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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Student gets trapped for eternity in Red Line purgatory


The Red Line circles a fire pit surrounded by skulls, demons and lightning. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano (She/Her) / Mass Media Staff.

The concrete platform is stained with the residual leftovers of an unknown sludge. The air surrounding you assaults your nostrils with the potent aroma of pigeon dung. The faces you meet are cold, listless and lifeless. None of these things take you by surprise. JFK station is, after all, the epitome of everything rotten and disgusting in this world.  

As an empty bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos blows by you—the tumbleweeds of this sad plastic dessert we call modern reality—the Red Line barrels into the station at a brisk two miles per hour. After a long and arduous day of mind-numbing classes, you would like nothing more than to tune out the horrors around you, but the universe seemingly has other plans. The train grinds to a stop, the doors slide open and you step inside. As they close behind you, so does your chance of ever escaping this place.  

Car 1: The Turd 

You walk down the narrow train car in search of a place to sit when you suddenly step into a wall of stank. Something afoul is afoot, and as you look around the car for the culprit of the smell, you spot it. Sitting smack-dab in the middle of a seat, a dandy dookie, a dubious dump, a scandalous scat—a poop. You recoil back in disgust, covering your nose and trying not to puke. 

Your mind begins to race with a thousand questions. Who would do something like this? Why would somebody poop on a train? Did they have a hole in the back of their pants? Did it just slip out? Did they pull their pants down and do their business with no shame? Maybe they weren’t wearing any pants at all? Did they bring it from home? One turd, infinite possibilities. You can’t stand the stench and decide to change cars at the next stop. I mean, anything is better than this, right?    

Car 2: The Wolverine  

You barely make it into the next car before the doors shut and the train begins its grudgingly slow journey once again. You take a quick sniff. All clear. Feeling relieved, you sit down and begin to zone out. Then the growling starts. Faint at first, but then louder and fiercer sounding. You look up and see none other than Hugh Jackman sitting across from you smoking a cigar. Would it be inappropriate to ask for an autograph? While you contemplate, Hugh flicks the cigar at your feet and says in a gravelly voice, “You looking at something?”  

As your gaze meets his, you realize this is not Hugh Jackman; you’ve gotten into a train car with the Wolverine. You cower in fear, confused as to what’s going on. His signature adamantium claws begin to extend and his animalistic growling is masked by the train’s screeching brakes. As you pull into the next station, you waste no time dashing out the door. Safe on the platform, you begin questioning everything. Wolverine’s real? Have you been pulled into some sort of warped alternate reality? You hope the next car will prove that theory wrong.             

Car 3: The Complaint Center  

The moment you step foot into the third car, you’re bombarded by the sound of unintelligible chatter. The walls are lined with office desks, each one housing a dazed and malnourished-looking worker talking unenthusiastically on the phone. You notice on each of their shirts a small insignia that reads, “MBTA Complaint Center.” On closer examination, you realize that the workers’ bodies are melded into the walls of the train, trapping them in what seems to be some kind of hellish call center.  

As you stand awkwardly by the door, you overhear a conversation. Someone on the other end of the line is asking why the trains move at such a slow rate. The worker, a bead of sweat dripping down their face, looks at a paper of predetermined responses and replies, “What trains?” Needless to say, you want no part of whatever’s happening here and book it out the door the second the train stops. You consider remaining on the platform, but your desire to get home outweighs the terror of what the next car could bring—or so you tell yourself. 

Car 4: The Whistleblower  

As the doors of the fourth car close behind you, a spotlight comes on, illuminating a grand piano. Sitting at the piano is none other than Ringo Starr of The Beatles. He starts banging out a familiar tune, the “Thomas the Tank Engine” theme song—the original one, not that new age crap with lyrics. However, there is something resoundingly offbeat about how Ringo’s rendition sounds. For some strange reason, the famous children’s tune is being distorted and bass-boosted to such an extreme that the entire car is vibrating. It’s downright unbearable.   

Ringo takes out an Aztec death whistle and gives it a toot. Your teeth start to rattle in your skull, and you feel like your heart is going to burst out of your chest. As the song continues on repeat, you watch as your spirit is sucked out of your body and materialized in front of you. Your ghostly double acts as a mirror to your soul, reflecting your deepest and darkest fears. You realize now through the manifestation of this twisted specter that this isn’t the Red Line—even the Red Line isn’t this bad. You’ve stumbled straight into Hell.           

Car 5: The Chancellor  

When the train stops, you practically collapse onto the platform. Everything around you is shrouded in a dense fog. The door to the final car opens and, reluctantly, you enter. To your utter shock, it’s completely normal. There is only one other passenger, Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco. You sit across from him and exchange a cordial nod of acknowledgment. Maybe you aren’t in Hell after all? Then the Chancellor gestures to your feet and says, “Why don’t you take those little piggies out so we can go to market.”  

Does he want you to take your shoes off? Feeling creeped out, you move to the other end of the car. The Chancellor, appearing agitated, gets up from his seat and begins to morph. With a loud cracking sound, his body bends backward, contorting into a crab-like shape and falling to the floor. He begins to crabwalk toward you. Just as he’s beginning to get close, the train grinds to a sudden halt. The doors fly open, and you seize the opportunity, leaping past the monstrosity in front of you and landing outside as the doors slam shut.  

Car 0: The Train Maestro  

Far above the shroud of mist that keeps you contained in your locomotive nightmare lies a diabolical being. A great beast that takes pride in the slow, excruciating torment of others. A monster known only as the Train Maestro. He sits alone in his dark pit, surrounded by infinite stories of miniature train sets on small circular tracks. He watches with glee as his victims bang on the windows, begging for escape. Of course, the Train Maestro will give them no such release. 

He peers down at you, laughing maniacally at your suffering. A child-like grin appears on his face as he lets out a loud, “Choo-choo!” You rise to your feet only to realize, to your horror, that you’re back at the first car. You enter solemnly, having no other option, and are met by a familiar foul stench. You finally realize the truth—you are trapped for eternity in Red Line purgatory.    

About the Contributor
Joe DiPersio, Humor Editor