Grinding rails from the train up on the elevated tracks evaporated into the night’s traffic. Sparks spilled over the side of the riveted steel bridge and were lost in the pollution of neon signs, headlamps, and street vendor lanterns. As the blocks spun by, she could only think of the hours that she had spent in these twisted corridors. The days that had gone by in this alien landscape within the press of some ten million other people.
The lights in the train car flickered and she caught a glimpse of herself in the window. Getting older, the bags darkening under her eyes, tired eyes, eyes that no longer knew what to look for, no longer knew what signs would bring meaning back. Somewhere in the routines she had lost something. Something was left behind in taxes and faces and mistakes that kept coming back to haunt her in stabs and jolts. The cars buckled uneasily around the next bend.
“What am I doing?” She said to her blurred reflection in the window and then looked past to the cityscape. As the train came out over the river the lights and millions of people faded away and for a moment all that remained was the dark river of sloshing darkness under the bridge. It was a black void.
She turned away from the window and looked about the dingy train car, the green lights flickered over the graffiti stained walls and the shimmering silver bars and the plastic red seats. She was alone.
She wondered where real friends were, wondered why she felt so strange, like something was about to happen, but nothing ever changed, caught somewhere between the comfort and security of routine and just utter boredom with no good way out. Where was the adventure life was supposed to take her on? The strange anxiety of being trapped in the moment rose in her throat and she closed her eyes.
The train sped on as she slept. Carrying her away.
She woke up with a start at the lack of motion. The train wasn’t moving. In no time, her mind was racing.
“STOP, DON’T LEAVE!” she hollered at whomever was running the train. She looked around for someone who might tell her which station they were at, but there was nobody. She gathered up her bag and moved down the aisle to the doors. They opened as she approached.
Passing in a daze out from the green flickering room of graffiti. She found herself on the dark platform. She looked for someone else, but there were no people in the glow of the platform lamps. There was a light rain in the hush of thick foliage all around the station. There was no city, no people, nothing but the hum of the dingy lamp and the unused benches. Her heart sank. The train doors closed behind her. The train sped away.
She was left alone, utterly alone, clutching her bag against her chest in the patter of the light rain. She deflated, looking at the station name which read in flat black letters: “Brigdon”. She had never heard of it.
She looked about for some kind of booth, an overhang to get out of the damp. But the platform had nothing, she pulled out her phone and saw it light up only to notify her that the battery was at a mere 4% at which point it promptly died. She was left staring at the dark drops of water on the dormant screen.
She cursed and, seeing no shelter on the platform, she made her way down the stairs at one end and took shelter under a tree with broad leaves. The rush of wind and rain made her shelter-tree shudder and drops fell on her no matter how close she pushed her back up to the bark. She looked around, for something to reveal where she should go, the only path angled from the station into the dark woods with no light whatsoever.
“Another train will be along at some point.” said a voice. “Not until morning I’m afraid”
She looked around and then noticed, below her gaze at about waist height a small umbrella being held by a tiny person with a furry face like a fox.
Her eyes bugged when she saw the creature hold up the umbrella with a smile.
“If you want you can use my umbrella, I don’t mind getting a little wet.”
She tentatively grasped the tiny handle and held it over her head. Not taking her eyes from the small being.
“I was actually here to meet someone, but I guess she missed her train.” Said the little guy, looking downward and scrunched up his shoulders against the rain.
“W-who were you waiting for?”
“Oh, an old friend… Anyway, no sense in us both getting wet out here, my name is Lander.” he stuck out a small furry hand that emerged from the long sleeves of his coat. She shuffled the umbrella to her other hand with her bag and grasped Lander’s hand shaking it up and down, stultified by the strange little person.
“My name is…” She drew a blank. Panic arose in her. “I don’t remember my name”
“Seems like kind of an important thing to forget; you might be catching a fever.” Said Lander. “Come, if you need a place to stay, you can come stay with me, the next train isn’t until the sun comes up. It’s not safe to be out at night alone, especially in a rain storm.”
The panic that was within her came out as “If it’s all the same I think I should wait for the train on my own.”
“Suit yourself, you can keep the umbrella.”
And then without another word he turned and walked briskly away, producing a small flashlight from his coat and lighting the way down the path into the woods.
She watched him go and was soon left alone in the rain, the drops pattering off the small canvas of the small umbrella. A few moments went by before she turned and saw his little light bumbling down the path away from the small train platform. She was a city girl after all, she didn’t need help. The thought came upon her suddenly, but she soon soured to this small bit of pride and then hurried with her bag and tiny umbrella clumsily balanced after him.
As she ran, puddles splashed and the wind picked up with the rain falling harder and harder. Ahead of her down the path she could see the light bumbling on. As cold drops fell, they got in her eyes. Then there was a dump of water that fell from one of the broad leaves right before her. The splash hit the ground and rose up, covering her in water. She didn’t stop, but she failed to see the water congeal and rise up behind her.
She found herself running, and as she did, more splashes of water fell from the trees and rose up as watery blobs with shimmering tendril hands reaching out. She could see Lander when another splash fell between them. This time the puddle rose up in front of her and the watery blob appeared, eyeless reaching out towards her.
She screamed and nearly fell back, turning from this apparition only to see the five others behind her. She dropped the umbrella and soaking wet reached into her bag for her knife. She pulled it out in the darkness, flipping out the blade.
“Get away from me!” She yelled, but the blobs only continued sliding toward her. Panicking she brandished and slashed with her knife at them, but they only seemed to grow closer and bigger in the rain. She slashed at the closest one, but her hand only went through the monster and came out wet on the other side. They began to press against her and tried to drown her with their blobby bodies.
Before that could happen, a yellow light fell upon them and the watery monsters shrank away returning to simple puddles.
“Are you alright?” He called as he came up to her. “I told you this place is dangerous at night, you shouldn’t walk in the darkness.”
“You’ve got to be straight with me right now!” She said.
“What what, of course, I’m glad those pests didn’-
“No, you be clear with me RIGHT NOW…” She said, the rain and her tears mingling “Am I in a fucking fantasy story right now?”