Welcome to Needless Things Spotlight, where we focus on new fiction from talent around the internet.
Today's short form story is the first part of several that will be published over the course of the next several months.
You can find the first chapter of this story here.
This Is Car Number 187
D. D. DeJesus
The headlights of the train flash on and off, as rubble falls from the ceiling on to the immobile transit. The shouts of panic echo throughout the stale, cool darkness of the tunnel. The passengers beat and pull on the sliding doors, hoping that at least one of them will give way for they can make their escape.
Joseph snatches his attention away from his phone and begins to slide it back into his pocket, when he is suddenly pushed to the side and drops it on the floor. Catching his balance, he looks up to see the homeless man that was sleeping across from him earlier, tugging at the sliding doors.
“God dammit!” shouts the homeless man slapping his palms on the glass windows of the doors.
“Try the emergency latches!” shouts Ralph to the passengers.
The homeless man spots the emergency latches on both sides of the doors and notices that he cannot possibly pull up both latches at the same time. He turns to Joseph, who is picking up his phone and offers him a hand.
“I’m sorry about that, kid,” said the homeless man extending a dusty hand, wrapped in what appears to be old athletic tape. “I’m Steward.”
“Think you could give me a hand over here?” ask Steward pointing over his shoulder at the doors.
“Sure, no problem,” said Joseph walking over.
Joseph and Steward bend down and grab the latches.
“Okay, 1…2…3…” counts Steward.
They both pull up on the latches with all of their might. Joseph feels his hand starting to ache and go numb, but he continues to pull. He looks over at Steward, who has his leg up for better leverage, tugging and jerking at the emergency latch, but even with that they cannot unlatch the doors.
“Shit…” sighs Steward placing his hands on his lower back.
“Ain’t none of these damn things working!” yells a black woman with blue highlights in her hair, walking up to Joseph and Steward. “I need to get off this piece of shit!”
“I think we all want to get off this piece of shit, ma’am,” said Steward still rubbing his lower back.
“Ha, don’t you live on here anyway?” she shouts.
“That’s uncalled for don’t you think?” says Gloria standing to her feet.
“Light skin, you better sit yo’ ass back down!” she shouts rolling her neck to face Gloria.
“Whoa, okay, can we just have a second here, guys?” said Joseph trying to kill the tension.
“Nobody is talking to you, so continue trying to be a man and get me off this train,” she shouts pointing her finger into Joseph face.
“Ma’am, relax,” said the business man walking up from behind Gloria.
“You fools trying to gang up on me? On Sweet T?” she said placing her hand across her chest.
“Oh, god,” exhales the young business woman still aiding the unconscious father.
“Where’s that guy to knock someone out when you need him?” said the teenage girl not looking away from the window where she sits.
“Bitch, you come knock me out then!” Sweet T shouts.
The argument continues to escalate, and Joseph tries to calm everyone down. He steps in between Sweet T and the rest of the crew, but she is pushing up against him, throwing her arms around him wildly trying to hit or scratch whoever is in arms reach.
Everyone drops down to the floor, half screaming and panicking even more. Joseph peaks his head up to see, standing in the aisle and holding a gun in the air, the black male that knocked out the panicking father.
“It’s time we cut this bullshit out!” he yells wearing a frustrated mug across his tattooed face. “As of right now, I’m in charge.”
Joseph quickly stands to his feet and looks to see if Gloria is harmed. She is crouched on the floor looking up at him with tears in her eyes. He checks to see if everyone else is alright and notices Steward getting up slowly due to his back. Grabbing under his arm, he helps Steward to his feet and ushers him to sit down where Sweet T is balled up in the corner of the seat.
“Hey, mijo, put the gun away,” says Ralph walking down the aisle slowly. “There’s no need for it.”
“You think so?” said the black male pointing the gun in his direction.
Ralph puts his hands into the air to show that he means no harm.
“I’m in charge!” shouts the black male gripping the gun tighter.
“Honestly, Omar, do you think your mother would approve of this?”
The black male looks to his right and notices the older woman staring back at him with warm eyes and a welcoming smile.
“Wait…how you know my….”
Suddenly the car tips over and crashes into the side of the tunnel. Joseph stumbles and grabs hold onto one of the poles used to help keep your balance when there is nowhere to sit. Steward is slammed back first against the wall and Ralph falls into a nearby seat. Omar drops the gun and slides underneath the seat in front of the older woman.
Fearful screams are heard, as a rush of steam hisses through a crack in the wall and fills the entire car with a dense haze. The steam quickly stops and everything grows quiet. Omar, coughing loudly, quickly crawls from under the seat and starts looking for his gun through the haze. Once on his feet, he hears running footsteps and he is tackled hard to the ground.
“What the hell is wrong with you!” shouts Ralph applying a tight headlock.
“Let…I will…let me…go,” said Omar struggling to set himself free.
The car is tipped over, slightly at an angle, making it difficult to walk straight. Joseph balances himself out and looks over at Steward.
“Steward, are you alright?” said Joseph kneeling down.
“I’m fine, Joe, my boy,” Stewards says laughing. “My back got knocked back into place after that one. I just need to let it sit in for a bit.”
“Hey, let’s break them up,” said the business man tapping Joseph on the shoulder.
Joseph and the business man rush down the uneven aisle and jump on the back of Ralph. They each grab an arm and pull him off of Omar.
“You little punk!” shouts Ralph. “Point a gun at me, you crazy!”
Omar is crawling away coughing and trying to catch his breath. Joseph and the business man continue to hold Ralph in fear that he might hurt him.
“Calm down, Ralph,” said Joseph. “I think he gets it.”
“Well, I don’t want to think that he gets it and then he finds the gun!” shouts Ralph struggling to be set free.
“Oh, I’ve got it,” says the older woman holding the gun in her little hands.
They look over at the older woman in bewilderment, as she smiles back at them leaning against the window.
“Problem solved,” said the business man releasing Ralph’s arm.
Joseph releases Ralph’s other arm, and Omar, coughing heavily, stands to his feet preparing to fight another round.
“Bendejo,” mutters Ralph.
The door that allows passengers to switch cars, while in motion, opens slowly behind Omar. The haze gradually starts to exit out of the door into the tunnel clearing the air inside the car. Omar quickly runs out the door and opens the door to enter the conjoining car.
Joseph, Ralph, and the business man follow behind him hoping that this may be their way out.
The conjoining car’s lights flash on and off, as they all try to once again pull open the sliding doors. They continue to have the same luck with the doors and their emergency latches.
“It’s as if all the doors are sealed shut!” yells the business man kicking at the emergency latch.
“Fu…Fuck!” shouts Omar coughing and trying to open the door to reach the next conjoining car. “They’re all stuck!”
“Move.” demands Ralph to Omar, as he attempts to open the same door.
Omar backs away cautiously, not taking his eyes off Ralph.
“Where the hell is everyone else?” says Joseph to the business man.
“You know I didn’t think of that one,” says the business man. “I know we weren’t the only people to board this train. I mean, I saw everyone at the station waiting alongside with me.”
“Something just isn’t right.”
Ralph walks towards Joseph and the business man.
“We are really trapped down here, guys,” says Ralph.
“How about we all go back and try to put some plans or thoughts together,” suggests Joseph looking back into the original car. “There has to be a way off this thing.”
“Or at least a way we can communicate above ground,” says the business man, taking off his tie.
They all turn to exit the car when the conjoining car’s door slams closed behind Ralph as he exits the car. Ralph turns around and struggles to reopen the door. He begins shoving his shoulder into the door to knock it open, while Joseph and the business man pulls back on it.
“What the hell…it’s stuck!” shouts the business man.
Gloria runs up behind Ralph.
“Can’t you get it back open, Ralph?” she says, overcome with worry.
Omar begins coughing very hard and falls to his knees holding his chest.
“Hey, hey,” Joseph stops working with the door and runs over to Omar, who is gasping for air. “You alright, kid, hey!”
“Jesus Christ, give us a break, we don’t have time for asthma, too!” cries the business man continuing to pull at the door.
The lights begin flashing on and off faster, and a loud static pause is felt, while Omar grabs his neck as if someone is choking him and starts kicking violently into the air.
“Kid...He’s choking…HE’S CHOKING!” yells Joseph to the business man.
Omar sits up and forcefully pushes Joseph into the business man, causing him to hits his head against the glass and cracking it. Joseph, stunned from the powerful blow, weakly lifts up his heads and watches as Omar begins to double in size.
“What…what…” stutters Joseph looking on.
Omar’s eyes are blood shot red and he is drooling heavily out of his mouth onto himself. He sniffs the air and takes notice of Joseph and the business man lying on the floor. Joseph feels the frustration of Omar burning inside him and fear sets deep into his heart. Omar throws his head back and releases a demonic roar.