View Full Version : COFFIN, a serialized novel by Neil Kleid
04-11-2006, 08:23 AM
Years ago I began writing a novel.
I've always had an ache in my heart to finish one, especially after trips to the local library and Barnes and Nobles, aurrounded by dozens and dozens of diverse books that moved a readership with ideas conveyed through words, rather than words and visuals which is what I'm used to.
I began writing it a year after the events of September 11th, 2001, when the War on Terror hit the heightened level its at today and reattacked it after a trip to Israel in '04 where I was warned to be careful on which bus I stepped on in fear that bombs could be lurking around every corner. Upon teturning to New York, that fear stayed with me and I was very jumpy on subways and buses, because if it was easy for a suicide bomber to get on a bus in highly secure Israel and blow it up, whats to stop one from getting on a C train, which isnt the picture of security, and sending it to train heaven?
COFFIN is the aftermath of that possibility. It's the HUMAN aftermath, focusing less on the hows, whens and technical aspects of getting a bomb on a train and blowing it up, but more on the psychological horror of a small band of passengers, waiting for someone to rescue them from Hell beneath the ground, forced to band together with individuals they only met moments ago. It's about claustrophobia, esteem, death, coping, infatuation and survival.
The novel is currently holding at 205 pages. I'm looking to get it to 4-450. I'm going to begin serializing the novel here at this journal with chapter one on Monday, the 13th. While the first 200 pages run, I'm going to aim to finish writing the entire thing.
I hope you'll join the passengers and I as we aim to rescue them from their metal coffin beneath the waters of the Hudson River, seeping in through cracks in the tunnel walls.
Time is running out and who know what we'll find together, down in the dark?
Chapters Eleven and Twelve are now available online at:
"'Goddamnmotherfucking son of an ass infested goat!'
"The five travelers in the second car glanced at Tariq Sahdad, brought to a broil of frustrated rage. They began to edge away from him with the subtlety of one giving berth to the mad. They rustled newspapers and magazines, ducking their heads from what was obviously a homeless (by his shabby dress) and addled man who did not realize the train’s cockpit was inaccessible this way. Tariq pounded and shouted, torn with twisted frustration on being blocked from his almost completed mission.
"Damn me for a fool, he thought. I cannot reach the cockpit through here."
Neil Kleid won the Xeric Grant for his novella, NINETY CANDLES, and wrote BROWNSVILLE, a graphic novel about the jewish mafia for NBM Publishing. He writes THE INTIMIDATORS for Image Comics/Shadowline, and URSA MINORS!, his pop-culture comedy series, arrives from Slave Labor in June. Weep for him at www.rantcomics.com
04-17-2006, 02:03 PM
Chapter Thirteen is now available online, and it's a doozy. Check it out at:
"Life is nothing like the movies.
"In the movies, the good guys always win and the black hats end up in jail or off a building. The lead gets the girl and someone always saves Jimmy Stewart’s Wonderful Life. It’s obvious that happy endings and “always gets his man” are Hollywood contrivances built to make moviegoers and escapists feel good when they walk out that darkened room. We’re not stupid, are we? We’re intelligent folk. So, as intelligent folk, we can look past the sugar coating and “it’s just a movie” aspect of film making and explain the TECHNICAL reasons why life does not imitate the celluloid world. Forget computer generation; let’s ignore suspension of disbelief for a moment, too. We, the forward thinking pundits of our age need to realize that the biggest fraud directors pull on the gawking hordes is within the editing process. One moment we’re fleeing natives in a jet-propelled plane, snake in our lap and whip in our hand – and the next we’re wrapping up a lecture on anthropology. What happened in between? Where did that hidden time go? Another example: we’re at the local precinct, talking about picking up Lansky or Bugsy and our eyes cut across town to show us what the hood’s doing at that moment. Keen, huh?
"So let us reiterate – real life does not unfold like a screenplay. There are no jump cuts. We cannot dissolve to see what our friend is doing a block away. Real life is linear and happens as it happens without cutting ahead, somewhere else or flashing back.
"Ponder the midday PATH train for a minute. Various cars, each inhabited by diverse personalities, minds and opinions. Within a single car, one might stumble along at least fourteen to sixteen uniquely different beings, each with separate worries, goals, fears and dreams. An event might take place - it may affect each and every one of them, and be so mind-bendingly horrible that their thoughts and reactions may overlap, forming a hive mind for seconds, minutes or hours. But let us submit that no matter how similar or identical these opinions may be to a single catalyst, they could not under any circumstances be registered and catalogued at the same time.
"That being said."
04-24-2006, 02:44 PM
Chapters Fourteen and Fifteen are now available online at:
"Silence descended on the tunnel.
"A foreboding silence that muffled the churning wheels of the great metal train. The clatter of the tracks faded into the eerie background behind unseen waiting spectators, much like an audience anticipating a pivotal moment in a stage play unfolding beneath the world. Time froze and the narrative stumbled, hushed and waiting for the explosive, inevitable end. Reality held its breath and watched as flint hit spark, stick scraped stone and man’s greatest discovery surged forward to bite its master.
