No ticket to ride.
Was I blind? Was it dark?
It was not the dark that you see at night, but rather, a pure and inky blackness. I felt like I was being tossed back and forth. I could hear the hum of an engine, it wasn't loud, but it was enough to feel as if it was engulfing my whole being.
I tried to stretch out, but my feet hit some cardboard. I reach around, feeling my way to the open side of the box, and forced my way out. My crate toppled over, spilling me onto the floor. An eerie, orange light cast a jaundice shadow across the interior of the car.
I was on a train.
One lonely light illuminated the area. Storage crates were stacked floor to ceiling; some were rustic looking, and others were clad in shiny new metal. Some were secured with straps, others with twine and rope that looked as if they were hundreds of years old.
There was one window exposed, looking out all I could see was darkness. There were no stars. No moon. No light.
At the opposite end of the car, I could see a pedestal rocking gently back and forth. Atop it was a lavish book. It was bound in deep crimson leather with a golden hourglass embossed on the front cover. Even the edges of the pages seemed to gleam with gold as the light swung back and forth with the rocking of the train.
Warily, I rose to my feet and walked to the book. I gripped the sides of the lectern as I flipped to the first page that would open.
"Mors certa, hora incerta - K"
The words were written in exquisite cursive. The page was ornate despite its worn appearance, the pages clearly had been unmoved for a long length of time. I reached out to touch the page and as soon as I did the entire book crumbled to dust. In its place was a pile of ashes that sloshed back and forth with each undulation of the car.
I gasped, inhaling some of the ash. I stumbled backward as my throat burned. I could feel my back against the rough floor of the car. My entire airway felt like molten iron. Each inhale became more painful than the last. I clawed at my throat, scratching, pulling, desperately trying to rid myself of the dust.
I could see some faces of people as they flew by me. Their eyes were consumed by the same, endless darkness. Their mouths were pulled open as they emitted wicked screams. It felt as if their cries were tearing the air from my chest.
I was drowning in fire and despair.
I could feel the train pick up its speed. It was as if it were racing down the track towards some unknown destination.
The cries didn't cease, and the strident noise scratched against my ears. Suddenly, a large bellow cut through the cries. A stag had appeared near my feet, its deathly white visage terrifying. Antlers hung from bits of flesh, and its mouth hung askew, its porous tongue lolled to the side of its mouth. The car smelled of rotting carnage, mixed with a moist, decaying stench.
It approached me then. It lowered its head with sickening cracks and pops as it pushed its nose toward mine. Despite the burning of before, its breath threw frozen spittle across my cheeks. A gurgling broiled from deep within, as if it were trying to speak. I opened my mouth to scream, only for it to be filled with a putrid black liquid.
I could hear popping and sizzling as the area around me began to be dissolved. My insides, everything, felt as if it were being cooked alive. I reached up then, grabbing at the antler that hung from the stag's head. He roared, lurching forward to shove another antler into my chest.
As he did, I was jolted awake. My body was heaving, and I was covered in sweat.
Above me, written in red, was the name Kalayavan.
The one worse than death.
About the Creator
A young adult still trying to find her place in this world.
You can follow me on all my socials!
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Excellent telling! was the main character a descendant of the Yavanas? This was VERY well written! LOVE it!