The screams turned into a loud ringing as the sound reached a higher pitch than human ears could hear. Chloe looked to the others. They were all cowering to the floor covering their ears. Mouse had his eyes closed. Elizabeth was crying. Alexander was examining the floor intently. If they stayed like this the sound would melt their brains and nobody was doing anything. It was up to her. She struggled to stand, pushing herself up and facing her attackers.
The ghost like figures hadn’t moved. The holes that appeared where their mouths should have been had grown larger, taking up most of their face. The holes weren’t mouths at all, it was their form breaking apart, they weren’t screaming, the sound was a side effect. Chloe’s vision was blurred from the heavy sounds, but she watched the best she could. The holes grew larger until the entities no longer had a head, and the emptiness slowly made its way down the beings’ bodies.
The speed of which the figures disappeared grew exponentially. The top of their torso faded away and the waist soon joined them. It was like someone had dropped an invisible curtain on their heads. The emptiness ate down their legs and feet until there was nothing left where they stood. When the last inch of specter had faded, so did the sound. The high pitch slowly began quieter until it faded entirely.
No one moved. Chloe tried to but it was as if her body wasn’t responding to her thoughts. The group just sat there on the ground not making any sounds, or rather they were making sounds but they couldn’t hear each other. They had lost their sense of hearing, at least temporarily.
Chloe wasn’t sure how much time had passed before she was able to move again. There was nothing binding them but pure horror. Even though the ghostly figures had vanished her heart was beating so forcefully it hurt her chest. Feeling slowly returned to her body. She just wanted to run and hide for the rest of her life. It was something she had never felt before, a primal instinct that had been buried under centuries of being the dominant lifeform.
“That was interesting.” Alexander was the first to speak. Judging by the way his mouth was moving he was speaking loudly, but his voice sounded like a whisper. “I’ve never been so terrified.” He continued. “I think those images we saw were more afraid of us than we were of them.”
“I don’t know. Let’s get out of here now.” Mouse’s words were stuttered. His confident demeanor was long gone now.
As Chloe’s body began to return to normal she felt Elizabeth clinging so tightly to her that it was making her arm go numb. She turned and embraced Elizabeth who was crying more intensely than she ever had before. That fear was something no person should experience, let alone a child.
Alexander leapt to his feet. He assisted Mouse in standing before helping Elizabeth next. Elizabeth was stubborn at first, but quickly moved to her feet when Chloe tugged on her arm almost lifting her. Mouse was eager to leave. He began walking towards the next train car in silence and the rest of the group followed. Whatever they had just experienced drained their morale. Now they were zombies, straggling along forward simply because there was nowhere else to go.
“You don’t belong here.” Chloe heard a voice from her right. It was the calm voice of a man. She turned to find the source but saw nothing. “You don’t belong here.” The voice repeated, this time from her left. She shot her head to the left and saw someone floating above one of the dining booths. She let out loud gasp, but didn’t feel afraid for some reason. The fear from the screeching melted away as she inspected the figure. It was a man with golden wings. He was completely naked, but it wasn’t gross, as he had no genitals. He had sharp red eyes, flowing blonde hair that was longer than even Chloe’s, and wore a confident yet soothing smile. Chloe looked to the others, but they were completely frozen in place. Mouse was stopped mid-step with one foot up high in his usual stomping style.
“Um, Alexander? Mouse?” Chloe knew they couldn’t answer, but she couldn’t fight her instinct to call for help.
“I don’t have much time. I can only pierce the veil for so long.” The man spoke confidently. “Chloe Heart, born June 1st of the year 2177, at least that is how your people state it.”
“How do you know that?” Despite the man’s sudden declaration of information Chloe wasn’t afraid. She felt like she could trust the man and somehow knew his intentions were pure.
“Forgive my boldness, I have studied you and the others. You are different, you don’t belong here, yet you are trapped just like they are. I want to explain it all, but there isn’t much time. I will save you, but you must stay put.”
“What about the others?” Chloe asked looking to Mouse, Alexander, and Elizabeth.
“In time they too will be freed. For now don’t tell them what I’ve told you or of my existence. Stay here in this room and you will be free by tomorrow morning.” The man’s voice grew stern, like a strict father instructing a child. “Whatever you do, do not move to the next room.”
With those final words the man was gone in a blink of an eye, leaving no residual after effects. Time shifted back into place as Mouse finished his step with a loud thump. Alexander turned to Chloe immediately realizing something was wrong.
“Are you okay Chloe?” Alexander asked. Chloe’s mind immediately raced. She wanted to tell them what she had just witnessed, but the man told her not to. If she told them, she risked being stuck in the train forever.
“We should stay here.” Chloe blurted out. “I don’t want to go on.”
“No way, I want to get out of here now.” Mouse argued raising his voice.
“Chloe, we don’t know if those things will come back, we have to keep moving.” Alexander told her. Chloe shook her head stubbornly
“I’m too scared.” It was a lie, but it was her best option. “And you are too.” She continued. “We need some time to relax and recover. If we run into more of those things in the next room we risk losing our hearing permanently. Let our bodies heal and our emotions calm.”
“She’s right.” Alexander agreed. Chloe let out a sigh of relief.
“So we’re just supposed to wait here until we die?” Mouse was a bit more argumentative. Chloe opened her mouth to say something, but Alexander jumped to her defense. Not in a protective manner, he was just looking for an excuse to argue with Mouse.
“We’re at greater risk of death if we continue now. I’m still rattled and so are you. Let’s relax until we stop jumping at shadows.” Alexander raised his voice.
“I don’t want to go either.” Elizabeth was quiet in comparison to the rest, but given the state of their hearing she was probably speaking normally. Mouse argued for a little longer but knew he was outmatched. Once he finally gave in the group decided to split up and explore the train car. It was just like the previous train car they hung out in, the only difference was the dining booths here were much lower class.
Elizabeth moved to the booth in the back of the room. Mouse swung his hammer around amusing himself. Chloe gestured for Alexander to look under one of the dining tables with him. They both dropped to their hands and knees.
“Did you find something?” Alexander asked looking around.
“We need to stay here until tomorrow morning, but I can’t tell you why.” Chloe explained. Alexander picked up quickly that she had only dragged him down there to talk in private.
“I see.” Alexander replied.
“Can you help me keep Mouse occupied until then?” Chloe asked. Alexander didn’t respond at first. Chloe could almost see the gears in his head running as he considered every possible outcome while simultaneously trying to figure out why Chloe wanted them to stay in the first place.
“I’ll try, but it won’t be easy.” Alexander nodded. Even with Alexander on her side keeping the group in one place for the rest of the day would be difficult. She just knew that the man she saw was speaking the truth. They couldn’t continue to the next train car, they had to do what he said.