I think I’m about to do something really stupid. Before I do – figured it’d be worth posting this story somewhere so people will know why I did what I did. Or, maybe I’m just stalling.
I travel for work all the time. The only difference today is that I was taking a train as opposed to flying like I usually do. It just so happened that my client was only four hours away by train so it seemed a better choice. The first twenty minutes of the ride were great. I went down a Wikipedia rabbit hole on the bizarre philosophy of Terence McKenna and then fell asleep listening to classic episodes of my favorite podcast.
Waking up was hard. That wasn’t unusual but it seemed particularly hard today – like I had to pull myself through a football field of molasses to find a glimmer of consciousness. Then there was the dizzy spell and extreme nausea. When I was finally awake and aware of my surroundings, I noticed the direction our train was moving. I could have sworn we were moving the opposite direction before I fell asleep. At the time, I wrote it off as nothing to worry about because I’m the sort of geographically challenged person that would easily mix up directions.
The next change I noticed was the woman sitting across the aisle from me. I could have sworn she had two legs when I got on the train. After waking up, I noticed she had a prosthetic. Again, that’s not something I would have necessarily noticed so I could write it off as a mistake.
I didn’t pay any more attention to the woman until she burst out laughing. She had headphones on and was staring at her phone screen with rapt attention. Whatever she was watching must have been hilarious because everytime I thought she was done, she would quickly break into fits of laughter again.
I hate screen snoopers. I hate when I’m using my phone and people try to look over my shoulder and see what I’m doing but curiosity got the better of me. My stupid, stereotyping brain saw this nearly sixty year old one-legged woman, dressed like a librarian, and wondered what it was this type of person would find so damn funny. I had to use the bathroom anyway so my plan was to take a peak on the way to the restroom.
I guess I walked by just in time for the good part because she was in another fit of laughter. I’ll say… this woman and I have a very different sense of humor. It feels irresponsible to tell you exactly what I saw on her screen but what I’ll say is that it included a graphic depiction of murder involving a buzz saw. It looked very real.
As more blood flowed, her laughter became more aggressive and manic. Then she looked at me.
“This is my son!” the woman proudly proclaimed, pointing at the man wielding the saw. I should also note, she was missing her right ear.
She then held the screen toward me so I could what happened next and shouted, “Oh, I love this part!”
I watched her son sever all the fingers from his left hand.
Suddenly, the nausea was back. I turned and ran to the restroom. When I looked in the mirror, I noticed how pale my face was. Then I closed my eyes and after some deep breathing, felt the nausea fade.
I told myself that I didn’t see what I think I saw. That woman might be a little crazy but that video was nothing more than a bizarre short film. Special FX can be near indistinguishable from reality these days even for amateurs.
After I left the bathroom, I finally took stock of everything around me. I saw the other passengers. Christ… I saw them. It looked like a train car full of people who barely survived a war. Nasty scars. Missing limbs. One person with a caved in skull who looked barely alive. Some of them looked at me and saw me staring, immobilized by shock. Some looked annoyed at me and others indifferent.
It was a packed train that day so I ended up in the very last car, meaning the door behind me, led nowhere. I’d have to walk past every passenger in my car to reach the door in front and who knows if the next car would be any different. When courage returned to my legs, I walked slowly towards the front.
Once past the one-legged woman, I noticed more laugher toward the front of the car. It appeared to be emanating from a couple and from a distance, you would think the man was tickling the woman as she shouted, “Stop! Stop it!” between fits of laughter. Up close, you would see the man prodding her open wound with a knife using the one hand he had.
When I approached the door, I noticed the window was dark. I couldn’t see what was in the next car at all but I figured it had to be better than this. As I reached for the door, I heard a woman shout, “what the hell are you doing!?”
I didn’t turn around but instead grasped the door handle and prepared to yank it open. However, before I could, I felt hands on my shoulders and arms.
They pulled me away from the door and threw me to the ground. I landed on my side but quickly rolled onto my back and looked up to see several people standing over me. I saw their scarred faces staring at me in disgust.
One of the men asked, “what’s wrong with you man?”
A women added, “jesus he’s a freak, I can’t even look at him.”
The man spoke up again, “just get back in your seat man, you know we’re not allowed in there.”
I don’t think I could have said a word even if I wanted to. I was out of breath from the fall and it didn’t seem like I’d be catching it again any time soon. I scrambled to my feet and stumbled back to my seat. I overheard some murmurs from the passengers.
“Did you see that guy?”
“Yeah, I think I’m gonna be sick. What was wrong with him?”
I’m in my seat now.
I don’t know what the hell is going on.
The only thing I know is that I need off this train NOW. I don’t know which door it’ll be yet but I’m going through one of them and I won’t be stopped this time. I’m either jumping off a moving train or tackling my way through a crowd of masochists and sadomasochists to see what’s on the other side of that door.