Friday, 17 January 2014

#FridayFlash - Wake Me

I see the man on the subway every morning, always slumped in the same seat, his chin resting on his chest as he snores. A cardboard sign hangs around his neck, the string entangled with his faded tie, with the words 'Wake me at the end of the line' written in a childish but legible hand. It's confusing because the Red Line is circular - unless you count 8th Street West where trains go in or out of service, there is no end of the line. I sometimes wonder if that's why I see him every morning - maybe he never gets off the train. Maybe he lives here.

He's the only reason most of us talk to each other. We exchange theories as to who he is, or what could be at the end of the line that he needs to wake up for. Weirdly, none of us are brave enough to wake him early, though everyone claims to know someone who tried. One of my fellow commuters, a marketing rep named Dan, suspects he's trying to become an urban legend. We nickname him The Snooze.

Months pass and he keeps sleeping on the train, dozing through the rattles and clatter of the morning commute. We keep theorising about him, and the morning commute begins something to savour; for some of us, it's the only kind word we'll have all day. Every evening I hitch a lift with Sally from sales, but I sometimes consider catching the train. Maybe he'll still be there.

Today it all changes. The Snooze still sleeps on the train, dressed in black instead of his usual threadbare tweed. He wears a smart trilby instead of his battered fedora. The sign is still cardboard, but instead of scrawl, elegant calligraphy spells out the words 'Wake me at the end of it all'. I can't stop staring at the sign, and I notice it earns more attention from my fellow passengers. We're all still staring at it when the ominous rumbling starts. It's the last thing we see when darkness swallows our carriage.

I reach out a trembling hand to wake him.

Original image by Keeper182. Edits by me.

10 comments:

John Wiswell said...

The ending made me smile! I like that the odd fellow is actually a gift to them, getting them to interact with each other and eventually, even if fearfully, outward.

Casey said...

I love the idea of the "wake me at the end of the line" worn by the man, on a circular track. Then the twist at the end and change in message. Very intriguing :).

David G. Shrock said...

All dressed up for the end. Could have been the same line on the sign, nicer, but same words with change in dress. Subtler. The change is more immediate, though. From strangers speculating on the circular route to realization of impending end, this story has bite.

Loved it, Icy.

storytreasury said...

He knew the end was coming!!!!!

Larry Kollar said...

I liked this. First, the way he drew the commuters together; then the twist at the end. Perhaps the bonds they've formed over the months will be enough to see them through… whatever has happened?

Steve Green said...

I think he wanted to look his best for the occasion, maybe the last chance he'll ever have to dress smartly again, or even to dress again for that matter.

Stephen said...

A truly dark story, Icy. I love all thoughts and questions it provokes. Maybe she should just let him sleep.

ganymeder said...

That was inspired! Well done!

Helen said...

Excellent story, one that gets you asking all sorts of questions.

Katherine Hajer said...

As perfectly ominous as this all was, the last sentences made me think something magnificent was going to happen next.

Post a Comment