I’ve used the tunnel to go to work for ten years. Some days the lifts don’t work; sometimes there’s a problem with the drains and you splash through water. Other times it’s full of kids on boards or bikes blocking my way. But mostly I don’t notice the walk. I block out the slightly iffy smell, the stained tiles, the crap lighting, the odd echoes that seem to suggest more people down here than you can actually see.
Last week the lights went out. It was only for a moment and the tunnel was quite full but during the period of utter blackness so deep it feels like it’s seeped into your eyes I heard these voices. Girls, giggling like they were being chased, just up ahead. Running voices when everyone was stood stock still. When the lights came up there were the same people near me, nervous smiles, making unexpected eye contact. One woman made a comment about trying to scare us. Everyone hurried though, to get out.
That was Thursday. I was off, doctor’s appointment with the therapist. He’s a good man; I told him, made it into a bit of a story but he wanted to hear about the girls and the voices and I wish I hadn’t said. He took a lot of notes.
On Sunday I was in the cafe and saw the woman from the tunnel. She jumped a bit when she recognised me and asked if I’d heard anything. I asked what did she mean but her companion called her away.
I didn’t feel well Monday or Tuesday but my boss started getting arsy, asked if I was having another turn so I knew I had to go in today. I thought I’d go early, catch up a bit, but when I got to the tunnel entrance there was this notice, saying it was shut indefinitely. That was so annoying and I was turning away to go and catch the DLR and waste the fare when I heard them. The girls. I knew it was the same ones. Bloody silly things, down there when it was closed. Then one of them called out. My name, clear as anything. Asking for help.
I’m not as young as I was but I was brought up properly and I knew I couldn’t leave them. I thought about calling, you know emergency services but my phone wasn’t working and there was no one else about it was so early. So I pushed the sign aside and went in. I thought the lights might be out but they were working fine.
I saw them, as soon as I stepped off the last stair, moving away from me but looking back, waving me on. I tried calling out but my voice didn’t seem to work right. Then one called my name again; all sad and anxious. So I followed and they started running. I walked faster and then started jogging but they stayed ahead. And I thought I could see someone beyond them, like a man and I thought, no, stop, he’s there. You’re going the wrong way. I tried to go faster and faster but I never seemed to get any closer. I just want to make sure they’re all right. If only I can get them to stop running.
Local Man Dies In Tunnel
Albert Stephens is well know to local Greenwich residents as the Tunnel Man. He can be seen walking back and forth along the tunnel during the week and at weekends. He seems to be going to and from somewhere, busy and engaged but he’s been walking the tunnel for twenty years since he lost his twin sisters one Monday lunchtime when he was taking them to school. People close to Albert say he was upset when the tunnel was closed following an electrical fault that threw the tunnel into darkness last week. Today when the electricians visited they found Albert. It is believed he may have had a heart attack.
I was nominated to take part in this photo challenge by Ali Issac, who takes the most beautiful images and always has a story to tell about them. I would like to nominate Norah at Live, Love, Laugh, Learn, to take up this photo challenge baton.
The rules of the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are:
1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!