer-Hunters or smoked pipes or wore tweed. Grey suits, ties, haggard faces; cigarettes, notepads, digital pocket cameras, rolls of measuring tape and chalk and handkerchiefs and little plastic bags and tweezers. He told his story over and over and over until his lips formed the words but his brain was elsewhere, stuck on the burned image of his wife and the pram and the bundle inside, her bright eyes locking with his, the bright lights of the subway train as it swept into the station and swept up orphaned newspaper pages and swept up sweet packets and crisp packets and dead leaves and swept up his wife under the rails.\n\n<<goback>>
Almost every day for the past five years; Kenton, Wembley, Stonebridge, Queens Park, Paddington, Edgware, Marleybone, Baker Street, black, Regen's Park, white, Oxford Circus, black, Picadilly, white, Charing Cross, black, Waterloo, white, Lambeth North, black, Elephants and Castles but his castle is gone and he's not home any more and the Bakerloo Bakerloo Bakerloo line is faded muddy brown like his eyes when he saw her, like her dress when they pulled it from the lines. \n\nHe comes here almost every day but he knows this place because it is his; his sanctuary, his own personal hell, his past and his present.\n\n<<goback>>
When he was a boy he used to like standing with the tips of his toes just crossing the line. His mother would tut at him and pull him back, but he'd just edge forward again until inevitably she'd smack him upside the head.\n\n<<goback>>
The people cluster together beneath the drone as it leads them away from the platform, up broken escelators and through dysfunctional turnstiles. David runs his finger over the coin hole and along the beveled edge of the card slot. He passes the sign, BAKER STREET in white on blue over the redwhite target. He sees the walls lined with rectangular white tiles where silhouettes of [[Holmes]] are cracked and faded and peeling. \n\n"Sir? We're leaving the station now, Sir." \n\nDavid looks up at the drone hovering in front of him, struggling through the murky depths of five years ago. \n\n"Right. Sorry." His voice is croaky and thick with Emily's eyes on his. Sometimes he thinks she looked sad. Sometimes he convinces himself that the look was desperation, and sometimes he sees a flicker of doubt but he can never hold on to that conviction for long.\n\nDavid side-steps the drone and carries himself up the last few steps into [[daylight]].
The cold, wet, miserable days between Autumn and Winter. Couples huggled beneath umbrellas, feet splashing water on pavements, streaks of mud and leaves carried down the stairs and corridors. David walks with his head down. He doesn't need to look where he's going; he's walked this path hundreds of times. The platform is empty at his end, like it was three nights ago. He hasn't come here for any reason, but the reason comes to him with the noise of the approaching train. He waits, feet tucked neatly behind the yellow line. When he sees the lights shining on the tracks, his mind empties, and he closes his eyes. The movement is easy; the easiest thing he has ever done. He feels the platform vanish from beneath his feet as he steps forwards. He feels weightless. He anticipates the moment of impact, of finality, but it doesn't come. Puzzled, he opens his eyes. He is sitting at the bottom of the Sherlock Holmes statue and the building in front of him wasn't there yesterday. \n\n<<goback>>