TW: Reference to terrorist attack and injury.
The two thirty-three train stood in the bay as Lucy ran down the concrete steps, her feet slapping like gunshots around the domed hall.
" Thank god,” she muttered as she swiped her student saver card on the automated ticket gate and stepped onto the train. The last thing she needed was to be late for her brother’s birthday party. She would never hear the end of it if she was late, again.
“No excuses Lucy, not one. He is turning thirteen, and he wants his big sister there to celebrate.” her mother’s voice reminded her as she squeezed down the aisles and found a seat. The train was crowded but not cattle pen squeeze everyone in busy. The chair was hard and lumpy, and it smelled of unwashed people as she sat down heavily. But, at least she had a seat. Standing all the way to Peterborough after the three-hour lecture she had just sat through would have been just her luck.
Staying out at a party till three hadn’t helped either, but it was free food and drink, and Lucy, on student money, NEVER passed up a free meal. The hangover was just collateral damage.
As the train chugged into life and the tannoy announced their departure Lucy set her alarm for three hours, pulled her hoodie up and rested her head against the glass, watching as London, with its stretch of buildings, blurred away.
Lucy could feel someone shaking her arm, but she didn’t want to wake; she was so tired. She couldn’t turn up to a party still half pissed.
“Hey, miss, miss. Can you hear me.” the man was insistent, and Lucy pulled her hood down and peered at the man. He leaned over her; concern etched on his face.
“Ah, you are awake, that’s good.” he smiled at her, and Lucy saw a perfect set of straight white teeth. She had always loved a man with good teeth, she thought absentmindedly. “Something is wrong.” the man moved back, and Lucy could see others milling up and down the train carriage; some had mobile phones stuck to their ears, and they were talking animatedly into them, gesturing wildly.
“What’s happening.” her mouth was dry, her teeth sticking to her lips.
“The train is going too fast. Look.” Lucy looked out of the window and could see the train did appear to be travelling faster than usual for this route.
“Maybe they need to clear the track for some reason.” Lucy watched as a train crossing whizzed past sirens blaring.
“That’s what I thought, but the carriages are locked at either end, and the conductor, he is in the next carriage and can’t get hold of the driver or the driver’s mate. " Lucy stares through the carriage and sees the man is right. The conductor, also on a mobile phone, looked pale, his hand visibly shaking.
The man walks up the train to a group of people gathered by the door.
Pulling the phone from her pocket, she stares at the screen, no notifications or missed calls. Entering her passcode, Lucy pressed the blue Twitter icon, and the bird appeared on the screen before the thread of conversations flooded the screen.
Anyone know what’s happening on the Three-thirty train #kingscross #peterborough #emergency she pressed send, and the tweet posted.
Within a second, she was receiving notifications.
Where are you, Lucy? Her friend Johann from college was first to reply.
On the fucking train, she replied.
You need to get off now #terroistattack Put on The #News
It was warm on the train, that stuffy warm when there are too many people in a long tube re breathing each other peoples used oxygen, but Lucy felt the shiver.
Closing the app, Lucy pressed for sky news; as soon as the bright yellow breaking news banner flashed across her screen, she knew.
Pressing the live TV option, she motioned for the man with nice teeth, and he walked across to her; she turned the phone around so they could both see it and others crowded around the small screen.
“… and if you are joining us, we are currently receiving breaking news reports from several trains across the UK that have become what Network rail are calling unresponsive. We do have reports that some terrorist group has taken over the trains, although these are unconfirmed reports and at this time cannot be verified…” the blond woman stared at a map that appeared on a virtual screen behind her. Lucy saw seven trains highlighted across the board. Theirs was one of them, and they were a blinking red light on a map of the UK. Lucy turned to the group and saw fear on every face.
“We need to find a way off this train…” a man shouted, his face was almost purple, and he puffed his way back up the train, shouting at the conductor through two sets of doors “How do we stop this train..” he screamed spittle spraying onto the glass door before him. The conductor shrugged and raised his arms in defeat.
“There has to be a way.” The man jumped on the first set of chairs and pulled the emergency brake cable seventy-pound fine for improper use sticker ignored, he yanked and yanked at it, but nothing happened.
Back to Twitter, Lucy read through the trending news and sat down hard, her breath escaping in soft squeaks.
“One of the trains has just crashed in Oxford, multiple casualty event. It left the track..” the sob escaped without an invite.“I think there are more trains.”
" Six more..” someone shouted. “BBC News is saying that a train heading towards Leeds is the next one that is unresponsive; they are evacuating the station now. They expect the impact in seven minutes.”
