Milbrook road was situated right in the centre of inner London. If London was a living cell Milbrook road would be located right in the nucleus; it was wrapped in the DNA of the bright west end lights, the success of the docklands and the class of the centre, but yet it was unimportant. In a sea of frivolity, fun and never ending good times it was a desolate island that went unnoticed by all. Although it was only a short walk away from the major tourist attractions it never saw the flash of the cameras or heard the shrill cries of excitement from holidaymakers.
No it stood there unused and concealed by a mist of dreariness and consequently it never failed to be over looked by busy people who treaded the adjoining roads. Even the residents seemed to be invisible; it was a rare occasion to see someone leave one of grand houses that lined this road and at night there were never any lights on. In fact you would be hard pressed to find any of the usual signs of life on this street or of any social life in fact. There wasn’t a local group of kids riding down the street glaring at anyone over fifteen and jeering at anyone under fifteen.
No one was ever having a conversation with the postman or bringing a cake to the neighbours. This street was an extreme example of how antisocial England had become and it seemed dead in every way. But something was there and the houses made it quite evident. They were huge towering Georgian townhouses made of a brown brick, which had been further darkened by the soot of the city. They had grey slate roofs, which on a full moon had a silvery shimmer like the surface of deep pool. They didn’t have loft conversions or even television aerials and this made it quite clear that these weren’t your average London homeowners. Their windows were of a Victorian bay design, but for such grand houses they were quite small and any small view into the houses were concealed by dark green velvet curtains. The windows along with the front doors had been painted gloss black which appeared to emit darkness and absorb light. Fixed to the doors there were massive brass fittings, which because of the metal would have been a handsome target for a thief, but no thief could get to them. This was the case because of the large black wrought iron gates at the front of each property. They stood menacingly as impenetrable defences to the weird residences behind them. Even if a person had the ability to climb over them, the sheer powerful presence they emitted would have prevented any likely lad from attempting it. These features all contributed to the ominous appearance of the street; however it was the fact that they were all perfectly identical that really hammered it home that something very alien was present here. It was quite something and it gave the impression that they were all owned by the same person and they were, sort of.
It had been a long night for Toby and his friends; they had been to over ten different pubs and met about half the people they knew in inner London. It was three o’clock in the morning and they were now sitting in a pub called the Crown and Treaty; they were all tired and dwindling on the thought of going home. However, the cosy atmosphere of the pub was nursing them into staying out, and seeing a little more of what the city had to offer.
Toby spoke up. “Come on guys lets at least stay out till five, how old are we fifteen?”
He had said this to mock them into agreement. It was the case due to modern youth culture that children as young as fourteen could be found in pubs and clubs with siblings stolen ID, but you could always tell who the minors where when they fell asleep or went home at an early hour.
“You’ve got to understand Toby.” Sterling mouthed. “I’ve drunk about fourteen pints, that’s a lethal dose, and besides I’ve got something important tomorrow.”
“What’s that?” Tamsin inquired while staring into his blue grey eyes.
“I have to, uh It’s important that I.” Sterling stuttered building up curiosity around him. “I can’t remember.” He said as he sunk back into the corner of the bench with a look of puzzlement mixed with happiness from the substances flowing through his body.
Charlotte stood up and eloquently spoke in a firm but friendly voice, “Toby you are quite clearly shattered and if you stay out any longer you won’t be able to find your way home. Sterling that thing you have tomorrow is a university interview and it is important so I suggest you get to bed immediately! As for me I need to meet someone so I will see you all tomorrow.”
