“‘Ere he comes! ‘Ere he comes. A rat crawlin’ back to ‘is sewer.
Did you fall out with Mr. High-an’-Mighty up there – what’s his name? … Pater-noise-ter?
You’ve got some bleedin’ cheek comin’ back ‘ere.
Must ‘ave lost your mind, eh? Don’t you remember? You’re not welcome ’ere! You’re not wanted. Not now. Not … never!
So go on. Disappear! No one wants you. Hey! … Hey, why don’t you become A Disappeared? Haha! Hahahahaha! Or are you too scared. Ye-e-es! You are! Ha! Too SCARED! Go on. Do us all a favour. DI-SA-PPEE-AH! Before I run you out of ‘ere. … Or ‘ave you forgotten … what run you out of ‘ere means?
Rememb-ah the trains an’ the tunnels. Ye-e-e-es … see? You do rememb-ah!
What? Why you ain’t sayin’ nothin’? Eh?!
‘As that Mr. Pater-nosey got yer tongue? ‘As he? ‘As he?!
I swear you’re scaredier and uglier than you were before. You always were a fearful ugly, ferrel, pointy-faced, little rat.”
That was Silas. Speaking to me. On a good day.
Except it wasn’t a good day.
Because Agatha was missing. And because Paternoster had sent me to see Silas.
Not that anyone ever saw Silas very clearly. Maybe, because it was murky and dark in his tunnels. Maybe, because he was nearly Disappeared himself. And that frightened him so much that he never let anyone see how far he was gone. Perhaps one day, all that would remain would be his voice – ranting and insulting and roaring – before that too faded away. If Disappearing wasn’t so dreadful, I’d almost wish it for him. But it is absolutely dreadful and I’ll therefore stop mentioning it.
I waited for him to finish and into the nervous silence that hovered between us, I tossed my message from Paternoster. And waited. Ready to brace myself against the torrent of abuse that I fully expected in response.
The torrent never came.
Silas howled until his breath ran out. Then he made a noise that sounded like the turbulent fury of water suddenly bursting through a rough dam and choking the banks of a stream. I couldn’t tell if he was sobbing or having some form of fit.
Other waifs appeared and soon a small crowd had gathered; all were peering through the gloom in the direction of the horrible sound.
Silas stopped. Noisily drew breath and spat out orders.
He knew Agatha. He knew her mother.
He had seen Agatha come into the underground station.
She had been following a woman wearing a similar blue trench coat to her mother’s. So her alone-ness had gone unnoticed; even by Agatha, herself.
Agatha and the young woman had got onto a train. Central Line – heading West.
“Go find ‘er!” Silas screamed.