's 2016 Horror Write-off:

City Diaries: A Crowded Subway Car

Submitted by Luna Raydue

I live on Long Island, where nothing out of the ordinary really happens. But several times a month I commute to New York City, and there always seems to be some sort of unusual occurrence around every bend. I figure it's a city thing. I've decided to record some of my experiences, in hopes that someone might relate. Maybe somebody will be able to tell me how to avoid these strange encounters.


I've never liked taking the subway, although it's a necessity of city travel, unless you're willing to pay for expensive cabs or deal with driving the horrible city streets. Most of the time the subway cars are either incredibly crowded or empty, and neither is very enjoyable. Crowded cars are sweaty and hot and tight, and it's hard to keep any semblance of personal space. Empty cars are barren and quiet, and no one sits close to anyone else. Often there will be only one or two people to a whole bench. And sometimes you have to be careful of the empty cars, because it might mean there's a bodily fluid around that shouldn't be, or a homeless person that reeks too much to go near. No matter how crowded a subway, there's most likely to be a panhandler or a pole performer ambling through. Those who are used to it don't even bother to look up.

This story takes place on a crowded subway car late at night, heading uptown to penn station. But certainly not the usual crowd. I was running late and just about to miss the subway; in a mad dash I hopped into the 2nd car down. As the doors closed behind me, I immediately regretted my decision.

It wasn't that it was the most crowded car I'd ever been on-- in fact, I was able to squeeze into a seat between two rather tall, thin passengers. The matter was that all the passengers were anything but human. When I say "tall and thin", I mean that they looked like living upside-down otamatones. The rest of the passengers had quite a range of diverse and unsettling body types, some with what looked like multiple bodies, or bodies that weren't quite there. Even some figures that may or may not have flickered in and out of sight. I could tell in an instant that this was definitely not a normal subway car, but I figured I was stuck here until the next stop, so I might as well get comfortable. Nothing was moving to eat me-- in fact, they all seemed to be minding their own business, glancing at the ground or fiddling with their various extremities. Except for one multi-eyed fellow; I couldn't tell exactly where it was looking, but it seemed to have at least one glowing purple eye looking everywhere at all times.

The ride continued on fairly normal, as though the car was full of average people that weren't eldritch abominations and childhood nightmares. At one point, a small bird-like creature with a split beak and three orange eyes that bulged out of its head started making deafening, high-pitched screaming noises. To the best of my descriptive ability, it sounded sort of like a woodpecker combined with a baby monkey combined with nails scratching on chalkboard, amplified through a broken megaphone. My ears started ringing, until a larger version of the creature that I can only assume was its parent opened its split beak wide and sprayed a stream of reddish-green liquid into the small one's beak. Some splashed out onto the floor, and the car immediately filled with a horrible, eye watering stench, but at least it was quiet again.

What I felt was a good while into the ride, we hadn't come to any stops yet, which I thought was unusual. I took out my phone to check the time, but found that the device unsurprisingly had no service and the numbers read 35:040. That wasn't helpful to me in the slightest.

It was then that the door at the end of the car slid opened, and a new being slithered in. It had long, tentacle-like tendrils so dark I couldn't comfortably call them black, which swayed in all directions as it slowly moved forward. It held a large tin can in one extremity, and moved it in a circle, shaking and making a clanging sound as it went. Most of the other creatures in the car seemed to ignore it, but a few reached out and put various things in its cup, from what looked like a rusty gear to a broken comb. I think the multi-eyed creature put one of its eyes in. As the dark being slithered towards me, I considered ignoring it, but it paused a few inches away, cup held in my direction. I looked up, but had to immediately look away, for its face was glitched and vague and hurt my head to view. It shook the cup in front of me expectantly, and I sighed and reached into my pockets for some spare change. I didn't have any, but I did have a large safety pin, which I pulled out and dropped in the can. That seemed to satisfy the being, and it moved on. I could almost swear I saw a grin on its indiscernible face, but I really couldn't look directly at it, so I wasn't sure.

What may have been minutes or hours passed; time was hard to judge in the subway car, and the scenery outside was never anything but a dark tunnel that occasionally changed lighting shades, from deep purple and night blue to burnt orange and hazard yellow. Finally, the subway train pulled in to a stop, and a speaker crackled to life. The voice was muffled and hard to understand, as is common with subway speakers, but I was fairly certain it wasn't speaking in English anyway. Or any human language, for that matter. However, one word I could make out sounded sort of like "Penn", so I figured it was my stop and stood up. As the doors opened, it looked like the penn station I was familiar with, and no one (or no thing) else on the car seemed to want to get off. I could feel several eyes following me as I stepped out of the train, an uncomfortable feeling that crawled up my back and made me shiver.

And then the doors slid shut, the subway pulled out, and it was over. Everything seemed normal in the station, and no strange creatures were in sight.

Two days later, I took the subway again at the same time, and decided to try the same car out of curiosity. The car was filled with normal people, and I chalked my experience up to an accident.

However, as I settled into my seat, I noticed a large safety pin next to me, which was coated in some kind of dark substance of a color that I couldn't quite call black. I could see a smile somewhere in the back of my mind, obscured behind an unviewable face.