There, after long wait and shifts from street to street, we ended up on the bus. The weather was dismal. It seems that all day long it was raining and in the evening it became only worse. Clouds fastened upon the whole countryside, but ahead, where we were going and what we were looking on through the front window, there were small moonlight gaps.
Inside the bus it was just as wet as outside. It was old, and banging with every inch. When the wheels were meeting some hillock - the doors began to sway with all the rags of worn rubber. Windowglass and the floor were in a whirl too.
Someone was driving the bus but the driver could not be seen, only half of his dark silhouette. Sleepy passengers were barely moving – just a few people sitting in the front row. When we got into the bus, they were already going from somewhere, and most likely this was the reason for them to be very tired.
Annie was close to me. I held the grab handle, standing at the middle exit door. Everyone wading cares away looked ahead on rainy and thus diffused soaked road, and barely distinguishable landmarks on the sides. At the driver's side strong water stream was trickling down the glass, but he never used the wipers. Perhaps he considered such a ride to be funny, pitch dark all around.
The driver rubbed his hand over the back of his head and moved to a higher gear. We were going faster, and it was buzzing and chugging all around, twice as loud.
Annie and me were pretty tired, and have not talked about anything. All day long we walked about the familiar suburb, I was showing her something, then we just spend time strolling through the streets and having stopovers in a cafe. Then the clouds impended and she said that it’s the time. It is time to decide what we were up to. It was not easy to do. I did not want to go into details, and I did not ask about anything. We were just silently riding. We huddled up to one another standing in the middle of almost empty bus. The interior was dark, I looked at her and saw the tension on her face. Only the outlines of her eyes and lips were visible to me along with the golden line of wavy hair. Her breathing was calm. We got wet a little and rare drops of water were dripping of her hair.
- We need to pass through it, - she said it in a calm voice.
- But why this way? - I did not really want to go there.
- That is the only way to get there, there is no other way, understand?
- Allright, as you say, if we have to let’s go through there.
- This branch is abandoned, for many years no one uses it, and it just leads to where we need.
Ahead appeared familiar contours of the city. The first houses were still lighted, there was blue light of street lamps in windows and on the streets. I went to the driver and asked to pull up pointing at a stop. We left and went athwart, down the branch road, endlessly, talking about something, quite forgetting where we are going. Once the line of our dialogue has reached the end, I noted to Annie that in this part of the city thare was no rain. Even the fog was hardly visible.
- It is so beautiful now, look at the moon - she had her little finger on the beautiful relief of the clouds near the horizon.
- As light as day, it is almost full moon.
- No, it just looks like it, this moon is still lacking a small piece.
We went though a completely deserted district, where no one appeared even during the daytime, only empty houses with no glass and windows. It was very quiet, even no dogs’ barking, nothing. Feeling like being divided from the whole world - we got to a certain area of space where it was felt security and control, as if the space opened up for us this way on purpose.
- Vitalis, tell me, what are you thinking about. Do you think of her?
- I always think of her.
- I just see that you "disappear" somewhere. What do you feel?
- The feeling is inside, how can i describe.
- Hrmph, it does not work, sorry. I understand, I have gone through this by myself. And all the time you think that someone is waiting for you, and imagine how she or he is with another - it is jealousy. It will pass soon.
- You know, Annie, when I think about this - it's not jealousy - it's madness, and I’m a mad dog. Do you think the madness will pass soon!?
- Indifference is more frightening, the ice within. There are such people, you know - they live like going through the fog. Alcohol, soft drugs, something else I guess. They have to go through it, so they think. And many of them stay there.
- Well, you need to try everything in life.
- Well, yes, of course, everything. For example what we are going to strike today.
- You know I’m not scared - I said – I worried that it would be scaring, but it’s not. Perhaps this is the road. I think about it now - I was a little creepy.
- Yes, we have to do it. But this is not that fog - it's just part of the way, it’s conscious. We're not like those who scares me.And this is your dream, but dream about what it was, what could be, kind of a symbolic dream - Annie smiled.
We turned the corner and walked through the overgrown bushes of a large destroyed building resembling a warehouse of some equipment. Now there was nothing, just some huge, metal frames of machines must be too heavy to lift. We went about them, keeping a wide berth and still bumping into incomprehensible pieces of iron being brazed-in the concrete floor. Apparently it used to be a workshop for the repair of cranes or the like. Annie was behind me and she fearlessly surveyed all of these unusual forms surrounded everywhere. It has been close to the station, to which we headed. We walked rather slowly and hesitantly. And the closer was the station, the more scarry, fascinating and interesting it was.
We were already leaving these workshops coming out to the lighted path, and in my eyes the fans on the sides began to work more actively. That happened because I was all-time intently staring around.
