Act I – 7 Alleys

It all starts here; a crate opened in April that bore the message ‘Acts of Wanton Wonder are coming.

After transporting everything across to our HQ and starting investigations, one of the crates was found to contain a bottle with a riddle inside. With help from Facebook followers, we were able to work out the answer; 7 Alleys, East Park. But would people join us to find out what lay beyond?

Plenty of people had seen the Land of Green Ginger mark around East Park, as well as the beautiful horses and carriage parading around the area and dropping invitations off. The crates had also been less unpredictable since we moved them to East Park from the Freedom Centre, which seemed to indicate we’d done the right thing. We just hoped our instincts would be right and the 7 Alleys would choose to reveal themselves to us in some way.

The Search for the 7 Alleys

May 3 – 6

Holderness Road quietened slightly and the sun started to drop behind the trees. East Park became suddenly eerily still; a family packed up their picnic, children started the slow walk home with footballs under their arms and school in the morning.

People gathered at the gates, talking amongst themselves and trying to get a glimpse into the park beyond. Our last-minute preparations were now in place, but nerves were still frayed; what if we’d got it wrong? What if nothing appeared and people – including us – had to go home disappointed?

When the gates opened, everyone gathered in a semi-circle, nervous and unsure. Some of them had invites from the 7 Alleys themselves, others had learned through word of mouth, Facebook and twitter that something would hopefully be happening here this week.

The last of the sun disappeared and people talked amongst themselves in hushed voices. Then we heard hooves trotting, cantering, galloping; we all turned to look, pushing through each other as two black horses made the approach. They pulled a carriage behind them, a violin player playing solemnly on the back.

Some people were lucky to be chosen to ride in the carriage, and the remaining thousands waited until the signal was given, beginning the long journey through the line of trees. Some people moved away to take photographs of themselves against the lights and some stopped to observe the searchers on the grass before melting back into the crowd. Eventually we came together, the cold and mist woven between us, and waited to see what would happen next.

The last person filtered eventually into the next world. Tall structures punctured the skyline, figures only just visible in the dark. People pulled jumpers around themselves, and held their children’s hands a little tighter.

The 7 Alleys were now open.

There was a drumming beat of music and we craned our necks to look up at the blacksmith and his endless, showering fire. This is our gang, it told us. We are forged here. But who dared to steal fire from the dragon’s lair?

Barely time to catch our breath before being invited to run the second alley gauntlet. Another dare – this time, don’t disturb the sleep of the hanging smuggler in the rising mist.

The third took us to the sea, the Humber estuary, to a violent storm and lives lost. Did we know where the cargo was swallowed up, where it now lies?

The phantom train swerved violently through the fourth alley with the end in touching distance. Would make it home? We held our nerve, took a deep breath and set sail for magic.

Then Bubblegum Boy was there. We held him in the light of the moon, balloon at the ready, but never looking him in the eye. A hundred hands lifted up, globes ready to take on the sky and fly. And then they were gone, invisible dots going who knows where.

Prison wall loomed, towers spiking the gloom – would we jump and climb? And what will happen if the sirens called? Eyes tight shut, don’t think of bombs or the dust cloud falling on us all. The skyline lifted suddenly, windows empty and burning.

We moved up the 7th Alley, the final pathway, showered in paper as the White Lady guided us home. She span and twisted as the fire-lined alley seared our faces, illuminating every last detail as we walked together into the blackness. Words dropped on us like snowdrops, burnt-edged and prophetic.

7 tasks completed, 7 alleys passed. The pathway closed behind us as we walked back to our own world, sharing stories about what we heard and saw and felt. Into the cold darkness as that world faded back and ours began again.

Our search for the 7 Alleys is difficult to put into words, and this doesn’t even begin to do it justice. We were incredibly lucky to experience such a rare and beautiful journey into the world of some of the oldest East Hull myths, and we thank everyone who had faith in our investigations and joined us to experience the first Act of Wanton Wonder.