Jess slumps into her seat, pushing in her earbuds and pressing play. Loud music floods her mind and she closes her eyes, letting her head tip back as the train starts moving.
“What a day,” she mutters to herself as exhaustion sweeps through her, her limbs heavy and sore. It’s a forty-minute journey home and she’s tempted by the thought of a nap. She cracks open an eye and pops her head over the seat, scanning the rest of the carriage. Her head swivels.
It’s empty. Perfect.
Jess sits back and, after setting an alarm on her phone, closes her eyes again. Her heavy eyelids block out the harsh fluorescent lights on the train. She lets the gentle bob of the moving carriage sway her into sleep.
“Just a quick nap,” she whispers before letting herself tumble into darkness.
And then he appears, stepping through from the adjoining carriage. He spots her immediately, asleep and vulnerable. He did not come this way with any intentions at first but now, a dark impulse throbs inside his mind. An opportunity. There is a brief flicker of hesitation in his movements but… no. She should not have fallen asleep alone. Silly girl.
His mind set, the man slinks down the aisle, sliding himself onto the seat next to Jess without disturbing her. He looks at her a bit closer then; her mahogany skin is set against the inky black outside the window, her long hair tucked under the collar of her jacket, her mouth slightly parted as she snores gently. He sees her earbuds and knows she won’t hear him. She’s wearing a thick jacket with her arms crossed but he knows that some gentle manoeuvring will open her up to him.
He licks his lips in anticipation, casting one last look around the carriage to check they’re alone.
It’s empty. Perfect.
If she wakes up, he can just leave. No one is around to believe her. The thought emboldens him. The man reaches out, slowly, and starts unzipping her jacket.
Her eyes snap open. But it’s not Jess who’s awake.
She stands so suddenly that the man falls backwards, out of the chair and into the next set of seats.
He yelps and scrambles, trying to gather himself and his set of excuses at the ready. But when he looks at her again, all the words fall from his mind.
She draws herself up to her full height – she is tall, taller than Jess – and steps into the aisle. Her limbs stretch and her face warps into something else, something unnatural. The train lights flicker wildly above them while the carriage rocks on the tracks. The man is immobile, mouth open, eyes wide as he watches her lean forward. Before he can run, she slams her palm against his forehead and holds it there. His jaw hangs, his back arches, he spreads his arms. He could not pull away if he wanted to.
Words fall from her mouth, both in a whisper and a scream. He does not understand them, they are not of this world. She unfurls her wings, blacker than the night sky, blacker than anything he has ever seen; as though they absorb the light around them. But it is her eyes. Her eyes.
They pool with red until it overflows, spilling down her cheeks. A dark crimson, the colour of blood. Her eyelids are gone and she does not blink. She does not let him look away. He is transfixed. Terrified. The zipper of her jacket dangles from where he had pulled it down.
When she speaks again, he can understand her.
“You will feel everything you have put out into this world,” she says, her voice double-layered as though two people are speaking in tandem. And he does. He feels everything.
She releases him abruptly, dropping him onto the seat. She shrinks back to her regular size, back to Jess. Her face pulls itself back together, the whites of her eyes appearing again. She looks at him flatly.
“I’m sorry,” he whimpers, covering his mouth with one shaky hand. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”
He repeats himself even as he scrambles away, fleeing to the next carriage, or maybe the next after that. Jess watches him leave and picks up the earbuds that fell out of her ears. She settles back into her seat.
“What a creep,” she mutters, popping them back in.
“Agreed,” the demon housed inside her replies. Jess closes her eyes again and drifts off to sleep.
Storm has worked as a ghostwriter of romance stories and is currently writing her first full-length novel. She has a soft spot for horror and the ‘final girl’. In her spare time, she likes to write flash/micro fiction on her blog – http://www.stormlomax.wordpress.com.
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