"And at once, a cacophony of horrible noise clambered onstage.
Tariq Sahdad, of course, had been lied to. The bomb’s creator had sworn on his dead ancestors that nuclear devastation would shatter the device’s poor, unsuspecting recipients. Tariq, being a simple fellow, had naively believed him. Never in his mind did he stop to think about the incongruities of size, because according to television and the movies, nuclear weapons did not equal giant warheads. The explosive device in the backpack was nothing more then a run-of-the –mill bomb.
"Not to say that it didn’t do any damage."
05-01-2006, 02:42 PM
Chapter Sixteen is now available online at:
"Somewhere along the Hudson shoreline, beneath the New Jersey streets is a room. The room is not extraordinary large, nor is it amazingly flashy. In fact, the most practical adjective one could apply to the room is just that: 'practical.'
"A space no larger than most public restrooms, the room contains five things: a chair, a table, two computers and a telephone. Along the back wall, a door leads to an adjoining cubicle in which one would find a toilet and sink. You can imagine how small THAT room is. There is no diversionary entertainment – no television, no radio. The room’s sole occupant always needs to have his/her attention focused, ready, sharp."
05-08-2006, 03:16 PM
Chapters Seventeen and Eighteen are now available online at:
"Dust littered the ground of the Five-Fifteen’s forward car. Speckles of glass and dots of blood intermingled with soot, ash and twisted metal. Several large pieces of blackened plastic wrapped around bent and broken poles — not to mention bent and broken bodies.
"At the far wall, an entire seat had been torn from its mooring and was thrown against the cockpit door. The handle was blocked by the charred remains of someone’s right arm, stuck in a way that prevented one from opening the operator’s room, as well as hinted that someone might have been trying to force their way inside."
05-18-2006, 12:29 PM
This is a few days late - sorry!
Chapter Nineteen is now available online at:
"One of the great cult comedies of the Nineteen-Eighties was a little remembered movie called The Dream Team. Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Keaton, Steven Furst and Peter Boyle, the film documented the lives of a psychiatric doctor and the group of committed inmates he has been assigned to. The naïve doctor, in an effort to do something good for the group, secured tickets to a Yankee baseball game, and proceeded to drive the inmates into the city, where they all promptly got lost.
"Before that happened, they entered Manhattan via the Lincoln Tunnel, a long, two-way cavern stretching far beneath the waters separating New York from the areas of Hoboken, Newark and Jersey City. As the traffic sluggishly moved under the waves, Keaton’s character commented on the tunnel’s roof, saying that millions of little tiles were what held back the tons of rushing, surging waters from descending on their heads. If one of those tiles – ANY one of those tiles were to break, come loose or shift from its brother and sister tiles, the poor, doomed passengers driving through the Tunnel would be lost beneath the water and its crushing, coursing pressure."
05-22-2006, 11:05 AM
Chapter Twenty is now available online at:
"Annie opened her eyes and watched a single, fragile tear connect against the cabin window. The drop of water slid its way down the cracked surface and split apart, following spidery, vein-like threads that appeared in the shattered glass. She blinked twice and closed her eyes again.
"She ignored it. If she ignored the drips, they might just stop. Just as if she ignored the searing fiery pain in her left leg it may simply disappear. She remained in the shadows behind her eyelids thinking that the thudding, pounding beat along her temple sounded very much like the baseline of Queen’s We Will Rock You.
Bam-bam-BAM. Bam-bam-BAM We will, we will rock you. Bam-bam-Drip."
05-31-2006, 08:06 AM
Chapters Twenty-One and Twenty-Two are now available online at:
"If Timothy DiMarca, newborn intellectual of the PATH system, knew that at that moment several men with lights, picks and masks were making their way towards the beached corpse of the five-fifteen, he probably wouldn’t have cried.
"The door would not give, even after attempting to jimmy it with a credit card and striking its handle with the useless radio. Tim was trapped and the terrible thought drove every drop of panicked energy from his body.
"Huddled into a corner of the small cockpit, Tim’s chest wracked with hitching sobs and his eyes welled with desperate tears. It wasn’t so much that he felt horrified that he may well spend his last hours gasping for breath in this cramped, crumpled cell. Perish forbid. The one melancholy thought screeching its way across the blackboard of Tim’s mind was that he had let someone down again."
06-06-2006, 02:57 PM
Chapter Twenty-Three is now available online at:
"Unconsciously, they formed a circle. The seats had endured more than they were prepared to handle and had been ripped aside. The center of the passenger car was completely cleared of debris, the accident and angle having forced it along the far door. Jeff took a look out the opposite door and tried to slide it open but caution made them sit and wait out the storm. The shaft was dark apart from the gruesome, horrible light of the flames and the long shadows flickering along the tunnel wall. No one wanted to venture out of the car and they clung to a societal notion that someone would soon arrive to rescue them. None of the other riders looked out the window, preferring to keep their gaze within their close quarters (apart from resting on the dead and dismembered). They sat with their backs to David’s grieving mother and the terrible feet dangling through the broken window. Annie drew the boy to her side, shielding him his father’s remains and Matthew took her hand, squeezing it to keep her from crying. Jeff had removed his jacket, placing it carefully over his package (which had miraculously survived the crash). He sat on Dave’s other side and forced a grin that seemed to unnerve Annie more than it set her at ease. She shook her head side-to-side, nodding at their young charge, and Jeff quickly dropped the corners of his mouth."
