The Train

After promising to be on time for once, Lily makes her way on the train to meet her best friend. Only to wish she hadn't made that promise.

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1. The Train

I jumped on the train just as the doors closed, I bent over, hands on my knees as I tried to catch my breath.

“Would you like my seat?” I looked up and saw a girl about my own age beginning to stand up, I raised my hand,

“No, I’m fine… I’ll be fine in a minute” I managed to choke out between the mouthfuls of air I was trying to force into my lungs.  I really needed to start working out; running down a platform shouldn’t leave you this breathless, especially at 17 years old.

“No here I insist,” said the girl,

“Thanks” I replied, gratefully taking the seat,

“No problem, rushing somewhere?”

“Just to see my friend,” my breathing finally returning to normal and my heart rate slowing down, “But I’m always late and I promised her I wouldn’t be this time.”

“I’m the complete opposite,” the girl stated, “I’m always the early one.”

We continued talking and I found out the girl new to London, coming from a small town in Ireland. She was actually in the year below me, although she didn’t look it. Her straight brown hair, completely different from my messy, dirty blond hair, framed her angular face, making her high cheekbones stand out, something I’ve always been jealous of.

Her name was Poppy, like the flower, something we had in common seeing as my name was Lily.

I almost didn’t notice the train had stopped I was too busy chatting away, only when Poppy looked up and down the carriage did I notice that we weren’t moving.

“Does it normally do this?” she asked,

“Sometimes, they need to let the other train pass so that we don’t collide,” relief washed over her and we continued talking.

5 minutes later we still weren’t moving.

10 minutes.

15.

Now when Poppy asked me if this was normal I had to admit it hadn’t happened to me before. The most I had ever waited was 5 minutes.

We were in the first carriage meaning that the door to the driver’s cabin was at the end. As everyone looked at each other, wandering what was going on, a man stood up and walked over to the door, knocking three times. No answer. After knocking three more times we all decided he should try and open it. It was unlocked and he swung the door open revealing… nothing. The driver wasn’t there.

As some people started to panic, others, including myself, tried to figure out a way to get out of this situation. No one knew how a train worked but after some testing the man who had opened the door, whose name I now knew was Billy, managed to get the doors to our carriage open.

It was quickly decided that Billy and another man, John, would walk back to the station we had left half an hour earlier and find someone to help us.  This quick decision made some people calm down and another decision was made to send someone down the carriages to let people know what was going on.

I returned to my seat next to Poppy and we sat in a comfortable silence, a complete contrast to when the train was moving.  I checked my watch every now and again, expecting Billy and John to be around 20 minutes, 30 at most.

An hour later they still weren’t back, and people were starting to panic again.

I stood up and most turned their heads towards me, I’d been helpful with making the decisions.

“I’m sure they’re fine,” addressing the issue that was on everyone’s mind.

“How do you know?!” a woman called out, I could hear the hysteria in her voice.

“Ok, I’ll go out and find them,” I said confidently, even though I was feeling anything but.

“I’ll come with you,” I turned and saw Poppy rise from her seat, “You can’t go out there alone,”

I nodded at her, “Right,” I turned back to the majority of the carriage, “Me and Poppy will go out, find Billy and John, and bring them back with the help they’ve found.”

I tried to look confident as I jumped from the carriage and on to the tunnel floor, turning round to help Poppy down. We started walking back towards the station and soon enough we were talking again. We stepped over train tracks, following the dark, dank tunnel. Before long I saw a small light heading our way, warning me of an oncoming train. I jumped to the far left, out of the way, as the noise got louder and louder.

Poppy still hadn’t moved.

“Poppy, move out of the way!”

“Of what?” Was she completely stupid?!

“The train you idiot!” I screamed at her,

“What train? Lily there’s nothing there!”

“Poppy, you are going to die if you don’t move right now!”

“Lily, there’s nothing there, stop shouting.”

“If I stop shouting, you wouldn’t be able to hear me over the noise!”

“What noise? There isn’t any noise; it’s just you and me here”

She still hadn’t moved. I ran over to her and tried to pull her out of the way but she pushed me off her. I jumped away just in time. I saw the train hit her. The train she couldn’t see.

After the train had passed I ran backwards and forwards trying to find her, but she wasn’t anywhere in sight.

Putting my hand over my mouth I choked out a sob before running as far away from there as I could and pulling myself together.

