On A Downtown Train


cardinal_icon.gif evan_icon.gif lola_icon.gif roderick_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Scene Title On a Downtown Train
Synopsis The New York City subway gets weirder than usual when most of the passengers get a glimpse of their future — frightening and uncertain ones for most.
Date June 10, 2010

The Subway

All my dreams,

all my dreams fall like rain

On a downtown train

Ten automated doors slide closed in unison after the recording of a pleasant-voiced woman reminds passengers to "Watch the gap," and the subway train pulls away from the platform. The underground station is almost sweltering, always hotter and more humid than the temperature at street level. Inside the train's ten cars, however, the cold blast of artificial cold keeps passengers cool as the train rumbles and rattles its way at high speed from the Lower East Side south toward Chinatown.

At just a moment or two before noon, this car is packed, as business people in suits and tourists with shopping bags and "I heart nyc" t-shirts cram in along with a group of rowdy prep school kids, still in their navy blue and khaki uniforms, just released for summer and planning on a celebratory lunch of dim sum at Canal Street.

Since this particular car is standing room only, some men relinquish their hard blue plastic seats to ladies or the elderly, while others avert their gaze to stare at the map over the heads of the passengers sitting across from them, observing the cardinal rule of mass transit — do not make eye contact. Those left standing are left to hold the poles and hand bars in the crowded space.

Lola manages to catch the train - but only just. The ding-dong of the closing doors can be heard, and they start to slide - but then she leaps in long-ways, laughing as she goes. "Sorry sugar," she says to a few of the men she lands on. There is a bag slung over her shoulder, and she wears a jacket, jeans and boots. Her hair, still that ugly faux-red, is tied back into a ponytail. She reaches up, her hand grasping one of the cool metal bars overhead, preparing for the train to lurch forward. An earphone is stuck in one ear, and she bops to the music. "Waka waka, hey hey," she sings softly to herself, still smiling.

"At least if you believe what the guy told me over the phone, it should be perfect for our purposes - it's an old warehouse, two floors, there's a basement…" Cardinal's one of those that's standing, his hand wrapped about one of the hanging handles, his head dropped down to talk to Peyton where she's perched upon one of those hard plastic seats - his hand on the back of it, as if to keep anyone else from pushing in and getting between them. He's wearing a flight jacket (Chicago Air, says the logo) over a t-shirt, denim jeans looking brand new, still bearing a few creases.

"No problem," Evan murmurs as Lola throws herself at him - so to speak - only afterward catching sight of the earbud in her ear (oh, so it's a one-way conversation anyway) and then a second later the other dangling freely (no it isn't). He's been standing as well since he first got on, not bothering to wait to get bumped, but it doesn't bother him; since the freak snowstorm lifted, things have been going well, sometimes surprisingly so. "Watch out for level 256, it's a doozy," he adds, noting her song of choice. Yay, '80s trivia.

Slumped down in one of the seats, hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, Roderick Sweeney is just patiently awaiting his stop. A pair of white earbud are stuck in his ears, his head dropped forward, eyes shut as he concentrates on ignoring everyone and just pay attention to the music — or maybe he's dozing. One leg bounces sporadically in quick little up an down movement as if he's holding back a lot of energy.

"Perfect. Top floors for business, basement for the real stuff, right?" Peyton murmurs in a hush, her dark eyes wide and sparkling as she stares up at Cardinal; she's happy to have a face to look into. Her brow creases when she notices the woman stumbling in, over Cardinal's shoulder, recognizing her from a little delivery she did on behalf of the man who stands talking to her. She gives a little jut of her chin for Cardinal to turn and look, not feeling familiar enough with Lola to greet the woman — that, and she's not sure where the Cajun woman stands in status to their operation.

The train is suddenly flooded with light when it comes out of a tunnel for a few moments — the day is cloudy, but the spring — nearly summer — sun is powerful beneath the clouds it hides behind. It is short-lived, however, as the train makes its way into another tunnel, the artificial lighting flickering now and then and graffiti on the walls flashing by as they barrel toward Chinatown.

That's when for most of the passengers, the train's rumble and rattle disappears, replaced by something that only they themselves see. Those not plunged into another moment and another place suddenly find themselves surrounded by collapsing people: those hands clutching the metal handles and bars suddenly go slack and limp, sending their owners crashing into one another, the walls of the car, or to the floor if someone doesn't catch them.

"What the hell — is it a gas leak? What's going on!" shouts a man, catching an elderly woman who slumps in his arms, her cane clattering to the floor. Most of the teenagers are slumped in the corner seats, a girl with pink streaked hair beginning to scream hysterically.

Next stop — The Twilight Zone?

