Horror and Thriller Fiction posted January 9, 2012


Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
When your only option is no option at all

Travelling to Nowhere

by Fleedleflump


The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.
The author has placed a warning on this post for language.
The author has placed a warning on this post for sexual content.
NOTE: PLEASE HEED THE CONTENT WARNINGS

The lights of the city filled the flitting dark like motes of hope amidst an oil slick of oppression. I took a sip from the can clutched between my palms, wincing at the deeply potent flavour. Special Brew; province of tramps and the hopelessly lonely. A glance around the train carriage won me several disapproving scowls, one or two smiles - wan with pity - and a whole slew of carefully maintained ignorance. I slurped another rancid mouthful and turned my face back to the window, letting the chill of commuter glass suffuse my forehead.

What's the point, anyway?

Sights and lives passed me by, mere blurs against the slur of my breathing. This wasn't the last train home, but it was close. Still, it didn't seem late enough. The background burr of metal wheels grinding rails rose up through my feet in vibration and sounds, interrupted regularly by the callump of rail transitions. The classical music washing across my eardrums did nothing to help. Vivaldi teased a tear from the corner of my eye and I wondered with something like panic if it was possible to stop thinking.

A pre-recorded voice rescued me from the downward spiral of my reverie as it crackled across the carriage speakers to announce my station. Gravity shifted sideways as the train's brakes kicked in, and I used the inertia to help me upright. I staggered to the doors in readiness, raising my half-full Special Brew to my lips. The smell hit me before I could drink, and suddenly the taste on the back of my tongue was horrifying. I squeezed the can half-flat, ignoring the sludge that spat across my coat from the top, and dropped it into the litter bin beside the train door.

With a bing and a hiss, the doors disgorged me onto a platform as cold as a glacier. An unsteady wind blustered around my ears with whispers of winter, setting atmosphere for the colourless expanse of my barely-lit local train station. A single fellow commuter alighted, and despite my frame of mind, I took momentary comfort from the arms-length company. After a brief glance at me across a shoulder - so fleeting I couldn't even decide their gender - they turned from the platform and headed to the high street. I entered the shadow-drenched car park alone.

I probably shouldn't drive.

That thought made me snort in mock amusement. This would hardly be the first time I'd veered home, relying on luck more than judgement to see me through the journey. Still, a nagging doubt gave me more than the usual amount of apprehension. Rather than think about it, I concentrated on placing my feet repeatedly, falling back on 'autopilot'. It'd got me home before.

When I saw the group of figures huddled around my lonely car, though, I stumbled to a halt. Were they just youths, hanging around the nearest seat-height object while they got high and reaffirmed each other's insecurities? No; not skinny enough as a rule. These silhouettes were full-grown and, if I was any judge, exclusively male. A weighty fear birthed in my stomach right then, banishing the drunken haze from my mind. Even in the most confident of situations, I was no good at confrontation - I tended either to back down or simply avoid the argument. When someone's sitting on your car bonnet, avoidance is problematic.

Feeling cowardly, I sneaked back to the train platform and pulled out my phone, tapping on the contact for 'Home'.

"What?" My wife's tone was waspish, and she always managed to sting.

"I got a problem at the station, Darl. Can you come pick me up?"

A curt sigh. "Are you drunk again?

"It's not that, I-"

"I'm already in bed - you know how late it is, and you promised to be home by eight. Make your own bloody way home."

"But you never want me at home - all you do is complain when I'm around!" I realised after the second word she'd hung up, but the resentful voice inside made me finish my piece regardless. I looked at my blank phone screen. "Thanks, Darl. Your charity is boundless."

It would take the best part of an hour to walk home, so I decided to just man up and project a confidence I hadn't felt in years. I headed back to the car park. The tiny hope that my tormentors might have moved on was dashed almost immediately. They were still gathered around my car - four of them, I thought. I wanted to believe they were just wasting time, but my instincts disagreed.

As I neared and one of them noticed me, a determined sense of purpose washed over me. My life was a heap of shit on a runaway train, and the tracks ahead were broken. What could these guys do to me that could make that any worse?

"Evening, fellas," I said, trying to sound jovial. "Mind if I get to my car?"

