The Long Ride – Part 3

After last night’s encounter with the group of thugs, I was quite shaken. I didn’t know, however, what day three would hold in store for me…

I still kept to my people watching, and I still made up stories about my few lonely companions during the quieter hours, but not in an overly obvious and annoying fashion.

That’s how I came to notice a certain woman. She was middle-aged, wore a long skirt and a blue woolen sweater, and kept her hair tied in a ponytail.

At first glance, there was nothing wrong with her or her behavior. She was just another normal passenger, getting on the tram at point A and getting off at point B.

Things turned strange, however, when I noticed her entering the tram again at a later station further along the line.

At first I thought I was mistaken, and my eyes were playing tricks on me. This was a big city. Many people lived here, and I was sure some of them looked similar.

Yet as I watched her, I noticed the same skirt, the same sweater, and even the pony tail. No, this was, without a doubt, the same person.

This was impossible. How in the hell had she got here within ten minutes, a good kilometer from where she’d gotten off?

I couldn’t help but shiver, as I watched her getting off again a few stations later, and felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when she reentered the tram yet again, after a good fifteen.

In total, she entered the tram on seven entirely different locations throughout the city in about an hour and a half.

She was, however, not the only one. There were others like her, almost a dozen in total.

One was an older man, about fifty years of age. He wore a suit, carried a briefcase, and I saw him a total of five times.

Some were children, just laughing children who entered the tram on their own, then left it, and then entered it again a few stations later.

They only ever appeared when the tram was empty or almost empty, at least that’s when I caught sight of them. Whenever I did, however, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Yet they did nothing strange, never looked at me or even approached me. They just rode the tram.

At one point, my eyes met those of an older woman during her fourth ‘iteration,’ as I came to call it, but she didn’t even bat an eye, and gave me no attention at all.

Still, this was one of the most unsettling things I’d noticed so far, and I tried my best to stay clear of these people.

Another strange passenger was a young man, dressed entirely in black.

I first noticed him in the early evening hours. He entered the tram and stayed on it, just like I did. For long hours, he just sat there, in the same seat.

At times, he stared outside, but at others, he watched the people around him, and occasionally, I even found him staring my way. When he did, an unexplainable wave of fear washed over me, and I couldn’t help but squirm in my seat. He gave me the feeling of being a trapped animal, of being prey.

The reason was his face. He wasn’t merely staring, but grinning, always grinning a comically wide grin that almost divided his face. He wasn’t grinning at anyone, however. Instead, he seemed just to grin to himself. It was the strangest thing.

At one point, I watched as he leaned forward, pushing his face so close to the woman sitting next to him, it almost touched hers.

I noticed how uncomfortable she was, but she never spoke up. She just sat there, squirming in her seat nervously, almost as if she didn’t see the guy.

She was, however, far from his only victim. He did the same to countless other passengers, and none of them called him out on his behavior.

The longer this went on, the longer I watched what he was doing, the more often I found him staring at me.

As much as I told myself to ignore him, to not attract attention; I just couldn’t. I was driven by the strangest sense of curiosity. This guy, whoever he was , or… whatever he was, he was just wrong.

It was shortly past midnight when I noticed the change. For the first time, the guy wasn’t grinning to himself anymore. No, now he was grinning right at me. I saw how he leaned forward in his seat, his hands on his seat, as if he was about to push himself upward at any moment.

I tried my best to stare outside, to ignore him, but whenever I took a sideway glance, he was still there, still grinning at me and each time, his grin seemed to have grown wider.

Eventually, when I couldn’t take it anymore, I was about to get up, to leave my trusty row of seats behind and flee to the back of the tram. Then I stopped. The strangest of feelings washed over me, one that told me I should stay right where I was. Somehow, I knew that if I were to get up right now, he’d get me.

It sounds ridiculous, but I knew. I saw the anticipation on his face, the way his feet shuffled over the ground and his posture, ready to pounce on me the moment I’d get up.

Finally, after half an hour of this game of sitting duck had passed, he just got up and left the tram.

Outside, he simply walked off without so much as looking back at me.

Even now, I’ve got no clue what the hell was wrong with that guy. Maybe it was just some asshole trying to fuck with me, but somehow, I feel, he was something far worse.

