Image: Metropolitan Transportation Authority © Patrick Cashin. Source – CC License
Author: Sandrine Spycher
I’d been waiting for my train for ten minutes. Josh was walking up and down the platform. I was cold as well, but too tired to move so I just sat on the metal bench. Finally the train arrived and we climbed on. Although it was crowded like mad, we managed to find a seat near the window. I squeezed my overfilled bag under the seat and leaned against the cold window. A fat man sat next to me; I could hardly move without hitting him with my elbow. Noisy kids were chattering a few seats away, and an incredibly skinny person—so skinny I could hardly tell if it was a man or woman—was listening to loud punk music in front of me. Josh looked annoyed. I think he mumbled to him/her to turn the volume down, but wasn’t understood. It was in that uncomfortable environment that I finally fell asleep—I guess I was so tired I could have slept anywhere.
I was suddenly awaken by a loud noise and the train coming to an emergency stop. Everyone looked astonished. Almost every passenger moved toward the windows to try and see what was happening. As we were peering outside, the door crashed open.
“Nobody move!” a male voice shouted.
I was now fully awake. Three figures were standing in between the seats. They were holding huge guns in their hands, threatening the passengers with them. One of the kids started weeping. The one who seemed to be the leader of the gangsters yelled at the poor child, with the only effect of increasing his crying. The gangster then turned to the skinny punk listener and violently pulled the earphones away from him/her. That’s when I made my move. I jumped from my seat, clung to the gangster’s back and hit him on the head. He was so surprised that it was easy for skinny-one to snatch the gun from him. The other two gangsters were quickly overtaken by Josh and the fat man, while the kids’ mother phoned the police. A few minutes later, the gangsters were cuffed and taken away in flashy cars with loud sirens.
I had dozed off again, but at the next stop was woken up by a movement from the fat man. He got up heavily and made a clumsy way toward the door. The seat he’d just left was almost instantly occupied by someone else. He was even stranger than skinny-one. He was very tall, and the only way he could sit without disturbing anyone was by folding his legs under the seat. At that moment I noticed that his legs, just like the rest of his body, looked like rubber. The man was so flexible, it looked as though he didn’t have bones at all. When he saw I was observing him, he turned his round boneless head toward me. I couldn’t help but start up. His face was concealed under a hood, but I could see two blood red piercing eyes, which seemed to be flashing lights.
“I’m not from this world,” he said. “Don’t tell.” His voice was a somewhat strange mixture of hoarse and childish tones. It gave me the shivers and made the hairs stand on my nape. As I looked around, I saw Josh was sleeping, skinny-one was lost in the music, and the mother was telling one of the kids to stop shouting. It seemed I was the only one to notice how weird that man—or alien?—was.
Another sudden stop made me look outside. When I turned back, the alien was gone. I stood up, but didn’t see him. I started walking between the seats.
“Hey Sam, where are you going?” Josh asked in a sleepy voice.
“To see if… erm… if I can find out what’s going on.”
Yet, I didn’t go far. A ticket inspector told me to go back to my seat and wait. Wait for what, I wondered. So I sat down again in front of Josh.
“Look,” he said, “the railway tracks are completely flooded.”
I looked outside to discover he was right. But how could it be? The sun had been shining for a while, and it was way too cold for rain. I was really starting to think there was something uncanny going on with this train. First the gangsters appearing out of nowhere, then a boneless alien with red eyes, and now a flood. Perhaps the three events were linked. They had to be. I was so caught up in my thinking about conspiracy that I didn’t even notice the water level was going up. Passengers were hitting the windows and begging to be let out. It wasn’t long before I started panicking too. The water was freezing, and although I tried to keep my chin above the surface, I felt like drowning. I fought for a few more minutes before fainting.
“Sam? Sam, wake up, we’re here,” Josh said.
I opened my eyes and looked around. The passengers were getting up and gathering their things. A tall man wearing a hoodie handed me my bag. Skinny-one looked at me in a disgusted way. My shoes were soaked.
“What happened?” I asked Josh.
“Oh, that. I’m sorry. There was a sudden move and tipped off my water bottle.”
When I got up, I noted that hoodie-man was wearing strange glasses which were flashing red lights. I was trying to make sense of what didn’t make sense when Josh pulled on my sleeve.
“Come on! What are you waiting for?”
“What happened?” I repeated. “How did we get out of the water?”
“The water. It was flooding the train,” I tried to explain.
“There was no flood, or anything,” Josh said, surprised.
“How about the gangsters?”
“Which gangsters? Oh you mean the teens with their rap music? They got off a while ago. I didn’t think you’d noticed. You slept through the whole trip.”