Is it looking at me? It’s too damn dark, I can’t even tell if it’s facing me. My heart raced, as the train swayed, unconcerned about my fear. If anyone watched the cameras anymore, they long since gave up caring. The smell was enough of a clue to any potential riders, old piss, rotten food, layers of sweat, every surface had been touched by a million people.
Only the desperate entered the desolate subways anymore. I had to get across town, and didn’t have the money for better transportation. The government promised the subways would continue to run, for anyone who wished to use them. Technically accurate.
But then the creature shifted its footing, and I saw the shine of the dim lights reflected in my direction. It was looking at me, and my mind couldn’t process anything anymore. Instinctively I froze. As if time slowed, I saw it reach up, and grab the overhead steadying bar. Its fingers ended in claws too long. The bulk of its body seemed wrapped in a coat, thick against the cold above ground. It had a head, two eyes, but that’s about all I could make out.
After a while, it hadn’t moved, and I relaxed again.
“Last stop – Macy’s/Sear’s/Best Buy/Safeway sponsored this auditory reminder.” I jumped, and the creature mirrored my movement exactly.
It’s a joke, an illusion. I’ll just ignore it. I moved to the exit, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the creature continue to mirror my movement. The dim light didn’t improve in the subway station, and as the doors opened, the inside smell mixed with dust, and exhaust smell. I put my hand over my face and stepped out.
The creature mimicked me, hand over mouth, and walked at the same pace toward the stairs up.
I paused, and pretended to answer my phone, and the creature did the same, a silhouette in the grey tiles, and concrete pillars. I pretend hung up and squared my shoulders to face it.
As if an old fashioned tape recorder captured my own voice and replayed it, I heard “Hello?”
“I’d like it if you went upstairs first.”
Same crackling repeat of my own words.
“Fine.” I shook my head, and raced toward the stairs. The creature followed me every move, and we got closer.
There were no extra details visible, as if all light entered the creature – never to be seen again.
Refusing to stare, I made my way upstairs, and it took the opposite side of the stairwell and moved up with me.
Just before the sun beam hit me, I felt the creature touch my hand, an icy plunge of my blood, it whispered, “I’m solar powered.” It ran the rest of the way up the stairs, and waved at me as it faded to nothing, as if it existed in thin air and only the lack of light made it visible to me.
I smiled, as I had heard of these creatures, and most of them got attacked on sight. I had spared it, and in doing so I gave me a secret. Pixaligators were a myth no more to me.