The Taxi — a short story for English reading & speaking

Sam gets into a taxi after finishing work late at night.

But the driver refuses to take him where he wants to go.

Instead, he keeps asking Sam where he needs to go.


This is a mystery short story that your students will love. It comes complete with a full lesson plan with lots of questions for reading comprehension and discussion. You can download the full lesson plan below.





Have you ever had a strange experience in a taxi?

Has the driver always taken you where you wanted to go?

Where do you need to go?


The Taxi


“Where do you need to go?”

Sam blinked for a second as he flopped into the back seat of the taxi.

Strange thing to say. Usually, any other taxi driver would say, where to? Or where do you want to go?

“Berkeley Street. Just by the garage.”

Sam rested his head back and closed his eyes for a second. He couldn’t wait to get home and go to bed. These long days were killing him.

He opened his eyes again. The taxi sat still and motionless on the dark, deserted street.

Sam leaned forward a little.


In the front, a dark figure, his two big hands on the steering wheel. A cap pulled down low over his eyes.

“Berkeley Street, just by the…”

“I heard you the first time,” said the driver.

“Okay, it’s been a long day,” said Sam. “I just need to…”

“And I’ll ask you again: Where do you need to go?”

Sam blinked again. What was this?

“I just told you. Twice in fact.”

The driver stared ahead. The car engine rumbling beneath them.

“No. You told me where you want to go. That’s not where you need to go.”

Sam’s eyes fixed on the back of the driver’s head. He could only make out the man’s jacket collar pulled up around his neck. The cap pulled down to his ears. He could not see one feature of the man in front.

“All right, thanks anyway.”

Sam grabbed his bag and pulled at the door handle. But the door didn’t open. He yanked at the handle a couple of times, but the door remained closed.

Childproof locks. To stop a kid from opening the door. Or anyone, for that matter.

“Listen, let me out. I’ll get another cab somewhere else.”

The driver didn’t move.

“Tell me where you need to go.”

“I need to get out of this taxi,” said Sam. “Before I call the police.”

No movement from the driver.

Sam pulled out his phone and swiped the screen. Nothing. He swiped again. He tapped the screen. Maybe out of juice. He could have sworn he had a full battery earlier. He swiped again, but nothing.

“Just let me out here please,” he said to the driver. “I think there’s been a misunderstanding.”

The driver spoke again. “Tell me where you need to go.” Each word emphasised.

Sam looked out the side window. Opposite, a row of shops, all closed. He turned in his seat to look behind him and saw the street disappearing into the darkness.

Not a soul around. No one.

“Look, I’m sorry, but I don’t know what this is about. If you want my money, I’ve got some in my wallet. You can have that and…”

The driver tilted his head.

“Where do you need to go?”

Sam stared ahead. Through the window of the front of the taxi, he could make out the deserted street. The lights on either side, illuminating the sidewalk with conical shapes.

He turned, panic flooding through his veins, and yanked at the door handle. Pulled at it several times until it snapped off in his hand.

He banged at the window with his fists.

“Let me out of here. Let me out right now.”

The driver didn’t flinch. His body rigid in the front seat.

Sam fell back into the rear seat, his breath coming out of him in short bursts. He blinked away the tears that filled his eyes, wiped away the salty sting from his eyelids.

“What do you want?” he said, his voice coming out in a hoarse whisper.

“Where do you need to go?”

“I need to go home,” said Sam. “I need to get home and sleep. I’ve been working all day, and I am tired. I need to go home.”

“That’s where you want to go,” said the driver. “But think. Think carefully. Where do you need to go?”

Sam opened his mouth to speak, but the driver raised his right hand to stop him.

“No. Think. Think carefully now. Where do you really need to go tonight? What is the one place that you need to go?”

Sam sat frozen in the back.

Where did he need to go?

He thought about it and could not think of one possible answer. He needed to be home. That was where he needed to be.

He wasn’t tired. He was exhausted. He needed to get inside his own apartment, have a shower, a cup of hot tea and then bed.

