Distracting myself from the man leaning over me in the crowded train, I clear condensation from the window and take in our progress through a valley of industrial estates and factories. Outside the early evening sun is shoving light between the endless silhouettes, adding orange halos to the blur of rust-coloured buildings and creating a strobing effect that forces me to squint. In a tree, that’s precariously holding onto the remains of autumn, a tom cat stalks a crow who, distracted by the noise, takes off as we clatter past him. The cat looks like it wants to shake a paw at us. The scene is almost picturesque. Almost. A priceless work of art on display; the masterpiece outside, while we’re locked in a steel frame peering out.

Any greenery that has invaded the track-side has long since been dyed a deep, gritty grey, while the abandoned buildings have surrendered themselves to the onslaught of litter and weeds.  Brickwork daubed in stencils and tags  become giant easels for the canvasses of un-seen graffiti artists which, as we approach the city, become more prolific and more elaborate.

Just before we enter the gloom of the station tunnel I notice the words: ‘ALL CHANGE’ in bold typography on the wall. In front of the artwork I catch sight of the outline of a man but, when I crane my neck to get a second look at him, we’re absorbed by the darkness and all I see is my own reflection looking back in at me.


Established in 1973, Steve Campbell is a designer, writer, taller. You can find his short fictions in places such as: Sick Lit Magazine, Ad Hoc Fiction, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Occulum, The Drabble and Fixional. He also finds time to manage EllipsisZine.com. Follow him at: standondog.com or via twitter: @standondog.

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