CREATIVE João Morais

NWR Issue 116

Smugglers' Tunnel

Gwil pressed the looking-glass indent and it let off a weak light, and the numbers said 11.45. He kept on walking and saw the rotten struts stopping the earth and stone from falling on his head, and he walked and kept pressing the looking-glass indent until the numbers said 11.51. He came to a hatch and a stop.

The hatch was small and covered in wood and turf, and he would have to crouch to get through. He could hear voices but they were far away and he heard a whispering roar which wouldn’t end. He made the sign of the cross once more and hoped that whoever or whatever lay on the other side, whether it was Madoc or some other agent of doom, would do him no harm.

He crouched through and came out near a castle, but it was huge and it couldn’t be Cardiff Castle because it was brand new and clean and he was standing in a moat of grass. He turned and he was looking at the Rummer, but there in front of it was a stream of sealed traps and carts, and they moved as fast as a coach and six, but they required no footman nor horse and the wheels were small and silver and black.
What in the name of God was going on he didn’t know. It was nothing but sorcery.

He climbed out of the grass moat and the whole town was paved, and he looked to the Green Dragon but it was called the Burger King and he looked to the left, and where the Greyfriars should stand was a building so tall it must have been as high as St Pauls, and where Crockherbtown Lane started was nothing but an iron man on a plinth and there were people, hundreds and hundreds of people, and they were of all colours and races and all dressed in trousers of blue whether man or woman and almost all without hats or bonnets and staring into looking-glasses like the one in his inside pocket.

It was gone. Everything he had known was gone.

João Morais lives in Cardiff. He has recently completed a PhD in Creative Writing at Cardiff University. He has previously been shortlisted for the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition, the Percy French Prize for Comic Verse, and the All Wales Comic Verse Award. He won the 2013 Terry Hetherington Prize for Young Writers. He has a short story collection due out next year with Parthian. ‘Smugglers’ Tunnel’, from which this is an extract, was longlisted earlier this year in the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella.

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