The train started to slow down. As it did, something inside me told me that I wasn’t alone. That was when, in the slowing train, I saw a silhouette of someone standing right next to me. This meant that she, it was a woman, was there all along.
I wasn’t sure what ascertained it, but I became aware that she was someone I knew for, perhaps, my entire life. Although, for the life of me, cannot remember exactly who she was. I just couldn’t place her, not with part of my mind still distracted trying to adjust to my current circumstances. Was she my wife? Or, was she my cousin? Or, was she my first love? I just didn’t know.
All that I could recollect about her were three things: 1. I knew her for almost all my life; she was an integral part of my life. 2. I knew that I cared for her so much so that I will risk everything to save her. 3. I knew that she can’t keep her mouth shut even if her life depended on it, which was, truly and metaphorically speaking, the case then.
“We are in trouble”, I said out loud to no one in particular.
I heard nothing back; there was no response. That appeased me. It meant, or at least I could hope, that she knew the seriousness of the situation and that any sound meant more trouble. As soon as I thought that, I felt that I gave her not enough credit. She was quiet all along, wasn’t she. She never made a sound, let alone say something. Perhaps, I was wrong in my judgement.
I left those tangential thoughts, those guilty thoughts, there. I might pick them up when I would be under clearer skies. For the moment, I had to get us out of there, the both of us. I looked around to see, to find, an escape that, I most certainly knew, wasn’t there. My eyes searched, hoping against hope, for any duct that could lead us to the aforementioned clearer skies.
After not finding one, I admitted that the only option is to wait till the train came to a halt and see what can be done then. This was, after all, a train. Which meant that it ran on rails. This, further, meant that, wherever it went, there was a way to get back from there.
Or even better, it may be that my fears were unfounded. What if this wasn’t a kidnap after all, what if this was a regular train, one that served its purpose, taking people from point A to point B. What if …
That was all I had time to wish before I stopped my train of though, no pun intended. The reason: the train further slowed down and came to a halt.
“Let’s hope …”, I said. There was nothing that else I could say.
While I waited for the doors to open and clearer skies – I, perhaps, needed a better analogy – to unravel themselves. During those moments of waiting, all I could hear were just my own breaths. For a moment, panic took over me. I could hear only my breathing and not hers. Was she still there? If so, why can’t I hear her? If not, where did she go?
Before I could look for her, the streak of light, a few yards to my left, became wider. It accompanied the squeaks of heavy metal doors being opened.
I was expecting to be almost blinded by light. Being in the darkness, for who knows how long, made my eyes accustomed to the darkness and unaccustomed to the impending rush of sunlight. But, when the doors finally opened, there wasn’t much of light that seeped in. I surmised that it was way into the night and, as a result, the only sunlight that shone was what was being reflected by the moon. Then, there were two beams of light, supposedly from flashlights.
Whatever hope I had vanished. There was no light on the other side. I could hear some rustling outside though nobody came into my view. A few more moments passed, when I finally heard someone call us.
“Time!”, said the voice, a man’s. It was a voice I had never heard before. The one word surmised that he, they, knew that we were here, that they had plans for us, and that none of those plans had a favorable ending.
I contemplated the order and realized that there was only one option: to comply with it. I looked to my side at her, nodded to her, and started walking towards the open doors, walking from one darkness into another. She followed me, unquestioning and with all of her questions unanswered.
When we reached the opened doors, all I saw was a very fine gap, about an inch wide, between the train’s floor and the platform. From what I could see, even the platform had doors, similar to the train’s. On either side of the platform doors stood two men. Even in the darkness I could see that they were armed. One hand was on a gun and the other held a flashlight.
I looked at them and they looked back at me. No more words were spoken; no more words were needed to be spoken. She and I crossed the small gap and walked to the the other side. As soon as we walked in, the doors closed shut behind us and we ended up, again, in darkness. Apparently, contrary to the slogan, when one door is closed, the others, too, are closed.
As soon the doors were closed, someone turned the light on. It was very low intensity light, perhaps from a zero watt bulb. It was bright enough for me to see around and yet not too bright to make it difficult for my eyes to adjust. What I saw around sucked the air of my lungs. There were others there, not sure how many, fewer than 10, may be. They just stood there, their hands tied behind their backs. They were alive but as if lifeless.
But what shocked me was what was across their eyes. It appeared as if their eyelids were sewn shut. Stiches ran over their eyelids, from their upper cheeks to their eyebrows. The eyelids, themselves, weren’t sticked but the stitches over them closed them shut. Those people couldn’t see anything. They weren’t saying anything either, even though their lips weren’t sealed shut. I wondered whether they could, at least, hear anything.
While I stood there, aghast at what I saw, someone shoved my back. I moved, jerked, a couple of steps forward. On my left, I noticed her; she stood there, looking at me. She still said nothing; she never made a sound. I was resigned to die. But, if I could save her life by dying twice, I would have done that.
As I looked at her, a hand swept over my eyes, closed my eyelids. A moment later, I felt the sting of a needle on my right upper cheek, just over my cheekbone.