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Chapter 1

The bus was quite erratic, the study guides unable to maintain the behavior of the younger people with what I believed must have been ADHD or something like that. This was supposed to be a nice trip… you know, to test the waters of being away from home before moving away. I thought it was going to be quiet and peaceful. I was not expecting people of various ages from thirteen years old to some even being in their mid-forties. At least that’s what I thought their age was, but I might’ve been wrong. It would not be the first time I messed up on guessing someone’s age wrong… and I have to tell you that it did not end all that well for me. I would understand having older people on this bus though because this peaceful tranquilizing trip was for people to get away…but the younger kids. I don't even believe if they can survive being that far away from their parents, and yet most of them seemed to be alone on this trip. Some of them were scared and frightened, like mice who huddled together while the others were jumping around, hanging off some of the study guides like a chimpanzee. However, that wasn’t the most annoying part of the trip as a girl who sat next to me playfully droned on with some other girls she bonded with. Truthfully, she wasn’t that bad looking and maybe a year or two older than I was with light brown hair and delicate fingers. If only she would continue to ignore me but as I was sightseeing, she went quiet before poking me in the shoulder. I abruptly ignored it the first couple of times before it became too consistent and I snapped, quickly turning around and staring her in the eyes. The words that swirled in my mind were discordant with each other as I just simply wanted her to stop, saying, “What do you want?”

A terrible silence captured both of our mouths as I took a deep sigh and told her that I was sorry for shouting at her. She didn’t seem to take it to heart though, instead, changing her attitude to accommodate me. Then it clicked to me, she was one of those girls who tried their best to fit in and be friends with everyone around them. It irritated me, how someone would change themselves just for someone else.

“Well. Sorry if I’m annoying. Sorry. My name’s Jezebel. What’s yours?"

"I guess… my name is Nathan and I would like to have a peaceful trip. No, you know what, stop acting fake… this whole trip and everyone you talk to… you are someone completely different just to please them. That absolutely ticks me off.”

I wasn’t going to apologize to someone like her, watching her expression of shock as I slowly turned back toward the window. I mean, why should I feel bad for someone who wears such a flimsy facade? For those in the world who have to create a facade to survive, why do such weak-willed people who try to fake it so loosely dare want to be better? No, I’m on this trip to relax, to escape from reality. It’s only temporary but I should try to recuperate as much as I can while I’m free. A chance like this only comes once in a lifetime and I can’t waste it for a single pest next to me. As I was thinking about the state of things, I turned back over to Jezebel to see her pouting in her seat… still directed in my direction. It was as if she was expecting me to say sorry again, but I was reluctant in speaking until she finally spoke up.

“Well, you’re just rude. I shouldn’t hang out with people who spread stupid lies.”

“But it is the truth, are you not conscious of how you act around people? They may find it nice for someone to ‘mingle’ with but I hate people who aren’t true to themselves.”

“That still isn’t enough to be rude to someone, did anyone teach you some manner?”

            I stared at her for a second before looking down, knowing deep inside that I didn’t have a mentor or someone there to teach me right from wrong. I couldn’t answer her question as a feeling a hatred churned up my throat, ready to belt out some insult as I looked back up at her with squinched eyes. Luckily, before I let out my thoughts, a boy from the seats in front of us sprang around and interrupted our quiet argument. His blonde flaky hair with black tips immediately told me off as a simple delinquent. His voice was on the edge of sounding nasal while also gloating at the same time, which was an alarming mix.

“Hey dude, you ain’t gotta be messed up to a girl who’s that smokin’. And come on, what’s up with changing your be-havi-or for someone else, man?”

“Not another one. You two talk amongst yourselves and leave me out of it”

“Wait for one-minute dude, You gotta apoli-g-ize, that ain’t being a true man if you don’t.”

I looked at him with eyes that didn’t care before looking back at Jezebel to see both of them waiting for me to answer. I was ready to stick to what I said but here and now was not the right time. This guy in the seat ahead of me didn’t seem to let up anytime soon either, his slouchy stance clearly made to last as I simply asked for his name. If you can’t beat them, change the subject. At first, the question seemed to hit him differently as he calmly said, “That’s all you needed to say in the first place du- wait. You didn’t answer me, dude. If you gotta know and if this ain’t changin’, then my name’s Drake like the sculptor.” Sculptor? Did he mean William Drake who was quite famous in the United States of America? Two idiots right here bugging me, I just wanted a peaceful trip in the very least. Where did he even come from and why didn’t he just talk to the person who sat next to him then get in the middle of our business. Before I could answer my own question, it became apparent as to why with a single rolled-up newspaper rising in the air and smacking Drake in the head. He immediately reacted by holding the back of his head and turning to the mysterious person in complete dismay. 

“Why you gotta do that old man? I ain’t do nothing and you just swat me. You and this dude here gotta apologize.”

“Ever heard of minding your own beeswax young man? It’s not our problem so don’t get involved in other people’s business.”

“But old man, he got hella rude to this girl here?

Drake attempted to point toward Jezebel to show this older gentleman who I supposedly disrespected but he didn’t even try to turn around. Instead, he raised the newspaper up high again and Drake almost instantly cowered back into the seat. Now I was interested, there was a person on this bus who understood me and wasn’t as annoying as these two idiots. I had to be cautious though as I felt that the older gentleman was about to give me a lecture of some sort. That’s just how it is for men and women of older generations, thinking they know everything because they’ve lived longer. It’s not like the things they learned years ago were flawed in the eyes of the future generations. 

“ Now young man, it isn’t my problem but punk here has a point. You should always adhere to women as we as men should be the ones having to do the heavy lifting. I know you’re in the age where you feel rebellious and want to just lash out at every lass in your way but that isn’t the man’s way of doing things. Back when I was as young as you, I was prideful, thinking too good about myself. That’s when I got myself in some trouble, got my arse handed to me by a couple of thugs and lost some teeth.”

The old man opened his mouth to reveal that the canines in his left set of teeth were missing along with other unmemorable teeth that were next to them. It was a surprise that he could even pull together sentences without a hint of a lisp. In fact, his way of speaking wasn’t as old as I would have expected with Drake being the exact opposite. I thought about just spacing out but feared the same punishment that Drake was dealt, sucking up my ideals and asking, “Um sir… can I have your name?” For a second, he looked angry at how I cut him off.... Slightly raising his newspaper, but he just as quickly lowered it. It seemed to me that I won again, but I didn’t know yet as I held my gaze… waiting to hear his response before even thinking about turning my head back to the bus window. 

“Richardson, Joel Richardson. What about yours young ma-”

Before he could finish his sentence for the second time, the bus came to a stop and the guides began to mobilize. Damn, I managed to miss the beautiful mountains that we would be passing because of these three. Just leave me alone to my own demise. The girl next to me who I’ve already forgotten the name of continued to stare daggers at me as the two men in front of me turned around to see one of the female guides walk to the front of the bus. She was beautiful…. No… beyond beauty as her angelic features gathered the gazes of all the men and women within an instant. I couldn’t believe it, her long blonde hair with brown frosted tips eluded my eyes as her light tan skin was unblemished by age or youth… full of vitality. Now that I think about it, I couldn’t tell what her age was but her maturity was definite. When she turned around, her hazel eyes shone brightly but at the same time didn’t shine at all. From where I sat, her eyes looked like mine… hopeless or maybe even lifeless. Her voice when she spoke was monotonous but also so sweet, unlike Jezebel’s voice who I cringed at the very thought, which she noticed from a glance and understood what I was thinking. She gave me a small snide look but I brushed it off, my eyes almost glued to the lustful figure ahead of me. 

