Fantasy Fiction posted October 26, 2014

This work has reached the exceptional level
A fantasy game of Monopoly

The Price of Time Travel

by jpduck

Jack and Rosie wanted to track down the Angel, Islington of Monopoly fame. They emerged from the Angel underground station and could find no sign of it. They asked a passer-by and were told that it had closed down many years ago. "It used to be over there next to Wetherspoon's."

Disappointed, they settled for a couple of beers in Wetherspoons. "How are the mighty fallen!" said Jack.

"Yes, rather tacky!"

As they finished their beers they spotted an unusual sign in the far corner of the large bar -- Come this way to take part in the great Monopoly challenge -- if you dare. Prepare to be scared out of your wits.

They wandered over and saw an arrow pointing to a very small door.

"This looks seriously weird. Let's give it a go," Rosie said.

"Hm, OK!"

They had to stoop very low to get through the door. It brought them into what seemed like a dark dungeon lit by a few candles set into niches in the brick walls. An old man, dressed in the formal attire of many decades ago, including a sleek top hat, greeted them. "Are you ready for the adventure of your life?" he asked.

"Maybe," said Jack. "How much does it cost?"

"Just ten pounds for the two of you."

"But how does it work? What do we do? Is it a game?"

"It is. It's a game which will take you all over London. I start be giving each of you one of these." He handed them a couple of PostIt pads the shape and size of Monopoly Chance cards. On each sheet was written Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect £200.

"It is your task to search London for the Monopoly playing pieces. Here is a list of them.

When you find one you must try to stick one of your jail slips on it. But remember this: Nothing....nothing at all will be what you expect it to be. Everything will be strange....and maybe dangerous. Are you brave enough for this?"

"Are we?" Jack asked Rosie.

"You bet," she replied, and handed over £10.

"Well, well! You are the first today. The others so far all backed out. Good luck to a brave, or should I say foolish, couple. You start by walking down that tunnel. When you get outside you will find your personal cabbie waiting to transport you to wherever you wish in London. Don't worry; you won't have to pay him a thing."

They stepped cautiously down the dark passage which was lit at well-spaced intervals by a few more candles. They dimly saw ahead of them a couple of people walking slowly up the passage. As they came closer they appeared to be an elderly couple who were finding the slight incline rather a struggle. Jack and Rosie stepped to one side to let them by. As they shuffled along with their hands stretched in front of them they could hear a cackle of laughter from behind them. Menacing it was.

They came to a heavy, wooden door which opened on to a street pavement. There they were greeted by a craggy-faced man with long, grey, wispy hair. He wore a greasy black beret, an open-necked, collarless shirt and baggy, grey trousers. "Good morning, and welcome to the game," he said with a ripe cockney accent. "My name's Zeek, my dears, and me and my cab will be at your service for as long as you last out."

"Hi Zeek! I'm Rosie and this is Jack."

They got into the taxi. "Good Lord," said Jack. "This taxi must be a vintage specimen." The roof over the back seat where he and Rosie sat was folded back and there was a Klaxon bulb horn fitted outside the cab beside the driver's door.

"It's my pride and joy -- an Austin 12/4 Low Loader. You think it's old don't you. But actually it's brand new; it only left the factory three months ago. Look around you, and you will understand."

They looked out of the window at the passing traffic. Every vehicle seemed to be from the same sort of period as the taxi. There was even a horse-drawn cart to be seen.

"What on earth's going on here? Is this a film set or something?" asked Jack.

"Certainly not. What year do you think it is?"

"I thought it was 2014. It certainly was when I got up this morning."

"Hang on! I know what this is." Rosie interrupted. "I bet this is the year when Monopoly was invented. Somewhen in the 1930's, I would guess."

"Well done Rosie. Spot on! The year is 1936," said Zeek.

Jack felt slightly resentful. He could have guessed that. "Let's get on with the game," he said. "I don't see how we can find a tiny Monopoly piece which could be anywhere in London. It's ridiculous. What are we supposed to do, Zeek?"

