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Dangerous Skies by Brian James

Chapter One

It came unexpectedly: a blackness that leaped from the sunshine and swallowed the people standing on the pavement. The brick wall behind flew into boiling dust, then a heart-stop of silence. Alan froze. The roar and spray of fire came rushing across the street towards the library. And the screaming, the screaming. Alan screamed “Mum” in a long drawn-out cry as wave upon shock wave flung itself at the library’s windows, sucking them in and out as if to get at Alan. But the crosses of sticky brown paper held the glass panes together and protected Alan from the flying claws of shattered glass. 

The bomb had been a big one. It had come from the sky without warning, without the cry of the siren.

The terrible noise stopped and the silence pounded in his head, crushing the words he was trying to find to pull himself back together. Then came the smell: an acrid stabbing of torched metal and charred wood. Alan stared at the rigid white faces around him.

He dropped the book he’d been holding and ran, pushing past the grown ups who swirled around him, noisily, jerkily; their mouths opening and shutting, shouting and crying.

He stopped on the steps outside the Brixton library, his feet crunching on glass and debris. The sun still shone, but across the street, a black cloud of smoke and dust lifted up into the blue sky and spread great arms wide across the roof of the red brick Brixton Town Hall like a black cross of death.

“They didn’t have a chance,” sobbed a woman’s voice. “Just waiting for their milk and orange juice from the family clinic. Mums with their kids.”

“God knows how many were there when it fell,” added a man’s voice.

It was like pain. Alan couldn’t see any blood. You didn’t need to. The air itself hurt. Torn and wounded.


“Mum!” Then his head was buried into her chest. 

“We’d better get off home,” she said.


“I saw that bomb today,” Alan told his best friend Tommy as they sat on the low wall outside his friend’s house in Hubert Grove.

“We heard the bang from here,” answered Tommy.

“It didn’t half go off,” Alan said, shivering with the memory of the noise of the explosion and how it had tried to get at him.

“Me dad said there were hundreds killed. Did you see any bodies?”

“Nah, I didn’t dare look,” said Alan, rubbing his face as though the dust still stuck to his skin.

“Yeah, just be bits, that’s all,” commented Tommy, nodding.

“My mum was supposed to go in the queue for the orange juice and dried milk,” said Alan. “But she left me in the library and popped into Brixton market instead.”

“Cor!” said Tommy, but didn’t say anything more when he saw Alan’s face staring at the pavement.

“They’re not supposed to do that,” he added angrily. “Ruddy cheats!” he yelled, staring up at the sky and shaking his fist. “Wonder if any of the swines are up there now.”

Alan stared up with him. “Nah,” he decided. “We could hear them here. It’s quiet. Not like Brixton.”

Tommy sniffed. “Suppose,” he agreed, sounding disappointed.

“Mum says we got to go into the shelter tonight,” said Alan.

“It’s horrible in ours,” said Tommy. “I have to share the bunk with me brother and he kicks me in his sleep.”

Dangerous Skies is available in paperback and ebook

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