Saturday, 26 January 2008

If you go down underground today...

So there you are, in the near blackness, following a small dark-haired woman in a red coat and a black top hat through the underground streets of Edinburgh. Streets which were blocked off and hidden from view for more than 100 years, until the early 1990s when a student knocked out a wall in his rented flat and found stairs leading down.
What makes the experience perfect is the sound of the water drops falling into small puddles, the plump echoes between the walls, which are oozing dampness. It is also the way Sheen (for that is her name) can mould her voice around the stories, as if she is stroking time. Moving back to when the merchants for whom these then-fashionable streets were built, abandoned them because they leaked. Back to when being homeless was made a crime punishable by hanging, and hundreds of the city's poorest people piled into these cramped tunnels and rooms at dusk, to wait out the night. Back to the night when the city burned and as the fire raged above ground and all those huddled masses thought they were safe, the entrances collapsed and together they were slowly suffocated and baked until they were nothing but a quivering cake of well-cooked flesh.

Later you join another small group and follow Martin into another section underneath South Bridge, and inbetween stories of paranormal reports he tells you of how the spaces that were originally used to store wine were later taken over by other entrepreneurs who would use them to stash the bodies they had just dug up (they would have to fold up the limbs to make them fit), before transfering them through the buried streets to Edinburgh University's growing medical department, where a no-questions, payment-upon-delivery service was in operation.

Martin will hand out the EMF detection meters, which are used to identify disruptions in the natural magnetic field. Ie - we're trying to swoop our hands through ghost bodies. You may wish to stay away from the tall man in the dark coat, because the tell-tale clicks of the hand-held device just seem to follow him. Perhaps it has something to do with how he boldly stepped into a circle of stones that local witches had abandoned after trapping negative energy inside. Perhaps the ghosts can smell it on him.

All you really want to do is just stay there in the dark. Just be left there alone for awhile, to let everything about the place seep into you. See if the little Jack or the one called The Watcher will pay you a visit. Or the peaceful cobbler, keeping one room safe from evil.
Who knows, maybe after you leave, the water drops will blossom into footsteps and the endless march will resume.

1 comment:

your new best friend said...

for reals? creepy. i am becoming more claustraphobic in my advancing age.