asmiIMG_1032n notices it first. She points at my chest, a grin spreading across her face. Then I discover the fox excrement on the front of my hoodie.


As I brush the muck away with the back of my sleeves, she throws her backpack under the gate and crawls after it avoiding what remains of the muck.

‘This is literally crap, isn’t it?’ I say.

‘You stink, man. Do you reckon anyone is here?’

She swings her bag onto her back, releasing several strands of her pink hair from underneath her hood. I pick up my own bag and pray that the stain will come out in the wash. This is not how I want Yasmin to see me but if she stains her McBusted hoodie she’ll be heartbroken.

The gate labelled London Pleasure Gardens leads to a disused factory. I scan the building’s forecourt but fail to find evidence of anyone else being here.  I’m about to say so but Yasmin begins to speak and you don’t interrupt Yasmin when she’s speaking.

‘I heard, right, that they filmed a horror movie here called Run from the Dead. I mean, it wasn’t zombies or werewolves or anything like that. Just serial killers and stuff.’

I’ve never seen the film but that’s not surprising. Yasmin spends most of her free time watching obscure films on her laptop. She keeps encouraging me to watch them and I try but they’re too slow and I end up turning them off after twenty minutes.

‘No Graham?’ I ask. Graham is the modern day reincarnation of Adonis. Six foot three Beard. Massive hair. Big biceps. Yasmin’s boyfriend.

‘No, he’s not coming.’ The sharpness in her voice warns me against asking more questions.

We approach the warehouse.  A quick Google search revealed the gate was part of a circus that was closed within a month. The factory used to be a flour mill in the early 1900s and closed in the fifties.  All of the windows have been smashed. Graffiti has been scrawled on the walls, the words are illegible but if anything it is a testament to the security here. Rain water overflows from the gutters and pigeons flutter through holes in the slanted roof. I take one look at the front door and declare that we can’t go through it because A) The wood has swollen so we would have to kick it down and B) I don’t want to fail and look like a wuss, plus it’s a criminal offence. Instead we circle the building searching for another entrance.


Yasmin fishes her phone out of her pocket. I suggest we stick close to the building to avoid getting ensnared in the weeds surrounding it. There’s a broken window on the first floor, mockingly out of reach.

‘If we drag that bin over here we could climb up,’ I suggest but Yasmin doesn’t answer. Her fingers move at something resembling the speed of light over her phone’s keyboard.

‘Yeah. Do that.’

There’s no question as to who the text is from.

I shove the bin through the weeds and tell Yasmin to keep a lookout. She doesn’t, her phone pings again and she becomes too preoccupied with answering. The bin’s wheels are encrusted with rust. By the time I’ve shunted it under the window I’m covered in sweat.


I climb onto the bin, roll up my sleeves and smash away the loose shards of glass. I can’t see much in the gloom. Cobwebs coat the remaining windows, the spiders scuttle away and up above the pigeons flutter, disturbed by the noise.

‘Go on, then.’

Yasmin’s scowling at me. I saw her shouting at an ex-boyfriend once and honest to God I’ve never been more scared in my life. I clamber through the window frame. It feels like I’ve entered a disused cathedral. There are holes in the ceiling that allow me glimpses of the room above. Crates have been stacked against the walls.  I run my hands along the floorboards. They’re warped and rotting.

‘Watch your step,’ I say as Yasmin climbs inside.

She pulls her camera out of her bag. ‘Graham’s definitely not coming.’

‘Is he working?’ I ask.

‘Nah, just said he couldn’t come.’

That’s another thing. They both have jobs. Graham works in a bakery and Yasmin works in Primark. I do go CV dropping every weekend but no joy yet. I heard Yasmin say once she likes rich men but I couldn’t tell if she was joking or not. Still, a job wouldn’t hurt.

I shine the torch on my phone around the room. Yasmin begins to take pictures for her blog. She wants to photograph as many disused buildings as she can before moving back to Wales after Uni. I can see what she means about a horror film being made here. She claims she found a homeless guy in an abandoned tube tunnel once and that he chased her back to the surface.

‘How’s your Grindr account going?’ she asks.

‘Tinder and I’ve not been on it.’

‘Why not?’

‘Dunno, can’t be arsed, really.’ The only girl I want to be with is her.

‘We’ll get someone for you, don’t worry.’

‘They’ll just friend zone me.’

‘I was talking about that the other day, actually.’


Now we’ve moved away from the light of the window, Yasmin’s black hoodie renders her almost invisible. Thankfully the darkness also hides the shit stain on my front.

We reach a staircase. The stairs above us don’t look safe and that’s the first rule of urban exploration, always stay safe. Yasmin pushes past me and descends the stairs. I aim my phone at the cobwebs that brush against her hood. A spider scurries down her back but thankfully Yasmin doesn’t feel it.

‘So yeah. The friend zone doesn’t exist,’ she says.

I scoff. The sound echoes around the staircase. Yasmin turns around and I’m sure she’s scowling at me again.

‘Think about it,’ she says, ‘you become friends. He or she is a nice person.  You’re attracted to them but they’re not attracted to you. So you go and slag them off. Oh, they friendzoned me, they friendzoned me. Stop whining. It’s not their fault they don’t find you attractive. It’s no one’s fault unless you’re a real ugly bastard and even then. If you go and slag them off-boom – you lose yourself a friend. It’s so stupid.’

The problem with arguing with Yasmin is that she’s so smart it’s hard to remember why she’s wrong.

