Keep walking. I urged myself on through the busy train station. The crowd that flooded out of the Q with me had parted ways, taking what ironic security that being in a pack of strangers could bring. Feeling exposed, I glanced over my shoulder. If I was honest with myself, exposed wasn’t the only thing I felt. It was however the only thing I could mentally handle admitting to because exposed was better than being watched.
My phone was still useless. The lifeline that were the four signal bars were gone. In their place was the near panic inducing, No Service. I could feel my heart then. Maybe it was as upset as I was that despite all the technological and scientific progress, we still couldn’t figure out how to ensure we never lost service in the subway. As unnerving as it was, I didn’t stop checking for my lifeline to return. I kept my phone inches from my chest, my thumb hitting a button to turn on the screen every so often as I hurried to the nearest exit.
The light at the top of the stairs never looked so welcoming in my life. I bounded up the stairs, two at a time. It was funny in a way. My selective laziness took a backseat to what I guess was my unconscious fight or flight response. I was in full flight, alright.
With the first breath of fresh air came the bars of hope. “Finally,” I whispered to my phone. My fingers were on autopilot. First was a text to the group chat I was now thankful my friends added me to, and second a call to the first one to respond to it.
“Hello?” I dodged the group of kids who refused to split up and nearly missed Maxie’s rare show of concern. “Maxie. Maxie. Slow down.” The barrage of questions only made me anxious, which made me wonder if the prickling at the back of my neck was something I needed to pay attention to. Thankfully, she took a breath and told me to start from the top.
Walking the streets of New York left me feeling like I was about to accidentally walk into some psychological thriller, so I ducked into the first semi-crowded cafe I saw. It didn’t get rid of my shaky fingers but it got me off the street and away from all the eyes. “I saw something, M.”
“It’s Manhattan.” She reminded me. “You need to be more specific than that.”
She had a point. We saw a guy dance around naked for a solid five minutes before the police caught him. So I took a breath, opened the mental door I locked it behind, and tried again. “There was a guy between the cars.”
“I hate to burst your paranoia bubble there but that guy is a conductor. He is allowed to be there. Every train has them. Haven’t you ever been on the LIRR?”
“M,” I had to pause. My voice got louder with the one letter that I worried it got some attention. I looked up in fear I’d find someone paying too much to me. Turned out that it was just me worried about it. Everyone else was busy with their own normal lives. I envied them.
The sound of my name pulled me back to the phone call at hand and my problem of convincing Maxie that I wasn’t being dramatic. “The guys who work on the trains don’t disappear before the train reaches the stop.” They didn’t stare you down through the glass either but admitting that out loud felt taboo, like saying it would set off some cosmic event I wanted no part of. “Can you just meet me please?”
“Fine, but if it starts to sound like an episode of Gotham, I’m leaving.”
True to her word, Maxie met me an hour later at the cafe. I refused to leave since it was my safe haven in the brewing storm of my life. She kept to her side of things, that it was all in my head, but I know what I saw. There was a man between the cars. I couldn’t get a good look of his face or his eyes. It didn’t mean I didn’t feel him staring at me before the area he was standing went dark and he was gone. I went home that night and looked up everything I could from the mundane to the paranormal.
Now, I’m standing in front of some sketchy door waiting for someone, anyone, to answer. The forum I lost hours to said this was the place to go if you believed you saw the 12:40 Specter. Whatever that was. It still gave me chills, but I was going to see this through.
I guess the fight part finally kicked in.
© Maura D., marsreine.wordpress.com, 2017-2019