And with that Charlotte left the pub and stepped out into the cold dark street. Inside the Crown and Treaty everyone looked at each other in the way children do after being sent to bed. Charlotte was not their boss or drill sergeant, but she spoke with such authority her words felt like commands which if not followed would result in great misfortune, so they all left into the night. It was quite customary at the end of an evening out for them all to drift off on their own; there wasn’t the concern for each other’s safe passage home, after all inner city London had become safer since the creation of new greater London. With enforced curfews and road checks most of the shady characters were kept out, but so were some good ones. In fact this segregation had taken a lot of the vibrancy out of the city and everyone knew. It was quite obvious from the lack of variety in the people you’d meet; everyone was a student, soldier or professional, each following the characteristics of their stereotype down to the letter. You would never come across a weathered old man in a pub talking of his travels to foreign lands or a gypsy woman selling scarves on the street. They had all been removed and kept out of this new Greater London. But amidst this barren uniformity there were still many interesting things to be uncovered by Toby and his friends but now they needed to rest; so they all left to go to bed or in the case of Sterling to find the greasiest takeaway food possible. And so it happened that not a single one was in the company of another.
Charlotte who had led this exodus was now heading west towards shepherd’s bush with a blistering pace; it was obvious from the giant but swift steps she was taking that she was in a hurry. She was tense but not worried, she had promised herself long ago never to suffer the lashes of anxiety that came with tough situations, she believed it only caused panic which in turn only caused mistakes and she couldn’t afford to make a mistake. She had a very important meeting which involved her acting out a role; which if she didn’t do convincingly could result in the daemons of her past coming back to haunt her. Unlike her friends she hadn’t always lived in the inner part of London and she was once one of the unfortunate ones left out in the cold. Born and raised in Slough she had received a poor education designed to lock all the doors to opportunity, she had shown promise but any ambition was discouraged by the fools who called themselves educators. But she had been clever. It struck her from early on that there was one thing present in the outskirts that the flamboyant youth of the centre would love to get their hands on, drugs! It was quite odd that such a clear headed, motivated and strong girl dealt in substances that stripped away those exact qualities but she didn’t care, she had been treated unjustly and now was her turn to level the balance. So she did business and she did it well. By making links with the most rich and powerful socialites she found she could enter and leave the inner city as easily as the inner city children. Her business built up to the point where she no longer did any trafficking herself and it was all done by hired bicycle couriers. With her intelligence the industry became quite civilized, culminating in the setting up of a business like organisation where the various drug dealers could reason out the tension that arose from such a lucrative underground trade. Their meetings were held in the disused dairy to the north of Shepherds bush green hence they grew to be known as the drugs council. In a few years she had built a large organisation beneath her but it wasn’t enough; her awareness kicked in; she realized she was nothing more than an instrument of the inner city kids. If she was going to find the power she craved so much; she would need to be immersed in their society, she would have to leave the outskirts. And this was how she met Toby.
It had been an extremely hot summer and the mood everywhere in London was that of a tropical carnival. There was a party on every street and all the rules and curfews seemed to disappear. Inner city children were hanging out in the outskirts and anyone could walk past the abandoned guard posts straight into the centre of London. People had dumped sand in the streets to create artificial beaches with any paved area bricked around to make pools. But not everyone was lazing about many people were at work. With the constant party atmosphere the supply for narcotics was insane, just to keep up with demand the council had bought its own boat, the red Taj. However not only had demand risen but so had the amount of non-payers and it was one pale lanky boy called Toby who had found himself with quite a debt owed to quite a dealer.
Jermaine had an infamous reputation and was someone you wouldn’t try to fool. He was dark in appearance and character, he had dark brown skin with black patches from healed scars. His eyes were bloodshot with a yellowy tinge; as for the pupil there wasn’t the usual two toned pattern instead they were unblemished perfect black circles. He was tall but not so much as to draw attention to himself or make him vulnerable. He always wore his long black wool trench coat with jeans and a pair of steel toe capped Dr Martens. Perfectly built for fighting he was the perfect mix of strength and speed. But this appearance misrepresented his soul; inside he was nothing more than a scared little boy, out of his depth and being forced to swim further out. However years had passed, he had slowly started to believe his own lie and felt compelled to defend his reputation.