“ Excuse us passengers but we have arrived at the station. Acedia is my name and I am the head-guide who has organized and streamlined all of the transportation, and who will be in charge of enacting the following. Please depart in an organized fashion as we will help guide you to the train. Also, please refrain from wandering as we are on a tight schedule and the train conductor will not wait for anyone who needs to finish personal business outside and you will be left behind. Now if you would please follow us, we shall escort you to the train.”

Her words were careless. Actually, more like emotionless, as the rest of the guides got up to help us toward the train. The station though didn’t look that much in service with only one large train being present. Why would they need to escort us to the train if it wasn’t packed and something was off about the guides? They seemed too robotic to be human and not in the sense that their movements were weird but their emotions were just not that apparent. Yeah, it could be said that I acted the same way and maybe that’s why I recognized it as odd. Everyone else on the bus acted as if it was normal, getting up and following the rules they gave out. 

            I might as well do the same, I didn’t know what the guides had to go through, and maybe… just maybe… They had similar experiences as me. All of the guides having the same experience as me had to be a coincidence from god though, so of course, I didn’t believe that. Jezebel shuffled out of her seat, still mad at me for not apologizing but despite that,  not doing what I hoped for which was leaving me alone. Instead, she stuck around me, even though some other girls began calling out to her to join them. She simply retorted her personality, put on a fake smile, and waved them away in a feminine way before sternly looking back at me. She certainly was putting on a facade when she looked at me, and maybe that gave her more relief than she would like to accept. Drake rushed over to berate me again as I just looked in the other direction with my hands in my pockets… ignoring him. He didn’t want to continue this one-sided argument and looked as if he was about to punch me before suddenly, one of the guides caught his eye and he followed them like a love-struck goose. Just like that, I was partially alone with only this incredulous girl beside me. For a small moment, I was tempted to tell her off but dismissed it after everything it led to. As I followed the group while looking around, Jezebel stupidly walked into someone. Immediately, both of them fell onto the ground with Jezebel clearly irritated. She was annoyed at whoever she smashed into and I saw this as my chance, going to help the person she pushed over. It was another girl but she looked…. Fragile. Her square glasses glistened from the sun overhead, making it almost impossible to see her eyes. I held out my hand with her gently grasping it, pulling her up as Jezebel waited for my hand. Just a part of my plan as I picked up a small bag that this fragile girl was carrying and handed it to her, trying to start a conversation between us. Jezebel was obviously annoyed as she impatiently awaited my hand, and I chose to ignore it in hopes that she would leave in a huff. She eventually picked herself up, angry at me but deciding to stay reluctantly.

“ Hey, sorry about that. My name is Nathan. What’s yours?”

“Oh… uh… my name is… is Charlotte. Than- Thank you.”

“What the hell, Why didn’t you help me up Natha-”

“So, why are you on this trip if you mind me asking?”

“Well…. I…. I like conspiracy theories. And this train has some…. Some astringe things.”

“Why you? Don’t igno-”

“Conspiracies… about this train?”

“Yea- what about”

“Nathan, pay atten-”

“Nothing, just, just for fun I guess. So what about these theories?”

“Uh… Like how this station and proceeding sta...stations around here are a- a hotspot for missing persons reports and no-one questioned this train… despite dozens of other trains being sear-searched for any clues.”

“So none of the authorities or extremists dared search or protest this train for the people who went missing. Weird.”

I casually looked toward the train we were going toward to see that it spanned for what seemed to be miles. With a simple glance, I noticed what I assumed as the name of the train on the side in rather small italics. The word ‘Invidia’ was displayed which didn’t seem like a bad name, though I didn’t know what they meant. Charlotte noticed my curiosity and spontaneously doted on it with Jezebel spouting random nonsense.

“Yea- this train in general is…. Is weird with no set route o-or even an extremely small track sch….schedule.”

“So what, this train never follows the same rails it took before and it always arrives back here in a short amount of time. So why are we al-” 

Before I could even finish, Jezebel interrupted with snide remarks about this whole thing… deciding it wasn’t worth her time or mine. In fact, she even grabbed my arm and tried pulling me toward the group that was leaving but I wouldn’t budge… wondering if it really was a good idea to get on the train.

“Come on. This girl isn’t worth all this chit-chat. We should just go get on the train and ditch this… this…. This Charlie girl.”

I continued to ignore her while also holding my arm to my side, contesting her strength until she eventually gave up and stormed off, cursing under her breath. I could hear some of the words she was saying and it was obvious that she was saying slurs directed toward me. I didn't mind, why would I care who someone like her thought of me. Someone who masked their own personality for the benefit of her social status shouldn’t bother me about how I’m treating trash like her. Incidentally, however, I turned back to Charlotte only to see that she was gone, leaving me alone to wallow at the weird name of the train and the theories she brought up. In fact, I was totally enveloped in the conspiracies she spoke of. Was there really something sinister on the train that could cause people to go missing and why hasn't anyone investigated it? 

            Could it really be because of a murderer who resides in the train or was everyone who services the train a part of it? Maybe, the guides were already weird and this would only explain their behavior. They could be desensitized from all the killing they committed and maybe they have someone in a place of power to help them cover it up. Whenever someone tried making an article about the train or tried taking action… the person in power would deter them or even silence them. That wouldn’t make sense though… even if they were all murderers… how did this start and why would the person in power have any reason to keep them safe? Did they manage to blackmail this mysterious person in power or was it them who orchestrated this whole thing? I was thinking for too long as suddenly, one of the guides came up to me. Just like the other guides, this looked perfect with a chiseled chin. He was well defined with all of his bodily features being too impeccable. Why though, why did they all look so perfect? It didn’t make sense at all, did they have some special employee tone regime? Either way, his personality was totally dead just like the others as well. It wasn’t aggressive or passive, or even the mix of the two. Actually, it seems to me that these guides were some kind of zombies in the way they acted, just moving around like mind-controlled freaks. “You. Move with your group. Now. Please.” At first, I didn’t understand because of the weird pauses in the words but after he continually repeated it without missing a beat, I trotted back to where I remembered everyone going only to see a group of people far ahead. I nonchalantly ran toward them without thinking and it was too late before I realized that this was a totally different group. It wasn’t weird that I didn’t recognize anyone but in a bus full of about twenty people, I couldn’t see Drake, Old Man Joel, or even Jezebel. Luckily, I think I could see Charlotte up ahead but she was involved in a small newspaper to notice me… circling dates and times with a small sharpie. She was weird but at least she didn’t fake her personality or think that she was more righteous than me. In fact, she acted as if she was lower than everyone else and accepted that without trying to think better of herself. I admired that and looked past her flaws with the few minutes we talked with each other. I mean why would anyone dig into something that might make others look down on them. Even Jezebel didn’t care enough about Charlotte to try to befriend her. 

