The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Last Train
by Christina Sng
Years later, the train carriage still stands, a lone reminder of the dark night we survived.
I was fifteen when the plague happened. It took my entire family except for Petrie, our skinny tabby cat.
Petrified by the lumbering dead, we escaped onto the last train out of the city to the unknown countryside.
The dead overcame carriage after carriage till one brave soul unlatched the closest infected carriage, letting the train roll toward freedom.
We disembarked at the last stop, all of us looking fearful and exhausted. But the town was quiet. News had not reached here yet.
I took Petrie and raced to the mayor’s office while everyone stood about, dazed, trying to get their bearings.
The mayor jumped into action right away. He’d seen the news and clearly watched enough episodes of The Walking Dead.
There were no tall walls but they had buses. Mayor Quinn, he said to call him, had the bus drivers block off the entrances to town, hoping it would keep the dead out.
It would be some time before they lumbered here but they would reach us.
Days passed. Then weeks. Months. Years.
With communications down, we had no way of knowing. So we went on with our lives, grateful for the farms feeding us and making do with a simpler life without modern supplies.
People we sent out to gather information never returned. We let it be and stopped sending anyone out.
One day, ten years from the day the infection began, a man staggered to our gates. I took one good look at him and shot him in the head.
I turned to look at the train carriage and remembered the terror. I remembered the horror. I remembered getting bitten when I unlatched the train bolt and I remembered watching the wound swiftly close up before my eyes.
Even the infected could look normal. Anyone could be infected.
In the town square, the mayor was helping our children put up the anniversary decorations. They waved and smiled. I waved back. It was going to be a beautiful day.
Fiction © Copyright Christina Sng
Image courtesy of Rie Sheridan Rose.
More from Christina Sng:
A Collection of Nightmares
Hold your screams and enter a world of seasonal creatures, dreams of bones, and confessions modeled from open eyes and endless insomnia. Christina Sng’s A Collection of Nightmares is a poetic feast of sleeplessness and shadows, an exquisite exhibition of fear and things better left unsaid. Here are ramblings at the end of the world and a path that leads to a thousand paper cuts at the hands of a skin carver. There are crawlspace whispers, and fresh sheets gently washed with sacrifice and poison, and if you’re careful in this ghost month, these poems will call upon the succubus to tend to your flesh wounds and scars.
These nightmares are sweeping fantasies that electrocute the senses as much as they dull the ache of loneliness by showing you what’s hiding under your bed, in the back of your closet, and inside your head. Sng’s poems dissect and flower, her autopsies are delicate blooms dressed with blood and syntax. Her words are charcoal and cotton, safe yet dressed in an executioner’s garb.
You’ve already made your bed.
The nightmares you have now will not be kind.
And you have no one to blame but yourself.