The Turnstiles at Station 6
by L.P. Stribling
Grey was the only thing Sarah saw that Monday afternoon as she walked past Jason’s Apothecary, the ghost town’s last active building – at least the last one to reportedly have human activity in it before….the last one to have reports of sightings.
Her mind came back to the grey of the place. The road, the cracks in the road, the buildings, the sidewalk, the sky, even her reflection as she passed by was grey. The color was there; she knew it was there. But it was still grey. Grey because she couldn’t see the color.
You shouldn’t be here.
She knew it. The voice in her head wasn’t usually all that smart. She’d blown it off tons of times before; this time shouldn’t be any different. But she did know she shouldn’t be here.
You can still go back. Just tell ‘em you spun it.
No. That would make her a liar. The bet was fair, she lost, and she has to pay the consequence.
Sarah shook herself out of the dialogue with her mind and looked around the abandoned square of Millton Bend. She felt a chill flitter through her, a feeling which distinguished itself completely from the coolness of the wind upon her face.
She scanned the buildings of the square, the graffitied brick walls, mottled with chips and cracks, the windows, some covered with black bags and white tape, others boarded up or outlined with fragmented shards of water-spotted glass. Doors left ajar, entrances overgrown, all of it was one eerie piece of human time straining against being altogether forgotten.
She had been to Millton Bend once when she was very young. Her cousin Doug had driven her through the town on their way south to visit another relative she didn’t know she had. She wondered where her mom and dad were that she had to have Doug drive her. She remembered the Bend square clearly enough. They had stopped there to look at the bookstore (Doug was a reader), and they crossed the the quadrangle from the car to the store and back, and left. But the beauty of it stayed with Sarah.
Then, fallout. Bombs, disease, outbreak. She was too young to know the what, but she did remember the when. It was back in 2345, the year she turned ten.
Her feet fell upon unanswered fluffs of dusty sidewalk as she looked around and reminisced. Even now as she walked through the abandoned town, there still seemed to be beauty, in some weird way.
The years to follow began to bring the stories. People were leaving, not because they were getting sick, but because but because they were scared.
People disappeared from their homes and businesses, from restaurants and from their cars. The majority of these scenes were accompanied by large quantities of blood and sometimes torn clothing. Then, not long after, came the sightings, the voices, people hearing the screams of their disappeared family members late in the night, seeing at times glimpses of impish things, silhouettes of short slender bodies and big heads. The activity always came in the night.
Sarah directed her feet toward the square’s center, the subway underground. Her eyes caught the bold text, black on the faded and cracked white of the outer wall:
WELCOME TO STATION 6
Sarah’s footsteps slowed, almost stopped, and shook her head. Designated by whatever fucked up numbering system the state incorporated (maybe it was the order in which the stations were built?), Station 6 had become synonymous with ghosts, demons, alien abduction – pick a childhood fear, Station 6 was it.
Her breath shallowed at seeing the entrance to the station – a wide rectangular subterranean lowering in the earth allowing for three large escalators down to the underground speed train. She had never been here, not down there, but she knew the subway drill. You go down, you get tickets, you go through turnstiles, you wait for train. Basic.
Knowing how the subway worked wasn’t the reason her hands and forehead felt cooler then from a new misting of sweat then. It was what she had to do, and how very stupid (not ‘stupid’ dumb, but ‘stupid’ insane) it was that her feet trod upon this quadrant of earth at all at that second.
She turned back around, closed her eyes and exhaled.
No, no, no, she thought. We’ve already come this far. Her mind tried sifting back through the fragmented reasons for her not to be here.
Several months after the town was hit with the initial wave of the disappearing and people were still evacuating, a story came about which came to be known as ‘the turnstile hauntings:’ townspeople complain to authorities of sightings of unknown beings entering and exiting Station 6, police from Stachell and Arnison are sent over, flashlights go out, gunfire, all police are found slaughtered except one – huddled in the corner saying the words: “Turnstiles! CLICK-CLICK-CLACK, Turnstiles! Turnstiles! CLICK-CLICK-CLACK!”
Snap out of it. In and out.
Sarah shook herself and looked again at the town from inside the quadrangle. She allowed her feet to drag themselves up to and past the entry doors of the subway station. Station 6, she thought. Each town outside of Ellison had a number indicating how many tens of kilometers they were outside of the capital. It made it easier to give a distance to the next stop; at least that was what made the most sense to her.
The sign came and went, and with the hollow call of another cold wind upon her skin, She opened the doors of Station 6 and entered.
The doors closed behind her with an eerie creak – almost as if they were speaking their warnings to her from several months, maybe years, of disuse.
Just down there. One quick turn, she thought, and I’m done.
You need to get out of here.
The voice in her head spoke truth. She knew it was truth, but it had been speaking to her the full four-hour drive down to the abandoned town, and none of the admonishments really stopped her at all. The steps in front of her were half shadowed in a deep dusty coal, while their lighted counterparts weren’t much better off – a musty mildew of luminescence, as though a mild glow hovered from where countless vagrants had pissed. And below, Sarah saw the turnstiles, a dull silver, arms awaiting her spin.
She quickstepped down the stairs, the hollow clap of her steps making dusty echoes against abandoned walls. A chill of air enveloped her then, as she went down. She didn’t want to think about it. She made a bet, she lost.
Let’s just get this over with.
With the steps she took downward, the eerie echo of the police officer in the story – Turnstiles, turnstiles, CLICK-CLICK-CLACK.
When her feet touched the base level, the air around her was thick and cold. The turnstiles were right in front of her. And beyond them the dark hollow of the subway’s lower level.
She could hear her every breath. Her heart pumped with heavy and quick thuds within her chest. A chill trickled up her spine and she could almost feel the sweat glands release along where the tingle traveled.
You shouldn’t be here
“Shut up,” she said aloud into the haunted air. What would her inner voices have to say to that? Sarah dug into her pocket and removed her cell phone and switched on the video and tapped the red recording circle.
“Okay here I am. This is Station 6,” she said as she panned the camera around her. Her voice held something back – something that couldn’t hold back shaking much longer. She showed the long staircase and the door on the entrance level. She ended by bringing the camera back to her face. She exhaled. “A bet’s a bet, right?”
With a jolt of courage (or was it craziness?) she filmed her hand reaching out to the turnstiles and pulled.
She turned and quickstepped back up the steps (in the camera footage, one can hear the nervous increase in her breathing). And as just as she approached the door, she stopped (the camera jerked back to the hollow below, to the turnstiles).
“Shit,” she cursed.
Sarah turned back to the steps and, began to leap up two at a time in a nervous panic.
“I hear something,” she said to herself (also caught on camera).
She topped the stairs and turned off the camera (in the audio with high volume, there is a distinct clicking sound heard from a distance).