The whimsical little tune played out over the station tannoy…“Si us plau deixi el tren i no us oblideu de les seves pertinences”……..“Please leave the train and do not forget your belongings”……
Alyssa quietly sniggered to herself when she heard the English translation call out from the speakers. The recorded English accent always sounded so silly and over the top to her…
“Ressha o hanare, jibun no mochimono o wasurenaide kudasai"
She always liked listening to the Japanese translation though, it sounded so sweet and otherworldly to her young Catalan ears. Alyssa let out a sigh as she leant her back against the wall and patiently waited for the late train home. She reached into her mac pocket to count out her tips that she had made that night. ‘Hmm..not as much as last night'.
She shoved the few crumpled notes and coins back into her loose macintosh pocket and straightened herself up again to look around at the other people on the platform. There was an elderly man sat down on the bench, his arm rested on his walking stick as he peered into the tunnel. Alyssa’s big dolly eyes peered after his to see nothing but emptiness, as a warm breeze ran through the tunnel and hit her in the face, blowing a dark strand of hair across her lips. She delicately removed the hair strand and tucked it back into her side ponytail as she turned to look to the other side of her. Two teenage boys stood there waiting, they were probably around her age, eighteen or nineteen, and were giggling incessantly as they loudly whispered about a girl they had met at a bar that night. Alyssa rolled her eyes at the boys who were far too busy nudging each other and joking around to notice. There was no one else around, but Alyssa was used to the quietness of the late nights that she worked at the tapas bar. She actually preferred it to the business of the day, and the rush hours and crowds of people everywhere. Alyssa always considered herself a creature of the night, she liked the peacefulness, and the mystery that the darkness brought, and often slept in until midday anyway as she wouldn’t go to bed until the early hours.
The rumbling sound of a train echoed in the distance and within seconds, the long train pulled into the platform. The train doors slid open and a small flurry of people rushed out, eager to get home after their own long night shifts. Alyssa stepped onto the train and took a seat next to the door. She watched the boys step into the other carriage and could still hear them laughing from where she was sat. She looked around and noticed that no one else got onto the train. She quickly looked out of the window behind her, to see the old man still sitting there, peering into the now filled tunnel. Alyssa glanced up at the information screen and could see that it was the last train, just as she had thought, so she quickly looked back at the old man and knocked loudly on the window. The old man didn’t even flinch. Alyssa knocked louder but the old man couldn't tear his gaze away from the other end of the tunnel. She jumped up from her seat and held onto the bar as she called out of the rapidly closing doors “L'últim tren!”
The sliding doors had completely shut and the train started to move away from the platform. Alyssa despairingly stared at the old man that was transfixed on….something?
She sat back down in her seat and thought about the old man that she decided must of been senile. ‘Poor thing..Surely the guards that lock up the station will find him..”. The thoughts of a guard finding old man comforted Alyssa as she relaxed a bit and gazed out of the window, mesmerised by the colourful streaks of the station lights as the train sped though the winding tunnels.
She closed her eyes for a moment and let her body go limp to rock with the motions of the train. She felt her tired body completely relax and stretched out her sore legs as she slowly opened her eyes again. The train started to slow down so Alyssa turned to watch the boys stand up and move closer to the door next to her. As the train came to a stop, one of the boys looked down at her and flashed her a bright smile, only to be met with Alyssa coyly looking down at her black shiny pumps. She quickly peered up again through her dark eyelashes to see that he was still smiling, but she was too shy to return the smile and felt her face flush with an embarrassed shade of pink. The doors closed again and Alyssa scorned herself for being so uncool. She shook off the fleeting exchange with the boy and looked around at the empty train. A few moments passed and the train started to slow again, pulling into Alyssa’s station. She stood up and waited by the door, ready to press the flashing green button. She hopped on to the platform and went to put her tote bag down on the bench as the train pulled away for the final time that night. The roaring train disappeared within seconds, leaving Alyssa alone on the silent platform. Alyssa started to rummage in her bag as she let out a grumble. She pushed her skinny arm even further into her bag to feel around on the bottom for her house keys. She squirmed her face until finally feeling the cold metal keychain in her hand, ‘Ah ha!’