"You need to get three things straight. First, the Monopoly pieces you are searching for are not tiny at all. Far from it. They are massive, wriggling, ugly things. They may even bite you if you are not careful. Second, these creatures are not found just anywhere, but only on the streets that are...."

"....on the Monopoly board," chorused Rosie and Jack.

"The third thing is that you need to think very carefully about where would be the most likely place you would find the piece you are looking for. There will always be some kind of connection between the piece and the street it is on. And that is all I am allowed to tell you. So make connections, my dears. Then tell me where you want me to take you."

Rosie and Jack studied their lists of Monopoly roads and pieces.

"What about the cannon? It shouldn't be too hard to find a connection with that," said Rosie.

"I suppose the obvious one is Cannon Street. But that's not on the Monopoly board. But there must be cannons scattered about all over London. What about at the Tower of London?"

"Maybe. But Tower Hill isn't on the Monopoly Board."

"Zeek, do you know where there are cannons in London?"

"Oh yes, lots."

"Is there one on any of the Monopoly roads?"

"Can't tell you. It's not allowed, my dears. That would be cheating."

"OK! What about the man on horseback? There's statues of them all over the place."

"I bet there's one on Whitehall."

"Of course. Brilliant, Rosie. Zeek, take us to Whitehall please."


As they drove down Whitehall they spotted a huge equestrian statue ahead.

"Can you stop here please Zeek and we will walk from here," Jack said. "We're more likely to spot what we're looking for on foot."

"Good luck, my dears, you may need it for this one."

They walked on towards the statue, worrying a little about Zeek's words and not really sure what they were looking for. It couldn't be the statue itself; you can't send a statue to jail. From the plaque on the plinth they could see that the guy on the horse was Prince George, Duke of Cambridge. Evidently he was commander-in-chief of the British army from 1856-1895.

They looked around them to see if they could spot anything monopolish. As they did so there came from behind them a blood-curdling shriek from the depths of hell. They whipped round to see the horse rearing up on its hind legs with its head turned to look straight at Jack and Rosie. It gave a great leap and landed on the road with a clatter of hooves. The Duke drew his sword, saying "How dare you disturb our tranquillity, you guttersnipes?"

Jack and Rosie backed away rapidly. "Jack, you stay here. I'll try to draw him off. Then you can sneak up from behind and slap on a jail slip."

"OK. Be careful."

Rosie ran towards the raging horse and waved her pad of jail slips at him as she slowly backed away from Jack. The horse made as if to charge, but restrained itself to a few cautious steps towards Rosie. It seemed as if the horse knew those slips were dangerous -- as if he had experienced all this before. As the horse was fretting over his dilemma, Jack rushed up from behind and plonked a jail slip on the horse's rump. Immediately horse and rider disintegrated into a million tiny pieces which rose to the sky with a fizzing sound, leaving the statue itself behind as if nothing at all had happened. Jack and Rosie stared at it, puzzled, and the horse winked at them. They grinned at each other and celebrated with a high five.


"Very well done," said Zeek. "I was dead proud of you, I was. None of my players have despatched those two as quickly as you did. A lot of them failed completely -- just ran for their lives. And there have been two or three quite nasty injuries."

"I think we must have been a bit lucky," said Jack.

"Now then, my dears, what's next?"

"Well I don't know about you, Rosie, but I think I am ready for an easy, gentle one."

"Sounds good. What did you have in mind?"

"What about the thimble? A thimble can't cause us much trouble can it? If it's a silver thimble then I think Bond Street will be the place to go. There's quite a few jewellers and silversmiths there."

"Right you are. Bond Street please Zeek."

"You've got it," and he drove off.

He pulled up nearly opposite a jeweller's shop. Jack and Rosie got out and went into the shop. They looked for silver thimbles and soon found a small glass case of them. But they all looked perfectly normal and not a bit roguish.

