The lights flicker. The train shudders and rocks. A gentle rumbling. Through the windows the walls resemble old movies. Lines and circles show up for half a moment, and the eye registers them all in a motion blur.
Nathan’s hand grips the overhead bar in the subway like a bored sloth. Two fingers hold up the weight of his arms. His other hand looks at his phone.
He is tired, coming home late. The empty train-car is disconcerting. He glances up from his texts, and decides to put his phone away.
Any time he was in the subway this late at night he mentally prepared himself to get mugged. He would leave a good portion of pocket money at his office as well. Just in case.
Nathan’s hand went to his pepper spray in his pocket, leaving his phone. A message came in over the speaker.
“Inngohart jourgh brigle!”
It was always incomprehensible. This time even more so. No matter, the next stop was his.
As he gazed at the blur outside the windows there was a slight feeling that crept into him. He was at an angle.
It felt alien at first, just simply, that something was off. He leaned toward the window to catch a glimpse of the wall.
Suddenly the walls changed to old brick. The red and white blurred to a pink as the subway flew forward.
Nathan flinched, his grip on the handrail tightened. His feeling of unease changed to fear. He could sense that they were going steeper, still.
He would have thought it was pure static if not for his heightened awareness. Someone was saying this into the mic.
His feet moved, but he froze. There was no other train car.
The car leveled out, and slowly came to a stop. The windows shown with black.
Nathan was breathing fast. The light ceased, and a whimper escaped him. His phone came out, and with trembling hands he went for the flashlight function.
He pressed too hard. The phone fell from his hands and clanged on the floor.
The sound meshed with another. Movement from the outside. A scratch of something hard and sharp against the door.
He took a deep breath and gripped his wrist with other hand, and with the other, he found the button to turn on the light.
Nathan stood, and from the opposite door there was a scratch. He whipped to see it with the light, and something moved in dark. His pepper spray came out of his pocket.
With one hand he wielded light, and in the other, pain. He felt confident enough to speak.
“What do you want?” he called out.
His eyes darting, only silence answered.
He waited. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Thirty. The silence was unbearable. He would have to leave the train.
Nathan approached the door. His hand was halfway squeezing the trigger of the pepper spray.
With some effort, he managed to undo the door while holding both. It snapped open with a weak metal sound. Gravity gently pulled it, swinging to the outside.
Nathan back away with three large steps. He watched the door open into the black hole. Moist, cool, air found his face. A sickening stench of mold and something much worse wafted in.
His head recoiled, and the phone arm came up to cover his nose.
“Ugh,” he reacted.
He waited for a bit before approaching the precipice.
The light from his phone never found a wall, as he looked out from the doorway. On the floor were pools of water in mud. The rails were nearly invisible, buried in muck. Nearby a drop of water fell into a gathering pool. There was a three foot drop, at least.
His voice echoed against unseen surfaces.
With all the courage he could muster he leaped down to the ground. His balance failed him, and although he would have fallen, his feet remained rooted. Nathan fell forward to catch himself. The phone plopped into mud, the light still above the surface. The pepper spray disappeared into the dark.
Footsteps in the muck from not too far came to the man. He struggled to right himself but he was rooted. His right hand was the only one able to come undone from the muck, and he reached over his left to grab the phone.
It was out of reach by an inch. He stretched to grab it.
More footsteps through liquid. Slap. Splash. Getting closer.
Nathan’s joints burned as he made a final attempt to arm himself with something. He overextended and his balance was lost again. He fell on his left side, in the mysterious rooting muck.
A figure of a man, seen by Nathan as a silhouette. Standing average height, with a long overcoat and a fisherman’s cap.
Nathan struggled in vain. Noises escaped him. The figure simply stared.
Shadows appeared from the figure’s back. Spider-like limbs unfolded from places unseen to reveal themselves in the dim light. They crept through the dark and found Nathan in the muck.
The legs rolled the trapped man with ease. A single scream was cut off as Nathan’s face submerged. In the muck they turned the body.
The figure rolled the suffocating Nathan until he was sufficiently covered, then rolled him into the dark.