"What?" Lola demands, pulling the other earbud out from her ear to look at Evan. IT takes her a moment to realize what he said, and she just wrinkles her brow and her nose as she looks at him. "'Fraid Ah don' got a clue 'bout what yer talkin' bout, sug-" And then she's down like a sack of potatoes, although you can't hear the thump over the sound of the multiple THUDS of other passangers. For anyone looking at her, she simply…dissapears into a sea of bodies, having nowhere to go but crumpling straight down as her entire body gives way.

"Exactly," Cardinal agrees with an easy smile, gesturing with his free hand, "We can set up the range downstairs, too…"

As she motions for him to turn, he does so, twisting to look back over - a double-take at the sight of the cajun woman, his expression twisting with a wry smile. "Well, of all the…"

The word 'coincidences' never passes his lips, as his eyelids flutter, then drift closed, his fingers sliding away from the handle as he slumps down and collapses over Peyton.

Whatever's going on, it's got Evan as well. He doesn't even get caught in mid-sentence like the others, he's just waiting for Lola to finish talking and then wham, he goes down like a heap of bricks. The angle of his left knee doesn't look good, either, though the only thing broken appears to be the skin as someone else's high heel catches against it on the way down.

When the light streams into the car, Roderick's eyes open head lifting to look around, before turning that a glance going over to the window. He starts to look back when they slide into the tunnel, spotting the familiar figure of Cardinal, brows lifting. He sits a little straighter, his head ducking down in hopes of not being seen… but he continues to lean, further and further, body suddenly swaying from the movement of the train, as it relaxes in unconciousness sending him slumping over onto woman sitting next to him.

Peyton too is slumped in her seat, Cardinal's weight unnoticed as she slips into that unconscious state. A tall ungainly man sitting beside her bumps heavily into her, making her bump the side of her face against the horizontal metal bar extending from the seat to the ceiling that Cardinal's hand had been clutching before he fell. That will leave a mark.

In the crowded car, only four people are awake, staring with growing panic at the slumped bodies that surround them. "Wake up, mister! Wake up!" the pink-streaked teenager says, reaching to shake Roderick.

"Are we being poisoned? Is there a way to turn off the vents?" asks the man holding up the elderly woman, peering at the air conditioning vents.

"Why aren't we affected, then?" asks an older man holding a load of groceries on his lap as he stares out the window. "What if the conductor's down?" he adds, which causes the pink-haired girl to scream.

Meanwhile, another of the teenagers is crouching by Evan, pretending to check on him, but actually slipping his hands into the man's pocket to retrieve a wallet, before turning his attentions to Lola, his blue eyes sneaking glances at his awake comrades.

"What it if he is? Will we stop or … crash?" the prep-school girl wails.

The Canal station approaches — if they don't stop, they're a runaway train. But the train slows to its typical abrupt stop, opening its doors to those waiting on the platform.

But those waiting on the platform are all asleep as well — either on the ground or slumped on the sparse benches. Staring in awe, no one gets off but the pink-haired girl who goes screaming and running for the platform and then the exit, cell phone out and to her ear.

Just as the doors close again, the cheery woman saying once more to "Watch your step!" those would-be passengers begin to rouse, one at a time — as do those on the train.

The train doors open - Lola's torso spills out onto the platform, almost gracefully. It's lucky she wakes when she does, however, because a it's as though the voice of "Watch Your Step" seems to rouse her and she sits up like a shot, and a few seconds later, the door closes. This brings her face to face with a teenager who has a hand in her pocket. "Hey!" She shouts, reaching out to try and grab the kid by his hair and, if she can, shove him across the slew of bodies and the train car. "Have a little self respect - any idiot can pickpocket the dead. Ya need a role model," she reaches up, touching the side of her head tenderly - there's a bump there - and finally she looks around. "The hell?" And then she remembers and she looks…stunned. Confused.

"Elisabeth!" A bark of alarm, of confusion and hurt, joins with the general confusion of the wakening passengers and panicking conscious as Cardinal jerks to wakefulness once more— unfortunately, unbalanced as he is in a drape over Peyton's also-unconscious form, he promptly loses his balance, trips on someone's ankle, and slams down to the floor of the bus, accidentally dragging the young woman with him.

At more or less the same time, Evan sits up, the movement as sudden as his original collapse wasn't. "Ah!" he cries out, watching Cardinal nearly fall ass over head right in front of him. "Hey, that was my favorite ankle," he mutters, momentarily too confused for such things as basic politeness. Afterward, taking in the immediate situation - whatever the heck just happened, it apparently happened to a lot of people - he braces himself near the sliding doors, preparing to hold them open at the next stop. People need to get off this crazy train as soon as possible. And he needs to be among them.