"I think we should be looking outside the shop, Jack. It's supposed to be huge."

They went back outside and looked around for a giant thimble. After a while an Irish voice from behind them said, "Would it be me you're after looking at?" They turned to see a leprechaun. He stood about five feet high and was wearing a green jacket and trousers. Over the top of this, worn like an exotic cape, was a silver thimble with holes through which his head and arms protruded. He also wore a tapered, white nightcap on his head. His face looked old and knobbly, rather like Zeek's.

"Yes, I believe it would," said Jack.

"And you want to catch me and send me to jail?"

"What makes you think that?"

"Well now, it might just have something to do with the fact that I have three or four of you a week turning up to do the same thing. Not one of them has succeeded. I'm uncatchable, so I am."

Jack leaped forward to catch him, but instantly he sprouted wings and shot up in the air. He hovered a few feet above them. "You weren't expecting that now, were you? We leprechauns aren't supposed to have wings....which just shows how little you lot know." He laughed as he whirled and gyrated above them, just out of reach.

Rosie and Jack turned round and sauntered away as if they had lost interest.

"You've surely not given up already, have you?"

They ignored him. Rosie was thinking that what they needed was a large net, but she had no idea where they could get one around here.

"Oh Rosie," the leprechaun said. "It's a net you'll be wanting, is it? Well I tell you what. I'll give you one." He leant forward and started pulling out a net from inside the thimble. Yards and yards of it there were. Rosie thought he must be very thin.

"How did you know my name? And how did you know I was thinking about a net?"

"Well now, I'll tell you. We leprechauns know everything. We' re world-famous for it, to be sure. Oh, and I'm sorry about the bog-Irish, but the tourists just love it -- they can't get enough of it, begorrah and bejabers. And I do like to help out whenever I can."

Meanwhile, Jack and Rosie were trying to find the two ends of the net so that they could cast it properly between them. But it appeared that it didn't have two ends; it must be a ring of netting. So they then tried to find the two long sides. But it didn't have those either. It was a sphere-shaped net.

"Oh come on Rosie. This is a waste of time. I suggest we give up on this one."

"OK. I suppose so."

The leprechaun, who had been busy howling with laughter, now took off, flew over the top of the jeweller's shop and was gone.

Rosie and Jack were heading off back to the cab when they heard another voice behind them. This one was soft and beguiling -- not a bit like the leprechaun's. They turned to find a pigeon.

"Oh you poor things. I was watching that. We pigeons have had more than enough of that spiteful Irish creature. If we can bring him to you, can you make him go away?"

"Yes, I think we can," said Jack.

"Go-o-o-od! Back so-o-o-on," cooed the pigeon, and flew away.

After about five minutes they spotted a large, black, wriggling blob in the sky moving towards them. There must have been a couple of hundred pigeons all clutching hold of different parts of the leprechaun and flapping their wings earnestly.

The blob dropped at their feet and they both reached through the pigeons to apply PostIts to the leprechaun. As with the horse and rider, the leprechaun fizzed into a million scraps and floated into the sky. The pigeons flew away with a cooing sort of cheering. As if to join the celebration the whole length of the street broke into a series of waves travelling along the road. Waves of tarmac and paving stone as flexible as water. Jack and Rosie found it very difficult to stay upright, and by the time it had calmed down and become a normal road again, they were feeling quite seasick.

"This is all getting to be so weird, Rosie. Do you want to carry on?"

"Of course I do. It's amazing. Don't be such a wuss."

They walked back to Zeek and the cab.


"Well done again, my dears, even though you 'ad some 'elp from the pigeons. I am amazed that they were prepared to 'elp, nasty little things. I 'ate 'em! So, what's next?"

"I've thought of a possible connection with the boot," Jack said. "I believe that the Old Kent Road follows the line of an original Roman road for most of its length. Many hundreds of thousands of boots have walked along it since the road was built. It's a bit of a tenuous connection, I know, but we could give it a go."

