Subway Stalker


Please note: this story was provided by the author and published as is.

My great uncle Jon was the first person who told me about the Subway Stalker. He’d been obsessed with it for as long as I can remember… I mean, he was into all the cryptids – you know, Bigfoot, Mothman, the Jersey Devil, stuff like that. But I think the reason he was so obsessed with this one was because it was local.

I wasn’t super close to him, but whenever he used to babysit my sister and me, he would tell us about this… thing… that lived in the subway tunnels and lured people onto the tracks. He said it would mimic the voice of someone you knew, tricking you into coming closer and closer until BOOM! A train runs you down. The creature, my uncle said, was like an amalgamation with several eyes, arms, and heads and more claws than you can count – part human, part beast, all monster.

Looking back, I don’t think he should have been sharing that stuff with kids, because afterwards I started having bad nightmares about a monster luring my family down there and eating them. And though the person who got eaten would change, like sometimes it was my sister, other times it was my mom or dad… the one consistent part of the nightmare was that the monster would always have Uncle Jon’s head. Creepy, right? I told my parents about the nightmares, and we didn’t see much of Uncle Jon after that. Probably for the best, if I’m being honest.

But his obsession with the monster never stopped. There’s an abandoned subway station a few miles from his house that’s supposed to be off limits, but that never stopped him from breaking in and looking for it. He even got arrested a few times for trespassing… I think he spent some time in jail once. But that didn’t really surprise anyone.

Nor was anyone surprised when they found his body down there. Well, half his body. It was sad, don’t get me wrong, and I remember my mom being really upset over only being able to bury part of his torso and his legs. But his death down there seemed kind of… inevitable, you know? Like it was bound to happen.

We think he just didn’t hear the train coming… he was pushing 70, and even though he was remarkably healthy and mobile for his age, his hearing had gotten worse, and the conductor who saw the whole thing couldn’t come up with any other explanation as to why he just… stood there… as the train came barreling towards him.

Uncle Jon’s death was just one of a handful of tragedies attributed to searching for the monster. Like I said, it’s not one of those super popular cryptids, so we don’t have a lot of amateur adventurers coming around. But every now and then, some curious monster hunter will break in, unaware of the real danger. I mean, you can’t outrun a train.

Even though I grew up with the stories, and had all those nightmares, I never really believed in any of it. Every now and then, I’d hear something about a sighting. But it was never someone I knew, like, it was always, “I know someone who knows someone who saw it.” I figured it was just made up to scare kids from breaking into the abandoned station.

And so, when my friends, Damien and Ellie, decided they wanted to go down there, I said no. Everything about it made me uncomfortable… even if Uncle Jon hadn’t died down there, even if it wasn’t illegal to go down in the first place, I just didn’t find the idea of going into a dark, abandoned subway station very appealing. But they were both just so insistent and excited. Damien, in particular, was really pumped about it – he had gotten into the whole ghost hunting thing in high school, and since none of us were going to the same university, he wanted one last adventure, just the three of us, before summer came to an end.

Eventually, they guilted me into it. It really wasn’t hard – I’m not exactly the most stubborn person you’ll ever meet. But I had one condition: we wouldn’t go out on the tracks. Trespassing was more than enough adventure for me, I wasn’t gonna put myself in the path of a train. Fortunately, they agreed… but I think that was just to get me to go.

The plan was for me to spend the night at Ellie’s, and then Damien would pick us up around 1:00 in the morning so we could all drive over together. Now, like I said, I don’t really believe in… well, much of anything, really. But in the days leading up to that night, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was going to go wrong. Like, something in me knew going out there was a bad idea. I told myself that it was probably just my nerves, and we were gonna be fine.

I almost bailed, actually – I tried to back out that afternoon… like, I had the text all written up and everything, saying I felt sick, and to have fun without me. But I never sent it, and before I knew it, I was walking over to Ellie’s house, trying to convince myself that the growing pit in my stomach was just an overreaction.

We waited until well past midnight to give Damien the all-clear to pick us up. He pulled up as quietly as he could on Ellie’s street, and we silently slipped out of her bedroom window and into the waiting truck. His energy was practically tangible, and he an Ellie spent the entire 20-minute car ride buzzing about how excited they were. I don’t think I said a word that whole drive.