Alyssa triumphantly pulled out the jangling key chain, swung her bag over her shoulder, and started to walk towards the exit, her keys jiggling as she walked. As she walked along the silent platform, the sound of Alyssa’s jingling keys echoed off the walls. She then suddenly stopped in her stride to listen out carefully. She was sure she heard something…’No, it can’t be..not down here!’ Alyssa laughed off her own silly thought. But there it was again… clearly mewing through the tunnels. Meeeooow……Maaaooow! It was most defiantly the sound of a cat.
‘What the?! I’ve never seen a cat at a metro station before?!’ In fact, Alyssa rarely ever saw cats at all, as the city was pretty much overrun with people and their dogs. She walked to the edge of the platform and leant over to look down into the dimly lit tunnel. She couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary so she pulled herself back in away from the edge, and went to walk towards her exit. Her keys jangled loudly as she walked and then as if responding, she heard the cat meow once again. Alyssa stopped and looked behind her to see the faint outline of a cat walking along the tracks towards her. As the cat moved closer, Alyssa bent down slowly and peered over the edge of the platform again to get a closer look. The cat soon came into view and it was the most peculiar cat that Alyssa had ever seen.
The cat was a sphynx cat, so it didn’t have any hair at all on its feline body. Its flesh was grey in colour with black tiger markings, and its face was pointed with bright green cat eyes. It looked as though it was wearing a fine gold chain around its neck and a small charm hanging from it. Alyssa gasped when she saw the cat in full view, and thought how even though unusual, it was one of the most beautiful cats she had ever seen. ‘That must be an expensive breed! Someone will be missing this cat for sure..’ she thought to herself as she studied the creature, trying to stay as still as possible as to not frighten it. The cat stared back at Alyssa and meowed again before turning around and running off, only to stop at the edge of the tunnel and look back again. It mewed loudly and trotted off down the tunnel, and then swerved to the side and looked like it disappeared into the wall. Alyssa couldn’t take her eyes off the cat and then kept her gaze fixed on the empty tunnel as it disappeared. She thought hard for a moment and looked back around at the platform. There was still no one around so Alyssa looked up at the board to see that all trains had now stopped. With her curiosity getting the better of her, Alyssa jumped down from the platform and onto the tracks, and ran as fast as she could after the cat, making sure she stayed as close to the edge as she could.
When she had gotten close to the area where the cat seemed to have disappeared, she looked closely at the wall to try and spot an opening or hole. She couldn’t see anything unusual, not that she would really know what was usual for inside a train tunnel, as it wasn’t a place that most people would venture. However, she did notice a dark patch where a few of the wall lights were not working. She walked over to the dark area and looked at the wall. The darkness was so dense that Alyssa couldn’t really see anything. She winced her eyes and strained to see what could be the faint outline of a smaller tunnel. She then put out her hand to feel nothing but empty space, indicating that she had indeed found an opening. ‘What the hell am I doing?!’ she thought to herself as she slowly stepped into the darkness. She paused and jingled her keys again, to hear a meow not so far away from her. Alyssa determinedly walked on.
After walking for a moment, Alyssa could see a small light up ahead of her. ‘What could that be?’ she thought to herself as she hurried along. As she got closer to the light, she could now see that it was coming from another platform at the end of the dark tunnel.
Alyssa finally stepped out of the darkness, to find herself in the other tunnel, next to a different platform. She leant over the tracks so she could see onto the platform and sighed with relief when she saw it was empty. She quickly ran to the platform edge and reached up to place her bag on the ground, before using all of her strength to hoist herself up.
