On her way back home from work yesterday, her car broke-down. She stopped as soon as she saw the nasty black smoke billowing out from that old and rusty hood. And that meant taking the metro. Arrrggghhh … how she despised it! Don’t judge her, she had her reasons.
It wasn’t rush hour yet, thankfully! She was exhausted and had thus left a little early- so she was at least happy about not to have to deal with the rush hour traffic. Crowds made her queasy.
It had been at least a few years since she rode the metro last. She didn’t even remember when! Still she managed to board the right train that was going in the right direction after all :-).
It wasn’t crowded at all in her metro car. There were maybe nine or ten people sharing the box. She didn’t pay much attention anyway … she was focused on getting home as soon as possible … and relaxing!
I’m sure the reader has at least once experienced a train ride … be it a metro or a regular train. So, I assume you know that moving trains have an inherent talent to put anyone on earth to sleep- within seconds. Unless, of course, you have motion sickness!
If you don’t, no matter how rested you are, the mild bouncing motion of a train car, those trees and houses flashing by- and if underground- the streaking lights and the dark tunnel zipping by seamlessly in the opposite direction, the constant buzzing murmur of your fellow commuters talking about – who knows what – all around you, some reading, some knitting, some ‘smart phoning’, some just, well, staring … you get the point- it can make you sleepy. For it’s boring and soothing at the same time. Gosh, I almost dozed off just typing this!
But I still don’t get what’s with motion and sleep! Don’t you find it strange that motion can induce sleep- a comparatively motionless verb!- at least for some? Anyways … not to digress, let me come back to my story …
Needless to say, she took a window-seat (for there were many available), rested her head at the window, and dozed off before she could tell. She was so exhausted (I think I’ve said this before). She knew her’s was the last stop … so there were no worries about missing one! She had deliberately chosen a seat in the far corner, where no one could disturb her afternoon siesta.
Well, so far so good.
She might have slept for just a few short minutes when she suddenly woke up to a weird sound. The train was at a halt, somewhere in the dingy tunnel. Oh no, she thought, see, no wonder I hate the metro! Only a few lights were on … and it was very dark.
But, what was that strange sound she woke up to?
‘It sounds like someone groaning with pain’, she thought casually. And with that thought, her heart just skipped a beat, or a few. Then she noticed- in the far opposite corner was a man, maybe in his forties, doubling up with pain. She looked around. There was no one else in the car. She couldn’t even tell where exactly they were- in between what stations?
She felt very uneasy. Little sparkling dots of sweat now lined her forehead. Trembling, she reached out for her phone … and then was when she realized that she had left it in her car. Oh, this was just getting better with each passing moment, wasn’t it? She was in the middle of cursing herself for such a mindless act when that strange man groaned again, and this time even louder. She shuddered.
At this point, she could only think of one thing- Why isn’t this f***ing train moving? What exactly is going on? I have to get out of here. ASAP!
Weirdly enough, she also felt guilty for not trying to help that man. Well, with that thought, she stood up and inched towards him, slowly. He seemed harmless from afar. He was the one in pain and the one in need after all, wasn’t he?
With each step she took, she seemed to regret her decision. But she still kept on going, for some reason, she felt compelled to. After a few sweaty and dreadful steps she managed to reach him. He was bent over his knees … moaning in pain. That strange man of heavy built had a dark, dusty overcoat and a black cap on. His tattered boots seemed drenched with water. Breathing heavily, he held his head in his pale hands- when suddenly, he started shaking, while still bent, as if terribly cold.
Startled, she jumped back, but found the courage to ask, ‘Are you OK?’
All movement seized. No response.
She waited for a few seconds and then said, ‘Can I help you?’, moving a little closer.
‘Sir, do you need assistance?’, this time she tapped on his shoulder and tried to bend down and see his face.
He was utterly still by now. Almost breathless. But he seemed familiar.
‘Who are you?’
Then suddenly- in a jolt, while still bent, he reached to grab her by the neck … and he did, with a fiercely strong grip. He was almost going to turn his face up when she woke up ……. and this time for real!
It was almost dark. The train was parked at a station – her station – above ground, perhaps waiting to be sent to a yard or something. Apparently, this was it’s last trip for the day. She had been dozing for how long?!
WTF was her first thought. She had that weird feeling — you know, the one you have when you sleep while there’s still light outside and you wake up when it’s already dark! Is there even a word for it? If there is one, I sure don’t know of it and this is how I explain it anytime it happens to me! She was half drooling and had a bad taste in her mouth.
Panicked, she looked around. It was pretty obvious that she was the only one in the car, maybe in the entire train! Everyone must have of course unboarded at stations gone by. Even some ‘new’ people may have boarded and unboarded, who knows? Oh, how she longed to wake up once again to find herself in her bed instead of being locked in a metro car! But, alas, this was it.
She quickly gathered herself up and hurriedly walked towards the emergency phone to make an embarrassing call.