Crowds in them selves didn’t bother him; it was lots of people squashed into small places, like this subway train, that got on his nerves.
So, whenever he could, Nate avoided using the subway. Sometimes though, like today, there was no avoiding it. Late out of university and due to meet his girlfriend in ten minutes. He knew he was running late. Wouldn’t even be time to go home and drop his books off first.
He shifted uncomfortably; the backpack was heavy, full of textbooks and notes, and the straps were cutting into his shoulders. He tried to shrug them into a more comfortable position, and accidentally elbowed the person standing behind him, getting a growled 'Watch it, buddy.' in response.
He sighed and moved away from the irate troll as much as he could, which was about six inches as it turned out. That was another thing he disliked about the subway: No one had any patience with anyone else. Up in the street, the elbow incident would pass with out comment, no hard feelings on either side. Down here however, something that was when all said and done, very minor would be treated like a suggestion that the listener should sleep with his own mother.
How much longer till I'm off this thing? He wondered, and glanced at his watch.
Great He thought another ten minutes.
He shifted position again, trying to ease the ache in his shoulders and mentally continuing the list of things he disliked about subways. There was the impression they left in astral space for one.
As a Shaman, Nate was able to view astral space, and had long ago learned to not bother with astral perception in subways (amongst other places). They carried an overwhelming impression of people who would rather be somewhere else; no one wanted to linger here. Everyone was one his or her way some place else. Astrally, this made them forbidding, unfriendly. Car parks were the same.
He glanced up in irritation. That’s another thing. The lights flicker at times. I'd hate to be epileptic right now. Further up the carriage, several mumbled curses were directed at the faulty lighting.
After a few seconds, the flickering stopped and Nate, looking for something to distract him, started reading a poster that some opportunistic soul had stuck to the outside of the window, facing in.
'See TWISTED METAL in concert LIVE!' He read. Just underneath was the bands logo, a cartoon car that had crashed into a lamp post.
Further down was a list of tour dates. The band was due to play three venues in Seattle. Nate frowned, paused and checked the dates again.
The band was due to play three venues in Seattle, two months ago.
He shrugged to himself and kept reading anyhow, mentally plotting the course of the tour across the UCAS. If he'd remembered his geography right, the band had done the usual coast to coast tour, starting on the east coast and finishing here in Seattle.
Wonder how much tickets were… He scanned to poster, looking for a price.
Eventually he tracked it down to a tear at the bottom of the poster, where a corner was missing. Some enterprising cleaner had obviously tried to remove the poster, and had succeeded only in ripping off the very bottom, neatly removing the bit containing the ticket price and phone number to call for ticket sales.
The very part Nathan thought, that anyone intending to go see 'Twisted Metal' would actually need.
Impatient to be out of the subway, Nate checked his watch again.
The lights flickered again and Nate glanced upward. The lights flickered, brightened for a moment, then winked out, plunging the entire train into darkness.
A great many things happened very quickly. People up and down the train started shouting, screaming, and calling to errant children. There was the shriek of metal on metal as the emergency brakes came on, throwing up huge showers of sparks that added a nightmare flickering illumination to the scene. The train lurched as it began to decelerate and Nate staggered forward, grabbing in the dark for a handrail or anything he could hold onto.
Oh no, no. Please. Not this. I'm supposed to meet Alicia. We were going to a movie. Why now?
The train lurched again, prompting more screams in the dark. Nate stumbled and fell, managed to grab the edge of a seat, and hauled himself back to his knees.
On his knees, Nate clung to the seat and wished dearly that he were anywhere but here. Somebody grabbed at him as they stumbled past and panicked, he pulled free.
The train lurched again, sideways this time and the scream of the brakes and shower of sparks suddenly stopped.
Nate realised what had just happened. We've come off the track. Oh dear lord. The train was currently in the air, having just jumped the rails. He had a second; maybe less, to brace himself before the train hit the tunnel wall or floor. He tightened his grip on the seat and hoped for the best.
There was a sudden deceleration and Nate was hurled violently forward, banging his head on something in the dark. Stunned, he lost his grip on the seat back he had been clinging to and was helpless to resist as the train lurched again, throwing its meta-human cargo around relentlessly.
The train bounced off the wall and back into the middle of the tunnel, robbed of most of its momentum, it grounded and slued sideways, the derailed carriages zigzagging back and forth across the track, sparks spraying up where they were in contact with the track.
The damaged train overturned and slid for another hundred meters on its side before finally coming to a halt.
Nate Summers - 5:43
Return to Story Page