‘Thank god! What was I thinking?!’ she thought to herself as she dusted off her macintosh and made her way to the nearest exit. When she had reached the steps leading out of the station, she stopped and turned back one last time to shake her keys again. As before, she heard a long meeeeooow coming from the steps in front of her. She turned back around and ran up the stairs to try to catch up with the cat, and found herself at the exit that she wouldn't normally take. Alyssa let out an exasperated sigh as she looked in all directions to see that the cat had already gone, ’Too late… ' .
Alyssa left the metro station and found herself at the back of the park, close to where she lived. As she walked alongside the park, she peered through the railings to see a bright green flash of cat’s eyes. Excited at seeing the cat again, she ran along to the entrance of the park and walked inside to see the sphynx cat sat in the middle of the park path. She tread slowly towards the cat and jingled her keys again, only this time to hear not one meow but many, coming from all directions of the park. Before she had time to take in her surroundings, dozens of cats of all sizes and colours came running towards her and surrounded her legs. To Alyssa’s surprise, they didn’t behave like usual cats, and started to circle her whilst they mewed loudly. Alyssa looked at them puzzled and stepped out of the circle, causing the cats to run off again.
‘That was weird..’ she thought to herself as she looked at the sphynx cat that was still sat in the same place on the path, staring back at her.
Alyssa looked at the cat and thought that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to try to catch it after all, so she walked on, past the cat and through the park.
She glanced back over her shoulder to see that the cat was now following her.
‘Oh now you follow me!’ She turned back around and walked through the park to the other side. As she walked out of the grand gates, she glanced back again to see lots more cats running across the park. ‘I’ve never seen so many cats in the city before’ she thought as she continued to walk down the street.
As she walked on, Alyssa had the strangest feeling that she was being watched. She couldn't see anyone around but could have sworn that she kept seeing small shadows dance from one corner of her eye to the other. When she had finally passed the park, and turned down the little side street, a big black cat jumped down in front of her, seemingly out of nowhere. It glared at her for a moment before turning its head slowly and walking away. She watched the cat saunter over to one of the little restaurants that lined the little street, and jump up onto a seat next to the red and white checked table. It sat there and meowed loudly. 'Hmph...Any minute that cheeky cat will be shooed away' Alyssa thought to herself. Just as she had reached the restaurant, the waiter came bounding out, singing his greetings. Alyssa stumbled when she saw the waiter, and fell into the little red chairs causing the black cat to screech out another loud maaaoow!
The waiter reached out to help Alyssa, only for her to recoil in horror at the sight of the him. She was shocked to discover that the waiter was also a cat! But a standing on two legs, ginger cat...that could speak!
As the white paw reached down to help her, Alyssa abruptly stood up and stared at the waiter in astonishment. The fat waiter cat stared back for a second and then nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders, before turning to the black cat and handing over a menu. The black cat nodded and took the menu and then casually started flicking through its pages. Alyssa couldn't do anything but gawp at the odd creatures. She rubbed both of her eyes with her balled up fists and then opened her eyes again to see the same surreal scene. Alyssa then heard another meow come from behind her so, in a panic she ran off down the street without looking back.
As she reached the end of the street, she turned the corner and then stopped to take a deep breathe before continuing. As she walked on, Alyssa could hear more and more meows coming from the bars and late night tapas cafes. Her eyes frantically searched the bars to see cats at every one, some that looked like usual naked cats, others that were dressed in small outfits like humans would wear, and others dressed in various uniforms or aprons. Alyssa had also started to notice that there were cats sitting on the benches as she passed. One cat that particularly stood out to her was a grey cat with bright yellow eyes, dressed in a black overcoat and had a walking stick leaning on the bench next to him. Alyssa watched the old looking cat to see him precariously lean on his stick to steady himself. He then heaved himself up and started to walk away slowly, on two legs no less! back towards the station.