"That's a brilliant idea, Jack. Can you take us to the Old Kent Road please Zeek?"

"I certainly can; that's on my turf."

Zeek parked in the Old Kent Road, and the two challengers got out.

"So, we're looking for a boot which will probably be very large, and more than likely will have arms, legs and attitude," said Rosie.

They wandered up and down on both sides of the road, but they couldn't find anything remotely resembling a boot, apart from those worn by passers-by.

Finally, they found what, with the benefit of hindsight, they knew they should have been looking for all along -- a cobbler's shop. They could hear a timid whimpering coming from the dark alley running down the side of the shop. They peered into the darkness and could just make out an enormous boot cringing away from them. It had the expected arms and legs, but this shrinking timidity didn't seem to fit the pattern at all.

Jack took a step towards it. It thrust out two fists in self-defence. "What's the matter little one? Why are you afraid of us?"

"Because you bright-shiny ones are always the same. You come at I and you hurt I."

"What do you mean 'bright-shiny ones'. I don't understand."

"Just take a look at yourselves and then at all the other people."

Jack and Rosie did just that. It seemed extraordinary to them that they had not noticed the rather grey cast to everything and everyone around them. Compared to that they were indeed bright and shiny. Looking around now it was very obvious.

"Oh dear!" said Rosie. "We must stand out like a beacon to all our targets. That won't make the game any easier."

Jack turned to the boot. "Don't worry, my friend. We won't hurt you."

"Oh nonsense, Jack. We're here to play the game," and she strode to the boot who gave a piercing scream as she slapped on a PostIt. It fizzed away over the roofs.

"Rosie, how could you?" Jack shouted.

"Very easily, Jack. Look this is just a game. The people, the streets and houses, and the targets are not real. They are no more real than all the pieces in a set of Monopoly. The only reality is you, me, Zeek and the cab. The boot said it himself -- we are the bright-shiny ones; in other words we are reality."

"That's a specious argument, and I think you know it is. How could something which is unreal call us anything if it's unreal?"

At that moment their argument was interrupted by a faint, rhythmic tromp...tromp...tromp sound from way off along the Old Kent Road. They stared in that direction but could see no cause for the noise.

Tromp... tromp...tromp.

It was getting louder now, but they still could not see anything to account for it.


It was really quite loud now, but still they could see nothing unusual.


It was now very loud and the pavement shook under their feet to the same beat. They could detect some sort of movement close to the ground about fifty yards away. But the normal traffic on the road continued seemingly unaffected by whatever it was.


It was now beating in their heads and they could clearly see ranks and files of boots marching up the road. Just occupants. Actually, Jack noticed, they looked more like substantial sandals than boots. "They are ancient Roman soldiers' boots; I've seen pictures of them," Jack shouted to Rosie above the noise.

The first rank of boots was now passing them, and they noticed that there was also a spasmodic clank of metal mixed in with the crushing beat of footfall. Dust swirled as the boots passed in hypnotic synchrony. It was uncanny to see each boot lift through the air to put its heel down a yard ahead of its partner, then to rock forward onto its toes before starting the sequence again; and all done in close harmony with all the other boots. It was riveting to observe the boots flexing to the pressures of the unseen feet. Mixed with the rhythm of the boots and the swirling dust was the sour smell of human sweat.

Eventually the final rank passed on down the road. "That was breathtaking," Rosie said.

"Yes, very weird indeed. And all the time all the people -- the grey people -- carried on with their shopping and their conversations exactly as if nothing unusual was happening. They simply weren't aware of the existence of the boots."

"And did you notice that when cars travelled along the road -- over the boots -- you could still see the boots through the cars; and the boots didn't deflect from their movement and rhythm at all. It was almost as if all of the buildings and the people were just a projected cine film over the top of the marching boots."

"So what is real? Is the grey world and its people real or were the boots real? Are our targets real? My God, are we real? I just don't know any more."

