[Warning: contains fictional depictions of supernatural violence]
Another day, another deadline. You'd think that a world-spanning company would have figured out a way to its employees get out the door before midnight. As it is, I've barely made it for the last tube.
It's oddly quiet. Normally at Holborn there'd be at least a couple of people waiting on the platform, but tonight there's no one. The next train isn't for another six minutes, so I sit down on the bench and pull out my book, a second-hand anthology of Marlowe's plays.
I'm flicking through, trying to figure out which characters are supposed to be on stage in this scene, when I get this stabbing pain in my right thumb, like someone pushed a needle through my skin right through to the bone. Blood has smeared on the page of the book, and when I turn my hand around, a tiny sphere has formed on my thumb tip. It's bigger than it ought to be. I wrap my t-shirt around it, compressing the wound. It hurts like a bruise that's been focused to a single point.
Apart from the blood, the page looks fine. No spikes, needles or dangerous insects, just Henry lamenting his poor Gaveston, again. The train is still six minutes away. My thumb still aches, and I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to do, so I just sit there and wait for my train.
After another minute, I feel a needle in my left thumb. It's different from the right, slower, more malicious. My whole body tenses with the pain, and I bite my lip to stop myself whimpering. It's driving all the way through to the bone, each millimetre a new lesson in hurt. What is this? Some sort of voodoo? I haven't made any enemies recently, I don't think, and I simply don't know anyone who's this cruel. When it reaches the bone, it scrapes around a little and then rests. The board still says six minutes. Why won't the damn train show up?
I clumsily shove my book back into my bag using the heels of my palms, and ball my thumbs in my fists wrapped around the bottom of my t-shirt. The bleeding's not that bad, but the pain is driving me to distraction. I want to cry.
Then I hear it. Not the train, but a set of slow, steady footsteps. Hard leather shoes rapping against a concrete floor. They should be coming down the stairs, but they sound as if they are approaching from a corridor. They are coming closer, not hurried at all. I'm know I'm tired and sore and confused, but I can't help but think that whoever is walking knows I'm here, and that they are coming for me.
I stand up, my hands still buried in my t-shirt, and watch the platform entrance. The footsteps are coming from there, and that's the only way out. It is almost here.
A figure steps out, elegantly dressed, and walking calmly toward me. I don't recognize the face, but when I look into its eyes, I see something horribly, terrifyingly familiar. It smiles at me, and as it opens its mouth -- to speak? -- the last train hurtles into the station, making a noise like the end of the world.