“There is a place in the metro, a yard. It’s dangerous; Even some of the toughest writers won’t go there, the guards are skinhead neo-nazis ready to fight and they carry weapons. It’s a war and that’s where the main battles take place. One night we should go there with some beers.”
The thought astounded me. My new comrade – who was to become a solid companion on these nights of utter madness – had just spent the past ten minutes explaining to me the various frankly distressing reasons why one would not wish to visit a metro yard in Barna; most of them ended with blood, bruises and possibly a fine or worse and yet here he was now telling me that we should go and drink near there in the tunnels and see what all the fuss was about. Just as someone might take a stroll to the beech to socialise with friends he suggested we take a relaxed stroll through three stations and to the prize waiting at the exit to the underground world, the trains – the locally known ‘death star’ yard. The pair were now laughing and talking hurriedly in a language I was yet to grasp, reminiscing of nights spent in the realm of the guards, broken into with quickly shouted directions from our chief navigator. Although I was no stranger to the metro, having ventured solo into a few tunnels within my first week in the city, this felt new. Almost like I was a totally uneducated rookie being shown the ropes by these two insane characters I’d happened upon.
An hour previous I’d been riding my bike along the sea front with some beers, and now here I was speeding through the city in a van filled with slight haze of exhaust smoke from the broken vent on my way to fuck knows what. On the way we spoke quickly about system information and the best spots to visit. They shared information about the hot zones handed down from various writer sources who were up and active seven days a week, the zones that were seen as the most dangerous and the most secure, but also those that were simple and fairly relaxed to get into. They shared stories about a time now forgotten when the metro was literally a walk in system. When paint wasn’t a popular hobby for the locals and the city was relatively unknown in graffiti circles. Then they told me of the rise of the security approaches, the changes in behavior and the now constant cat and mouse game between the various crews and the ever ready guards. Guards that wouldn’t hesitate to beat the shit out of you with a bit of wood, reciprocating the violence often bestowed upon them by other type of people often found in the very tunnels we were about to peruse.
We arrived just outside the city after twenty minutes, it was warm – too warm. I hadn’t yet acclimatised to the climate and once again they laughed as I stepped out in a tshirt and shorts, whilst they were covered in jackets and jeans. We quickly moved to an entrance and within a few minutes of checking and hastily climbing we were greeted by the intense aroma that’s often found in tunnels of this variety. We cautiously moved forwards, keeping our lights low and our voices hushed. We were next to a station, and the trains were still running. One wrong move and we could be easily spotted or hit, a raised voice could easily be picked up by those hovering around the end of the platform that stood not 15m from where we were now stood looking out into the blackness. Slowly, the air around us began to change. A small amount at first, but growing. The pressure shifted and the fan beside us started to squeak to life as it was forced to start moving by the sudden rush of air. A train was coming.
By now I can’t even recall where we were that night, nor what we ended up doing or if even we were seen and hastily exited; if we waited and walked to see what we found, or if we sat and drank some beers and relaxed. Those days are a blur, one tunnel merges into the image of the next, one night into another and eventually it becomes hard to pinpoint exact times, days and sometimes even who was present. The point that stands is that this was the beginning of the new journey, a quest to conquer and see it all. It would result in many nights spent running, hiding, dodging trains, laughing, drinking and getting filthy. Nights that still continue until today. Who knows, by the time this brief introductory anecdote hits the internet it could all be over.