The 0521 was meant to arrive at 17:10, but here he was, still waiting at 17:35. A station packed liked sardines on a hot summer’s day. No announcements. Anger rising as the chanting from further down echoed the too familiar sounds of a riot about to happen.
He could see the trains, all waiting about 30 meters outside Central station. Waiting . . .
“Fuck this! I’m getting in the train”
Jumping onto the railway tracks, off he ran towards the 0521, stationary, waiting for the signal – the go-ahead to pull into platform 3. A smart move thought the other passengers as they watched Jack, in the distance as got on the train, pulling himself up between two carriages.
Security in sight, motionless observing the masses as more people followed suit, running towards the 0521. Boarding the train before it pulled into the station, avoiding the overcrowded platform and the all too usual violent pushing as passengers compete to be the FIRST to embark a carriage. Desperate for a seat in the hope to avoid the invasion of personal space as strangers pushed up against each other, confined in the bubble of foul breath and pungent odours.
But here was Jack, 16 years old, very late to get home – stuck on an overcrowded train, thanks to detention for smoking on school grounds.
17:50 – stuck between carriages as the train finally leaves Central station, thinking that he would avoid the crowds, not realising that exiting between train carriages was the norm for the majority of passengers on crowded evenings.
The vibration in his pants pocket startled him as the train pulled into Highway station twenty minutes later.
“Hi mom. Yes. No. The trains were late. Yes, thanks. B – HEY YOUR &%$^ THAT’s MY PHONE!!!”
Jack’s conversation with his mother cut short as a hand swiftly grabbed his phone as the train moved off. His iPhone 5, gone!
Fellow commuters unaware of what just happened. Jack, silent, staring in disbelief at the many passengers inside the carriage. For the first time he truly understood the reality of public transport and the constant warning to passengers – “keep valuables out of sight”. Yet he looked on into a carriage where every other person typed away on their mobile devices, listened to music, taking calls, oblivious . . .
18:30 – thankful that his mother confirmed that she would meet him outside Seaview station, seconds before his phone was stolen. One of the busiest stations on the “sardine-line” as it was commonly referred to by daily commuters. Somewhere in the distance he could hear the thumping sound of someone’s radio.
The train still filled to capacity – Jack remained in his spot, as he watched a man squeeze his way through the carriage, his mouth moving, eyes wild, his body twitching. Turning his back on the door, hoping that the man would not exit the train between carriages, Jack crouched down below the window level, hoping that he’d be invisible to those inside the carriage.
Silence . . .
Screams . . .
Chaos. Feet. Heels. Bodies.
Glass shattering. Screams. Cries. Chaos.
The train stopped as it reached Jack’s destination. Seaview station. His vision blurred. Slumped between carriages. Unaware. Unconscious.
In and out of consciousness, in a pool of blood.
“I NEED A MEDIC OVER HERE!! HURRY! I have a pulse! Teenager. Bullet wounds. Chest. Thigh. Hurry!” echoed the voice over the two-way radio as Jack’s mother’s phone dropped to the ground as she frantically tried to force her way pass security . . .
“The Last Boy on the Train” – a title challenge from Two Dads and a Kid.