This was the first story i had published in One Eye Grey issue 5 and I thought I'd stick a slightly longer version up here for those who are interested. I'd also like to send a big thank you to Chris at F&M Publications for picking up this story - enjoy...
Goin’ Underground – Benendict J Jones
“I don’t wanna go down in a tube station at midnight…” The Jam
Hello, Steve’s the name, hope you’re good?
It starts simply enough, for me it was an ordinary Thursday night at work. I’m the bloke you see standing on the platform waving drivers on with a wooden baton to indicate the doors are clear. A quarter to midnight at Moorgate Station. All the City girls and boys, drunk from colourful cocktails and cheap love, heading home from Abacus, Worship, Industry, the Slug and Lettuce, All Bar One and the rest of the flesh markets. The platform wasn’t as packed as it is at rush hour. I grabbed myself an eyeful of the girls in their high heels, short skirts, half open blouses and fitted shorts, who wouldn’t? Lovely. The tube’s carriages were about a third full. To be honest I was bored and couldn’t really care less and I just wanted to get home to Sandra. I waved my baton to the driver, the doors closed and the tube rolled off.
About five minutes later the call came down. The tube I had just waved on had arrived at the next station minus a carriage. Being that there were only a few more trains due they were terminated elsewhere and once the power was turned off a group of four of us headed out into the tunnel. You can imagine how we looked; fluorescent jackets over our blue uniforms, plastic hard hats, heavy torches. Me, Paulie O’Connor, Dennis Johnson and Jono Reeves all went off into the dark whistling the theme from the “great Escape”. A good bunch of lads all in all.
Down there in the tunnels it’s warm, dark and grimey. You can smell and taste the black dust. It gets into your nose and throat, inbeds itself in the creases of your clothes. We walked down the centre of the tracks between the rails. Paulie took the lead point so to speak and once we were a little way down the beam of his torch reflected back from the missing carriage which lay stationary halfway through the tunnel.
“Dunno what happened. Must’ve slipped the join to the next carriage. Never seen that before” Commented Paulie as we advanced towards the carriage.
Jono looked unconvinced. Once we reached the tube carriage we entered through the doors of the driver’s compartment. Opening the inner door we moved into the carriage proper. Torch beams aren’t overhead lights, you catch glimpses and your imagination does the rest so maybe you’ll take this with a pinch of salt, again that’s entirely up to you. The first thing that struck me was how empty the carriage was, even for late in the evening. But what I did see in those beams of light has stayed with me and probably will forever. Here and there around the interior lay the few remaining commuters in heaps. Some still sat in their seats while others were on the floor. Dead, all dead. Broken glass littered the deck and in the torch beams they shone like so many spilt diamonds. As I looked my eyes looked onto one girl. A pretty young thing of around twenty with that half blond, half black hair that women seem to find so trendy these days. Her face was a mask of pure terror, her features contorted into a shape of fear beyond anything you see in a Saturday night horror film. Her blue suit jacket, grey in the darkened, was torn as was the white shirt she wore beneath but her body appeared unmarked. It seemed that she had expired from simple animal fear. We each seemed to have our eyes locked and focused on one particular horror until Dennie spoke and gestured at one of the shattered windows. By the aid of torchlight we saw through the hole in the broken panes that the aging tunnel masonry had crumbled revealing access to another sealed up passage. Around the jagged remains of the windows was a little blood and here and there were pieces of torn fabric. The scene before us was inexplicable to our understanding and with nothing there to actually make us afraid curiosity gained the upper hand. Jono, older and more experienced than the rest of us, headed back to Moorgate to report our findings and get help. Thos of the group who remained exited the carriage to have a better look at the uncovered tunnel entrance.
Around the edges of the tunnel the masonry looked old, maybe a century, but down here in the “bowels of the earth” you never can tell. Even after a few months fresh brickwork becomes filthy and grime stained. We stepped into the dark portal that was the tunnel’s mouth. Once inside it was evident to us that this tunnel was indeed older and less like those through which tubes passed. We walked a little further and our lights picked out a pale Louis Vuitton handbag lying discarded on the rough stone floor of the passageway. Paulie picked it up, turned it over in his hands and said
“I think we’d better keep going. Someone might’ve been hurt and stumbled down here, disorientated and that”
We all agreed. There was no way we could have injured passengers wandering around in disused tunnels which lead God knows where. Especially not when we could end up with a portion of the blame….So further in we went. The passageway began to slope down dramatically and within five minutes we were almost moving at a jog. Muffled sounds reached our ears, faint light flickered on the walls. It was as we rounded a soft curve in the tunnel that we caught sight of them. Eight women smudged with dirt, clothes torn, the heels of their shoes probably broken. They were bound at the wrists by coarse rope which in turn looped around their necks and held them together like a mule pack crossing the
When consciousness found me again I was lain out on the platform, back at Moorgate. Jono and the station Manager, Bill Thompson, stood over me grim faced.
“You alright mate?” Jono asked.
My mind felt “fuzzed”. What the hell had happened in that tunnel? I could lie to you. Tell you that I leapt into the fray and saved those young women from God knows what before taking them all home and…..But the honest truth is that once I started running I don’t remember a bloody thing! Near me sitting with his back to the wall, glassy eyed, was Paulie. Of Dennis there was no sign.
As far as I know Paulie hasn’t spoken a word since. He’s out in
Ever since it happened I’ve listened out to half whispered tales and drunken ramblings down the pub. And oh what stories I know now: the minotaur that roams below Earls Court, things with scales and gills that haunt the tunnels between Rotherhithe and Wapping when the rain is heavy, a pack of rats the size of pit bulls under Oxford Circus, not to mention the vampire pack which snatches its victims from the platforms at Camden Town.
So maybe I drink too many Stellas and smoke a few too many Super Kings but it helps y’know? Maybe the next time you’re half cut, up the end of the platform, waiting for the late night tube have a think about exactly what roams through the miles and miles of tunnels beneath our city.