He needed sleep. That was what he needed.

But he could not speak.

The car engine hummed beneath him and the driver sat in front, unmoving.

Then it came to him.

Sam’s mouth fell open.

His face dropped and his eyes closed.

That was where he needed to be.

The car engine purred. And the driver sat still in the front.

Sam opened his mouth, but no words came. The driver cleared his throat.

“Where do you need to go?”

Sam raised his eyes to the rear-view mirror. He could just make out the driver’s own eyes. Steely grey, no emotion inside them.

Sam leaned forward and whispered the address to the driver.

The driver nodded, put the car into gear and slowly drove down the street.

Sam stared outside. The cold, grey windows he had walked past a thousand times on his way to the office. Windows that he may never see again.

Colleagues in his office he may never talk to again.

But he had to go.

It was where he needed to go, and he had put it off for so long.

Join my mailing list and I will send you this complete lesson plan and others for free – ManWrites Mailing List

Or if you prefer, you can buy it here – The Taxi/gumroad




Reading Comprehension Questions


Where does the story take place?

What time of day is it?

Where does Sam want to go?

What has he been doing?

Can Sam see the driver? Why/why not?

Are there other people or cars on the street?

Is the car engine on or off?

What is the driver wearing?

Why can’t Sam open the door?

Why can’t Sam use his phone?

What is opposite the taxi?

What does Sam offer the driver?

What does Sam want to do when he gets home?

How can Sam see the driver’s eyes?

Where does Sam go at the end of the story?


Essential Vocabulary


There may be a lot of new or unfamiliar vocabulary to you in the story. This is the perfect time to get to know these new and strange words and phrases.

Write down all the new words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look up the meaning of the new vocabulary in a dictionary or online and write down the meaning next to the word or phrase.

It should look something like this:

To blinkshut and open the eyes quickly.

To flop downto sit down heavily or awkwardly.

Then write a sentence of your own that uses the new word or phrase correctly.

I blinked my eyes as I looked up at the sun.

I flopped down in the chair and fell asleep.

If you do this correctly, it will help you learn many new words and phrases. This will build your English vocabulary and writing down all the words and phrases, making sentences of your own, will all help you to remember all of this new vocabulary.


Discussion Questions


What kind of story is this?

Is this a supernatural story? Or a real-life event?

Explain your reasons.

Who — or what — is the driver?

Is he real? Or a supernatural being?

Explain your reasons.

What is the difference between where you want to go and where you need to go?

Why do you think the driver keeps repeating this question to Sam?

Where is that Sam needs to go?

At the end of the story, Sam whispers the address to the driver. Where do you think they go?

Where do you need to go?

Think about where you need to go in your life right now. Try to think of three places that you need to go to. Tell the class about these places and why you need to go there.

Are people in so much of a hurry in their lives that they only think about their immediate desires in life?

Why don’t they think about what they really need in life?

Think of three things you want and three things you need.

Now tell the class.

What is the difference in these things?

Can you help someone you know with what they need in life? Can they help you? Why/why not?


The Story Continues…


This is a group exercise.

Divide into groups of three or four students. Work together and think of possible conclusions to the story.

For example, Sam could end up in the following places:

  • Hell
  • A cemetery to visit the graveyard of his grandfather
  • The house of a long-lost friend
  • To meet an enemy and make amends

It could be anywhere!

In your groups, think of a place where Sam is taken by the mysterious driver.

Then make a story out of this situation.

When you are ready, tell the story to the class as one group. Each person should tell one part of the story.




This is a creative writing exercise.

Write the ending to this story. You can write any ending you want — use your imagination!

When you have finished your story, read it out loud in class.



Join my mailing list and I will send you this complete lesson plan and others for free – ManWrites Mailing List

Or if you prefer, you can buy it here – The Taxi/gumroad

What did you think of this short story? Were the exercises useful in your class?

Let me know your thoughts below!


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