Sunday, 11 December 2011

A lift full of rain

I staggered into the tube station reeling from the concussions of the raindrops against my head.  I've been caught in bad hailstorms before, where you stagger in from them bruised and bleeding, but that's the sky throwing lumps of ice at you: you expect a little collateral damage.  This time I was bruised and aching from the sky throwing water at me, and I didn't think it was entirely fair.
I got through the barriers with only the usual trouble.  I have one of their little cards named for some kind of seafood; a Kalamari-card or somesuch, but apparently being anywhere on my person is enough for it to corrode.  When I pulled it out of my pocket to press it against their cheepy, cheery little reader it had brown, rusty streaks on it, and it's made of plastic.  The reader squawked, and when I pull the card off and slapped it down again it cheeped like someone had set it on fire.  I tried a third time and this time it wailed a little but the barriers parted and I could get through. I noticed as I did that there was rainwater swirling around my feet and I was paddling my way to the lifts.
I didn't bother waiting for the lift, I get impatient and claustrophobic when people stand near me.  I headed round the corner for the stairs, and thanks to a slight incline in the floor, left the water behind.  I had to dodge a wheelchair rolling backwards at one point, but I was mostly relieved that the occupant wasn't trying to go down the stairs in it.  There are some tight, hairpin bends when you get below street-level.
There are one-hundred and twenty four stairs at the this station, and they break up into six flights of stairs, three landings, one hidden corner, four extra steps in places you're not expecting them, and a long corridor in the middle that makes you think you're almost at the platform when in fact you've still got three flights of stairs to go.  I figure the Victorians and Edwardians must have loved spending the day trying to figure out how to find the trains more than they wanted to travel on them.  I was the only person on the stairs, so I dripped my way along the corridors and down the flights in a squelchy kind of non-quite silence.
I was four steps from the bottom and in sight of the lift when it reached the floor and opened its doors.  No people came out, just a wall of water that sprayed past me down the tunnel to the north-bound platform.  It slowed its gush after a minute, but it didn't stop, and I realised that the rain must have managed to flood the station.
It slowed after another minute, and stopped after two more, but the lift looked dead and damp, and I figured that no-one else would be coming down now.  I thought about going back up, but my knees hurt at the best of times and climbing the stairs now would make me regret it.  I headed off to the south-bound platform, wondering what I'd find.

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