The train’s movement woke me up as it pierced through the longest tunnel in the route. The trip from Italy to Germany can be quite annoying because of that, although you get to check out some beautiful sights in between the tunnels, so it’s not that bad. The very dim lights of the tunnel gave me an eerie glimpse of the people that were in the same cabin, all of them fast asleep, not disturbed by the movement as I was. It was right then when I heard someone rushing by the aisle, stumbling and then running off.
I was about to yell and pull the door of the cabin making a lot of noise, but I remembered my friends were sleeping so I stood up and carefully pulled the door open. Once I was standing on the hallway, I close the door again and enjoyed the show the little lights on the floor of the train were doing. They turned on and off and on and off. It made the hallway look like some kind of disco. I looked down the hall but there was no one there, at least not where I could see. I decided to walk in the same direction as the person I had seen.
I had to move from one car to the other. Apparently most people were asleep because there was not one noise breaking the silence, only the one of the train travelling on steel. The tunnel, I recalled, was so long it could take up to half an hour to traverse it completely. And if I was not mistaken, we had entered it less than ten minutes ago. So walked on knowing that natural light would take its time to comeback. The third car I entered was completely dark; the lights on the floor were not working.
Then, I saw him. The lights on the tunnel were too weak to actually see anything but his form was noticeable. I stood there, on the entrance to the car and waited for the shadow to make its move. But it didn’t. It just stood there, most likely watching me, until it dropped something on the floor and my curiosity pushed me forward, in order to check the object closer. I walked half way and then the shadow bent its knees and fell to the floor, apparently unconscious. Something was wrong.
Not only wrong but very wrong. The object on the floor shimmered with the dim yellow lights of the tunnel. It was obviously a knife, the kind you use to cut a steak. I remembered watching those on the restaurant car, a place I had only sat once earlier that day. It was a bit too expensive for me but I did remember watching someone eating a piece of juicy red meat with a knife just like that one. However, the handle on the one on the floor was glistening with dark red blood. Some of the silver edge had stains of it too. It was so strange to see that there, doing nothing but dripping blood.
The train moved violently and it was then I realized what was going on and how serious it could be. I wanted to tell someone about it but I also realized I hadn’t seen one single person from the train company around the hallways. Neither a security person nor a waiter. There was no one around to denounce such a strange thing happening. Because bloody knives are only found on the floor of trains in novels or movies, but never in real life. What to do in that case, when there’s no one to turn to?
The shadow then groaned. I got scared, walking back a little, abstaining myself from touching the bloody knife. I was about to turn around and look for someone to help, when the shadow said something. I had no idea what it said, because it wasn’t really articulating words. At least not words I understood. I got closer and the shadow coughed and suddenly looked up. I could not tell if it was a man or a woman, even if it was young or old. But I knew it was someone disturbed, as its eyes were red and mad.
Then, the shadow spoke once again. I finally understood what language it was speaking but I had no idea what the words meant. I had seen several movies in German and I had even studied a bit of German back in college, but not enough to understand what the shadow was saying. Maybe it was asking for help or maybe it was begging for me to go away. I had no idea, as my trip through Europe had not contemplated helping dying or crazy people in dark trains while traversing a long tunnel.
However, my instinct told me to help that person. So I got closer and tried to make something out of the words it was saying. By getting closer, I finally realized I was interacting with a young man, maybe half my age. He had delicate features covered by a large amount of very blonde hair. He was obviously of Germanic descent as the eyes that were looking at me were made of a very deep blue, almost the color that ice gets sometimes. Those eyes gave me a shiver.
I spoke to him in English, asking if he needed any help. He wouldn’t answer, so I decided to speak a little slower. That seemed to do the trick because the young man started nodding violently, his eyes becoming even redder and more insane. It was quite disturbing to watch but not as disturbing as when he stood up and revealed his tainted clothes to me. He was wearing what any boy would ear in the summer: shorts and a stripes shirt. However, both were soaked in the same dark blood that covered the knife. I tied one and two together and realized I had a killer in front of me.
I started breathing heavily but had to control it because the kid was getting worked up to. I relaxed so he did too. However, he did seem to be breathing a lot heavier than he should. He was obviously scared. Maybe he had killed his mother or father, or maybe a brother or sister. He had done it with a knife he had found close by and he had taken advantage of the tunnel to run away. But they were in a train and there are not that many places were you could hide. Ask Agatha Christie.
For a moment, I was lost. I had no idea what to do. Yeah, maybe looking for a security agent and giving them the kid would be the smartest thing to do but it also seemed like a very wrong thing to do. The kid was obviously traumatized and maybe he had done what he had done out of self-defense. Maybe he had been bullied by someone or harassed by his family or at least one member of it. There were so many things to consider and reflect on before just running out of that car. It wasn’t simple.
Then, as if in a dream or a religious movie, natural light filled the space. They had finally come out of that dreadful tunnel and the train was now advancing through the mountains by a large beautiful lake. The view out there was amazing but inside the train things were not exactly that. I realized then, with light, that the young man had not injured anyone else. Someone had injured him. He had blood pouring out of his body from a point around his stomach. It was something of a miracle to see him standing there.
I finally did what took me so long to do: I ran out of the car and made noise, lots of noise. Finally a security guard appeared and I took him directly to the place where the knife and the boy were. When we got there, the young man had collapsed on the floor, falling on his face next to the knife. Some people on the neighboring cabins had stepped out and were screaming like lunatics. I ran to the boy and tried to wake him up but there was no point. He had bled out to death. I had acted too slowly.
When we finally got to a train station, the body was brought out and sent the local morgue. Every single passenger was questioned by the police, especially me. I told them every single thing that had happened and they let me go without saying anything. I saw the parents on my way out of that place.
The train departed later the following day. As curious as I was, I went one more time to the police station to ask about what had happened. Apparently, the autopsy had revealed the wound had been self-inflicted. The young man had committed suicide. I would think of him for the rest of my life.