I continued walking towards the station, a few tears escaping to run down my face. Pushing them away I quickened my pace.

A door opened further down the tunnel and I ran to meet the man coming out of it,

“What are you doing down here?!” the man asked,

“There’s a train back there, it stopped and never started again, the driver’s gone and we don’t know where,” I explained.

“Well come on,” the man pulled me through the door, “we’ll get someone down there but you can’t be here, it’s too dangerous,” I followed him up a flight of stairs and out onto a platform, he left me to find my own way and I left the station to find I was exactly where I said I would meet my friend Ellie. Soon enough I had found her in the crowd and she walked over to me with a smile on her face.

“For once you’re not late!” she exclaimed,

I had spent almost 3 hours down in that tunnel.

“Ellie, what are you talking about? I should have been here hours ago,” she glanced at her watch,

“Well, by my watch, you’re three minutes early,” she smiled.

What was going on? This couldn’t be right. I didn’t want to sound crazy though so I dropped the subject, I didn’t want to tell her about the train just yet.

“So what do you want to do?” Ellie asked,

“Anything really, go to the park?” I offered,

“Sure, let me just let my Mum know.”

I froze.

“Ellie… your Mum is dead, she died two years ago, of cancer.”

“What are you talking about? Lily that’s sick.”

Confused, I asked her to call her Mum for me and let me talk to her, she agreed, giving me the strangest look. As she dialled the number my heart rate quickened.

“Hi Mum, yeah I’m fine, Poppy just wants to talk to you for a second,” she handed the phone over to me,

“Hello?”

“Hi Poppy how are you doing?” there was no mistaking that this was Ellie’s Mother, even after two years I could recognise that soft voice, tears sprung to my eyes,

“Hi Mrs Ringer,” I pinched the bridge of my nose, trying not to cry.

What was going on? Was I in a parallel universe? If so, I had to find a way to get back. None of this was real. None of this made sense. I looked at up at the confused Ellie. She wasn’t real, she couldn’t be.

I handed her phone back to her without hanging up and ran back into the station,

“Hey!” she called after me but I kept going, pushing through the crowds of people and finding the guy who’d found me in the tunnel.

“Hey, did you get someone to go and get the train?”

“What train?” he asked, I pushed past him and ran down the stairs I had gone up only thirty minutes earlier. I burst into the tunnel and ran back the way I had come, quickening my pace as the train came into view.  I hauled myself up onto the first carriage and took in the scene around me.

Everyone was dead.

And I don’t mean sleeping dead, I mean 100 years old dead. You couldn’t even make out their faces anymore.

They were just skeletons.

How was this possible? I’d only been gone an hour at most. What was happening to me?

I went into the driver’s cabin, determined to get back home, my real home.  I pushed all the buttons in sight but nothing worked. I looked around, trying not to panic. There! On the ceiling, a green button, right next to a red one.

Holding my breath I pushed the green one and the train started to move forwards. I almost cried out in joy, my last hope and it had worked. I saw the platform coming up and pressed the red button, slowing the train down. It stopped exactly where I needed it to and I ran past the skeletons, trying not to look too close, and jumped on to the empty platform, running to find someone who could help me.

I found a railway service man and convinced him to follow me back on to the platform, I explained what happened. He entered the train and looked around; I followed him on and saw nothing. No skeletons, no people even. They were just gone.

“But they were here,” I whispered to myself, “the skeletons were here, where’ve they gone?” I turned to the man in desperation.

“Very funny, go home kid.”

 Shaking my head as I went, I walked slowly through the station, trying to figure out what had happened. I couldn’t make sense of any of it.

I followed the stairs which lead me up on to the street where all of a sudden I was being squeezed tightly by Ellie, who had come rushing over to me.

“Where have you been?!” she almost screamed, “You’re hours late and you weren’t picking up your phone! I thought something had happened to you!”

“I’m sorry,” I told her, “It’s been a long day.”

“You scared the hell out of me Lily!”

“I’m sorry,” I repeated, she sighed and linked her arm through mine,

“It’s fine; just call me next time ok? God, you had me so worried,” We continued walking down the road silently, not going anywhere in particular. I wasn’t even concentrating my mind was still trying to figure out what had happened.

Ellie broke the silence, “I better call my Mum and let her know you’re okay, she’s been worried sick.”

I froze.

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