Rosie and Jack were feeling seriously shaken by what they had just experienced.....or dreamt....or hallucinated. They returned to their taxi. "Hallo Zeek," said Rosie. "Did you see all the boots marching down the road?"

"Of course I did."

"There's no 'of course' about it. All the people in the street doing their shopping obviously didn't see them, or the other cabbies driving their taxies over them."

"Aha! now you're pushing at the boundaries of the Great Monopoly Challenge and its mysterious secrets."


"Where can I take you next?"

"I think we are struggling a bit to make connections now," said Rosie.

"I think we might be able to manage the cat," said Jack. "I'm thinking about Dick Whittington's cat. Now I know that Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor, isn't anywhere near a Monopoly Street. But I have an idea that a place called the Temple Bar had something to do with the Lord Mayor in the past. Am I getting warm, Zeek?"

"You certainly are, my son. The Temple Bar was the name for the gate that was erected at a point on the main route from Westminster (the political and Sovereign centre) and the City of London (the commercial centre and province of the Lord Mayor). It was the custom, whenever the Sovereign travelled to the City, The Lord Mayor would greet 'im or 'er at the Temple Bar and present the sword of state as a token of loyalty. The gate itself 'as long gone. But its position, where The Strand meets Fleet Street, both Monopoly streets, is now marked by an ornate monument. I'll take you to that point now and, 'oo knows, you may even find Dick's cat."

Zeek set them down by the monument. They admired it from all angles. There were statues on either face, of Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales. But, best of all, on the top was a magnificent dragon with its wings open, ready for take-off.

"This won't do Jack. We're supposed to be looking for a cat."

"Right you are." He leant forward and put his hand out. "Puss, puss, puss...Come on puss, come to daddy."

A beautiful marmalade cat came running over to Jack. Jack stroked it; he didn't notice that Rosie was taking off her coat. "Hullo, puddy, what's your name?"

"Felix, of course. What else would it be? What's yours?"

"Jack. You talk?"

Why shouldn't I? You do. Anyway, I'm much more important than you; I was Master Whittington's cat and he was the Lord Mayor of London."

At this, Rosie sprang forward and put her coat over Felix, holding it down all round. Some terrible language came from under it.

"Quick Jack, put a Post-It on."

Jack peeled one off and thrust his hand under the coat. There was a scratching and a scrambling, followed by a fizzing. Rosie picked up her coat and a cloud of small particles blew away in the breeze, leaving Jack with a rather bloody hand.

"Why do I feel that we are now going to get a floor show?" Rosie asked.

Sure enough, at that moment there was a ferocious roar from above. They looked up to see the dragon on top of its plinth breathing out a fierce blast of fire and smoke. It flapped its wings and swooped down straight at them. They ducked low and the dragon's razor-sharp talons passed just inches over their heads. They leaped up and ran to a nearby phone box to take shelter. They looked out in time to see the dragon tipping into another dive. Rosie and Jack cringed on the floor of the box. There was a loud crash when the dragon landed on the roof. A shower of rust and dust fell on the pair. Now there were scratching and tearing noises as the dragon attacked the roof with beak and claw. With an angry belch of flame it hopped down on to the pavement in front of the door. A jet of searing flame enveloped the box. Jack and Rosie could feel the intense heat and the glazing on the door cracked and shattered. The last of the flame came through the broken window and they could feel their skin burning in places.

Just then, Queen Victoria leaned forward in her niche on the side of the Temple Bar monument. She shouted at the dragon and pointed to the top of the monument. The dragon sulkily flapped back to its perch.

Rosie and Jack rushed over to their cab. "Zeek, can you take us to a doctor. I'm afraid we have been a little singed."

"Of course, my dears. That was a bad one. Lizzie isn't normally anything like as fierce as that. She must 'ave been in a bad mood. Don't worry, I'll get you to a doctor in no time.


