diamond geezer

 Monday, November 18, 2002

State of Emergency?

It was just another normal morning, at least to begin with. Over London the first fog of autumn hung heavily in the air, which should have been an omen for what was to come, but it went right over our heads. We all filed into the tube stations across the capital, heading for work. Sure we'd read the warnings in the paper, either our own or from the headlines held by the woman across the carriage, but we thought nothing of it. Normality had to go on, at least for a few more minutes.

And then the train entered the station. The station, the one whose name will be infamous for decades. We were expecting a slow, silent killer, but we weren't expecting that noise. It was a sudden, unexpected sound, out there beyond the platform, echoing through the narrow tunnels like a bullet down the barrel of a gun. A look of dawning terror spread across the carriage as the blast rumbled on, louder than the train. A cloud of thick smoke came billowing onto the platform, drowning the waiting passengers in choking smoke. And our train sped up, drove on, the lifeboat that never stopped, carrying its human cargo to safety at the next station up the line.

Except it wasn't safe. There was something else in the air, not just the smoke. It was something you couldn't see, at least not yet, but it was there all the same. The rush of trains through tunnels had carried it far from its fiery source, across the system, deep into the lives of tens of thousands. And this time there was no escape.

They say maybe the Underground will run again one day. Not in my lifetime.

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