Annie lighted with a handy (phone), it was already half past two. We had a really long walk and tired incredibly. We decided to get some rest and gather strength. Our way was just over and we sat on a bench near the entrance to the subway. I took a flashlight and checked out how it works. Then I said that everyone must be asleep, and that when we will come out to the surface, it may be dawn.
The clouds dissipated completely, and it was quiet and clear moonlit sky. The fog that hung in the air before it was clear and fine crystals of frost covered the old, cracked asphalt around us.
We went down the stairs, and for the last time looked at the light and on the prospect of descending under the ground, to the vault, where the name is usually written.
- Honestly, I do not even know where this branch line can take us - I was worried.
- This one does not work for about twenty years, it is considered abandoned - said Annie, - at least as I have been told.
- You know better, I hope we will not meet there accidentally passing trains.
We went down to the underground passage leading to the subway station. I lighted around with the flashlight. Initially, the walls were all covered with various weeds and dried grass. In the deep cracks were seen traces of destruction, perhaps, this area was situated at some underground lake, and because of that it was closed – everything was collapsing. Then the vegetation disappeared, and the farther we went, the more quiet and lifeless it was getting around. On the surface it was quiet too, only the flow of air created an atmosphere around, but here it was damp, dark and compressed. I was afraid that when we will get inside and in the tunnels, then maybe they will be flooded with water. But my fears were vain. We had to go through the completely destroyed part where used to be turnstiles and ticket office – there wasn’t anything of that. Just a huge gaping hole into which we entered, and which turned into the steps leading to the station. It looked very strange, as after an explosion gone off many years ago.
We went down there. Annie took my flashlight and shone on the high arches above us.
- Air is so stale here, I have all compressed within, - she said - although we are very close to the exit. I do not know for sure, it was described to me quite a while ago, but I'm afraid that somewhere tunnel is filled and the air does not pass. Otherwise it would be some draught.
- No, it is usually pumped in here, and the next station can be far away. Therefore, the air is not pulled away.
The walls were all covered with thick dust, but in any way marble still give a reflection. Our weak flashlight well-lit the whole room. Therefore, we could clearly see every single detail, and to orient the direction in which we shall follow.
We were hesitating to go down and through the tunnel. We stood there for ten or twenty minutes, talking and listening to our voices lifelessly repulsing froom these dusty walls. Here no one would ever found it. For some reason no one went down here. Usually people leave traces. Teenagers cover the walls with some drawings, bring the trash, or just burn fires and cinder the poor stuff. But there was nothing. It was as pure as test tube thrown out of the lab, and lying for fifteen years in the cellar. Perhaps it did not seem strange, because we really did not know, why in this part of the city was such a desert. Perhaps there was some contamination, but rather a chemical one than radioactive. If there was such a thing, most likely, the city would have been settled out, and even we would know about it.
After standing for a while, I felt a slight shudder of the surface. Something heavy was approaching. We looked at each other. Annie quickly came up to me and pressed excitedly.
- What is it?- She whispered to me, but I did not know what to say. It was like the usual approach of a train or a tram, when you are somewhere in the building nearby.
It soon became clear that a train was comming, he heard the creak of the rail, but there was no light. We felt awfully alarmed.Perhaps, the trains were still moving there, and this line has been looped with others.
Sound closed to the possible maximum, but there still was no light in the tunnel. And then on the right side of us, from the black hole of tunnel came up the train, it was of a very strange form. We were just on the right side, and it was moving straight at us, we could have a good look at it, if ... But there was no light. I had to light with flashlight directly on the train, ignoring the fact that we can be seen. It was mooving slowly and was about to stop.
I immediately realized that after another moment, if it stops, I will take Annie and we run to the exit.
It took another moment, and I had completely forgotten about everything. In the train moving to us sat a machinist, and there was no life form in him at all. He was wearing a form of subway employee, cap, epaulets, something else ... but it was not a man - it was a skeleton. The skeleton ran a cart with no roof, which had a conventional front of a train, but there were no cars in the full sense. There was only a base with wheels and seats. Perhaps it was some kind of a repair train, focused on repair of communications and power grids, but then it did not come to my mind. Then I just could not move and stood there, trying to understand what is happening.
The most senseless in this situation was that this goast was moving in the opposite direction, and not where the train usually go. He was traveling in the opposite direction.
The train stopped. All was quiet. The rattle died away. Perhaps at this very moment invisible passengers were going into it, but we did not see them. It was just quiet. No sound was heard of the driver.
Annie suddenly pulled me by the hand, and we had inexplicably turned to be inside. We sat on the seats. The train started. Entered into a loop to turn, and then drove to where we needed.
We were moving very slowly. Annie and I nervously looked around. It was a strange feeling. We were in complete darkness, under ground, illuminating only with a flashlight in my hand. We saw communications that were bizarre and unusual, there was no roof. It was creepy and scary. It was a short time spent in this unusual movement. Soon after we started, the train stopped. It was not a station, but just a stop. After some time I took Annie's hand, helping to descend into the tunnel behind the train. I thought that if the driver decides to crush us down, I would have time to move aside quickly with the girl, fortunately there was enough space for it. On each side there were around half a meter of the car.