That caused a chorus of laughs. Apparently, I was an undiscovered comedian.

"Yeah, Boo, we mind," said one of them - a guy small in stature but big in swagger. His face held the carefree disdain of a man utterly convinced of his own power.

Another guy stepped forward - large built, with an open face that looked slightly baffled. His bare arms looked like stockings stuffed with cannon balls; whatever his face looked like, he was physically intimidating. "Hey, I don't like him, Ten. Can we get someone else?"

"Yo, shut up, Five. We committed, now."

The fear was turning my guts into a corkscrew, but I tried for a resigned tone. "Come on, guys. Can I just get my car?"

The first speaker looked at me again while the others edged around me, any one of them strong enough to take me in a fight, I was sure. "That depends, Boo. What you going to do for us?"

The night felt silent around me as ramifications fired through my thoughts. "I'm skint," I heard myself say. "Spent my last pennies on a tinny. I got nothing for you to take."

"Oh, we'll find something, Boo."

"My name's Harry." My voice was a whisper through squeezed shut eyes, but I still heard the kiss he blew me in response.

Before I could say anything else, a weight crashed into me from behind. I staggered forward, feeling my balance topple, and skinned my palms as I smashed into the ground on my hands and knees. I had no time to move before a bunch of meaty fingers curled into my hair and yanked my head up. The guy holding me straddled me and sat on my back, just like my brother used to when we played 'horsey' as children.

The diminutive figure of Ten stepped in front of me. "Yeah, that's about the right height," he said, unzipping his fly. "Hold him tight, Seven. Don't let him think he's going anywhere." He dug in his trousers with one hand while he flipped open a switch-blade with the other. I tried to move, but Seven was one strong bastard, his bent knees clamping round my rib cage. My scalp felt on fire and even tiny motions of my head sent agony searing through my brain. I gritted my teeth and tried anyway, shifting my weight one way and another, but it did no good.

"Here ya go," muttered Ten. The cold air wasn't cold enough, because he was hard like a metal dildo, his end wavering in front of my eyes. He laughed at my expression and slapped it against my face a few times. "You got to fluff me, Boo. Otherwise, how'm I meant to fuck you, huh?"

I growled through pursed lips and shook my head. I could feel the strain in my jaw muscles and the tendons on my neck standing proud against my skin.

He drew a sticky line across my brow. "Suck it, bitch, or I'll open your cheek up and fuck that instead." He put the shining knife blade against my face for emphasis.

I was breathing so hard that snot spattered from my nose across my tight mouth, but it didn't seem to put him off. I shook my head again minutely. I didn't think I could make my mouth open, even if I felt willing.

"Don't make me, Boo." The blade pressed at my cheek, hard enough to hurt but not quite cut.

Was I going to have to do this? Could I, to save myself pain? I stared at the bulging head, so close to my eyes I couldn't focus on it. People do this every day. It's a normal part of relationships. Somehow that thought didn't help. As another globule of transparent fluid left a snail's smear on my cheek, I sobbed inside and berated myself for ever wanting a woman to do this for me.

"Fuck this," said Seven's gruff voice from right behind my head. "I ain't waiting while you play games, Ten." Suddenly I was moving, yanked upright by violence and pain. I never regained my balance, and found myself flung forward. Gloss paint loomed in my vision and my face slammed into my car bonnet. I lifted my head, but a hand grabbed my hair and mashed my face into the metal again. I was dimly aware of other hands holding my arms over my head, one touching each wing mirror. Lost in a momentary daze, I had no chance to fight as my trousers and boxer shorts were whipped down to my ankles.

As senses returned, I went mad, flailing and jerking any way I could, hollering foul obscenities at my captors. Those holding me held on, their arms like vices, but I kept trying. My throat felt raw from my yells and every joint was numb, but I wasn't going to stop. I'd get away, one way or another, no matter how much it hurt.

Then an open hand slapped against the underside of my exposed balls. A spike of pain shot through my body to my nose, and everything turned into a sea of white agony and stiffness. For the next few moments, all the fight was constrained to my mind. It was long enough for something wet and warm to drip onto my exposed arsehole. Someone had spat on my anus, I realised. A small corner of my brain, still traitorously rational, supplied the word 'lubricant'. Revulsion swept through me, but it was banished almost immediately.

