We were back on the pier. I could hear the waves lapping beneath us; feel the cold sea air on my face. It was warmer than I’d been used to in 1913.
“Thank God,” Lucy said. “Home.”
She began walking. Not watching where she was going.
I, however… Oh hell!
Let’s start again. We were on a pier, I could hear the waves lapping beneath us and it was really dark. Great I was going to have to explain my absence to Mum. And then it hit me:
We were on a pier, I could hear the waves lapping beneath us; it was really dark and: “Luce, look around you.”
She stopped and stared out into the darkness.
“Well?” I prompted.
“It’s dark…” she conceded. “That’s coz it’s night time.” Ooh the sarcasm was withering.
“No, it’s more than that!”
“So we’ve travelled back to Southend – at night.” She gave me one of those looks and carried on walking.
I looked at her. “Try again, stupid. It’s black-out dark.”
“It’s too dark. There’s not enough light pollution which is what I was looking forward to seeing when we got back.”
“So we’re in the wrong time period!”
I got the feeling Luce didn’t want to go home.
“Luce. Look at the pier.” It was different. A real old fashioned pleasure pier with amusements and arcades.
There was a paper laying on the floor. I should have realised it was too convenient, but I wasn’t thinking straight. I was tired and I wanted to go home. Looking at the paper, I got no further than the date: “Luce it’s October 1949!”
“So? We’ve landed at the end of WW2. We knew there was no guarantee about getting back first time.” She carried on walking.
I followed her. My head was still in the paper.”Luce!”
She stopped again “What?”
“Look at the Title of the Paper.” I held it up: “Blackpool Gazette”
Instead of being upset; my mate Lucy is bouncing up and down. “October 1949?” She shouted.
I was beginning to feel like the Churchill dog off the telly.
“Wonder if we’re in time to see the Labour Party Conference at the Winter Gardens.” And she was off again. Down the pier.
I didn’t follow her immediately. I was too busy reading the rest of the paper. And what I read, I didn’t like. I threw a fist at the sky and hurried off after: “Lucy!… Wait!”
She came to a halt at the end of the pier – her facing the sea, me looking over at the Tower. What I saw made me go cold. “Err Luce, I don’t think we can do…” I don’t know how the words got out through the terror that engulfed me. Dear Gods! It was… horrific!
“Why not?” she demanded
It was going to take too long to explain; and you know me by now, I’m a lad of few words at the best of times and this wasn’t the best of times. “Look at the Tower!” I grabbed Lucy by the shoulders and propelled her around 180 degrees.
Even in the darkness I could see the colour drain from her face.”Oh hell Mark, what’s gone wrong this time?”
The thing ( I will not call it a flag) lit by one, single, searchlight, hung the entire 518 feet of the metal structure; a red and black monstrosity exuding unadulterated evil.