SUMMARY Jonghyun takes the train to the last stop, only to find he's left his life behind.
CHARACTERS/PAIRINGS [SHINee] Jonghyun/Key.
GENRE Supernatural/light horror/humor/suspense/romance
AN: Pulled this out of nowhere. Haha I guess it's got a Halloweeny feel to it. Anyways, title is after Télépopmusik's song Last Train To Wherever, which is one of my all time favorite songs in life. Click the link to download.
last train to wherever
Because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me
The Carriage held but just Ourselves
The train's last stop was not as exciting as he had been expecting. Jonghyun had to give it some credit though, it was desolate and creepy; all blue-lit forest with a solitary gaslight illuminating the tiny cement slab—the final station. This was the end of the line. He couldn't go back, now. The train was already disappearing in the distance, back into reality, somewhere he would never be welcomed to again.
"Well," Jonghyun said to himself, clutching his used ticket close to him. His blond-to-brown hair swayed slightly with the breeze, and out of the corner of his eye he swore he saw the stars swaying too. Strange.
Stepping off the platform, Jonghyun had to squint into the darkness to see the overgrown dirt path leading into the forest. There was another lamp-lit arch about a hundred yards off, and as he set out towards it he heard the low hum of some sort of vehicle approaching.
"Watch out!" a voice shrieked, "You're not supposed to wander off alone, what are you doing?"
Jonghyun barely dodged what was possibly the weirdest looking car he had ever seen. Maybe because it wasn't a car. It was a carriage of sorts, led by two large, ungulate creatures with long ears and stringy forelocks covering a huge, squinting third eye. Jonghyun repressed a shudder.
"I mean technically speaking. Why are you here? You chose a splendid time to show up, seeing as it's Halloween. Aren't you kids supposed to be getting drunk and doing voodoo nonsense hoping to get here? These days, it just gets worse."
The person who had almost run Jonghyun over hopped off the carriage, his jacket flapping as he landed softly, pulling off his top hat to bow elegantly. "I'm Key, by the way. Didn't you hear the bells?"
"Usually," Key righted himself and placed his hat under his arm, inspecting Jonghyun. "People hear bells when I come to get them. I almost ran you over because—well, you're sort of see-through right now."
"I am?" Jonghyun exclaimed, jerking his hands up to his face. He looked pretty solid to himself, at least.
The Key figure nodded. He pulled a booklet out of his jacket pocket and flipped through. "Uhm, Kim Jonghyun, is it? Do you know why you're here?"
"I guess." Jonghyun shrugged, "I just decided to take the train as far as it could go."
Key titled his head, biting his lip—obviously in some sort of thinking process. Jonghyun felt scrutiny and disappointment in his gaze. "You're the worst type." he eventually said. "I can't tell you anything, either. No wonder you're see-through."
"Nevermind," Key stepped closer and took him firmly by the shoulder. "This should anchor you for awhile at least, until you get your bearings. Come on, I'm to escort you."
"Escort me where?"
Key sighed explosively. "You ask way too many questions. Another reason I hate your type. Just get in the carriage."
Hissss, thought Jonghyun, frowning but doing as told. Key had asked him just as many questions, and he seemed to know what the fuck was going on. Jonghyun thought it wasn't fair.
Key directed the creatures to turnabout, and they headed off into the forest and under the arch Jonghyun had first noticed. As they traveled beneath it, a feeling of complete disorientation overcame him; he felt like his brain had been flipped upside down and his stomach was miles in the sky. He was promptly sick over the edge of the carriage.
When he sat back up, trying to regain his mien, Key was giving him a disgusted sideways glance. "Okay," he was saying. "That is just not normal."
"What is?" Jonghyun snapped back. "What the fuck just happened and where are you taking me?"
"I'm taking you to The End. It's why you're here, isn't it? The last train stations always come here."
"Oh." Jonghyun mumbled. "Am I dead?" He braced himself for the answer.
Key laughed. "You're the one who committed suicide, so you should know."
"I don't remember killing myself." frowned Jonghyun. "I just remember getting on the train after school and deciding I never want to get off."
"Same thing." Key retorted. "You'll probably remember stepping in front of the train instead of getting on it, sooner or later. Right now you're In Between, which could last awhile, so you'll have trouble finding your memories. They're floating around all over the place. If you don't believe me, try to think of your parents, or your best friend."
"Of course I know my parents. My mum's—" Jonghyun felt his throat catch, voice stopping in its tracks—with or without his permission he wasn't sure. There was no picture. No recollection of his family. He couldn't even remember where he was from. He felt sick again, sinking against the seat in wan degression.
Key just smiled wickedly. "This," he said, "is where I say welcome to The End."
Jonghyun adamantly ignored Key the rest of the way, refusing to feel childish as he sat hunkered down with his arms crossed, a huge pout on his face. He was dozing when he felt the carriage jerk to a halt.
"Shit." went Key. "Not only are you the weirdest one I've picked up in my zillions of years on the job, but you're also the latest. We've been locked out of the city for the night."
