A/N: Content warning for body horror. Drafted up something quick after reading r/nosleep for too long earlier today
I have taken the metro so many times to work, every day. I would find myself on that platform at exactly 8:31 am every morning, waiting for the 8:32 train. And this morning I did just that.
And now I’m back home, sitting in bed, and everything is just wrong. I don’t even know if this post will send, but I have to give it a shot.
I’m getting ahead of myself though, so let me rewind to this morning.
So, I got out of bed, running slightly late. That was okay though, it was a Friday so most of us were going to drift into the office 10, 20 minutes after 9 anyways. I had my earphones in, playing my usual morning playlist as I dashed out of my house. I was busy scrolling through the 50 emails on my phone, utterly engrossed by administrative emails that could’ve been 90% shorter and still conveyed the exact same amount of information.
The usual entrance to the train station was more crowded than usual, so I instead ran to the emptier eastward entrance, which I rarely took because of its I-haven’t-been-properly-cleaned-in-at-least-several-years atmosphere, but I didn’t want to be the last one into the office that morning.
I was busy responding to one of my coworkers about a printer mishap, tapping my card into the station without glancing twice or fumbling at all. Like I said, my routine was autopilot, was reflex.
It was only when I reached the platform that I felt a slight itch that something was just – off.
I turned down my music and looked around for a brief moment, not being able to put a finger on it. It didn’t matter much though because the train pulled up right after that, and I squeezed into the usual rush hour crowd, still scrolling through emails.
It was only when the train started moving that I figured out what was so odd about that platform back there – it was completely silent.
It was filled with people, I was sure of it. The usual weary business people in their suits and various attire, but nobody was uttering a word. In fact, as I pondered that observation in the train, I realised that I hadn’t quite been able to make out anybody that clearly at all. Like – I knew they were there – but the more I tried to think back to that one minute of waiting, the blurrier my memories got.
Slightly shaken, I stared determinedly down at my phone which was losing signal fast as the train hurtled through the underground tunnels. I was in the middle of rereading a sentence about getting timesheets in on time when my phone rang – Unknown Caller. Which was odd enough in itself, because my phone had stopped getting signal at all by that point. Whoever was calling was doing something that, as far as I knew, technology couldn’t exactly accomplish.
Usually I would let all unknown callers go to voicemail, but things had been weird enough, and maybe a part of my brain thought that that weird phone call would explain things, would calm me down. I was pretty naive in that, I admit. When people are scared, people believe ridiculous things.
I picked it up but before I could even say hello there was a sharp static screeching, and the crying voice that sounded like it was coming from very far away.
“Don’t look,” it cried, voice cut off slightly by the static.
“What -“ I began, but the voice continued as if I didn’t exist.
“Don’t look. Don’t look. Don’t look -“
Freaked out now, I immediately hung up.
That was when I realised that the entire train was silent too, and had been silent ever since I had gotten on.
If I wasn’t scared before, I was scared now. I was still staring down at my phone, and suddenly felt a strong need to take a close look at the other passengers, and an even stronger instinct to definitely not do that.
I thought back to the voice on the phone. That was a prank, right? I couldn’t be sure. I also couldn’t think of any reason why looking at people would be so bad. In fact, maybe someone could reassure me that I wasn’t losing my mind.
Against all the alarm bells going off in my brain, I looked up, and instantly wished I hadn’t.
Everyone’s faces were – I would say something, but they weren’t. They didn’t have faces. Or, they did, but it was a far cry from any human face that I could recognise. Just wide, identical smiles, smiles too wide for any human, and unblinking eyes that fit right into that sweet, terrible spot of the uncanny valley.
“What -“ I began. This had to be some kind of nightmare. Maybe I was just having a terrible trip.
The thing is, I couldn’t get the word out of my throat. It was like my vocal chords were clenching up; my words were being pushed back into my lungs. I was suddenly crying – out of panic or fear or whatever the fuck – but I was crying silently, unable to make a sound. I was a flood of tears, but the passengers – if I could even call them that – just stared back unblinkingly, not a single one changing expression in the slightest.
It occurred to me that the train should’ve reached a stop – any stop – many minutes ago, but it was still hurtling down the dark tunnel with no end in sight.
“I want to get off,” I tried to say, but couldn’t.
