That morning everything was normal, at least for me. I got up barely an hour before my first class, getting a big lecture over the phone from my best friend on how I should manage my time (I really want to let her know that what’s wasting my hour at the moment is her, but that would result in another lecture so I barely listen to her), while grabbing my stuff from the wardrobe and hastily getting ready. Fifteen minutes for the class to start and I’m on my knees looking for my lost shoe under the bed (I’m positive I had kept them in the shoe rack yesterday). Grabbing the half made toast from the annoyed maid, I rush out, start my scooty and zoom away towards the metro station.
Right. Every thing was normal, my usual daily routine. I anticipated the ride to college reading this month’s copy of ‘Reader’s Digest’ and reaching college a quarter hour late, as usual.
I had no idea how wrong I was.
The scooty ride to the station was somehow annoying. The usual route was blocked. Last night’s shower crumpled up the already crumpled up road, enough not to let vehicles move over it. Terrible with directions, I tried to figure out another route. Remembering one I took with dad once, I set on it. The weather was sunny and I made my way easily towards the station.
However, to my dismay I found the ‘parking full’ sign. Usually in this situation, I plead with the parking assistant and he allows me to squeeze the scooty somewhere, being a daily commuter and all. Today was different. He didn’t as much as glance toward me and shut the gate.
I wasn’t going to give up. I couldn’t just turn around and go home! I was already terribly late. Add to it the fact that it was gradually getting cold. What happened to the sunny weather? Dark clouds were slowly forming up there and I had no umbrella on me!
I smiled and turned to the left, turned a corner and squished my scooty in the parking from the backside, (remembering a rogue-looking kind of guy using that gap in the wall once.)
Finding space was difficult, I mean REALLY difficult. Especially since I started noticing the weird makes of the some hundred scooters and cars parked there. They were… STRANGE. Right, just Strange. What suddenly happened to everyone? Why did their vehicles look so, well, ANCIENT! Extra large scooters and Buick-looking cars?
I stationed my scooty carefully near a moped. Yes, a real old moped.
Trying to brush off the uneasy feeling, I paced towards the station, getting out some change for the old man who sits outside, begging. Moving towards him, I got a feeling of foreboding. The man looked at me straight in the eye and I had to restrain myself from backing away. The eyes got me. They had a strange glow in them, a glow that’s somehow- scary. I’m not usually scared, but that was different. The day was becoming strange anyway, so I turned around and started up the stairs- fast.
Huffing and panting, I went in for the security check, rummaging in my bag for my metro card. I’ve never seen the security lady before. Believe me, I remember people. Even if I’ve seen them only once - decades ago. (Oh, wait. I’m not that old, to remember people decades ago, I mean. I’m not even two decades old myself! Whatever, you get the drift). The glint in her smile seems awkward to me, not to mention a little unsettling. I mean, security guards NEVER smile. They always look bored. So what’s with the smile anyway? Managing a weak twitch of my mouth, I move towards the card reading barriers and get on the stairs to the platform- super fast.
As I pass people moving up and down the platform, I keep wondering if I still have the shower cap on my head, since everyone is staring shamelessly! Okay, I dress up differently and I haven’t had the time to get my shirt ironed. That doesn’t mean EVERYONE has the right to stare at me!!!
I don’t want to mention it, but I’m sure a girl even kind of sniffed in my direction. I know my perfume’s not strong enough and I had a bath hardly half an hour ago. What’s with the sniffing?
What really, and I mean REALLY made my heart pound was the FACT that all of them had strange orange glints in their eyes! Not really complete orange eyes, but a little tint you could easily notice. Plus, the weird twisted smiles they passed each other. PLUS, their weird clothing. Last time I saw those high up buns on a lady’s head and those sideburns on those men was in a movie I don’t even remember the title of. It was SO old.
The train rolled onto the platform and I dashed into it, trying hard to ignore them all. The women coach contains women (of course), ALL of whom turn to look, no STARE at me, again those glints and twitches unmistakably weird AND scary. I start wondering if I’ve somehow got myself into a place with werewolves all around. Shaking my head I try to remove the thought from my mind because of course, silly werewolves don’t exist. I should rather stop reading books that make my imagination so wild. BUT I’m absolutely sure normal people don’t make sniffing noises! That was REALLY chickening me out.
