Abandoned: The Train

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Karen is just a regular young woman with regular problems, when her life takes a turn for the worse...

~~"IT WASN'T my fault!" Karen shrieked as her head smashed onto the wooden stump. The crowd cheered in alarming volume. Karen glanced at a dried puddle of blood that had formed on the hemlock planks beneath her slung head.

"Yeah, so you keep saying. He was in your protection, it was your responsibility to keep him safe!" The obscene man barred his yellow teeth. To Karen's horror, he represented the appearance of Frank, her ex-husband. "What kind of mother would get drunk on wine while caring for a small child? I shall take him. He will be well looked after."

The masked man whom had thrown her to the ground raised his rusted battleaxe high above the weeping woman's neck. "Please, no!" She cried out, "I'll do anything!" Frank looked at her dismissively. "Too late for that now, our son is dead. You must pay with your life." Karen screamed, kicking her legs and thrusting her arms wild with hysteria. She gazed deep into the Man in Black's exposed eyes, pulling on his death gown as he allowed gravity to take the axe. THUMP.

Karen awoke sprawled on the bed, thin streaks of sweat dripping down her face. She was still clutching the rugged fabric of quilt that she had been provided. The executioner had morphed into a little boy, standing idly by her single bed. "Mommy, what's that noise?" A mechanical rumbling could be heard from outside their hotel window. "It's nothing Carl, just a train that's all. Go back to bed." The boy looked at her with puppy dog eyes. "Please Carl, don't do this now, it's really late and we both need to get some sleep, it'll be a long drive tomorrow." Carl continued to stare with his bright blue orbs. "Mommy, where are we going? Why isn't daddy coming with us?" Karen sighed. "I told you before, Mommy lost her job is all, and we are going to get her a new one." Karen didn't understand why she was speaking in the third person, but determined she was still in shock from the series of unfortunate events that life had suddenly presented her with, and she still didn't like acknowledging to even herself that they had happened. She decided it was wise to dismiss Carl's second question.

"Fine, you can sleep with me, but don't think you are going to be doing this all the time." Carl crawled into the bed in silence.

Now half awake, Karen's mind regurgitated the day's treacherous thoughts slowly while she attempted to drift off once more. It'll get easier. You'll be fine. Carl, will be fine. Frank will give up. I do wish that train would shut up. Stop. Calm down, relax. One. Two. What if he finds me, what if he takes Carl? Shh. Three. Why do trains travel at this time anyway? Four. What if he finds me, and I never get to see Carl again? Wait; there are no trains this part of town...

Karen sprung to life, thousands upon thousands of invisible sharp needles appearing beneath her back. The rushing sound of the train was undeniable, as was the screeching as it came to a halt. Pulling back the rough quilt, she jumped out of the bed and scurried over to the smudged window. At first all she saw was the dead night sky, illuminated with tiny beads of fire; the privilege of renting a room in a ten storey hotel. When she glanced down, her heart stopped, her eyes widened and her mouth dropped. She let out a fearful gasp.

The scene portrayed by the hotel represented one likely to be witnessed in a disaster movie. The windows were shattered. The bricks were collapsed in a pattern that could be interpreted as hundreds of pounds worth of dynamite being inserted into every square inch of the hotel walls. Karen's hotel room and its purlieu however remained unscathed, as if the gods had commanded it. It balanced on one severely destroyed pillar like an elephant on a stilt. What remained was engulfed in the devil's flames.

Protruding out from the bottom of the fallen building, amidst the chaos, breached a long black train, covered in ash.

Karen shivered violently beside Carl, who was still softly asleep. She wanted to curl up in a ball and weep, and would have if Carl was not with her. Horrified, she felt the building sway back and forth as if being pushed by a bipolar wind. Only a matter of time before the whole room would collapse. She had to act. She moved swiftly but lightly to the exit of the room and left through the door, leaving Carl behind; fearing if she woke him and there was no escape, he would have to die in pain and agony.

She made haste to the stairs. They were torn in half. There was no way they could make that jump- they would have to climb down.

