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Friday, August 6, 2010

Trapped in the Wonderland Station. Eating Pop Tarts.

Hello Troops,
Mr. Daymont read my Wonderland Subway Station Post
and decided to write a continuation. Thanks Mark.

And Now, Mark's Story

Day 66

I stepped out from the men’s restroom back onto the waiting platform. It’s the only place I’ve been able to freshen up and perform my morning obligatory each morning. Even so, I think I could do with some more deodorant, but the station platform store hadn’t opened yet. Grim metal bars barricaded its windows and doors waiting for the clerk to arrive and open for business.

That wouldn’t happen for a while yet.

As usual, the platform was empty except for the early shift custodian. I could tell by his nearly aimless shuffle that he was none too excited about living his working life sweeping and cleaning the station platforms along the line. He lifted and swept, lifted and swept in an endless monotony of pointless effort. Boy I’ll bet that job brings top dollars.

No one else on the platform this morning. No one to talk to. I had tried engaging the custodian in conversation once but all he replied was something about looking forward to waxing the floors and keeping the lawns manicured. Weird. No lawns on this platform.

The platform was my home for the last 66 days. I relied on the single turquoise bench under the Wonderland logo for a bed at night. Thankfully there was food I could purchase from the station shop but it only seemed to open at unusual hours and only for a few minutes before the impatient clerk rolled the bars shut on the windows and locked the door again.

I’m really sick of living off candy, untoasted Kellog’s pop tarts, and beef jerky. Would it hurt so much to stock some fresh donuts? Geesh. Still, I should count my lucky stars. There was a working water fountain on the platform, although the water had clearly picked up a strong metallic taste lately.

I glanced back up the stairs. The way I had come in.

As usual, the lights at the top of the stairs were off and the escalators silent. They hadn’t worked since the iron gates had clanged permanently shut the moment after I had arrived. That ominous event singled out the fact that the only way I was getting out of here was to board a train passing through the platform and exiting down the long dark tunnel.

I had once thought of trying to escape down the tunnel. I was put off that idea the when I realized that it’s opening was just wide enough to accept the girth of the subway cars, and I would be killed by a speeding train before I could find my way out in the dark.

And the trains came often enough. Problem was, they hardly ever stopped.

The ones that did, left before I could wake up on the bench and race to the closing doors. Believe me, that little event was getting old.

Some people actually got off and made it to other trains. I remember a pleasant family of three, a father, mother and little girl with their luggage. They smiled pleasantly at me but did not engage in small talk while they waited for their connection. Foreigners, I supposed.

Another time I awoke on the bench to find a nice young man on the bench as well. He seemed focused on something far away, as though he were lost and planning his own escape. Conversation with him was brief and filled with metaphors about life, the universe and everything. At least I was able to talk with someone for that short time. I must have dozed off at one point, for when I awoke again he was gone. He had left his long, black leather coat behind on the bench. I was grateful for that, as it was cold down here in this bizarre bunker of a station. It fit me just fine.

The sound of a push broom swishing on the cement floor behind me shook me out of my pondering. I quickly turned and surprisingly found the custodian right behind me. In my personal space. I stared into his eyes, which I noticed for the first time were sharp and clear, but yet had the wisdom of time behind them. He squinted his eyes at me when he spoke.

“You got the coat. Good. You’ll need it.”

The screech of an electric train erupted from the end of one of the tunnels. I glanced in its direction, but when I turned back the custodian was gone. I looked up and down the platform and he was nowhere to be seen.

Lights down the tunnel grew closer and the metallic screeching louder.

Could this be a train that stops? I doubted the possibility, but moved closer to the platform edge. Suddenly the subway cars burst from the tunnel and the train braked to complete stop. The car lights illuminated empty cars as they passed by my face. A set of sliding doors remained closed, tantalizingly inches from me.

I turned to the right as the sound of sliding plastic and metal came from further down the platform. A door was opening! Alas, I feared it would be too far away for me to reach before it shut again.

I stopped in mid stride. Two men stepped out from the car door. Dressed in black suits, dark sunglasses and black gloves. One of them pointed some sort of handheld device with buttons at the doorway and the sliding doors closed. The subway cars began moving down the other tunnel.

