In the Dark of the Night

"Please let all passengers off the train first"

The announcement ends and I step on to the carriage. Familiar sights greet me, the same layout I see every day, carriage four, door two, my old friend. I had been the only one waiting for the train at this station. As I look around, I notice the carriage is only lightly littered with people here and there. It is quite late, I hadn't expected many people, the platform outside is deserted bar the occasional pigeon. They needn't have bothered with the announcement. There being only few others with me doesn't provide any comfort, the night people are the most worrisome. As I settle into my seat along the far wall, familiar feelings creep their way into my heart.
The train kicks into life, and we slowly accelerate, leaving the platform, and all chance of escape, behind. All outside light is cut off as the train quickly descends into the tunnel, not to emerge for some time. Familiar thoughts flash through my mind. Images, memories linger behind my eyes, just waiting. Waiting for the perfect moment to strike. I can see them already –An elderly couple sit opposite, ranting continuously in a European dialect, pausing only to cough and wheeze, spreading various ailments and illnesses throughout the confined space. A group of teenagers strut through the carriage. Minutes later, one of them draws a knife and... A woman gets off the train. A lanky form appears from the shadows and she is thrown roughly against a hard, cold wall, her head cracking on the bricks. A foul, odorous being resting against her... –
The air seems thicker, stickier, heavier. Only shallow breaths of oxygen manage to reach my lungs. The carriage has become unfocused, the light spotted, the train, it seems, is moving in circles. I am for some reason reminded of the movies I used to watch with my siblings, particularly the one where a selection of the main characters were thrown into a rank, polluted, bacterial breeding ground. Once they regained consciousness the walls began to close in on them, closer and closer they approached. Of course, they didn't die; their status of main character ensures their survival throughout the movie. Some of them were quite lucky really, with their intelligence, in any other movie their life would be over before the opening credits. I, however, am disposable. I am no lead character. I have no futuristic weapons. And most importantly, I am not fictional.

Surely, after all this waiting the train must be nearing my stop. As I glance at the flashing screen, I find a glimmer of hope. Perhaps, my luck is about to change. Just maybe, life will be kinder to me. We are finally approaching my station. Not wasting any time, lest the universe change its mind, I hastily assemble my things. I stand, take one step and... fall. Shoelaces: the bane of my existence. The only other person on the carriage seems to be sleeping and thankfully hadn't noticed me trip. Not giving him a chance to see me in a rather undignified position, I regather my belongings, round up the contents of my bag which, when I fell, had spilled under the chair amongst a collection of empty energy drink cans and used chewing gum. Eventually I was fairly sure I found everything, I place my stuff on one of the seats and quickly re-tie my laces. Criss cross, loop, over under through and pull. Okay, second try. Cautiously, I set my feet on the floor, straighten up, right foot, left foot, right, left and so on to the door.

I can feel the train slow, hear the brakes screeching, see the streetlights separate from the line they were previously, to the individual beacons of light they are. Again, I hear a loud, sharp tone, this time however, it is not painful, nor unwelcome. To me, it is the most wonderful thing I'd heard in a long time. I am free. I step off, take a few steps, left, right, left, a system that has served me well for many years. I walked further and further from the train, and as I am doing so my mind re-evaluates my current situation. The bad images in my head are instead replaced with a persistent feeling in the back of my head. A feeling of loss, of emptiness, a feeling that something was somehow missing...

The same tone sounds yet again and the doors audibly slam shut, Bang! At a seemingly uncommon speed, the train accelerates and departs from the station.

I look down at my empty hands and it clicks...

"Shit, my bag!"


Statement of Intention –
My aim of this piece was to depict a paranoid young woman boarding a train at night. At the start of the piece, my intention was to build suspense, which then drops towards the middle as the character tries to calm herself down. The suspense is then built up again at the end of the piece as the character feels that something is wrong.