06-12-2006, 02:17 PM
Chapter Twenty-Four is now available online at:
"Glitzy neon, flashy hotels and the cosmopolitan life attracts tourists to New York. They flock by the thousands to Times Square, Soho and to a lesser extent, Greenwich Village and the Boroughs. There’s so much to see in New York – from landmarks (Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center site) to attractions (Radio City, Rockefeller Center, Central Park) to traps (Saks, Macy’s, FAO Schwartz). They want to spend five dollars on a hot dog, twenty on a taxi and at least fifty on dinner. They want to see Ellis Island, Trump Towers and MTV Studios. They’re looking for Seinfeld on the Upper West, Woody on the Upper East and Letterman in Midtown. Tourists want the daylight of New York - postcards of the JumboTron, brown bags from Bloomingdale’s and gaudy “I Love New York” shirts that no self-respecting New Yorker would be caught dead in.
"What they don’t want, however, is New York’s twilight."
07-10-2006, 02:24 PM
Back from hiatus, Chapters Twenty-Five and Twenty-Six of COFFIN are now available online at:
'Hey - back off, man.'
'I can’t BELIEVE you let her go!'
'What was I supposed to do? She was nuts! You saw her!'
'Stop it! STOP IT, both of you!'
"The disappearance of Mrs; Mandel had done nothing to lighten the tension in the stranded subway car. David had retreated to the back of the compartment to deal with the realization that he was for all intents and purposes an orphan. Annie and Matthew, taking it upon themselves to become surrogate 'parents,' accompanied him. Moe Pre-Med returned to Manda, Rita and Valerie, bringing them down from oncoming hysterics while Mr. Mintzer spent a great deal of his time mumbling in Hebrew. Moe explained that Mintzer was saying Tehllim or Psalms. In reality, what they were all doing was getting as far away from Jeff and Rock as they could."
07-17-2006, 01:52 PM
Chapter Twenty-Seven is now available online at:
"Of all the passengers in the car, it was obvious that David was having the hardest time. Father dead mere feet outside the car; mother insane and disappeared into the unknown depths. Not even thirteen and David was alone amid a group of strangers. Any other kid his age would be crying and screaming for hours. Those nearby would feel terrible and do everything they could to console him and try their best to ease him through the grief, ache and pain.
"Jeff, Annie and the rest of the stranded group felt terrible. They did everything they could to console him. They tried their best to ease him the grief, ache and pain.
"The only problem was, David wasn’t crying. In fact, David Mandel wasn’t doing much of anything."
07-25-2006, 10:21 AM
Chapters Twenty-Eight and Twenty Nine are now available online at:
"'…goin’ down to the well tonight, gonna drink till I get my fill…'
Cracked and dry, Tim’s reedy voice rang off the bent metal walls of the control booth. His toes tapped against the door, and periodically, he clapped along with the beat.
'…hope when I get older I don’t sit around thinkin’ about it, but I probably will…'
"He had spent the last thirty minutes running through the collected works (that he could remember, anyway) of Billy Joel and then had moved on to Jersey’s native son, the Boss. His voice was starting to give after a half-hour of solid wailing in hopes that someone might hear him.
'…sittin’ ‘round, tryin’ to recapture, a little of the glory of…'
Fifteen minutes before he began the concert, he had been wailing a different tune. His face was streaked with dried tears and his fingers stained with dry blood. He had tried prying the door screws out with his hands and battering the wall down with his shoulder. Raw, bruised and bloody, he eventually gave in. There was no escape, no way out. So he took a deep breath, sat down and started singing.
"Or maybe I’m just resting between escape attempts, he thought."
07-31-2006, 02:55 PM
Chapter Thirty is now available online at:
"Five circles of light progressed down the passageway, bouncing and flickering along the cavern walls. Silence reigned beneath the looming water, broken by boot heels scraping against gravel, dirt and filth. Every now and then nervous shuffling intruded upon the relative calm, the calling cards of scurrying, burrowing rats. The incandescent beams shined forward, illuminating the path before their bearers.
"The Jacks nodded to one another as they made their way towards the wreck of the five-fifteen. They had passed beyond the city shores and were now beneath the waters of the Hudson. Determined and grim, they pressed on in the velvety darkness, clearing away the curtain of unknown ten feet before them and ten feet behind. They traveled in a finite area of safety. The lights could not show them what lay past the end of their beams nor could they swivel and peer into their past— which was fine for the Jacks. Their mission lay ahead."
