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Perennials

by Kisty Leigh 2 months ago in Short Story
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The Runaway Train Challenge

What the fuck!? Where the hell am I? A fucking train??

Oh my God, I’m going to puke.

“Hey, you! Please. I’m gonna throw up….” I plead to a passerby. They look at me in absolute disgust. As I’m reaching my arm in desperation towards her, I realize that I don’t even recognize my own arm!

“Where is the bathroom!?” I shout with frustration. Everyone on board points to the other end of the car.

I race down the aisle, people gasping at the obviously wretched sight of me. I practically tear open the restroom door and barely make it to the toilet in time to throw up…but, there is nothing to throw up. I’m dry-heaving, sweating, and tears are rolling down my face at the pressure of it all. I grab a paper towel, wipe my face, and at the first ounce of returned strength I have, I stand to face the mirror.

It’s not me!

Who is this!? Is this a joke?

I touch the mirror as if touching it should confirm what I am seeing. Then…

**BANG, BANG, BANG!**

“Open up. We know you don’t have a ticket!”

Still trying to regain strength and memory, I shout back, “Wait a minute!”

“Ma’am, step out of the restroom immediately.”

They are shouting like they are police, as if I’ve just committed a crime…wait, if I am not me…then maybe, whoever I am, did commit a crime!? Oh my God. What do I do? What do I do??

I begin searching myself for a ticket. Not in this trenchcoat… Not in my pants…

**BANG, BANG, BANG**

“Ma’am, this is your last warning.”

I hear mumbling and the jingling of keys. They’re unlocking the door! No, please no. This is not me. Whoever they are looking for, it’s not really me!

They open the door and I’m blinded by the sun shining through. Right before I can make out anyone’s face, someone grabs me by my left arm and pulls me through the door.

“Wait!” I plea. “Please, you don’t understand. I have no idea where I am right now or who I am!” I feel the tears fall like waterfalls in desperation.

“Yeah, we’ve never heard that one before….”said one man.

“Take her to the back car,” demanded another man.

I still can’t see or make anyone out with all the tears streaming from my eyes. We make it to the back car where they sit me down in a cold, metal chair and they handcuff me to the table in front of me. I now see that these men are officers.

Ahhh..my head! Oh my God, my head hurts so much. I have to stop sobbing. Please stop crying. Please fucking stop. I have to find out what’s going on.

“Excuse me, I’m talking to you!” shouted one of the officers.

I can’t seem to orient myself. I can’t make myself speak. I’m stuck!

One of the officers turns to the other, “Well, she’s all yours.” and slams the car door shut behind him.

The other officer’s demeanor never changed throughout the other’s frustration. He’s calm. Collected. He sits in front of me and asks, “So, you don’t know where you are or how you got here, is that right?”

I’m too scared to speak. What do I say anyway?

“Miss…” he reaches out for my trembling hand. He holds it gently, yet firmly. I can feel his calm energy.

“You are clearly very distraught. Please, let me help you. If you can’t remember how you got here, then can you tell me what you do remember?”

Now that I think about it…I…I don’t know. I can’t even think of who I am. What is my name? Is anyone here with me? This body…it’s not mine. That’s all I know for sure.

“You gave the other passengers quite a fright. They say you collapsed onto the floor, and, as if you were talking in your sleep, you were chanting…do you remember what you were chanting?”

I still can’t speak. But I manage to shake my head ‘no’.

“They say it was gibberish. But I, myself, heard you call out for a Michael. Miss, who is Michael? Is he here with you?”

MICHAEL. Michael. Oh my sweet Michael. I knew immediately who he was talking about. And God, please tell me that he is not here!

“Have you seen him!?” I cry with desperation. “Where is he!?”

“Calm down, calm down. I will help you. But I need more details, please. Tell me more about Michael. Maybe about where I can help find him for you?” the officer asked, giving a most genuine concern in the matter.

“I…”

Wait…Michael. We were just battling in the skies above. But, that can’t be possible… No! I can’t have fallen! I begin weeping unrelentlessly, clearly upsetting the officer to the point that he is now excusing himself to fetch me a glass of water.

Have I fallen? Why am I here? Michael, I know you hear and see me…please reveal to me the Truth of my presence here.

The train starts loudly rattling and squealing abruptly, interrupting any chance I have for concentration.

