by M D Flyn
Sara felt the lights of a station flicker by beyond her eyelids. Meanwhile the subway car clattered on its way. The strap of her bag was clutched in her fist, weighing down her lap. She felt the heaviness of the skin under her eyes trying to pull her into sleep.
The car entered a section of tunnel and the lights disappeared. Sara glanced at the time on her phone and shifted, leaning forward in her seat. She peeked at the light of the station indicator as it crept closer to her stop.
The brakes squealed as the car slowed. Sara stood, her bag weighing down her shoulder, her clothes weighing down her steps. She shuffled to the doors.
As she neared the attendant’s screen lit up, and it clicked to life. Sara eyed the termination panel under the screen, imagining it opening. The attendant spoke as instructions scrolled down the screen.
“Citizen, do you certify that you are returning to your residence, and complying with curfew?”
“I affirm.” She cleared her throat as the attendant whirred. She checked the time again.
“Notice: Subway service will terminate at 6 pm this day. All trains and stations will terminate at 6 pm this day. Proceed to your residence.”
“I affirm.” Sara shifted from foot to foot, waiting for the attendant to let her out. The doors whooshed open. Sara hustled across the empty station, her steps echoing off the tiles. She checked the time on her phone again and started to jog.
She came to the turnstiles and tried to push through, but the arm didn’t budge. Then the attendant blinked to life. “Notice: Subway service will terminate at 6 pm this day. All trains and stations will terminate at 6 pm this day. Proceed to your residence.”
“I affirm. I affirm.” The turnstile would not release and Sara jumped over. She bolted up the stairs. Her gasping breaths echoed in the empty station as she ran for the doors. The illusion of freedom waited just through the glass.
Sara crashed full speed against the door and tumbled to the ground outside, puffing as tears filled her eyes.
Sara sat up. The screen of an attendant came on. “Citizen, do you certify that you are returning to your residence, and complying with the curfew?”
“I affirm,” she wheezed as she pulled herself up and hauled her bag onto her shoulder.
“Notice: Travel will terminate at 7 pm this day. All residents outdoors will terminate at 7 pm this day. Proceed to your residence.”
This story came from a prompt on Terrible Minds. The proposed title was “Still Turnstiles at Station 6”