“Why? You’re safe here.”
I nearly fell over, as the voice answered me, a voice that wasn’t quite human but wasn’t quite inhuman either. I could’ve sworn that it was still dead silent on the train. Nobody around me had moved an inch – they were still surrounding me like living, breathing statues – but the voice in my head was as clear as day.
I closed my eyes and prayed for this nightmare or sick joke to be over. Then, without any warning, I felt my mouth begin to stretch.
At first, it simply felt like an uncontrollable muscle spasm. Then, it became obvious – it was being pulled sideways and up, into a grotesque, elongated – smile. My eyes began to hurt and dry as I tried to close them again, but couldn’t. It wasn’t as if someone was prying them apart, it was as if someone or something had gotten rid of my eyelids entirely.
FUCK FUCK FUCK. PLEASE CHRIST JUST STOP IT ISN’T FUNNY. LET ME OFF.
Why? You’re safe here.
And moments later, I was suddenly back on the train platform, in utter shock and with tears still pouring down my face. I screamed, just to try and make sound – and this time I did. Metro workers flocked towards me in confusion as I felt my face, my mouth – everything was normal. It was as if nothing had happened at all. That was almost the strangest part of it.
“Oh god, oh god oh god.”
That’s all I remember saying – or screaming, because I quickly passed out and woke up a few hours later in the hospital. The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong, and no metro worker could provide any answers about that 8:32 am train. Apparently, it had arrived and departed as routinely as it had every morning before that.
I demanded to see the security cameras from that platform, and maybe because the workers were afraid I was going to lose it at them if I didn’t, because they showed me the tape from 8:30 am to 8:35 am. There was the normal train I would usually take, pulling up, passengers spilling out and other passengers squeezing in, and leaving, as normal.
The only difference was that I wasn’t on the camera at all.
The doctors all chalked it up to some wild hallucination or fever dream, because nobody could quite explain what happened. I got sent home to rest, with a note saying I should take a week off of work. Everyone seemed to think that it was nerves or sleep deprivation or a bad batch of weed or whatever, but I knew that it couldn’t have been any of those things.
By mid afternoon, after spending a good few hours pacing around the station, going down the side entrance, ending up on the same, normal platform, with plenty of noise as usual, with nothing being wrong, I began to convince myself – as human brains tend to do – that it was all a huge misunderstanding, could be chalked up to some bad coincidences, that I was vastly overreacting. After all, I had ended up safe on the platform, and that was what really mattered.
By night time, I had sufficiently calmed myself down to the point where I just felt embarrassed by the scene I had caused. God, I need a break from my office job.
It was only when I was brushing my teeth getting ready for bed when she – when it, should I say – appeared.
I looked up in the mirror to check to see if there was anything in my teeth, and there she was, standing right behind me. With the same, distorted wide smile, unblinking eyes. If it weren’t for the frazzled red hair I wouldn’t have even really known it was – me. But it was. Every feature was my own, except for that distorted, terrifyingly uncanny face, that simply smiled and stared silently and unchangingly.
I screamed and dropped my toothbrush, whirling around ready to fight her off, but there was no one behind me. I looked back in the mirror, and she was gone. It could’ve easily been a trick of an eye, I told myself, but deep down I knew that it had all become too much. Everything that had happened was just too strange to all be excused by coincidences and brain tricks. Something was very wrong.
That’s when I heard the sound of the train. It was the most familiar sound in the world, because it was the background sound to my every morning and every afternoon. Except this time, I was standing in the bathroom. In my own home. I sprinted towards the bedroom and slammed the door behind me, locking it with shaking hands. But the sound was still there, in the distance.
The sound is still here. I swear it’s real, I swear. It’s here, and I swear it’s growing, even as I’m writing this. It’s growing slowly and very gradually, but it’s growing louder. I’m only writing this down because if something happens, then at least there is a record of it, because nobody will ever guess what really happened. I’m too scared to sleep because I know, I KNOW that if I fall asleep I won’t wake up – at least I won’t wake up here. I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t know anything. I’m staring at my vague reflection in the window and I can see her over my shoulder. I know that if I turn around she won’t be there, but I also know that she is. I wish she would blink, or say something, anything. But she’s there, and so is the sound, and I’m so, so fucked.