While staring at the Twitter page, the phone lit up. It was mum
" Lucy, please tell me you missed that train, please.” Lucy felt the tears on her face
" I’m on the train, mum. I didn’t want to miss the….”
“Oh Lucy, no, no no no..” the phone was muffled, and dad came on to the line.
“Lucy, where are you. " his voice was confident, but she could hear the tremor in it when he said her name.
" On the train, dad, I nearly missed it but didn’t….”
“I know, love. Is there anything you can do to stop the train? You have seen the news, right?” Lucy nodded.
" Yeah, the emergency stop isn’t working. People are starting to lose their shit.” a young girl was banging a metal-tipped umbrella over and over at the reinforced glass windows. Even if they did break, they were going too fast to jump safely. The fall would kill them instantly.
“What carriage are you in?”
“The third, I think. "
“Get as back as you can, try and find anything to pad yourself, clothes, suitcases, hell anything and get your head down, protect your head. Oh god, Lucy….”
“Keep your phone with you. I am going to see what I can find out, do not turn off your phone; hear me.” Lucy nodded dumbly, her tears coming out in strangled sobs.
“I love you, Lucy.”
“I love you too.” but he didn’t hear it as the train went under a tunnel and the signal dipped out.
“The second train just crashed, Leeds train station.”
“Are we next?” someone shouted, and there was no answer. But the answer of silence was as loud as a firm confirmation.
Moving to the back of the train, Lucy barricaded herself in with suitcases and bags. The guy with the teeth sat beside her and smiled.
“I mean, what the actual fuck..” and Lucy smiled back. It said everything and nothing about what was happening to them all. And for what. So someone could prove a point?
Opening the text message box, she read through the many messages that had arrived when they had been in the tunnel
oh, Lucy, we love you, Mum.
Are you at the back of the train? Answer me, Dad.
The text messages were flooding in. Was this how you found out who loved you?
A deep rumbling sound
Screeching as metal slides on metal, crunching and twisting as it tore against the grooves that were holding them upright
I LOVE YOU
She sends the message to everyone in her contacts and tucks the phone back into her pocket.
The train is in the air. It twists around in a kaleidoscope of colours that pulse and flash and blur. Glass shatters, and Lucy crashes from her seat against the suitcase she has jammed in beside her. It winds her, her chest taking the brunt of the impact.
In what seems like minutes, not the seconds it was, Lucy sees the bodies of the people in the carriage flung about like dolls; teeth boy is on what was once the roof as they slide to a stop, blood pooling from his mouth, teeth smashed. His eyes are wide open, glazed. People scream, and Lucy cannot join in, her breath stuck somewhere between her chest and her throat.
And then the darkness fills in the edges of her vision, and she is gone.
The alarm clock screams at Lucy, and she wakes up bolt upright. Breathing hard.
“That was one crazy-ass dream,” she mutters as she slides out of bed. Her head protests at the movement, and Lucy curses that one more vodka she had drunk, followed by half a dozen more, one more’s. Dressing quickly, she grabs her pre-packed bag; she has a birthday party to get to after an early lecture. “And that is what happens when you drink too much, eat too much and probably get spiked.” she sighs and, without looking back at her room, leaves.
As Lucy enters the station, the dream resurfaces. Her feet clacking on the concrete steps seems louder, clearer. The train is sat in the station as it was in her dream. Stepping through the ticket payment booth, she stares at the train. It’s a journey she has taken a hundred times before this one.
A man passes her and smiles.
Perfect white teeth. It’s the tooth man from her dream.
And she knows it wasn’t a dream. It was something a lot more than that. Grabbing the man, she whirls him around.
" I know you don’t know me, but please do not get on that train.” the man frowns at her and pulls away from her grip.
“Freak,” he mutters and steps onto the third carriage, shaking his head at her.
Lucy runs to the engine and bangs on the window of the cab. The driver ignores her.
She sees a man with SECURITY emblazoned across his jacket talking into a walkie talkie.
“Please, sir, you have to stop this train; something bad is going to happen..” she stuttered, the words coming out as a jumbled crazy rush.
“I think maybe you need to have a sit-down.”
“No, I promise. I am not crazy; you have to stop this train. Please,” she begs him, but the train is already moving, its engine coming to life with a grumble as the train backs out of the station without her.
The Railway police escort Lucy and her reclaimed bag into a holding area, awaiting her parents to arrive by car to claim her.
An old TV flickers in the corner of the room.
A blonde woman looks at the screen, frowning.
“… and if you are joining us, we are currently receiving some breaking news reports from several trains across the UK that have become what Network rail are calling unresponsive. We do have reports that some terrorist group has taken over the trains although these are unconfirmed reports and at this time cannot be verified….”