(this is a story i wrote in like february but i wanted to post it)
the train rattled clumsily down the track. she stared at the window, but the torrential rain outside ran down the dingy glass in rivulets, obscuring any landscape there might have been. the train swayed slightly from side to side and the dim light on the ceiling swayed with it, casting sickening, moving shadows throughout. the train car smelled musty and damp, and most of the torn seats were stained dark—it was anyone’s guess what color they’d originally been.
for now, she was the sole passenger. she looked at her watch with a sigh. it wasn’t visible in the dim light, but she knew it would be at least another three hours until the train reached the terminus, where she would be getting off. she leaned her head against her arms, and her watch resounded in her ear. tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock—it was in perfect time with the click-clack, click-clack, click-clack of the train. the sounds calmed her, and she slipped into an uneasy sleep.
she woke with a jolt. the train was slowing, its clacking slowing… slowing… slowing… then the train ground to a halt with a groan and a loud hissing expulsion of steam. the single light flickered for a moment, then went out, plunging the compartment into utter darkness.
a sudden blast of cold, wet air entered the tiny space, and with it my presence. she gulped, trying to fight back panic. she groped around in the dark for her bag; grabbed her cell phone—maybe it would work as a flashlight—but when she pressed the buttons, nothing happened. she shook her head, willing herself to remain calm as the train pulled out of the station and began to pick up speed. the minutes passed and she took deep breaths, trying to search the compartment even in the absolute gloom.
a draft blew across the back of her neck, and she flinched. curling up into a tiny ball, she put her hands over her ears. the tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock of her watch surprised her, and she stifled a gasp. she grabbed her watch in her right hand and tore it off her wrist, muffling it in her fist—she didn’t want to make any noise. how foolish! i didn’t need sound to find her.
she shoved herself into the corner of her seat and tucked herself into the tiniest ball she could, her eyes wide in the pitch blackness. i watched her. i listened as her carefully regulated breaths sped up and her eyes rolled in fright. another draft tickled her through an open window, and she could no longer restrain herself: she let out a bloodcurdling scream!
i laughed in my mind. i listened as the muffled thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump of her heart increased in speed and volume. it had been in time with the ticking of her watch, but no longer. she gasped in ragged breaths, and her heart beat faster… faster… faster! she could not see me—even had there been light she would not have seen me—but i knew she could sense my presence. humans have good instincts, after all.
her fright was palpable now: i knew it was not much longer until her heart would give out. thump-thump, thum-thump, thu-thump—her heartbeats interrupted each other, impatient to be heard.
i waited: i waited until she could bear the suspense no longer, and she gasped as her heart gave out. i snagged her soul as it escaped her body and hugged it to me in triumph.
the train would enter the terminal station silently; the conductor would almost miss the body curled up in the back corner of the last car of the train. an article would be in the papers. doctors would speculate about the cause of her fatal heart attack. she was young, they would say, and healthy. she shouldn’t have died.
i would laugh silently at the fools. nobody would possibly guess that she had died, quite simply, of mortal terror. but while they speculated, i would be choosing another victim.
and then the waiting…
(kudos to anyone who can figure out what this was inspired by)