Picture by Kake Pugh: Canada Water Station
Sure, build your station in the shape of a a giant drum. Even call it a drum when you write about it in the architecture magazines, if you like: go on! Tempt that fate! But don’t pretend you have anyone to blame but yourself when a titan takes you at your word.
Kreios is thousands of years old, many metres tall, and half-blind, but the sound of construction on the new Canada Water library draws him to the area, and the giant drum keeps him there. He plays in time to the jackhammers. It’s pretty loud.
It gets louder over the course of the morning: the beeping of trucks and the burr of poured rubble only encourages Kreios to play faster. The neighbours complain, of course, but Kreios is (a) immortal, and (b) really really big, so the police just call to him through a megaphone for a fruitless thirty minutes and then tape the area off. Surely he’ll get bored and go away in an hour or two.
“WOOO!” Kreios yells, after a particularly triumphant drum roll, then settles back down into a steady beat. He has the air of someone who can keep this up all day, which is indeed what he does; he’s still going when the station fills with workers on their way home.
Nothing’s changed when they come back in the morning.
“He’s definitely louder when the builders are at it,” says the deputy station manager, which is technically true, but nobody can hear her say it.
“We’ve got to do something,” says the station manager, equally inaudible.
After a week, someone takes action: the TFL website is updated to warn of severe titans at Canada Water, and all staff are issued with earplugs. The deputy manager frowns, and pulls a notepad from her pocket. “Doesn’t he ever sleep?” she writes, and passes it to the station manager.
“Apparently not,” he writes in reply.
Still, they’re an adaptable lot, and after a few weeks they get used to it; in fact station efficiency improves slightly, in the absence of any opportunity for gossip or a quiet mug of coffee. Meanwhile the builders carry on working over the weekends and into the evenings, trying to finish off the library as soon as possible, hoping that without their accompaniment Kreios will grow bored.
Finally, on a warm summer evening, the last touches are put in place, the last crane rolled away. Kreios drums solemnly through the night, and the staff gather to watch him as dawn breaks. Through the day they listen. He’s still drumming, but slower and slower, by noon: without the sound of the construction work, there’s nothing to keep him going. By the middle of the afternoon, it’s the quietest he’s been since he arrived.
The sun is setting when Kreios finally trails off and turns his head, squints his pale eyes at the space where his accompaniment used to come from. A four-storey flat-roofed library sits, unmoving, silent.
He turns back to the station, then back to the library. He stands up, lumbering, and tilts his head to one side; then squats down.
Sarah holds her breath.
“BONGOS!” Kreios yells, and his smile is the happiest smile that anyone has ever seen.