A few moments of shaking and Roderick bolts up right. "Oi, What?! I can't — " He trails as he realizes he's not wearing glitzy clothing nor staring down a the front of Laura's shirt. Instead he's staring at the pink haired girl. "What in bloody hell just happened?"

Brows furrowing, he glances around to see others sitting up and of course Cardinal and Peyton fall right on the floor at his feet. The pre-cog actually looks amused, his hands coming out of his jacket pockets to pull the eyebuds out. "Hell of a move, mate." Roderick flashes a grin at him, before looking at Peyton, "Hello again, chickie. Need a hand up?"

"Ow, okay! I'm sorry!" yelps the teenager, scuttling away from Lola after dropping the one wallet he did manage to score in the scuffle. The wallet lands just inches away from Cardinal's hand, unseen by Evan as the man stakes a place out by the door.

Waking up to a smack on the back of her head when her head hits the seat and then another as it hits the floor, thanks to Cardinal's grace, Peyton opens wide, scared eyes that are already wet with tears, her mouth in a soundless 'O' before she finally takes a ragged breath of breath. "C-Card? I bl-blacked," she begins, as she looks around, seeing many people in the same state as she is — that is, sitting up, looking around with confusion. "We didn't crash— we're still m-moving… what's happening…" She peers up at Roderick when he offers her a hand up. Small world. Her hand moves to her cheek, where a red welt is already beginning to show, to the back of her head. Tears begin to spill over her cheeks, and she doesn't respond to the offer up.

"Are you okay?" the man with the groceries asks, looking with wide eyes at the passengers who are recovering. "You all sorta just… fell down. You don't do drugs, do you?" He eyes the teenagers suspiciously, where boyfriends console girlfriends and one bestacled Harry Potter wanna be looks around for his pink-haired girlfriend. "Shasta's missing!"

The train enters another station, the voice intoning the stop above their heads, though at the same time, overlapping is the motorman's actual voice: "Please exit the train at this stop whether it's your stop or not," a quivering voice murmurs in a thick Brooklyn accent. "This is the last stop for now. Please evacuate the train."

The train comes to its abrupt stop, the doors opening to a confused group of people on the platform, some hugging and some crying, and others standing scratching their heads with confusion.

Lola does a quick check for her weaponry - gun's still there, that's what's most important. The doors open and she hauls herself up to her feet, holding her head between her hands. She groans. Ow. But there's a rush of people and with a cry, the Cajun is rushed out of the train and lost in a sea of bodies.

It's habit, really, instinct as Cardinal's fingers drift over the wallet's surface and make it vanish beneath the cage of his fingers. He was a thief, once upon a time, a lifetime and a year ago, and the old reflexes are still there beneath the surface. "What the… what was…" He pushes himself up to a half-seated posture once Peyton's helped up, his brow furrowing, his eyes wild since his shades have vanished somewhere beneath the feet of the train's passengers. Wait. It wasn't just him. "That… wasn't just me? Some kind of mass— hallucination?"

He's trying to make sense of it as he grabs a post, hauling himself up to his feet, staring at Roderick for a moment as if he were some sort of ghost before looking back to Peyton, his other hand reaching to her shoulder, "Pey?"

Evan nods in relief as the driver's voice cuts in over the intercom. Oh, good, at least the situation seems to be under control… still, best clear out before anything else has a chance to go wrong. He's just about to join the exodus when—

That wallet that the dark-haired man just picked up looks kind of familiar. And, sure enough, a quick check of his own pocket proves his own to be missing. It seems like damning evidence… but then it looked like they were both caught up in the event, so he holds off on drawing any conclusions just yet. "Excuse me, sir?" Leaning back against the side of the door, he waits for Cardinal and Peyton to finish getting their own bearings back.

"Okay…" The word is drawn out as Peyton starts tearing up, this isn't exactly something Roderick has much experience with. In fact, the painter leans back in his seat as if getting a bit of distance. "She.. okay?" He asks Cardinal, not even noticing the look from the other man. "I swear all I did was ask to help her up."

Though the question, has Roderick's brows furrowing a bit. "Unless you were somewhere with god awful carpet and a pretty blonde with a stop watch… then yeah, it was a hallucination… and a damn real one."

Peyton manages to stand as the doors open, and she glances at Roderick then Cardinal through those teary eyes. "I'm … I'm okay, I just… my head really hurts," she stammers, reaching to touch the back of her head gingerly. Her eyes wide and face pale, she steps off the train and onto the platform, joining the confused mass outside as frantic people pour out of the ten cars to join those who had been waiting to board them.

