Up until three minutes ago, I thought my life was fairly normal. Then I discovered the truth of who I became.

The anomalous set of events began on a passenger train. I had just woken up to the radio overhead, playing Elton John’s, Rocket man. I hummed along elatedly, until it abruptly stopped, right at my favorite part, the chorus. A stranger’s voice came on and announced, “Happy 2213!—we’re glad you all made it!—now for another timeless piece of music…Avery Dushane and Fortunate Train.”

Did they just say 2213? It’s still 2103. There’s no way I just slept through the past ten years.

I looked down at my internal time chip. It showed 2:11 in the morning. It was dark in the train car; no overhead lights, which was odd. 

Suddenly, the radio went silent, followed by static replacing the chatty announcer.

Probably another hydro-electrical failure—seems like every time I ride on these hydro-star trains, something malfunctions. I’ll get back to sleep. When I wake up, the lights will be back on.

 Where’s that pill?—Gulp…

I dozed off and then woke back up around 4 A.M, feeling refreshed.

That Neutronium Blizz, Serena lifted from her bi-polar sister sure worked.

My skin felt damp around my chin and down by my stomach. I had slobbered all over myself during my rest.

That stuff worked a little too well. I chuckled.

Oh well, whatever—I think I will get up and take a look around.

As I rose out of my seat, the lights on the train came back on, along with the radio, re-playing the Elton John Song, filled with partial static.

I looked down the aisle to the left and then to the right. The train car was completely empty. 

No wonder it was so quiet.

In front of me, a tall, dark shadow filled the floor, and then it was gone in an instant. I sensed that it moved behind me. I turned around as quick as I could and saw it wander past a window in the next car down. The window then fogged up in a red-velvet like haze.

Out of curiosity, I crept forward to have a look. 

What is that? It almost looks like...Oh my God! I touched the window.

My stomach curled inside, realizing I had just touched sticky wet blood. I stumbled forward, smearing it with my fingertips, leaving a clear trail down the glass. Through the indentations, I saw what I could only describe as group of undead zombies, feeding on a corpse of an old woman wearing only pointy black shoes. One of the zombies spotted me, snarled to the others and in an instant, they lunged towards the door.

 In a panic, I slipped backwards, and fell, bumping my head on a squeaky, baby doll that lay on the floor. Around it were bloody footprints, crisscrossing one another as if a struggle had just taken place there.

What the fuck happened here? 

My whole body trembled as I tasted the flavor of iron in my own blood. It had dripped down my face from the laceration on my head. I then felt a throbbing pain down by my ankle. I t was twisted and swollen, as if I was stung by a hundred wasps. 

The undead zombies were now pounding furiously on the door behind me. Glass shattered to the floor as they pressed their faces hard into the frame, attempting to get through. 

Carl…you’ve got to get to your feet. 

Halfway senseless and morbid from all the shock, I ignored the pain, got up and dragged myself to the next train car ahead. The doorway through was covered in hair and skin, and a broken off manicured fingernail rested perfectly on the handle. I swung the door open, locked it tight and then sat down against the wall to catch my breath. I was safe for the moment—at least I thought so.

I’ve got to be dreaming—this is not happening…maybe it was that fucking Neutronium Blizz!

I slapped myself hard; hoping to sober up. After the third time, I realized my predicament was real. 

The entire time, something was nudging me on my shoulder. I reached my hand over my shoulders, slowly and carefully grabbed hold of whatever it was.

It felt slimy, cold and wet. I closed my eyes, already somewhat sick to my stomach and instinctively threw whatever it was forward. I heard it thump against the wall. Out of instinct, I opened my eyes to have a look. In the corner, lying upright was a discombobulated infants arm. 

Rather than scream, I resorted to smack myself again.

You’ve got to wake up!—you’ve got to fucking wake up! 

I looked over at the infants arm again. It was littered in teeth marks. The arm must have gotten stuck to my shirt somehow when I fell earlier. 

My God…It was just a baby.

BANG!—BANG!—the undead zombies continued to pound on the door. Three sets of arms were grabbing at the door handle.

Fuck! They’re not going to give up. I’ve got to get out of here.

I rose to my feet and heaved myself forward through the train, passing corpse after corpse; meanwhile the radio started skipping through the last thirty seconds of the song about the rocket man. 

Fortunately, I reached a dead end—a door with a sign attached to it read: Engine Room. It was locked. By fortune, I found a rusty crowbar in the corner, just to the left of the doorway. I grabbed it and with one swing, busted the lock. 

I was about to black-out, but I made through the door. 

Two men were sitting comfortably on a set of stools, talking about the weather; one dressed in a white lab coat and the other, in a pair of grey slacks, clearly the train’s engineer. I swung the closed and screamed at them, “We got to get out of here—NOW!”

 The man in the white lab coat nonchalantly said to the engineer, “He does this all the time,” while clapping their hands, applauding me. The man then reached out to shake my hand saying, “Simulation is now complete, Mr. Walkerman. How do you feel?” He then pointed at my reflection in the mirror just off to his left.

My face was fine; no lacerations to my head. I no longer felt any pain in my ankle and the swelling was gone. 

The engineer started to laugh. I let out a deathly sigh, realizing I had just put my fist though a rusty metal drum in the middle of the engine room in a fit of rage. As I brought my hand out, I saw the bones within my fingers suddenly illuminate. Within seconds, my hand healed itself.

 “I’m one of them, aren’t I?” I asked. As I braced for their answer, I held my head down low, clutching my fist together. Another fit of rage was festering inside me.

“Not exactly, Mr. Walkerman… I will explain…but first you need to calm down,” said the man in the white lab coat.

Explain what? Ten years had passed, apparently oblivious through it all. Now I was a stranger to even myself. 

“Fuck you!—I’m out of here!” I yelled at them as I burst forward, plunging through the emergency exit door. Shreds of metal and a hole, in the shape of my body were all that was left of the door. That and the priceless look on their faces, seeing what I had just accomplishes. What I saw next, made me believe that the world had ended. It was up to me now to survive it. 


Author: James A. McDonnell
, Editor: Suzanne Davidovak
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