The Junction
Published in

The Junction

The Waystation [Part 2 of 6]

Weird Fantasy / 1036 words

NOTE: Missed Part 1? You can read it here.

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Two men followed me for a while — at least, I think they were following me — but I ditched them in the crowd. I am now resting at a bar, sipping some coffee. The Necker hospital will be my next stop. I need to speak with Sophie…

But I am getting ahead of myself.

When we could not find my sister, I resolved to investigate the mystery train. But I was unwilling to sign their contract. I figured if I could cheat the system, and get on the train without a ticket, I might have found a loophole for my parents to use in case I vanished too… as I guessed was likely to happen.

The result, however, was uneventful and somewhat anticlimactic.

There were no controls aboard the train, nor when I got off, and I arrived on time at my destination. I thought I was followed, when I left the station — but I may have imagined it, as I was expecting trouble.

Still, there is something that bothers me, though I cannot quite seem to make out what it is. I would describe it mostly as a feeling — of being observed, certainly, but it’s not just that. It is a general sense of unease…

I tried to call home — from my cell, first, then from a payphone. In both cases, no one picked up. Nor did I get the answering machine, which I found somewhat odd. But perhaps we forgot to turn it on this morning.

I will observe the crowd for a moment as it mills about… I need to make sure that I’m not being watched.

***

I believe the coast is clear.

Time to visit Sophie.

***

There is something terribly wrong here…

I have spent the entire day searching for Angela’s friend, but I was unable to track her down. And that is only a small part of it.

The hospital told me she had left the premises and gone back home. I could not get an address from them — “Confidentiality, sir, you understand?” — but got it off the internet from a nearby cybercafe.

No one answered when I rang at her door. The neighbors hadn’t seen her in weeks, and her mailbox looked full. I was directed to her parents, who live two blocks away.

On my way, I stopped by my dad’s office — so I could give him some news and let him know I was fine — but he was away for an important business meeting. I left him a message and headed out.

Sophie’s mother invited me in. Served me coffee. Explained her daughter had gone to the country for a few days to get some fresh air. It would do her good. She would stay with her grandparents. And no, she had not seen or heard from Angela — and who was Angela, again?

Although the lady was very polite and tried to be helpful, she seemed somewhat distant, cold. And how could she not know of my sister? The two had been best friends for years!

As I left the house, it suddenly struck me. I had seen that same coldness all around me without really noticing it — at the coffee shop, at the hospital, at the cybercafe, at the bank…

I watched more closely as people walked by. Sure enough, they all had that same blank expression on their faces. No smiling, no frowning, no anger, no fear, no weariness… no emotions at all.

It was troubling.

But what did it mean? I could not understand.

I had brought a picture of my sister, so I went back to the station and showed it to some shops in the area. I was met with blank stares and empty words. No one had seen her, nobody knew anything.

Frustrated, I decided I’d try to ride another train in the opposite direction…

Would you believe me if I told you I could not get into the station, despite seeing others walk through the door with no trouble? It was the most bizarre and infuriating experience of my life. There was an obvious opening, but when I’d try to go through, it felt like I was hitting a wall — albeit a transparent one.

That’s when I saw them.

Two pale-faced, black-clad men with furrowed brows. They both had a cane each and wore top hats. They stood still on the opposite sidewalk and stared straight at me.

I spun around and hurried down a nearby street. I checked over my shoulder but did not see them following me. And yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched.

After a few twists and turns, I slowed down and took a deep breath. What was I going to do next? I was running out of options. Should I just give up and take the regular train back home?

As I was asking myself this important question, I turned a corner and came face to face with the two men. They were standing there, staring, as if they’d been waiting for me.

I jumped back and ran in the opposite direction. Looking over my shoulder, I saw they hadn’t moved, though they were still watching me…

What the hell was going on?

I turned another corner… and there they were again! Waiting for me with their blank expressions.

Out of desperation, I hurried down another street and entered a store.

“Could you please call the police? Two psychos are following me…”

The clerk looked at me with that now-familiar blank expression.

“The phone is out of service,” he said calmly.

I noticed some movement from the corner of my eye. When I turned to look, I saw the two men moving toward me, as if they had already been in the store… How was this possible?

They each placed a hand on one of my shoulders and before I knew it, the surrounding scenery had changed.

We were now in a white-walled room with a small table and two chairs. On one of them sat a silver-haired woman. She looked up and smiled. I found that even more terrifying in this nonsensical world of blatant blandness.

“I believe we need to talk,” she said. “Please, have a seat.”

[TO BE CONTINUED]

Read Part 3 here.

Text © 2021 by Alex S. Garcia.

Image by John Ioannidis from Pixabay, edited by me.

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Alex S. Garcia

Alex S. Garcia

I’m a bilingual writer, translator, and lyricist from France. I post free genre stories every month @ xenin.substack.com. Author website: alexsgarcia.com.