The train ride from Hell ... Daily Slice winner
|I stood on the dull grey platform, the piece of paper clutched in my fist. The first time I'd read it I was perplexed. The second time I was angry. The sort of rage that consumes you so completely that your whole body shakes.
I lifted the single sheet of paper up to the dim light and stared at the words for the third time:
Be on the train tonight. 11pm.
This time I was scared. Terrified in fact.
The distant rumble of the train penetrated my ears, a deep growling that drew closer and closer, metal grinding on metal until finally, it rushed into the platform with a gust of wind that knocked me off balance. As it pulled to a complete stop I swallowed a lump in my throat. I stuffed the paper into my pocket and reached out with a trembling hand, opening the door.
The coach was close, the air stifling. With a slow chug, the train began to pull away leaving the dark station behind. Soon it was hurtling along the tracks, the silhouetted scenery a dark blur. I finally looked up. The carriage was almost empty. Only one other person was there. I couldn't decide if that was a good thing or not.
I took an aisle seat and sat up straight, alert.
Okay so I'm here, now what? How did I even get myself into this mess?
I knew exactly how. It was Jordan's fault. I went to a party with my best friend a couple of weeks ago and fell in with a group of lads. Everything was fine at first; we drank and partied and passed around the occasional joint. A week later it all went down. When they began to beat the guy, I ran. I knew it wouldn't stop there and, sure enough, his murder was reported the next day. I hid but they found me and I was going to pay for it now.
The door at the end of the carriage slid open with a bang. There they are. The knot in my stomach grew. Mick strolled down the aisle, head held high, hands brushing the tops of the seats. Behind him, at least four other men followed. All familiar faces. All an unwelcome sight. A few feet from me he stopped and simply stared, a smirk creasing his pale features.
I stood up, willing my legs to hold me. I stood tall and faced Mick, hoping my eyes didn't betray my fear. A small slam in the distance indicated we were alone in the carriage. I swallowed, hard.
"What do you want?" I spat
"You." Malice shone in his eyes. "You've seen too much."
"I... I won't tell." I heard the stammer in my own voice.
Mick grinned. "I know you won't."
A round of guffaws came from the goons behind him.
"You have a choice to make."
"A choice?" What am I, a fucking parrot?
"Right. You or Kate."
Kate? My girlfriend? What? My mind reeled. I closed my mouth and watched him.
"I need to know that you're not going to talk and there's only two ways to be sure. The first is that we kill you. The other choice is that you kill her."
"What?" My voice exploded in a ball of rage and I lunged forward. Before I reached him, Mick pulled out a knife. I stopped just before my neck was impaled on the blade. Bolts of fury shot through my eyes.
He smiled again. My fists tensed at my sides. I wish I could knock that smile off his face.
"She's not involved in this."
"She is now." Mick's voice was hard.
Then, as if on cue, the men behind Mick parted down the middle and a figure was thrust forward. She stumbled and fell to her knees with a grunt. Finally she looked up at me, tears in her eyes.A dirty cloth was tied across her mouth and her face was already bruised. Her nose was broken and her clothes were torn.
"Make your choice." Mick held the handle of the knife out to me. I looked up at him.
"What's your choice?"
I glanced back down at Kate. Her eyes pleaded with me. She crept forward, bare knees grating against the rough floor. I was about to reach out and grab her when Mick took a fistful of her hair and yanked her backward.
"Hey!" I yelled.
"Shut up!" In one swift movement the knife was pressed against her neck. I could see the white line in her soft flesh where it threatened to break. "Choose. Now." It was an order. A command. Something he was used to giving.
I eyed the gang up. Five sets of beady eyes rested on me. What should I do? I don't stand a chance. Deep down I knew, as sure as I felt my body shaking from the inside out. I knew that even if I got out of this situation, there'd always be another.
Leaning forward, I grabbed the knife from his hand. Kate's eyes widened. The handle of the blade was slick in my hand. I didn't let myself have time to think, instead, I jabbed the knife as far as I could into her throat, the knife slicing through her skin like it was hot butter. Blood pooled at the wound and began to flow out over my hand, hot and sticky. Then, with a wrench of determination, I ripped the blade across her neck, ignoring the gurgle coming from the depths of her throat. Her eyes never left mine right until the light faded from them.
It was only the sound of his hideous laughter that roused me from my stupour. "Fucking coward."
I looked up at him, away from the bloody mess on the jolting train.
"See you round." He was gone.
I was free, but at what price?
Winner of "Invalid Item"
2nd April 2013