Authors: Craig Robertson
During his twenty-year career in Glasgow with a Scottish Sunday newspaper, Craig Robertson interviewed three Prime Ministers and attended major stories including 9/11,
Dunblane, the Omagh bombing and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. He was pilloried on breakfast television, beat Oprah Winfrey to a major scoop, spent time on Death Row in the USA and
dispensed polio drops in the backstreets of India. His debut novel,
, was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger and was a
Also by Craig Robertson
The Last Refuge
Witness the Dead
First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2015
A CBS company
Copyright Â© Craig Robertson, 2015
This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission.
Â® and Â© 1997 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to
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To my much-loved grandmother,
Mary Robertson 1915â2015
This city is what it is because our citizens are what they are.
23 October, Glasgow, Friday night
Remy Feeks always felt his heart beat a wee bit faster when he took that first step. It didn't matter whether it was up a ladder, through a fence or into a tunnel like
now. The first step was the no-going-back step. It was the one that meant it had begun.
It didn't mean he was scared. He
but it wasn't that. Not just that. A little bit of fear was natural anyway. Sensible, too. Going into the unknown was supposed to be
frightening. And thrilling. Exhilarating. Liberating. All those things and more. It was why he did what he did.
He shuffled down the bank until he stood in the water, feeling the pinch of cold even through the toes of his waders. Standing still for a few moments, he enjoyed the anticipation and tried to
get his head round it. He was going to walk back in time, nearly one hundred and fifty years, deep into the heart of old Glasgow. It was a walk that only maybe a handful of people had ever done.
And the good bit, the great bit, was that he couldn't be sure where he'd end up. Or even if he'd come out at the other end.
Deep breath. First step. Heart thumping. Go.
He stepped into the tunnel, the Molendinar Burn at his feet and Victorian Glasgow somewhere in front of him. Man, this was going to be awesome.
With just one step, the city was above his head, out of sight and almost out of mind. Or maybe he was out of his. He laughed, knowing full well how crazy some people would think he was. The
chances were they were right but being their kind of sane was a hell of a boring life.
Remy worked in a supermarket. A bloody supermarket. Four good Highers had qualified him to round up trolleys that lazy sods couldn't be bothered putting back in the right place. Hefting a
couple of dozen of them back to the front of the store a thousand times a day was like putting your soul in a car crusher. He knew all about living life the boring way. No reason for him to spend
his free time living it like that too.
The stream turned from neon-dappled brown to murky and dark in an instant. No going back. Just on. To wherever the hell it was.
The beginning of the road to this unknown hell was Duke Street, near to the old Great Eastern Hotel. Or rather, underneath it all. He loved the fact that somewhere above his head people were
tumbling in and out of pubs, going into bookies and shops, walking to ordinary places, and they had no idea that he was doing his thing beneath their feet. That was the kick.
His old man had told him all about the Molendinar, how the burn was here before Glasgow was. St Mungo came to the dear green place, a wood beside the burn, and founded the settlement that grew
to become the second city of the empire. His dad knew all that stuff. He was a welder but history was his thing. That and his son were about the only thing he loved more than his twenty-pack of
Embassy Regal. And it wasn't the history that had nearly killed him.
He'd told Remy how the Molendinar used to mark the eastern boundary of the city and how it provided the water that powered the mills that industrialized the revolution. It split the
cathedral from the Necropolis, separating life from death, and had the Bridge of Sighs built above it so that corpses could be carted into the cemetery. Glasgow grew on the back of the burn but it
grew so much that it didn't have room for it any more. In the 1870s, they covered it with a culvert and hid the Molendinar from view. Now it still flowed but under Duke Street, along the
length of Wishart Street next to the cathedral, under Glasgow.
Hardly anyone knew it was there and fewer still knew that there was a way in. That was what made it fun. And what made it scary.
He was enjoying this. The rush, the edge, the adventure. He'd thought of doing it for ages, after he'd heard about the one guy that was known to have done it before him. Another guy
like him. Another guy who did this.
The tunnel took a sharp turn to the right, a fine curve of stone wall facing him as he ducked under the arch. Rectangular slabs of old stone, two feet by one, perfectly laid. His nose was
filling up with the smell, stale and musky. It was the pungent, beautiful smell of decay.
You maybe wouldn't think that was something you would like, right? Takes all sorts. It's nothing weird. It just smelled of the history of the city. His city. His old man's
city. You could smell every year of it.
The arch of the ceiling was less than a foot above his head but he enjoyed the luxury of that while he could. He knew it would get a lot lower. Maybe so low that he wouldn't be able to get
through. Time would tell. The stone slabs gave way to brick showing orange and white and grey in the beam of the torchlight. The burn flowed over his ankles, cold as the grave.
The first time he'd done an explore, he'd climbed high rather than hit a tunnel and it had scared him enough that he'd nearly crapped himself. He'd started off full of
courage that was poured from a tap in the Hielan Jessie but that beer buzz evaporated in an instant when he realized just how high the roof of the cathedral was. High enough to die from,
that's how high. For five long minutes, he'd clung on to the one spot, petrified. It wasn't until he was back on the ground and in one piece that he breathed and told himself
he'd enjoyed it.
But all the next day, he was buzzing in a way that no amount of beer had ever done for him. He'd actually done that. And it felt fucking good. From then on he was hooked.
This explore was everything Remy had wanted it to be. The buzz ran through him like he'd known it would. Like a charge. Like drugs. Like something you couldn't resist even if you
The brick lining changed to concrete, low stuff that had him bent double and his pulse throbbing. It was a good fear though, he told himself. Sensible. He went on because it was what he did. No
going back after that first step.
Jesus Christ. Steel piping. He never expected that. A glistening silver tunnel that spiralled in front of him, the water golden at his feet. It was almost mirrored as the steel walls threw
corrugated images from one to the other. Man, this was a mindbender. It was like he was tripping and maybe, in his own way, he was.