“Are you going to take the subway again?” Amelia poked her head out of the kitchen, her glowing blue form almost transparent to the eye.
“Have I ever taken any other form of transport?” I replied as I slipped on my high heels. “The soul expressway is too crowded in the morning anyway.”
I made my way to the deserted train station. Nobody ever took the subway anymore, well, other than me. Amelia was oblivious to how abandoned the station had become. She was still under the impression that some people boarded the subway to work daily, though these days, everyone travelled by the soul expressway. It was a million times faster than a simple train. Mankind had taken advantage of the much more convenient metaphysical state to lead a whole new lifestyle the moment scientists discovered the means to separate the soul from the body.
I sighed and sat patiently, waiting for the train that arrived at hourly intervals. A stream of blue flowed past in a fluid motion twenty metres above the train station. Admittedly, it was truly an efficient mode of transport, without having to drag around the burden of a physical body, yet I knew the complications of having a metaphysical separation.
The corporations dished out comforting reassurances that there was an extremely low possibility of being hurt in metaphysical form. After all, what could hurt an intangible object? However, I knew – just as everyone else did but chose to ignore – that a single cut in metaphysical form would be life-threatening. Weighing all the possibilities, I much rather preferred having tend to bleed.
The incoming train chugged to a slow stop before me, a stark comparison to the swiftness of the expressway. Doors screeching open, I entered and sat down on one of the unoccupied seats in the carriage. The unusual thundering of rushed steps snapped me out of my daze.
My eyes focused on the dishevelled young man before me, as the doors slid shut behind him. He looked pleasantly surprised as his eyes locked with mine. He glanced around briefly before settling beside me.
“Are you one of us?” he casually enquired, stretching his arms out to his sides, yawning.
I frowned. “One of you?”
“Yes,” he answered matter-of-factly as he pointed to his shirt. It occurred to me in that instant that he was not glowing blue, but the notorious emblem on his shirt caught my full attention. “The Metangonists.”
I gulped, realising that the man I was conversing with belonged to an organisation that was hunted down by every governmental force in the country.
“Don’t look so scared. I don’t bite.” He chuckled.
Suppressing the growing panic in me, I blurted out the burning question in my head. “What are you doing here?”
“Here?” He looked at me in amusement. “As in why am I out in the open, even though I am probably on the government’s most wanted list?”
I nodded. He had managed to summarise the entirety of my queries, albeit the slight mockery at my panicked state.
He rolled his eyes, entirely at ease in the train that chugged on slowly. “Who do you think drives these unused trains, when everyone is using the expressway? Has it never occurred to you that you are possibly the only person left in this country that is not part of us, yet uses the subway? Are you really that foolish, Evangel Williams?”
I sat bolt upright as he uttered my name. The panic level in my mind shot sky high. Shifting uncomfortably in my seat, I dared not move for fear that any sudden movements might trigger him to pounce on me.
“How do you know my name?”
He offered a slight smile that I saw from the reflection in the glass window opposite us. “We’ve been observing you. We want you to join us.” He paused for a moment, as if contemplating whether he should continue speaking.
“You have a task, something to prove your worth. Do it well.” He whipped out a small handheld device. Pushing the button on it, he was gone in a blue flash. There was a faint echo of “Good luck” but it may have just been me hearing things.
I whipped my head to stare at the empty space beside me. I was stunned into silence. In all my years of working with the metaphysical companies, I had never seen something like that.The train pulled to an abrupt stop. The rusty doors slid open, eliciting a familiar screech. I was still frozen in shock, when the crackle of the speakers in the carriage shook me out of my reverie.
“Ma’am, are you getting off? We are leaving the station.”
I scrambled out of the train, still in a state of confusion. The train chugged off behind me, leaving me standing once again in a deserted station. I collected my scattered wits and straightened my stance. The strange occurrence was to be put to the back of my mind, or at least that was what I convinced myself to do. It would be unbecoming of the head scientist of the metaphysics research team to enter the lab in a disorientated manner.
I readjusted my blouse and started walking in the direction of the exit. A loud wailing made me skid to a stop. I looked up and the sight made me tremble in utter horrification. There were blue souls streaming in a multitude of directions. Pandemonium had broken loose as the small hole the size of a marble allowed numerous souls to squeeze through it. More souls were diving out of it in confusion and chaos, but there was only one terrifying thought in my mind: the soul expressway had been damaged.
My eyes whipped around, trying to find the source of the destruction. There could be countless deaths if the souls were allowed to wander undirected at high speed. A simple shove could damage the fragile entity. My mind whirled at the possibilities of such a situation. A hole could only be punctured intentionally, since the expressway was made of thick layers of impenetrable glass.
The words from the conversation minutes ago entered my mind like a nightmarish plague.
“You have a task.”
I dropped the bag I was gripping tightly and started yelling instructions. “GO BACK INTO THE EXPRESSWAY!”
People were starting to gather in the station. I ignored the stares. It was more important to save lives. These blue entities ignored my shouts as they spiralled around madly.
I felt helpless, merely shouting even though I knew exactly how to fix the hole. I had designed the expressway for goodness sake! I had no means to get up to them, especially not when I was in my physical form. I looked around me, noticing that many of these onlookers were glowing blue.
Possible solutions raced through me mind in a flurry. One of them could help plug in the hole, if only they had the right equipment. My lab was positioned right beside the train station. I quickly kicked off my high heels and pushed through the crowd. Racing towards my lab, I burst through the doors, skidding to a stop before one of the lab benches. My hands fumbled through the items piled on it, knocking over chemicals, flasks and a myriad of other things, but I could care less. At the bottom of the pile, I grabbed up the adhesive that I thought I would never require.
I hurried onto the train station’s platform once more and searched intently for any reliable individual I could send to repair the hole. I singled out a man that oddly resembled the young man I had spoken to earlier. The only difference was that he had no notorious emblem plastered on his shirt.
“You!” I pointed as I shoved the adhesive into his arms. “I need you to go there and seal the damn hole! NOW!”
He stared blankly at me for a split second before nodding obediently. I watched nervously as the souls that were spewing out of the hole slowly skidded safely to land on the platform. The young man had floated up to the hole and sealed the hole.
Silence fell upon everyone as they witnessed the heroic actions of the young man. I crumbled to the ground, relief washing over me. Who knew what would have ensued if more souls were being projected at unfathomably rapid velocities? They could have collided with each other and shattered into a million pieces. These pieces could never be put back together and lives would have been lost in seconds.
Slow claps around me broke out into applause and cheering. I looked up and noticed that people were saluting me. I was surrounded by throngs of people praising me and thanking me. I remained on the ground, exhausted but also because a name card had floated to land on my stomach.
I picked it up and scrutinised it.
We need you.