Zeek took them to a surgery in the Pentonville Road. Rosie and Jack didn't think it looked much like a surgery -- it looked more like a large, old church. But there was a brass plate on the wall beside the main entrance which announced that these were the premises of Dr Prometheus Thunderboom.

They went in and walked along a corridor with many twists and turns until they reached a large room containing an array of wooden chairs. There was nobody there except for a lady behind a large desk whom they assumed was the receptionist. They crossed to the desk and explained that they had been in a small accident.

"Yes, you both look lightly toasted. Dr Thunderboom will see you as soon as he has a gap. Please take a seat."

They sat down on the other side of the waiting room. "I think we've got ourselves into Weirdville again," Jack said.

"Yes, and we weren't even looking for it this time."

"There aren't any other patients here, so what on earth is this gap we're waiting for?"

Just then something rushed into the waiting room and collided with some of the chairs, sending them crashing. It was a very large dog. It had the look of a Scottish Terrier, but it was five or six times too big, and its coat was striped green, blue, yellow and purple.

"Here we go!" said Rosie. "We've found our next Monopoly piece -- it's a massive scotty dog, and we weren't even looking for it."

The dog had moved to an open area of the room without any chairs. It stood on its hind legs and pirouetted across the room singing with an operatic soprano voice,

"Oh you'll never catch me,
As you will see.
I'm far too clever'
You'll catch me never."

That's our cue, I think," said Jack.

They pulled out their Post-it pads, went to opposite sides of the room and slowly closed in on the dog, who immediately performed a series of cartwheels. When it reached Rosie it leapt high over her outreached Post-it hand and carried on dancing and prancing most athletically round the room. This continued for another five minutes, during which Rosie and Jack never even got close to the scottie. They were both gasping and breathless and the waiting room had become a complete shambles. The receptionist, however, had not even looked up from her book, and seemed completely unaware that anything unusual had happened. Jack and Rosie were used to this by now; she was one of the grey people.

"I did tell you it couldn't be done," said the Scottie in a coquettish voice.

Jack and Rosie got together so that they wouldn't be heard.

"Any ideas?" asked Jack

"Possibly," Rosie said. "Do you have a pen on you?"

"Yes." He passed it to her. "What good will that do?"

"Probably nothing, but it's worth a try." She turned to the dog. "OK, Scottie, you're quite right, we're no match for you. You're too clever and athletic for us."

The dog shouted with glee. "I knew it! I knew it! Have any of the other Monopoly pieces you've hunted beaten you?"

"No only you. We're really so impressed. We'd like to present you with a certificate declaring you the champion."

"Oh, lovely, lovely, lovely! I am the champion." It danced around the room in excitement.

Rosie took Jack to a rack of magazines. "Look through these and see if we can find a fairly blank page."

They had riffled through several magazines when Jack said, "Will this do?" It was a full-page advert with writing at the top and bottom and blank space in between.

"That's great," said Rosie, and she wrote in the blank space:

Signed: Rosie and Jack'

"Now make sure you are standing between the paper and Scotty while I stick several Post-its on the under-side of the certificate."

When she had done this, she walked towards Scotty saying, "Here you are; here's your certificate."

"Stay right where you are. You're not going to catch me out that easily. I'm not stupid, you know. Put the certificate on the floor and back away to the far side of the room -- both of you."

When they had done this, Scotty scrambled through the chairs to the paper. He looked at and sniffed it very suspiciously. "That's good; just as it should be," he said. He picked the certificate up with his mouth. There was a shriek, almost instantly cut off as Scotty disintegrated into tiny fragments.

"Well done, Rosie. That was a brilliant idea. He really was rather a stupid dog, wasn't he?"

"I was banking on it."

"Shall we go, then?"

"Hang on a moment. I'm sure there must be a circus stunt still to come."

Sure enough, they could hear a complicated rhythm being played on a snare drum. At first it was very quiet, but it slowly increased in volume. Then they noticed that little lumps were appearing all over the walls of the waiting room. It was as if the plaster on the walls was made from a rubber skin, and there were hundreds of people behind the walls pushing their fingers in and out of the rubber in time with the drum rhythm. The lumps throbbed revoltingly at them.

