Nephilim Quest 1.1. In The Shadow of War

Nephilim Quest 1.1. In The Shadow of War


The baby did not cry. It listened to the sirens, eyes as round as plates. The Luftwaffe was bombing London, again. People had lost count of how many consecutive days they had been running for the shelters with the rising and falling scream of the siren filling their ears, sweeping them onwards like terrified animals towards a place of refuge.

"Come along, Miss, 'Itler's not going to wait for you, dear!" The ARP warden took her by the elbow to encourage her along with the others. Then he saw the baby in her arms. "Sorry, Madam! But please, hurry up do, missis!" 

The story begins during the Blitz - or the Blitzkrieg, “lightning war”. The Germans bombed England during the Second World War in 1940 and 1941. From 1940 the Luftwaffe, the German airforce, bombed London systematically from September 7 onwards for 57 consecutive days and nights.

The most important communal shelters for the population were the London Underground stations.

All in all the bombing continued for eight months and 43,000 civilians were killed.

London Blitz September 9 1940

A picture taken after the bombings of London on 9 September 1940. (Source: Wikimedia Commons, picture in public domain)


She reached for her winter coat hanging by the door, leaving the door slightly open. An ARP warden came round the corner, spotted the chink of light and yelled "Oy! Put that bleedin' light out!" Quickly wrapping her coat around her like a cloak, she stepped outside closing the door behind her. The grocery boy's sister opened the coat enough to take a look of her bulging form, measuring it with a pair of knowing eyes.

Blackout regulations were imposed already at the start of WW II, on 1 September 1939. All windows and doors were to be covered in such a way no light could escape, as that might help the enemy planes target their bombing.

The blackout was enforced by ARP (Air Raid Precautions) wardens patrolling around to make sure people followed the rules. Penalties for not doing so were strict.

The darkness on the streets was such that accidents were prone to happen (not to mention the increase in crime rates). In this picture a woman is buying a luminous pin to wear on her jacket lapel at Selfridge's, 1940. People wore such badges so other pedestrians and motorists would see them better in the darkness.

(Original photograph by the Imperial War Museum, copyright expired as it was taken before 1 June 1957)


She had her answer the day one of the shadows materialised inside the old lady's house. She returned from the kitchen with a tea tray for the old lady, and saw her sitting in her armchair, tenderly holding the baby. She was crooning an old nursery rhyme to the child.

"Bye Baby Bunting, Daddy's gone a hunting, to get a little rabbit skin to keep a Baby Bunting in..." The absurd words rang in her brain and would not go away.

Bye, Bay Bunting is an old nursery rhyme. A version of it was published in 1731 in England. Songs of the Nursery (1805) had longer lyrics:

Bye, baby Bunting,
Father's gone a-hunting,
Mother's gone a-milking,
Sister's gone a-silking,
Brother's gone to buy a skin
To wrap the baby Bunting in.

"Bunting" is a term of endearment, and it may also mean "plump".

This funny drawing based on the rhyme was originally created by William Wallace Denslow in 1902. (Picture: Wikimedia commons)


 "I need to go out and try to find something to eat. I heard of a place that has some meat and we've still got coupons." She tried to sound calm. "I'll take the baby with me."

From Wikipedia:

"To deal with sometimes extreme shortages, the Ministry of Food instituted a system of rationing. To buy most rationed items, each person had to register at chosen shops and was provided with a ration book containing coupons. The shopkeeper was provided with enough food for registered customers. Purchasers had to present ration books when shopping so that the coupon or coupons could be cancelled as these pertained to rationed items. Rationed items had to be purchased and paid for as usual, although their price was strictly controlled by the government and many essential foodstuffs were subsidised; rationing restricted what items and what amount could be purchased as well as what they would cost."

Civilian rationing: A shopkeeper cancels the coupons in a British housewife's ration book in 1943


"They were waiting for her under the notice with the underground sign and text that read "This way to the air raid shelter". People ran right by them, not paying any attention to the shadowy mist that was darkening and swirling by the gaping entrance to the Underground. It was as though they did not see the creatures at all."


"(UK government) decided to close the short section of Piccadilly line from Holborn to Aldwych, and convert different sections for specific wartime use, including a public air raid shelter at Aldwych. Floodgates were installed at various points to protect the network should bombs breach the tunnels under the Thames, or large water mains in the vicinity of stations. Seventy-nine stations were fitted with bunks for 22,000 people, supplied with first aid facilities and equipped with chemical toilets. 124 canteens opened in all parts of the tube system. Shelter marshals were appointed, whose function it was to keep order, give first aid and assist in case of the flooding of the tunnels."

Picture from the Wikimedia:

The London Underground As Air Raid Shelter, London, England, 1940
People sheltering from air raids line the platform and tracks at Aldwych Underground Station in London. A row of coats can be seen hanging on the wall.

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