Yet, as terrifying as this half-hour encounter was, it shouldn’t be the most terrifying thing I’d witness on day three.

It was later that night, as I sat in my seat, unable to fall asleep, that I noticed the first change in scenery.

I told myself it was because it was night time and because of the darkness, but I’d ridden this damned tram for two and a half days by now. I knew the area it passed through. Hell, I knew what buildings were at what station!

Station 17: a giant mall.

Station 44: an old hardware store.

And so on.

Yet that night, I occasionally saw new areas, areas that were… different.

At one point, the tram passed through a street which was lined by nothing but giant, derelict tower blocks. Before long, even the tram tracks themselves seemed to deteriorate.

The tram rambled on through this forlorn area, shaking slightly, without ever stopping at any station. We must’ve been there for at least ten minutes without ever stopping at a station, which I know is impossible. On the way back, we never passed that area again, almost as if it never existed.

At other times, the tram took bends and went around corners that shouldn’t be there, and drove on through constricted, half-hidden streets and alleys that seemed almost too small for it to pass.

Whenever we reached one of these strange places, I couldn’t help but stare outside, strangely curious about them. Some streets were so narrow, the tram was only a few inches away from the walls of the building, allowing me to steal glances through open doors and windows.

What I saw was… utterly surreal, and made me question if I was even awake, or if all of this was nothing but a weird dream, conjured by two nights of barely catching any sleep and perpetually being stuck in a tram.

In one window, I was greeted by four people. They weren’t just inside their apartment, but were leaning out the window, their faces almost pressed against the passing tram. Their eyes were empty, their faces without any emotion. Yet when they were right beside me, I couldn’t help but inch away from the tram’s windows, afraid they might do… something.

In another window, one belonging to a tiny, inconspicuous building, I saw a giant hall that seemed without end. I saw only the floor, but no walls or ceiling. It just continued on seemingly endlessly, and was much, much too large for the building that contained it. Yet from the far back, off in the darkness of the most distant parts of that hall, I thought I saw eyes watching me.

Eventually, the tram approached a station in one such area, and then came to a halt.

Outside, I saw a strange figure. At first, I thought it was a drunk person, or maybe someone disabled, given their strange posture and gait. Then my eyes adjusted, and I realized something was entirely wrong with that figure.

It was some sort of deformed… thing. Its limbs were bent at strange angles, seemed to have too many joints in them and sprouted from places they shouldn’t.

As the tram stood there, it crooked its head slightly in my direction. Then its head pushed forward, its neck stretching further and further, much further than should be possible.

Sweat broke out all over my body as I found the ghastly creature measuring me up and down. This time, it wasn’t just fear that came over me, but full on panic. My body started shaking uncontrollably, and I had to cling to the seat in front of me to somehow keep the panic at bay, to not freak out completely at the surreal sight outside.

Slowly, the thing moved, approached the tram door on its long, spidery limbs and I already saw it entering the tram, saw it coming for me.

As it took these few select steps, I hoped, prayed, it would stay where it was. I think in the state I was in, I spoke, probably yelled those words repeatedly through the empty tram. Until, thankfully, the doors closed, and we left the waking nightmare behind.

For the next minutes, I just sat in my seat, my eyes closed, my knees below my chin and rocking back and forth like a scared little child. Eventually, when I opened my eyes again, all was normal, and the tram continued on its usual route, and did so for the rest of the night.

By now, it’s early morning. I haven’t been able to sleep yet, I couldn’t. Whenever I was about to doze off, I was afraid I’d end up at some unfamiliar surreal location again, and this time, the creature would actually enter the tram.

Instead, I spent the last hour typing this all out to calm myself down.

To be honest, I thought about giving up, to just get off and call it quits after what had happened. But then, I thought about it. I was on day three, on day freaking three. If I stopped now, my friends would never let it go.

Most important of all, however, as scary as these experiences were, they were also strangely fascinating. If I’d got off now, I’d probably regret it and wonder what else I might have seen on the Long Ride.

So I guess I’ll keep going for a while longer. See you all tomorrow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

RehnWriter Newsletter