As the drum rhythms grew louder, the wall growths grew larger and throbbed and wobbled more fiercely. Now they noticed that these hideous boils were dripping with mucous.

"Oh yuk! That's revolting," said Rosie. But neither of them could bring themselves to leave; they were fascinated as well as repelled.

Suddenly the drums finished with an enormous crash, and the slimy boils all expanded and burst, splashing gunge all over the room. Out of each boil a small scottie puppy dropped to the floor. They all made straight for Jack & Rosie, snarling and squealing. They crowded round them, some trying to climb their legs.

"Let's get out of here," shouted Jack, but Rosie was already doing that. They waded through the mass of puppies, pushing them away with their feet. As they reached the waiting room door, the puppies pulled away from them. It was as if they didn't want to leave the waiting room.

Jack and Rosie ran down the corridor and out into Pentonville Road and Zeek's cab.

"Well, my dears, you look as if you've been 'aving fun in there. But did Dr Thunderboom treat your burns?" said Zeek with a huge grin on his face.

Rosie and Jack felt their faces and hands. There was no trace of soreness. "That's amazing," Jack said. "The burns have vanished. But we didn't even see the doctor."

"Oh yes you did," said Zeek. "That rainbow dog is Dr Prometheus Thunderboom."

"He must have cured us...and we repaid him by sending him to jail."

"Well done, my dears. You still 'ave an unbroken record. That's very good indeed."

"It doesn't feel like it,"

"Oh, come on, Jack. It's a game, remember. Nothing's real. But, come to think of it, this time wasn't like the others. We weren't looking for any Monopoly pieces, and we certainly hadn' t found a link between the scottie dog and Pentonville Road."

"Ah yes! That's where you 'ad a little 'elp from me. I'm allowed to 'elp with that one because very few people would know about that connection. When the building stopped being a church, it was bought by an elderly lady who bred Scottish Terriors in some kennels at the back. When she died it was put up for sale, but there were no buyers -- something to do with the awful doggy smell, apparently. Local folklore 'as it that Dr Prometheus (Scottie) Thunderboom was the only surviving puppy from the old lady's kennels."


"So where next?" asked Zeek.

"Do you have a map of London I could look at?"

"Certainly, Rosie. 'ere you are."

He handed her A Pictorial Map of London. "Have you got an idea for the cannon?" asked Jack. "It's the last Monopoly piece on our list."

"Yes, there's a Canon Row in London. I know Canon Row isn't one of the Monopoly streets. But it might be close to one." She opened the map sheet up. "There isn't an index. Zeek, can you show me where Canon Row is?"

Zeek peered at the map and stabbed it with his finger. "It's that little road just there."

"Yes, look Jack it's just next to one end of Whitehall. It might work, even though it only has one 'n'. Shall we give it a try?"

"Sure, why not."

"OK my dears. 'ere we go."

As they set off, Jack said, "Rosie, how long do you think we've been doing this -- chasing down Monopoly pieces?"

"It must be five or six hours."

"I agree. But look at the sun; it's more or less overhead, just as it was when we first got into Zeek's cab. It looks as if time stops still in this version of London."

"You're right. How weird."

"But it's no weirder than everything else here. Do you feel tired?"

"Not in the least."

"No, nor do I."

"So long as you stay with us you will never stop discovering weirdness," said Zeek.

After another ten minutes, Zeek pulled up at the kerb. "If you turn left down Derby Gate there, then the first on the right is Canon Row."

Jack and Rosie walked to Canon Row and looked around them. All at once a large, black cannon appeared in front of them, arriving from nowhere. Rosie was standing right in front of the muzzle. As she looked down the barrel the black, circular opening warped into a broad smile. "Hullo darling! Come to admire me have you?" She stared, fascinated by the way the black lips twisted themselves round the words. "Put your 'Go To Jail' notes down on the road and come an give me a kiss."

