Wednesday February 20th, 2013

The exercise:

Inspired by Greg and g2's recent continuations in the comments, I've decided to make it an official prompt once again.

So continue the story from wherever the last person left it, and try to leave it at a good point for the next person to carry it forward. If two people happen to post around the same time, well, the next person can just choose which version they'd like to continue.

Had a pretty amazing experience at the doctor's office this afternoon. I'll share it tomorrow, as today's post is plenty long enough already.


Jake boarded the subway at his usual stop, briefcase in hand and his head bursting with work related thoughts. Deadlines, reports, coworkers - the usual companions to concerns about groceries, bills, his lackluster dating life, pickpockets, the weather.

The compartment was standing room only, which was to be expected during the afternoon rush to get home from downtown. Jake found some open space near the far end, between a relatively slim man in a reasonably expensive suit and a short woman transfixed by her mobile device. He felt safe there - as safe as he was likely to feel until he stepped inside his apartment - and didn't have to worry about making it back to the exit in a hurry since his stop was one of the last on the line.

Lurching into motion reluctantly, as though it resented all the weight it was forced to carry, the train resumed its journey southward. The gentle swaying motion and the white noise of wheels against tracks put several of the seated passengers nearby to sleep but Jake remained alert and guarded.

Which was why he was one of the first to notice the train slowing down, well before it reached its next stop. Breathing through his nose, he tried to remain calm as everyone in the compartment began exchanging nervous glances. A few jokes, less laughs. Rationalizations began to appear as the train came to a gradual but very complete, very total stop.

That was when the lights in the compartment went out.


Greg said...

An amazing experience at the doctor's office? I know there's a joke about prostates in there somewhere.... I'm going to guess that your diabetes is improving after the care you take of yourself though :)

Interesting, a subway, a halted train, and no lights? Great scene setting, so I guess it's my job to provide a little action then.

The woman next to him looked up briefly and then returned to the pale glow of the screen of her mobile device. Jake envied her utter lack of concern. The slim man on his other side was less calm, and started breathing faster and more heavily. Jake shivered a little; the noise reminded him uncomfortably of his days as a conscript.
There was the sound of a bolt being slid back behind him and then a gruff voice saying "Excuse me, excuse me." A little white spilled out from a widening gap, and as people shuffled around Jake realised that the door from the driver's cab was opening. Clearly there was emergency lighting in there.
"Excuse me, excuse me." The driver shuffled out of the cab, and in the ghastly glare of the emergency lighting he was mostly in silhouette to all the passengers. Which meant that Jake and the slim man were the only two who could see that the entire back of his head was missing, bloodlessly sliced away leaving ragged edges of bone and torn brain tissue. A smell of cloves suddenly filled the carriage, and Jake coughed, his throat reflexively trying to close against the suffocating miasma. The slim man started screaming, a high pitched whine like the whistle of a boiling kettle, and the train driver turned his ruined head towards them.
"Excuse me," he said again, and fell over, landing on the woman with the mobile device. She stared at the back of his head, deep into his brain, and then she started screaming too, hoarse and terrified.
"Excuse me," whispered something from the driver's carriage, a glutinous, mucus-filled slop of a voice mimicking what it had just heard.
"Excuse me...."

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

Geez, this reminds me so much of Midnight. It's kind of wonderful.

I don't have a ton of time today, nor do I really know what to do here, but I still wanted to join in. So let's get a look at this creature.
- - - - - - - - - -
People at the back of the compartment surged forward to try and see what was happening, as those at the front scrambled back from the driver's body. Jake, and his immediate neighbors, couldn't bring themselves to move at all.

Both the thin man and the woman with the mobile stopped screaming when the the viscous echo came from the driver's compartment. Everyone held their breath when something started to move in the compartment.

Jake brought himself to lean and look, then immediately wished he hadn't. Someone---something---stretched itself to standing, its head just brushing the ceiling, and in the emergency lights Jake saw it was a spiky caricature of the driver. Same general face, but with lopsided features. Angular arms that were much too long, and letter-opener fingers. Blobs of color that were supposed to be the uniform, carelessly fingerpainted on. And stuck at the back of its head Jake saw the chunk of the driver's head, with missing tufts of hair marking the seam.

Marc said...

Greg - I probably should have clarified that it was with Max :P

Love it, love it, love it. That 'Excuse me' is so understated and awesome.

g2 - awesome descriptions in that final paragraph. That last line in particular.

Well! This certainly got dark and creepy in a hurry :D