Yep, It’s that time again. Terribleminds flash fiction challenge.
This week, we followed a link to some peculiar photos taken from behind the Iron Curtain…that’s Russia, incase there’s a place in Amsterdam called the Iron Curtain, I can assure you this is not that kind of post.
Anyway I chose #17 as my inspiration…Enjoy!
Strangers on a Train
‘She had Tit’s like prize winning pumpkins!’ he extended his hands out in front of him as a visual aid. Chris smiled; shaking his head
‘Toby, every woman you’ve ever had, seems to have a massive rack’
‘I swear’ he put his hand on his chest ‘scouts honour’
they both began to laugh. Chris looked around the tube carriage. No one had seemed bothered by Toby’s rather public rendition of his Thursday night, apart from an old lady, who looked like she lived in Knightsbridge, owned a few cats; which Chris imagined she treated better than her Husband. She sat, stern faced, not looking at them. Her bag was large, filling her lap; other than her head, only her gloves could be seen over the top of it, clasping the handle. Toby tapped him on the shoulder, and did an uncanny impression of her. Chris felt her eyes dart toward them and they began to chuckle, only stopping when she got off at the next stop. It was at this point that Chris noticed something, something he was sure he should have noticed sooner.
In the corner of the carriage, standing just beside the door was a woman. She was dressed all in black; her lank hair and lipstick, her knee high boots, fishnet tights, the raggedy flowing skirt, which looked like the feathers of a few dead ravens. She wore a decretive headband, it protruded slender black horns; strangest of all was her pale white face.
She was looking straight at him, but at the same time, past him. Chris frowned at her and turned to Toby
‘When did she get on?’
Toby looked in the direction Chris had gestured ‘Who?’
‘By the door, Dimwitt’
Toby stared over at her, then looked at Chris as though he had suggested they go for a swim in the Thames
‘You’re winding me up’ said Chris ‘The goth chick standing in the corner’
‘You need some sleep mate’ Toby said shaking his head ‘There’s nothing in that corner but a suspicious stain’
Chris looked again. The girl stood clear as day, and as ordinary as a Hippo in a bathtub.
‘This is my stop mate’ Toby said ‘See you Monday’
Chris turned and nodded; he watched Toby get off the train with most of the other passengers. He attempted to look back to the other door, where the pale faced woman had stood, and yelped in surprise to find her filling the empty seat across from him. A middle aged man reading the Financial Times looked over the rim of his glasses, his eyes full of resentment. The white faced woman stared at Chris. Her eyes were completely black, like she had been licking exotic toads. Feeling uncomfortable, Chris loosened his tie.
‘Hi’ he said
She said nothing.
‘You, off to a party?’ he asked
She said nothing. Just stared at him; Chris felt as though her eyes were swallowing him.
‘It’s rude to stare’ Chris said with a little less patience.
Still she remained silent. Feeling eyes on him, Chris turned to see the Financial Times reader staring over the rim of his glasses.
‘Can he see you?’ Chris asked her.
She shook her head, in a slow methodical manner. Chris looked back to the man; who had returned to his paper. Chris guessed he had seen queerer things on his commute. The pale faced woman got to her feet as the train rolled into the station. She walked toward the door where she had been standing.
‘Wait’ Chris got to his feet ‘where are you going?’
She extended her index finger, and began to flex it slowly toward her. The train stopped and the doors opened.
Chris followed her out of the carriage. She walked in the opposite direction to everyone else who exited the train. ‘Hey!’ Chris called after her ‘Where are you going, the exit’s this way.’ She continued to walk on. Chris took a deep breath and followed her. The train clattered out of the station, while the pale faced woman walked toward the mouth of the tunnel.
‘You can’t go down there’ called Chris as he watched her walk into the dark. Against his better judgement, he followed. Chris found her in the dim, red tinged light of the tunnel. She held open a maintenance door, gesturing for him to go in. Chris frowned, his feet were carrying him through the door before he fully thought it through; a recurring problem in his life.
The door shut behind him, and Chris found himself in a dark room; it was tinged red by a caged light that hung on the wall. The drip of a water leak could be heard amongst the hum of electrical wiring.
the rasping voice came from the darkest corner of the room, where the red light could not reach. Chris squinted, but could not make out the source
the reply was a dull clunk, followed by another, and then another; until from out of the darkness Chris could make out the figure of a small man, supported by a walking stick, he was hunched over beneath his brown hooded robe.
Chris could still not define him, but he was certain he did not know him
‘How do you know my name?’ he said ‘Who are you?’
‘I’m the gatekeeper Christopher’
‘The wha – ’
‘Gatekeeper’ the old man cut in ‘you’ve already met, Viola’
Chris turned to see the woman from the train, her face glowing like a full moon in the darkness. He was sure he had entered the room alone, when the Gatekeeper commandeered his attention
‘You have a debt to pay Christopher’
‘What?’ Chris said ‘I don’t even know you’
‘True’ the Gatekeeper agreed ‘But that does not change the debt that you owe’
Chris frowned ‘I don’t owe anyone any money, least of all an old cripple and a’ he gestured to the pale faced woman ‘whatever that is’
‘True’ the Gatekeeper said in agreement.
‘So what the fuck is this all about?’ Chris spat
‘There is no need for such language’ said the Gatekeeper ‘The debt belonged to your father’
Chris sighed, shaking his head ‘I barely know the man’ he said
‘True’ said the Gatekeeper
‘He’s a dead beat’ Chris said this to himself mostly
‘Some of this is true’ said the Gatekeeper
‘Here, this is all I have on me’ Chris reached into his pocket and pulled out a few folded notes. After counting them he said ‘Here, there’s eighty quid’
‘I’m afraid this is a different kind of debt’ said the Gatekeeper
‘Well, that’s all you’re getting from me’ Chris said throwing the money before the old man’s feet. ‘The rest he can pay himself’
‘How so?’ asked the Gatekeeper
‘I don’t know, I don’t care’ Chris said ‘not my problem’
‘Dead men cannot pay debts’ said the Gatekeeper
‘Wha –’ he stammered ‘dead…he’s dead?’
‘you said so yourself’
‘what, when?’ said Chris
‘you said he’s a dead beat’
‘I meant he’s useless!’
‘Well yes’ said the Gatekeeper ‘he’s dead’
Chris felt overwhelmed; he may have loathed his father, a man who was no more than a shadow in his life; but his mouth was dry, he found it hard to swallow, though he put this down to the tennis ball that had materialised in his throat.
‘So’ said the Gatekeeper ‘you are now the owner of the debt’
Chris looked at the man as though he had suggested they play twister. ‘Fuck you’ he spat ‘and fuck your debt!’ Chris made to walk away; but found himself face to face with Viola; her onyx like eyes glinted in the dark.
‘I’m afraid, Christopher’ said the Gatekeeper ‘in the Underworld, debts are always repaid’
Chris looked round at the old man and said ‘yeah?…make me’
The Gatekeeper shrugged and said ‘Very well, Viola’
Chris watched as the pale face of the woman turned – instantaneously – from placid, to what Chris could only compare with an eighty year old vagina, with teeth. Whether it was a blow to the head, karate chop to the neck or the sudden shock of what he saw; Chris passed out.