The late evening sky was clear as Emma sat at the far end of the New York City subway car. There was no one else in this dingy segment with her; she tried to avoid dozing off and missing her stop.
The train conductor’s muffled voice announced the next stop. “THIS IS WEST 153RD STREET, TRANSFER IS AVAILABLE TO A, B, and F TRAIN. NEXT STOP IS WEST 180TH STREET.”
Emma stood from her seat and waited by the door, peering through the thin glass window. She was met with both her reflection and another belonging to someone else behind her; they wore a dark hoodie, and their face wasn’t visible within the glass. Her pulse quickened as she turned around quickly, only to discover that no one was behind her.
“Ugh, I’m losing it again…” Emma mumbled to herself as she turned back around. For the past few days, she’s had nothing but hallucinations, whether it was seeing things that weren’t there or hearing and smelling things that were invisible.
The train came to a screeching halt into the outside station. She tried to calm her nerves and prepared herself to leave the train car.
The wind whipped through her ebony locks as she stepped out and headed towards the station’s steps, leading her to the station’s ticketing kiosks. She made it to the bottom of the steps and headed towards the long narrow corridor of the dimly lit station.
“Once I get home, I’m going to need to rest,” Emma said to herself as she paced herself down the long hallway.
From behind, she heard a rattling noise, a sharp breeze affecting her compact frame. She stopped mid-step and glanced back, finding nothing but scattered paper and random garbage littered on the concrete floor. Emma reflected on her paranoia at this point. She just might be on the brink of going insane.
She quickly exited the station and headed towards the city streets of the Bronx. The city’s atmosphere was cold and grimy as she walked down the hazy sidewalk. Luckily, her apartment was right across the street from the station. Getting a good night’s rest seemed to be just what she needed.
Loud voices and zooming cars trailed behind Emma as she hurried into her apartment building. Thankful to have made it back, she ran to the awaiting elevator door.
She stepped in and pressed the button to her floor, the lights giving an unexpected flicker. This alarmed Emma as a frigid chill surged through her. She felt an eerie sensation as she left the elevator after reaching her floor and headed towards her apartment door. She looked at her surroundings before taking out her keys and opening her door.
The sickening feeling subsided as she closed her door and inhaled the relaxing scent of cinnamon and vanilla. The peaceful ambiance soothed her senses as she set down her purse and keys and headed to the back of the apartment. Reaching her bedroom, she turned on her iPod dock perched upon her nightstand; “Burn” by The Cure blasted through her speaker and poured into the small apartment.
“Yes, much better,” she said to herself.
She did everything she needed to get ready for bed. It was close to midnight when she ate a late dinner and turned down all the lights in her apartment. She headed back to her room and turned off her music dock.
Emma settled into her bed and felt the day’s stress wash over her, allowing sleep to take over her exhausted body.
BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP
Emma groggily turned off her alarm as she rolled on her side in her deep covers. With foggy vision, she peeked at her clock and panicked.
She rushed through her morning routine, hurriedly grabbing her keys before darting out the door. Her high heels clicked upon concrete as she refused to use the elevator and ran down the narrow steps. She overslept yet again because of her nightmares and her ever-growing lack of sleep. She cursed under her breath as she ran to the station to catch her train.
Thankfully, Emma caught the subway she always took to work, but there were no seats left as she squeezed on into the train car, packed with people during the morning rush hour.
She held onto the train’s grab handle as it pressed her between two women near the entrance. It seemed like this would be a long ride to work. Closing her eyes, she let the steady rocking of the train car lull her into a short catnap. Once she drifted, she sank into a pit of darkness. Ice crept up through her body, and she jolted awake.
To her surprise, there was no one else present. The train car was empty except for a looming somebody standing at the opposite end. Emma slowly stepped away from her spot, and she shifted to the middle of the car. The eerie being didn’t move from its spot, but Emma felt as though every hair on her body was standing on end.
She met with a strong, handsome face possessing shadowy, sunken eyes. His black hoodie cloaked his head, and his dark jeans clung to his legs. His dusted boots stood firmly on the ground as he uncovered his hands from inside his pocket, unveiling sharp claws that dripped oil from pointed fingertips. Emma felt her pulse quicken as the sludge dripped to the ground, for to her terror, the oil mutated into a rabid, deformed dog. The canines’ skin oozed black and crimson, vicious fangs protruding from its mouth as it snarled ferociously.
