Saturday, August 31, 2013

Panic Station: A Tale of Terror

Here's another short story based on lyrics! See if you can guess what song this is:

An abandoned tube station was, perhaps, not the most normal place for a first date. But hey, Donna was quirky and different like that, and if that's what she wanted, Alex could dig it. 
He'd fancied her for months, but had never plucked up the courage to speak to her until three days ago. He'd asked if he could walk her home from school, and she'd  clearly picked up on his feelings.She'd smiled coyly, flipped her waist-length black hair over her shoulder and looked him straight in the eye. 
"If you want to ask me out, just do it." Her grey eyes flashed, and she winked one heavily made-up eyelid at him.
Alex hadn't known what to say. "I-I-I ... I mean..."
She had grinned widely and said "Friday night, the old Panic Station, meet me there."

Panic Station. Between Burnt Oak and Edgeware, on the outskirts of the Northern Line, Panic had been closed since before Alex and Donna were born. It was something of an unspoken rule that you just didn't go down there: rumours ranged from rat infestations to crowd of the homeless, to the occasional crazy person who thought it was haunted. In reality, it was probably just dark, cold and flooded, but no one had taken the chance and gone to check it out. 

But instead of meeting down the local pub or on Hampstead Heath, Donna had wanted to meet Alex at Panic Station. And Alex ignored his misgivings, fastened the buttons on his coat and headed out the door, calling a vague "See you later, I'm meeting some friends" to his mom and dad, who were seated at the kitchen table. 

Being mid-January, the winter freeze had long ago set in, and Alex's breath came out in wreaths of steam and he jogged down the main street. It was 6.55pm, and Donna had wanted to meet at 7pm - he couldn't risk being late for his first real date ever. He picked up the pace as the entrance to the old station came into view.

Alex's high-top sneakers thudded heavily on the stairs down to the platforms, the rhythm almost formed a beat in his head, and it helped to calm his nerves. She was only a girl. He had no reason whatsoever to be nervous.

"Donna...?" He called. His voice echoed into the silence Donna-na-na-na-na.
No answer. He checked his watch: 7.10pm. It was fine, she was just running a bit late. Maybe girls always ran late.

It was creepy down here, though. And freezing. Shivers ran down Alex's spine, and he began to shake uncontrollably. He rubbed his hands together to warm them up, but it was as though he couldn't even feel them touching. And he couldn't shake the feeling that he was being watched...

"Donna? Is that you?" He leaned up against a wall, acting casual. No answer, but a scuttling noise made him jump. It sounded like multiple, light-footed people. There was, without a doubt, something coming towards him from the depths of the station. What if it was some crazy man with an axe, or a gun? Alex pressed his body against the wall, trying to make himself invisible. He tried to breathe softly, but his heart was pounding out a symphony is his chest. Surely anyone could hear it. The noise kept coming towards him... suddenly it was on top if him. Alex closed his eyes and tried to stop his body from shaking. Something light brushed his leg and he jumped. OH GOOD GOD, IT HAD EYES.

He could have sworn! The thing that had touched him had eyes! Not just two eyes, either. It had been low to the ground, and a reflection of light from outside had caught in its eyes - it had looked like a spider but surely no spider in the world was a foot tall. It was all part of the nerves - the dark was playing tricks on Alex's mind. It had surely just been an old crisp packet, blown towards him by the wind, or at a push, maybe it had been a rat.

That was when everything lit up.

For a second, Alex's mind turned off, he couldn't understand what was happening... and then he heard the familiar rumble of the train, and realised where the light was coming from. But that made no sense! When Panic Station had been closed, they'd dug up half the Northern Line and re-routed the train tracks - the station wasn't just closed: it wasn't on the line anymore! In fact, the Southern end of the platforms had been bricked up - there was no way for a train to pass through at all. Then how could it be that a red and white London Underground train was now speeding towards the platform - in a Southerly direction - with no signs of stopping? 

Alex stared, transfixed, as the train drew level with him. It seemed to be empty. He watched it pass the platform, and now the front was approaching the wall, the back was just passing him... Alex whipped his head around when a flash of movement in the rear window caught his eye. A small skeleton was propped up at the back of the train, eyeless sockets seeming to mock Alex, standing alone on the platform. Alex felt a scream build up in his throat and quickly tried to suppress it. Instead, he let out a feeble squeak and shut his eyes, telling himself that the skeleton had been someone's idea of a funny joke. It was exactly the same as the one in the bio labs at school: nothing to be afraid of.

Alex opened his eyes in complete darkness. The train had disappeared through the brick wall on the other side. He shook his head and tried to focus his mind. Obviously the wall only covered part of the exit from the platform. A train simply could not pass through a wall and disappear. The skeleton was a toy, and the wall had been broken down, that was the only explanation. The time was, however, high to get out of here. He would call Donna as soon as he got home and ask to re-schedule. 

He started towards the stairs, he could just make them out, now that his eyes had adjusted to the darkness. A deep growling sound stopped him in his tracks. To his right, he could hear something pacing, it seemed to have claws, which clicked against the old cement floors. It was also growling in a regular rhythm.

Alex inched his way towards to exit, holding his breath and praying that his footsteps were light enough for the creature to miss. He was about ten steps from the staircase when the growling suddenly stopped. The creature's feet clicked in an irregular pattern: it was turning to face him. RUN!
Adrenaline kicking in, Alex sprinted to the staircase, and took the steps 3 at a time, until he emerged, panting back on the main road. To his surprise, Donna stood across the road, idly twisting her hair between her fingers and looking slightly bored. When she caught sight of him, however, she threw her head back in a terrible laugh.

"Donna! Something's down there, Donna, we have to get OUT OF HERE!" Alex screamed, panicking.

She smiled widely, eyes full of life. "I know what's down there, Alex. If we were a couple, I'd have to hang around with all your friends at school... I was just making sure that you got along with mine."

* 'Panic Station' - Muse.

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