The HJP Club: Somewhere in Time
This is part 4 of the series I started from an Indie Ink Challenge. You can read the story from the beginning from its page here.
His eyes blinked slowly, once, twice. The flashing of light confirmed his suspicion that he was in the tunnel, yet the train he was riding was like none he had ever seen before. There was none of the steam he was accustomed to. No puffs of acrid smoke to strangle his lungs from the open window. He dared not stick his head out. He didn’t know what to expect. Instead, he flipped his collar up to hide his face and tucked his scabbard into his pants.
He surveyed the room, soaking in what little there was to see. A couple of dark heads sat facing away from him, one interrupting the newspaper held in front of it. The walls were a dingy yellow, mired with brown handprints and black scuffs placed randomly across the car. There were smears of grease left from unwashed hair in the center of most of the windows. The carpet beneath his feet was thin yet surprisingly clean; the stains of yesterday faded almost into non-existence.
There were doors on all four sides of the car, two doors on each side, and a single door on each end. He wondered what the two doors were for, since his experience with trains only had entering and exiting the cars by the single door on each end. He stepped to a set of doors, hoping to get a glimpse of the outside world. The train jerked slightly under his feet, shifting his balance, the slowing motion an odd, unsettling feeling.
The flashes of light became a haze of grey, and he realized they were still underground. It appeared to be some kind of steel substation, the train platform wide and accommodating to the mass of people outside. The door in front of him split apart, creating a pathway to the platform. No one looked at him as they pressed by him so close he could smell their body heat. A short step from his long legs carried him easily beyond the crowd to the platform. A ding was followed by the whoosh of the closing doors, and the train began moving away in a crescendo of wind.
It only took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the semi-darkness. He turned to watch the train depart, and noticed the identical platform on the other side of the double tracks. People milled about, some in haste, a steamless talking device at their ear, others maneuvered children around by cumbersome trolleys and baby carriages. All were dressed strangely, their legs bared more than they ought to be, their arms naked, and their breasts bulging from their shirts. His mind pondered for only a minute what century it must be that women were allowed such little modesty.
The moment for wondering anything passed swiftly as the sound of a new train’s arrival caught his attention. As it approached from the opposite direction, he studied the placement of the lights, the quietness of the train itself, and the lack of steam with fascination. He stepped hastily towards the track to find a way to cross over, but a hand reached out to stop him before he went over the side.
“Hey, man, whatever your sadness is, that’s no way to go. Step on those tracks, and you’ll be all crispy. I hear it’s not a great feeling.” A man with greying hair and heavily lined face offered a warning. The Stranger grabbed his arm, and pulled him to the edge of the platform. He held him loosely, four feet standing half on and half off the platform as the train came nearer. Two feet were lifted into the air, his briefcase opened, its contents spilled over the tracks.
“No, it’s probably not,” the man’s eyes filled with horror as The Stranger’s metal cheek was revealed in the brightening light. “Just for reference though, why don’t you tell me?”
He watched as the man’s body convulsed as it hit the track, smoke billowing up from underneath him, his skin turning black, his screams echoing over the sudden rush of the train in its arrival. “Yes. I think you are right. Too bad for you.”
People were standing still, staring at him, their mouths open in shock. “You? How do I get to the other side?” he demanded of the pale faced girl covered in black standing closest to him. “Quickly before you join him!”
Her hand lifted, index finger extended, pointing behind him.
“Behind you there, take the escalator down, then up the one directly across. That’s the only way.” Her voice squeaked in terror belying the sparkle from the silver hoop in her nose.
Feet pounded the steel like hooves of thunder. Dark blue was sighted. Arms were burdened with wood. It caused him to tip his hat slightly to the girl and run to the escalator, disappearing down the shaft, his trench coat becoming wings in his descent.
This is in response to the prompt: You (or your character) fall asleep in the subway. When you wake up, the whole world is changed.