"Yes, that is what I said." Key replied, checking a silver pocket-watch hanging from his waistcoat pocket. "I suppose it's all right. We only have an hour until dawn."
"I boarded the train right after school, though."
"You sure?" Key raised delicate eyebrows at him, once again tipping off his top hat and running a hand through his hair, mussing it up. "You wouldn't be the first to have forgotten the last hours of your life."
Jonghyun glared at him.
"For example," Key brushed over the look, eyes running down to Jonghyun's long sleeves. "Did you never notice that you're wearing a shirt several sizes too big, and it's long sleeved."
"What about it."
"It's not your school uniform, and it's not something you'd usually wear either, is it?"
He had a point. But what it was, Jonghyun did not catch. The three-eyed creatures snorted impatiently.
"Just what are those things, anyway?" Jonghyun couldn't help but ask.
Key turned a fond smile to the black animals, running a hand through the coarse, ragged mane. "I call them the Nadir." he said, "Though they're generally known as Time Eaters. Their third eye can see into your past, future, or present. If you look into it, it's said you'll either be enlightened or go insane—that is, if you're human. Never look into their real eyes though, if they open them. You'll vanish."
Jonghyun swallowed as the weight of the situation donned on him: he was dead or somewhere not on earth, time-eating creatures were standing right in front of him, and Key had just mentioned humans as if he wasn't one. Which Jonghyun was beginning to think was true. Then one of the Nadir looked at him with it's large, violet eye, and Jonghyun was entranced before he could realize what just happened. His arms started to tingle, then throb, and his heart felt like it would explode in his chest.
"Fancy that." said Key. "You're solidifying. Finally dying for real, I guess."
"I'm—" Jonghyun wanted to scream at Key, but it was true. He suddenly felt like he weighed something, and breathing was not so hard—he hadn't realized it before. His wrists burned, and he rolled back his sleeves to get them to stop itching. What he saw nearly put him into shock, and memories came flooding back to him. Physical abuse, drinking, a break up, bad grades—then the last few hours of his life replayed in his mind's eye. He saw the knife, the destroyed apartment flat, then his stained and torn school uniform on the ground. Blood, sirens, pure white, then pitch black.
"So you got on the proverbial train, then." Key stated, whistling at the deep, vertical gashes on Jonghyun's arms. They were scabbed and healing; looked like two red guidelines for a pale paved road.
"I'm dead." Jonghyun breathed out. "I'm really... dead."
"Bingo!" Key clapped. "Anything else obvious you'd like to state?"
"Fuck you." snapped Jonghyun. "Who are you anyway?"
"That's also pretty obvious. Most people don't have to ask."
"Just tell me."
Key's smirk was almost evil, but not quite. "I'm Death."
At Jonghyun's wide-eyed stare, he felt the urge to elaborate. "You know, the Grim Reaper. Thanatos. Psychopomp. Santa Muerte. Whatever floats your boat."
"Like. Hades?" Jonghyun murmured, unable to not think back to the Disney rendition of Hercules.
"Absolutely not." Key hissed. "He's the king here, so to speak. You'll be meeting him in the morning. Which is—" he checked his pocket watch. "Three minutes away."
"Do I have to meet him?"
"You're a rare case that, yes, does actually have to meet him. I feel sorry for you."
"You know what," Jonghyun had had enough. "I think I hate you."
"Yes, that is the general feeling towards me." Key lamented. "Although it's completely not my fault. You killed yourse—"
That was the last straw. Jonghyun lunged forward and punched him. Key stumbled backwards, astonishment written all over his pretty face. He couldn't really bring himself to be angry—nobody had ever thought to stand up to him before. This kid definitely had to meet the king. He was different. He had potential.
"Shit," Jonghyun was crouching on the ground, huddled over himself and cradling his arms to his chest, which was rapidly staining red. "I'm dead, why am I in pain and bleeding?"
"Because you're not legally dead until you enter The End. This is like, the river Styx."
"So you could take me back? Back to life?"
"I can't." Key actually felt a little sad. He had no idea why, because he'd learned to be indifferent after the millionth death. "As soon as you stepped off that train onto the last stop, you officially died in the real world. There's no possible way to bring you back."
"That just makes me want to punch you again."
"I'd prefer you didn't," Key replied, chuckling. "Ah, the gate's opening. Watch the sunrise, it's actually quite pretty."
Jonghyun let his gaze follow Key's point. "Where are we exactly? Is this heaven? Hell?"
"It's neither of those. It's The End." Key shook his head. "There's no other explanation for it. This is the end of the universe—the end of everything."
On that thought, the blue, starry sky turned to a rosy pink, and Jonghyun stared at the sun as hard as he could—it was neither bright nor painful to look at.
"Any last words?" Key said, and Jonghyun wasn't sure if it was sarcasm or sincerity. He just shook his head and Key urged the Nadir forward, across the threshold of life and into death.
He didn't feel any different.
♥ | next
AN: I didn't want to continue this, but I've already written two more installments and I'm thinking there will be four or five. ^^ HAPPY (early) HALLOWEEN! ♥ And if anyone is curious, this is the Nadir. Thanks for reading!
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