It’s early,… too early, you know, earlier enough your mind still wants to believe that it’s night. Thoughts of returning to the sanctuary of my warm bed cloud my mind as I continue to drive. “I’ve never been this early” I thought, flipping on the cab light and glancing down at the train schedule, “4:24, that’ll put me up at school with 4 hours to spare” I thought to myself as I smiled, realizing I may in fact be able to pull off this term paper after all, which I had so carelessly neglected in the previous weeks.
As I pulled up to the dreary, faintly lit station I immediately noted how peculiar it looked. I had been coming to this station for the better part of 3 years and yet something seemed,..off. I brushed it off as my sleep deprived brain as I brought my car to a halt, the chilled brakes coming to a squealing stop made me jump slightly in my seat. I laughed at myself and made the pledge to go to bed earlier that night, like I had done so many times before.
I stepped out of the car, the chilly January morning hitting my body that was still sluggish from my warm bed. My arm and neck hairs stood up as I grabbed my bag and clutched at myself to retain any remaining warmth.
The station had an elevated bridge that crossed over both tracks, for both coming and going trains. I climbed the stairs as my body reminded me yet again, it was too early for such things. I reached the top with fatigued, sore calves. I winced with each step crossing the bridge, assuming I had pulled something.
The pain in my leg distracted me for a moment from the fact that all the lights on the bridge were extinguished, the only illumination came from an eerily clouded moon high above me and just to my right, the unnatural light shining onto me. I joked with myself for a moment that this bridge reminded me of a stage, and I was in fact the star, with the ghostly spotlight illuminating my every move. The humor soon subsided to this same feeling I couldn’t shake as I crossed. I felt as if I was being watched from below up on this otherworldly stage. My silent ghostly audience observed from below, and that scared the hell out of me. I quickened my pace and plodded down the stairs to the other side, a feeling of relief washing over me.
I continued up the walkway to the covered waiting area, all the seats were empty but gradually the same feeling returned that I was with someone. But I could not decide if I was feeling like I was welcomed or not. While I waited a dense fog seemed to crowd me, closer and closer, blocking out all the surrounding structures that I had seen so many times.
But the strange thing was, if I concentrated hard enough looking for an area I could see it, just how it looked, the abandoned convenience store, once hidden by the suffocating fog, now shone through. I could see it all, just as it was supposed to be, faded paint, warped wood, broken windows, and graffiti. Just as I knew it was, which gave me the suspicion that my mind was merely telling me what was there and what I wanted to believe. “The lack of rest was messing with my thinking process”, I thought to myself. My mind continued to feel more and more clouded to the point of me almost yelling out in panic. But, right then the faint screech of the train tracks snapped me back into reality. I stood up and grabbed my bag, the lights of the front car cut through the haze like knives, but only the lights, I could make nothing out of the train car even though just like the store I had seen it so many times. Another wave of relief washed over me, as I assured myself I wasn’t insane and my time alone at the station was merely a product of my sleep deprivation.
The large body of the train finally cut through the fog and brought itself to a screeching halt in front of me. But I was shocked and frightened to find this in fact was not the passenger train I would frequently take, no, this was a much older, more derelict, locomotive. I had never seen anything like it, at least not in real life, I had seen trains similar to these in history books, however it was a passenger train and not wanting to stay at the station a second longer I boarded the train.
The interior was as I expected, musty and worn from years of use, as I also expected there were no other passengers on the train this early, and only 1 conductor from what I saw, he looked like a much older man, but because of his large coat I couldn’t make out his face. He was heading the opposite direction from my car, so I dismissed the thought of him and sat down.
I immediately had a disdain for this car, as I sat down and it took motion, I couldn’t explain it, something about this was,….sinister. What made me the most uneasy was the silence, I couldn’t even make out the sound of the engine or the tracks outside, yet upon looking out the window, clouds of fog swirled by, we were definitely moving. It was then that I rested my head and eventually fell asleep. It wasn’t long before I was snapped awake by my mind. No haze of sleep remained, I was completely awake. No fatigue, no energy, nothing at all. I looked around to find that my cabin had become increasingly darker. I looked up to see the window into the next car and was happy to find that the cabin was illuminated. I stood up and walked toward it, for some reason the thought of grabbing my belongings seemed meaningless and I continued toward the door.
With each step closer I felt more warmth and pleasure, noticeably with each step. Grabbing the door handle, I felt more secure and more safe than I had in years. I pulled open the door, the light inside blinded me, it took me several moments to regain vision.
When I regained sight, I was shocked to find my family sitting in the car, which had…”furniture?” “My grandmother used to have this exact sofa” “this is my grandmothers house!” memories of childhood enjoyment and happiness flooded into my mind,…for a moment……..then I realized what this was. I had been here before, no, not just my grandmothers house, yes I had been here, but this moment, this moment playing out before me, I had been here before! Oh god, I felt as if I had just been here, or was, I could just feel what was happening and what was going to happen.
