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I reached for my pocket and took out my phone. It had just over 1% battery remaining as I breathed in deeply. The clock on my phone read 9 PM, which was about the usual time I hop off the bustling Green line, buy some milk at Ram’s Metro Buy n Save, and head home for Sally. It took me a moment to realise that something was amiss. I turned and shouted “Hello?” to see if anyone was around. No one. It was dark and I was alone in the coach. My heart started racing. I usually took the middle coach in the Green line, but I don’t remember which one I took today. Was it the last one? Was I in the repair yard and had gotten detached from the main train? I quickly asked Siri to dial Sally, and of course, to my frustration, there was no network available.
I could vaguely make out the door from where I had fallen asleep in the darkness. I decided to stand up and head for the door. Of what’s left of my phone battery, I thought using it as a flash light made most sense. I switched it on.
Duuu… ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬
I jumped, startled. It was a song, possibly in German, and it was coming further away from the door. I quickly used my flashlight to scan around me and my heart started racing faster. There were posters of theatrical plays from Middle Europe lined all over the coach, but torn.
An old lamp post beyond the coach suddenly lit up as the song faded away and I saw the clear outline of a small boy walking slowly toward the coach. I decided to go out the train and ask him if he knows wherever this is. I moved my flashlight toward the door and the song started playing louder again. Weird.
It hit me. I turned off the flashlight from my phone and the song stopped. The old lamp had turned itself off too and it was as dark as it was when I had woken up. This hurt my head a little. I wasn’t sure what was happening.
I switched on my flashlight again and headed towards the door, forced it open, and got off the coach.
What was that smell?
A strong wind brought with it a mixture of sea and burnt charcoal. I shouted at the little boy who was still walking towards me in his own jolly pace. I asked him, “Boy, where are we?”
He shouted back, “In the railway station, of course”.
“Which railway station? Which city?”
“‘ave you been drinking Whisky? Papa says not to talk to men like you till the war ends.”
“What? No, come back here!”, I shouted.
No luck. He had wandered away.
My head started hurting like a nightmare, as I walked along. There was something weird about my surroundings. The old lamp posts along the gloomy platform, the wooden chairs, the thick cigarette butts fallen about and the torn posters about a play from Constantinople.
My phone was now dead.
I turned left at the end of the platform and headed west ward. The burnt charcoal smell was getting stronger. There was no road, it was a muddy pathway that led to what looked like a medieval themed hotel. I walked up to it and asked the man that was standing up front, “Could you help me?”
“Sure. What do you need?”, asked the man.
I quickly looked at him without wanting to be rude. He was well built. He wore a strange type of clothing. An almost transparent, one piece gown with a faded glow. He had a hat that was perfectly conical.
I asked him, “Sir, where are we? What is this place?”
He replied, “We’re in East Republic, sir”
I said, “How far away is that from America?”
“Sorry sir, if you’re planning to make a fool out of yourself, please go away.”
I was startled. I did not know what that meant, or how to respond.
I decided to ask him one last question before heading towards what looked like a shop in the distance by a river.
“What year is it?”
“It’s the year Pi, of course, sir.”
A short story that I’d posted on Reddit a couple years ago for /r/WritingPrompts.