Drats. Missed another ride. Where do I get a remote like that?

The two men turned in my direction and a feeling of apprehension came over me. They seemed familiar, and not in a good way. I remembered the old Harrison Ford line, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

One of the men, slightly taller than the other, reached into his suit coat and pulled out a paper. He looked at it, then towards me, and then showed the paper to his companion.

“That’s him.”

Um… crap. Not good. I didn’t know or care about what this was all about, but I was definitely involved in something. And these weren’t missionaries.

Both men reached for items in their coats. With swift motions they drew out pairs of black MAC-10 submachine guns and started walking towards me.

I ducked behind a cement pillar as bullets glanced off the pillar sides, chips and shards of cement and tiles flying in all directions. Man those guns were LOUD! I tucked in my arms and hands to make sure no lucky bullet would strike home. Crap oh crap.

They kept walking towards me, with swift hand movements to drop empty clips and insert fresh magazines. I ran for the next pillar further down the platform. A hailstorm of bullets cratered the floor along both sides of my path as I ducked and dodged a retreat behind the next pillar.

Breathless, I suddenly realized that the custodian was calmly taking a drink from the water fountain nearby. I called out, “Is there any way out of here?” He stood, turned and smiled at me. “The coat,” he whispered.

Ah, there must be something in the coat I can use! I realized, ignoring the obvious question of how the old man would know anything about that. I could hear the two assassins discarding the empty submachine guns onto the floor. Probably going for their backups, I thought, while I reached into the pockets of the stranger’s coat.

Oh, there was definitely something there. In both pockets. Funny, I hadn’t noticed that before. I grasped the objects and pulled them out. A matching pair of 45-caliber semi-auto Colt Model 1911 pistols. That stranger knew what good hardware was. I quickly cocked back the sliders on the pistols to load rounds into the chambers and pulled back the triggers. With a gulp of air I spun around to face the attackers.

They were about 10 feet away, and cocking back the sliders on their Glock 9mm’s. Even through the sunglasses I could see their expression change from certainty to surprise, they looked at each other and instantly dodged away from each other. Doing handsprings.

It all seemed to go in slow motion. Without time to aim at separating targets in motion with two pistols, I fired away at both of them, my arms moving away from my center of vision. Empty brass casings flew from the pistols up into the air and pinged onto the floor tiles. Somehow the bullets seemed to miss their targets as they spun and tumbled away. My peripheral vision noticed that something tugged at their suit coats and pants, nipping little holes in the fabric. I was close.

And then I was out of ammo. I dropped one pistol and with the hand free reached into the pocket to see if there was an extra clip. Nothing. The two villains stopped their gyrations and posed into a kung-fu position. Oh man, I didn’t want to get into that. I dropped the other pistol as well and tucked my arms into my chest expecting a blow to land soon.

And felt a weighty bulge in the coat’s upper pocket.

The suits flung themselves forward at me, posing their clenched fists into strike mode.

But I was faster. I yanked out the Mark II phaser from its hidden pocket and used my other free hand to deactivate the safety. A sure line of sight to the man who was now only two feet away. As I pulled the trigger a bright flash filled the platform room and the villain was flung backward through the air, clutching at his chest, which displayed a glowing red center.

I took a step to the side and the second warrior slid by, inches from me, missing his mark and rebounding off the platform wall. I spun and aimed the phaser at him. He tried to turn away toward the pillar but I nailed his back with my second shot. His body made a double flip forward and he crumpled to the floor.

I heard the custodian chuckle behind me. “Yep, that’s a nice coat.”

The taller man was still mumbling on the floor and reaching for something in his coat. I walked over and removed the device from his hand. As I did, he looked up strangely at me. “Wait…” he croaked. “You’re… not the director…”

“That’s right,” I said. As the light went out in his eyes, I said, “I’m just the assistant director.” As his head thunked to the floor I looked at the device I now held in my hand.

A screeching sound and tow spots of light came from the tunnel. I walked to the end of the platform holding the dead man’s door remote. Time to leave Wonderland Station. Yes. Time to get back to work at the Space Center.

Mr. Daymont
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