The Eleven Fifty-Nine

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graveyard_crossing (deactivated) 06 Feb 2023 00:37 23:59:59 #90001159

Hi all,

Been a long time since I’ve used any sort of forum site. I don’t post much on the internet anymore - used to, on the old Usenet networks and bulletin board systems - but life just got too busy for keeping up with those sorts of things. But those old precursors, well, they're what brought me here. From the quick skim I did of the place while waiting for my membership to be accepted - a hassle, really, you should consider making it a faster process - maybe someone here will believe me. I need to get my story out there, before it’s too late, and this seemed like the place to go.

For a little bit of background, I’m a trained EMT working as an ambulance driver for whatever hospital is local to where I’m currently at - I move around a lot, living on the west coast is expensive as I’m sure some of you may know. No family besides a brother halfway across the world, but we don’t talk much anymore. I called him a few hours ago, no response. I left a voicemail.

I hope he calls me back soon.

My last drive - I worked the night shift, and we (me and two other EMTs) were just a few hours in, a bit before midnight. We were a few blocks north of Union Station when we found him - a delirious older man wearing some form of old porter’s uniform. Doesn’t feel right speaking the name of a dead man, so we’ll call him Lester.

We couldn’t exactly tell what was wrong with him. The phone call that had guided us there hadn’t told us much and upon arrival we didn’t figure out a lot more either. He was delirious, shambling through the streets alone and rambling under his breath, his heart-rate elevated. It was a miracle he hadn’t been hit by something. We thought maybe some form of dementia given his age, or perhaps old pops here had gotten the dosage on his medications wrong, but either way we loaded him up into the ambulance and began heading back to the hospital.

The screaming. How it went on and on.

Shrill, high pitched nearly inhuman screams. Throat going raw. Blood spurting out.

Even from my driver’s seat, I could hear Lester screaming. Sometimes it was just noise. Other times it was words - “the 11:59”, “it’s coming”, “we’re out of time”, “do you hear its whistle too?” At first we thought he was obsessing over the time - delirious folks can sometimes hyperfixate on the weirdest stuff - but given the outfit and the further rambling about how his father before him had also been a porter, we figured it might be in reference to a train.

Something about Lester’s screaming really got to me. It was loud, distracting, of course, but that’s fairly common in this business. It was just, I could hear the denial in those screams. The primal urge of ‘this can’t happen to me, I’m not going to die’. I hear it now, feel it now too. I couldn’t focus on driving. It was as if the radio just melted into static, the other EMTs were nothing but ghosts, and the city before us just turned into blurs of black and grey.

Do you ever realize what it means for someone to die?

I’ve handled the dead before. Held the bones that once supported the stories and carried the viewpoint of an individual. But it’s now. Hearing that fear. That denial. I can’t die. My story can't end - but being there for its violent close anyway - that’s what’s chilling. Their entire perspective on the world, their entire way of seeing life, it’s all gone. It all dies with them. And that me, right now, I’m responsible for saving that entire world by getting them to the hospital in time. No, not even that world, all the worlds connected to it too. Lester’s, his family’s, all his friend’s - if I don’t save Lester, then all those worlds are damaged significantly. It’s just. Tick tock. Time’s a passing and you have one foot in the grave. All of their grief. All of their suffering. You killed him. I killed him.

All the times if I had just been faster, just a bit quicker. Who would still be here? What worlds would have been saved? Could I have gotten past the train? Was this telling me that I deserved to die?

I don’t want to die alone.

My life didn't flash before my eyes, but rather a strobing red light. It pulled me out of my thoughts and back to reality - the road in front us flushed crimson by a blaring railroad crossing signal. The gates, looming above us, began to lower as I cursed our luck, slamming on the breaks. A pale, rapidly approaching light split the shadows. Lester, the man that had not stopped raving for a second, fell silent. My eyes flicked over to the clock in the dashboard and I choked on my breath.


"It's here," came a whisper, and then he was gone. The shriek of the heart monitor flatlining was quickly accompanied by a loud whistle in a shrill chorus that drowned out all else. I turned around to see if the paramedics needed help in resuscitation, just in time to see them stop in their tracks.

A green light reflected off their eyes as they filled with terror and undistilled mania. One began to sob, silently. I turned to see what they were looking at, my mind too slow to tell my body to stop.

A hunk of creaking silver whizzed past, dilapidated but unobstructed. The wheels made no noise, but the scream of the fog whistle grew louder even as the engine got further away, mixed in with the cries of the passengers. There must have been hundreds of them, cramped in the carriages into a uniform mass of rotten and glowing flesh. Their faces pressed against the windows, contorted into shapes well beyond what could be considered human. Some of them were laughing.

There were four faces I recognized, though. In the last carriage. How did I manage to spot them amongst the motion? Did the train slow down? Did it want us to see? First it was Lester, thrown around by the old passengers, his face rotting in front of my eyes. Then, the two paramedics and finally, me. Our forms were hazy, like reflections on water. Like ghosts.

And then it was gone. One of the paramedics turned off the heart monitor, before clearing his throat into a recorder.

"Patient died in transit. Time of death… 11:59."

Nothing was said afterwards, but not all was silent. The whistle remained. Quiet and in the background, like tinnitus. You can almost forget it, for a while, but then something draws your attention back to it and you become painfully aware of its presence again.

I tried to ignore it. I really did. Chalking our experience up to an unfortunate cocktail of fatigue and fear. Having a patient die on you never gets less harrowing. But I can't anymore. It's been getting louder. It is 11:57 and the other two are already dead. I know they are. I can feel it. A cold creeping in as the line gets shorter. It is 11:58 and this will be my last post.

The train comes for us all.

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