Subway Stop

Last year, my friend Jane and I studied art history for a semester in Rome, Italy. After studying for exams at the library late one night we decided to walk to the subway and take it home instead of the usual bus route. This kind of creeped us out because the Roman subway is empty and desolate in the evenings. Plus, the platforms and tunnels are black, the lights are dim, and we never saw security guards, etc. down there. So needless to say we were apprehensive but we wanted to get home quickly so we decided to risk it.

When we got there, we wanted to buy tickets but all 4 automatic machines were out of order, which was kind of weird. So we had no choice but to walk through the turnstiles, (which is possible in Rome).

We headed towards the escalator, but at our approach its soothing hum suddenly stopped and it grinded to a halt. We figured this was because the last train was about to come and they didn’t want any more people using the escalator.

Because of this we raced down the steps to ensure we wouldn’t miss it, but as we neared the bottom, the escalator suddenly lurched to life and made us lose our balance.

Jane was ahead of me and took the brunt of the force, falling and scraping her knee. I helped her up and we cursed the Italian subway system for their stupid escalators. It was then that we felt a cold gust of wind, signifying that the train was on its way. Jane brushed herself off and we got ready to get on. But when it came into view we realized it was going too quickly and unfortunately it was one of those empty "out of order" trains on its way to the end of the line. All the compartments of the train were dark, and we were just about to sit down and wait for the next one, when we noticed the last compartment was illuminated. It was at that moment that we saw the most horrific vision of our lives. There in the dead center of the compartment sat a tall, old man. He was dressed in a black suit and tie and he sat extremely erect with his hands on his knees. But what really got to us was the fact that he wore sunglasses at night and in the subway. Even though we couldn’t tell if he was focusing on us (due to the sunglasses) his entire being radiated malevolence. Almost hypnotized we fixed our gaze on the retreating figure and then on the retreating car. Through the back window we saw him in profile as the train sped away and to our horror his head was now turned to us, silent and motionless. Then he was gone.

We tried to come up with some kind of logical explanation. Could he have been a friend or family member of the driver? But if so, why was he sitting in the last compartment? Why was he wearing sunglasses? And why this air of palpable evil?

A few minutes later, the next train arrived, and to our relief, it was full of Romans going home for the night. I realize that the terrible man we saw could have just as well have been a real person, but something tells Jane and I that our experience really began with the malfunctioning ticket machines and the seemingly hostile escalator. And you will never be able to persuade us from our certainty that that old man was not among the living.

Submitted by Suzanne, CA, USA