            I tried pushing my way toward Charlotte, toward the only person I was acquainted with but the other people were too clumped together and the guides were constantly rushing everyone. So much in fact that I was eventually shuffled with them as I noticed that we were near the end of the train. Only four more train carriages were behind the one we were being shuffled in and as I was practically being pushed in… I swore I saw another trail bus pull in. It was too difficult to see though as I readjusted my priorities, trying to find a seat instead of getting close to Charlotte. The outside of the train looked old but not too old where you might find it being awed at in a museum. To the left were two columns of seats that began at the door where we were entering to some kind of closable balcony that I somehow managed to miss from outside. On the other side of the balcony were seats exactly mirroring the columned seats, facing toward the out-of-place balcony that stood in between. However, on the other side of the train carriage, were only one column of seats that were facing the other side in an awkward fashion. From my point of view, it seemed like a horrible design choice but as everyone took their seats with me unable to find Charlotte, a guide walked in to show us why there was an explicitly strange design choice in the train cars. This guide was the same one who told everyone what they were doing, I think her name was something like Acedia. I wasn’t sure but her demeanor was definitely similar to the rest of the guides, but her beauty was somehow far superior to theirs… making it easy to recognize her to any man or woman who saw the form she had for even just a second. With her serene arm, she raised it up above her and pressed onto a small button above one of the awkwardly placed seats, placing her fragile body next to a man who seemed to be drooling at her every move. He was totally fixated on her, which made me sick to my stomach as I couldn’t help but look away, only looking back after hearing a quiet gear sound. Just as simple as that, a small table lowered itself from an open space in the ceiling and in front of another passenger who looked exceedingly angry at the drooling man with the eyes of something who was ready to knock out anyone who dared approach her. She must’ve been the wife of that pig, who sat there still oblivious of the killing intent growing right next to him. She didn’t care about the magnificent table that lowered itself but to everyone else… It was bizarre and totally different than any other train we’ve ridden. At least that’s what I thought in my head as I looked above my seat to see if there were any buttons only to see that it was for the lonesome seats on the other side of the train car. Surprisingly, Acedia noticed my disappointed gaze toward the ceiling as if I was the only one who wasn’t staring in fascination toward her or the example she showed everyone. With no hesitation, she precisely waved her palm across the double columns that I sat in and progressed to the lone seats on the other side, saying, “Dear young boy, I apologize for the unfair condition that the builders have built with this design in mind but before we found and refurbished this train, the section of the train with the individual row held high-class people. This may seem quite unequal but please understand everyone, this mechanic was too unique to either replicate or destroy… so these seating arrangements to acquire the seating will be up to all of you to decide. Sorry for the inconvenience and on the behalf of all the attendees on this train… I deeply express my sorrow for this mishappening.” I couldn’t help but believe it was just lip service but as I looked around… the faces of everyone in the train car were those of people who seemed to sympathize with her. It was almost unbelievable to see but I didn’t want to seem like the outlier in case she might oust me again and pretending to understand as well, barely noticing that the person next to me looked like a mix between a redneck and a cowboy… if they weren’t already part of the same family of genetics. I mean, not to be rude, but both are found in the countryside or rural parts and like doing things the old way with their own different variations. With the guide walking away after bowing apologetically, everyone’s eyes began shifting around again with a lot of people whispering amongst themselves. Only then did I scan around the room for Charlotte but I couldn’t see her anywhere. She wasn’t in this train car, but I swore I saw her come up here. There were a few other people with glasses that maybe I could have mistaken as her… but that meant I was totally alone. Not like it was a bad thing, I wanted to be alone in the first place. I was just kinda hoping for some genuine conversation with someone. It doesn’t matter though, as I looked down I tried to sleep but before I could close my eyes… a certain hooded figure stood out. The cloth covering them was kind of ragged and dirty with their body cloaked in darkness, despite the bright sun. Still, I could make out some features like a young frail face. It seemed even frailer than Acedia but not in the terms of weak…. But just how young they were. They might’ve been three or four years younger than me…. Or maybe even more. Were they maybe fourteen, maybe even sixteen? It was hard to tell but they were definitely attracting my eye more than any of the guides, yet they seemed normal. I just couldn’t take my eyes off them, a sense of immense sadness and despair clutching my heart. Fu…. I can’t. It’s been so long since I wanted to just burst into tears. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. My eyes were glued to them, the color in my eyes dimming as tunnel-vision encaptured my irises. Cotton-mouth… what the hell. Why is my body wanting to shut down and just wither away? Someone, anyone, help me, I don’t want to die but. I have been running from it for so long, just for my body to embrace it. 

            Suddenly, the man next to me, the hillbilly cowboy mix, snapped me out of it by putting his body between me and that young girl, blocking our vision. He might’ve not realized it… but he just saved me. “Heya Slick-eyes, Tha’ girl a little too young for you? How abou’ some otha young bride like the perty guide? She seems up and addam’ for you already.” I almost felt like hugging him but my insecurities immediately held me back. Even if I wasn’t embarrassed, what he said just pushed me away from getting close to him. I was still grateful though, forcing a smile and nodding before my brain could adequately think about what just happened with that young girl. She was obviously sulking, keeping her head down and keeping quiet. I don’t even think she noticed me staring at her and nothing in my head would explain why all my horrible feelings just suddenly surfaced. Some religious or magically delusional person would say that I had a connection with that girl. Like we were two parts of the same soul and probably on the same wavelength but that’s just some mumbo-jumbo. I stopped believing in that a long time ago after all the pain I had to endure. If a god did exist, why did they abandon me or did they enjoy my suffering? I don’t really care, remember Nathan, I’m on this trip to destress and be away from my life. Even if it is only for a week. Now that I think about it, I can't wait to reach this supposed resort that this train should be going toward. My eyes refocused with the hillbilly still talking about the girls in this train. Was he an even worse pig than that husband from earlier? Talking about that, he was in serious trouble, constantly saying sorry to his wife with his hands clamped around hers in a prayer-like fashion and she still had those eyes who were ready to kill. 

“So ya hearin’ what I’m saying? You gotta get the big ones so they stay wit’ you. Oh ya’ my name’s Jared. What’a yours slick-eyes?”

“Um.. Wha…. Oh, my name’s Nathan and I’m not looking for girls to gawk at right now.”

“Awww… Damn shame… My sis be perfect for your hand in marriage. If you thinkin’ about it. Just shout and I’ll send her across the mountain.”

“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind if I’m ever desperate.”

“Sure, do anythin’ for another honest man such as yourself slick-eyes.”

Suddenly, the train kicked into action as I turned toward the window. I was really lucky to get another seat in front of a window. That’s when I saw something weird and really unexpected. Online, I read that this trip away from home was for a medium-sized group wanting some time to relax. Instead of that though, I saw buses of all kinds lined up outside with people rushing on. Yeah, it was a train so all sorts of people would be on but all of them took buses, no cars or anything and all the guides walking out were just as perfect as the last. Only to tack on my confused brain, that strange girl and what Charlotte said clouded my mind with little unique theories that my mind didn’t want to think about. 

“Wasn’t this supposed to be a small trip to some resort of some sort. You know, to escape the worries of life for a week?”

“There are some too many buses but nah. What about this resort thingamajig, I’m going to my brother’s ranch. It’s far from any resort I’ve heard of and I get going there every two years.”

That just made things more complicated and confusing as my head tried wrapping everything into a nice bow, trying to make sense of it. Either way, I was now on this mysterious train heading toward the unknown. In the very least, that’s what my head stalled for as I just gave up for now. Jared seemed pretty nonchalant about everything and I even thought about just talking to him for the rest of the trip. He wasn’t like Drake or old man Joel in their self righteous talk or not even like Jezebel who was…. Something else. It was nice, and there was a chance that I could actually survive this trip as long as I didn’t look at that mysterious girl again.

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Chapter 2

            It was strange to see how fast the train was going, I mean it might be because this is one of the first times I rode on a train. Rocks and miscellaneous foliage quickly passed by the train in a blur, all indistinguishable from one another. It was nice, watching the terrain pass by and I was lucky to have someone like Jared next to me. Now I didn’t need to worry about people like Drake or Jezebel. Inside the train wasn’t that bad either with everyone either sleeping, keeping to themselves, or quietly talking to each other. No one was jumping around or being loud, which was the biggest problem I had with the group I was with previously. Still, I don’t know where they went and I at least should try to find them if I ever hope to go to the ‘home away from home’. I shouldn’t worry for now though, there should be plenty of time to search for them later. What took my intrigue at the moment was the people around me, at least in the very least the interesting people from earlier. The husband across the way seemed knocked out with a quiet snoring sound drizzling out of his mouth but his wife, on the other hand, was still wide-awake. Her eyes were still in slits and her arms were still folded, looking the other way toward the end of the train car. That husband figure wasn’t the only one snoring with Jared next to him with a snore that reminded me of a bear. His mouth was ajar with some kind of thistle sticking out of his mouth like a stereotypical cowboy. It was kind of funny to look at with memories of those funky cartoons I used to watch all day playing in my head. Me, sitting a little too close to the tv, watching a grizzly cartoon man chasing after some kind of animal.  The black and white colors shining brightly from the box as I sat next to a bunch of kids crowding around, all of our eyes glued to the changing lights in the moving box. Just daydreaming about the old days is making my eyes feel like anvils. Slowly by each gasp between the snores, my eyes closed with my mind fading to obscurity. 

            Rain… the sound of rain surrounding me and never letting up. They sounded heavy as if it was about to flood around me, smacking the ground with a rough slam. As my eyes opened, I was greeted with a view of darkness, everything basking in emptiness except for a singular house in the distance. For some reason, it seemed familiar and only then did I realize that the sound of rain around me was absent from any actual raindrops. Instead, you could only hear the sound as the darkness covered everything. The only difference was that it wasn’t dark in the sense that you couldn’t see anything… it’s just that there wasn’t anything as far as the eye could see. My body felt tired as I forced myself up to get a clear sense of the house ahead of me. It was a family home, had a second floor set with a nice chimney protruding from the left side. All the lights were off except for one, which lit up the window of a singular window in the right corner. With nowhere to go, I walked to the family home with each step hitting a hard floor that wasn’t there. It felt like a sidewalk, yet there wasn’t any. Was this reality, was I dead? The exterior of the house had bricks scaling up and tile roofing like you would see anywhere in the world. In fact, it had the aesthetic of the house me and my mother lived in but it was too dark to see clearly. As I finally approached the door, I tried seeing what was in the lit window but it was too high to see anything… forcing my curiosity through the wooden passage. The doorknob was rusty with paint peeling on the door where you would expect someone to kick when their hands are full. As I held the doorknob, I began to feel a slight breeze and the feeling of tiredness overwhelming me. The breeze was enough to cause goosebumps to reveal themselves across my arms and legs, my teeth gritting from the nonexistent temperatures. It all felt too familiar as the shook the doorknob only to find it locked. Through habit, I rested my head against the door with my foot weakly hitting the bottom of the door. So many times this happened, a single key that lay within the house alone with my mother passed out. Most likely with empty bottles next to her bed like always. There’s no reason to think otherwise as my experiences have taught me so. I might as well go to sleep out here until she checks the door, I just have to expect her yelling at me for forgetting my key… which she lost months ago. It’s like that, sitting down on the ground and waiting for the hours to tick by. Even though seconds have passed, my body felt refreshed and the feeling of night approaching clicked in my mind. 

            Just like that, the door slowly opened with an empty room on the other side. Nothing changed between the seconds of me feeling tired but I still got up with a lot more vitality than before. With my right hand pushing the door open, I walked in to be met with more darkness, different from outside as my sight was blocked from seeing farther than a few feet. The rooms were completely bare, except for a living room on the right having a stream of light shooting down from the ceiling. It was easy to see that a small circle was cut connecting the lit room above and that the sound of rain was coming from here as well with a shower of water sprinkling from the circle. On the floor was also a perfect circle but this time, was a round plot of mud that was completely drenched in water. Just looking at this mud plot caused a feeling of intense fear to sprout from my heart. This emotion that my heart was fighting against wasn’t new to me but I never felt it this badly. Everything in my body shuttered, crumbling back into a wall as I was unable to even walk towards it. Why, I don’t remember a mud plot in my life that made so much fear pound in my blood. A natural instinct in humans, a flight or fight response, crossed my body as I turned around away from the light. Sick, I feel sick, I’m going to throw-up. Soon advanced the dry-heaving as my skin ran cold from fear, falling to the ground with my mouth drying up. 

Enough, I couldn’t take it, nausea is the worst thing to have in my opinion. Just throw up already and get it over with. No, this is just a feeling, I don’t need to force anything to come up. I don’t need to stick my fingers down my throat to unleash the bile that made me sick. What I need to do is calm down, slow my breathing, and focus. Slowly, I regained my composure as I glanced at the light once more before quickly looking away toward the stairs. Curiosity killed the cat and I suffered for it, but now I need to find out why I reacted so violently toward that phenomenon. Slowly, I trodded up the stairs when the voice of my mother panged in my head. 

“Nathan, this is why you need to find your keys. You might freeze out there. Just hurry and hop in the shower, but don’t waste the hot water.”

I couldn’t understand her, I was out there for so long because she lost my keys. I looked everywhere in the house too, she must’ve dropped them somewhere in the car or wherever she goes. My steps felt heavy as I saw the top of the stairs, seeing the beam of the light awaiting me. 

“What’s wrong with you, why can’t you just listen for once? Hurry so you can run me a bath and I need you to go to the store for more antibacterial soap. Oh, don’t forget about that goddamn dog of yours, she hasn’t been out all day.” 

I’m sorry, I’ll get it done as soon as possible mom. I…. why do I have to do all of this? Why does she get to relax all day on her bed while I have to do everything? It isn’t fair, and I already know what she’s going to say next. ‘Why do you never take care of your dog? What’s taking you so long?’ Just as I predicted, she spoke those words in a more serious tone as I reached the top of the stairs. There, I looked into the room that was beaming with light to see the hooded figure in the middle. Her hands were full, with a watering can in one and the lightbulb in the other. Both had opposing feelings with the watering can exuding the intense fear and pain I felt earlier. The lightbulb though held the emotions of happiness and pride, which gave me the power to move forward toward the figure who faced the other side of the room. 

“You goddamn waste of breath. I wish Finn was here instead of you. Get out of my sight.”

Fu…. my mother’s voice, her true personality shone brightly as my emotions were swept away with regret. I was down with this, approaching the hooded figure with one hand outstretched to turn them around. They stayed still as if they were some sort of statue but the sound of breathing was easy to hear. The sound of my mother was slowly increasing though, eventually drowning out the sound of the hooded figure breathing as her tone became more aggressive. Sadness would be normal to feel but I felt almost nothing. You eventually get used to it, the pain, the fear, the guilt of not being good enough, it all slowly disappeared. That’s how I am now, an empty shell mixed with gunpowder ready to explode. You know what, I don’t care what she says anymore. My legs calmly walked over to the hooded figure as my hand grasped their shoulder before suddenly, I felt the urge to duck as the sound of glass shattering echoed in the room. The shouting from my mother was louder than ever and her aggression was present as she was probably the one who threw the glass. Wouldn’t be the first time, maybe that’s how I dodged it. Without any delay or fear, I gripped the shoulder of the hooded figure and spun them around… noticing that they dropped the lightbulb and water can. Immediately I dropped to my knees as a mixture of myself and my mother were the ones under the long drape of clothing. It was gruesome as the eyes, nose, and mouth were distorted to such a degree that it was hard to see. I couldn’t take it as the lightbulb flickered away and darkness consumed everything. The amalgamation of my other self became misty and the vapors of its body plunged into me…. Becoming a part of my body. The feelings I wanted to get rid of. There, my body and soul were lain bare with all the sadness I felt and how I’ve changed through everything I lived through.

“You’re not my son you goddamn devil. Get out of my house, give me back my precious son. I hate you.”

Everything I’ve experienced throughout my life, I deserved it. I shouldn’t try anymore. No matter what I do, it will always turns out the wrong way. I should just say sorry until it all goes away. All the pain and wrongdoings that I’ve committed. Everything is my fault. I hate everything. Why am I alive, to hurt others or for others to hurt me? I want to break away from this cycle, this neverending hate that I feel but no matter what I do… I will be eaten alive. Everyone is an enemy, all of them deserve to feel what I feel. It isn’t fair that they feel happy while I’m trapped here to wallow in this prison. They're all birds with beautiful wings while I'm here, with mine clipped. I hate all of them… I want all of them to die.


                       I Am The Epitome Of Animosity

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Chapter 3

The voice of Jared pierced the quiet darkness as everything I was feeling was quickly washed away. My eyes opened to his dumb face in front of me… gently shaking me away. 

“Heya Nathan, you tossin’ and turnin’ alot in your sleep. You alright?” I could only look at him confused for a few seconds before my senses caught up with me. I don’t even remember when I fell asleep or what I even dreamed about. It probably doesn’t matter or else I would have some inkling on what it was. Like the universe or my subconscious trying to tell me something. Either way, it was most likely a nightmare for Jared to wake me up like that. Without much else to say in response, I simply asked what I was doing while I was sleeping, only to be met with a simple smirk. This put me into an even stranger confusion as I had no idea what he was trying to refer to with that smirk, waiting for him to remake his response. His mouth remained as a smile until he realized that I wouldn’t get it, finally speaking up about what was on his mind, “Well, you were scramblin’ and totally silent until I start shaking you. Tha’s when a small little word of birds with beautiful wings. Now I ain’t that smart but I reckon you talkin’ about ma sister.” I could only look at him in disbelief but I didn’t want to come off as rude so I didn't comment on it, just smiling and looking back out of the window. A bird, that’s a pretty weird thing to dream about. But why was I moving in my sleep if it was something about a bird, strange? Jared lightening my mood so easily with just some sweet words, maybe I can survive this trip. At least that’s what I was thinking until suddenly, my seat began to be hit from the other side. It was as if a little kid was kicking at my seat, which was extremely annoying. Immediately, Jared and I turned around to see an adult man going stark raving mad. He looked like an everyday businessman but was acting like someone infected with rabies, his teeth on full display, and everything. Without much warning, the man lunged across the person sitting next to him and toward the individual seating, alerting everyone to what was happening. His moves were erratic and didn’t make much sense, with the words, “You fucking bitch, I can’t wait to tear out your goddamn throat. I’m going to fucking enjoy seeing the light leaving your eyes.” I couldn’t understand why he was acting like this, completely shocked at this entire scene unfolding before Jared and me as the other people in the train car got up to restrain him. What was I supposed to do, staying still and just watching as Jared eventually got up to help the others hold the crazed man down? He wasn’t strong at all, easily pinned down on the floor of the train car with five people holding down his arms and legs. However, that wasn’t the problem as he gnarled and growled at the people around him while forcing his chest forward as if he was trying to break his arms to get loose. Whoever he was after, it was evident that he didn’t care about his own health as a loud crack rang from his body. There I saw, his left arm popped out of its socket as his eyes became red and glossy due to him not blinking for so long. The sight reminded me of a human version of Cujo, needing to be put down for the safety of others. 

            By now, everyone was wide awake with the husband assisting with the restraint of the crazed man, all of their eyes glued to him. In fact, no one cared to look around toward the person that this man was after. Something in my mind though told me exactly who he was after, darting my eyes over to the girl with the ragged cloth over her body. From where I was, it seemed that she was fast asleep with only her legs and a hint of her arm being visible. I didn’t feel anything though… and now that I think about it… it was only when I saw her face that I felt so horrible. This man must have somehow seen her face for just a second but this reaction was completely different than mine. Before I could dote onto why this was happening, two guides or I guess you can call them attendees, walked into the train car and immediately picked up the crazed man, easily holding him still and dragging him out while saying, “Deeply sorry for the inconvenience, please don’t mind us as we try to make this trip as enjoyable as possible without any rude ravings such as this man here.” Everyone was left dazed at how quickly everything just went about, and just like that, it was already done. Jared sat back down next to me with his eyes, like all the other people here, staring out toward the door where the attendees took the crazed man. I had to learn more about this whole thing. I mean, what if this was some sort of new bioweapon or new virus. It sounds dumb just thinking that but this might be the type of adventure I have been waiting for to take me away from the norm that I’ve been living in. There was a chance that I could question that girl who seemed to cast the effect on me and that crazed man but I would rather not risk it, instead, getting up to pursue the attendees. Something I didn’t understand though was that I could still hear that stark-raving mad person in the other train car, so he was still going berserk even after looking away from her. I was fine almost immediately but that wasn’t the case for this man and I had to figure out why? I mean, what if I find out something top-secret like a government plan and I get pushed into a new path in life where I can finally have the reins of. I can finally be more than what I am, no longer trapped to live out my life with my accursed family. I can actually live for once in my short-lived life. I glanced at Jared and the hooded girl one last time before getting up and following the attendees, forcing open the door and feeling the rush of air push me back a little bit. 

“Whatchu think you’re going? Tha’ mad man is some trouble but it’s already figured by those tractors.”

“ I just… something seems off and I just need to see for myself. Who knows, maybe there’s an adventure waiting for me through these doors.”

            Jared just looked at me, slightly clenching his jaw in a way that made his cleft chin more evident. He wasn’t the only one either who was questioning what I was doing with everyone staring at me with wide eyes. They all were frightened at the state of that crazed man and probably thought I was crazy for following him. Something was off though, no one called the attendees, and yet they knew. They came back and grabbed him, carrying him away somewhere. Nonetheless, I couldn’t do anything after seeing all of these weird things happen around me, thrusting my body into the cold air and opening the door to the other train car. Sooner or later, the others will learn about that mysterious girl and her ability… and when that happens, I need to learn how it works. I know it’s too far-fetched but maybe I can get some answers from the crazed man, at least maybe I can analyze him while he’s in that state. 

Finally, I shut the doors behind me and the rushing breeze quickly faded, creating another silent atmosphere. This train car looked almost identical to the one I was just in except for iron bars on the window as if to stop people from jumping out. I would understand if there were a lot of deaths or suicides on this train but why weren’t they on the train car previous to this one that I was just in. That wasn’t the thing that caught my eye though, as the people in this train car were the ones I was with back on the bus. The rambunctious kids were jumping around like usual and it amazed me how close I was to them. Just a train car away from where I was, maybe I am just that unlucky. That didn’t matter right now as I continued to walk past everyone to the next train car, only to be stopped by a familiar face. His dumb brazen hair was an obvious indicator of who he was as I tried to move past him. His arms gripped my shoulder and held me in place as he forced our eyes to meet. I tried to resist his hold on me as the screaming of that mad man could still be heard in the next train car, so close, but it was quickly fading. 

“Where the hell you’ve been? I hella thought you holding back all the way back at the bus and got left dude.”

“Dude? No whatever, can you let me go? You probably seen that man, I was following to see where they were taking him.”

“Ya, tha’ was pretty weird, Old man been talkin’ a whole storm about tha’ man and how it shows how bad we’ve gotten. Anyways, where didja go?”

“The old man is here too. Wait, where is Jezebel?”

“Hell if I know, I haven’t seen her since the bus back before. Both of yall been gone a long while.”

            By now, the sound of the screaming man was gone and just the thought of him being gone drained my body of energy. This delinquent-looking man in front of me got in the way yet again and it made me hate him even more. I didn't even want to talk to him anymore but it was easy to see that he wanted to talk to me. It’s not like I could do anything, he was stronger than me and that’s how this world is, rearing my head to look past him toward the subsequent train car.

“Damn, still sullin’ like before. Are you depressed or somethin’ wrong with your head?”

I just looked at him confused as it occurred to me that he probably meant to say sulking. He made the same mistake before and I have to say that I again took great offense to it. In fact, I felt like punching him square in the face but I knew that I wouldn’t win. Just his grip on my forearms began to hurt as I knew that my skin was already red under his hands. 

“Well anyways, you gotta find that chick and a-pol-i-gize. I bet she’s still mad atchu and you ain’t even chill enough to say sorry.”

“Sorry but that’s probably not going to happen.”

“Wha- hell if it ain’t. I might just force you to-”

As I was turning back in defeat, refusing to look at Drake in the eyes, the train car I was in suddenly erupted into chaos. Everyone, even the loud kids, stopped and stared with Drake and I back at the train car that I was just in. Then without any warning, the doors opened with people rushing out full of despair. At first, it seemed that everyone was trying to evacuate but then I saw something worse. Two or three of them were acting like belligerent fools, attacking the others who were trying to run. Immediately, I rushed forward and pushed off a man who was trying to bite the others, saying, “I just want a taste. I wonder if it tastes like chicken like the movies say.” I couldn’t believe it as I tried to force him into one of the empty seats with Drake helping me. The man seemed almost insane as Drake just clocked him in his cheek, instantly knocking him out. Just seeing that strength made me glad that I didn’t try to punch him earlier but unfortunately, this man wasn’t the only one. There were two others who seemed weaker but were already progressing into the train car. The other men and even Joel got up to hold them down as I grabbed Drake and pointed to the door between the two train cars. It was wide open with the people running away not really caring to shut it on their way to safety. He seemed to know what I was thinking as both of us ran to close it, seeing the rampage across from us. Everyone seemed to be going rabid with some of them laughing maniacally while pacing back and forth, with others growling and acting like animals. To me, it seemed they resorted to their most primal instincts or at the very least their deepest desires. I didn’t understand how this all happened until it clicked to me. Of course, every person in that train car probably began looking for who that crazed man was after and they must have tried to wake up the hooded girl. I didn’t act that crazy though, but then again only some of the people in the other train car are acting that crazy. Others are confiding in themselves or trying to ignore what’s happening. With not that much to do, I put my ears to the doors only to hear some of them say, “Where is she,” as if they were looking for someone. Why would they be looking for a specific person… the crazed man. He was looking for someone to, no, he was sent on killing someone. The girl, she must be in there somewhere and if they find her, I don’t know what they might do in these states. I swiveled my head to look at Drake who stood next to me against the door and began pleading with him.

“I… I know we had our differences but I need your help.”

“You’re not the only one, loom at all of them in there. Hell if they need christ about now.”

“No, I need your help to save someone in there. They might be in grave danger if we leave them in there.”

“You… You want to save someone. Damned if I see who this beauty to suit someone like you who’s sulking all the time. Hell, they might ain’t be in their right mind like the rest of those in there.”

“Just trust me for once. I don’t like you and I know you don’t like me but she can’t survive in there for long.”

“Okay okay okay, I’ll help but you’ll need to pay me back.”

“Thank you, she has a ragged hooded cloth on her and there’s another person in there too. A cowboy who helped me a lot, I need to save him too. Oh, and do not look at this girl or else bad things will happen.”

“Bad things, tha’ sounds pretty dangerous. Dangerous is my middle name.”

            The whole situation was just halted by those cringy words of his. Drake just has that kind of talent as both of us looked to the other train car. I wasn’t sure we could do it but somewhere in there, that girl was cowering in there and Jared was probably needing help as well. Hopefully, I could save both and I didn’t need to choose which one to save like those video games I used to play all the time. Drake looked at me and raised his hands, counting down from three on his fingers and as he closed the last one, he thrust the doors open. Both of us plunged into the chaos as almost immediately pushed back by a small wave of people. It seemed to me that everyone was yelling at each other as I couldn’t even hear myself think. The ground was slippery and as a rather buff lady pushed me down, I could feel the blood dripping on the ground. Someone in this group was bleeding heavily or maybe a lot of them were bleeding. I don’t know and don’t care… it’s just enough to cause a large puddle to form on the ground. I couldn’t see Drake as I forced myself back on my feet, being pushed side to side by random people who were yelling incoherently at each other. The buff lady wasn’t done with me though as she shouted, “Come’ere ya little shrimp, I’ll cook ya into a nice meal. I’m mighty hungry for some seafood.” It was stupid to hear such words coming with such a heavy Scottish accent but she wasn’t messing around, throwing people back with one hand without breaking a sweat. For the entirety of my whole life, I never felt threatened by a Scottish person and honestly, it was on my bucket list. Imagine my surprise when my mind finally caught up to this whole situation and remembered that small detail during this chaos. I couldn’t do anything, forced to back up and watch as my end was approaching, looking around for something to save me. Then it hit me… I pushed back two sobbing idiots who were standing around and jumped onto the train seats that were individually placed by themselves. I precariously watched the Scottish lady slowly walk over to me with her arms about the width of my head, grabbing the two sobbing people and tossing them aside with a single swipe. She wasn’t that fast but nothing seemed to stop her which only made her scarier to watch but I had to wait until she was a hand’s length away from me. Before I knew it, she was right there as I hurried and pressed my finger on a small button near the overhead carriage. Suddenly, a small compartment opened up in the ceiling as a table lowered onto her head. She didn’t fall though… Instead, she resisted as the sound of the cogs pushing the table increased in volume as if it was struggling. Her face slowly turned red as one of the cogs became apparent from the ceiling as it was about to pop off, just a little more and she would have fun. I looked around for something more as I found a small purse in the overhead carriage, rummaging in it to find a small can of mace. With haste, I pointed it to her and sprayed it in her face, seeing the pain in her face before her entire body crumbled from the table's weight. I quickly stepped out around her just to bump into Drake, who was holding his own against a lot of them. He was definitely strong as he pushed them back, looking at me with a smirk on his face as from my peripheral, I saw a baseball bat fly toward him. Without even looking away for a second, he managed to grab it but it must have just been a coincidence because his arm was already reaching in that direction. “Damn that was a good catch, didja see tha’. I’m a beast to be feared.”

His pride was something to be astounded by as he used the bat to push a large group back that came charging forward. If I didn’t know, I would say that he was enjoying this and was showing off his pure raw power. Because of him, we’re getting through and it is actually working. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to get him into this mess, not like it was my choice to begin with. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard and if only I could hold some down without hurting them, I could figure out why this whole thing is happening. Before I could dote on this any further though, the wave of people started pushing Drake back and out from the group came charging in Jared who quickly tackled me to the ground. I hit my head against the rough floor, dazed at what was happening with my arms instinctively out in front of me… holding him back as he tried stabbing me in the eye. I tried speaking to him, trying to get to him but he wouldn’t listen. He must have looked at that girl and changed but… I don’t know how to change him back. I knew he was too far gone with his words not making sense.

“You’re gonna marry ma goddamn sister, no matter what you think you sonavbitch. I know whatchu been thinkin’ about ma sister and you gonna pay for it. You thinkin’ I didn’t know but didja know that you an open book and I helluva read the story.”

“Stop it Jared, snap back to reality. You’re not thinking straight and you don’t-”

He suddenly gave up on trying to stab me with some kind of sewing tool and instead just tried to just choke me out, gripping his hands against my throat. Slowly, I felt the breath from deep within my lungs having trouble escaping my throat… struggling to stay inside as well and causing an uncomfortable feeling. I could feel my face growing purple as my hands began helplessly beating Jared’s ribs to no avail. Drake… where was Drake? I can’t pull him off myself, Jared was going to kill me without even ever realizing it. He isn’t in his right mind, I need to snap him out of it. There’s nothing around me though… I’m going to die. Then from exact coincidence, an angry pompous man who also wasn’t in his right mind came charging through and grabbed Jared, shoving him toward some of the train seats. A breath of relief finally escaped my body as I tried to calm down. Soon after came the coughing as I turned over, holding my neck in pain as I felt like throwing up. God, Jared almost killed me. That was too close, my life was almost over. As I looked up, I saw Drake being dragged outside onto the balcony. He was trying his hardest to kick them off and hold onto some of the seats but from where I laid… it seemed futile. I just need to find that girl and maybe she can stop all of this. She can end this and save us all. If only I already had her here, maybe I could save Drake right now. I can’t do it, getting up and seeing the abstract destruction around me. They weren’t paying attention to me and were just fighting each other. If I wanted to, I could just look for her without any worry. But would Drake’s fate already be sealed; I wouldn’t have enough time to find her and save him at the same time. There’s so many of them around him though, how would I make a difference in trying to fight them. The balcony doors slammed open as his screams for help reached my ears, barely seeing his face through the multitude of legs surrounding him. Each one of them held a part of his body and was lifting him off the ground, making it impossible for him to fight back. I… If he died, it would be on my hands for not helping, getting up and rushing over without a plan. The sound of the wind pushing by made a deafening sound that seamlessly discombobulated my senses as I shoulder-charged the large group restraining Drake. One or two of them went down, slamming against the floor but that was enough to give Drake enough strength to push back. His hands slapped the rough floor as he kicked back with his legs, trying to twist his body with the newfound versatility in his body. It was as if they weren’t expecting his resistance, but he was easily able to break through as the rest of his body hit the floor, immediately getting up and pushing all of them back onto the train balcony. Without a second thought, he shut the door and held it shut as they pounded their fists against the glass-windowed door. Now that he was safe, I looked around for the girl in hooded garments only to find her in the corner, tucked into a small ball and from where I stood, it seemed she was sobbing. It was much easier to see her after a good portion of the passengers were now on the balcony. It didn’t occur to either of us though that most of them were acting like belligerent fools and soon enough, they began fighting and pushing each other off onto the tracks. Their bodies were like ragdolls as they contorted when they hit the ground, the sound of a singular snap for each one haunting the air. Drake slowly backed up, shocked at what just happened with his eyes wide open. The sound of his breathing was nonexistent as the fear of what he just did was like an aura around him. I didn’t know how to console him, focusing on running over to the girl and grabbing her arms. She tried tugging back but we needed to go now as Jared and the others began looking around for more targets and we were right in front of them. I gripped her forearm tightly and forced her up, running with her in tow toward the other train car. Drake was still frozen in shock as I grabbed his arm as well, pulling both of them to safety as I could hear the incoherent voices behind us grow more aggressive and illiterate. Having to pull two people who weren’t all that willing was hard enough as the husband from earlier came charging through, grabbing the hooded girl with saliva dripping from his mouth. “I want your goddamn senses to be elevated. Just stay with me and you’ll see how I can do it sweet baby.”

I wanted to throw up in my mouth just hearing a creep like him say that as I tried pulling as hard as I could, only for more crazed people to join in as Jared grabbed me by my throat and pushed me back against the wall. He was strong and I weirdly understood why as he looked like a cowboy but that was beside the point. I kicked and thrashed about, trying to escape his grasp as he slowly raised his arm higher until I was off the ground. Soon, the pain caressed my neck as it became increasingly difficult to breathe. Drake wasn’t doing that good either with the muscular lady I pinned under a table pinning him down on the ground. All of us were incapacitated with the husband pulling the hooded girl back, his drool patting her lower delicate arm and revealing her pale white skin. I couldn’t help but look at it as everything around me was coated in darkness. Why was I even trying? I should have just given up… I’m sorry mom. I’m sorry for not being good enough. Just end me right now, I deserve it. It’s my fault this all happened in the first place, I never should have left Jared by himself with the girl. It’s because of me that he was tranced by her and lost himself. Now he’s a slobbering beast that may never turn back like me. 

            Why was I born? Just to cause pain to others. The feeling of Deja vu struck me deeply in my soul as suddenly, the train car door opened with attendees rushing through. They were like the guides but dressed differently in red tuxedos with a white undershirt on all of them. Black and blue ties and bowties were fashioned on all of them as they rushed in like berserking monsters. The strength they had were probably the same as the guides but that didn’t matter all that much to normalcy as even the guides looked as if they were part of a bodybuilding club, but what kind of bodybuilding was I talking about. My sinister thoughts brought up the fading decision to hit them as if they were some kind of evil Frankenstein. I mean, what if they were? They didn’t deserve to be alive just as much as me. I didn’t have any power to resist them as Jared was pushed away from me and across the room with one simple strike in the chest, slamming into some of the seats. I wanted to yell at them, yell that he wasn’t himself right now and it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t have the choice so why should he die because of it. Destiny or whatever you believe in chose this specific time to cause such an abnormal event to happen and he was just caught in it. I… I’m so sorry. Somehow, it’s because of me that he was debilitated by such a painful experience. The attendees yanked us three back with some other people who seemed to regain their minds while speaking in a rather calm tone.

“Sorry for the inconvenience that overcame all those in this train car who weren’t part of this riot-like situation. The conductor of this train has already been alerted to what is happening back here and has enacted a seal between this point.”

As they were speaking, they picked us up and hauled us into the other train car while some other attendees pushed back the ravaging animals. The feeling too that I felt dispersed as I was back to normal. Yet again I accidentally looked at that girl and the same thing happened but something else pained my head. Why did it fade away so easily? The others seemed to be affected for at least thirty minutes but mine was almost immediately after looking away. Nothing was making sense and everything I saw as normal was swallowed whole by this unexplainable girl. The attendees let us go after managing to close the door and swiftly told us to find a seat to rest on while on the ride, giving me a moment to see that Drake was traumatized. Everyone in the train car looked at us with wide eyes as if we were also monsters. The survivors of that mess, now being alienated by the normal people who weren’t thrust into that situation. I looked back to see that there were five of us now with two men that managed to regain their sanity with us now. They seemed too ordinary with one having no outward qualities with clothes that just gave off the feeling of wanting to be in the shadows and the other being some kind of tourist. I wasn’t looking for them though as I saw that Drake was walking toward his seat next to Joel without any hesitation. I wanted to see if he was okay but right now just wasn’t the right moment, or at least it didn’t feel like it was. Instead, I had this girl that I needed to hide from everyone and make sure that no one else lays their eyes on her. Most of the seats were full though and I couldn’t trust placing her next to someone or in the individual seating unless I wanted the same thing to happen again. I don’t think I can take being thrust into another riot so instead, I had to go and put myself out there. These people around us had no idea what was happening and I think they actually feared us. No, that’s wrong, they didn’t fear me or Drake but they did fear the other three. With this in mind, I grabbed the two men and whispered to them, “Can you act a little sick and just follow me. I know it’s hard to understand what’s happening, but I promise I’ll try to explain what I know if you just follow me.” At first, they looked at each other, unsure of what to do and still partially in shock as I held the mysterious girl still. I could see that she was still slightly sobbing and fortunately, that could work for me, but I needed the two men to help me. Finally, after waiting for what seemed like forever, when really it was only a few seconds, they shook their heads with the mindset of wanting to learn what happened as some crazed people pounded against the train car door. It was no worry though as the attendees were still here to keep everything safe as the four of us quickly paced to a pair of seats behind Joel and Drake, pulling the girl with me with both hands of her holding her arms tucked together. As if I was stressed, I quickly spoke to the people sitting in the seats we were going toward with a tone that was shooting up and down, saying, “Please hurry, these three need these seats and I don’t know what to do. I am… I don’t… Just please we need these seats. `` The people sitting down were obviously scared and almost scampered off in a rush as we sat down, lightly forcing the hooded girl to take the seat closest to the window. It was surprisingly easy to move her as she was practically shut down. I wasn’t sure though as I made sure not to glance or peek at her skin for even a second. There was no way I was going to make the same mistake three times in a row now as I quietly told her to be cautious with her body showing. For some reason though, I felt extremely guilty for saying it as if it was some kind of taboo law that I was forcing her to accept. Awkward silence soon followed as the other people in the train car stared at us like we were animals. It wasn’t like I had a problem with it, I had experienced it so much in my life and I could bear it a little longer. The only ordeal that I didn’t know how to handle though was this girl, glancing at her rolled up back into a ball. Right now wasn’t the right time, leaning forward and looking at the seats in front of us to see that Drake was still silent. Joel’s eyes immediately looked at me and began to talk about what was going on.

