Estimated reading time — 4 minutes
He ran towards the subway, desperately hoping it won’t leave before he gets there. The next one won’t be around for another 10 minutes; such is the case with these late night trains. It has been a long day for him, and there was nothing more Michael want than release by sleep right now.
He made it in just before the doors closed and he managed a smile: a small victory amongst a lost day. He dumped his backpack on the chair beside him and took another seat himself. There were very few people in the train: some late night businessmen and workers rushing to get back to the welcoming comfort of their own respective beds. Michael’s eyelids did not agree with his brain to sleep when he gets home as he nodded off as soon as the train began to move, with the steady nod and hum of the train cradling Michael to dreamland.
He woke up to an empty train. Michael was puzzled: even this late in the night, there are people getting on and off at each station in this busy city. As he scanned around, however, he realized that there was indeed no one left on the subway in this carriage or the others. He glanced at the map of stations that showed which station they were approaching with a light. To his surprise, none of the lights were on. The train was speeding along even faster now. The world outside was a complete darkness. Only the occasional jerk told Michael the train was still moving forward. Michael tried his cell, but got no signals. He remembered that it was underground and felt slightly foolish. The train was just in a really dark tunnel that had one or two unfortunate bulbs blown out. There was nothing to fret over. Already, the forward jerk that signaled the train stopping began and Michael stood up to wait for the doors to open.
Yet they never did.
He waited, but the doors simply remained closed. There was no one on this abnormally small station platform. Some time ago the train must’ve re-surfaced, for he could see the city light in the distance, yet Michael knew the last station was underground. ‘Perhaps the train pulled away into a maintenance area’ he thought, until he saw the name ‘Vale’ station imprinted in bold letters on the far wall, like they have at every other station. But ‘Vale’ was not on the map. Before Michael could get a better look around, the train jerked again and it began to move forward once more.
A girl sat down in the next carriage.
Michael didn’t notice her at first, for he was embroiled in trying to find out where he was. Even though they were outside now, the location system did not seem to work; his phone still had no signal and it was already 11 p.m. Fatigue was about to overtake him when he noticed her. She was dressed in a shabby grey dress, her straight obsidian hair obscuring her face. She faced downwards, as if the cure of cancer was growing between her toenails. He could have sworn there was no one in the carriages around him when he looked through the glass doors on either side of his carriage, but maybe the tiredness clouded his vision. Then the girl tilted her head, paused, and then turned completely upright to stare right at him. Michael worked as a camp director on a really remote place before and felt crept out before, but this stare truly chilled him to the bones. The stare was vacant, not at all helped by her abnormally large, grey eyes and her large pale face. Her mouth was either so small that Michael couldn’t see it or it didn’t exist at all. Even though she was at the far end of the other carriage and the train was moving at breakneck speed, Michael felt an imminent sense of danger. He shrugged it off as paranoia at night.
He shouldn’t have.
The train was pulling into another stop after what seemed to be an eternity. Michael made the mistake of looking outside and there she was. Standing on the platform, beneath the big words ‘Vale’ station, was the girl with the shabby dress. He tried to avoid eye contact, but noticed through his peripheral vision she was still staring right at him. He quickly turned around as the train moved again, and there she was sitting there staring, now just a few feet away in his carriage.The train began to speed up again. There was simply no way. She couldn’t have moved so fast. The doors never opened. She looked up and stared at him blankly.
“What the fuck do you want?” Michael’s voice was smaller than he’d anticipated.
Then she stood up, and Michael almost fell: where her mouth should be, there was nothing. It was just smooth, pale skin. Her face twisted into what would be a smile if she had a mouth, and Michael watched in fear as she strode towards him. ‘She must have been in some sort of accident; maybe she just wants help’. Michael thought, trying to comfort himself as he back away ever so slightly. ‘It’s just a dream.’ He thought, ‘She doesn’t want to hurt me; we don’t even know each other. She must-‘
The train rode silently on.
Michael woke with a start. He looked around, puzzled as to why there was no one else left on the train. He felt the train began to slow down and he stood up to wait for the doors to open.
They never did.
Credit To – Bill Yang