Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Escape (01/02/06)
TITLE: Alone Underground
By Kyle Chezum
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She leapt to her feet, slipping on the metal floor, which, she realized, was actually the wall of the subway. It’s on it’s side! The train flipped over!
Water was coming in from somewhere. Everything was wet. Trey tried to get her bearings, but it was too dark. “Help! Can anyone hear me?”
She had been alone when she’d gotten on, she remembered—the last run of the night. There was no driver; the stops were automated. She’d taken a seat near the back, heard the doors hiss closed, and fallen asleep. Alone.
That raucous, piercing scream hadn’t let up. It sounded strange—not human.
She stumbled forward, moving along the rows of seats that jutted out horizontally from what should have been the floor. She realized she was walking on the car windows. Her shoes were soaked. Mud and water swirled in through cracks, driven by a fierce current beneath. Some of the glass had already shattered out. How much was left? Would it hold her weight?
Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Find the door. Climb out. She willed herself to breathe slowly and concentrate on not slipping in the raging mud. But it was getting deeper—
That scream—that scream, make it stop—
It was coming from all around her. She looked up, trying to find some light. The far wall had become the ceiling, and through the upturned windows she could see chunks of concrete and girders plummeting downward. That horrible shriek was the rending of metal as the weight of the fallen rocks slowly twisted the upper wall inward.
The tunnel was collapsing, and it was crushing the subway like a soda can.
Trey screamed—and felt the glass beneath her give way. She dropped down into the cold murk beneath the train, flailing to grab hold of something. Her sweatshirt snagged on the jagged edge of the window, and without thinking she dug her fingers into the sill. Pain tore up her arms. She bit her lip and pulled against the current, trying to wrestle herself back up into the train. No good. The glass sliced through her fingers and she went under again.
Something grabbed her from above. A hand. Someone was lifting her up out of the mud, out of the current. She broke the surface and was back inside the train. She looked up. A man in a black beanie hat and torn cargo pants had her by the arm. He was balanced between the seats, up off the floor. “You okay?”
Trey nodded and climbed up beside him. They were crouched on the edges of the seats, between the rows. The windows below them were completely gone, open to the torrent outside. “Why isn’t the train sinking?”
“Something knocked out the bottom of the tunnel here, but the far end is still intact. Come on.”
He crawled from seat to seat, heading toward the back of the train. Trey followed. The door wasn’t far. It opened upward, through what was now the roof. They climbed out. Wind whipped around them, and Trey could see flashing lights at the far end of the tunnel. She got to her feet, balancing on the metal side of the car. That endless shriek echoed all around. The ceiling—
The train rocked and rattled in the gusty darkness. Trey looked over her shoulder. The ceiling was caving in behind them, and a massive fissure was ripping through the girders above.
The man pushed her toward the light. “The tunnel! Get out, now!”
Trey ran. The train shuddered beneath her as the ceiling fell, and she slipped. Got up. Kept going. Run. Get out.
It felt like hours before she got there, panting and soaked with mud. There was an ambulance outside, paramedics, rescue workers running toward her. She turned around—
The man wasn’t with her.
The rocks—he must’ve gotten caught—or trapped—
Far away in the darkness, the subway snapped in two and slipped into the underground river. He was gone.
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