Midnight Train Issue 3

Kathlene’s voice on the other end of the line was like the sound of a songbird, a smile could be heard through the way she spoke. “You found my note, and you called. So I guess you reconsidered, right?” 

“I did,” I looked around my messy room picking up clothes that had been lying around, and for some reason I felt very conscientious about it. “Is there anything that I need to do? Pack, bring food?”

“It’d probably be wise, unless you want to risk starvation and wear the clothes on your back until who knows how long.” 

“Oh okay. I-” 

“I’d pack what you think you’d need. Maybe a phone, or an ipod. I don’t know what exactly will be over their technology wise, though.” 

“Okay, alright so my address is-” I was cut off by Kathlene’s smooth words. 

“I don’t need it. Just meet me on the street outside your apartment building. We’ll walk down to the station together.” 

 

***

 

“Not to be offensive or anything, but it’s a little creepy that you just found my apartment building when I didn’t even tell you where I lived.” I gripped the straps of my backpack as Kathlene and I walked down the stairs to the station. 

“How? I only followed you.” She laughed with her eyes shining with joy. 

“Well some would say that’s creepier.” 

Kathlene smiled, “Some?” She sipped a coffee that she bought on the way to the station and then sat down on a bench, and like a sheep, I followed her lead. She watched the people walking about, analyzing them, and then, “People are funny. Aren’t they? They never just slow down, take the time to read the papers on the wall. Busy to get to work, and then back home, and the cycle is repeated the next day. How boring of a life that must be.” 

Subconsciously, I nodded my agreement, as a thought popped in my head, a picture of another hustling person. “It can be annoying, but their heart is in a good place.” 

She looked at me now but only replied, “Maybe,” and then took a big, slow, steady sip of coffee. 

Few people knew about this particular station, so around eleven-thirty it was almost entirely cleared out.

“Come on.” Kathlene said getting up. “The abandoned part of the station is this way.” 

We walked in a long tunnel for about a minute before there was a blocked off section, where she ducked under the tape and a cautionary barrier, and I followed silently. 

We first entered a dark room, that was suddenly luminescent with color. It was as if we were already in another world. As if this place couldn’t possibly be built by humans, and it wasn’t intended to be visited for runaways. There were columns that lead to arches of swirling detail. The arches supported a foggy glass, but it was obvious that it was built deliberately to let in the purple and yellow lights. 

Kathlene stared in awe at the ceiling that let out the colors. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

“They are.” I admit. “I’d feel better as to why the lights are the color they are.” 

“Maybe they’re just nice to look at.” 

I shook my head. “I don’t think that’s the case.” She stared at me in a way that made evident that I should keep quiet, and the silence fell around us like a curtain. 

The silence didn’t last long though, especially as a wave of kids poured in. I sensed they were just like me: they wanted to escape.

“Alright! Alright! Everyone quiet!” A tall boy with black, curly hair stood on top of a bench. And it was only in a matter of seconds after that, that the whole station was back into silence. “My name is Lucas. The train will be here in fifteen minutes. That seems like a long time now, but trust me, it is not. Especially when there is nothing else to do. So I’m going to tell each and every one of y’all a story.” A few snickers from the crowd because of his southern accent, but other than that, silence. 

Lucas continued, “Once upon a time, Alice was sleeping by a tree, and saw a rabbit, and followed it through the forest, and down a rabbit hole she went.” He hopped down, and the people parted like the Red Sea so he could walk through them. “Alice was in a new realm. A Wonderland.” He looked right at me and continued, “Wonderland, was filled with enchantments, delicacies you can only dream of. No need to worry about an evil queen who will chop off your head.” He looked away and continued, which is good because I started to get anxious and my balance was beginning to shift from one foot to the other. “Alice was a boy here. He didn’t want to leave Wonderland. Why would he when he lived in a world only seen in dreams? He could live as a royal, but Alice was a hero. Of course why does a fairytale matter about today? He took the role of leading others to Wonderland, he played the rabbit, but through the eyes of nonbelievers, he was seen as insane. So he was taken away. Let’s not let his sacrifice be in vain.” Lucas walked back towards the bench slowly. “We don’t know his name, so we call him The First Alice. The only Alice to come back. And Alice gave up his privilege so we could live as kings. Which we will do.” 

Kathlene tapped my arm and pointed to her watch. Seven more minutes until my death or my salvation. 

“Here is the deal,” Lucas spoke boldly over murmurs. “The train will not take all of you. That’s the cold, hard truth. It will leave and you could lose a hand at twelve’o’one. The train is harsh. The only law it follows is that it comes at exactly midnight and will leave right after that. This is the Cinderella part of this story. I wish the best for you, and that you make it, and those who don’t, better luck next time.” Lucas turned away and started speaking softly to someone else and murmurs started filling the station. 

I breathed in. “Well that’s very reassuring.” I looked at a poster on the wall advertising an amusement park, with laughing kids and smiling parents. I wonder what that is like. 

Kathlene rubbed my back reassuraly, “We’ll make it, Ryken. I promise.” 

I breathed in, then out. “I just hope you’re right.” My eyes moved from the poster to her own coffee brown eyes, that twinkled back up into mine. “What do you plan on doing once we get there?” 

This time she was the one who looked away. “Hopefully I’ll stop running.” Kathlene took a sip of her coffee, frowned and then she walked away to throw it out. 

Why was she running? Where was she running to before she found out about Wonderland? Or worse. What was she running from?

When she came back, we sat in silence. 

 

***

 

“It’s eleven fifty-nine people!” Lucas shouted with an eye on his watch. “This is it, goodluck!” 

Down the tunnel there was a shuddering roar of an engine, the ground shook, and the kids got close to the edge to catch a glimpse of their saving train. Over the heads of the kids in front of me, there it was, thundering past, quickly. The train was as gold as the stars on my ticket. We all stood there. Looking at awe at the beautiful thing in front of us, and when the doors didn’t open, kids started to mutter, shifting their weight from one foot to another. 

I looked down to my watch, the seconds hand was counting down the last ten seconds of the day. 

Ten… 

Nine…

“I’ll see you on the train, Ryken” Kathlene whispered in my ear, grabbing my hand, giving it a quick squeeze. 

Five… 

Four… 

Three… 

Two…

“Same to you.” I replied, squeezing her hand back, and letting it go. 

The doors shuddered open, and then the riot started. People pushed, and kicked, and tripped others, clawing their way onto the train. Who knew the theory of The Lord Of The Flies would prove itself true? How easy would it have been if we all just calmly walked onto the train without the violence? 

Again, the human brain has a lack of common sense and understanding of order.

Kathlene disappeared from my sight. Was she in a fight? Or on the train?

I have to move forward. Slowly. 

A boy with electric blue hair next to me screamed. A girl pulled his head back by his long blue hair. “Give me my ticket!” 

“I need it more than you!” He said, which only resulted in more of his pain.

How could there not be enough tickets? I made sure mine was secure in my pocket, thievery at this particular moment of my escape would only result in more fist fights at school on Monday. If I make it, maybe this could be my last one. 

I moved past three people, two of which were a set of tall twins, with light brown hair kicking a girl. The belief in the tradition of boys not hitting girls was not believed down here. This- This is just madness!

Almost there.

I reached the doors, but relief was not present as I was pulled back. 

A younger boy, maybe twelve or thirteen, wrestled me to the ground. People are running away that young? Then he punched my already black eye, which made me cry out in pain. “I’m sorry, I need the ticket more than you!” He said trying to keep me pinned to the ground as he patted my pockets in his search for my ticket.

 Adrenaline rushed through me, and I pushed him back, pushing him to the ground “I don’t have a ticket!” I punched him in his middle hoping it was enough to keep him down.

“Yes you do! I felt it in your right pocket!” He kicked up and started slapping my bruised face. I didn’t even think twice as my fist clashed against his nose at his accusation, a crunch beneath my fist. I will not lose my ticket. The boy rolled over holding his nose with his hands. 

“Ten seconds!” A girl behind me yelled. 

Oh no, no no no no. I can’t miss this. 

I won’t miss this. 

I scrambled to my hands and knees, and rapidly started crawling towards a set of doors of the golden express. 

The unidentified girl yelled “Three! Two! One!” 

I scrambled rapidly, my foot just making it inside the door before it closed behind me. 

I stood up on my feet, and looked out the car window. There was a girl with a nose ring, crying, make-up running down her face outside the car, her hair all ruffled up. “Please! Please don’t leave me here!” She pounded on the window, and the train began to move, she pounded harder running along side the train. “No! No, please! Please! No, don’t go! Don’t go!” 

Around her, kids were still fighting, oblivious to the fact that the train already left them behind. 

I definitely can’t go back now.

I sat down like the others in my car, leaning my head against the car wall with my knees bent. As I closed my eyes, I realized, that was the same girl who I met earlier that day in class. I hardly felt the shudder that went through me. 

I slumped down against the wall, looking at my bloody knuckles and the boy’s blood that stained them. I leaned my head back against the gold subway car’s wall and closed my eyes. 

 

***

 

A body slumped next to mine. “We made it.” 

A smile slowly stretched across my face. “I was worried that maybe you didn’t make it.” I fidgeted with my zipper and opened an eye to look at Kathlene, her blonde hair messily put up into a ponytail, and a cut on her lip. 

She looked down and then back to me. “Careful,” her mouth mirrored my own, “it sounds like you’re actually starting to care.” 

Maybe I was starting to care. Maybe that’s a bad thing.

Kathlene scraped what looked like dried blood from under her nails. She clawed her way onto this train. “Looks like you got beat up pretty bad too. Here I have a first aid in my bag, maybe we can get you patched up.” She took out some disinfectant wipes and then handed them to me to allow myself to get cleaned up before she starts to help bandage my scrapes. 

Maybe I was starting to care. Maybe that’s a bad thing. “Kathlene, you didn’t come with a bag.” 

“Nope, I stole it from someone who was too busy in a fight. If he made it onto the train I would give it back, but since he’s not and we’re not going back, I guess it’s mine now.” 

“Fair enough.” Together we sat in silence while the others were scoping out and knowing who all made it on the train. “Kathlene?” 

“Hm?” 

I hesitated, but something deep down pushed through my cowardice. “What are you running away from?” 

She took a deep breath, and pushed it out. “I don’t know.”

Liar! She’s lying. Liar!” I turned to see who whispered in my ear and found no owner to the voice, the raspy, haunting voice. The train rattled, then settled. I turned back to Kathlene, who continued. 

“Maybe a fresh start is all I need. I didn’t feel like I belonged there, you know? That maybe I wasn’t meant to live in this life in that world.” 

I nodded. 

“Stay away! Go back. Back! Stay away! Back. Go!”

“Do you hear that?” I got on my feet and walked in the subway car, scanning for an owner of the voice, but all the others were sitting together, laughing, bonding with their new family. 

“Hear what?” Kathlene got up to join me, but was trying to look inside my soul.

“Nothing never mi-” The train jolted, speeding up. Kathlene and I stumbled and then fell, the group of kids fell over with the force, too. 

The voice sang raspily. “To Wonderland, to Wonderland.To Wonderland you will go. To Wonderland, to Wonderland. To wonderland you will go!” 

“Shut up!”

“Ryken, no one has said anything!” Kathlene looked confused, and then her eyes gave away her fear. 

I tried to get up, but the train wouldn’t let me, and it didn’t seem like it was working in anyone else’s favor either. 

“What’s going on?” The noise of the terrified cries of the others drowned out my question, but Kathlene answered anyway, though all heard was a muffle, before she shrieked. 

I got hold of a pole, and pulled myself up. The kids in the subway cars were starting to fall asleep, as if they were being knocked out by an invisible force. 

“What the-” 

“Ryken?” Kathlene was knocked out, and then it was as if some invisible force punched me. I was falling, falling, and then I collapsed. The last thing I saw consciously, was the ceiling of the car. 

 

***

 

I was walking. My suit of black uncomfortable. My face wet, and my eyes sting. 

I walk to the open casket and look down at a face that used to smile, used to laugh. The brown eyes, the ones used to be playful and full of life, closed. 

Mister and Missus Schmitts were crying in their pew. My parents give them their condolences, always glancing up at me every couple seconds. Others were there. Talking silently to each other about him. 

“You weren’t supposed to go. Not like this.” I choked on my words. “You were the closest thing to an angel someone could get too. You should still be here, not in there.” A tear ran down my face. “You were special. You were kind to me. You made me who I am. You gave me hope. You took it away too.” I buried my face with my hands, and wiped away the tears. I don’t want you gone.” 

The weight of a hand falls on my shoulder, another teardrop falls as the minister tries to give me comforting words. “It was his time, though you may think otherwise.” 

I shake my head. “Of course I think otherwise. He was young. He was kind. Smart. He worked hard, always working to achieve an unachievable goal. Giving even though anyone would understand if he didn’t. I wouldn’t have given anything to anyone if I were him.” My eyes divert away from both the minister’s face and the face inside the coffin. “I wish this were all some sick joke. That he will wake up laughing, saying he’s better now. And he can come home.” 

The minister nods his head in understanding. “I know the feeling. It is fate. And you must have faith. He is here with his family, his friends, he will be in a better place.” I say nothing, and he walks away. 

I look to the body inside the coffin, and then my lip quivers, and a noise escaped from me. I try to keep the sobs quiet but my crying fills the room. 

“Ryken, honey?” My mom rubs my back in small comforting circles. “Let’s go outside and get some air okay?” 

I try to speak, but words don’t come out. Mom leads me away tears falling down on the carpeted floor. 

 

The closed coffin descends into the ground. I will never see him again. My weeping in control. My tears imposters to the raindrops on falling from the dark sky. 

He’s gone. Living only in my memories. I wish he were here. 

The group thins out until it is only me, staring at a coffin at the bottom of the hole. 

My dad walks up next to me, looking down with me, his hands in his pockets. I know he’s sad, too. The rain, my thoughts, the weight of the day, made it almost impossible to hear my father. “It’s time to go, they have to bury him now, and we have to go to the wake.” 

I didn’t need a mirror, I knew it was obvious that my face went dark. I take one last glance of the moment, and turn on my heel to leave. 

 

***

 

“Ryken.” A shake. “Ryken.

My head hurts, my eyes are heavy as l look up to Kathlene who has been trying to rattle me awake. “What?” I lean up, rubbing the back of my head, my eyes watering, glazed with fresh tears as if I were at the funeral just moments ago. 

Wrapping her arms around me, she gushed and whispered in my ear. “We made it!” She gave me a squeeze around my middle. 

Confusion is present across my face and controls my mind “Made it? Made it where?” 

Wonderland.”

And then the voice came back. 

“To Wonderland you will go.” 

 

Next Part coming soon.