Extract from 'Is' - Chapter 4:

There was nothing to see. It was a filthy old underground station, that was all. I could certainly see that. Everywhere it was old bare brick, really ancient looking. And there seemed to be cables trailing in great loops along the walls, dozens of them.

Overhead the brick roof of the tunnel we were in was grimy black. It looked like it was covered with soot, which I suppose could have been possible because they used to have steam trains originally on some of these underground railways. It must have been awfully old soot too because the trains have been electric for ages and ages.

The other funny thing about the station was the fact that it was in this enormous tunnel, (a Wapping great tunnel you could say!) not like modern tube lines which are in much smaller tunnels. And here we were facing the other platform, instead of staring at posters on the tunnel wall opposite like you usually do.

Right at the end of the platforms the tunnel divided into two smaller tunnels and, as we were watching, a train came roaring out of one heading back towards Whitechapel.

"What are we doing here, Is?" I shouted above the sound of the train braking.

"Come up here." she replied and disappeared up some steps behind us. It turned out that this was the Way Out - though you'd never have guessed. Like the platform they were narrow and, instead of going straight up, they snaked up and out of sight around the corner.

When we got to the top of the steps we emerged in a vast vertical shaft. It was like being inside a castle turret. In the middle were the lifts and I made my way to them.

"Are we going up then?" I asked.

"If you like." Is answered and I pushed the button to call the lift.

"No, not that way!" she laughed, "Up the stairs!"

"Stairs?" I looked up dismayed. There were the stairs all right and Is was  running up them like a rabbit.

I've seen the stairs in tube stations before. They call them the 'Emergency stairs' because no one in their right mind would bother climbing them all unless it was an emergency. They spiral up like a never-ending helter skelter. And I bet you'd get pretty giddy going up them. Not to mention completely knackered.


'Is' by Derek Webb is published by Troll Carnival and available from your local bookshop as well as from Amazon  Waterstones or Gwales