Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Tube

In case you missed it, Safestore is running a ​Spooktacular Writing Competition for Halloween. The prize is a £50 Waterstones voucher. I've not done any creative writing for a while, so thought the practice would do me good. This is my entry - hope you like it!

Oh, hi there … yes, my wife has just kicked me out so I need to rent somewhere to put my gear till I can get a new place sorted.’

‘An hour it took us. From Sheffield till it spits you out at Farringdon. I’ll be damned if there’s a faster way to get here. But you’d not do it twice.’

‘Erm, sorry old boy? Perhaps you misheard me? I just need to rent a unit, perhaps 25 square feet...’

‘The unholy stench at the end is the least of it. That washes away after a week or so. The bruises, they heal too. The acid burns? Well, the scabs last months and the scars they stay. Everyone knows if you came by tube. You can’t hide the scars.’

‘You’re having a laugh aren’t you? I see that cheeky glint in your eye…’

‘I miss my wife, my lads, course I do. But they’re richer without me. I can’t provide owt. What do I know about cutlery? That’s why they put us in the tube - poaching albatross.’

‘Sorry, could you brush some of that beard out of your mouth, only I thought you said albatross?’

‘And heaven help those what test the watch. Contempt of deportation they call it. And if you’re in it, you get yourself deported some more - but this time with your kin. And there ain’t no child has ever come through that passage alive.’

‘Can we wind this up, only I’m late for my bassoon class…’

‘I was lucky to make it through as I did. I say lucky, but it’s the worst what makes it through. The bad - they’re bitter - too bitter to keep down. That’s why they’re dumped out here, in this sewer of sin.’

‘Hold on a minute - that's not you on your lanyard - it's a sticker of a albatross, isn't it?!’

‘The gamblers, they don’t move on. They prey on those what’s still wet behind the ears - and failing that, one another. The robbers, they congregate out west with the swindlers and schemers. The murderers, they go wherever they want. Who’d stop 'em?
Some are big enough to do it again. Not me - no one, no thing’s gonna swallow me again. Look at this skin - I’m nigh-consumed already. I’d never make it past the tongues. The untold tongues, flailing around for something to latch onto or lacerate. Tongues as big as circus vipers, flaying you softly, like a cat’s tongue through butter. I’d come through all right, but not in one piece. Not with those teeth. No bigger than yours or mine, I’d say - but every one as sharp as needles. Have you ever been dragged over a bed of nails and dropped in a cauldron of scalding vinegar? Because that’s what the next chamber feels like. The good, they die there. Fertiliser for this blessed plot.
For the rest, our breath is nigh snuffed as we’re pounded and harried through that eternally dark, oppressively putrid tunnel, until ultimately we pass through the sphincter of John Bull, usually more dead than alive.
Aye, that’s the tube. Setting forth from all over and terminating only in death or damnation.’

‘I'll come back later.’

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