“The Commute” Inspired by London

Tatiana was running in her heels, briefcase swinging behind her as she checked her email on her phone while navigating through the busy crowds of the morning commute at the station. She groaned, dialed a number and held the phone to her ear.

“Frankly, I don’t care if he doesn’t agree. We are going with the decision we made last week.”

She hung up the phone after brief “yesses” and “nos” with the person on the other end. With the poise of someone who has performed this action dozens of times, she fled through the twisting tunnels of the Underground station, bypassed slow walkers figuring out which line to get on, and whisked right to the platform she arrived at each and every workday morning.

The massive crowd inched in close to her as tons of other nine-to-fivers waited for the train to arrive. A warm gust of air signaled its arrival and Tatiana felt like she had been waiting for hours. With the standard “mind the gap” and “let passengers off first” announcements, she and the herd of people crammed into the train. She grabbed a seat and looked through her briefcase.

The automated female voice announced stop after stop and slowly the car became less and less full. Tatiana was so immersed in her work that six stops later she didn’t realize she was all alone.

Strange, she thought, how is no one headed to the financial district?

The Tube sped through the tunnel, rickety and fast, and suddenly thrust to a stop. The light flickered. “What the hell is going on,” she said to the space around her. “I’m never late.”

The train started again and went slowly into the light. The doors hissed open and Tatiana thought she might as well get off even though this wasn’t her usual stop.

She exited onto the small empty platform. There was no one in sight. She headed toward the “Way out” signs to exit the Underground station and get back to real life above ground.

No more messing around. Now, where am I? Where is everyone?

It was like she stepped onto a movie set. Horse-drawn carriages, women with parasols, men with bowler hats. A fog hung over the city, grey and thick, and she noticed that she was dressed very differently than those around her. Lost in confusion, she walked down the streets. She recognized the street signs… but nothing looks familiar. She pulled out her phone but the screen was black. Observing the world around her, she set off in search of something she knew.

As if in a dream, she turned onto Baker Street and shuffled through passersby giving her weird glances. She held her briefcase tightly; the last sense of normal life. She felt not only lost, but frustrated and confused.

She stopped in front of an apartment to gather her thoughts. “It’s okay.” She said to herself, “Just have to find another Tube station and take it to… anywhere but here.”

Suddenly the door to the apartment opened. Tatiana jumped at the sound, as a man dressed in a scarf and deerstalker hat stared her right in the eyes. A dapper man stood behind him. Tatiana knew he’d seen him somewhere.

“Finally!” The man with the hat said, “Watson, I knew she would arrive. You’re late, which seems unlike you, but I suppose that is a trait that can be fixed.”

She opened her mouth to speak but no words came out. Deep inside she knew she recognized this man. But how?

“Sherlock, we should probably go,” said the man behind him.

“Yes I suppose you’re right,” then, to her, “You are coming aren’t you?”

In that moment Tatiana knew she wasn’t going to make it into work that day.