Down in The Tube Station at Midnight — a short story for reading comprehension

This is a scary short story that you can use in your English class.

It is great for reading comprehension and general reading skills. But also good for speaking and making presentations.

Use the lesson today!

 


 

Introduction

 

Have you ever been in a subway station late at night? How did it feel?

Can strange things happen in a subway station at night? Give some examples.

Is it possible for subway stations to be haunted?

 

Down in the Tube Station at Midnight

 

“I’ll be glad when this shift is over.”

It was close to midnight and John was just finishing work at the Grey Park subway station. He hated the late shifts. It was too quiet for one. Then, when he finished work, he had to get home. It wasn’t too far — sometimes he took a taxi — but other times he walked and the streets were empty with strange shadows creeping across between the houses.

His workmate for the evening, Colin, stretched and kept his feet up on the desk. Just behind his feet, the bank of security camera monitors. Each screen showed a different view of the subway station’s interior.

“Soon done,” said Colin. “See this last train in, then we can all get out of here.”

John waited a second to see if Colin would volunteer to do the rounds of the station. One of them has to walk around the whole place, just to make sure there were no people left inside.

Sometimes a drunk. One time they found a dog, whimpering and lost.

But Colin stayed glued in his seat.

“Guess I’ll go down and have a look,” said John.

Colin peered over his shoulder towards him. “You don’t mind, mate?”

John shrugged. “One of us has got to do it.”

He put on his uniform cap and went to the door. One of these days, Colin might move out of his chair.

John grabbed the walkie-talkie and turned it on. He turned the dial and spoke into it.

“Keep an eye out for me,” he said.

His voice carried loudly to the walkie-talkie on the desk and made Colin jump.

“Yeah, sure. I’m right here.”

John smirked and walked out the door. A short corridor led to another door and a public walkway. Both sides of the walkway were filled with advertising. An overflowing rubbish bin with discarded fast-food wrappers and fizzy-pop cans at the bottom of it.

John walked down the corridor. He could hear the last train. It pulled into the station and then he heard Colin’s tired voice.

“This is Grey Park, the final stop. Please alight here and leave the station. Thank you.”

Colin never had any enthusiasm in his voice. Some of the other guys that worked in the station would put some energy in their voices or put on a funny voice.

It made them laugh and helped them get through the long and quiet hours.

But never Colin.

As John made his way to the platform, he met the passengers leaving the station. The usual late-night crowds.

A couple of young guys, drunk and full of swagger. “All right, mate,” they said to John. “Nice hat.”

John gave them a curt nod and walked on. The two lads laughed loudly and broke into a rendition of a popular song.

A man in his forties, looking weary and dead-beat. Another poor guy doing a late shift somewhere in the city.

An elderly woman, clutching her bag and looking nervous, a young woman, her eyes to the ground and walking straight ahead. The last strays of the night, all heading home or to anywhere else that might welcome them.

On the platform, the train was still in place, all of its doors open.

John nodded at the train guard — he recognised him from the many times he had seen him before but could not remember his name.

All the train had to be checked, to make sure no people left sleeping on seats, no forgotten items. God forbid any bags or boxes left on the train — then they had to call the police.

John walked along the platform, checking every carriage. Everything looked in order. He waved at the guard, who waved back and got back onto the train. He heard the crackle of a radio, then the doors hissed closed and the train pulled out of the station and into the dark tunnel.

In a few seconds, John was all alone on the platform.

He clicked onto the walkie-talkie. “Just checking the north end of the platform,” he said. “All clear up there?”

The walkie-talkie crackled and Colin’s voice came through it, tinny and alien. “Just that one bloke by the seats.”

John kept walking. He hoped the man on the platform wasn’t drunk. They could be difficult to deal with sometimes. But he could see no one.

“You sure?” he said into his radio. “I can’t see anyone.”

“He’s right there,” said Colin. “Hang on, he’s getting to his feet.”

John peered ahead and saw no one. He turned and looked behind him. No one there either.

Colin was such an idiot. This was another problem with him. He was not very observant.

“Are you sure you’re looking on the right platform?” asked John. He would talk to the station chief about Colin. This was not good enough.

“Yes, platform one,” said Colin. “I can see you walking towards the camera.”

John squinted into the far end of the platform. He could see no one.

“There’s no one here,” he said to himself.

He carried on walking to the very end of the platform, past the two benches on the side. He stopped and looked behind him again. Maybe Colin was looking at the wrong end of the platform. Not a soul around.

John pulled the radio up to his ear. “Colin, are you sure? Please check again, I can’t see anyone here.”

“He’s right there,” said Colin. “By the seats. He’s just standing by the edge of the platform.”

John spun around. Nothing. He was the only person there.

“Colin, is this some sort of a joke? I can’t see anyone.”

The radio spluttered into life again. “John. He’s behind you. He’s… John!”

John dropped the radio from the side of his face. He spun around.

Then he saw it.

 

Reading Comprehension Questions

 

What is John’s job?

What is the name of the station?

Who does John work with? What does he think of him?

What shift are they both working? Does John like this shift?

Why does John offer to check the platform?

What kind of people or things does John sometimes find on the platform when he checks?

What does John hold in his hand? Why does he need this?

How many people does John encounter on the way to the platform? Describe them.

Why does John have to check the train?

What does Colin see on the platform?

What can John see?

 

Vocabulary

 

Go through all the story and find any new or difficult words and phrases.

Look these words and phrases up in your dictionary and make a note of them in your vocabulary notebook.

Write down the meaning of all the words and phrases.

Now try to use these words and phrases in sentences of your own.

 

Discussion Questions

 

Describe what John’s job is.

Does he like this job do you think?

How does he get on with his colleague, Colin?

What do you think the subway station is like late at night?

What kind of people do you think John encounters late at night in the subway station?

The two young guys are drunk. Why does one of them say ‘Nice hat’ to John?

The old woman appears nervous. Why?

Someone – or something – is on the platform. What do you think this is?

What do you think happens after John sees ‘it’? Discuss in class possible events that follow.

What do you think Colin does next?

Do you have a subway system in your town or city?

Are there any strange stories about subway stations in your hometown? Tell the class.

 

Subway Station After Dark

 

Get into small groups of three or four students.

You are going to make up a scary story about a subway station. Think of a story that you can tell the class.

It would be much better if you base your story on a real subway station in your town or city.

When you are ready, tell the class!

 


 

I hope you liked this short story lesson plan.

Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!

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