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.