The Long Ride – Part 6

Hey there, everyone, sorry for the lack of updates. After what happened on day six, I just needed a few days to get myself together and to get some well-needed rest.

Things got out of hand, more so than any other day before, and I’m more than lucky to even write this. But more about that later.

Let me start day six by telling about my encounter with a familiar face. It was the old man who I’d met on day two.

This time, he wasted no time and sat down next to me right away.

“Guess you’re still on here,” he said.

“Same as you. Guess we both enjoy riding the tram,” I brought out half-jokingly.

“It’s not all fun and games, young man, but I’m sure you know that by now, given how long you’ve been on.”

“Sure do,” I said, laughing.

The old man didn’t join in, but gave me an expectant stare. And so, I told him about my experiences over the course of the past days.

When I told him about the strange undescriptive people and the station I’d encountered on day four, his expression changed. It became one of sadness, of longing, but said anything.

Eventually, I told him what had happened the day prior, about my encounter with the waving man and what the homeless guy had told me.

“That man’s right indeed. You’ve stayed on for far too long. As I told you, certain things might notice you, and now they have.”

Once more, I felt a shiver running down my spine. I was in for it now, was I?

“You better stop this madness now and get off. It’s not worth it, young man.”

“Well, to be honest, I want to, but this is day six, and I told myself I’m going to set this out. There’s no way I can give up now.”

When the old man heard this, he just shook his head.

“Let me repeat myself, it’s not worth it, but I guess your mind’s set. I hope you don’t find to regret your choice.”

With that, he got up from his seat, walked off, and settled down in the tram car ahead of me. For a few more minutes, he sat there, but the moment I took a glance outside, he was gone.

The next couple of hours were rather quiet. It was Saturday afternoon and only a few people here and there entered the tram on their way to the inner city area.

The moment we left it behind, I soon found myself all alone again.

We’d just made it to the outskirts of the city when the tram doors opened behind me, and I was greeted by loud yelling and laughter. A second later, a group of six kids rushed past me. They were so fast, they seemed like nothing but colorful blurs.

They began causing a ruckus in the tram car, then rushed back past me, giggling. I began rubbing my temples and was about to yell at them to knock it off when one of them slapped me on the shoulder.

“You’re it!” he called out before he and his friends rushed past me once more.

I watched as they hurried to tram car ahead, and how they tried their best to hide themselves. I thought nothing of it and couldn’t help but sigh a little when I saw one of them crawling below a set of seats and another trying to hiding himself behind the ticket machine.

Others, however, were doing… strange things, impossible things, and I felt myself shivering in my seat. I watched as one kid almost folded into himself, becoming smaller and smaller while another one seemed to melt between two seats, vanishing.

I sat there, closed my eyes, and then opened them again. By then, all six kids were gone. Yet every once in a while, I could still hear muffled giggling.

I just sat there, trying my best to ignore it. This is just happening because I’m all alone on the tram. All those things, they only ever happen when I’m completely alone. Just wait till other people get back on, then it will be over.

My thoughts were interrupted when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

“The kids are waiting,” the hand’s owner cackled from behind me.

I froze. Without moving, I took a glance at the hand resting on my shoulder. It was old and wrinkly, but its fingers were too long, much too long.

A moment later, when the sun pushed itself out from behind the clouds, I saw the shadow of whatever was standing behind me. It was a giant, monstrous shadow that seemed to spread over the entire tram car, stretching further and further.

“Well, why aren’t you going?”

“No-no. I’m-“

I didn’t get to finish my excuse. The creature’s hand closed around my shoulder and I felt its nails dig into my skin.

I cringed in pain, but kept my mouth shut. Don’t scream. Don’t move. Yet with each passing moment, the creature squeezed harder, and I felt its nails dig deeper into my flesh.

Finally, I saw the tram approaching the next station, and I could see a group of people waiting for it. When the tram came to a rest, I was released.

“Let’s go kids,” the thing behind me screeched and right away all six kids reappeared, jumping out from behind seats, and from place they couldn’t possibly have been.

For the first time, I could make out their faces. I wish I hadn’t. They were nothing but mockeries, estimations of children’s faces that were only half-right. What made it even worse, however, was that I somehow recognized them. In the deepest corners of my mind, I knew I’d see them before.

I couldn’t help but shiver again as they raced past me.

Then they were gone. When the tram moved again, driven by a strange sense of curiosity, I turned around.

What I saw outside was a group of kids, standing around an old lady who seemed to smile down at them. A second later, she turned towards me and her eyes found mine. In an instant, her face changed. What had been a kind, smiling face before became nothing but an angry, twisted visage.

My breath caught in my throat and I jerked back around, more than happy to leave these ghastly children and their guardian behind.

This, however, wasn’t the only scary thing that happened during the day. As always, the same recurring passengers entered the tram. By now, they’d long become an almost normal part of the Long Ride. Just another strange thing amongst a plethora of them.

