Second Life, a Flash Story

The musk of the subway was beyond the homeless who inhabit it, it was like death had been their for years and left to fester. Adam could only notice the smell but despite its strength, he seemed to be the only one who recognized it. The stench could not phase the bustle of the crowd and even if it could, the rush of their lives would neglect something so far away as another’s death.

Adam wanted to follow the smell but was bound by commitment to be timely. It was this small disarray that caused Adam to fall on out onto the train tracks. He tripped over nothing particular, as minor as his own feet, and tumbled onto the rails. The last Adam remembered was feeling the cool rail against his skin and being lulled into a deep sleep by its comfort.

There was a small clamor among the crowd; a few gasps and cries but none moved to action. The roar of the train filled the death-smelling subway as it approached the station. Adam awoke to see the headlights of the train, and he knew that death lay ahead of him. His body tingled and his skin poured sweat. The train started to slow but there was no accompanying sound of brakes. Adam tried to look around himself but he too was moving slower. The audience of the accident screeched until they looked like paused characters on a TV program. Adam froze too.

Adam knew it was a hallucination but he felt somebody grab him off the railroad seconds before the train would run him over. There was a brief cheer from the crowd but they persisted with the lives they had to lead. Adam had to do the same.

Adam’s life was not remarkable but he was a kind man. When his daughter was born he cried in bliss. He cried again when he she said her first word, started walking, started school, graduated high school, and again when she went to college. He’d seen his daughter grow up into an intelligent woman who was truly independent. He and his wife continued with their same routines and though they never argued, there was also no passion left in the marriage.

Adam was fifty-three years old when he died again. A heart attack took him in his sleep, paramedics weren’t able to respond fast enough. As he died in the prolonged dream, he returned to his body on the railroad tracks. He smelled death again and saw people staring from the edge of the platform out of his peripheral. The train was becoming unglued from its spot and along with it the spectators were moving to gestures of astonishment or pulling out their cellphones. The light overhead and the headlights of the subway blinded Adam so he covered his eyes. Then, like a sudden jerk in a rollercoaster time crunched back to its natural speed. And though time had returned to normal it seemed as though it slowed again as it rolled over poor Adam.

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