Friday, July 31, 2009

Stand Clear of the Doors


Blake stopped at the edge of the platform. An immediate pileup formed as people, their iPods insulating them from reality, suddenly had to deal with it. Blake took distant note of glares and mutterings as the irresistible tide of people moved around an immovable him.

"Please stand clear of the doors."

The mechanical warning, heard every day, multiple times a day, for years, intruded again. He stepped back, bumping into a woman who was making for the train.

"Idiot," she snapped as she moved around him. "Why don't you look where you're going?"

Blake watched as she reached the train. She turned and glared at him, a triumphant look on her face. The doors slammed shut.

The train moved away from the station. Blake heard screams as each carriage passed him.

He decided to skip the subway.

Blake turned to go, and stared. There were no "up" escalators. Both of those he could see were steadily transporting people down to the platform. He stood a moment, lost in the steady "thump, thump" the escalators made as they moved. A mechanical heartbeat.

"May I help you?"

Blake jumped at the sound of a voice right behind him. He turned. A tall man stood there, dressed in a Transport Authority uniform.

Before Blake could speak, the man held out his hand.

"May I see your ticket?"

Blake handed it over; habit formed over many years of commuting. The man looked at the ticket and handed it back.

"I'm afraid you don't have a ticket out of here." He smiled, a flash of teeth.

The platform was filling up. People stared ahead, heads moving here and there in time with unheard music.

The man tapped Blake on the shoulder. "The next train is for you."

He moved away along the platform. As a train slid to a stop, Blake tried to identify a strange odor.

It came to him as he was swept by the crowd into the train. Sulphur.

"Caution. Please stand clear of the doors."

The doors slammed shut.


  1. You guided me down the creepy path well! The screams in the carriage and no ticket out were spooky without telling me where I was going until I smelled sulphur. Great story!

  2. You had me when I learned there were no escalators heading up. Really good story.

  3. Wicked tale! I like that I was as confused as Blake until the final clue. The creepy hints of what was really going on were perfectly subtle, adding to the punch of the sulphur line. :)

  4. Oh, well done! I figured where it was going after the screams, and the no up escalators, but I thought he was going to find a way out. But poor Blake must have been a naughty little boy.
    I absolutely loved that the woman glared at him with a triumphant look on her face. Downright evil. :)

  5. Glad you enjoyed the story. It came to me after my haiku of yesterday - it contained the line "Still they board the train"
    After that, the story took over. And wicked it is.
    Thanks for reading.

  6. One-way ticket to hell, is that what we've got here? That's hilarious. I love it.
    I must agree with Jon. The crowning moment in the story is when that woman triumphantly managed to get on the train around him. Isn't that how life is every day? People race around you to get to their hell a little faster. Let 'em go.
    --Jeff Posey

  7. Wonderful, Kevin! Your light touch doling out the clues really makes this work.