We tread down the flight of stairs that end opposite the front doors. I might have been able to kick them down, actually, but it would still have been a criminal offence. At a guess I would say this used to be a lobby. Aside from the remains of a desk that have been dumped against a crumbling wall the room is empty. Doorways, draped in spiders’ webs lead to other parts of the building.

‘Think about it from the boy’s point of view, though.’

Yasmin takes a picture of the lobby before we set foot in the layer of dust


‘Well, if he likes her a lot and she rejects him, he’s going to get pretty pissed isn’t he?’

‘Not her problem.’

I shrug. When Yasmin thinks she’s right no one can change her mind.


She approaches one of the doorways as I run my fingers along the desk. I’m debating if I should write my name when I hear her shriek.

There’s a rat in the middle of the adjoining room. The creature stares at us before crawling into a hole between the floorboards.

‘Did you see it, Jason?’ she squeals, ‘It was huge!’

I laugh because it wasn’t huge at all. ‘Awh, you scared of a little mouse?’

‘That’s not funny! It wasn’t a mouse and it was bloody massive.’


If someone is here, like a tramp or something, we would have heard them by now.

Yasmin steps into the side room.


I open my mouth to shout but the cloud of dust that surrounds Yasmin gets sucked into my throat and I end up in a coughing fit. By the time I recover she’s vanished.


No answer. Then I spot the fissure in the floor.


Dust and dirt sprinkles on her as I move around the hole. Yasmin lies with her arms out, her hood covering most of her face. Her lower body is out of my sight buried beneath rubble. She’s landed in a basement of some sort.

I think I can see blood trickling down her chin.


I stumble into a room that looks like an underground car park but reminds me of a tomb. Concrete pillars support the roof every ten meters. Broken machine parts have been piled into a corner. The air is stuffy. The only light comes from my IPhone.

I spot Yasmin halfway across the room. She moans as I sprint towards her, my footfalls echoing off the stone walls.

‘Jason,’ she croaks. I pull back her hood.

Her face is caked in blood. Her left leg is at a strange angle under a fallen pillar but I can’t tell if it’s due to the way she landed or if it’s broken.

‘Okay. Don’t move, don’t move.’ I never took a first aid course but I’ve seen a lot of documentaries about doctors on TV. You need to keep the person talking so they don’t drift unconscious.

I know you’re not meant to move an injured person but if anything else falls on her…


‘I’m going to dig you free, okay? Then we’re going outside to call an ambulance.’ Yasmin says something in return but erupts into a coughing fit. I scoop at the debris around the stone pillar careful to avoid her legs.

What if I can’t move it? What if she’s stuck? What if –

I ignore the voice in my head and lift the pillar as far as I can. Yasmin crawls back several inches before she yelps in pain.

‘You need to move further,’ I say as though it’s her fault. ‘Again.’

This time her backpack becomes wedged under her. I throw it aside.

‘Again.’ I lift the pillar, my muscles burning against the weight. Yasmin claws her way along the floor, out of the rubble. I drop the pillar with a thump that echoes around the room.

She pulls up her jeans and examines her legs. That’s good, if they were broken she would be screaming. I place one of her arms over my shoulder and lift her up.


She nods and I carry her toward the stairs.

I kick open the front door and we stagger into the sunlight.

‘Careful,’ she snaps as the door swings back at us. ‘Just put me down here.’

I set her down in the forecourt.  ‘Do you want a shot of the building with the front door missing?’

‘My camera’s broken.’

‘Oh.’ I pull off my hoodie, it’s caked in dirt, dust and cobwebs. Yasmin doesn’t look much better.

‘Phone Graham. Tell him to pick me up.’ She hands me her phone.

Ping! One new message: Graham.

‘Clear that stupid text, will you?’

The screen on her phone is broken and it takes me several attempts to enter her password.

You want me to bring pizza tonight?

The text makes me pause. Graham is actually being nice.

‘What are you waiting for? Here, I’ll do it.’ She snatches her phone. ‘I can’t believe I’m going to be late for Josie’s party.’

Party? How can you go to a party? You’ve just fallen through a floor.

‘Babe, it’s me. Listen, I need your help.’

Why didn’t she let me take her to the gate at least? I could have done that.

‘What? No, no one. Just Jason.’

Just Jason?

‘We’re at the Millennium Mills, near West Silvertown DLR station. Come pick me up, yeah? I need you.’

I think of all her ex’s. Rugby players, footballers…

‘No I’m fine, honestly. See you soon, yeah? Love you too.’

Yasmin hangs up the phone. ‘He’s on his way to take me to the party. You’ll have to take the bus home.’


An awkward silence follows, Yasmin taps into her phone and I sit next to her, contemplating. After twenty minutes a car horn bellows from the gate. Graham steps out of his car, he’s wearing a suit complete with a scarlet tie. Yasmin scrabbles to her feet and I help her hop towards him, my hoodie slung across my shoulder.

‘How am I going to explain why my clothes are so dirty to my parents?’ I ask.

‘Don’t be so childish, you’ll think of something. I just fell through a fucking floor and you don’t see me complaining.’

Her anger surprises me. I’m only trying to help.

It takes her several minutes to calm Graham down when he sees her limp and several more to explain what happened. After she has crawled under the gate Graham carries her to his car and lowers her into the passenger seat.

‘Thanks for helping,’ he says to me switching on the engine. I crawl under the gate and watch him reverse the car onto the main road.

As Yasmin plants a kiss on his cheek, I realise something.

Yasmin only phoned me because Graham couldn’t come.

‘I’ll text you later on, yeah?’ she shouts from the window.

I nod and allow my smile to fade as Graham pulls away.