Prompt 23-Twilight Zone

Have you ever experienced something that just could not logically be explained?

(CW: terrorism)

Cassie stood on the platform, waiting for passengers to disembark so she could make her way onto the train. It was an hour commute into work and she cherished those final seconds of freedom before being squashed in with dozens of other commuters all equally displeased with the proximity of their neighbors.

The PA system crackled to life and reminded the stragglers that the train to Berlin would be departing on time. It was the last call. Cassie sighed and adjusted her purse’s shoulder strap as she stepped over the threshold and into the carriage.

There were still several stops between her home station and the stop in Berlin so she had her pick of seats. She pulled a book from her purse and set to reading it for the duration of her trip. She found it hard to focus, though.

The words kept blurring together, the pages were fuzzy. At times she looked at it and it was in German, but she couldn’t understand a word of it. Sometimes she could swear it was in English, but why would she read in English?

She gave up and put the book back in her purse. She hadn’t struggled very long or gotten very far, but the train was already one stop away from Berlin. She checked her watch to be sure an hour had passed. The battery had died and it still said it was only 7am. She groaned. Her morning was quickly going off the rails.

Cassie glanced around the crowded carriage. When had it become so full? She didn’t remember stopping, but if they were almost to their destination it only made sense that the car would be full.

She caught the eye of a man in a bulky coat at the other end of the car. He was sweating. Well of course he was sweating. It was late spring in a crowded train car and he had that ridiculous coat on. The mornings were still cool, but not that cool.

A flash blinded her and suddenly she was thrown to the floor. Metal and body parts flew over her head from the people nearest the bomber. The train careened to a halt and the carriage rolled before coming to a stop.

Cassie stared at the warped metal of the carriage as the fire blazed all around her. People were screaming and shouting, though she could barely make out the words. The screams, she knew, were passengers in agony, the shouts, from bystanders running to be of aid. Her own voice seemed to fail her. She should have been calling for help but she couldn’t get her vocal chords to work.

She tried to roll over, but found she couldn’t move. The upended seats had pinned her at her waist. It was then she noticed her legs were missing from the knee down. She couldn’t feel anything. Panic set in and again she tried to scream, again to no avail. Her voice was gone. Or her ears had gone deaf in the blast.

But no, she could hear the screams of her fellow passengers. She could hear the creaking of metal and the rush of fire all around her. She closed her eyes and heard emergency sirens whirring up.

The sirens blaring in the distance grew louder as they came closer. Their wailing began to sound like incessant beeping. Cassie opened her eyes wide and saw her digital alarm clock on her bedside table. She reached out to silence it, then rolled onto her back. It was just a dream.

She stared at the ceiling for a long while, her thoughts racing with her heart. It hadn’t been real. She didn’t speak German; she’d never even been to Europe, let alone Germany. She lived and worked in North Carolina. She drove her own car. Why would she dream about taking a commuter train to Berlin?

The explosion echoed in her mind and she remembered the absence of pain. She sat up and threw the blankets off her legs, swinging them over the side of the bed. They were intact. Whole. Unbloodied. She touched them to be sure. The warmth from her hands spread over her knees, confirming them to be real. She heaved a heavy sigh and stood to make the bed.

The smell of coffee down the hall further grounded her back in reality. She shuffled into the kitchen where her husband leaned against the counter, sipping tea from a steaming mug while he read the morning paper.

“I just had the weirdest dream,” Cassie said, grabbing a mug off the metal stand of mugs and pouring the black liquid into it.

“Lotta that goin around, love.” Henry folded the paper under his arm and bent to kiss her head. “I dreamt we had a talking dog that wouldn’t shut up about stock futures. He gave terrible advice though.”

Cassie chuckled. Then she saw the front page of the paper. The big bold headline grabbed her eye and caught her laughter in her throat.


Notes: *Twilight Zone theme plays* This was a tough one. Originally I had thought it would be some sort of alien encounter type story, abduction and subsequent altered memory deal. Then I thought about making it a dream and having aspects of the dream be present in the character’s waking life. But that reminded me of the time I dreamt about the 2005 London bombings before they happened.

I’ve honestly spent years wondering if I just misremember the timeline, but what I do remember is hearing about it more or less as it happened, classmates going “oh man, did you hear?” and responding “yeah, that happened yesterday, didn’t it?” It had felt like old news to me when they told me about it. I dunno, maybe I had just seen the headline when I woke up and was still half asleep so it didn’t fully process until later. Anyway. There’s a reason I have so many psychic characters.

Ever had a brush with the supernatural? What did it feel like? Were you alone? What would your characters do in such a situation? Get some ideas, jot them down! There might just be a story lurking in those experiences!

Thursday’s prompt: What do you need right now?

I will be experimenting with the scheduled posts for this one. The hubby and I are taking the rest of the week off work to spend our dating anniversary in the city. We might have only married 7 months ago but we’ve officially been together for 8 years! Gonna celebrate and see a show! Shouldn’t effect Friday’s post since we plan to be home by dinner, but if not Friday’s story might get pushed to Saturday. Until next time!

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