Posted in English, Stories


With a loud hoot and red warning lights, the doors closed. The subway jerked into motion and disappeared into the blackness of the tunnel.

I sat in the center of the cart between a heavily breathing grandpa and a sleeping woman. The middle seats were disadvantageous. They are a trap. I was only sitting here because the guy at the back end smelled of stale urine.

Sweat wet my chest. Just two stops to go. When I saw them, a silent curse chased over my lips. So obvious! How could I have missed them?

“Good afternoon, tickets please!” The voice of the ticket inspector sliced through my thoughts, bringing a surge of anxiety.

Keep calm. Let’s hope they don’t catch me before the next stop. I wouldn’t stand a chance escaping to the right. The blocked the exit with his massive body. To the left? Here the inspector was small, but appeared determined to fight if given the chance.

I adjusted my headphones, pretending indifference, all the while hyper-focused. Just breathe, man. Inhale. Exhale. Just stay calm. I attempted to breathe out the nervous energy that was churning in my stomach.

Fatso was now two seats away. I closed my eyes and tried to listen to the his and his partner’s voice over the pounding of my heart. The subway slowed to a halt. The doors opened with a hiss, a fleeting opportunity for escape. I got up, avoiding the inspectors’ gaze. Don’t run, I kept telling myself. I hardly managed to convince my legs to follow my own advice as I pushed past the little one to freedom.

“Hey!” The dwarf’s yell echoed behind me, but I didn’t dare look back.

Two steps! I managed two steps on the platform before a hand landed heavy on my shoulder, forcing me to a stop.

“Your ticket?” the gnome demanded, his tone condescending.

“Je ne comprends pas,” I mumbled, attempting the tourist trick.

“Ton billet!” the dwarf insisted.

Crap! In the meantime, Fatso had waddled over to us, panting like a pug. Rummaging through my backpack, I feigned forgetfulness. “I must have left it at home.”

“Oh, you do speak English,” the dwarf remarked, a sly grin on his face.

“A little,” I maintained the façade.

“ID?” Fatty was still breathing heavily.

Once more, I rummaged through my backpack and handed over my identification.

“Do you want to pay right away, or should I call the cops?” The gnome grinned.

“The cops!? Easy dude.”

“Well, you can pay up now. Fifty bucks. Cash.”

“Dude, I don’t have that much on me!”

He shrugged, pulled a phone out of his fanny pack, and turned away. My nails dug into my palms, fists trembling, as I watched Fatbert copying the data from my ID card into a log. A bead of sweat rolled down his forehead and threatened to fall onto the pink pad. His massive chest rose and fell with each rattling breath. The dwarf had distanced himself, engaged in a conversation on his phone. My gaze switched between my tormentors. My heart was racing. Still, I hesitated. The dwarf turned away from us. Fatso cleared his throat. Act! Make your move — now!

Fatty’s goofy expression gave way to amazement when all he had in his hands was a pen.

“Hey! Hey!” he yelled in confusion. By the time, he conceived what I had done, I had already sprinted halfway up the stairs. They couldn’t see my triumphant grin because I didn’t turn around anymore.

Relieved, I burst into the warm afternoon light, the scent of freedom embracing me. I raced the bustling city streets, adrenaline still coursing through my veins. Glancing back, I half-expected to see the inspectors chasing me, but they were nowhere in sight.

As I put more distance between me and the subway station, the echoes of the dwarf’s frustrated yell lingered in my mind. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the mental image of him, red-faced and flustered, while his partner fumbled with a useless pen.

Oh, that sweet taste of victory. I blended into the crowd, becoming just another face, as I disappeared into the anonymity of the urban landscape.

Understand German? Read the German version here.

Comments & Reviews

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *