She had missed the last train and there was only one person who would be able to help. The ringing tone trilled again and again as she tapped her foot in a combination of frustration and anxiety. “Pick up… pick up…” she muttered to herself, willing him to answer. There was a click and his voice came through the tinny speaker, but it was a recording. Voicemail.
She ended the call without leaving a message. Now what? She glanced down at the phone in her hands, debating whether to call again. The flashing red LED caught her attention. She hit the unlock button and sure enough her battery was dangerously low. She cursed, then reluctantly turned it off. She might need that last bit of power later. It was best to preserve it.
She walked the length of the platform in the vain hope she might find an open waiting room but they were all locked. She wasn’t surprised; the welcoming lights of the concourse had already been starting to go off as she’d run through for the train and the shops had all closed hours ago. The station was deserted.
She wandered back towards the exit with the vague idea that she should get out of the station but no clue what to do after that. She had no money to pay for a taxi and the only person she knew within 150 miles wasn’t answering his phone. She felt a sudden, irrational anger towards him. Why hadn’t he picked up? They’d only parted 15 minutes ago. It was his fault really that she’d missed the train so the least he could do was answer the phone.
Propelled by her annoyance, she barrelled into the left hand exit door and almost fell as it remained closed. She regained her balance and tried the right side, taking more care this time, but that one wouldn’t shift either. Panic rising, she grabbed both handles and rattled the doors. How could they be locked? She’d come through them only a couple of minutes ago and she hadn’t seen anyone since. She banged on the glass, looking for any sign of life on the concourse. Surely someone was still in the building?
She turned and looked for a CCTV camera. Would someone be on security duty overnight? Could she get someone’s attention by waving at a camera? She spotted one further down the platform and walked briskly towards it, only to find it was pointing towards the wall. She stared at it in confusion. It looked almost as if someone had deliberately turned it so it would be rendered useless. She spun round and squinted across the rails to the other platform. As far as she could see, its camera had received the same treatment.
She sank into a nearby seat, the cold, hard metal against the back of her legs making her wince, as it gradually sunk in that she was stuck on the exposed platform for the night.
She jerked out of her contemplation as she became aware of a muffled sound. It seemed to be coming from inside the station. Hurriedly, she returned to the glass exit doors and leaned close to the door, trying to see where the noise was coming from. She strained her eyes against the gloom but couldn’t make out any sign of movement. The dim artificial lights on the platform were reflecting in the glass, so she moved right up to it and cupped her hands round her face, shielding her eyes from the glare. Was that a person? She pressed her nose right up against the door as she desperately tried to make out the shape she thought she had seen.
She became aware of another noise, quieter than the first but seeming nearer. Almost a swishing sound. Was there a cleaner on the concourse somewhere? She shifted her position at the door, trying to get a better view of the inside of the building. At this point, even just being able to access shelter inside the station building would be preferable to a night outside.
A shiver ran through her. It felt like more than just the cold. She dropped her hands, wondering why she was suddenly feeling so uneasy. Then she saw it in the glass: the person she’d been hoping for. But this person wasn’t inside; they were standing right behind her. As she focused on the reflection in the glass, it raised its arm. There was no time to scream.