Last Train Home


I used to take the subway to get to work. It’s quite a long way, the ride takes a little over an hour, but going by car is even worse, at least in the morning.  One evening I had worked crazy overtime because of a particularly pressing deadline and just about managed to catch the last train home before the traffic would cease for the night.  The digital display on the front of the train was just showing some garbled symbols instead of the destination, I supposed whoever was in charge of that had already gone home.

Back then subway rides used to have a soothing effect on me, especially when I was already tired. I could just sit there and watch the usual indistinct shapes rush by in the darkness and not think anything. I did in fact miss my station on several occasions because I fell asleep in the subway, but definitely not on that night.

There were still a few other people in the train with me, scattered about the wagon and keeping to themselves. Once in a while someone would get on or off the train, though overall there were more people leaving than new ones getting in and before I properly realized it, I was all alone in my carriage.

Then at Castle Street, just two stations before my destination, the train stopped and refused to continue. The lights stayed on and there were no announcements on the speakers, but the train simply didn’t get moving again. I sat in there waiting for a good 15 minutes, then I decided to get out and ask the conductor what was going on. When I got out of the train I noticed that the station was very dark, except for the lights from the train, and completely devoid of people. I went to the front of the train to talk to the conductor, but when I got there the cabin was empty. Brightly lit, like the rest of the train but nonetheless empty.

I took a look at the stations overhead displays but they only showed the same mess of random pixels and broken characters as the display on the train. Actually no, on a closer look they seemed to display something marginally more readable, only it didn’t have anything to do with train schedules.


were the only words I could make out with any clarity.

That was when I started for the exit. Screw it, Castle Street wasn’t that far from my home, I could walk the way if I had to. It’d take me a little longer but right now that didn’t matter, all I wanted was to get out of this creepy subway station as fast as possible. I’d never actually been here before, but I saw it every day on my way through. I thought I knew where the exits where.

When I got there however, I saw that all the staircases only went down. It took me a moment to fully realize this. Logically the train tracks should be on the lowest level and the stairs should go up to the surface. Yet, inexplicably, the only stairs here were leading down into an unlit shaft.

I went to the other end of the station in hopes of finding a way up there. There was an escalator, but just like the staircases it only went down.  Other than the stairs however, it didn’t lead into pitch blackness. A strange reddish glow seemed to emanate from the far end of the shaft and little wisps of fog swirled slowly up the escalator in my direction.  After just standing and staring down there for a minute or so I also though I heard a low hum.

A tingle of panic started to creep up on me. I really really didn’t want to stay a second longer at this station, but even less than that I wanted to go down this freaky-ass escalator or the stairs on the other end. What the hell was I going to do? What could I do?

Then I thought: the next station would be less than a mile away and there weren’t any trains coming until about 5 am, were there?  So I climbed down onto the track bed and started walking.

It was a long and laborious walk. The gravel on the track bed was tricky enough by itself and there were additional obstacles concealed in the darkness. A few times my shoes got caught on something or other and I had to pry them free. But I progressed, slowly but steadily, groping my way forward through the pitch black tunnel. Eventually I reached the next station and climbed off the tracks.

In this station everything appeared fairly normal. The displays were turned off and the stairs led upwards. It was also completely deserted, but that was to be expected.  It was way past midnight by then.

I ran up the stairs toward the exit and nearly bumped into a lonely old techie, who was just about to close the station up for the night.

When he saw me he gave me a look of utter surprise. “And just where on earth are you coming from?” He wanted to know.

I tried to explain to him how my train had stopped dead and I was unable to get out of Castle Street, omitting some of the weirder details so I wouldn’t sound too much like a lunatic, but he didn’t buy a word of it.

“What the hell are you talkin’ about, kid?” he said. “Didn’t you hear about the gas explosion earlier this evening? Castle Street is completely burned out; there hasn’t been any subway traffic for hours!”