I must have been very tired as I slept within 5 minutes of lying down on my side upper berth. Even though it was the closest to the gate, I didn’t mind the noise as long as nobody bothered me. It was Friday (not 13th!) night and I was travelling from Hyderabad to my hometown Bangalore for the weekend.
I don’t know for how long I slept before I felt somebody nudging me, urging me to get up.
“Hello boss..Melkolapadaniki” said an irritated voice in Telugu.
I don’t know Telugu but guessed that he wanted me to get up. I woke up and turned towards the aisle to see who it was but there was no one. I glanced sideways in the corridoor to see who woke me but the guy seemed to have vanished in thin air.
The train was at halt and it was eerily silent. I have traveled often enough on these night trains to know that even nights have their own sounds. This night seemed to be mute. I decided to get down from my berth and take a look.
And then I noticed something very unusual. All other seven seats in my unit were vacant. No luggage, no footwear, nothing. I recalled that there were people when I had boarded the train. I switched on the light and bulb flickered with a faint yellow light. There seemed to be no trace of anyone occupying those seats. I felt a chill.
This doesn’t seem alright.
May be they all got down at some station?
All of them? That never happens.
I wore my floaters and started moving towards the other end of the compartment, switching on lights as I went. Entire compartment was vacant!
My unease was now replaced by an unknown fear with sense of foreboding. I realized that only sound I could hear was my breath and my heartbeat.
I must think straight.
Must not panic. It’s unusual but not impossible scenario right? Right.
I decided to go back to my seat. Though, now that whole compartment was vacant, every seat was my seat.
Train was still not moving. Night was still eerie. I turned back and noticed that it was dark at the other end of the compartment. The light of that unit was switched off.
Did I switch off the light?
May be I did?
But why will I?
I reached my seat and was taken aback by the sight. There was somebody perched on my seat, covered with my sheet, sleeping.
What the hell!
To my mix of emotions, irritation was added. I nudged the guy. Lightly at first and then with slightly more force. No response.
Seriously dude, not even 5 minutes since I left the seat and you are sleeping like a log!
Irritation entered my voice and I heard myself say..