Suddenly, I vaguely hear people shouting. What’s going on? Something is terribly wrong.

I have to break free. I must help.

The once-calm officer comes rushing in and says, “Ma’am, we’re experiencing a problem right now. Stay calm. I’ll be back with you in just a bit…,” as he rushes back out of the room.

“Wait! Wait! I can help!! Please uncuff me! I can help!” I plead.

“Best you stay put, Miss. Don’t worry, we have it under control,” he says half-heartedly and slams the door closed behind him.

Did he not hear me? I can help.

Wait…can I help? How could I possibly help? Something inside of me. Something is telling me that I can help, but I cannot find a memory nor logic that suggests I am capable.

More screaming. It’s getting louder.

OK.

I can’t just sit here. I have to do something. I keep looking around for a spare key or anything to break or saw these cuffs off. I just don’t see anything helpful.

Ow! Ahhh! The pits of my stomach are twisting with such force. The screams are still getting louder. My head…my stomach…the screaming…the rattling…I can’t. Make it all stop. Please…

“FUCKING STOPPP!!!” I stand and scream at the top of my lungs!

Pop!

I look down and notice that as I stood up, the cuffs broke. Without thinking too much about it, I run for the car door. I throw it open and see that everyone is flocked to all the windows. There is child, maybe aged 10, just sitting in his seat alone. I run to him and ask him what is happening.

Without moving his head, he replied, “It is Judgment Day.” Then I notice the child is blind.

“Can you tell me what everyone is staring at through the windows?” I ask.

“They are hoping the train will slow down…that it will come to a peaceful stop. But it won’t. They just can’t accept that this is the end.” The boy responds with such confidence and peacefulness.

I continue to probe him for more information, but he dismisses with, “I have spoken.”

‘I have spoken,’ I thought. I know these words. I try asking who he is, for a name, for something, but he just sits in his peacefulness, null to the chaos surrounding us.

I hear a man shout out, “Have they found the Conductor!?”

A group of people at the front of the car chant in unison, “No!” One of them shouts behind them, “They still can’t get in!”

Everyone’s crying screams are ringing in my ears. A piercing I don’t think I’ve ever known before. I fall to my knees trying to walk to the end of the car. ‘Get yourself together,’ I urged myself.

And then my stomach twists in such immense pain. Oh God, my head, too. Please stop. I have to help. I glance up and notice the blind child staring at me from his seat, as if he could see me perfectly clear. And with no sympathy at all. Staring like he’s just an audience member sitting in the middle of a live performance, waiting for the next scene.

BAM! From my knees, I am knocked down, my face to the floor. With all the other pain, I didn’t notice a woman just tripped over top of me, now lying beside me on the floor. As I come to, I see she’s on my legs. I try pulling them out from under her, but she won’t move. I lift my torso over her to see what’s going on. She’s got blood coming from her head, barely breathing, her face soaked with tears. Not a single head has turned to take notice. I still hear and feel the piercing of all the shouting and crying. I can barely hear myself think.

Then the thought arrives to me, ‘You broke the chains. You broke those cuffs because you willed it. Crazy idea…perhaps I can will all of this to go away, too?’ Oh my God, I AM crazy!

But who cares? We are all about to die anyway. So why not?

As if reading my thoughts, the blind boy shouts out to me, “There’s no use. They are all doomed.” This time, I don’t even acknowledge him.

‘Maybe so,’ I think to myself, ‘but I cannot deny this urge to help.’

I roll the fallen lady onto her back and release my legs from underneath her. I kneel over her. My hands grab each side of her head and I squeeze my eyes closed. The piercing in my head is taking over again.

“No!” I shout out loud. I shall not succumb to these pains. I must help. I take a deep breath, and I relax my eyelids as I try to ignore everything and everyone around me. Suddenly, I find myself in what seems to be a dream.

A bright white light is coming at me fast, but I can feel that it is safe so I wait for it to reach me. I take another deep breath and relax deeper.

When finally I can see nothing but white, I send a prayer to Archangel Michael:

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls.

Amen.

I gently open my eyes and wipe her tears and blood from her face. I can feel a gasp for air from her chest. I speak softly to her, “Come to me, my child. Come back. You’re not done yet.” I quietly sing to her Psalm 62. And after what seemed like 30 minutes, she opened her eyes. Shocked, she quickly sat up, but immediately felt the pain from her concussion. She fell back, and I caught her.

