The Empty Train


This story has won 1st prize in this Challenge!😊

This week’s WOW prompt is – “The Empty Train”

A train rolls into a station, you get on and see that is completely empty. What do you do? What goes on in your mind? Does it ring an alarm of suspicion or give you a special solitary ride on the rails? Do you think an empty train can lead to a full story? We want you to buy a ticket and get on this empty train, and write a wonderful blogpost as this empty train meanders through the tracks on its journey. Where will your empty train lead you? Well, this friday give us a glimpse of the destination you are on and the beautiful journey the empty train takes you through.

Rashi slung her purse over her shoulder, picked up her lunch bag and walked out of her office cubicle.

She was exhausted.

She couldn’t wait to get home, put her feet up and sip on a cup of tea as she mindlessly changed T V channels.
As she walked towards the Train Station, she mentally cringed at what lay ahead. Fighting for enough space to stand. Being crushed between sweating bodies. Keeping your belongings close to your body, or within visible distance.

When the government introduced a ‘Ladies Special’ train for the peak hours in the morning and evening, all the ladies had been joyous, thinking they would now travel comfortably, what with an entire train to themselves. But their happiness was short lived, as the Ladies Special filled up as quickly as her Ladies Compartment would.

Rashi sighed.

She crossed the road and entered the Terminal, her right hand moving automatically to the little pocket outside her purse, and fishing out her train pass. She touched the card to the red eye of the machine which let out a soft click and the barrier snapped up to let Rashi walk through it.

She wrapped her dupatta around her waist, clutched her bag tightly under her arm and holding her lunch bag like a shield walked towards her regular place on the bustling Platform No 3. As she squinted towards the distance she could make out the outline of her train approaching. She waited for it to groan to a stop at the station, with her compartment door right in front of her. When it did, out of habit, Rashi looked down and swiftly walked inside. When she looked up she blinked.

The train was empty.

Completely empty.

She shut her eyes tight and opened them again. Yes. Still empty.
Rashi pinched herself. Hard.
That hurt!
She looked around once more, but the train was still empty.
The train moved forward with a lurch and Rashi sat down with a thud. Then immediately got up.
What was happening? What was wrong? Where were her usual fellow passengers and other women? Had there been an epidemic? A terrorist attack?

But the station was bustling as usual. As was the traffic, when she walked from her office.
Then what was the explanation for this eerie emptiness?
Rashi gulped, and reached into her bag for her water bottle. She glugged down the liquid till the bottle was empty.
Who would tell her what was happening? Whom should she call?
She rummaged through her purse for her mobile and gratefully fished it out. A blank screen greeted her. Damn! She had forgotten to charge it again!

Rashi didn’t know what to do.

She looked out of the barred window to see people outside carrying on as usual. The T V hooked high up near the ceiling of the train compartment played the local news, without tickers announcing Breaking News.

Should she get off at the next platform?
She would, Rashi decided.
This empty train was creeping her out.
She walked towards the door and stood by it, too nervous to sit comfortably. The breeze fanned her face and Rashi closed her eyes to this pleasant feeling.

The train started slowing down as the next platform approached and before she could step out, as decided, she saw a well-dressed woman get in, through the other door.
Her foot hovered uncertainly at the threshold of the compartment and in the next instant she had both feet inside as the train started.
She walked toward the woman, who was standing in the other compartment. Coming closer she realized it wasn’t a woman, but a Hijra (eunuch) who flashed her a dazzling smile.
‘Why is the train empty? Where is everybody?’ Rashi shot the questions without returning the smile.
The Hijra looked at her like she was crazy, ‘What do you mean by ‘where is everybody?’ he mocked ‘which world are you living in?’
A frown creased Rashi’s face, ‘What do you mean?’
‘Arre! The year’s biggest sale at ‘EmptyMyPocket’ has started today. All the women are there!’

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

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