Karen rushed back to Carl and shook him on the shoulder. He stirred awake. "What's wrong Mommy?" He croaked. Karen smiled sympathetically toward Carl, feigning calm and bravery. "Nothing. It's just....We need...We're just going on a little adventure."

Karen dressed Carl and they headed out the suite; which deceptively felt like a safe haven. She could sense Carl knew something was wrong, her face transparent.

The first time that Karen had crossed the structure of the hotel to reach the stairs since the disaster occurred, she did it at lightning speed, and as a result had not realised the severity of their situation. With Carl, she was forced to go at his pace, this time having no choice but to endure the ghastly remains of the hotel and its former residents, or at least the few that littered their path. Placing her fragile hand over little Carl's face, she led him toward the stairs.

She guided him this way and that, hoping to shield him from the hell they were surrounded in, binding him in the ignorance that she so desperately needed him to believe. "We're playing a little game, you like games don't you?" She quivered.
"Y-yes." The innocent child replied.
"Good. No peeking or you'll lose."

Karen just wished someone could cover her eyes so she didn't have to bear witness to the atrocities she tried so valiantly to hide from her son. But there was no one. And so she trudged across the rubble, viewing the sights it had neighboured. Rats scurrying to safety. Fires blazing out of control. Bodies that had been crushed by the falling debris, no doubt in an attempt to flee to safety when their rooms had caved in, but to no avail, now Karen was forced to emphasize, as their bodies had caved in like the rooms they had left. Their skulls were crushed, flesh torn by the ribs that protruded. Their jaws hung, attached to their faces by the most miniscule muscle fibres. And the blood, so much that it created its own grotesque landscape, with lakes, rivers, tributaries, even inhabited by its own sea monsters; any organism attracted to death.

There was one turn until they would reach the stairs, when Karen caught sight of the elevator. No, she thought, no way. As she dismissed the idea, she was sure a man had passed the corridor, or at the least the shadow of one. "Sir? Sir!!" She shifted her eyes between where the shadow had gone and Carl. "Wait here Carl. DON'T move and DON'T open your eyes, okay?" Carl nodded.

After giving Carl a gentle squeeze on the hand, she hurried over to where the man had walked. "Sir, wait, please!" She traversed the corridors like it was a maze, and eventually came upon a dead end- a room, her room in fact. "Sir?" There was no one there. The room was empty. She heard a sudden horn, that of a train, it repeated over and over without end. Then the room started to shake violently.

She was going insane. No man, and where was that horn coming from? Then she remembered Carl, precious Carl. She began to sprint back to where she had left him. "Carl!! Carl!!" Why had she left him? "Carl!!!" She turned the final corner, expecting him to be gone.

Carl stood, struggling to stay upright. His eyes were closed tightly and his hands clasped to his ears. She grabbed and pulled him toward the stairs, he opened his eyes as she did so. She no longer cared; she was foolish to think she could hide the truth from him, and it had only slowed their escape, endangering his safety in the process. He was still, for a moment, the spectacle displayed out clearly in front for him to see. Confusion developed on his face. Karen pulled him, slightly harder this time and with more intention. "C'mon," she demanded toughly, "we've gotta go."

They were now at the stairs, a long fall down to freedom. Karen prayed they could climb down the ruins safely, hoping someone was listening.
 
Letting him go first was out of the question. She had considered carrying him down, but he was getting rather heavy, and she didn't think that was their best option. Finally she accepted how it would play out. She would climb down alone, find a soft sheet; which were ample in the hotel, and use it to break Carl's fall.

"Wait here okay Carl. Mommy is just going to go down, and then I will call you down when I am ready. Do not follow me, do you hear me?" He nodded. "Good. And Carl..." a tear slithered down her eye, "...if I don't make it...you wait in your room okay, help will come." She almost felt as though if she didn't make it, she would be giving her son a death sentence. She would make it, she had to. It was imperative.

A voice inside her head admonished her to stay put, but she felt an amalgam of terror and duty, so she pulled herself down, her legs dangling down below the broken concrete. The first metre of decent was easy, sturdy parts of rubble were graspable like ladders. Then it got harder. The materials Karen had to grab were rough, or slippery, or fell apart like dust.
Just a bit further, Karen kept saying to herself, even though she was barely past the first hurdle. She glanced down. Bad move. Her stomach felt woozy, her head dizzy and her legs weak. She looked back up, back towards her steady hands, up at Carl. He gave her strength, strength to survive this unfolding horror.