“Shh…please stay put. You hit your head.”

“Wait…the train…oh, the train!” she exclaimed with dangerous realization and memory of the state of our situation.

“Hush now. We will find a way to fix this,” I try to console her.

“YOU! You…this is your fault!” she says in disgust, as she scoots herself backwards away from me.

What is she talking about? I just helped bring her back.

“You couldn’t have let me die with a head injury!? Why!? Why do I have to die like this now? You’re a witch! A black magic WITCH!!” She runs furiously away the best she can with dizziness.

I am so confused. I helped her. I helped. She’s okay now.

The aisle begins filling with traffic again as an officer walks in and demands order in the car.

Great. I don’t even have a seat…. I walk to the back of the train, seemingly much slower than everyone else and I crawl into a corner behind the last seat. No one even notices me at this point. Good. Because I can’t hold it in anymore. Streams fall down my face. I’m literally choking myself, trying not to cry aloud.

The ruckus in the car dies down for a moment and I can barely make out what the officer is saying. I hear others whispering something about he must be lying because the train is still speeding ahead.

Then all of the sudden, there is dead silence. Huh? I peek my head out from hiding. I don’t see anything. All I see is the officer just standing there, staring off into space, as if in a trance.

Then I see blood begin seeping through his chest, fully soaking his clothes almost instantaneously. What the hell is going on? I don’t see anyone else. What happened to him!? Not a whisper to be heard from a single person. The officer drops lifelessly to his knees, revealing a cop standing behind him with a knife. It’s the cop that was so calm and nice to me! What!? This can’t be real. How!?

The dead officer falls face down to the floor, and the other steps forward, avoiding the lifeless body in front of him with a smirk on his face, as if he’d just gotten away with the biggest heist of all time.

He began speaking with a confident, cool tone, “Now. Are we all going to settle down, or shall I get this over with and just slaughter you all right now? Your choice. Now…or later? With this knife or in a train wreck?” he pauses, literally waiting for an answer from everyone.

“I asked you all a question!” he shouted furiously. He walks up to an elderly gentleman sitting aisle-side and puts his bloody knife up to his throat. Everyone gasps in horror, women covering their children’s eyes.

He looks into the old man’s eyes, “Speak. What shall it be?” The seemingly fearful man suddenly became relaxed and never spoke up. The officer drove his knife through the old man’s throat. The man’s body began twitching endlessly. There is such silence that I could literally hear the blood gulping out from him. The officer took a knee next to him, staring the old man in the eyes, and said, “Smart choice.”

Like a comic villain, he flings himself up onto his feet, while pointing the knife up towards the sky, as he demands, “So what shall it be for the rest of ye!?”

He continues speaking while walking towards my end of the car, “You heathens do not deserve an easy death. You have done nothing to deserve it. If it weren’t for… Well, let’s just enjoy the grace I’ve blessed the few of you with so far, yeah?” He turns to make sure everyone behind him is giving him their full attention. No one speaks. All you can hear is whimpering.

“Now, if you’ll excuse, I need to behead someone I’ve just been dying to get my hands on. And I do mean ‘dying’.” He continues toward the car door behind me. Oh, no. I squeeze myself deeper into a corner, as far under the seat as I possibly can. I watch his boots nearly skip merrily closer and closer. There he is. Dagger in hand. Blood dripping everywhere from it. He goes to open the door, but pauses a moment. He closes his eyes and breathes in deeply.

‘Oh God,’ I think, ‘this is it.’ I squeeze my eyes closed, waiting for my end, and then I hear him continue opening the door and leave. I open my eyes just as the door closes behind him.

Wait a minute. The officers said they brought me to the last car of the train. And when they left me, I was the only person in that car. No way…he’s looking for me!? My chest squeezes in pain. Is this a heart attack? I begin sweating profusely. What do I do? What does he mean he’s been “dying” to get his hands on me?

Fuck! I have to remember! Wake up, wake up, wake up!

I want to cry, but I know I don’t have time if I want to survive. Jesus…WAKE UP already!!!

I just can’t fucking remember. But I can’t stay here. I have to move on to another car. He’ll be back any moment to look for me.

I leap to my feet and make a run for the front of the car. I jump over the dead officer lying in the aisle, completely without effort.

Short Story

About the author

Kisty Leigh

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