Althea was late. Very late, in fact.
As she squinted to look at her watch by the soft glow of the street lamp off the side of the pathway, she realized that once again, she would be getting a very hefty scolding from her mama when she gets home. Oh and not to forget, she'll probably also be grounded for the weekends for not following instructions and being back home before curfew; which was ridiculously early, in her opinion - I mean, who has their curfew at ten?
She sighed. Then again, it was all due to her carelessness as usual. Charlyne had organized a party at her family's penthouse to celebrate the end of terms and with all the crazy partying and drinking, Althea had conveniently and completely lost track of the time. The ten missed calls from her mother on her phone only made things worse - a solid confirmation of how screwed she would be when she face her mama tomorrow.
Althea spun around sharply, swiftly scanning her eyes across the darkness behind her. She thought she heard something. Althea squirmed and quickened her footsteps, clutching her handbag closer to her body and tightening the hold of her umbrella on her left hand. Well, it wasn't raining but you never know when something - or someone - would just pop up in front of you. That's what mama always said anyway; "Al, (her mama always called her Al while her papa always called her Thea. It's a family thing. Most people thought that it was kind of weird at first, granted, but they eventually got used to it just as she did) when someone appears in front of you without warning, hit them hard with the umbrella then run. If they don't let you run, kick them where it hurts. But if it's a girl then I guess you'll just have to continue hitting them with the umbrella till they give in. Unless they have a knife or a gun, then give them all your money and don't try to fight them. Then run. Oh but if they want to rape you or sell you off to be some prostitute, then don't care about the knife and just hit them and kick them till… "
A brief smile formed on Althea's face as she remembered. She used to think mama's thinking was a bit exaggerated - and not to mention sadistic - but now, as she stole another glance behind and to the two sides of her, she began to think that her mama's advice might come to good use after all.
Or, then again, maybe she was just imagining things.
She shouldn't have chosen to go home alone though. But all of her friends went in different directions - she was the only loner who lived in the northern part of town - and she didn't want to bother those whose parents were fetching; it would be awkward in the car and she hated awkwardness to the very core. Besides, it was just a ten minute walk to the train station from Charlyne's house anyway. Speaking of which, she felt as though she had been walking for already more than ten minutes, but why was there still no sign of the train station; why couldn't she see any light ahead? The only light came from the weak glow of the streetlamps which seemed to get even weaker by the minute...
She picked up her pace.
Ah, she could see the light of the train station now, glowing invitingly in the midst of the shadowy trees just a few metres away right after she turned a corner. Anxious to leave the darkness behind her, she hurried on, ignoring the whispering of the trees around her as the wind picked up. There's probably going to be a storm tonight.
And there it was again; that sound. This time, she was almost certain that it was the sound of footsteps. Without turning around, Althea sprinted the last few metres before stopping abruptly in the warm glow of lights inside the train station, slightly out of breath and her heart racing. She turned around and peered back into the darkness where she came from, noticing that like before, there was nothing there. Althea shuddered; she would definitely be hitching a ride next time. The trees, shrouded in darkness, shook with the wind again, and the whispering of their leaves seemed to taunt her.
Althea reached into her handbag to take out her wallet. Her footsteps echoed in the station, ringing in her ears eerily. She purposely lightened her steps. The station was abnormally quiet, that being no surprise as she once again, looked at her watch: 11.55pm. She should be able to catch the last train.
Althea sighed again as her mama's face flashed for a moment in front of her eyes. Mama would be so so mad.
The sharp beep of the machine that sounded after she tapped her card on the scanner at the gate scared her, causing her to jump before scurrying past the opened metal gate, shaking her head.
Althea, she chided herself, what's wrong with you today, acting all scared and paranoid.
Althea stood to the side of the escalator going up to the main train platform. Halfway through, she heard the audible 'clomp' of someone stepping onto the bottom of the escalator. She turned behind curiously then spun forward again almost immediately, her heart pounding so loudly that it was all her ears could hear. No one was behind her...
The escalator reached the train platform.
Oh, there was somebody here after all. Thank goodness. Althea breathed a sigh of relief and her helicopter heartbeat slowed down a tad. Althea walked towards the far end of the train platform, paying close attention to the man standing on the opposite side of the platform, his body slanted towards her. One arm was tightly wrapped around his torso and his head was bent, as though in pain, his auburn red hair falling in short, curly locks across his neck. From where she was standing, she could just see his hand trembling as he anxiously tried to press the right buttons on his phone. Then he seemed to have lost grip of his phone as it fell onto the floor with a dull 'clank', its battery falling out of the opened casing at the same time.
"Damn it." Althea heard him swear weakly as he crouched down to gather the separated parts of his phone. But his trembling hands couldn't grab hold of the parts and fit them together again. He inhaled sharply and dropped the phone and its parts back onto the ground. Then he stopped moving.
"Are you okay?" Althea asked curiously, but cautiously as she started to walk towards him. She squatted down beside him and tilted her head sideways to try to look at his face properly."Do you need me to call the ambulance or-"
"Go away, everyone." The man mumbled almost inaudibly, still unmoving.
"What?" Althea placed her head closer. She wasn't sure she heard what he said. What did he mean by 'everyone'? Althea looked to her left and right – she was the only one at the platform now other than him!
"JUST GO AWAY!" the man snarled and snapped his head up to glare at her, his eyes unfocused and filled with desperation. Althea stumbled backwards in shock, only just managing to prevent herself from falling flat on her butt by instinctively placing both her hands on the floor behind her. His chest rose sharply as he took yet another deep painful breath, resulting in a throaty cough.
"It looks serious; let me call the ambulance for you first okay?" Althea reached her hand into her handbag for her phone as a cold hand clasped onto her wrist. She looked up, surprised. The man shook his head slowly and pointed one trembling finger towards the other end of the train platform.
"Just. Board. The. Train." He gritted through his teeth, spitting each word out as though it required every ounce of his energy to do so. Then, as though on cue, a rumble sounded as the train pulled into the station.
I'm okay. Go. He mouthed and weakly gestured for Althea to get into the train. He looked to his left and right and did the same thing, talking to the air beside him as though someone was there. Then he went back to being still, like a cold, unmoving statue.
Althea stared at him incoherently and finally made sense of it all - she must have had spent the last two minutes talking to some psychopath. And he even touched her, oh god. Their eyes met at that moment and the side of his mouth lifted up to what was supposed to be a smile, but suddenly seemed like the grimace of a madman's to her. Althea shuddered and focused her attention back to the train zooming by, shaking her head and rubbing the arm he had touched as though she could erase the feeling it left there.
The cabin doors swooshed open, blasting cold air into her face. As she stepped into the empty cabin, she remembered seeing the time on the large station clock hanging at the top near the escalators.
The second hand ticked and the minute hand reached twelve.
The cabin doors whooshed shut and the train rumbled forward.
Althea peered out of the windows worriedly as the train pulled out of the station.
The platform was empty.
A/N: Hey there, thanks for reading, really (: I hope the future chapters will be up to your expectations. It'll be unique and unlike what you've ever read before (I'll try to make it that way) xD
Feel free to leave a review or pm anytime, they will be much appreciated (:
Oh and please be rest assured that this is not a ghost story hahahahaha xD