The Reckoning
By Nickers
Published: October 16, 2007

Jim Chad made it on time to catch the train. He sat down breathless and smirked to himself. There was no chance of being caught now — he’d managed to get away with it.

His chest heaved as he panted for air. At least now, he could sit back and relax. He glanced around the carriage, he noticed a thin man, with thick black glasses, sucking on the end of his pen and every few seconds he wrote in his leather bound notebook. A muscled man, with a shaved head and covered in tattoos, listened to his portable cassette player. And a young woman in her twenties, with her hair swept up in a high ponytail, read a magazine.

Chad smiled and tapped his pocket where his trophy lay.

The train left the station. He peered into the blackness of the night. The houses became few and far between, as the train sped through into the countryside. It would be at least thirty minutes before they’d approach the next station.

This was it. His latest assignment — his major break. The boss thought he wasn’t capable of such a job, but Chad, was going to prove him wrong. He had succeeded. It was easier than he thought; creeping around in the dark, taking lives for cash payment now felt like any other job to him. No matter their age, the young, and the old, all Chad saw were pound signs.

At first, he had doubts about this last assignment. But he put aside any feelings he had for the family and continued with the slaughter as if they were cattle. The three lambs and the mother didn’t know a thing while they slept as he shoved an ice pick through the back of their necks, deep inside of their skull. Each body twitched as the ice pick tore through the soft matter of the brain. He was glad they slept on their side or fronts — it made his job easier.

The father he toyed with. He tied him up carefully, woke him and showed him the lifeless corpses lying in their beds. As expected, the father cried and begged for his life. Chad revealed his face to the victim. This he had never done before, but he decided this time it was necessary.

“No,” the victim whispered.

Chad held him by his hair and placed the tip of the ice pick at the back of his skull.

“No, Jim please, no.” The victim lowered his head. “Why? For the love God, why?”

Chad pondered over the question. “No, dear uncle, not God. For money. For the love of money.” The ice pick drove into his skull, his body burst into a spasmodic dance and then fell limp. He removed it and placed it inside of a black canvas bag, then he withdrew a surgical knife and with precision slices, he cut a piece of flesh from the victim’s shoulder, which had a tattoo of a heart and his wife’s name below it. All he needed now were four more pieces from the other bodies to combine as one and his trophy would be complete.

The train rocked side to side as it continued on its journey. Chad pulled his Nike cap over his eyes and thought about the money he would have in a few hours, his first big payment, the first of many more — now that he had proved himself.

The clicking of the tracks underneath stopped. Chad lifted his cap up and looked around the carriage. Everyone was busy doing their own thing. No one seemed aware that the unmistakeable sound had stopped. He glanced out of the window. Darkness.

The young woman lifted her head and smiled at him. She crossed her legs and stroked the magazine.

Chad smiled back. “Long journey.” He frowned as he stared at his hot breath turn into a whispery mist. He didn’t feel cold. He took a deep a breath and then exhaled. He had not been seeing things; his breath was reacting to something cold.

The woman nodded and went back to reading her magazine.
Chad glimpsed at the others. The tattooed man coughed. No vapour.

The train jolted. Chad peered out of the window. Still, nothing to be seen. He checked the time; they had been travelling for fifteen minutes. They would still be going through the countryside. Another five minutes or so, and they should be entering the next town. He slumped down in his seat and closed his eyes.

Once again, the train jolted. This time Chad banged his head off the window. He opened his eyes and rubbed his temple. The young woman was gone. Chad checked the time again. A frown formed on his face. He looked around the carriage; the others were gone too. According to his wristwatch, he had been travelling on the train for three hours.

“What the hell?” He stood up and walked to the door that led to the next carriage. From what he could see there was no sign of anyone. He pulled on the handle, but it wouldn’t open. All of a sudden, he felt cold and nauseous. The toilets were at the other side. With one hand on his abdomen, he ran to the toilet. As soon as he opened the door, he vomited. A hard lump formed in his throat, he gagged for air, he couldn’t breathe. His stomach churned, a flow of vomit helped dislodge the obstruction.

His eyes were fixed on the contents of the toilet, grasping his pocket with one hand he felt for his trophy. Weakness and tiredness overtook him, he stumbled and flung his other hand out to stop himself from falling, somehow he managed to stay conscious. His hand slipped down the wall — it was wet.

Chad forced his eyes away from the contents of the bowl and glanced around the cubicle. Under his hand were smear marks of blood. On the wall written in crimson blood were the words: For the love of God.

He puzzled at the words. Trying to think rationally, he wondered what they meant. Surely, they couldn’t have something to do with his uncle. He had been careful; no one had seen him.
He wanted off the train.

Still grasping at his pocket he sneaked a quick look at the contents of the toilet. He could still feel the piece of skin with the other pieces. He bent closer to take a better look. His eyes were not deceiving him. There, bobbing in the water was the piece of skin with a tattoo of a heart, and a child’s toe. Sharp pain shot through his stomach. He clung onto the edge of the bowl as he vomited up an eyeball, tears streamed down his face. His eyes bulged as he brought up a child’s little finger and a baby’s foot.



“Fucking hell!” He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and slowly pulled out the bag from his pocket. In the plastic bag were the pieces for his trophy.

He stepped back into the corridor, his heart raced, sweat formed on his brow. The silence broke. A child giggled in the distance. Chad ran down the aisle back to the locked door and pulled on the handle. It still wouldn’t open. He spun around to see where the laughter was coming from. Next to Chad’s seat, a young boy about five years old wearing a dull, red velvet suit, sat with his back to him. The child wrote on the floor with a red crayon.

Everywhere he looked were the words ‘For the love of God’ written in red crayon. He reached out to touch the child on his shoulder, but he jumped as the tanoy overhead sprang to life. A gruff voice said, “For the love of God.” He peered up at the tanoy, without thinking he grabbed the speaker and pulled it from the wall and threw it on the floor, kicking it to a nearby seat.

The child turned around and stared at him with bright red eyes, it grinned displaying a mouth-full of crooked, sharp teeth. Its nostrils flared as it sniffed Chad’s scent in the air. Yellowy saliva dripped from its mouth. With a long grey lumpy tongue, it licked its thin pale lips. The boy thing shrieked and tapped its long thick fingernails on the floor.

Chad was beyond fear.

As a reflex action, Chad pulled on the emergency brakes. Nothing happened. Outside the windows was still darkness. He ran to the nearest exit door and frantically pulled at it.

The door wouldn’t budge.

“You can’t run,” said the gruff voice.

Chad froze. He spun around. The childlike creature was sitting behind him. All of a sudden, it grabbed his legs, pulled, and bit down on his calf; blood seeped through his trousers leg. Chad screamed and fell against the door, which forced it open. He lay half in and half out of the carriage. It bit down again on the other calf, this time it managed to bite a chunk of flesh off. Pain shot through Chad’s leg, he kicked out at it, but the childlike boy laughed and pushed Chad out of the doors, he fell to the ground with a thud, and then all went dark.

***

Chad was startled by the hiss of the overhead tanoy.

The young woman rolled up her magazine and stood up.

Chad hauled himself up as she drew closer. He watched in disbelief as she smiled at him. She leaned over him and stared out of the window.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” she said. “It’s not often you get to see scenery like that. So beautiful.”

Chad followed her gaze into the darkness; he had no idea what she was talking about. She retreated to her seat. He stood up and looked round the carriage, ahead of him sat the thin man sucking on his pen, further up was the muscled man with the shaved head tapping his foot. The young woman read her magazine.

At a slow pace he walked up the aisle, his heart raced. He couldn’t have dreamt that. Could he? He looked at his wristwatch and tapped the face. According to that, he had only been on the train for five minutes.

His legs ached. He passed the man sucking his pen. He glanced at the notebook; in neat columns were the words ‘For the love of God’. He looked up and smiled at him. The young woman dropped her magazine and said in a soft voice, “For the love of God.”

Everything appeared to be normal, but Chad sensed something was wrong. He peered through the window on the door leading to the next carriageway. A few people sat drinking coffee and reading newspapers.

Feeling uneasy, he picked up the pace and headed to the toilet. His legs ached and his head throbbed. He had to check it.

He opened the cubicle door. Empty and clean. He looked down the bowl. Nothing. Just water. He entered and locked the door and pulled out the packet with the pieces of his trophy. He had to stop this shit; it was getting to him. He threw the contents into the bowl and flushed it, closed the lid and sat down.

“Shit. What have I done?” He rested his head in his hands.

Severe pain tore through his legs. Blood seeped through his trousers, he pulled up his trousers legs, two holes were in his calves.

He blinked hard. “Fuck man, this can’t be real.”

The toilet door flung open and a small boy stood smiling at him. It took a few seconds for Chad to recognise him. The boy’s smile grew wider revealing its ghastly teeth and his eyes glowed red with enjoyment. It jumped at him, biting and clawing away. He screamed out for help, but the passengers ignored his pleas.

He was unable to fight the boy-creature off as it attacked him, wildly biting chunks of flesh off his body. Blood splattered up the walls. His screams echoed through the carriages as he punched and pulled at the child, but it wouldn’t stop. The child dug its fingernails into Chad’s neck ripping at his vocal chords. He coughed and spluttered up blood. He realised there was no way out. With his last bit of strength, he wrote on the walls a warning, ‘For the love of God.’



He crumbled to the floor in a heap. The creature continued biting chunks from his body. It drove its long thick talons into his stomach, Chad’s eyes opened wide as he watched the monster tear out his intestines. He closed his eyes hoping to pass out.

“Does it hurt?” the childlike creature said in a gruff voice.

Chad opened his eyes, he tried to speak, but nothing happened, blood seeped out of his mouth. His body stiffened as it drove it’s hands deep inside of him, it pulled out his liver and bit a chunk out of it, then it threw the liver up the wall. For a few seconds the liver stuck to the wall, then it slowly slithered down leaving a dark trail behind it.

With his last bit of strength, he managed to feel the large hole in his stomach, choking on blood he stared at his crimson coloured hands.
The creature laughed and drove its hand through Chad’s chest and ripped out his heart. It held the heart on the palms of his hand displaying it to him. Chad watched the beat of the heart slow down.
The pain subsided as he began to let go into the darkness; he blinked up at the words he had written on the wall one last time.

***

David Harris made it on time to catch the train. He sat down and smirked to himself. There was no chance of being caught now. He’d managed to get away with it.

His chest heaved as he panted for air. At least now, he could sit back and relax. He glanced around the carriage, he noticed a thin man, with thick black glasses, sucking on the end of his pen and every few seconds he wrote in his leather bound notebook. A muscled man, with a shaved head and covered in tattoos, listened to his portable cassette player. A young woman in her twenties, with her hair swept up in a high ponytail, read a magazine. And a man sat with his head resting on the window, his Nike cap covered his face.

Harris smiled and tapped his rucksack where his trophy of a bundle of blonde hair was placed in a plastic bag…