He might as well not have bothered with the spit, because his dick felt like a concrete pillar when it ground into me. Fire exploded in my abdomen as horror exploded in my mind and a tattered thought inside wanted him to spit on me again. He pulled back, then rammed forward again. I felt my seal rolling with his length, like a hair band stretched round an elephant's leg. Searing agony washed across me in waves and my stomach rose into my mouth, perhaps wanting to escape. A pool of beer and bile fountained between my teeth, bouncing from my car bonnet and splashing across my face.

My world was lost to a cacophony of panting, denting metal, cold air and white hot fear.

"Yeah," rumbled Seven's voice behind me between grunts. "You like that."

A chuckle sounded from near one of my arms. "You enjoyin' that, Seven?"

"Fuck, yeah. Mate, I ain't queer, but prison fucks up your sex life. I get out last week, my wife's pussy's looser than shit. Once you had arse-cunt, there ain't no substitute, and she won't do it." He thrust forward again and I felt like I'd choke on my own throat. "Hey, this bloke's getting' wet. I think he likes it."

"Dude, that's blood," said Ten's voice.

"Whatever."

If possible, his motions got harder. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to ignore the sound of my whimpering. A Tori Amos song came to my thoughts. She'd tried to tell me, but I hadn't understood.

It's me, and a gun,
and a man on my back,
but I haven't seen Barbados,
so I must get out of this.


I hadn't seen Barbados. Hell, I hadn't travelled further from London than Kent. Suddenly, that felt like a heinous crime. I knew right then I'd give anything to be free of this. The powers that be, whoever they were, could have my money. They could have that fucking job, the harridan at home, and all my worldly possessions. I'd give it all in a heartbeat to be sitting back on that train, travelling to nowhere.

Seven squeezed a hand in my hair and shouted in release, his balls pressing against mine as he ground hard.

Ten snorted in affront. "Man, you squirt? I don't wanna be stirring your porridge."

"Live with it," mumbled Seven, then wrenched out of me.

It wasn't a relief. The sore burning remained, but was dwarfed by a deep, bruised ache that suffused my abdomen and made breathing difficult. The guys holding my arms didn't let go, and I didn't have the will to pull my feet together. I felt the breeze cool parts of me it should never manage to touch. Was it over?

"Boo," said a whisper to my fears. "Finally we get together."

This time it was a poker, plucked from the fire to spread salt on my torn and bleeding ring. I tasted the tears dripping into my mouth and sobbed despite the revulsion I felt at my weakness. He was bigger than the last guy, and stronger; more into his work. I sobbed and retched and just concentrated on one repeating thought:

This will end. This will end. This will end.

An image of childhood spread through my mind; visions of coughing fits that seemed endless as I lay in bed. Hack after hack of pain in my throat and violent shocks against my eardrums as I lay helpless, begging my body for sleep. Then he would appear in the doorway - my dad. Never with an angry word, without a hint of frustration at being kept awake himself, he'd stride into my room in his pyjamas, a silhouette angel, cough syrup in one hand and teaspoon in the other. A visit from him always fixed the coughing fits, and I'd sleep soundly for the rest of the night. My body shuddered against the bonnet in repeating rhythm.

"Dad..."

"Yeah, I'm your daddy, Boo."

The next thing I knew, I was sliding from the bonnet. I screamed when I landed on my rump, the pain bursting through to my core like an acid enema. A boot took me in the chest and I sprawled to my back, flat out on the concrete. The face of Five loomed over me.

"I don't like him," he whined, "but I got to fuck something. It ain't fair that you two get a go and not me."

"Just do it and let's get the fuck outta here," said one of the others.

Five leaned down to stare into my face, spattered with my own vomit and slick with tears. He sniffed expansively, hawked, and spat a bole of phlegm and mucus onto my cheek. In the detached horror of the moment, I couldn't even summon the energy to wipe it off. He flicked open a knife and reached towards my face.

"I can't do it with him looking at me. Hold him down."

The blade angled towards my eyeball while strong feet crunched down on my wrists and ankles. Something welled up in my stomach. It was the core of the Earth, but made up of all the hate, anger, fear and resentment they'd put me through in the last few minutes. I couldn't escape, but suddenly I was going to try. Even though I couldn't move, I put all my energy into being somewhere else, concentrated so hard I could feel the veins extruding from my forehead. I didn't have to be here. I had to see the world. I had to thank my dad for all those nights with the cough syrup. I had to sort out my marriage and get a new fucking job. I couldn't do that if I was ruined.

A sharp point struck into my vision. I screamed long and loud, deep and hard, roaring out the most fundamental need of my being; denial.

"NO!"

The lights went out.

Silence filled the air, except there wasn't air. Blackness and the still of the grave came to my senses. For several moments, I experienced a sensation of utter nothingness, and then reality blurred.

The cold glass of the late commuter train spread its chill through my forehead. I almost dropped the can of Special Brew from its precarious cradle in my fingers as I sat bolt upright.

"No! Get the fuck off me, you motherfuckers! Get-"

Speckles of foul smelling liquid burst from the open ring pull and splashed across my hands. There was no pain - at least, not physical - just a vague numbness from the alcohol. Tuts sounded from around the carriage and several people turned subtly in their seats so as not to face me. Don't make eye contact with the loony. I knew that reaction all too well from the other side.

"Tell me that wasn't a dream," I muttered. Had I fallen asleep? It wasn't like me to do that on the train, even after a couple of beers. No, it didn't feel like sleep, and what was that strange shifting sensation I'd just experienced, as though everything went into a blur?
Had I missed my stop?

An ear-shattering ding-dong sounded through the carriage. "The next station's stop will be Havenport. Alight here for local bus services."

My station. Had I seriously dreamt that whole experience? Why would my brain do that to me? I heaved my body to its feet and clambered to the door as the train pulled to a halt. It must have been a dream; otherwise, I'd just jumped back in time to before the whole thing started. That was just silly. Still ...

I caught myself just short of dropping the half-empty drink can in the bin, and disembarked still clutching it.

Let's do things a little differently.

I waved at the other commuter who'd got off the train. They paused briefly, their shadow-cloaked face aimed my way, and then apparently decided they didn't know me and hurried off. I dug my phone from my pocket and dialled the number for home. When my wife picked up, I didn't give her time to say anything.

"Hey, Darl. Did we have a conversation like, ten minutes ago?"

"What are you talking about? Are you drunk again? Honestly, I-"

"Okay, thanks." I hung up. A strange sense of the surreal was spreading through me. I crept towards the car park, not sure if I wanted to see Ten, Seven, and their friends huddled round my car. It would confirm the continued weirdness of events, but ... Nausea washed up through my lungs and muddled my thoughts for a moment. Some memories can totally debilitate you.

They were there, huddled around my car just like before. Ignoring the violent mix of emotions broiling in my gut, I strolled towards them. I had to know, and curiosity drowned the rational part of my brain that was yelling at me to just walk the other way, to take another route home, no matter how long it took. If I walked, I'd only get moaned at for leaving the car behind. I couldn't justify it with a stupid story about jumping back in time after getting raped. It was just my mad imagination and a rare doze on the train, conspiring to confuse me.

Still, I couldn't excise those sensations from my memory. A tear welled up in my eye as I reached the group.

"Hey fellas. Can I get to my car?"

One of them approached with a swagger, and my heart leapt into my throat; it was Ten.

"Hey, Boo. What's it worth?"

I didn't have time to decide between fight or flight. I just let my instincts take over. I lunged forward, swinging the beer can as hard as I could. Ten wasn't expecting it, and my makeshift weapon obliterated his nose and lips. He went down in a spray of blood, black against the moon's illumination. As the others ran up, I raised a boot and stamped as hard as I could into Seven's knee. It folded sideways with a wet snap and he shrieked in shock and pain. I tried to swing the can into Five's face, but my feet were knocked out from under me.

Suddenly, I was in a world of caught breaths and boot soles as they kicked the fight out of me. It was all I could do to pull myself into a tight ball and hope they stopped while I still had bones left to break.

Numb and dazed, I could barely hear their voices.

"Fuck, man, we need to get you to hospital!"