The man’s lips curled into a sadistic grin. With one quick gesture, he opened his hands, and the dog charged forward at Emma. She let out a hollowing scream as she fell to the floor with a hard thud. “Don’t come any closer! Stop!” she screamed, covering her face with her arms.
However, no impact came.
Instead, she was met with a group of people, all of whom were either gawking at her or giving her a quick side-eye. Emma realized the train car was once more filled with passengers. In fact, everyone was just now beginning to make their exit.
Embarrassed, she picked herself up off the floor and nervously grabbed her bag before bolting out of the car. The vision was still fresh in her mind as she exited the station. She hurried towards the light outside to catch the city bus; it really didn’t matter anymore that she would be an hour late. All she wanted now was a fresh setting that wasn’t so dark, and she needed it fast.
After retreating from the depths of the subway station, Emma rushed to board the city bus. She knew she needed to get to work, but; she craved fresh air. Luckily, there were only a few people on the bus, so plenty of seats remained available. She sat near the back of the bus, settling in next to the window.
“What the hell is going on with me?”
She muttered to herself. It appeared the nightmarish dreams she’d recently been having were affecting her more than she had realized. The dull roar of the city streets and the rocking of the bus made Emma fall back asleep. The noise faded away and was replaced by the chirping from toads and crickets, causing Emma to crack open her eyes. Her head was no longer resting on the window of the bus, and her vision didn’t linger upon the other passengers. She was still sitting down, though not on a bus but on a single weathered, silver chair. The dark, eerie branches slithered and crept up behind Emma as she jolted up from her seat.
“Where am I? I must be dreaming. I’m still on the bus, headed to work, but everything feels so real, so intense.” Her words caught in her throat after spotting the haunting image before her. A withered man was thrashing about in a metal chair similar to her chair. His hands and feet to the chair’s arms and legs bound him. His muffled cries for help worried Emma as she attempted to reach him. Before she could reach him, a memorable presence blocked her.
In the blink of an eye, the man from the train was, once again, facing her down. Emma experienced harsh, icy dread as she took in the beast’s presence. It was no longer hiding its body, bearing a crimson frame lined with inky veins. A row of spikes traveled down its back to match its exposed claws.
The demon-like creature never took its eyes off Emma as it tore the man from his seat and impaled its razor-sharp talons into the man’s chest, ripping out his still-beating heart.
Emma let out a gut-wrenching scream as the monster threw the lifeless body to the ground. The monster slowly crept closer to Emma. She tried to move from where she was standing, but they froze her solid. As the demon hovered over her shaken form, it revealed its jagged teeth, dripping with saliva. Emma tearfully wept in horror as the monster grabbed her by the face and lifted her with ease. With his mouth still open, Emma could feel the life draining from her body.
Her vision faded back into the darkness, and then there was blood.
It was thick and rich, dripping from her hands as she stared at them in a trance. There was a thick haze surrounding her, leaving her mind a darkened mist as she tried to grasp hold of her true surroundings. Everything was a blur. All she could hear in her mind were the screams.
Within her, a nightmare awoke — a rage and thirst for murder.
Emma could do nothing but surrender her body to the evil inside. She heard the cracking of bones and saw nothing but red lighting and the monster’s body flashing before her eyes. It landed each punch on the other person’s face. She blacked in and out of the movements. She was on the bus one minute and thrown back into the forest the next.
It was uncertain how long Emma fought against the possession before she could pry her eyes open. Once she did, it filled her vision with the sight of scarlet that painted her surroundings. She looked down at her trembling, bloodied hands, chucking the beating heart clasped in her grip.
“What… have I have done?”
She looked down at the floor and saw multiple lifeless bodies. Their faces were crushed and beaten into the pavement. The bus driver’s chest was torn open with a deep gash, and an empty crevice remained where the heart would have been. Slippery claws grabbed her shoulders as a voice breathed into her ear.
“Your deadly secret… is wrath.”