She stopped to watch the old cat and then without thinking, turned around to follow him. She tried to keep her distance but the old cat walked so slowly that she soon caught up with him. Alyssa was now walking alongside the grey cat, so he looked over at her and simply waved his free hand as if he was beckoning her. Alyssa didn't know what to say so she just let out a little whimpering sound to express her surprise. The old cat continued to limp onwards, and simply let out a maaaooow without looking back at her. Alyssa followed him to the station and down the stairs, all the way to the same platform she had just come from. The old cat hobbled over to the bench and eased himself down carefully. He leant on his stick to steady himself as he peered into the tunnel. Alyssa stopped and stared at him and after a few seconds she let out a loud gasp as she realised that he was just like the old man at the station. She slowly walked over to the bench and sat down beside him. The old cat's gaze was transfixed on the tunnel just as the old man before.
Alyssa followed the cat's gaze to see nothing but emptiness in the tunnel, and then looked back at the old cat's face that didn't move an inch. Suddenly, a deep rumbling sound bellowed its way out of the tunnel, followed by a strong gust of wind that blew back Alyssa's hair. The rumbling grew closer and the sound of a train pulling up filled the platform, but Alyssa couldn't see anything in front of her apart from the platform on the other side. She watched the other platform as a group of cats that seemed to appear out of thin air, quickly ran up the stairs. Her eyes widened as she looked on in shock, only to be brought back to her strange new reality by the old cat nudging her on the arm with his little grey paw. Alyssa quickly looked over to him as he said “L'últim tren!” in a raspy voice.
Alyssa didn't know how to respond and just looked at him blankly as her mind raced to make sense of things. The old cat then shuffled forward and pushed her close to the edge of the platform. Just as Ayssa panicked that she would fall onto the tracks, the cat gave her a final hard shove. "NOOOOOOO!!" she cried out as she fell backwards and landed flat on her back. Her wild eyes darted around to see that she had fallen safely onto a train. She looked back out to the platform to see the old grey cat waving at her as the doors closed and the train glided away.
Alyssa sat up and quickly gathered up all of her stuff that had spilt from her bag and scooped it back in carelessly. She clumsily scrambled back onto her feet and backed herself onto an empty seat. She looked around the train, and blinked hard as she still felt disorientated from the fall. To her amazement she could see five cats sitting on the train, of all different types and colours, sat upright just as a human would. She stared at them with her wide eyes, shifting her gaze from one cat to another, before her vision turned completely black as the lights went out, and the train snaked through a tunnel. The carriage swayed as it sped through the black hole, as bright white flashes of light interrupted the dark. After a moment, the lights flickered back on and Alyssa blinked a few times before looking back at the cats. To her shock, the cats had now changed, every one of them, into a completely hairless sphynx cat. Each one of them still had their same colouring as when they had fur, but now looked like they had lost their coats in the few moments of darkness. After another few moments, the lights started to flicker again and darkness spread through the carriage as the train ripped through a second tunnel. Alyssa was almost prepared to see anything as they emerged this time but after another moment, the lights flickered back on, and to Alyssa's surprise there were no longer any cats on the train but regular looking, human people.
Alyssa let out a gasp as she looked at the woman who was sat across from her. The woman met her gaze and then shifted uncomfortably in her seat as if she thought Alyssa was the strange one, staring at her with her mouth slightly open. The train came to a stop and the doors sprang open. Everyone in the carriage stood up and stepped off the train, with Alyssa slowly trailing behind. As she stepped back on to the platform she looked around to realise it was her stop to go home. She slowly walked behind the rushing bodies and made her way to the exit. At the exit, the guard was waiting with his huge bunch of keys in hand. He looked at Alyssa and impatiently cleared his throat. Alyssa stepped out onto the street and turned around to watch the guard loudly slide the gate across the entrance and lock it. He looked back at Alyssa with a confused expression on his face and then turned around and walked back into the station. Alyssa peered through a metal kite shaped hole and watched the guard walk off as the lights of the station went off one by one. She turned around to face the street and dipped her hand into her macintosh pocket, feeling around the coins and crumpled notes. She then pulled out her jingling keys and looked at them as she started to laugh. She set off to walk down the street, with a spring in her step. With a wide grin she thought to herself ‘Oh how I love the night time!'.