08-07-2006, 02:21 PM
Chapter Thirty-One is now available online at:
"Deciding to rotate a watch around David’s corner, the remaining residents of the subway car began to assess their situation. The women had each found their own level of composure – partly due to the Valium discovered within the recesses of Rita’s scuffed purse. Rock quit pacing the length of the car and was deep in thought in the corner closest to the door. Every now and then he grunted and shook his head, as if coming up with the perfect escape plan but rejecting it due to the fact that they had no ladder. Jeff and Saul Mintzer analyzed the physics involved in the crash, and the slim possibility that somewhere else along the rails, other trains had been affected. Far-fetched scenarios gleaned from too many Die Hard movies were tossed about and scrapped. Jeff, the clearest thinker of the little band, stuck to his guns in explaining that any minute now a rescue team would be breaking down the doors with crowbars. Saul, the blunt realist, called him a <i>putz</i> and explained that rescue teams probably hadn’t yet judged the crash site safe for them to approach. The sobering realization that they might be waiting for a good, long time before any help arrived from the surface sent the women into nervous hysterics. Rock pointed out the obvious oxygen and food deprivation issues and Saul waved him off, begging the big man not to shmuck around with negativity.
"'What you wanna do — sit here and wave bye-bye as our air seeps out the door? Or maybe you wanna be useful and try to focus on a way to get out, Anh?'
The large Italian’s face transformed from cheesecloth white to dull brick red so fast that Jeff thought the beefy man might be having an attack. Flashing on childhood Looney Tunes cartoons, he recalled how dangerous enraged bulls could be and gently steered his elderly companion to where Annie and Matthew were playing five-card-draw with David.
"That’s when he noticed what Moe was doing."
08-14-2006, 02:06 PM
Chapter Thirty-Two is now available online at:
Leave me alone. I don’t want to talk to you.
David, that’s enough.
I said leave me alone, You left me.
David Mandel, I did not raise you to be a whiner and you damn well know it.
You’re dead. Stop talking. Dead people don’t talk.
David, listen to me. I have something important to talk to you about.
You can’t have something important to talk to me about. You’re dead."
08-21-2006, 01:15 PM
Chapter Thirty-Three is now available online at:
"Moe was troubled. And that was new.
"Moe was often NOT troubled, answers at his fingertips, a smile on his lips. He had an easygoing way about him, an unconcerned air. Who could recite the various bones and muscle structures of the human body without consulting Gray’s? Moe. Who knew how to fake play action to the point guard so that a quick sneak pass to his center would put two points on the scoreboard? Moe. Who understood how to bind a makeshift splint on a thirty-some-odd woman’s leg when the five-fifteen train derailed and went careening along the tunnel like a loose ball on hot, soft blacktop? Moe.
"Not that Moe had ALL the answers, mind you. Ego and conceit would not allow the student to believe that he was Einstein or anything. But generally, if placed in a room with fourteen to fifteen complete strangers, Moe would probably know more than eleven or twelve."
08-28-2006, 02:13 PM
Chapter Thirty-Four is now available online at:
"'Camptown ladies sing dis song, doo-dah… doo-dah.' Clang Clang.
'Camptown racetrack five miles long, oh di-doo dah day.' Clang Clang.
"Tim passed the butane lighter back and forth over the superheated metal of the broken lock. He peered close in the flickering light and inspected his handiwork. A bit more ought to do it. He held the flame to the metal for another five minutes, feeling the waves of heat smother the crumpled steel.
'Something out all night… dum de dum all day…'
"He hummed louder, letting his tense and straining voice fill the moment. He worked slowly, allowing the aluminum door to absorb the heat in due time, weakening it and making it malleable to hammering blows. The ditties and shanties he sang helped to keep him from screaming with impatience while serving as relief from his unseen tormentors."
09-05-2006, 07:55 AM
Chapter Thirty-Five is now available online at:
"Annie and Jeff succeeded in calming David down. A few tears streaked his cheeks and his sniffles began to abate but it would be a half-hour or so before the shakes and shivers passed on. Annie stroked his hair while Matthew tried cheering him up with lame, childish puns. A few giggles broke through the stream of sobs and Jeff decided that the boy would at least accept the situation if not recover completely. He stood, brushing the dirt from his slacks and swept his gaze along the car. The women had been taken aback at David's violent reaction and were chattering amongst themselves, dabbing at their eyes with torn sleeves and stained fingers. Valerie, far from one’s average lady, leaned against the side of the car, smirking as if enjoying her own private joke. The old Jew was fast asleep but his younger kinsman was hurrying down the car, stopping only to stare back at Valerie as if she was gaining on him in some unseen race."
09-18-2006, 02:04 PM
Chapters Thirty-Six and Thirty-Seven are now available online at:
"'I’m going back in there.'
"Four of the Jacks turned to the Fifth. They had just emerged from the tunnel, dragging the shattered, chattering, hopeless Mrs. Mandel. She had slipped into a fever dream, words losing coherence and strength with the massive loss of blood. The Jacks had radioed ahead to Tunnel Control for a medical unit and paramedics descended upon her the moment she was lifted onto the crowded platform. Transit officials and local police had cordoned off the area but New York being New York, gawkers and commuters lined the barrier all the way to the end of the station. The Jacks hoisted themselves onto the platform, dusting off their equipment. The Fifth Jack took a sip of water from his pocket canteen and noted the gathering National Guard, all camoflauge and high caliber weapons."