Yet when my eyes followed one of them, an older woman, I noticed the change right away. She wasn’t minding her own business like she usually did. That day, I found her frowning slightly, measuring me up, almost as if she was probing me.

I remembered what that homeless dude had said:

“He’s marked you, and now others know as well!”

I took a deep breath and averted my eyes, trying my best to ignore her, but I could feel her continuing to stare at me until she got off the tram.

Only a few stations later, she got on again, and once more she stared at me. I didn’t look at her directly, only took a single, side-way glance, but I could’ve sworn her frown was getting deeper.

This behavior was true for every single one of them, and like her, they too became angrier with each iteration.

It made me feel restless, and not a tad big anxious. I felt trapped, haunted by multiple pairs of eyes staring at me and only me.

When it became evening, the bustle of partygoers started again, and for the first time in hours, I felt myself slightly relaxing. Under the constant bustle of people entering and leaving the tram, I felt hidden.

And yet, I knew they were still there. I could still feel their glances even amongst the general chaos that ruled over the tram.

Finally, though, as the tram grew emptier once more, I found almost a dozen of them staring at me. It also seemed that under the cover of the partygoers, they’d gotten closer. By now, they were all in the same tram car as me, seemed to have encircled me.

At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore and finally spoke up.

“The hell do you want from me!?” I called out.

Yet nothing changed. I got no answer. They just continued to stare at me.

Before long, however, they reminded me of the guy in dark clothes I’d encountered on day three. They didn’t just sit in their seats anymore, didn’t just stare at me, but were leaning forward, their faces distorted by unadulterated rage. Their hands were on their seats, their feet shuffled over the floor as if in anticipation of… something. The worst, however, was that with each station, more of them entered.

If it’s just one set of eyes staring at you, you can ignore it, you can handle it, but when it’s more than a dozen, you just… can’t.

With everything I’d heard, with all the warnings I’d received, I knew something was going to happen. It just seemed they were… waiting for something.

In that instant, fear washed over me, raw and hot, fear that soon turned into panic, and I finally decided that was it. I wouldn’t just stay on here until god knows what would happen to me! Fuck the Long Ride, fuck the tram, this is over.

I closed my hand around my backpack, was about to get up, but at that moment, their angry glances changed. They turned to smiles, hungry smiles. The same feeling I’d had when I tried to feel the guy in black clothes came over me. If I’d get up now, they’d come for me, wouldn’t they? That’s what they were waiting for, wasn’t it?

I just stood there, at my seat, my hand closed around my backpack’s strap, unable to move. Then the tram turned a corner, a bend that shouldn’t be there, and we encountered another un-location.

Half-defeated, and knowing I was trapped either way, I plopped down on my seat again, and stared outside with a feeling of miserable wonder.

The entire area outside was covered in nothing but small buildings, shanties comprising nothing but rubble and trash. They seemed to have been put up without rhyme or reason, were almost growing from the ground like mushrooms. Between them, I saw things moving, twisted things I could tell weren’t human.

Yet it wasn’t merely this shantytown we’d arrived at. No, they were all part of another location, were built around it as if they were part of an infection that spread further and further.

The dim red light that flooded the tram was enough, and one glance ahead told me that were once more approaching Club Red.

No, I thought, not this place again. I hoped the tram would pass it by, that we’d return to reality, that other people would enter the tram again, and I’d be able to flee.

Instead, the tram approached a wide, arching opening and then drove forward and straight into Club Red itself.

What I saw in there was utterly surreal. All I’d seen on night four was the building’s exterior, and it was nothing but a taste of the insanity the place contained.

It was nothing but a cesspool, an amalgamation of sin.

All around us, the same strange psychedelic non-music was blaring. I saw stalls everywhere. They were offering drinks, food, but also… other things. In some of them, I thought I saw bound humans or things that might have once been human.

Here and there, people were having sex, copulating with creatures that weren’t human. In other places, I saw orgies, strange rituals, people praying to disgusting, twisted idols and so much more.

Even here, even inside, the place defied the laws of physics. The walls were covered in doorways, all connected by a mad network of stairs, but stairs that shouldn’t work. And yet, they did. It was as if the works of M. C. Escher had become reality.

Then the strange, fascinated trance that had come over me broken, and I jerked back as I remembered where I was and what was happening to me.

While I’d been staring outside, and I’d not given them any attention, it seemed all the reoccurring passengers had inched closer towards me, were now surrounding me.

I opened my mouth to throw them another set of insults, to tell them to stay the fuck away, when the tram’s doors opened.

Instantly, the air filled with a disgustingly sweet odor, a stench so oppressive it almost made me cough. It smelled of strange spices, of body fluids, but also… blood.

Yet this wasn’t the worst. I noticed something approaching the tram, and before I could even react, the creature had entered it.

Its limbs were bent at strange angles as if they had too many joints with them, limbs that sprouted from places they shouldn’t.