We parked a couple blocks away from the subway entrance – it was actually on Uncle Jon’s old street, morbid as that is. I remember it was chillier than usual for early August – normally, the heat here can be pretty oppressive, and the humidity makes you sticky after a few minutes. But as we walked the few blocks to the entrance, I regretted not bringing a jacket.

The entrance to the abandoned station gaped in the middle of the sidewalk, like a mouth ready to swallow anyone who entered. There was a gate around it, with a rather sturdy-looking padlock that I secretly hoped would do its job and keep us out. But Damien had been practicing his lock-picking, apparently, because after a tense minute of fiddling with it, it popped, and the gate creaked open.

The descent to the platform seemed longer than usual. It felt like the stairs just kept going and going and going – I kept telling myself that it was just my nerves, but the further down we went, the louder my instincts screamed to turn around and bolt back up the stairs.

The light of the streetlamps above faded, and we pulled out the flashlights Damien had bought specifically for adventures like these. I felt a little better after we had some good light, but it still felt like the stairs were endless. The air felt thick and stale, and it kept getting colder the further down we went. And I’m not just talking a few degrees either, it felt like every step made the temperature noticeably drop, until I was shivering. I was about to say something, because there was no way Damien and Ellie were comfortable in that cold, either, but just as I opened my mouth to suggest we head back, we caught sight of the bottom.

The platform wasn’t very big, especially compared to the new one downtown. And other than some graffiti and garbage, it was empty. Damien walked right up to the edge of the platform and peered down the tunnel. It was silent. We stood there for a minute or two, shivering, waiting for something to happen… but we didn’t see or hear anything, paranormal or otherwise.

After hanging back silently for a bit, I asked if we could go. I think Damien was getting frustrated with me and my nervous energy, because he said if I was scared, I could just go back to the truck. That made me angry, because I wasn’t scared… well, not of any made-up creature. I was scared of getting caught. I was scared of walking back to the truck by myself. But I wasn’t scared of a fictional monster.

And I told him as much, too. He opened his mouth to reply, probably some quip about how I needed to loosen up and live a little. But he never got the chance, because before he could say anything… we heard it.

It was the first sound we’d heard that whole time, and we all froze. It was faint, distant, like it was coming from way down the curving tunnel, past where our flashlights could see. But then it got a little louder, a little closer, and the second time, there was no mistaking what it was.

Somewhere on the tracks, there was a child screaming for help.

The three of us glanced frantically between each other. I thought, it had to be the wind, right? But there wasn’t even a hint of a breeze down there. Or maybe it was an animal that had somehow gotten stuck in the tunnel? It had to be something else – anything other than…

It screamed again, closer this time – a high-pitched, bloodcurdling cry for someone, anyone, to come help. We were stuck, frozen, fear rooting our feet firmly in place. I didn’t feel cold anymore, and all I wanted to do was run back up those never-ending stairs, or pull out my phone to call the police, but I couldn’t move.

Then we heard it again, but this time it was loud and clear.

            “Ellie, help me!”

I can still see the look of wretched realization hooked on Ellie’s face. It took Damien and I a few seconds for it to register, but in those seconds, Ellie broke free of whatever spell was holding us in place. Without a word, she jumped down from the platform onto the tracks and went sprinting down the tunnel.

There was no mistaking that voice… it was Ellie’s sister.

But by the time Damien and I came to our senses enough to call out after her, she was a good dozen yards down the line. He jumped down onto the tracks and started running after her, and by the time I jumped down onto the tracks, Ellie was out of sight.

The screaming got louder – impossibly louder, to the point where my ears were ringing, and the ground felt like it was shaking. It reached this terrible crescendo of wails and screams… it was unlike anything I had ever heard before, and it got so loud it nearly knocked me over.

And then… it just… stopped.

Our footsteps slowed, echoing in the silence. But it was just our footsteps now.

Damien called out for Ellie. There was no reply.

I called out to her, too, and ran to catch up to where Damien was. He was shaking, although whether that was from the cold or adrenaline or terror, I don’t know. We kept going, and although we kept yelling Ellie’s name, we never got a response.

We found her flashlight about five minutes later. It was lying in the center of the tracks, pointed directly down the tunnel. I think I suggested we should call the police, but Damien just shook his head, gripping his own flashlight with white knuckles.

