Wednesday 26 January 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 236

This week's picture prompt was taken by @dbrereton over on twitter. It was at Swiss Cottage Tube station. .

I've gone a bit edgy with this one. A scary little tale. 

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There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

An image of a London Underground train pulling in or out of the train station (Swiss Cottage). The image is in black and white and blurred slightly. Taken by @dbrereton


She ran down the steps, almost holding her breath, hoping not to fall and break her neck in her high heels. She was desperate to catch the train but it had already begun pulling out as she reached the platform, the last of the carriages passing in a blur as she ran up alongside them.

Myra kept on running, down to the end, where she knew there was a passageway leading through onto the other platform, with trains going in the opposite direction. She didn’t want to go in that direction but she had to get out of their reach.

They’d been on her tail since she had left work; she’d seen them duck behind pillars and turn suddenly as though interested in a shop window, whenever she glanced back, while on her way to the tube station. They’d followed her down the stairs into the underground foyer. She’d caught sight of them as she went through the barriers. And when she had reached the bottom of the escalators she’d seen them getting on at the top, keeping a keen eye on her.

Once she’d turned into the tunnel that led to her line, she’d rushed, moving through the hordes of people also making their way home, trying not to break into a run and become too obvious.

And as she’d turned down the steps to her platform she’d seen them again, their faces looking at her over the shoulder of two other people, who were oblivious to her predicament.

She didn’t know if it was because of the company she worked for or her position, but pharmaceuticals was no longer a benign profession. Every day people were sure you were doing something subversive; that there was another motive behind trying to help people treat and resist disease. And the longer the pandemic had gone on for, the worst it had become; those determined to discredit you or your work would stop and nothing to do so – even physical pain. She didn’t want to be attacked, or worse: kidnapped. The fact it was officially over hadn’t stopped them. Her colleague, Debbie, had disappeared last week and Myra couldn’t rid herself of the thought that she’d been taken.

She looked at the board on the other platform. It was still two minutes until the train in the wrong direction would arrive. She walked down as far as she could, grateful that more people were pouring in. She could go round in a loop if necessary as there was another opening back out, up the stairs, where she could go back down onto the platform going in the right direction. She wasn’t sure if she needed to yet.

One of the seats at the side was available, besides a tall businessman who was engrossed in his phone. She sat down, hunkering a little behind the man, hoping to remain unseen, but she couldn’t settle, leaning back to peep out behind the man, waiting for the men to turn onto this platform too. They didn’t. Maybe they thought she had caught the train.

She heard another train pull in on the other side. It wouldn’t matter if she missed one, as long as they caught it. Did they know where she lived? Would they be at her home when she got there? The thoughts panicked her and she stood up abruptly, unable to sit still.

She decided to do a loop, and took the stairs back up to the tunnel and turned right again back towards her platform. The flow of people was constant and she didn’t see anyone familiar. She cautiously descended the stairs this time, taking her time using the handrail and staying on the right as people overtook her. Would they anticipate this move? Would they still be on the platform? She didn’t know.

She didn’t walk down too far this time, holding back, in case they were down that end. She kept closer than she normally would to other people, trying to stay safe and invisible. She didn’t see them.

A wind started picked up, indicating the approach of a train. She was almost safe. It pulled in, the rattle and screech of the wheels blotting out all other sound. As she stepped towards the edge, she felt people behind her push forward, eager to get on. The train stopped and everyone paused waiting for the doors to open. Then the melee of those getting off while others pushed on released the pressure, and Myra found herself propelled inside to stand by the doors on the opposite side.

There were no seats available at this time of day, and she was quite happy to stand, her back to the doors and other passengers obscuring her. The doors slid shut, and she let out a breath. She’d made it!

People swung and shuffled a bit behind her as the train got underway and she felt someone dig up against. It was only two stops later, when she turned to get off, that she realised it was one of the men. He eyed her and smiled, and she knew she didn’t have a chance.


  1. The tunnel to the left loomed large. I could feel the chill of its darkness as I watched it, ambiguous and formless. Then the light on the platform dimmed again and the rumbling resumed.

    It had been twenty hours since their last attack. The greys had been beaten back, their numbers depleted by the resistance of the few of us who’d retreated here, seeking a place to shelter. It had seemed like a snapshot from history, its waiting room unspoiled. There’d even been a row of vending machines, their front panels intact, their stores of chocolate and biscuits undisturbed. Hannah had been the first one to break through the glass, the familiar sound of falling shards stirring memories of the first days after the fall, the country growing dark when the power grid failed. We’d thought it was just a hiccough then, that our society would recover.

    It had been wishful thinking that had kept us going back then.

    Susan was eating chocolate, her jaws working at a bar she’d removed from one of the frozen spirals that would never turn again. Jacob was raiding another cabinet, cramming his backpack with fruited cereal bars and dusty bottles of water. Harris was breaking into the third machine, liberating mundane essentials like plastic combs, cylindrical batteries and packets of condoms.

    I was scanning the tunnel’s dark shadow, willing it to remain undisturbed. There was a rail running between the tracks as it disappeared, splashes of paint marking it as dangerous. The hum of the power that had energised it would never return. The 10:32 from Basingstoke would be delayed indefinitely, the train and its carriages marooned in a siding far from the city. We had a more pedestrian lifestyle nowadays, although we rarely walked while we were still able to run.

    1. Gosh, let's hope that doesn't become a reality! Thanks for joining.