He managed to corner Toby at a party and take him to an empty room. It so happened that just as Jermaine was going to pour bleach over Toby’s face Charlotte walked in. The room froze at the entrance of such a powerful force and in return she froze, not at the obscene act occurring but as acknowledgement of the awe from the people in the room. She didn’t approve of the practices like this but she accepted people had their different ways of dealing with non-payers. She turned to leave when she caught sight of the boys pale face and immediately a cog turned over in her brain. Unlike most of her associates she kept track of current affairs in both Londons and it was that day she had seen this boy with his father, the home secretary. With no time spared she snapped her fingers prompting the subordinate goons to leave the room. Now there was only Jermaine, her and the boy all in deathly silence. She was clearly Jermaine’s superior in the outer city society however he was a proud boy and he would want an explanation for her choosing to spare the boy, she would have to lie. If the council heard she wanted to leave the outskirts there would be uproar and she soon would be the target of a lot of anger.
“So the rumours are true,” Charlotte said in a deep rich voice that hinted at excitement.
“What are you talking about woman,” Jermaine replied with a hint of anger and curiosity she was his superior but her submissive tone lead him to take on the authority in this meeting.
He wanted to sort out this affair quickly as he knew if the adrenaline wore off he probably wouldn’t be able to carry out this monstrous act; after all he was only a boy and he was quite squeamish around injuries.
“I’m talking about how everyone’s been saying how ruthless you are,” Charlotte said playfully while fiddling with Jermaine’s polo shirt collar and walking around him. She continued, “I didn’t believe it at first; I thought it was all playground tales and exaggerated whispers, so I put up the boy you have there to start a confrontation with you.”
Jermaine was falling for it and his smug smile was a direct confirmation of this to Charlotte.
“What I have seen in this room proves what I heard was true and I will be more than happy to talk of your dark powerful ruthlessness to anyone, so I will pay back the debt twofold and take this boy off your hands.” Charlotte said in a slightly more instructive voice.
Charlotte handed him a bag of white powder then she took Toby’s hand and left. Once outside Charlotte explained her motives and that if Toby didn’t help her he would have to deal with worse characters than Jermaine. Shook up from what had happened Toby immediately agreed and within a few days managed to get charlotte a pass to live in inner London, studying as a student at his college. It was peculiar how Toby chose for her to study at the same institution as him considering the blackmail she had employed upon him, but they had developed a friendship during the times they met and the longer they knew each the more they forgot the circumstances under which they met and accepted each other as friends.
But getting the living pass had been the easy part of leaving the outskirts, her move had aggravated many of the council and some members were calling for an inquiry. So she acted quickly and with her keen ability to argue and strong reasoning she convinced them she had made the move to increase the drug sales in the dry areas of Camden and Brixton. And that she could conduct research into targeting more of the potential customers. She was surprised they believed her and felt ashamed to have been part of such a dim-witted organisation. Even with their support for her move a meeting never went by without shifty looks and malevolent mutterings and it worsened the more she withdrew from criminal activity. The council wanted a commitment, a true sign of her never ending alliance and it was chosen that it should take on the form of a jet black tattoo. She didn’t mind this at all as she had always planned to get one but she detested being forced to get one, especially while being minded by Jermaine.
Ten minutes early, she was now at the rendezvous and as she expected no one was there. These weren’t the kind of people who arrived early and if they did they would hang back and size you up before they made their presence known. It’s not like they needed to size up Charlotte; they were fully aware of her fiery temper and amazing strength and this knowledge added to the rumours, rumours which worried them deeply. The rumours that had them shaken up had echoed round the wings of the council and although they weren’t true they weren’t unbelievable. The tale circulating was that Charlotte had left to raise an army, a fearsome squadron set up to take down the council itself. This was completely ludicrous as she had so much power in the council she could make it collapse from the inside; however most of the council members would be in denial of this fact. What was more important to Jerry and Jas was the rumour that tonight under the pressure from the council to mark herself she would crack and unleash her anger, which Jerry and Jas would be caught in the cross fire of. So they hung back and kept watch for any other people.