With a glance at Jack, who was stealthily heading towards the back of the gun, Rosie put down her PostIt pad and shimmied to the grotesquely puckered proboscis and gave it a long kiss while stroking the barrel lasciviously.

The cannon collapsed and fizzed into the air.

"It's wonderful what seduction can achieve," said Rosie.

"Yeah! Yeah!" said Jack.

"OK! I expect the show's about to begin." They looked around them.

At opposite ends of the street two armies were drawn up ready for battle. One army was in red uniforms and the other in blue. Behind the infantry and cavalry of each army were massive cannons aligned towards the opposing army. All at once, the cannons started firing with massive explosions and much billowing smoke. The opposing cavalries galloped towards each other.

Soon, all that Jack and Rosie were aware of was utter chaos, constant shouting and screaming and fearsomely loud explosions all around them. Massive holes were blown in buildings along the sides of the street. The building next to them started to collapse. They ran towards the centre of the street, but they were too late. Huge stones and broken bricks fell on top of them. But all this debris fell straight through them and they felt nothing. They found that they were wading through the fallen rubble without feeling any resistance. Once again, as in the Old Kent Road, they were reminded of a projected cine film; it was as if the two of them were the only reality in this weird world.

Knowing that they were invulnerable to any of the utter destruction surrounding them, they just stood and gazed in horror and amazement. The road was deeply laden with the bodies of men and horses and it seemed that very soon there would be no buildings left standing.

Then, as they watched, a strange change came over the pattern of destruction amongst the remaining buildings. Instead of being shattered by cannon balls, the entire townscape seemed to turn to jelly -- melting jelly. The remaining buildings sank with a great sigh -- a great, fluid surge into their own foundations, the remnants merging with each other as would the last wax from a spent candle.

Rosie and Jack gazed around them. There was complete destruction on all sides, reaching to a distant horizon. Only the very occasional broken tooth of brickwork was left to remind them that this was once a great city. They felt that this was no longer a game; it was a hideously grim reality.

Bizarrely, a taxi pulled up beside them. "Get in," Zeek called. "I'll take you 'ome." They drove along what might or might not have once been a road. They noticed that Zeek's cab ploughed through the melted rubble as if it wasn't there, just as they had done amid the destruction in Canon Row.

"Zeek, what will you do now?" said a distraught Rosie. "Your whole world has been destroyed."

"Bless you, my dear. Don't you worry. The moment I have returned you to your world everything will be completely restored in an instant. All ready for the next players of the Monopoly Challenge."

They reached a rare section of intact brickwork. There was a door set into it.

Look Rosie, it's the door to the passage leading back to Wetherspoons."

They got out of the cab and bid fond farewells and thank-yous to Zeek. They pushed open the door to the passage and pulled it to behind them. As the door shut, Jack and Rosie suddenly felt a wave of nausea and dizziness; the both had to lean against the wall to remain upright. Every joint in their bodies seemed to be aching. They both wondered if the efforts of all those hours in the grey world had suddenly caught up with them. They staggered slowly and painfully up the slight gradient.

As they continued up the dark, candlelit passage they saw two people coming cautiously down towards them; they stood to one side to let Jack and Rosie pass.

"Oh that was so creepy," said Jack.

"Yes that was us setting out this morning"

"But don't you remember? When we came down the passage this morning, we stood aside to let a very elderly couple pass."

The implication of what Jack had said crashed into Rosie's head.

"Oh my God! Let's get out of here into the light so that we can see each other."

They hurried as best they might up the passage through the dungeon above. So anxious were they to get into the light that they did not notice that the top-hatted old man had changed into a young boy with a top hat.

Out in the well-lit bar, Jack and Rosie stared at each other, utterly aghast.


This fantasy is based on the London version of the game, Monopoly. It will not spoil your enjoyment if you are not familiar with this version.
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