09-25-2006, 02:12 PM
Chapter Thirty-Eight is now available online at:
"'Why am I reminded of Neil Armstrong?'
"Val and Jeff shot dirty looks at Moe. The corners of his mouth dropped and his face adopted an owl-like appearance in the dim tunnel. He let his right foot drop, following its twin, and he carefully made his way across the rail.
'Careful. Don’t step on the third rail or you’ll electrocute yourself.'
Val squinted in the half-light. 'I thought that was only city trains?'
'Better safe than sorry.'
10-03-2006, 08:22 AM
Chapter Thirty-Nine is now available online at:
"The door screeched closed, slamming into its frame. Dust settled and all was silent in the survivors’ car.
"Well, thought Annie, there they go.
"She absentmindedly rubbed a hand on David’s back, keeping one eye on the door. Matthew was prompting the kid to sing cartoon theme songs to keep him calm but not even the title music to 'Jem and the Holograms' would soothe Annie’s jangled nerves. The trio of shadows got fainter outside through the car door and Annie watched Jeff, Moe and Val disappear into the darkness.
"I should have gone with them. With him."
10-10-2006, 08:05 AM
Chapter Forty is now available online at:
"Jagged stone dug into Tim’s shoe and he lost his footing. He cursed, methodically running down the tunnel builder’s lineage taking special care to focus on parents and offspring. He checked his sole and was relieved to see the wayward masonry hadn’t torn through the leather but merely scratched the surface. He hobbled, glad to not have added to his wounds, and moved down the tunnel.
"Getting this far had been no easy feat. After overwhelming horror set in and the realization that something had gone horribly, horribly wrong, Tim’s first reaction had been to check for other survivors.
"Misery loves company."
10-16-2006, 01:48 PM
Chapter Forty-One is now available online at:
"Back in the car, Rocco had exhausted his supply of childish jokes and impressions. The rest of his arsenal swayed to blue comedy not quite suited for the under-sixteen set. David amused himself by making stupid faces at Matthew from across the train and the young hipster retaliated with a string of raspberries. Rock hoisted himself from the ground and peered out into the darkness.
"He spun, reacting to the dainty hand resting on his shoulder. Annie had come up behind the blue-collar worker, gazing past his broad frame into the deep, black pitch of the tunnel.
'Think they found something out there?'
'I’m sure they found SOMETHING.'
"She bit her lip. 'Oh…. Well, I meant… like anyone…you know…'
10-23-2006, 02:24 PM
Chapter Forty-Two is now available online at:
"They reached the fifth car, hearts in their throats and fear cowering around their knees. Val clutched Moe’s arm like a high school freshman at a drive-in. The young medical student tried to put up a brave front but his shaking knees gave him away, keeping him unsteady. Jeff held the Bowie out before them, ready for trouble be it animal, human; Friend or foe.
"He placed his hand on the car door and his companions pulled in, almost resting against his back. He was about to turn the handle when he heard a scuffle and the unmistakable sound of heavy breathing. Someone else was in the tunnel.He looked back and he could see by the look of alarm in Moe’s eyes that he had heard it too. Jeff raised a finger to his lips, calling for them to be silent as not to call attention to themselves."
11-06-2006, 02:12 PM
Missed a week - my bad!
Chapter Forty-Three is now available online at:
Drip. Splash. Drip.
"A small fissure, no larger than three inches, opened in the roof of the tunnel. Stone chips and dust dropped to the ground, almost perfectly opposed to the way Fall leaves parted from Winter trees. The flakes fell hard, splashing into the puddles below, Dust and fragments fell to the floor and kicked up resultant dust clouds of their own. And the water rained down. Harder. Faster. In greater volume.
"In the car, Annie stroked David’s head and watched the patter of droplets increase, gaining in strength and number. She looked at Rocco, standing mere feet away. The Rock had spent the last half hour gazing out through the broken windows, trying to see how far the “away team” of Jeff, Val and Moe had gotten. Inside Annie knew that Rocco was upset he did not go. The testosterone heavy section of his being was rebelling, fighting and pushing to rip the door to one side and head after the trio. His fingers drummed along the metal, impatiently waiting for them to return. And his eyes no longer ran along the length of the corridor. They were fixed to a point directly in front of him — watching the droplets of water course down the broken glass. Collecting. Building. Growing.
"And every now and then his eyes would travel north, staring at the dripping ceiling."
11-13-2006, 02:03 PM
Chapter Forty-Four is now available online at:
"As Jeff began his story and Tim filled Moe in on tunnel emergency procedures, Big Rocco Gallatori folded his arms and glanced at the young mismatched couple. It didn’t sit right. It didn’t sit right at all.