But I hadn’t, this was years ago. At first I wondered why everyone was sitting around what looked like a bed, the mood had changed from sanctuary, to very morose. I looked at the faces of my family members, grief stricken, tired faces stared blankly away from me.
This was the day my grandmother had died, but not just the day and the event, this wasn’t over that soon. I felt the pain, the suffering, the helplessness we had all felt in the months prior, but I could feel each of my family members’ pain as well. Flooding into my mind were thoughts of doubt, anger, and fear. It was as if someone had captured all the negative feelings and thoughts and gave me a front row seat. The crying, the yelling, the sobbing all echoed in my head. I made the way to the bed they surrounded, there lay my grandmother. I tried to let out a cry, some sort of relief, some expression, nothing! I was constricted I could make no noise, no sound, no acknowledgement of anything. I felt as if I would explode.
My vision focused on my grandmother, it looked as if she had already passed but instead of peaceful as most would describe death, instead to my horror she withered and turned to dust before my eyes! The sweet eyes that had looked down at me as a child, rolled back in her frail head and eroded. Her sweet smile was perverted and warped into a grisly, macabre frown of pain and agony. What could I do? I was helpless!
Just as I fell to my knees and grasped my head the scene changed. Completely white the room was now. All white, except for one detail in the corner. Legs and half a torso hung from the ceiling, the rest above blacked out from my vision. “Strange” I thought, not grasping what was happening. It was as I moved closer I noticed, and my memory reminded me. “Those look like your Grandpa’s old work boots.” It hit me all at once, what was this sick nightmare I had fallen into? I screamed now. Unfiltered and all at once, I screamed the most terrible scream that had ever befallen my eardrums. The floor gave way and I plunged into blackness.
I woke to a dim light shining in my face, I couldn’t move, I looked around and realized I was in my parents home, I was confused, the lighting was off, the house was silent, but I was more relieved the nightmare was finally over. Until,..the phone rang. A freezing shiver went down my spine as I heard the tone. I hadn’t had that phone since…..”oh god no!” “not this, not today, anything but this!” My body sat up in the couch I had been laying on, only it wasn’t me moving. I was merely an observer now, I had no control, I could feel everything my body did, but my limbs were locked in their past movements.
The moment played out as it had so many times in my nightmares. I sat up as an empty liquor bottle rolled off my paralyzed body. Hazily and clumsily my hand grabbed the phone, and held it to my ear. “Daniel?” Her voice sent a chill through my body as well as tears to my frozen eyes. “Yeah?” I felt the filthy words escape my liquor coated breath. “I could use a ride, I missed my bus.” she said. “Be riiigghhtt thaarr”, I winced, disgusted at my past self. This was all too real. “Are you ok Daniel?” she asked. I hung up and fumbled my way to the door.
I fought with everything I had to stop this madness, trying impossibly to move my rigid limbs, holding my breath, maybe I’d black out, “Don’t get in the car! Fuck! NO!” I blacked out as my body sat into the seat and fumbled with the keys. But only for a moment, I was snapped back into this nightmare with a loud crack and a piercing light, I was almost there. How had I made it there so drunk? Why is this happening? I grew closer and closer to madness every second. When suddenly the car stopped.
My head turned to see her. There she was, my beautiful little sister Sam. I couldn’t control my tears seeing her. The same young, pretty 12 year old girl waiting in front of the school all those years ago. Smiling at me through the haze of this nightmare. Everything went so fast after that. The red light. The truck. Oh god, I can still hear the screams. “Daniel!” clear as day in my ear. The guilt, Mom leaving. No one to turn to. It’s all my fault and it just keeps playing over in my head, the same scenes. Oh god I deserve it all.
I jolt awake in the aging, felt seat of Train Car 66, a cold sweat drenching me, as I continue to shiver and convulse. Eventually I can sit up, shivering and going mad.
Suddenly I feel a tap on my shoulder, I turn my stiffened neck to see the grisly face of death….The Lone Conductor I had seen earlier wandering the train. “Tickets please….” a dry, but powerful voice echoed from the horrific jaws of the grim reaper. Moving involuntary, my hand reaches into my pocket to pull out a stub of paper etched in blood. I look to see partial photos of my grandma, my dad, my grandpa, and other people I know that had died. The photos are partial because punched through them is the symbol of a skull. My possessed hand continues to hold it, and to my horror, clear as day, my picture is right there at the bottom. As my hand outreaches to the cold clasp of deaths hand. It occurs to me, that I don’t quite remember waking up that morning. Death clasps down on my ticket with a device made out of two skeletal hands intertwined together, and all I see is blackness.
Credit To – Mr. 1086