The Empty Train
This was absolutely ridiculous!!! “How the hell am I to reach home now”, he thought !! It was way into the night and he had missed the last coach that took him to his home which was on the outskirts of the city, normally a 25minute ride out past a quiet part of the woods that flanked the city and gave it a picturesque view when standing atop the vantage point in the city center’s park.
Sometimes he wished he wasn’t such an introvert . In fact most people got pretty put off by his normal curt ways and an obvious disinterest at making small talk or standing in the corridor to ask how someone’s sick wife was doing now.
Though quite deliberately cold and loner-like most days , he nevertheless felt that he could do with some company right now…Now that his predicament was worrying him. A trifle selfish one would say but that thought didn’t cross his own mind. He was busy cursing Steve mentally for not insisting on giving him a lift home, but as usual , he had been arrogant and overconfident of catching the last coach home thereby tersely rejecting Steve’s sincere offer. Little had he realised that he was five drinks down after the conference, teetering a little on his feet and had overstayed his welcome long after the official conference got over . The exasperated bartender had tried to cojole him into having his last drink for over an hour while Steve kept tugging at his arm and urging him to get up and leave like the others had long gone.
Having given in after a fight he allowed the bartender to shut shop and be led out into the night by his trusted friend Steve..the only person who had the patience to stay back with him seeing his drunkenness. However , rather than be grateful, he pissed Steve off further by trying to shake him off roughly and yelling rudely at him …something about not trying to be his mother or something like that..he couldn’t remember!!
That must have been the final straw for his well meaning friend cos he soon found himself all alone at the coach station with no coach at hand. There was just the guard who told him to walk five minutes down to the train station and try his luck there cos there was no coach till 7am now.
On reaching the train station he realised that he could just barely catch the last one and though not too steady on his feet, he made a dash for it, scuttling down the 25 steps as fast as his feet could carry him, stumbling onto the platform just as the train screeched to a halt in front of him. Gathering his wits and trying to catch his breath at the same time, he leapt onto the train before this final mode of transport eluded him too, uncaring if he was pushing anyone or stepping on anyone’s feet in the bargain. “Who cares anyway “, he thought!! “If some idiot is going to come in my way of course he’ll get trampled on. Why can’t these f…idiots stay out of my way anyway” !!
Thinking out his offensive play in his mind , he grabbed a seat before any old lady tried to claim it from him and plonked himself down , his head reeling from the effort of the past 15 minutes!!
It took him some time to muster the strength to look around long after the train had left the station and what met his eyes was a bit disturbing!! Forget bumping out people to get a seat, he actually had all the seats , in fact the whole coach to himself!!
This surprised him a bit cos although it was late in the night, being a weekend he knew lots of people caught the last train to the suburbs on a Saturday night and finding himself alone today was strange. He got up to walk down the aisle and peep into the next coach..finding it empty too …and the next and the next. He was getting a little worried now, his intoxicated mind working overtime, goosebumps appearing on his arm and hair bristling at the back of his neck!! Was he in the wrong train, was it a deliberate ploy by some local hooligans to be followed by an attempt to rob him or worse still……!!!
He rushed to the door of the moving train and tried to pry it open , albeit unsuccessfully of course, and then frantically started beating at the glass, panic welling up his throat. As he stood with his cheek glued to the glass pane door, he heaved a sigh of relief as he saw a platform looming up in the distance and took a step back, readying himself to jump out as soon as the doors opened.
Alas that was not to be as the train hurtled along the track showing no signs of slowing down…rather he watched the station go by with ten people waiting to get on waving frantically to try and stop it!!
What the hell was going on!! His mind began to work a bit clearly now and as he saw another small station coming up, he threw himself onto the stop train chain and yanked with all his might!!! It didn’t seem to be working!! He pulled and pulled harder but to no avail and watched wearily as two more stations, many more passengers and time flew by without stopping!!
He sat down again with a thud and looked around desperately as if to miraculously see a couple of seats occupied and people edging him not to worry or be frightened!! The only thing he saw was the feeble lights in the coach dimming on and off, empty chairs shaking as the train trundled along and felt a strange numbness as a cold draught suddenly hit him in the face !!
There was a creepy sensation of not being alone despite the fact that he really was!! He felt as if he was being watched and could have sworn he heard an eerie chuckle near his left ear… As if someone was mocking him!! Oh God where was help when you needed it!! He pushed himself out of his seat and threw himself into the next coach, frantic as though he was being followed by an unseen entity, the cold feeling refusing to go and the mocking laugh getting louder and louder!!
“Why the hell didn’t I just take up Steve’s offer?? Why did I have to be so arrogant and shove him off!! In fact why the hell didn’t I just listen to my wive’s pleas to take the car and come back home early and sober” !!
There were a lot of whys going on his head as he scurried forward, stumbling and stubbing his toes, grasping the chairs to steady himself and looking frantically over his shoulder at nothing!!
As he ran he suddenly felt something cold and steely grip his shoulder and then his neck and as he screamed in terror , the train suddenly lurched to a stop the doors opening in front of him . He shrugged himself free, running onto the platform, yelling for help but the passengers standing around to board the train seemed not to see him…they ignored his pleas and went on their way while he begged a policeman to save him!! Blank stares met his desperation as his unseen pursuer made ground again , landing a freezing hand on his nape and shoving him onto the hard ground!!
He woke up in a sweat finding himself on the hard cold tiled floor while his wife peered over from her side of the bed demanding to know what had happened!! Dazed, he ran his hands through his tousled hair, shaking his head in relief!! Oh Lord, so this is how it feels to be left alone, ignored , fearful and totally isolated!!
Was this how I make the people around me feel?? Was their life like an empty train that I piloted , not allowing anyone to climb on or off..always always selfishly in charge!!
Realisation dawned on him!!
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’