Stranded Hope Riding on the Z Train
By Blake Caliguiri
The train blew its whistle loudly as it careened from dark night to dark tunnel. I sat in my stiff chair staring blankly into the faint blue pattern that seemed to kill itself on the back of the seat it was pressed into. I wondered to myself, “Who designs this shit? How much do they get paid? I could design that.”
As the darkness surrounded the long stretch of cars, I looked down the aisle; the train was nearly empty in my compartment. I closed my eyes as I cuddled up against the cold window. It felt like a hard, cold pillow (made out of glass of course), but it guided me to sleep nonetheless. The blackness outside the window never seemed to lighten.
I awoke because of the sudden lack of motion. The train had stopped moving and it rocked me forward slightly. I almost smashed my head on that hideous pattern. Imagine that, death by lack of taste, how terrible. I stood up and looked around me. The train was now empty, but the doors on both sides of the car were left open. The rest of the train seemed to fall silent when I stood up.
“Hello,” I called out toward the emptiness. “Hello,” I yelled again. I stood at edge of my seat and decided to turn right. I passed into the next car. Three steps into the car I realized that a mistake had been made. The lights on the ceiling were blinking on and off while they lay on the floor, only one wire still connected. The nice cool glass pillow I slept on was sprayed with blood. I followed the blood streaks down the wall. On the floor, where the blood had pooled and dried, laid what looked to be a man. It may have been a woman. In the years since riding this train, I have seen so many people, if you can call a mass of bloody flesh a person, that they have all become one long haunting nightmare.
I bent down to help them. At the time it seemed like a good idea, in hindsight I have no idea what I would have done to help, it just seemed like the heroic thing to do. They muttered few words but they were well chosen. They coughed the words out in a volume barely above a whisper: “I’m already dead. You better get out now.” And with that I stood and walked toward the open door a few feet away. I heard footsteps coming from the car I slept in. I didn’t stay long enough to see who they belonged to. I ran into that tunnel. That was the night that changed it all.
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Published November 5, 2009
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