“There isn’t much we can do for him, kid. I think he needs some time alone for what you and he saw over in the other carriage. What did you two see to make him shut down so much?”

“Uh, I’m not sure myself. It was all chaos as everyone over there was acting like rampaging animals.”

“I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that.”

“I don’t know, it was as if they were only acting out their most primal instinct or darkest desires. They were going after whatever dark secret that they held in their heart, I really don’t know any other way to put it.”

“I see. Young man, I’m not sure why this happened or why I get the feeling that you are keeping something close to heart but I worry for the state that it sent Drake in. From the bottom of my heart, I hope you know what you’re doing.”

“What do you… I mean I’m not trying to hide anything. I am being honest when I say I don’t know anything. You can think whatever you want but-”

            I could see his resistance toward believing in what I said and knowing their generation, I knew that he probably wouldn’t give in. There wasn’t anything I could be able to say that might change his mind so I just laid back in my seat, sighing at the thought of a wall being built in his mind. Just thinking of this feeble problem wasn’t that bad when you take everything into perspective, it’s almost hilarious at all the things that happened since I left home but still… it’s almost exhilarating. Did I secretly enjoy this? I don’t know. All I know is that something was left behind when I looked away from the mysterious girl. Words can’t describe what I felt, maybe a much-needed dopamine rush from being away from home clashed with all of this happening. The pain of slamming to the ground still quaked in my spine as I uncomfortably shifted in my seat to find a better position where I can have one eye on this strange girl. Then from the silence that I tried escaping, I came to a realization that maybe her affects may have diminished but didn’t go away with me. The two people behind me were quiet, which might be because they were still despondent from what we just escaped from or they were also trying to figure out what were wrong with them. It just, something is different and I can’t help but want to know what it is. Whatever is different though isn’t hurting me so as of right now, it shouldn’t be what I’m worried about. Instead, this girl was what was worrying me and also confounding my head. Not asking her about her abilities or power or whatever it was the worst possible thing to do in my mind at the moment. I might as well because she might hold all of the answers and I wouldn’t know unless I ask. With the pain making my breathing uneven, I tried my best to focus only to notice that this girl was quietly sobbing while still balled up. There were too many questions that needed answers now so how she felt would just have to wait. I didn’t want to come off as rude in case she might close up so I looked down at her with gentle eyes and kind intentions before speaking.

“Um… I am not sure how to um… are you okay.”


“Sorry, uh, you probably don’t want to talk to anyone right now but there’s something important that I have to ask. What are you?”

She immediately swiveled around with her eyes sharp, full of tears. It was as if she heard something that might’ve upset her or endangered her life. As soon as I saw that she was for some reason defensive over asking what she was, I recoiled back into my seat as her tone was almost inquisitive.

“Why would you talk like that to me, to somebody you don’t even know? Am I really that useless to draw so much pain?”

“No, I just noticed that everyone changed when they looked at you. Oh and please, you scared me when you sprung up like that, I can’t look at you or else it’ll happen again.”

“How do you know-. It all happened so fast and I didn’t have time to hide myself. Wait, again? You were affected by me?”

“Yeah, but it was different than everyone, I just felt very, well, depressed. Enough of that, how can you change people and does it last forever?”

“I am not sure. They just look at me and they act differently. I- I had to run for so long because of this but I still haven’t learned anything. It's just like a curse, and I don’t know how to stop it.”

As if I couldn’t be any less stupid, I looked at her again as if to sympathize with her only to see her face again. The cloth covering her body though wasn’t extended over her eyes as I saw her brown colored irises. That wasn’t the only thing I glanced at though as she had small bruises across her body and a scar that weirdly reminded me of being scrapped by a bullet. It was near her hairline but barely missed her hair, trailing to her ear with it only being three inches long. I only saw a glance, but it seemed pretty recent. If I could, I would ask her about it or try to figure out the backstory that led her here but a rush of emotion over swept my mind. Darkness yet again creased in my eyes, but it was different this time. Pain eluded my peripherals as my inner voice seemed to speak out of disobedience. Little whispers, little embers of hatred from everyone around me. All of them, staring at us, they despise us so why can’t we give them a reason to. Kill them a-. No, I can’t think like this. I want to change but not for the worse, I want to be better and get rid of my guilt. ‘Then do it’, they all say, that’s what they are all saying. I know they are and I am sick of it. I hate them all, I’ll kill them all. The animosity burning in my veins unveiled a new voice within me. My inner voice is unchained, and you know what, I love it. From time and time again, I was the pitiful one, throw pity for the weary ones… but no longer. I am going to show them all that I can be better than they could ever imagine. Ha ha ha, I can really be myself now. I don’t need anyone to help me anymore. I don’t need those eyes staring at me any longer. ‘Show them you can be stronger, teach them a lesson that is much needed now.’ I should, but is it right? Stop, it isn’t right. I put myself in this position because I am weak and stupid. I shouldn’t try that hard because no one would care. Who in the world would care if I tried? No-one. I just want to die alone. ‘Don’t, rise up and show the hatred you caught and bottled up from their wandering sights.’

Suddenly as I was swept in my thoughts, fighting with the voice in my head for domination, a small fragile hand grabbed the back of my neck and cheek before rotating them away from the window. It all made sense, I glanced at her again accidentally. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you, but what about three times? I can’t remember that one right now. It’s not like it matters, at least the voice in my head was fading away as I began to regain myself. Without looking back over to her like an idiot and showing how embarrassed I was for being so stupid, I quietly spoke. 

“Th… thank you.”

“You don’t have to worry; I was scared you might become scary but you didn’t. You really are different like him.”

“Like him?”

“Oh, my name is Lily. What’s yours?”

“Um… Nathan.”

“I’m happy for you, you can resist it better than the others. At least this problem was easy to solve.”

“Yeah, if only all the problems in the world were just as easy.”

I gloomily spoke my words as I looked up at Drake’s seat, seeing a hint of his face. It was still as pale and frozen then it was before which only made me feel even more guilt about what happened. I wish there was something I could do but nothing came to mind. It’s fine though, all of us were safe and that’s all that matters

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