Karl Goes Shopping

The train was packed, as though dozens and dozens of sardines in overcoats were heading into the city.  Karl was standing near a set of doors with his back to a pole.  He kept one hand clasped around it for support; the other was in his coat pocket, out of the way, out of sight.  The trick was to take up as little space as possible.

The train juddered to a standstill.  A small woman in a business suit tried to get to the exit, pushing her way through the densely-packed travellers like a jungle explorer.  To Karl’s amazement, three more people got on to take her place.  Somehow they squeezed themselves in before the doors closed and the train resumed its journey.

Karl looked at those standing nearest to him, taking care to avoid eye contact.  He could see a tidemark on a woman’s neck where her make-up came to an abrupt end.  There were fine, downy hairs at the side of her cheek, caked in powder.  Karl found this fascinating and repulsive.  There was a fat man, taking up even more room by trying to read a Kindle he was holding at arm’s length.  There was a cyclist in lurid, tight-fitting gear.  The colours were an affront to the eye so early in the morning.

A disembodied voice announced their imminent arrival at the next station.  Karl began to sweat.  He would have to negotiate a path through the forest of people.  He would have to bring himself to their attention for a brief moment.

The train trundled to a halt.  The door panel flashed and beeped.  Karl took his hand from his pocket and thrust the syringe he had been fondling into the fat man’s neck, injecting a fatal dose of window-cleaning fluid.  He shouldered his way through the other passengers and out onto the platform.  The train went on its way with unwitting commuters keeping Karl’s victim upright.

Exhilarated, Karl bounded up the stairs to the exit and the street beyond.  He headed for the nearest shop.  He would need some more window-cleaner for his journey home.




Filed under Short story

2 responses to “Karl Goes Shopping

  1. Love it. A great short story

  2. Well crafted. It kept me guessing for the first few paragraphs and then it hit me like a train.

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