Eternal Deja Vu?
|He awoke with a start. The train compartment was empty. The indicator read 'Warren Street'. He got out just as the doors began to close.|
He had a bitter taste in his mouth and his shirt was drenched in his own sweat. He noticed it now, only after getting out of the train. His stomach ached. He looked around and saw no one. Warren Street station was deserted.
He didn't move. He was panting. He looked at his watch; it read 10:37 PM. 'Warren Street is never without people at any time', he remembered.
Ed was scared. He heard voices. They seemed to be coming from a distance and he couldn't make any sense out of them. He started walking towards the far end of the platform, towards the exit. He saw that the gate was closed. He reached the gate and saw that it was chained and locked. He turned back and started running the other way, towards the other end, the other exit. He didn't know why he was running. He reached the gate. It was chained and locked.
Just then, he heard a train approaching. He ran to the middle of the platform as the train slowed down. The train stopped and the doors opened. He walked in through the nearest doors and sat on the nearest chair. It was darker than usual outside and he couldn't see much. He realized he was still panting and the pain in his abdomen traveled slightly upward now. The voices faded into the distance. He drowned his face in his palms between his legs. He was confused, couldn't think straight; he didn't know how and why he was on the train in the first place.
The train began to slow down. He got up and stood near the doors, looking down at his shoes. There was a noticeable tear and some blood on his left boot, which he had never noticed before. He jumped out as soon as the doors opened and froze. He read the big signboard on the platform, it read: 'Warren Street'. He spun around to see the doors just closing. He saw the indicator inside the train through the glass of the doors. It showed 'Warren Street'.
The station was deserted. His heart began to pound faster. His head began to throb. He was hearing the voices again. He was terrified. He raced to one end of the station, to the exit. It was chained and locked. He could hear the air going out of him and his throat was parched. He was shaking with terror. His instincts took over and he jumped onto the tracks, not caring to check the other exit. He ran in the direction of the train that had gone. He ran as fast as his feet could carry him. The small lights illuminated the tunnel just enough to allow him to see where he was going. His torn boot made it uneasy to run. The voices faded away behind him. His left boot got caught in a protruding part of the rail at the tear and it not only made the tear slightly larger but also hurt his foot. He thought he was bleeding but he didn't care. He continued running.
He saw the tunnel getting brighter. He realized he was nearing a station. He started running slightly faster now. He reached the station and climbed up onto the platform. The signboard there read 'Warren Street' and it was empty. He felt sick. He starting choking on his own vomit and began to cough violently. He clutched his chest and coughed. He tried to breath in but he wouldn't stop coughing. He somehow managed to breath in a little air and slowly, his coughing stopped. He had tears in his eyes and his chest ached. His mouth filled with rancid taste but somehow he managed to swallow the vomit back.
Suddenly, from the corner of his eye, he saw some movement at the far end of the platform. He looked and saw that someone was standing beyond the exit gate, looking at him. He started running towards the gate. "Hey!", he shouted. He didn't get a reply. The person continued to stand there and stare back. "Wait!", he shouted. No reply. He reached near the gate now and saw that it was a man, staring at him with a blank face. Ed reached the gate and found it to be chained and locked.
"Open this!", he said.
No reply. No expression.
"Hello?! Can you please open this? I need to get out!"
No reply. No expression.
"What's wrong with you? This is serious! Let me out!" Ed was irritated now.
The other man continued to stare right back at him.
He grabbed the gate and shook it violently. "Open this! Open! Open! Open this! Open this! Open!", he shrieked. The other man didn't move a muscle. Ed collapsed to the floor, still holding the bars of the gate. He began weeping. He looked at the other gate and saw another person standing beyond it.
He got up and started running toward the other gate. "Hello!", he shouted. "Please wait!", he said. No reply. He reached the other gate and saw it was a boy. The gate was chained and locked and the boy had a look of horror in his eyes. "Can you open this gate? Please!", Ed said. The boy stared at him with wide eyes but never spoke a word, never moved. Ed was angry now, more out of fear than annoyance. He tried to reach for the boy through the bars of the gate but he couldn't. The boy was only so far enough. "Open! Open! Open!", he growled. No reply. He kicked the gate but it didn't budge.
He looked back at the other man now. He saw a few more people standing behind the man. He started walking back towards the group of people beyond the first gate. They never said anything, never moved. He was hearing the voices again. Suddenly, he heard a train approaching the station. He went to the edge of the platform, and leaned over. He saw the lights of the train approaching and he stepped back. The train glided into the station and for the first time, he saw the motorman of the train. He was looking straight ahead.
He ran inside the first doors as they opened and ran toward the motorman's cabin. The cabin's door was locked. He pounded on the glass.
"Open up, please!"
"Where are we?!"
The motorman pushed a button to close the doors and pushed the throttle to start the train. The train began to move and started picking up speed. Ed didn't know what to do. His chest was hurting. He tried to think. He looked around for the emergency break. He found it and he pulled it with all his strength.
The train decelerated rapidly and he was thrown against the cabin door. The motorman lost his balance too and hung onto a lever in front of him. The train gradually stopped. The tunnel was totally dark outside except for the small lights. The motorman stood straight now and kept looking straight ahead. Ed gave a small chuckle now, more out of fear than smugness.
"Answer the questions! The questions!", Ed screamed.
Ed realized he wasn't going to get any. He tried breaking the glass of the cabin door by kicking it. The glass didn't even crack. He went near the doors and threw open the emergency lock. The doors slid open and he climbed down onto the tracks. He started running back toward the station now. His head was heavy and his chest hurt a lot. He was thirsty. He ran in a daze for what seemed like a really long time. He finally reached the station with the boy and the man and the few other people. He climbed up onto the platform and saw that they were gone.
He went to the centre of the platform. He saw a bench that touched the far wall. He hadn't noticed it before. He sat down. He wanted to lie down but thought it might bring the vomit back upto his throat again. He stared into space. He had no clue about what he was dealing with. He was just tired of being afraid and sick. He was just tired. He decided to lie down. He was glad there was no vomit. He fell asleep.
Ed awoke with a start. He saw people that were seated in front of him get up to get off the train at the next station. He looked up at the indicator. It read 'Warren Street'. He stood up. He was sweating but he wasn't thirsty nor was he panting. He looked around and the people were moving, talking, had expressions on their faces, smiling at him as they made their way past him to exit the train.
He ran through the closing doors, out on the station platform. He was laughing now. He wasn't feeling sick at all. He felt happiness. 'A dream! It was all just a dream!', he thought. He didn't stop laughing. He began walking toward the exit amidst everyone else. His shoes felt funny. He stopped and looked down. There was a noticeable tear and some blood on his left boot.
Ed awoke screaming with agony. He was sitting on the bench at the deserted station. The signboard read 'Warren Street'. He was sweating, his throat was parched, his head was throbbing and his heart was racing. He felt the ache in his chest and his mind was gripped with fear. He looked at his shoes for no reason, out of hope perhaps. The tear was there, so was the blood. 'Hope can drive a man insane', he thought. He sank his face into his hands and began sobbing. He cried like a newborn.
He heard a train approaching the station. He looked at his watch for no reason. It read 10:37 PM. He smiled now. He began laughing loudly. He felt easy at once. He wasn't panting anymore, he was thirsty, yes, but he wasn't panting. His heart raced but his head was suddenly clear. He had heard the train approaching the station. He went to the edge of the platform, and leaned over. He saw the lights of the train approaching. His instincts took over. He didn't step back. As the train glided into the station, Ed jumped in front of the train.
He awoke with a start. The train compartment was empty. The indicator read 'Warren Street'.