The Rush Hour

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
If you've ever travelled an underground railway system, this one is for you......especially if you commute on the Underground in London.......

Submitted: July 22, 2013

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 22, 2013




(This story is dedicated to the users of the London Underground)
(Enjoy your journey........)

"The Rush Hour"©Copyright David Barry. 1969


Macrae  looked  up  from  his book  as  the  train  pulled  into Lancaster  Gate  station.  Tubes were  noisy,  hot, dirty,  and generally uncomfortable, he decided. There  was a slight jerk as the train stopped,  and  the doors rolled ponderously back. His carriage was, as usual, quite full. Every day he travelled to and from Bank Station, and every day  he  saw the same people boarding and leaving the  train  at their respective stops. The  doors  hissed slightly and rolled together  with  a  thud.  Four  empty  seats.
Macrae buried his head  in  his  book again. ‘It will therefore be understood,' he read, ‘that due  to the  technological advance of the computer industry as a  whole, it  is of paramount importance that all levels of personnel  are acquainted with the basic rules governing the development of nth capacity memory banks.'
Macrae  ran his finger round the inside of  his  collar. Thank goodness they would soon be out of the tunnel, he thought.  Only two more stations.His anticipation waned slightly as the train slowed in the tunnel and halted  at a signal. He looked round at the other  occupants  of  the coach. How could they sit there and ignore the stifling heat that  seemed to close in on them like a blanket. He  thought  of  opening  a  window. That should earn him a few dirty  looks.
To  hell  with it, he thought. He reached up and pulled the hook  on  the  window beside him. Nobody  took  the  slightest  notice.  Macrae  was understandably surprised, for  it  was  his experience that people did not like windows open in trains. They would rather sit and suffocate than risk a little air. The train moved off again, slowly, with a great graunching sound from the wheels beneath him as it trundled over a set of points.. He put his hand up to  feel  the  draught and cursed to himself when he felt  the  warm  air.  Holland  Park. There was only one seat left now;  the  one  next to him.
Funnyhow  people  like  to  face  thewaythey're  travelling,  he thought. He always did. It was a sort of  phobia  with him. Must try sitting with his back to the driver tomorrow, he  decided. He opened his book again, and tried to  forget  the stuffiness of the coach. He managed to keep his thoughts centred  on  the book, and didn't notice the stop at Shepherds  Bush.  He  only glanced up with  a  frown when the wheels ground horribly  on  the track again as they pulled into White City.
He  looked  at  the hoardings on the  wall  through  the doorway. Usual adverts. Nothing of much interest except one plug for  a  film in the City. Now that, thought  Macrae,  should  be worth seeing. He made a mental note to keep an evening free. All the  other  posters were unchanged, as they had  been  for  some days.  His  eyes wandered up the wall to the  tunnel  roof.  
And  suddenly the heat was gone and a myriad tiny cockroaches  played  up and down his spine, making him shiver.
He thought carefully, slowly: White City is above ground.  His  eyes remained glued for an instant, taking  in  the finish  of the tiling, six feet up the wall, and then the  dirty  cream  paint as the roof curved away over the top of the train.  He  looked  quickly at the board on the wall.  White  City.  The doors rolled shut and Macrae jumped as they banged to. He looked again, craning his neck at the window as the train rolled out of  the  station. The reflection from the fluorescent tubes  in  the ceiling  mocked  him. The boards flashed by. White  City - White City - White City- they screamed at him.

And  then  the lights were gone, and they  were  in  the tunnel again Macrae fought not to panic. You've made a  mistake, he told himself. That couldn't have been White City. He  thoughtof  the boards flashing past. Alright, if that was  White  City,  then they couldn't possibly be in a tunnel now. Slowly he turned to look out of the window again.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five.
Five black, dirty, dusty rows of pipes, securely bolted to the wall  of  the  tunnel. Macrae wanted to scream. He opened his  mouth,  but  the  sound  stuck somewhere in his throat. But wait!  The  other people!  They  weren't the slightest bit  perturbed.  He  looked  round the carriage, and reason and relief came flooding back.  No-one  else looked hot, or uncomfortable.  Nobody  else  looked  worried about being in a tunnel. Macrae sank  back  into his  seat  and  closed his eyes. God! How  stupid!  he  thought. Obviously  he  was  overtired.  That  station  must  havebeen Shepherds  Bush.  He jumped as the book slid from  his  lap  and  landed  on his feet. He looked at his fellow  passengers  again.

They  were  all acting perfectly normally.  Macrae  chuckled  to himself.  Imusthave  dozed  off,  hethought.Whata nightmare!  That'll  teach me to go to bed earlier,  he  thought ruefully.

It was getting hot again, though, he noticed. It must be because  they were running through the tunnel.  Too  damn  hot!  Perhaps I'm beginning to suffer from claustrophobia, he thought.  He loosened his tie and undid his shirt collar. The perspiration  began  to stand out on his forehead and run down his  face.  And all the other people were perfectly normal.

Panic welled up again.

