The Black Line

It was a while before he even realised she was on the platform at York Road. He’d been running on autopilot. It was… God, what? Five years since he’d last seen someone there.

John Bull
11 min readMar 1, 2021


Neville applied the brakes and brought the train to a halt. He was secretly delighted that the cab eased to a stop directly in line with the black London Underground roundel on the platform wall opposite. Okay, he couldn’t remember a time when he hadn’t done this, but it was always satisfying. Even more so with an audience.

He turned on the door camera nearest to his mystery passenger. She must have seen it move because, to Neville’s growing excitement, she pulled a plastic pass from the inside pocket of her suit jacket and held it up for him to see.

That excitement evaporated the moment he looked at it closely.

It wasn’t right.

Neville knew what he had to do. The same thing he had done five years ago. And five years before that. And five years before that. The pass wasn’t right. He could see that. There were rules.

And yet he didn’t. Instead, he opened the door.

If the lady on the platform felt any surprise at this turn of events, she didn’t seem to show it. Neville watched her carefully as she boarded the train, brushed some dust off a black and white moquette pattern seat (he felt a bit ashamed about that) and sat down.

And then it was time for the train to leave and Neville had other things to focus on. Ten minutes later, when they pulled into Kingsway, she got up and alighted.

Neville wondered if he’d done the right thing. Either way, he suspected he’d never see her again. He was wrong. When he pulled into the platform at York Road the next day, she was there.

She held up her pass and, even though he knew that he shouldn’t, he opened the door for her. Once again he watched as she dusted off a seat and sat down. Ten minutes later she got off at Kingsway.

It happened the next day too.

And for the next ten days straight after that.



John Bull

Writer. Narrative designer. Historian. I focus on tales of ordinary people who did extraordinary things, and helping companies tell their own stories better.