There had been a mass exodus from the subway train and they were all in the hot dark of the tunnel now, most faces under-lit by cellphones that had no bars. The air smelled like fireworks and garbage. Melt wore his school backpack. He was the only one not lit up by a cell-phone. He was almost invisible in the middle of the crowd.

There was no leader, just a mass of people spreading down the tunnel in the dark, moving slowly away from the flashing emergency lights of the inanimate train. The volume of their conversations started low but a toddler broke out crying and soon the adults had raised their voices and before long everyone was shouting.

Melt strained to see the people around him, trying to judge if this was a lucky group or an unlucky group by the faces floating in the dark. Were they survivors? Just then someone grabbed his wrist. A girl’s eyes stared out at him, encircled by the fur trim on the hood of a dirty white parka. She pressed a small animal into his arms. Then she receded into the crowd as the voices rose up again, now with more angry yells and threats. Something went crashing across the tracks. Melt hugged the animal, feeling it trembling in his arms, the little heart beating a mile a minute. In the dark he wasn’t sure whether it was a dog or a cat or something else. He cradled it in his arms as the shouting echoed in the tunnel. The sound was deafening and he was sure it was bumming the animal out so he moved away from the crowd, into the darkness, stumbling a little over the rail ties.

Far down the tunnel he could just see a red glow and he moved in that direction. As he walked he smelled smoke. He looked back to see that someone had lit a fire on the tracks. Silhouettes bounced against one another violently in front of the flames. I’m gonna get you! someone shouted above the din. The voice sounded alarmingly close. Melt moved faster down the tunnel now, stumbling but remaining upright, hugging the little beast he’d been given. I got you, he whispered.

Soon he arrived at a red cage-light mounted on the wall. He tucked into a recessed area by the light and waited. He wiped sweat off his neck, his brow.

When Melt used to visit his grandmother he’d always slept in the attic. It was dark there except for the red glow of some string lights she’d leave on for him. He’d hear her TV blasting from downstairs as he pulled the covers over his head, leaving only a small hole for air.

Melt coughed from the heavy smoke and remembered he was still underground. The animal licked his hand. Don’t worry little guy, Melt said, finally getting the courage to stroke the animal’s fur. We’re the survivors.



Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “Survivors

  1. Branson Berry

    I really like this story. I quite enjoy the way you left what kind of animal Melt was given and whether or not Melt and the animal actually survive ambiguous.

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