Once on the train, I looked around. Everyone there... every single passenger I could see... had red numbers. Some where lasting up to an hour, but none of them were any higher than that. Most of them were about two and a half minutes. I hesitated, then yelled, "Everyone! Get off the train!" They looked at me, a couple people swore. "GET OFF THE TRAIN," I yelled again, more urgently.
The girl from Washington Square Park was sitting on a seat right next to me. She looked up, "What's going on?" she asked, her eyes concerned. I looked at her numbers.
"You gotta get off the train, or you're going to die," I commanded, "Go, get off, right now."
"What?? Why?" she asked, confused sounding.
Her friend stood up, "Are you seriously going to ask questions, he probably has a bomb or something!"
A bunch of people panicked at that. One older woman with a wicker basket that had knitting needles sticking out of it's eyes widened and she scrambled to her feet. Several younger kids, including the girl and her friend and three or four others I'd seen in Washington Square hustled off the train. "GET OFF THE TRAIN!" I yelled as loudly and urgently as I could.
A dude that looked like John Mayer in a blue uniform came running towards me from another car of the subway train. "What're you doing?" he yelled. His numbers were at three minutes.
"Get off the train," I hollered at him, "Get off the damn train." I rushed down the aisle between the seats, "Get off the train all of you!"
A confused elderly gentleman looked up, "Get off the train, why on earth..." I looked at his numbers.
"Just DO it," I ordered him. "Please, sir."
He looked into my eyes, then turned to his wife. "Come on, honey." He took her hands, "Come on." He motioned for a herd of ten to fifteen year old kids, presumably his grandchildren, and began ushering them all out of the train.
So far I'd cleared half of the car I was in. My stomach began turning to knots. The blue uniformed kid was still following me. "Will you PLEASE, get people off this train," I begged him, "I don't know what, but something's about to happen. In under two minutes. These people are all going to die, including you, if we don't get them off this train. Please."
He paled, "Die?"
"Yes, die. Now go, get them off the train." He hurried away and began tapping people's shoulders, asking them to step out onto the platform. A couple protested, saying that this wasn't their stop, and he pleaded with them a moment before moving onto the next people.
I stepped through the door onto the next car. These people had longer times. Everyone here was over the four minute mark. "Please step onto the platform, all of you," I commanded in what I hoped was a voice of authority. "There's been a problem with the engine and we're asking everyone to please step onto the platform in a quick, but orderly fashion."
Suddenly I heard it from behind me... coming from what would be the front of the train. It was a honking, or a whistle or something... faint, but urgent. I glanced around. "Please, there's no time to waste." I realized it was going to be a head-on collision. This made sense. The front car of the train would fold quicker than the back cars and more severely. The further back in the train I went, the less hurt the people were going to be, and therefore the longer they would live. In the furthest car, there may even be survivors, I realized.
I made my way, car by car, running quickly, shouting as loudly as I could. "We are evacuating the train! We're evacuating the train! Please step onto the platform immediately!" People behind me flowed from their seats like flood water, pouring out of the doors on the platform side, which had been opened, presumably by some control the guy in the blue uniform knew of. He'd gone the opposite direction, toward the font of the train.
I assisted a couple kids in getting out of their seats, and nudged a few teens who were under their earbuds and looked surprised to be interrupted. A couple people recognized me and one asked me for my autograph. I told them to find me later, and kept moving through the cars. It took what felt like decades to get to the caboose cab, and each car the numbers were higher and higher. In the caboose, there were only three people with red numbers at all, the rest were blue. I grabbed those three and pulled them towards the back corner of the cab hurriedly, just as a sickening screeching crunching sound went up from the front of the train.
A fluid, unanimous scream filled the train, and I hoped that everyone had gotten out before the impact. I could feel the velocity pushing the train I was in back, further down the tunnel. People were yelling, and the people in the caboose cab with me were all screaming and panicked looking as well. "Hold still, everybody," I yelled, "You're all going to be okay! Don't worry!" Two of the people whose numbers had been red flickered to blue as I huddled with them in the furthest corner from the platform. One was a young woman, the other a kid whose mother was grabbing onto my arm, trying to get me away from her son. "It's okay," I told her, "I'm saving him." But of course she didn't listen.
Suddenly the ground felt weak beneath me, and the car shook, and then began to tip. I held my breath as the train derailed, and through the window I was closest to, I could see the rails of the next line rushing up towards us. "Brace yourselves!" I screamed. I hugged the little boy tight to my chest, protectively, and wrapped my free arm around the end of the seat so that as the ground came rushing up at us, I was laying against the end of the seat, rather than standing in the aisle. The young girl clung to my neck, and I felt the boy's mother get thrown away from me and fall down between the seats. The ground rushed up so fast it was a blur, and before I could comprehend fully that we were falling to the side the metal crunched and the rails came up through the windows, shattering the glass and bending the seats. Dust rose up and fell through the open doors on the side of the train that had now become the roof. People in the car were screaming and sobbing. I closed my eyes, unable to take anymore into my vision without being overwhelmed.
After we landed, there was a silence that was so silent it was deafeningly loud. You could almost hear the dust particles settling and drifting to settle. I opened my eyes carefully, fearful of what I would see, but found myself eye-to-eye with a terrified little boy. "Is everyone okay?" I asked, sitting up and looking around. One by one, everyone answered... except the boy's mother.
"Momma," he cried, tears falling across his little cheeks.
I looked over the side of the seat where she'd fallen. She'd landed on the floor -- well, the wall -- and was crumbled at the bottom in a pool of shattered window pane. Her numbers were red, just as they'd been before. Longer than they'd been when I first ran back into the caboose car, but not as long as anyone else's in the room.
I had to save her life. If for no other reason than the fact that this life had another life which depended upon it.