She continued to make her way down, little by little, closer to the ground, when a chunk of falling rubble collapsed from above smacking her directly on the nose and instantly knocking her off her feet, she struggled to regain her footing, hanging by one arm onto a small piece of concrete. Then, the concrete broke and fell, bringing Karen along with it. "Mommy!" Carl screamed as his mother fell through the air, transfixed deep into Carl's eyes. For Karen, the world went black.

Darkness ensued.

It was what followed the darkness that confused Karen. She awoke stiff on a cushioned chair. The chair of a train, to be exact. She pushed up off it to sit up straight, her head pounding. The train was furnished in a metallic charcoal. It was dank and reeked of decaying flesh. She gagged. As if by design, the unbearable heat scolded Karen's pale body. She did not sweat, her skin was dry and her pores shut. Her stomach yearned for something; anything. Cold droplets began to pour gradually onto Karen's forehead, she urged to lean back and stretch out her cracked lips in an attempt to drink the leaking water, but she could not.

Karen's eyes wandered. Around her, dozens of what used to be people sat involuntarily in their dilapidated seats...they appeared to have been there for a long time, entangled in ivy with huge clumps of moss (or was it mould?) attached to their ancient rags. Beside Karen sat an old woman, or so Karen thought, life had not been kind to the woman, and she looked thirty years older than she was. She was no different from the others, attached to the train by time. Karen was sure that the exposed skin of her arm had melted into the cotton material of her armrest.

Karen mustered all her strength to utter the three words "Where am I?" to the lifeless woman, who was silent in her reply. "Excuse me?" Silent still. Karen began to question if the woman was even alive, but could see her chest rising and falling subtly like a buoy in a calm ocean.

"Welcome aboard Miss." A voice  beckoned, trailing behind a cart, creeping closer toward her. The body that the voice belonged to was not conceivable, it resembled more to that of a shadow, it's piercing blood red eyes radiating within the black fog. Karen determined she must have been asleep, but it seemed so real, and the pain in her head, very real. "Where am I?"

Although the shadow wore no face, she sensed it grin. "Why, you are on the death train!" Karen's eyes widened. It all came rushing back to her, the hotel, Carl...the fall. "Did Carl make it?" She requested to know.

"Make what?"

"The hotel. It was collapsing, did he make it? Did someone come for him?" The words slipped out from her mouth easier each time, and the easier it got the more worrisome her voice sounded.

"Sorry Miss, I don't understand. What hotel?"

"The hotel I was in. Before I...died." The words stuck in her throat.

"Oh, that hotel! Why would you think it collapsed?"

"Because I saw it happen. The train, this train in fact, smashed into the bottom of it, leaving it in ruins."

"No miss. That did not happen." The breathy, brusque nature of the demon’s voice sounded genuinely confused.

"What do you mean? I saw it!"

"Let's start again. Do you know why you are here?"

"Because I am dead…from the fall?"

"That's right. You are here because you died, but it wasn't a fall that killed you. You OD'ed. You are here specifically, on the death train, because you are an abandoner. You abandoned your child. Carl did you say his name was?"

"Carl."

"Yes. Carl. You will stay on this train for the rest of eternity, where it will drive to various destinations, from other's memories and your own, such as this hotel, to remind you what it is you have gave up, and what you will never have again. Such as your son, Carl."

"Carl." At the mention of his name from this duplicitous monster, Karen had lost the skill of speech she had only recently acquired.

"Yes, you said that. Do you know what happened to him by the way?"

"Frank."

"No. Well, at first. But your husband, ex-husband, was crushed by your suicide, and so he hung himself." The shadow signalled beyond to the distant foreground of the train. Karen tilted her head and caught sight of Frank, who was off his seat slightly, hanging above it by a makeshift bed sheet noose. She convulsed.