"Here’s a guy— nice guy, by accounts— but a taken guy. Rock wasn’t a mook; he knew plenty of guys with a wife on one block, a mistress on another. But this was different. Those girls all knew the score, even if they never said it out loud. They all knew there was another woman. Here, with Jeff and Annie, someone was going to get hurt. And odds are it won't be Jeff."
11-20-2006, 02:11 PM
Chapter Forty-Five is now available online at:
"In the first minutes of the train wreck, no one apart from the passengers, operator and controller of the PATH train had an inkling as to what was happening or might have happened. After some time the PATH organization, Transit Authorities and local police were alerted and the remaining commuters waiting for the five-fifteen caught on. Soon, the news spread like wildfire — making its way to the local press and slowly, slowly, the concerned families of those believed lost or trapped below the Hudson.
"Channel Nine was first on the scene and offered fairly vague coverage of the situation. No one was talking to their Emmy winning reporters, and no one in or out of the PATH station had much of a clue. They passed along half-truths and hearsay, promising hard facts as they presented themselves."
11-27-2006, 02:20 PM
Chapter Forty-Six is now available online at:
"Out of the frying pan and into…?
"As he looked around the cabin Tim DiMarca wasn’t sure what to make of these remaining passengers, these survivors of his five-fifteen train. The moment they had boarded the car Jeff had settled in with a pretty punk rock girl in the far corner who was playing mother to a tow-headed boy. Val was recovering from her awful experience and two other women about her age cooed and cared for her in the near corner. The large, burly man who had introduced himself as Rocco (and who reminded Tim strongly of his father) was dividing his time between shooting glares between him and Jeff. The final two pieces of the puzzle, Tim learned, were a retired clothier named Saul Mintzer and Matthew, a goateed guy his own age."
12-05-2006, 02:01 PM
Chapter Forty-Seven is now available online at:
"Diana was sweating, and that was far from attractive.
"Over the last hour or so, after the Jacks had removed the screaming woman from the tunnel, her nerves had gotten increasingly jittery. She longed for a smoke but loathed the thought of leaving her watch, waiting for the single-man search party to emerge from the tunnel with her man. Her fingers clenched and unclenched and her head grew dizzier, fighting for air and yearning for nicotine to soothe her mind, her system. The police had begun to usher the gawkers from the area and she pressed herself against the wall so that they wouldn’t give her the bum’s rush, as well. National Guardsmen suited up and signs of a full-scale rescue —complete with radiation uniforms and antitoxin equipment — seemed to be appearing. Which, of course, did little to relieve anyone in the station."
12-11-2006, 02:14 PM
Chapter Forty-Eight is now available online at:
"David opened his eyes and heard Annie giggling. Her voice tinkled like a fairy’s passing and he smiled broadly. David could wake up to that noise for the next thousand mornings and he would not mind. His tears had dried along his cheeks and he sleepily rubbed them away. Jeff’s voice broke past Annie’s, softly and quietly telling a story. He listened for a while but there were some words he couldn’t understand so he contented himself with paying attention to Annie’s laughter.
"David had been dreaming — wonderful dreams, in which his parents were alive and they were all having Thanksgiving dinner. Annie and Jeff were there too and suddenly Annie and Jeff WERE his parents. There were people there David didn’t know, older people that he figured were their parents and everyone was eating turkey, cranberry sauce and bottles of Cherry Coke. Jeff was carving the turkey with a small hunting knife and Annie and Matthew were playing the piano in the corner at the same time. David was unwrapping his Thanksgiving presents and was delighted to find a bowl… a bowl to hold all the water he had been given. He held the bowl up so that he could catch every single drop but there was too much water and it dripped. The water spilled, dripped and dropped on his face and he stuck his tongue out to catch it… no two droplets were alike… no two people were alike… only three."
12-18-2006, 02:49 PM
Chapter Forty-Nine is now available online at:
"Diana dropped her fourth bottle to the table, letting it fall to one side and topple next to its three sisters. Bleary-eyed, she looked around the small, dingy pub, not sure whether to cry, laugh or scream.
"She had been sitting in the bar for over an hour and a half, waiting for someone — anyone— to come in and either tell her good news or throw a comforting arm around her shoulders. She had gotten past the initial shock; moved beyond the tension.
"But this fucking waiting was killing her."
12-26-2006, 02:17 PM
Chapter Fifty is now available online at:
"They moved Mintzer’s body to the side, covering it with Jeff’s jacket. Moe knelt by the Jack and secured the broken leg with materials from the first aid kit but it was far from perfect. They needed a crutch so Rocco went off to look for a large stick or piece of metal that would serve. Annie and Matthew stayed with David, keeping him occupied so that he would not concern himself with Mintzer and the Jack, but the boy continuously asked when they would start down the tunnel.
"The Jack wondered that, as well, as Moe braced his leg. The medical student and Jeff had moved away as he reported their setback to the Transit Authority, explaining that the extraction was being delayed while new plans were formed. He outlined their situation, taking care to explain the level of danger — focusing on the broken roof through which the Hudson River was pouring in a continuous waterfall, and the hazardous conditions he had encountered on his way down the tunnel.
"They, in turn, outlined a new threat they had been previously unaware of – the real reason for their situation and the possibility that there might be potential threats lurking in the shadows below the Hudson. The Jack kept his receiver dial down for that last transmission, making sure Jeff and Moe had not heard.
"A Terrorist attack. And there could be more down here, The Jack thought.
Maybe even one of the survivors."
01-08-2007, 10:15 AM
Had a week's break for the holidays but Chapter Fifty -One is now available online at:
"They walked in silence.
"Annie and Jeff slowly picked their way along the tunnel, bracing themselves against one another and trying with all their might not to place hand or foot in too dark a shadow, too unknown an entity. The wrong step could mean stirring a rat’s nest, tripping on a rail, walking into broken metal and glass or touching, worst of all, blackened and bloodied human remains. Where they could, they supported themselves by placing one hand on the carcasses of the dead and shattered train. The dying firelight cast shadows along its mottled surface and for the most part they were able to tell where to place their fingers, searching for purchase in the darkness, and dangerous spots to avoid."
01-16-2007, 08:25 AM
Chapter Fifty -Two is now available online at:
"Her breathing slowed and as adrenaline crept back down the tunnel from which they came, Annie’s heartbeat gradually ceased its pitter patter of knuckle-whitening fear and eased into a slow, heavy, meaningful thumping possibly resulting from the dawning realization that she was nestled tight against Jeff’s body. Moments earlier they had been running for their lives down a dark tunnel towards a smoldering train minutes away from being carried off by an oncoming flood… but now, the danger passed and hidden away from the survivors, society and the world, all the pain, terror and death seemed long ago and far away as Jeff tried to calm her down though the fright and flight had already passed them by."
01-22-2007, 02:38 PM
Chapter Fifty -Three is now available online at:
"Annie broke the kiss first.
"She pushed Jeff away, harder than she realized she would, and left him floundering for a kiss that wasn’t there. She averted her face in the darkness as he groped for her one more time, not realizing his affections were being avoided until a moment too late. She turned her body to one side, sitting beside him without facing him and he finally understood that the kiss was over but the moment not yet past. The awkward silence enveloped them, stretching throughout the tiny, cramped space as it settled atop their shoulders and worked its way between them like an unwelcome chaperone and after three, four minutes of searching gazes in the dim light, Jeff touched her arm and she flinched, pulling her arms and legs closer to her body than she ever thought possible."
01-29-2007, 02:57 PM
Chapter Fifty -Four is now available online at:
"Back past medical minutiae, memories of first kisses and yet-to-be-forgotten failed romances, Moe Tauber could hear a grandfather clock ticking in his mind. Not just any clock, mind you, but one that used to hang in his gramma’s Canarsie home. It was an old clock – mahogany and steel, inlaid with gold, and it was the centerpiece of her living room amid plastic-covered couches, end table and dusty photos of nieces and nephews that quit visiting years ago. The clock had a specific tick – the gears were stripped and so each time they turned, the cog would skip a beat. Sometimes, alone in the large sitting room, the broken ticking would fill echo off the walls and remind Moe of the slow, gradual march of time. In fact, everything about the room made Moe think of the inexorable flow of time, moving forward tick by broken tick. When Gramma became too sick to leave the house and the Taubers begged the “family doctor” to check on her, Moe spent a lot of time listening to the clock, dragging hour by hour, second by second to his Gramma’s inevitable death. "
02-05-2007, 02:14 PM
Chapter Fifty -Five is now available online at:
"Tim’s head, however, was saturated with fear and failure.
"Everywhere he looked, Tim DiMarca was greeted with the results of his inability to act, the lurid, visceral remains of a life spent just getting by. Trapped in the cockpit, shut inside his own mind and insecurities, the victims of Tim’s failure had no face, no dreams no families they’d never see or hear from again. Faced with the phantom rebukes of his father and his own ever-growing self-deprecation, the only one who was getting hurt was Tim himself."
02-12-2007, 02:29 PM
Chapter Fifty-Six is now available online at:
"Hours ago, traveling beneath the world with our intrepid survivors, we agreed that life is not written in screenplay form. Points of interest and scenes along the way don't unfold in a linear fashion and when events take place, we perceive them all at once rather than one at a time. Two cars collide and both drivers curse simultaneously. A movie unreels and one hundred people experience it in one hundred different ways all at the same time. We revisit this concept as the survivors of the five-fifteen PATH train prepare to leave their safe haven under the Hudson River and finally, carefully begin their long trek back to friends and family that wait for them with bated, nervous breath. And they each prepare for the journey in their own mind, in their own way at the very same time… but for purposes of fiction and the limitations of our narrative, we will experience them individually and consecutively."