They  shouldn't  be  normal! They  should  be  breathing heavily,  wiping  their  foreheads,  opening  windows,fanning  themselves  with  their papers...... anything. But not  just  sitting  unconcernedly. Didn't they realise how hot it was? His  clothing stuck  to him and his shirt was sopping wet. His book slid  from  his  feet and continued to travel slowly across the floor  until it hit the opposite seat. Macrae twisted sharply and looked down  the  length of the coach. The angle! It must be at least  twenty five degrees! So they were still descending deeper, then. All the other people sat unconcerned.
He  was ill! That was it! Some food he'd eaten  must  be playing  tricks with him. He remembered reading something  about rich  food upsetting your balance. His head pounded.  The  train lurched and Macrae felt himself tipping forward.  Panic-stricken,  he stumbled to his feet. He ripped  off  his jacket and pulled feverishly to undo more of his shirt.  The heat  was  intense. He stopped. People were watching  him,  now.  Macrae didn't care. He had to get rid of the heat. He pulled off  his shirt, flung it onto his seat.

A sound made him turn. A woman sitting further down  thecarriage was laughing. At him. A loud, raucous, braying laugh.

"Shut  up!"  he shouted. "Stop laughing at me! Do you hear?Shut up, I tell you!"

He lurched towards the woman, fighting against the steep  angle  of  the  train.  His eyes rested  for  a  moment  on  the  emergency  door  at  the  end of the coach.  It  was  very  dark  outside.  He twisted wildly and looked at the front end  of  the carriage.  It was very dark outside. He frowned, becoming  rational  in  a cold, analytical way, half his mind trying not  to  accept what his eyes registered, the other half shouting at him that he must believe the evidence of his own senses.
His  was  the only carriage. He was quite  sure  about  it. There  was absolutely no doubt about the matter at all. His  was  the only coach. He stayed where he was, clinging to a stanchion,staring  wildly down the carriage and through the window at  the end.

Now  other people were laughing at him. A part ofhis mind accepted the fact but did not, or could not, inform his  conscious level. He fell, rather than walked, down the length of  the  coach and hit the end of it. His face pressed close to  the glass in the emergency door to the next coach,  he tried to see what was in front. The lights  from  the coach  reflected  dimly on the rails.
There was no coach in front.

He pulled  at  the  window  catches  and  gasped  as  they  burnt  his  fingers.  He swore  viciously.

The  window slid down with a bang and the blast  of  hot  air  knocked  him  back. He fell to the floor,  and  lay  there,  staring  at the ceiling of the coach. Out of the corners of  his eyes  he  could see the advertisement cards begin  to  curl.  He tried  to rise, and gripped at a stanchion to haul  himself  up.  The  sweat ran down his face and chest, his arms and  legs;  and  the handrail burnt him.  

People were standing up now, crowding round him, cuttingoff his air. His air. He must have air. Everybody needed air. He  musthave  some  air; - beautiful  sweet  lungsfulofcool, refreshing, clean, hot, acrid, sweaty, smelling, choking air.

To live.

And  the other passengers still  laughed.  His head was  spinning  with  their  laughter, their loud, insane, cackling laughter.  

And the heat.

He groped for a straphanger to keep  his balance,  so  steep was the floor. He looked at the end  of  the coach  again, and far down the tunnel a faint orange  glow  sent  shadows  bouncing up the walls. His scalp prickled. The hot  air  blasted him and he felt his skin beginning to blister.

"God!" he shouted. "God, help me! Take it away! Help me! Please! God, listen to me! Help me!"

He fell back onto the floor again, clawing at the  seats  and people alike. Their heads moved over him. Their eyes danced,  their fingers pointed, and they laughed.

"I  shouldn't  be here!" he shouted to them. . "Somebody  take  me  away! Do something, for God's sake!"
The  saliva dribbled from his mouth and mixed  with  the  sweat on his burning skin.

"I shouldn't be here!" he screamed again. "Please help me! Oh  God! Oh God!"

The tears welled up in his eyes and he  sobbed out loud.

He  rolled around on the floor and it burnt  his  flesh.  The  carriage was becoming blackened and everything  he  touched burnt  him.  As he struggled to his feet again he saw  that  the  glow  in  the tunnel was nearer, and brighter, and hotter; and  as  the  coach rolled  down the incline it got nearer still, and still  hotter, until Macrae began to shrivel.

The  sweat dried even as it broke on his face,  and  his  skin  became taut across his bones. Now he couldn't  breathe  at  all,  except  for great gasps of air that burnt his  throat  and lungs  and  made  him cry out in agony.  In  a  last  despairing effort, he tried to reach the back end of the coach to get  away from the scorching orange heat but the angle was too great.

He  slipped and fell and as his head touched the  floor,  he  saw  the swishing forked tail between the two  great cloven hooves  planted  firmly  in  the gangway.


©No part of this synopsis story or screenplay may be reproduced,  stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, by any means or  in  any  form, including electronically,  either wholly or in part, without  written  permission  from the copyright holders.  ©  Copyright David Barry.1969.

© Copyright 2020 The Dragonlord. All rights reserved.

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