"Everyone here was affected," one man is telling another, who shakes his head. "Not the train — there were seven of us sitting there worried that the train was going to crash or we were getting gased to death or something," the other man says, gesturing to the car he just exited.

"I was listening to the President's speech," a woman chatters seemingly unperturbed to her husband as they make their way toward the exit. "You were doing the dishes. Obviously it was just a dream. Since when do you do the dishes, I ask you!"

A stopwatch. A president's speech. A riot, seen through a veil of heads-up displays. They're pieces of a puzzle that Cardinal can't quite figure out yet, his hand sliding free as Peyton pulls away and into the tide of people, soon separated from him by a few other confused railgoers. He starts to say something else, stops, then shakes his head with a grimace, his eyes narrowing as he obviously works at getting a hold of himself.

"Peyton! Pey, damn it, wait— " Then he's pushing after her, into the crowd towards the platform, apparently not even noticing Evan trying to get his attention.

Well, that was unexpected. Handing it over, sure. Making a run for it, sure, if he were trying to swipe it. But— Evan turns, gaping wordlessly for a second and then trying to follow after them… only to find himself stuck in place as a man and three kids converge on the entrance all at once, swarming toward a middle-aged woman just as she steps outside. "What happened, mommy," says the little girl, "did you fall down? Lots of people falled down out there," gesturing back toward the station.

By the time they all clear out again, the man Evan is looking for is nowhere to be seen. With a sigh, he reaches for his cell phone, dialing a colleague to beg a ride as he walks along with the crowd. "Hi, Andrew? Look, you're not going to believe—" Then he falls silent, as the man on the other end of the line most definitely does believe. How the hell large was the area of effect, this time?

"Never been like that… Normally black out, completely." Roderick murmurs, whether or not people hear it, is another thing. Moving to follow the others, Roderick's hands tuck back into his jacket pockets. His head shakes slowly in wonder as Peyton flees. "Whatever her trip was, it sure spooked her." The painter observes at the taller man's back as he steps off the train.

The pre-cog seems less shaken up then the others, but then Roddy is use to sudden black outs. He can't help but wonder if that's how most of his kind see things.

The clairvoyant waits when her name is called, wiping her cheeks before turning around to smile at Cardinal. "Well, we're past our stop by a few blocks — want to take a cab or hoof it?" she begins, as she makes her way toward the steps that will lead to the street level, moving along like cattle among the other travelers.

But then the wails of sirens and the dull roar of the chaos topside can be heard. When they emerge at the street-level of the station, a glance outside shows that those on the train were not the only victims of whatever just happened: traffic is at a stand still thanks to domino-effect collisions in every direction. Sirens howl in the distance and helicopters are hovering above head. Whatever phenomenon overtook them on the train extended at least as far as the eye can see.

"I think we should walk…" Cardinal's hand slides over Peyton's forearm, his fingers curving just about her wrist to keep a firm grasp as they step out onto street level, his eyes narrowing against the glare of lights that greet him and his free hand raising to shade them, "…yeah. I definately think we should walk."

"I think we need to find out what people on the street are talking about."

Once transportation back to his apartment is arranged - he'll and freeze his credit cards and such once he gets there - Evan has time to find an unoccupied bench and stare at the wall opposite him, contemplating the bits and pieces he's been hearing from most everyone else. Not only did a lot of people pass out all at once, but at least a few of them had… dreams? visions? hallucinations? while they were out of it. And so did he, sort of—

—that is, he saw nothing. Not sensory deprivation - blackness, silence - more like conscious awareness of the absence of any sensory information to be deprived of. Which doesn't make any sense, but then in a situation like this, what does?

Slipping out up onto the street, Roderick looks around and whistles softly. "Bloody hell." He whispers softly, before turning to make his way down the street, his stop in the opposite direction as Peyton and Cardinal. Hands come out of his pockets, on hand gripping the ear buds he was wearing, humming softly he sticks them back in and continues on his way. It's almost as if nothing happened.

Reaching into her Prada purse, Peyton pulls out a pair of sunglasses to hand to Cardinal — sure, they may be feminine in style, the oversized diva type, but she knows being out in the noon glare, cloudy or not, is likely giving him a migraine. At least the glasses are black and not some crazy girly color that someone like an Olson twin might wear. She gives a little wave to Roderick — perhaps realizing belatedly he was worried about her, now that she has calmed down from the shock of the strange phenomenon.

While Roderick walks away as if nothing happened, it's clear that something strange and unusual has — even for New York City, where anything can happen and everything bad seems to. At least this for this section of the city, the world came to a standstill — and woke to a nightmare.

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