The Metal Ring

The Metal RingThe only thing moving in sunlight up at the old train station is the grass in the wind. Then at night even the shadows seem to gain a pulse. The air becomes thick. Nothing moves. The quiet ones come out. Always wearing filthy, torn clothes, they whisper and laugh quietly amongst themselves. Sometimes they scream obscenities at the sky. Nobody from town ever dares to stop them.

The town I grew up in is as interesting as a piece of blank paper. Except someone lost the pencil a long time ago. There are a lot of trees and a huge furniture factory. There’s also a bank, butcher, corner shop and school. It is the sort of town where people hire heaps of movies on the weekend.

Six months ago, I was about twelve and a half years old I first heard about them. I caught my friend Tony in the middle of the playground, mid-conversation.
“I heard they eat people…especially kids!” My friend, Tony whispered in a cautionary, asphalt tone.
“Yeah. Kids! Yum Yum!” A small boy added, rubbing his stomach.
“Who, what, where?” I cut in.
“The old train station, stupid. A friend of my cousin’s friend brother went missing out there. You can even ask my cousin.” said another boy.
“People say there are monsters out there!” added Tony.

That afternoon I asked my father about the train station.
“No, there’s nothing much there. Just some old junk.” He replied, not looking up from the book he was reading.
“I heard that there’s monsters.” I exclaimed.
“Monsters? Who said that?”
“Some guys at school.”
“Don’t believe them. Look I don’t want you going out there, OK?” Said my father, putting his book down and looking at me.
“Because it’s dangerous. Strange accidents sometimes happen out there. So stay away, OK?”
“OK.” I promised, fingers crossed behind my back.

The next night I snuck out and rode to the train station. I had to see what was out there. It was a very warm night. I rode as quickly as I could and got there by about 12.30. I hid my bike and quietly crept through the thick grass. I couldn’t see a thing. All I could hear was the rhythmic hum of the crickets. I kept moving and then I heard it. Someone sobbing and moaning. I crouched down and moved towards it. I spotted the boy. He was a bit older than me. He wasn’t wearing a shirt and his back was smeared with a thick, shiny liquid. He was crying out in pain. I got closer.
“Are you alright?” I whisper.
The boy spun round and looked at me. His eyes filled with smoking rage and he jumped up. Then he screamed at me. It was like the sound of one million windows being broken at once. A sharp pain wracked my body. It felt like I was pinned to the ground. The boy stopped screaming and ran off. I slowly got up and followed him.
He ran almost twice as fast as I did but I never lost track of him. I already knew where he was going. We ran through the thick bushland at a full pace. Then I saw it. The train station.

I ran into the black gaping mouth at the side of the station. Huge holes had eaten away most of the floor, which now gave in to darkness. Parts of the roof had collapsed, allowing some moonlight in. Now I could see their fires. There was maybe six or seven of them in there already. Some laughed. Most just stared at us. They all looked similar. Young, dirty and thin. Dressed in heavy overcoats, they all had long, knotted hair. Ropey beards with food stuck in them descended onto greasy stained t-shirts. Some had piercings in their face. Tattoos covered one man’s entire chest. None of them wore shoes. I was scared. They all looked at me like I was an alien. Then the boy jumped out, screaming and pushed me down a hole.

I remember hearing a scream and then crunching.

I awake in a field somewhere near my house, my bike next to me. A thick, rusted metal band is around my neck but I can’t get it off. There is a deep pain in my body but I feel really good. I get on my bike and ride home.

My parents asked me what happened that night and I still can’t really remember. Only some sounds and flashes of light.

At first I couldn’t move, it felt like my whole body was broken. Then I heard huge wings moving, like giant birds were swarming around me. Then I could hear sweet whispers.
“Sorry about Julius. He’s only just come down here.”
I slowly opened one eye. I could see were silhouettes with lights above their heads
“He’s just angry ‘cause he got kicked out like the rest of us.” Said another.
“We’ll fix up what he did.” Said one, lightly touching my arms
I could move my arms again.
“Our kind aren’t allowed to hurt you.” Said another, moving hand across my legs.
I could feel my legs.
“Is he alright?” From somewhere spoke the boy, Julius.
“Almost. Come here”
One of them grabbed the boy. He reached above his head and pulled down the light from above it. Julius screamed.
“Now, sleep and forget us.” He said, slowly bringing the light down around my neck as I closed my eyes.
I was lifted up. Then I heard the heavy flapping of wings again.


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