The water laps against the edges of the canal bank and pours through the sluice gates in a foaming black stream in the darkness.
It's the early hours of Monday morning, and the upstream locks are being drained. 3.27 am. Dead time. A weekly event now. Probably nightly, but I only come out on Sunday nights, just to try to convince myself that it isn't real.
Over the course of Sunday night and early Monday morning, the clean-up teams are short-handed, so the locks empty unsupervised, and for a few hours there's no one on hand to fish the bodies out of the foetid mud, clean the blood off the tow-paths, and drag the torched bones out of the trees and off the power-lines feeding the overground rail.
I've never managed to get into the tube access tunnels. I'm told that I wouldn't want to. I made it part way to the abandoned platform at Highgate once, slipping through a gate left unlocked by a careless maintenance team. Hard to make out much in the darkness, for all that it's not underground. Just wooden crates and the smell of... well, you're probably getting the gist here.
They don't know where to put the bodies anymore, and half the time they're having to just rely on people not believing what they see, because there's no way in a hundred hells that they can get to all of them before anyone else does.
The sky doesn't look right anymore.
It's like something out of a movie from the eighties... Highlander maybe? The sky in this film was criss-crossed by the glow of an artificially reinforced atmosphere.
The sky here isn't exactly like that, but it still looks fake. Shows up worst in winter and autumn, although we're getting past that now, and it still looks false some of the time.
Some days it's all white clouds on blue, but the perspective isn't right, and if you stare at it long enough the patterns start repeating, like it's back-projected. And at night, particularly in the city centre and near the airports, you can see clipping errors, the effect amplified by the magnifing effect of air-bourne pollutants.
Sometimes the stars glitch. A couple of months ago they went out completely, section by section in a cloudless sky, like streetlights failing.
In the end there were no stars, no clouds, no moon, nothing. Just the lights of aircraft and buildings, and the occasional light-reflection illuminating contrails.
It was over 40 minutes before the stars came back, all at once, slow flickers at first like dying neon.