Maddy Grier Hinds, Grade 8
The same broadcast happens every day at one fifty-two sharp. “Nebula Metro” I believe it was called. It cannot be paused or replayed. No matter what was on at the time, it will still play. It cannot be captured on video or in a photo. Sometimes I’d ask my parents about it, they’d say I had gone mad. Once I tried to show it to them, but all they would say all they could see was a black screen. I think I was fifteen at the time. My parents were arguing downstairs again, they were louder than usual. I think it was something about money, or alcohol, or me. Those were the most common topics. I hated it, all of it. I wanted peace and quiet for once. I grabbed my backpack, filled it with only some snacks and a charger for my phone. I walked down the stairs to see my parents fighting in the kitchen. I bumped up the volume on my headphones to try and drown them out. It only muffled them. I snuck over to the back door, but as it slid open it creaked.
Sometimes I’d ask my parents about it, they’d say I had gone mad.
“Hey! Where do you think you’re going at this hour?! It’s one in morning!” My mother barked at me.
“To a friend’s place.” I lied.
“Oh no you’re not! You’re staying here. End of discussion. Go to your room!” She commanded
I knew fighting back was pointless. “May I go to the restroom first?” I asked
“Of course, bud.” My dad said hesitantly.
I walked into the bathroom and climbed out through the window, locking the door behind me. I knew my mother would be angry, but I didn’t care. I then remembered something, there was a number to call for the Nebula Metro, I had written it down the night before. I called it but no body picked up, it was odd, if this is some twisted scam, shouldn’t they have picked up at least? I then realized the time, one-fifty. It was two minutes until the broadcast, I just needed to find a TV maybe, just maybe, it would give me an address. I dashed over to downtown, most of the shops were closed. I checked the bar that was practically always open. And ran inside and I saw that the TV was on, the broadcast had just started. It always the same thing, the name, the company, and the address; Field Station. I had gotten it, Field Station. I entered it in my GPS and started walking. It was only a quarter of a mile away from where I was.
I arrived at Field Station at one-fifty-five. It took me a minute to realize I was at the right place. Field Station looked like some old, abandoned subway you’d see in a horror movie. I let my curiosity get the better of me and I made my way inside. I pulled out my phone’s flashlight and wandered around for a bit. After a while I heard a distance phone ringing. I followed it until I found an old ticket booth. I made my way in and picked up the phone. There was someone on the other line, a woman, sounded around the ages of twenty and thirty.
“Congratulations! You’ve found Nebula Metro. Very few make it this far I hope you enjoy your time with us.”
That’s when I noticed I wasn’t alone.
The call dropped after that. Then I could hear wheels screeching to halt from a distance. The train was there in the blink of an eye, the doors opening with a sickening screech. With hesitation I climbed in, the doors closing behind me. The train started up again, it was pitch black inside. I grabbed onto a handrail and waited. As we continued moving lights started to flicker on, that’s when I noticed I wasn’t alone. There were other people with me if you could even call them that. Scales, feathers, eyes, and ears, they seemed to be watching me. Quietly judging my every move.
It was very quiet, no body spoke. There wasen’t even in intercom, people would get on and off here and there when we slowed down and stopped randomly. Mostly everyone stayed put though. I would check the time here and there, but it was still 1:57 every time I checked. Time seemed to be going slower on this train, either that or my phone’s clock froze. It was what felt like hours before it turned to 1:58. I was relieved to know my phone hadn’t broken, but I was more so confused on why it took so long.
A girl got on the train alone at 1:59, she looked to be around the age of six. She was all alone, her black silky hair touched her back and covered little bits of her face, it was adorned with a pale pink ribbon. She wore a frilly pink dress and white stockings. She was holding a small rabbit plush; it too had the same pink ribbon. She stumbled as she got on, making her way to an open seat. She looked around and kicked her legs excitedly as she sat. She then suddenly made eye contact with me; she cocked her head confused. I simply looked back and slightly tilted my head in return. She just kept staring at me, she looked like she had something to say. Her emerald, green eyes seemed to pierce through my skin. After a minute or so she hopped off her seat and waddled over to my direction.
“Hello sir! My name’s Adeline! What’s yours?” she said cheerfully.
“Oh, uhm. I’m Leo.” I replied hesitantly.
“That’s such a cool name! Wait, are you Leo Brown?” she asked.
I stood there in shock. This random girl not only recognized me enough to walk over and ask for my name, but she knew my last name too. How could she have possibly known? It’s not like I have any friends back home.
“Because if you are, you got to be on the news! You looked so cool! You’re a celebrity!” She continued, “I’m so jealous. I want to be on TV just like you!”
No, it couldn’t be. It must be a different Leo; it’s got to be. Theres no way my parents would write me off as missing, and this quick too. And there’s no real reason I would be broadcasted on the news that quickly either.
“Wait, why was I on the news? And when was this?” I asked her.
She replied immediately “Oh! It was maybe last year. I think you were missing someone, because in big red letters below you it said: 'MISSING!' Did you ever find who you were missing?”
“Wait, last YEAR?!” I ask asked hastily.
She nodded happily. I looked around on this train, how long had I actually been here?