"Nah, not yet," said Ten's voice, thick from his broken nose. "Not before I tear this cunt a new one. He gonna feel every inch of me tonight."

I don't remember the rest, just a morass of pain, violation, and humiliation that felt like it wouldn't end, culminating in a stunning release, just at the point where I couldn't take any more. I was a fool to have gone back. Foolish, foolish me.

The blackness came again, and this time I tried to study it, but to no avail. Before I had time to recover from my ordeal, the blur filled my senses and I was back on the train, my head pressed against the chill of the window.

I whimpered, unable to prevent a glut of sobs from shaking my frame. I upended the beer can over my mouth, draining it in a succession of gulps, and then dropped it between my feet with an empty clatter. This time the glances were equal part sympathy and disgust, with the majority still deigning not to look.

I took several large lungfuls of air and closed my eyes, trying to rationalise the maelstrom of feelings I was experiencing. Fear seemed paramount. Self-loathing was high on the list, but my anger dwarfed it as soon as I recognised the sensation. There was no way those fuckers were going to make me feel like a victim.

I looked at the rushing night outside, and made myself a promise. If I was going to get a third go at this, and it looked like I was, I was going to make them pay. Let them see if they 'reset'. Let them feel the pain and horror, and see if they got the chance to feel it all again.

I rose from my seat early, pocketing the empty can. It wasn't a great weapon, but better than nothing. A brief survey of my fellow passengers told me none of them were likely to be carrying weapons. I headed into the tiny toilet cubicle in the corner of the train carriage. Sure enough, there was a two-foot-long bar attached to the wall, designed to help those with mobility issues when sitting down and standing up. I kicked it until it came free of the wall in a cloud of splinters and dust, and stuffed it into my jacket, up under one arm.

This time, I got off the train and moved with a purpose, ignoring that lone fellow commuter. Moving quietly to the car park entrance, I sneaked myself into the shadows and crept towards my car, at the far end. I'd never had much occasion to move silently, but I felt like I did pretty well, keeping to the dark lee of the wall where the lights didn't reach. Inching forward, I was able to approach within a few metres without detection.

The group was huddled around my car, as before. They seemed self-absorbed, laughing about the plans they had, their open mouths and hooded eyes pools of blackness amidst the night. Their carefree demeanour stoked the fire in my belly, and I wrapped one sweaty fist around the pole concealed in my jacket. With the other, I pulled the beer can from my pocket. Taking two quiet breaths as violence played out in my head, I drew my arm back and threw the can up and over their heads.

As it landed with a dull metallic clatter and they turned their heads to look, I threw myself forwards, thoughts eradicated as adrenalin took over. I ran with my makeshift weapon brandished overhead, ready to strike. I got to the first of them before they'd realised anything was happening. I thought it was Seven, but it really didn't matter. The curve at the end of my metal pole came down with every ounce of strength in both my arms behind it and connected with his skull.

A damp thack sounded and his head folded slightly. Wet spots spattered my face and he went down limp. Maintaining my momentum, I barged his toppling body to the side and swung again. The end of my pole had ragged screws dangling from it where I'd knocked it violently from the wall. They tore Five's face to shreds and he squealed as he span away, turning streamers of sticky blood and fragments of tissue through the air.

All the force I'd put into the second swing spoiled my balance and I staggered, running headlong into the nameless fourth guy who'd not spoken. We went down in a struggling heap and the animal took over. When his fist swung at my face, I opened my mouth ready. His knuckles folded several teeth into my mouth, bursting them clear of my gums in shattered fragments, but I was beyond pain. Riding on a wave or sheer hate, I bit down with all my power, snarling in satisfaction as fingers crumpled between my jaws. He roared in shock, giving my hands a target. I shoved one into his mouth, grasping and yanking at his lips, his tongue, his lower jaw itself - anything to cause pain. My other hand fumbled at his eyes, thrusting and grabbing.

That's what you get, you raping motherfucker!

It was my last coherent thought, because I'd forgotten all about Ten. White hot sharpness cut between my ribs from behind and I felt a lung collapse. Coughs wracked my frame and I felt the knife plunge into my back again. My life numbed as I registered more and more stabs. Then something cut through my neck, slicing into my voice and cutting off my screams of pain.