I tried to stealthily glance at them to get an idea of what was going on. The coach seemed kind of pale, the pallor of their faces making it so. Their clothing wasn’t very colorful either, just shades of grey, black or brown. I looked at myself- a pink t-shirt, light blue jeans, multiple color bangles and nail paint, purple slippers and maroon bag! What was I thinking, with all those colors?
I don’t even feel like reading my Reader’s Digest, my favorite pastime. But it’s way better than having to look into any of those eyes. That was turning out to be hard. The coach had enough space for everyone to stand meters away from each other, but those girls, or whatever were inching closer to me. I KNEW it. I’m not so stupid to ignore what was going on.
Same strange people kept coming and leaving as the stations passed. I couldn’t dare to move an inch. I planned on darting all the way down when I reached my platform.
Suddenly a little girl asked her mom, “When can I have her? I’m hungry!” “Just wait a little my dear”, replied her mom (whose voice made goose bumps rise all over me). Horrified, I try to ignore the fact the girl had said “her”, even though I was getting pretty sure that “her” was me. The little girl had a devilish grin across her face. I usually like little girls, they’re cute, but this one was ‘devilishly’ cute.
This was getting REAL scary and this was NOT a nightmare. Two stations left till I could get down-where I didn’t know. I had realized I was into some BIG trouble and a difficult one. It was not normal, neither was it my imagination. I mean, I can’t make myself so scared in my own imagination, can I?
As I’m wondering, I’m caught by the sight of an old lady, resting her head against the window. I’m transfixed as I see her head NOT hitting the window and resting against it, as I had anticipated, but going straight THROUGH it, when she brings it back and turns that head at me! I make a muffled cry and real tears start forming. I was dead scared.
One station left. Heart pounding and sweat trickling down, I tried hard not to look up when I knew the strange people, or ghosts or whatever they were, were coming closer. Had they sensed that I, their fresh victim and would-be breakfast, was about to go?
Looking up from the magazine (of which I hadn’t read a word), I couldn’t help but retreat against the door, dropping my magazine. They seemed to be actually coming FOR me!
The old lady, with a long black cloak had a pointy hat had got up and was in front of the group. She stretched out her hand toward me, a bracelet of bones dangling from her wrists and a ring with a human skull in her gnarled finger.
I’d had enough. I cried out loud, making a shrill scream that seemed to reverberate throughout the unusually silent train, just as the doors open and I manage to run. I swear, PT Usha would have fainted had she seen my speed, I flew out.
But then, she would have laughed, since I was getting slowed down- against my wish! I couldn’t move my legs! Turning back, I saw a whole crowd of ghosts or werewolves or witches/wizards or whatever they were, flashing those eyes and that smile and covering me from all sides. I was trapped. What could I do? I was going to die, becoming a delicious breakfast for these things! I shut my eyes tight and started praying. That’s what we see in the movies, right?
I felt a hand squeeze my arm- tight. I screamed again, but more hands closed down on me and started shaking me. Shaking so hard that my eyes flew open of their own accord.
Shocked, but terribly pleased I saw my parents bending over me. I was lying in my bed, the sheets all twisted. My worried parents told me I had been screaming for five whole minutes! That was scary. I held on to them for a while, planning on taking a leave from college. I had just two classes anyway. That’s what I said, but really I was not brave enough to take the train that day.
“Can I borrow your copy of Reader’s Digest, honey?”, mom asked, coming in with my breakfast-in-bed. “Sure”, I replied and rummaged in my bag for it. It wasn’t there. I looked for it in my room, combing all possible places, but it was nowhere. Feeling unsettled, I tried to convince myself that I probably forgot where I had kept it. But it was tough. I’m not the kind to leave my stuff around, not knowing where it is. My cell phone beeped, a text message from an unknown number. Wait, it couldn’t even be a number, twelve characters including two letters? I manage to open it and stood frozen.
It read, “Aren’t you coming to take back your magazine, dear?”