03-13-2007, 02:41 PM
COFFIN returns with Chapter Fifty-Seven, "Annie Wylen Can't Move", available online at:
"The first few steps were the hardest. Whether it was Annie's feet that were frozen to the spot or her mindset she couldn't say. Picking them up, putting them down… the ideas became foreign to her as she stood at the edge of the comfortable circle of light and broken cars she'd come to cling to as 'home base" for the last several hours. Staring into the darkness, towards the unknown and away from the safety of the subway compartment in which she'd bonded with the ragged group of survivors, Annie Wylen found that she could not move – no, WOULD not move – and began to quake in terror, her legs humming and vibrating in her jeans so loudly she was sure everyone would hear the noise in the sudden silence that had sprung up around her. Try as she might, like a student with an answer to an easy question she used to know, dancing on the tip of her tongue, Annie could not lift a foot with the intention of placing it down and moving the other. Neither the left or right would pay attention to the desperate commands of her brain, her will, her overpowering need to get the hell out of Dodge."
03-19-2007, 02:27 PM
Chapter Fifty-Eight is now available online at:
"David’s heart wouldn’t stop racing. Annie held him fast, slowly pulling him further into the tunnel and away from the dying flames, the rushing water and the remains of the last man he’d ever call “Daddy” for the rest of his life. From here on out it was a series of Jims and Petes and Simons and Roys (there were three Roys, in fact - one in 2012 and two in 2016, a rough year for Dave) and even when finally marrying in 2020 he could only come to call his father-in-law, a man he’d come to love as a surrogate father, by the name “Pop.” Hand slick with sweat, head pounding, David stumbled forward and away from the edge of oblivion with a handful of people whose names he’d eventually forget but whose faces would haunt him for the rest of his life. He looked back once, like Lot’s wife escaping the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah, and squinted in the darkness that fell all around him, squinted to get one last glimpse of the train that ruined his life and the burned, drowning corpse of his father, sinking into the mud and muck.
"Then they were out, and David lost his way."
03-26-2007, 06:14 PM
Chapter Fifty-Nine is now available online at:
"'Nobody panic! Everybody stay calm!'
"The Jack's voice rang out of the darkness, piercing it like a dagger.The survivors huddled together in the night, reaching out for someone, something warm and alive just so they knew they were not alone and in danger at the edge of nothing. Rita and Manda were sobbing so loud that the Jack had to fight to make himself heard and his voice cracked on the third attempt, Val shouted down the women, yelling at them to shut their traps. Screams turned to sobs turned to whimpers as the rescue party shivered in the dark, waiting for someone to turn the lights back on. The Jack searched through his belt and pouches, the three men currently holding the broken door he was resting on adjusted their grip as he fidgeted around in the pitch black. After several seconds he stopped and looking and was finally still.
"'No more batteries. Rookie mistake. I should have checked them or grabbed more before I left.'
'Wait, you launched a rescue mission without rescue gear?' That was Rocco, by the accent.
'This was the second attempt. The first rescue had four more guys and four more flashlights. We had to turn back when we found someone. I guess the batteries were going even back then.'
A moment's silence, then: 'Who did you find?'"
04-05-2007, 02:09 PM
Chapter Sixty is now available online at:
Posts will be delayed due to Passover for the next two weeks.
"Diana Kenneth jumped out of her skin at the sudden sound of Officer Hainey’s voice. She had been standing near the wall, as close to the barrier as they would allow her to get, craning her neck to see something, anything down by the trains. There were two trains in the station right now – the first, dark and ominous, was clearly not being used tonight and was settled in for a long night of whatever amounted to rest for subway trains. The second was lit and welcoming but also empty, having been cleared of all passengers by the Transit Authority hours before. The platform was teeming with police and National Guard as well as rescue teams, EMTs and dark-suited officials ready to greet the expected group of survivors and either save them or sue them."
04-16-2007, 05:57 PM
Chapter Sixty-One is now available online at:
"Beneath the world, making their way along the dark, dangerous terrain, the survivors of the long since deceased five-fifteen PATH train huddled closer together as the sounds of rushing water faded away behind them and silence settled comfortably into the darkness. Apart from a “this way” or “watch your step over this track” from Tim, their scout, they barely said anything to one another as they held their breath in anticipation and walked, walked, walked forward towards salvation. Rocco, Moe and Jeff were beginning to tire as they carried the heavy, metal door weighed down by the Jack and the gloomy, disheartening atmospheric blackness, threatening to crush them in its viselike, tar-like grip and never let them free, much like the plague of Darkness that held ancient Egyptians frozen in place for three days as Moses led his chosen people through their homes and streets, searching for stolen gold. It was everywhere, the night, and even the keenest of eyes was having trouble adjusted their vision to the total and complete darkness they’d been trudging through for the last several minutes."
05-14-2007, 08:21 PM
Chapter Sixty-Four is now available online at:
"The tunnel broke to the right, and Tim went left. His misstep wasn’t due to a faulty sense of direction but because he was replaying his last conversation with the Jack inside his mind and for a moment, lost his focus. Realizing his mistake, he adjusted his steps and turned right, leading the sullen, abnormally silent group along with him.
"There was a gun in his right pocket. And it weighed him down as if strapped to his back. There was a gun in his pocket, there in case the unthinkable should happened. There in case one of the sullen, silent people behind him… one of the group of survivors he’d finally bonded with over the last several hours… wasn’t really a survivor at all."
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