diamond geezer

 Wednesday, October 31, 2018

It's Hallowe'en, so let's have a Choose Your Own Adventure. Click on your chosen number at the end of each paragraph to weave your way through the story, which may or may not have a happy ending. Seriously, click away, it should all work...

(1) The last tube of the evening is often quiet, and you appear to be the last passenger left aboard. You'd rather have caught the train before, or even not come out tonight at all, but at least you should be home soon without needing to take the nightbus. It's also possible you nodded off just now, but the train rumbling into the next station has awoken you with a start. Where are we?



That's unusual. You don't remember there being a station of that name on the line, and the spacing is somehow all wrong. Quick, the doors are about to close, what do you do? Stay on the train [7] or leap off onto the platform [12]?

(2) The long passageway bends and twists, at one point seemingly doubling back on itself. You realise that you haven't seen a Way Out sign for some time, but the intended direction of travel remains clear. A check on your mobile phone confirms No Service, as it has done since you arrived. But it's fine, you think, this passageway must be leading somewhere. Eventually it passes the foot of a spiral staircase, leading upwards. As the direction for a Way Out, this feels promising. Should you ascend [9], or follow the corridor ahead [5], or retreat the way you came [14]?

(3) The driver does not respond. You sort of guessed they wouldn't. Instead the doors close and the train heads off into the tunnel again. So when the train subsequently pulls into Graves End, yet again, a familiar choice presents itself. Stay on the train [17] or step off onto the platform [12]?

(4) The Way Out signs continue along the platform, which is reassuring. They lead to a passageway which bends right, then left, then continues straight ahead towards a distant corner. The tiles to either side are a grubby white, with a black strip across the top and a blood red strip along the bottom. It's quite a trek. Suddenly the silence is broken by the sound of a train, somewhere behind you, presumably pulling into the platform you arrived on. You could dash back to catch it [14] or, more sensibly, continue along the passage towards the exit [2].

(5) The corridor is beautifully tiled, and conveniently empty, not that a perfectly symmetrical Instagram snap is uppermost in your mind. A panel of ripped advertisements displays the logo of a long-defunct car manufacturer and the top half of a man in a bowler hat. Before long you reach a short cross passage, which it turns out links the platform you first arrived on [14] and its opposite counterpart [11].

(6) The passageway is long and sinuous, at one point seemingly doubling back on itself, but there are no further junctions. At one point you think you can hear footsteps behind you, but the sound ceases when you pause to listen, so it was probably just an echo. Yelling out for help has no effect either, other than to unnerve you even further. But eventually, after one last left-hand bend, the passageway ends... back on the platform where you first alighted [14].

(7) As the train heads off into the tunnel you stare out at the fast-disappearing platform. It looks normal enough, if a little run-down, and some of the adverts look older than you'd expect. No problem. You settle back in your seat and fiddle with your phone to make sure you stay awake. Pity there's no wi-fi showing [10].

(8) Even as you step cautiously down into the gloom and around the bend at the foot of the stairs, you know this is unlikely to be the way out of the station. The next section of passageway is totally dark, and even shining the light of your mobile phone fails to make much of an impression. Dare you continue [13]? Perhaps you should have been more diligent following the Way Out signs from the original platform [4], or perhaps taking your chances along the tracks would be a better bet [19].

(9) The spiral staircase seems to go on and on. After you've been ascending for a couple of minutes you decide this can't be right, and change direction and head back down again. But no matter how far you descend you never find the entrance from the corridor, and no matter how far you climb you never find the exit... the stairs just spiral round and round forever.

(10) After a couple of minutes the train slows and pulls into the station you were actually intending to alight at. Well that's alright then. You step up to the doors and wait for them to open, except they never do. Instead the train starts up again, accelerates past an entirely empty platform and enters the darkness of the tunnel. It's OK, you can always get off at the next station, it's only a short walk. But the next station turns out to be... Graves End, again, which really shouldn't be possible. When the doors open, you face an unusual dilemma. Stay on the train [17] or step off onto the platform [12]?

(11) The second platform looks very similar to the first, except there's no Way Out sign as a hint to which way to go next. The adverts are as old, the tiles are as tired, and the illumination is just the wrong side of helpful. Checking the tube map poster doesn't help - Graves End is nowhere to be found. The Jubilee line doesn't appear on the map either. The far end of the platform is rather dark, should you want to risk exploring down there [16]. Otherwise you'll have to return to the cross passage and decide whether to follow the side corridor [18] or return to the original platform and follow the Way Out signs [4].

(12) Almost immediately after you step onto the platform the doors close behind you and the train disappears off into the tunnel. Great. It's eerily quiet, and it looks like you're the only person here. The adverts on the far wall look like something from the 1970s, but you don't recognise any of the brand names. According to the sign above the roundel, the Way Out is off to the right [4].

(13) You make slow, careful progress forwards into the darkness, holding one hand against the tiles as you go. Then suddenly the tiles stop, and your legs stumble into a stone slab at knee height, knocking you headlong into a deep pit. You slump down against the earth and await your inevitable fate. Graves End? What kind of a name is that?

(14) When you reach the platform on which you first alighted, it's empty. After everything that's happened so far, somehow this isn't a surprise. You can't even see any mice in the pit down beneath the rails. Will you return to the long passageway following the Way Out signs [2], or walk down to the far end of the platform instead [15]? Alternatively there is a small wooden bench a little further along... you could always wait there [20].

(15) At the far end of the platform, where GRAVES END is written into the tiles along the wall, a short passageway leads across to the opposite platform. Perhaps that would be an interesting place to investigate next. Alternatively, halfway down is the entrance to a long corridor, which looks tempting as a potential emergency exit. Do you follow the side-corridor [18], or carry on through to the opposite platform [11]?

(16) The far end of the platform is not enticing, with levels of illumination well below anything health and safety would recommend. But a little light is leaking through a gap in the wall, which turns out to be the top of a steep staircase. Unusually, for an underground station, it leads downwards rather than up. Might this be your way out [8]? Or would now be a good time to jump down onto the tracks and try walking out through the tunnel [19]?

(17) You endure a nervous wait to see what the next station is actually going to be, and... it's Graves End again. Something about this situation is extremely wrong. You could stay on the train, despite having a pretty good idea where you'll end up [17]. You could step off onto the platform [12]. Or you could activate the alarm and try to talk to the driver [3].

(18) The corridor is beautifully tiled, and conveniently empty, not that a perfectly symmetrical Instagram snap is uppermost in your mind. A panel of ripped advertisements displays the top half of a man in a bowler hat and the logo of a long-defunct car manufacturer. Before long the corridor passes the foot of a spiral staircase, leading upwards. As the direction for a Way Out, this feels promising. Should you ascend [9] or continue along the passageway ahead [6]?

(19) Stepping onto live tracks is never a good idea. That public information film you once saw at school flashes briefly through your mind before you drop to your knees and keel over.

(20) No matter how long you sit here no further lost passengers appear, no member of staff arrives to clear the platform after the last train, and no announcements break the unnerving silence. You're going to have to make a move, either back into the long passageway following the Way Out signs [2], or down to the far end of the platform to explore there [15].


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