Whizzing past maintenance rooms and dark, graffiti ridden tunnels on the subway. Wonder what’s inside all those rooms and corridors. Do people work there? It’d be cool if they lead to an abandoned train station or something.
I always have to hold my breath going past the end of this station. After years of working here, I’d say I’ve built up a pretty resistant nose, but the air here just felt downright toxic. With the bathrooms being locked recently, you have a lot more people going and peeing at numerous corners in the station, wherever it was most “hidden”. It was sad to see such a dilapidated station, honestly one of the worst I knew, but nobody cared about it. It’s so out of the way, it doesn’t get the amount of maintenance that other, more busy stations get.
The guys working at the signal room told me the train wouldn’t cross here for a couple hours. I never trusted the equipment those signal workers used, same stuff they used in the 60’s. How did they work in those rooms? So much outdated machinery and those rooms just feel like they’d give you asbestos poisoning after a few minutes. I wanted to do this job quick and go home, I was exhausted. It was about to be 3 A.M. and I didn’t want to mess up my sleep schedule anymore than I already have. Industrial flashlight in hand, I stood in front of the gate at the end of the station. These are always kept closed during open hours but someone must’ve left it open for me, how thoughtful.
I had to go to the west maintenance room to fix a circuit box there. Maintenance room B. It was a short walk, only a couple blocks at most, but it always felt like a lifetime. The choking atmosphere of those tunnels were unparalleled to anything you’d see in a movie or TV show. Dark, damp, and the constant threat of having some pest knaw at your ankles. I made sure to keep my pant legs tucked tightly into my boots before traversing these tunnels. Turning on my flashlight, I headed onto the maintenance path, I could see some of the signal lights that weren’t working properly. Each step I took was answered back with a tense echo, fighting with the various dripping and creaking sounds to see which could be louder. I shined my light in front of me to reveal maintenance room B.
Right inside the room was a short hallway that separated into two more hallways at the end. To the left were more maze-like hallways that eventually lead to some equipment rooms. Where I needed to go was the right. It was just a straight hallway that lead to the room with the circuit box, I forget what else exactly was in that room. Heading my way in, I could hear the whirring of machinery and the flickering of old, fluorescent lights echoing from each hallway.
Before I could analyze the entire room, I heard a sudden crack and a growl coming from one of the hallways I came from. Startled, I turned around and put a hand over my toolbox. I stayed there in that position for a couple seconds before looking around some more. Was I just being paranoid? What could’ve made that cracking sound, and that growl? It wasn’t like the cracking of a bulb or anything, it sounded like something getting hit against something, I couldn’t describe it. I decided to head over slowly to the circuit box, looking behind me as I walked. The sooner I got done with this, the sooner I could get out of here. I was being careless, looking back too much, I tripped on a pipe and fell on the palms of my hands. I stayed there, kneeling on the ground for a couple of seconds, looking back at the hallway entrance. I picked myself back up and dusted myself off. I finally reached the circuit box.
With shaky hands, I unlocked the box and opened it slowly, looking behind me at all times. I glanced back at the box, I was able to scope out the issue rather quickly despite my nervousness. I reached for my toolkit when, suddenly, I heard another cracking sound behind me. This time it was way closer to me, like it came from inside the room. My heart sank as I quickly turned around. I don’t think I could’ve yelled my lungs out at that moment if I wanted to.
At the entrance to the hallway, there stood what could only be described as a beast. Tall, almost reaching the top of the entrance way, I could see it slouched over, holding the corner of the wall next to it for support. It had short, jet black fur with a lean build. I could see half of its torso, it was stretched and contorted, yet scarily human-like. What stood out the most was its head. It had an indescribable form, it was like it was shrouded by darkness. All I could make out were a few white highlights and two, cold, red eyes with a stare piercing through me.
We stared at each other for a few seconds before it slowly turned around and lumbered back into the hallway. I stepped backwards to rest my back against the wall, my knees were shaking violently and it felt like I was about to collapse. The amount of questions running through my mind could fill up a short novel. My top question wasn’t “What was that thing?” or “How did it get here?”, it was “How could I get out of here?”. There was nowhere else to go but back into the hallway. I decided to make a break for it. Whether that was a stupid decision or not, I was about to find out.
Running into the hallway, I looked at the entrance to the maintenance room to find the creature completely blocking it. It towered over me as it stared directly into my eyes. It started to walk towards me slowly. In a panic, I ran to the other hallway, the one directly across from the room I came from that lead to the equipment rooms. What an awful idea, I could’ve done anything better like hit it with the toolkit or go back and hold my ground. What I decided for myself was to go into a twisting, maze-like hallway with no guaranteed exit. I ran through the tight corridors as I heard the terrifying creature lumber behind me.
I was too scared to look back, my heart was pounding at a million beats per second. What took a few seconds felt like an hour as I finally made it through the claustrophobic hallways. What awaited me was worse than anything I could’ve ever imagined. It was a bit dark to make out exactly what was in the equipment room I ended up in, but there were at least 10 of the same creature gathered around what looked like a table at the center. I had lost all hope at that point, whatever was in store for me, I hoped it would be over quick.
To my surprise, the lights came flickering on. As my eyes adjusted to the brightness, I could make out a… birthday cake? On the table in the middle of the room was a large birthday cake with words written out in icing on it, I couldn’t make out exactly what it said. There were also a couple red plastic cups stacked to the side, sitting next to some paper plates, napkins, and some plastic utensils. They all rested on a fun-looking table cloth with some sort of balloon/confetti pattern. I hadn’t noticed it until now, but all of the creatures in the room were wearing paper party hats. The one on the far left blew on a little noisemaker as a honk reverbed across the room. They all started clapping and making low growling sounds. There was a monster right next to me I hadn’t noticed, it handed me a party hat and a noisemaker. How did they know it was my birthday today?
That probably wasn’t the smartest question I could’ve asked myself at the moment. Maybe I should’ve asked myself what exactly these things were and how they all got here. The monster that was behind me caught up and started pushing me gently to the table at the center. I could finally read what the cake said. I couldn’t believe what was happening. It said “Happy Birthday” and then my name right under it. I looked up and saw a few of the monsters staring at me in anticipation, a few of them were talking amongst themselves. I saw a chip bowl in the corner of the room with a couple of them gathered around. The monster behind me handed me a knife and stared at me. I could tell it wanted me to cut the cake. I was too scared to imagine what would happen if I didn’t conform, so I did as it wanted. As I sliced through the cake, the monsters that were gathered around the table clapped and growled a bit. One of them handed me what looked like a birthday card. I opened it up as a burst of confetti came popping out of the inside.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND MANY MORE
FROM: ████████ “
I couldn’t make out the writing of the name, it wasn’t just hard to describe, it was incomprehensible. A $100 bill slipped out of the card and into my lap. I was astonished, scared, confused, and a lot of other things. It took a while, but I decided to roll with it. If these things were just here to throw me a party, why ruin the fun? It ended up being a super fun night. I wasn’t able to understand the monsters’ growling, but they were thankfully able to understand me. I think I made a few good friends that day. Sadly, I got fired the day after for failing to fix the circuit box, I had completely forgotten about it on my way back.