La Tapo Terminal
A Collection of Short Stories Inside an Apocalyptic World
My eyes flickered open, blinking hard to dust off the night before. The morning birds began cawing and chirping as specks of sunlight started to seep through the broken windows of the abandoned train terminal—my home ever since June 13th, 2149.
Weak winds slipped through the cracked, stone pillars, cooling the sweat on my forehead. My blurred vision coming into focus on the soft, swaying vines above me. I run my hands over the worn seat cushions, scaring off a few butterflies, and rested them upon the bumpy patch that read "Propiedad De La Tapo." I breathe in deep, filling my lungs with chalky air and perfume from the local flowers. A loud chime rang out from the terminal clock, spooking the surrounding creatures and causing the birds to flutter away. I can't believe that damn thing is still running, I thought, lifting myself out of bed. Feeling a day older, I stand and stretch as I pull back the train station fleeces I'd sown together to make a barrier, revealing the colossal terminal in all its decrepit glory.
I step feet first into the white jumpsuit and zip it up to my neck and tie up my heavy brown boots. I climb down the marble steps, now fractured by the taproots, and make my way towards the station's janitorial closet. I wheeled out the cart that carried multiple chemical cleaners, soiled rags, brooms, mops, and a couple dusters with most of its feathers missing.
The creaks from the cart echoed as I pushed it slowly down the vast hallways. Framed illustrated prints showing off the train station in its former glory, still managed to cling to the walls. One of the prints had a red headed boy standing in a ticket line with headphones on. I remember being his age and waiting in that same line to see my father in Guanajuato. My throat swelled up from the memory.
I always made a point to catch the picture of the La Tapo food court as I continued down the hall, where the little painted passengers smiled as they ate their hot meals. My stomach began to growl, as I looked upon the rows of empty vending machines.
I set out my CAUTION WET sign on the bathroom floor and hooked a new mop head onto the stick. I placed it into a yellow bucket of pink, fizzy liquid, rung out the excess water and slapped it on the checkered floors. Then onto to the moss eaten granite by the train tracks, then again onto the rotten tile of the back kitchens. I sprayed some lemon scented solution onto the shards of mirror and began, carefully, wiping the grime off. Before moving on, I stared at my reflection through the jagged fragments. I brushed off some dirt on my cheeks and tucked back a messy, brown lock of hair behind my ears.
I take an hour lunch break on the second-floor cafe near the large, punched out windows. The view was wide and stretched out across the old city, overgrown with brush and infested with different plant life. Dark clouds were gracefully rolling in and shifting the atmosphere smells. I take out a Gansito snack cake box from my jumpsuit pocket and shove the chocolate mess in my mouth and lay back in the plastic booth waiting for the rain. Solitude isn't as quiet as people think. The sounds of wildlife and weather were comforting and consistent.
As I finished up my last snack cake, a low humming noise began to swell, and the floor underneath me started to quiver. Earthquakes frequented this area, so I wasn't too alarmed, but before I could move, I saw a bright flash shoot out across the dark sky. I squinted as I saw a shiny object falling quickly towards the ground. Probably more space shit. I thought, but as I looked again I noticed that the light was different, it was streaked with bright purples and oranges. It was almost like a firework in slow motion. I’ve never seen the sky so alive. The weather felt different, and the red flags in my body were activated. I grabbed my garbage and headed towards one of my safe rooms.