Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for mature content.
Thunder rumbled overhead. The young man stood motionless as he waited for the evening train. In his left hand, a small sheathed umbrella – the kind that unravelled with the swipe of a velcro tab. In his right hand he held the strap of a satchel bag, bulging with papers and a hefty notebook. A stout woman passed him offering only a glance as she trotted briskly towards the far end of the lonely platform, a yellow notice in hand. The unforgivingly rapid clack-clack of her stapler yielded to the closer sound of heels on concrete. A couple moved along the platform in the opposite direction; a middle-aged woman guiltlessly clutching her elderly man as they followed her fervent steps through bites of the cold Autumn air, towards the distant glow of an ATM.
The young man seemed oblivious to the platform. His gaze fixed on the ground, even the serenity of his still feet was only a slight moment of intermission prior to the next act. Ants marched in line, driven by purpose that once may have intrigued the man, but he simply sighed, resorting only to a quick glance at his surroundings. Then, head kept low, he resumed his scrutiny of the split pavement and began clicking his tongue. Each second hauled the home-bound train closer.
* * *
The young man’s creased brow was illuminated by the glow of the notebook, the only source of light in his dark room. His chair squealed as he edged his damp face up to a mere inch from the screen. Had he typed that line? The document was open long before he left the train, but not once had he pressed a key. He widened his eyes, refusing the strain and weariness that fought to pull them closed. The sound of rain and now roaring thunder – when it had begun he was not aware – did not aid his cause. Oddly enough, despite the eerie message displayed on his laptop and the discomfort of his still-damp clothing, the weather calmed him.
The young man’s attention eventually returned to his work, looping the rope, pulling it through, tying it off within the darkness of his room. Within the confines of his bedroom, the man normally felt at peace, however the unexplainable words scratched at his thoughts. Little time had passed before the click-click taka-taka of the keys on his notebook returned, guiding a chill up the length of his back. From where he sat, the young man could see the words there beneath the previous message:
No way out,
The insertion point – the line that marked the position of the cursor, the one that foresaw where each letter, number or symbol would appear next, the line that kept everything in order – it hovered there, blinking, and it followed the nervous rhythm of the young man’s tongue, cluck, cluck, cluck. He sat there, simply staring, for only a few more moments than one could count, before he realised what he was doing. He stopped clicking his tongue. The only sounds now: the gentle pattering of rain outside and the soft hums of his computer.
Time passed, and cautiously, the man once more edged his chair closer to the desk. His right hand moved towards the notebook and, bearing the grimace of a man being tortured horrendously, he pressed a single key.
A shrill wail instantly invaded the room, saturating the silent air with ethereal agony. The young man rose to his feet suddenly, covering his ears with his shaking hands. He knew her – the woman - he surely couldn’t bear to think of it? Yet, the thought was there. His body shuddered as guilt began to wrench his conscience.
Then, almost as suddenly as it began, the noise ended – replaced by the same click-click taka-taka of his keyboard now quickly typing. He once more stole a glance from between his fingers at the glowing screen.
That was it.
The young man left the notebook, some unseen entity still typing away at it, and went back to work. He shut his eyes, trying to imagine a peaceful place, but the typing only became more frantic; click-click taka-taka. He clenched his eyes, still fumbling blindly with the rope, while the weather outside began to stir once more. Peals of clashing thunder overwhelmed the sound of rain sheets slamming against the roof.
The young man worked through it all. Finally finished, he stood on his chair. He did so, not with a proud arrogance, but with a calm composure. With his foot, he closed the notebook which had long ceased typing – but not before glimpsing the final line: