Alastair’s Photo Fiction – The One Under


The station appeared deserted. Wind whistled down the track; litter sucked into the darkness. From somewhere in that void came the sound of an ever approaching train. The smell of damp and decay was everywhere. ‘One’ and ‘Six’ said the arrivals board. It seemed a lot longer than that since he’d been staring, waiting for his train to arrive. He could still hear it. He could always hear it.

Something wasn’t right. He walked along and out of the platform. The escalators churned, empty of life. Where was everybody? He began to panic. Had he been locked in by mistake? He couldn’t actually remember getting here. Running up the moving stairway; along more silent tunnels. Posters advertising ‘Summer Fun in London’ beaming out as he ran. Running, he kept running. One last turn and he was sure he’d be at the exit.

Rounding the corner the deserted platform beckoned once more. At the mouth of the tunnel she stood. Waiting to jump. His train finally racing from the dark to the light.


Harry woke with a start. The woman had died instantly that day. She is free. Harry relives it endlessly. He will never drive his train again. He weeps; his wife holding him tightly.

Apologies at blowing the 150 word guideline. I could take 50 words out but I don’t want to as the story would be lost. I hope I’m forgiven and that you enjoy these 200 words which represent my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress siteThe picture is copyright of

(For info a “One Under” is what London Underground drivers call a situation where someone jumps in front of a moving train)

20 thoughts on “Alastair’s Photo Fiction – The One Under

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Cheers Ruth. Yeh, I quite liked this piece. Think I may do it again over a longer form if the chance arises. There is plenty more I could have added in. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  1. Alastair

    It’s an excellent story. Reducing it by 50 words wouldn’t have had the same impact. It was perfect as it was.

    You can see how he will repeatedly have that same dream.

    It is something that people who commit suicide like that never think about. The effect it will have on the driver. I know they don’t think about much at that time, but the ones I feel for, are the ones who will relive the nightmare time after time after time.

    Well done Paul

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Thanks Alastair. Yeh, the story just came to me so you got it all. I love images of subway/underground tunnels; have a particular fascination for abandoned stations.

  2. freyathewriter

    I really enjoyed reading this. I haven’t read a story from the perspective of the driver before, and being a two decades traveller in an out of London, I’ve often wondered how the poor drivers cope when somebody chooses to end their life that way. Really, really well-written.

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Thanks Gabriella. I watched a documentary once and it featured train drivers who had been involved in suicides. Some brush it off, others struggle to cope. Thought it was interesting to see if from their side.

  3. Arran Nachtigall

    This is a remarkably powerful piece. The haunting effect that the death has had on the driver is particularly well conveyed.

  4. zookyworld

    You built up suspense very well, and then led to the tragic finish — both with the woman’s death and the driver’s continuing nightmares. To have that happen really is a nightmare.

  5. RoSy

    Oh the poor engineer.
    I liked how you took this story from his take, emotions, & memory.
    As for going over – had you not mentioned it – I would have never known. I was that into it – that it doesn’t even matter. Besides – I always go under – so consider it a balance of sorts 😉


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