I picked up Ellie’s flashlight and we started walking back towards the abandoned platform. Neither of us said anything, and Damien was walking so slow that I had to stop and wait for him a few times.

The platform was in sight when we heard another voice.

This time, it was coming from the same direction we were walking in, opposite of where Ellie had gone. It was quiet, at first, but we both still froze as it grew.

It was Ellie.

It was impossible – obviously, I mean, she couldn’t have passed us. But there was no mistaking her voice. Damien reacted faster this time, and he bolted down the tunnel to try and find her. I took off, too, but he was faster than me. We shot past the abandoned platform, and the voice got louder, more desperate. It couldn’t have been Ellie, there was no way – and yet, it called us by name, begging Damien and I to help her, to save her from whatever was out there in the darkness.

Then the tunnel started rumbling. And down at the other end of the tunnel, the headlight of a train cut through the darkness.

Creepy creature in a subway tunnel.

Created by Danny Ingrassia

But the train itself wasn’t what made me stop running… it was what I saw on the tracks. I couldn’t see it super clearly because it was backlit by the light from the train… but at first glance it could have been a person – two legs, two arms, a head… but it was hunched over, kind of leaning to one side, a leg bent at an unnatural angle. The arms didn’t match, either – one looked normal enough, but even from far away, I could tell that the other most definitely wasn’t human.

Damien stopped, too, eyes fixed on whatever that thing was. He had that same blank look on his face, and when I turned to run, he didn’t move. I grabbed his arm to try and pull him along, my nails digging into his skin as I tried to get him to turn around. But it was like he was rooted there by some unnatural force, and no matter how loudly I tried to yell, to tell him we had to go, I don’t think he could hear me over the rumbling of the train and the shrieking of the creature.

And so… I ran.

Up until that point, I hadn’t realized how far away from the platform we were. But as I ran, I was struck with the chilling realization that I wasn’t going to make it. At some point as I ran, the screaming stopped, and when I looked over my shoulder, Damien was gone. But I didn’t have time to think about what happened to him, because even though I could see the platform, I was about to share his fate.

The train was right behind me – and I mean, literally right behind me. I was maybe about ten feet from the edge of the platform, but there was no way I was going to make it. And then… something slammed into my back. It knocked the air out of me, and it sent me flying towards the platform. Air whipped by me as the train roared passed. I landed on my back, safely on the platform, but my vision blurred as my skull cracked against the cold, grimy tiles.

But right before I passed out, in my cloudy, disoriented haze, I saw something loom over me. It took a few seconds for my eyes to focus, and when they did, I was momentarily relieved… but that relief sunk and twisted into a feeling of absolute terror… because the person standing over me was my Uncle Jon.

Whatever was standing above me – whatever used to be my Uncle Jon – wasn’t entirely human. His right arm was a completely different skin tone, and looked too big to have been his. The left arm wasn’t even an arm at all… it was a stump of something that used to be an animal… a deer maybe? I don’t know. It peered down at me with these mismatched eyes that I didn’t recognize, and his – its – jaw hung open, revealing disintegrated teeth and rotting gums.

There was this foul, putrid smell, and as it bent down, I was hit with a powerful wave of nausea. The world swam before my eyes, and even though I fought it, my body shut down, and I passed out.

The next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital. I learned later that someone had seen us picking the lock of the gate and called the police, so they found me pretty quickly. At first, they were convinced that the thing I saw was some sort of hallucination brought on by drugs, but after the tox screen came back clean, they could only call it PTSD.

They found… most of Damien and Ellie the next day. But there was only so much they could recover. Their families got to bury something, at least, even if it was just pieces. They had a joint funeral about a week later… and even though I was out of the hospital by then, I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not permitted to show up and say goodbye to my friends.

You know, I think a lot about why that thing didn’t kill me, too. Maybe it meant to – I mean, I lost my arm. They said the train took it clean off, and I could have easily bled out. But I’d like to think there’s a bit of my Uncle Jon in there somewhere, and that little piece of him recognized me. I don’t know.

I still ride the subway sometimes. I’ll buy a ticket and just ride around for hours until they shut down for the night. My therapist doesn’t think it’s good for me, but oddly enough, it makes me feel calm.

Maybe I’ll stop someday. But there’s a part of me down there. And I don’t think I’ll stop going until I get it back.