's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"10 Minutes Late for Class"

Submitted by Fernando

As soon as I woke up, I knew it was going to be a crappy day. First thing to happen in the morning? I overslept. I dressed and ran out of my house as fast as I could; I had to get to the subway and stay awake the half-hour trip to college, unless I wanted to miss my stop and get to class even later.

I sat on the subway and looked at my watch. If everything went right, I would only miss 10 minutes of class. Of course, there is no such thing as “everything went right”. Just a couple stations before I had to get off, the train stopped right on the middle of the tunnel. Common enough to be a drag, not enough to be expected. However, this time something was different. All the doors in the wagon opened at the same time. The darkness creeping beyond the safety of our metal cage was enough to make everyone nervous, as if getting late to school or work wasn’t enough. The atmosphere was soon filled with small talk and annoyed sighs, but a single sound managed to reclaim the silence.

A man started giggling. It was a nervous, high pitched giggle. I know some people can get really scared in this situations and react in weird ways, but he didn’t look scared at all. His wide open eyes kept scrolling around the wagon, like he watched something hilarious and expected everyone else to start laughing. As his laughter got louder and louder, he crossed eyes with a young woman, who started shaking. She tried to cover her mouth, but was unable to contain herself and started laughing maniacally. As soon as she did, the first man started laughing even louder. They kept looking at each other, like they were the only ones who got this unperceivable joke. Some people let out a nervous laugh, but they stopped quickly. Most of us remained completely silent. They laughed on and on and on and on, never stopping to breath. No one dared to move or talk to these people, but their mesmerizing laughter wasn’t alone for long. A homeless looking man stood up and watched them for a few seconds, before pulling out a pair of metal rods. He started banging them together rithmically, lifting his legs one at a time, like he was doing a weird, little dance.

He danced back and forth, almost touching commuters that backed away in fear. The laughing man and woman stood up and joined his dance, almost hitting people around them. A young girl started crying, yet everyone else was silent. The creeping darkness kept prowling outside, watching everything. A little kid, five years old at most, tried to scream. He was quickly silenced by his mother, but he stood up like the others. Despite his mother’s best efforts, he ran to the homeless man and started screaming and skipping around him. His screams were incoherent, unarticulated, yet followed a noticeable pattern. He was repeating a short, atonal melody, composed of only six notes. The man didn’t seem to notice the kid, he just kept dancing around and playing his improvised instrument. I don’t understand how they did, but they matched. Screams and banging rods matched perfectly. Their insane cacophony started getting louder again, laughter against laughter and screams against banging. During this maniacal crescendo, an old woman jumped up and opened her toothless mouth more than any mouth should. Her babling soon filled the air, as she twisted and turned and drooled all over the wagons floor. I saw people trying to use their phones, people crying, people trying to wake themselves up, yet this mad concert kept on going. After a couple minutes that felt like hours, they stopped. They stood in place, in absolute silence, their faces lacking any expression. Then, they got off. They simply stepped out of the train and walked away. Darkness engulfed them before we could see anything.

I wanted to cry, to shout, to ask what the hell I had just seen, but I remained silent. All of us did for longer than we’d like to remember. That monstrous darkness kept lurking outside, daring us to move. Silence was interrupted once again by a sound that could never feel more inappropriate. A sound that came from a world none of us knew anymore. The bell announcing the wagon’s doors were closing. The doores moved back into place, slowly, separating us from the darkness. The train started moving again, filled with people so quiet, so pale, they could as well be dead. I don’t remember anything else that happened that day, but why would it matter? There’s at least one thing I won’t be able to forget. Sometimes I still see their faces in the dark, haunting me, watching me. I don’t know why, but I start to hum.