It happened after Borough Hall. The train had been traveling at regular speed when suddenly all the lights went off. Everything went pitch dark. We heard the emergency brakes screeching and held on against the push towards the front. People were stumbling and cursing. After about a minute the train reached a standstill. I was waiting for some emergency light to go on, but nothing. Some people took out their phones and were making light with them. I couldn’t really see, but I was glad there was at least a little bit of light. We were all wondering what had happened. There seemed to be no electricity, neither in the train, nor in the tunnel. The marquees on the ceiling didn’t work. Nothing. I started to come to terms with the fact that I probably wouldn’t get to work in time.
We waited and waited. People were pretty composed, I guess--swiping away on their phones. After a while, somebody noticed that there was a light source a couple of cars up by the conductor booth. There were rumors of derailment and power-outage. Power-outage seemed plausible to me since it didn’t seem like the train had been shaking a lot before it stopped, but who knows. The A/C had stopped, too, and I was wondering how long the air in here would be good for.
After 15 minutes, people were mentioning something moving in the cars in front of us. I stood up and saw that somebody with a flashlight was coming down the aisle with a throng of people behind them. We were being evacuated. Oh man, I never thought it would happen to me. At least, we’d get out of here. The train had stopped somewhere after Borough Hall. As soon as we’d surface, I’d call my boss, tell him what happened, and then go home. No money today. I figured he wouldn’t think it was an excuse, because this was sure to make the news. Eventually, the conductor came through the separating doors into our car and announced that we were being evacuated. People were asking him what was going on, but he wouldn’t say anything; just, to follow him in an orderly fashion and that he would lead us outside. I joined in right behind him.
So, we walked through two more cars and reached the back of the train. He opened the door and we got out. I had never been in a subway tunnel before and it was somewhat exciting. The conductor told us to stay away from the Third Rail and follow him. We walked back in the Borough Hall direction. I made sure to always stay right behind him. After walking a good while, we went off the tracks into a little concrete room with stairs leading upward. After scaling the stairs, we reached a vestibule with a tilted emergency exit hatch as its ceiling.
I was very relieved to finally be out of this. I wondered if there would be cops or emergency personnel outside. Hopefully not. I just wanted to go home. The conductor unlocked the doors, but even after he unlocked them, they wouldn't move. He kept pushing and after a while I began to help him. We were able to move the doors a little bit and every time we managed to make them budge, dust came drizzling through the crevices. I wondered why someone outside would have dropped sand on an emergency exit? The conductor was very quiet. A couple of women and men from behind us came up to help us and so, together, we tried to push the doors open. After a lot of shoving and lifting, we managed to push them out and heaps of dust poured in whirling up into the air. Coughing and patting ourselves we stepped outside and quickly realized that we stood in a wide wasteland of dust and debris.