The world went black.

This time, I wasn't surprised when the blur whipped across my vision and nausea filled me. Within moments, I was back on that train, gasping for breath and groaning at the memory of a knife boring into my back. I gripped the seat before me, squeezing the headrest so hard my tendons ached in my wrists and blood pounded through my face like a tidal wave.

The anger inside solidified to a concrete ball of determination, and I knew I had to try again.

Four more times, I fought them. Four times I dealt out the kind of violence I hadn't thought my mind could envision. Four times, I got at least one. Four times, I died in agony as they overpowered me. Finally, I knew I was beaten.

It seemed there was only one choice; to run home with my tail between my legs and acknowledge defeat. I tried it, and they headed me off before I got to the populated high street. I tried pleading with my wife on the phone. I tried staying on the train, crossing the tracks to leave via the other exit, hiding on the platform, and simply running until my lungs gave out. I even tried pleading with my tormentors, begging them alternatively to fuck my brains out and leave me alone. That only seemed to spur them on. Every time, something conspired to stop me. Some strange twist of fate would lead me back into the arms of Five, Seven, Ten, and their nameless companion. I don't know how many times I was violated, how many deaths stacked up in my memories, but they never lost their power.

I lived that dark quarter hour a hundred times over, and never encountered a single ray of hope.

*

Dear Diary,

This is my first and last confession. I have done sinful things, Diary. In my life, I have killed many times, both with weapons and my bare hands. I have pulled a man's intestines out through a cut in his arse. I've pushed in eyeballs, bitten off noses, and kicked a man's genitalia until they don't exist and he is hoarse from screaming. I've been sodomised so many times that fear is my normal state of mind and pain a constant companion, and still I can't escape this journey.

Am I being punished? My wife barely talks to me except to complain, my workmates ignore me, and my family never calls. It's probably my fault, as much as I'd like to claim otherwise. Nobody has that much bad luck. It's a pretty fucking awful life, I've made for myself. But do I deserve this fate?

I don't even look at my fellow commuters any more. They are bit parts in the most hopeless horror movie of all time. I'm not sure how much punishment a personality can endure, Diary, but I beg of you to set me free.

Bill Murray had it easy.

There's nothing left to say, really. If anybody finds this, I can't warn you, because if you get caught in the same trap, there is no escape. Please tell my wife I'm sorry, and move on with your existence.

Yours truly, with every best wish in the world.


*

I stepped down from the train and listened to the beeps that preceded the closing doors. My note slipped from my fingers and danced across the platform, coming to rest against a bench. It seemed fitting. The train pulled away from the station and left me there, billowing in the night wind like a forgotten coat on a washing line. Footsteps sounded and I looked up to see that solitary other commuter heading for the exit.

"I love you!" I shouted. "I love you, you lucky bastard!"

They skittered away, understandably, and I wandered the length of the platform. They say you can't remember pain, only the knowledge that you've experienced it. I can tell you that's not true. There on that platform, I could feel every thrust as enemy cocks stole an innocence I'd forgotten I possessed. I winced at the thought of each and every stab, punch, and kick.

I crumpled to my knees and understood that I was broken. No thrill of escape for this sad soul, no more Sunday dinners at a silent table. No more inevitably inadequate lovemaking. No more sub-par work. Just a man, raped, murdered and alone, crying his eyes out on a windswept train platform.

In the distance, the rumble of metal wheels sang a song of angels to my ears. When life gives you no options, I thought, there is only one choice left available. The sounds got louder, accompanied by the searing lights of a night transport train. Thirty carriages of heavy goods, making their way across country in the hours no sane person populates.

As it swept into the station, I clambered to my feet. With two steps, I leapt into the air, flying with a scream towards my fate. It took me in moments, and I was whipped beneath the wheels of my desolation, into the pointless land of nothing.


THE END




Horror Story Writing Contest contest entry

Recognized


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When everything is crushed and control seems just a whisper of a memory, where is there left to turn?

Put your readers on edge, said the contest page. I certainly put myself on edge, writing this, so we'll see if that transferred to the story.

PS: I know this is a longy, so I've promoted as much as I can. Splitting it felt utterly wrong.

Mike
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Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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