I watched as its head pushed itself forward, its neck stretching further and further as it scanned the interior of the tram.

And then, one step at a time, the monstrosity made its way through the tram on its spidery limbs, slowly getting closer towards me.

I just sat there, mouth open in shock, not able to do anything but stare ahead. No, it couldn’t be. Why was this thing here? Why the hell was it back!?

Cold sweat broke out all over my body, and I just sat there, my hands holding onto the seat in front of me. Then I began to shake uncontrollably. Oh god, I thought, as I watched it getting closer. It’s coming for me. This time it’s actually coming for me!

By now, the people around me were all grinning. I understood now. This was what they’d been waiting for. It seemed almost as if they weren’t able to do anything to me, weren’t able to hurt me, but this… this thing could!

As I watched the twisted creature take another step, as it stalked forward in my direction on its spidery limbs, I just… freaked out. I screamed in terror, jumped off my seat, and dashed for the tram doors. I didn’t want to go out there. Hell, I shouldn’t, but I wasn’t in control of my body. It was nothing but pure, primal fear that drove me on, but then the doors closed right in front of me. For a mad second, I clawed at them, tried to pry them open with sheer force, but before I could, the tram started to move again, trapping me inside.

Fuck! What the fuck do I do!?

Then, with no other option, I rushed to the back of the tram, praying we’d return to reality, to my city, to another station that would allow me to get away.

Outside, we left Club Red behind, but then continued on through the ever-extending shantytown. Fuck! Why aren’t we back yet!?

I sat in the back, huddled together behind a seat, trying to keep the panic at bay, but one glance forward made it impossible.

By now, the disgusting creature had almost reached the last tram car and, for a moment, its eyes focused on me. Its jaw fell open, unhinged like that of a snake, and a distorted bout of guffawing laughter escaped from it.

At that moment, I couldn’t fight the panic anymore. I jumped up, my hand closing around one of the glass breakers. And then, with all the force I could muster, I swung it against the window. It crashed against the glass again and again before the window shattered.

A moment later, I threw myself outside.

I landed hard on the asphalt. My hands and knees exploded with pain. I felt the skin of my hands being scraped away and felt my knees crunch hard against the asphalt.

Then I felt myself being propelled forward, rolling over the street.

I heard a horn, heard brakes screeching, but I somehow avoided the oncoming car by a hair’s breath.

As I lay there on the ground, I was panting and in terrible pain. When I finally looked up, all was normal. There was no hint of any un-location. Instead, I was on an entirely normal street in my city.

By now the driver of the car had jumped out, his face a mixture of anger and worry, and a moment later, the tram driver followed.

While the car driver asked if I was okay, the tram driver began laying into me. He called me crazy for destroying the window and for jumping off. He spat at me, accusing me of being drunk, on drugs, or insane.

Instead of reacting to any of these words, I stared back at the tram. It was empty. No one was inside. None of the reoccurring passengers, no twisted, spidery monsters. I could only listen as the tram driver explained to the other man what had happened. I’d apparently jumped off my seat, screaming and freaking out before I’d broken a window and jumped off. Even though I’d been entirely alone on the tram.

I opened my mouth to tell them what had happened, but then closed it again. What could I even tell them?

In the end, all I could do was to drag my battered body to the sidewalk and sit down. By now, the tram driver had called the police and informed them about what I’d done.

To be honest, I could’ve tried to run, to get away, but in the state I was in, it seemed impossible.

As I sat there, I thought back to the old man, to the vision of his torn apart and broken body.

If that car had hit me, something similar would’ve most likely happened to me.

Was this what this had all been about? Had all those people, and this creature, been nothing but visions to drive me over the edge, to get me to go crazy and end up being run over?

When the police arrived, they were quick to take the statements of both drivers before they spoke to me as well. Then they took me to the station and questioned me for almost an hour.

In the end, I told them I’d had a panic attack, that I couldn’t breathe and thought I’d die of a heart attack unless I get off the tram.

They were skeptical to say the least, and subjected me to not only an alcohol, but also a drug test. When both came out negative, I essentially let off the hook, but not scot free. They charged me with vandalism and I’d have to pay for the tram window I’d destroyed, which would come down to almost a thousand Euros.

They also told me I should consult professional help and see myself checked in.

I mumbled a thanks and could eventually leave.

And so, the Long Ride ended on day six, in the earlier hours of the morning.

What I’m now left with is nothing but a tale, a tale I can share only here because you guys are the only people willing to believe any of the things I’ve seen.

Thank you all for staying with me, for your thoughts on what happened, and for following me along on this crazy adventure.

I’d have never thought things would get out of hand like this, and there are still so many questions I’ll probably never find answers for.

Yet I’d also like to give you guys a word of warning, or reiterate those given to me multiple times. Don’t do it.

There are things out there who wait for people who linger, who stay in the same place for too long. They are dangerous things, things that will find you and will come for you.

And maybe, just maybe, you won’t be as lucky as me and get away.

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