Flash Flood
watched as two parents, up to their waists in water in a half-submerged capsule, struggled to lift their three young children onto their shoulders. The official escort in the navy London Eye uniform was frantically searching for a window that opened.
    Further up, other passengers started to notice the panicking passengers below. They hammered on the glass with cameras and shoes, until the whole wheel looked like a grotesque mobile, a painting of hell, the pods swinging as people tried to escape from their glass prisons.
    The glass in one of the higher pods sprayed out in a shower. A figure in a red cagoule hurtled out into theair – feet first, nose held as if anticipating the plunge into the water. Another followed, legs and arms cycling in the air as if he had lost control of them. The figure in the red cagoule hit the water. The other figure splashed down soon after.
    Slowly Ben raised the binoculars and watched.
    The jumpers had underestimated the fierce current. He saw flailing arms rise briefly above the choppy surface, already being carried away from the Eye like twigs caught in a whirlpool. Once again, he lowered the binoculars, but he could still see the small helpless figures. They were swept towards the concrete walls of the ArBonCo Centre. He didn’t see them hit, but he did see the tide suck them away again. When it did they were unmoving, lifeless.
    Ben felt sick. He put the binoculars down on the window ledge and turned away.
    Strange – if he looked at the room, it was as if nothing had happened. Outside the windows, the sky was the same grey as it had been before. The carpets, the easy chairs, the low tables all looked so everyday. The only thing that was odd was that all the lights had gone out.
    What should he do? Hide up here? It seemed nice and safe and normal.
    And then the creeping fear began to steal up on Ben as well. He began to notice the sounds. No, it was not normal. Car and burglar alarms shrieked from the streets below. And there was another sound: muffled shouts and screams. Once he became aware of them, Ben couldn’t block them out. They filled him with fear, just as the people in the London Eye had transmitted their panic to each other, reverberating through the spokes of that giant wheel.
    He didn’t want to stay here alone.

Chapter Nine
     
    In the middle of the gallery was a green EXIT sign and a pair of fire doors.
    Ben ran for them. He snatched the doors open and started to run down the white marble-tiled stairwell. Somewhere below him, he heard running footsteps – so many that it was like distant machine-gun fire. And shouting and screaming, louder now. He went down past one door, then another, then another. Floor after floor went by. The sounds grew louder. Ben kept his hand on the black handrail, counting down the floors, swinging round and round as he went. Floor five … four … three.
    He caught up with a small group of people, who barely looked at him, all intent on getting out. They were half jogging down the stairs, not daring to run fast but too frightened to walk.
    When they reached the second floor, they saw a man wearing a red armband printed with the words FIRE MARSHAL. He was waving people in through the open fire door, like a policeman directing traffic.
    Ben caught a glimpse of something further down the stairwell. Something black, glossy and moving. The building was full of water. He wondered with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach whether Cally was still down there.
    ‘In here, please,’ said the fire marshal, and Ben obeyed.
    It was a big, open-plan room, which took up nearly the entire floor of the building. It was full of people sitting in chairs, on desks, leaning against the window ledges. They looked calm and orderly, all waiting patiently. The ones who had just arrived were joining a queue and filing past another fire marshal, who was ticking off names on a list.
    Ben joined the queue. He felt better now that hewas with people, reassured by

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