- Vol. 09
- Chapter 10
The train was devoid of people at rush hour, but this isn’t what I initially registered as out of the ordinary. It was the fact that there were unusual items cluttering the otherwise empty underground car: a lawn mower and a camo backpack. Strange hallucinations. Perhaps it was the new meds. Chuckling, I settled into one of the patterned seats, and pulled out my book. The protagonist had just begun her quest.
After several moments, my head snapped up from the pages. Something was wrong. The thrum of the train was absent. In fact, the doors were still wide open to the gray station, which itself was quiet. Startled, I looked to my right, and there remained the strange objects. I got up and spliced myself at the door, one foot alight on the platform, the other rooted firmly in the train. The station was empty. I felt a hot shiver at the base of my skull. How had I arrived here?
I needed air. I bolted to the stairway. I only needed to go up, to come into contact with the cool night breeze, and remember the moments that had led me here.
My breath caught in my throat as I arrived at the final stair. I was back on the same platform that I had just left. A waiting train, a deserted tavern. The stairs behind me were gone, leaving only thick concrete. Heart hammering, I ran forward to the upward stairs again. As I sprinted past the waiting train, I caught a glimpse of something in my peripheral vision. A lawn mower, a camo backpack. I had to get off these meds.
It was like this for ages, in an infinite loop. Eventually exhausted, I entered the waiting train. Cautiously, I approached the strange objects. They must mean something. Tugging open the backpack, I found a hand lettered note.
It read, “wear me,” with which I, at a loss, complied.
Slipped into a crevice of the lawn mower, I found another note, “sit here.” This was absurd, but the terror of my circumstance began to morph into curiosity.
I crouched on the lawn mower. For a moment, nothing happened. And suddenly, the lights in the train went out. The motor roared to life beneath me and the lawn mower began to move into the aisle. The lights flickered back on, but only selectively up the long center of the train, like the tracks of an airport runway. The lawn mower lurched forward, and I clutched the handle as velocity increased. Lights flashing on either side of me, I was suddenly ecstatic. The air rushed in my ears, and I opened my mouth to let out a triumphant yell, which echoed outwards into space.
This space, was it still a train? I no longer knew. But I remembered the last words of the book I had been reading, “...and so she set off with only a rucksack, the thrill of the vast unknown stretched out before her.”