A Serious Incident
The jarring sound of the alarm serves to herd the morning commuters towards the far corner of the station-livestock penned in. Their break for freedom denied by the habitual nature of the daily journey. As if at the start of the 2.30 at Chepstow there is the stamping of hooves, the grinding of teeth and the occasional snort. Each competitor raring to go-waiting for the gate to be drawn aside and the subterranean race to begin.
The crowd grows and begins to spill back on to the main concourse-their dark suits like a seeping pool of blood. Individuals caught in each others breath and yet they refuse to acknowledge the existence of others. Boring holes into the heads of those at the front, as if the death ray stare will melt the gates ahead. Eventually the alarm is silenced and there is a surge of movement.
The ticket hall is now filling rapidly as commuters spew in through the entrances. There are no alarms this time- just the distant voice of a tin man thanking people for their patience as they’re once again denied entry to the airless tunnels.
‘Remain behind the barriers please.’
People tut to their neighbours without acknowledging them. Others stare mournfully at watches-all hope of being on time lost. Down on the platform it is seven deep and there are still two minutes until the train is due to approach.
‘Please stand behind the yellow line.’
Briefcases pressed into the backs of legs. Elbows marking personal space. The overcrowded train rumbles in. A fine mist of people get off and a thick cloud get on. Faces pushed up against the glass doors-relieved to have made it but denied a victorious smile.
‘We regret to inform our customers that, due to a serious incident at the next station, this service will terminate here. All change please-all change.’