She could hear the air raid siren in the distance, the incessant tolling a warning to all about what was to come. There'd been raids before, strikes on the city to instil fear into its occupants, but no-one had any idea what this one would hold.
" All the inhabitants are secure Father" Helen Magnus reported in her father's office after she'd completed the air raid lockdown. The abnormals were getting used to being ushered back to their habitats and secured behind steel and stone lest the bombers return. The Sanctuary was secure and ready, waiting for what they hoped would never eventuate.
" Thank you Helen, would you like some tea?" Gregory offered, indicating the seat opposite his desk and an unused teacup on the tea setting in front of him. The staff knew better than to supply only one cup, the father and daughter regularly sharing tea. Helen slipped into the offered chair, folding her legs underneath her and accepting the now full teacup.
" You seem troubled my dear" Gregory probed, sensing his daughters turbulent thoughts through her facial expression.
" Harry... he seemed more agitated than usual, and Gerald was refusing to go into his habitat. I have a feeling they know this raid will be different" Helen explained, unable to ignore the gnawing in her stomach. The tea helped settle her, to soothe her troubled mind. The air raid siren cut through the silence like a knife.
A dull droning could be heard in the distance, a constant drumroll of turbines and engines miles above the city. The sound grew closer, louder until one could wear they were overhead. Helen rose quickly and stepped over to the darkened window, a symbol of the enforced blackouts. She peeked through the dark window dressings and gasped.
" Bombers" She whispered, unable to tear her eyes from the dark shapes in the evening sky.
The planes came and left, raining the city with hundreds and thousands of small metal cylinders that exploded in phosphorescent fire as soon as they impacted. It sounded like a heavy hail, the sharp and loud 'ting' as they struck the iron rooves of London's buildings. Those with stone or tiled rooves were not so lucky, the incendiaries shattering the stone as though it were glass and raining down on whatever was underneath. Small fires broke out instantly, creeping through furnishings and wall coverings until it latched onto the buildings structure and began its work in earnest.
" What in heaven's name!" Gregory exclaimed as one of the incendiaries landed in front of them, piercing a hole through a weak point in the roof and plunging onto the floor of his office. They both stood transfixed by the flickering light before them before the hissing of the rug catching fire broke their trance.
Helen grabbed a tall vase full of stunning pink roses, yanking the flowers out and tossing them on the floor before stepping as close as she dared and emptying the slightly green water onto the fire. It subsided slightly, enough for her to take hold of the end of the large rug and roll it over the now small fire. Smothering it, cutting off its oxygen supply. She stood... hands trembling as the implication swept through the house. This was war.
" Dr Magnus! Fire!" One of the servants burst into the room, skidding to a stop before taking in the rolled up smoking rug. " Oh dear Lord, its everywhere!"
" Calm Percy, you mustn't call the fire department, they mustn't know what creatures we have here. Arm yourselves with hoses and buckets, let us save our home. Quickly now!" Gregory instructed, leaving Helen to deal with the smouldering rug on her own. She was more than capable to dealing with the more or less contained fire. Helen rushed to the kitchen, pulling out two buckets and filling them with as much water as she could carry. She stumbled back to her father's office, laden down with the heavy water, her skirt tangling around her ankles as the material dampened with the spills. What she wouldn't give for a pair of coveralls right about now.
Finally back in the office she put one of the buckets down and unrolled the now smoking rug. There must have been oxygen getting in there somewhere for the fire not to have been extinguished fully. As the rug stretched out again revealing its deadly cargo. The incendiary sputtered back to life with the influx of fresh air, the flames once again threatening to take hold.
" Not on my watch" Helen spat as she dumped the first bucket of water on the rug, returning the flames to a sizzling mess of charcoal and heat. She waited a moment before dumping the second bucket on it as well, ignoring the mess it was making on the carpet. She had no doubt the carpet would be the least of her father's concerns right about now.
Stepping back she surveyed her handiwork, watching the sizzling slow and cease as the chemical reaction slowed to a standstill. She had won this small battle, how many more of them were there?
The still slightly parted drapes caught her attention and she couldn't resist the alluring pull of the ghastly image peeking through the darkness. Everywhere fires were burning. London was burning. No blackout could have made any difference with half the city on fire, each building its own torch, a beacon to the Germans to return. One by one the city architecture that had stood for hundreds of years began to burn, the old oak timbers like kindling to the blaze, in turn burning brighter.
It was the beginning of the end.