We went down, of course, not without difficulties - only at the stations the train are low, and in the tunnel it is a lunker of such a height that it is better never to deal with it. As soon as we found ourselves between the rails, the train gave a grinding sound and left away.
We held each other for another moment and then went further by foot. Annie was in front of me with a flashlight and she lighted the way. I asked her not to touch the rail. Though there was not a single sound of electric background noise, it was frightful to be pierced with shock.
We walked for a long time, about fifteen minutes. We did not talk at all, and perhaps feared to be heard. I often looked back. But Annie had our flashlight and I did not see anything behind.
Ahead there appeared new arches of another abandoned station, which was immediately next to the one from which we first rode, and then walked. We went up the side stairs and entered into a similar hall, but it only seemed so. Then I began to notice that something was wrong here. Annie confidently went ahead of me, lighting the way. She knew where we should go. And we had almost reached the stairs that would have brought us to the surface. Suddenly, to my surprise, Annie, whom I almost caught up, turned and ran toward me. Torch flew out from her hands and fell with a thud on the ground. She quickly grabbed me with both hands and stood motionless. I took her by the shoulders and quietly asked what had happened. She was not breathing. We stood in the middle of the empty and dusty hall of abandoned subway in an embrace and said nothing.
I looked at her intently and did not understand why she does not answer. Once again I asked her what was wrong with her, and still have not heard a response. Then she broke down and sharply inhaled the air, even with a a little cry.
- Do you hear that?
And only when she asked me a question my feeling of ambience returned to me. Because before that she led me, and I did not think about anything, focusing only on the stat of leading.
Around us, in the walls there was something strange, something alive. It was a yellow marble, which was in constant motion and shed rustling sound.
Annie let me go and I picked up a flashlight, pointing it first to the right and then to the left side. We, in silence, stood watching the walls. Gradually they began to take shape. It were forms of people, the bodies that floated and then sank into the stone marble. They were of the color of the same marble. Something not conscious, which had no eyes and look to see.They just were there, sheding rustling sounds.
We went to different ends of the hall watching the walls. I was saying something and, for some reason, it was not scary to me and her.
- Look on the floor - I already got tired of looking at the walls, and for some reason I looked down - I think it's rain.
We looked one more time together on the floor - it was made of dust, completely covered. And suddenly large spots of rain began to appear on it. The spots were of oval shape, like slanting rain with strong wind. The water was quickly absorbed by the dry dust. But the drops appeared again and again.
Annie stretch out her hand, but she did not feel water dripping, though everywhere around us the floor was covered with raindrops. Then, we once again looked up, but it was just the vault above us, there was not an open sky, no fire tubes, nothing from where the water could pour.
- Annie, let's go from here, I have a feeling that something will happen here now. I do not feel like to know that will it be.
- Come on, we are leaving quickly.
We ran up the stears and found ourselves on the surface. The exit here was short and we felt a whiff of the sea.
- I did not know that we will find ourselves here. I always watch this part of the city from the opposite side of the bay.
- Yes, outgate to the sea is right here. I did not know it either.
We went to the pier. It was not the open sea, only a small bay, on the opposite side, in three, four kilometers there were houses, and the right side of the city.
It was even lighter around than before we stepped down. But the light was still given by the moon. We stayed underground for about an hour, so everything was still asleep, it was night. The houses, on the opposite side, across the bay, were shrouded in mist, and there was not a single lighted window. It seems that there also, as here, no one lived. But, of course, it was just an illusion.
We looked at the water, small waves wewre breaking off the granite pier. On the right side of us the bay was running into the open sea. And there, on the horizon, it was a beautiful area of clouds illuminated by moonlight. The air was very special, fresh and moist. So much the contrast comparing to underground, that we could not breathe enough.
- Well, shall we go?
- Yes, let's go.
We turned back. Approached the exit to the station, which we had just left. I checked for how long will the flashlight charge function- it was all right. It should have been enough. We began to descend the stairs, looking at the vaults of abandoned underground. It was even more dilapidated than the one from which we came. There were cracks all around and it was overgrown with grass.
- Annie, are you sure that we have to go back and repeat all the same way?
- Yes, it should be. Moreover, there is no other way, everyone goes that way.
- And what is the point of this?
- I think the point for now is that we will make it. The meaning is in our action. But the conclusions, if they will be, shall come later. They will come, after some time, and if we pass there. We've got freedom of choice, and it is so important.
- What is the choice made of?
- Of the fact that it is not clear of what had shall we choose ...
I thought - now over there something is waiting for us. I did not want to come back. Here, on the surface, everything was crystal, covered with frost and the moon. And there ...
But we continued to descend the stairs.