"Wasn't his fault ya know, it was yours. But now he spends his death like you, in this torture, just hanging around." Karen felt humid breath as the shadow proceeded in a deep laugh.
Confusion could ever so slightly be seen from Karen's devastated face. "But, if he died after me, how have I only just arrived here?" She looked at Frank's bony frame, “And he been here before me?"
Death laughed again. "My dear, you have been here for fifteen years! Those pills you took to kill yourself, I’m afraid to say amnesia was a side-effect. Symptoms have a way of exaggerating themselves in death. I must say, it is a rather annoyance to have to go through this with you every time we meet!"
At that the demon began to move, pushing the cart as it did. Karen turned to spectate as it began a conversation with the abandoner behind her. “Wait! We’re not finished. You didn’t tell me what happened to Carl?”

 “Didn’t I? Too bad. Why should you get to know, you did leave him.” Then the fog faded, leaving behind it the echoed words He was in your protection, it was your responsibility to keep him safe.


Submitted: January 23, 2014

© Copyright 2022 MisterM. All rights reserved.

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Comments

DonDuquette

I have to admit, as I started reading this I didn't like it. I couldn't really follow where you were going with it, but I kept it up and found it to be bone-chillingly good.

A critique would be to polish up the pacing on the action-parts of your story. Sometimes it's more effective to just say what happened instead of starting with 'Suddenly' or 'Out of the blue' etc.

Also, there were a few typos, nothing major though.

I would really like to see more members of the train in the future!

Fri, February 7th, 2014 12:49am

Author
Reply

Thanks for the review! I will definitely take your criticism into consideration, I agree that I can trail off unnecessarily sometimes, and I do indeed add words unnecessarily when I should just say what happened, it's good to have someone spot these things when you don't.

Glad you liked it. Also I made a part two, but turned it into a journey of Karen trying to find Carl, but I have to admit I think I prefer your idea a lot more, so I may do that instead/also!

Thanks again.

Fri, February 7th, 2014 2:10am

smircle

"..obscene man barred (bared?) his yellow teeth.."
"..thrusting her arms wild(ly?) in hysteria.."
"..gazed deep(ly) into the Man.."
"..It's nothing(,) Carl.."
"..What's wrong(,) Mommy?"
"..shadow, it's (its) piercing eyes.."
"..what it is you have gave (given) up.."
"..And he('s) been here.."
Like the comment above said, it's a little jumpy, but the end cleared most of it up. I hadn't a clue what was happening for the first few paragraphs, but you described everything well. I found it off that the first dream/situation was due to her having killed her son/being responsible for the death of her son, yet in the next, she was doing all she could to protect him. Then it turns out she'd left him; abandoned him, as the title reads. I'd suggest maybe breaking up the paragraphs when someone is speaking; whenever another character begins to speak, give them a new line, so it's not so bunched together (e.g. "Tom went to the zoo," Mary said. *new line* "I've never been," Jack sighed.). You set the scene well, and I liked how it ended; with it all being a daze/not real. The 'death train' is also an interesting idea and, like the above comment mentions, it'd definitely be interesting to read about the others' stories. Anyway, good job :D

Wed, April 23rd, 2014 10:26pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for the comment! I'll be sure to edit those mistakes, although I'm not sure I agree with a couple. I agree that this is quite jumpy, I'd like to say this was a created technique because of the drugs she took, but I'd be lying. Being one of my first pieces, I'm finding out some things are trickier in writing than others, making sure the story has a clear direction is certainly something I'm trying to improve in. I think I have since fixed the breaking lines in dialogue, although I still consider dialogue to be perhaps my weakest skill in writing. Regarding the story, I wanted to portray with the dream and Karen protecting her son in the story this sense of regret that Karen has for 'abandoning' him. In the dream, it's her fault, which is a foreshadow to the bad situation Carl is in because of her suicide. The story of her protecting him was intended to show her need for redemption through her subconcious for leaving him behind. I'm not sure the 'death train' is an entirely original concept, I vaguely remember being a child and watching something similar, although it was a carriage and not a train, and it was driven by the grim reaper. Time having passed, I'm not sure if it was a film or a dream I had..but I liked the idea regardless, and I'm glad you did too.

Thu, April 24th, 2014 11:42am

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