Eureka Station: Part Two
It’s been three weeks. I’ve heard this sound every single morning and no one has mentioned it. It isn't there after work when I head home. I don't understand and I wonder if everyone is as scared as I am, but they've chosen to ignore it. Ignore it and it will go away. I did that. I thought it would go away at first, but now I know better. It hasn’t faded into the background. It hasn’t.
I've decided I’m going down there. If I don't find anything, my next step is a psychiatrist.
The last time I mentioned it – No – The last time I wrote about it, I went to work and completely forgot about the gong sounds. I was 10 minutes late for my call, but the rest of the day went off without a hitch. I came home to my wife making my favorite, spaghetti carbonara, and she was letting a bottle of 2012 Zinfandel breathe on the table. A tumbler of scotch, neat, was waiting for me in the kitchen with a kiss. This is why I love this woman.
She was reading a book on the couch after dinner when I remembered the sounds. After thinking about it, I decided not to tell my wife, at least not yet. Instead I pulled up the San Francisco Muni on Wikipedia and began reading about its history. It was built in 1912 then updated in the 30’s and 40’s. The T – Third Street was the last track built, and the only one whose letter matched the street it was on. The N-Judah and L-Taraval are confusing to those fresh to San Francisco. As I was reading I came across an article about Eureka Station. A station that was built so close to Castro Station that they shut it down in the 70’s because they didn’t need it. It said there was an entrance that was blocked off but could still be seen from the street. An abandoned subway. I hunted around for photos of the subway but the only two to pop up were of what looked like blue prints from the 40's and then the subway station. A black and white photo that showed the station's white pillars. In the back of the photo there was the outline of a man standing, but he was solid black. It looked like a shoddy photo. But then I found another photo of the entrance; still in its original spot and unlikely to be guarded for the earthquake repairs. This was my entrance.
It was going to be a long night, so I decided to tell my wife I had an overnight business trip. I know, I know, why would I lie to my wife? Because I love her, and I don’t want her to think her husband is a psychopath that goes roaming in abandoned subways at night. She would probably convince me I was crazy and to let it go. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. This was eating at me now.
I looked up when the Earthquake Safety Construction Updates would be taking place and decided the best time to go in the subway would be Saturday at 10:30pm. They would be shutting down at 10pm and re-opening at 5:30am. They started shutting down the Muni for the earthquakes Friday night, but I didn't want to test it then. Saturday was better.
Saturday at 8:00pm, I grabbed my unnecessarily large luggage filled with black clothes, a bolt cutter, pepper spray and a Maglite. I gave my wife a kiss and said I‘d see her the next morning. I hopped in a taxi to a bar a few blocks from the abandoned subway entrance. I needed to stay busy a few hours until the subways shut down, and I couldn’t just leave the house at 10:30pm without arousing suspicion.
I had a couple of beers and spent a while talking to the bartender, Joe. Joe was nice enough, a divorcé that used to be an attorney. He quit after he paid off his student loans and became a bartender. I was impressed by Joe, he seemed happy. Happier than most people I knew.
I had one more beer than I expected and walked out of the pub feeling a tingling buzz. I began walking towards the abandoned subway station, part of me wondering if it was still there. I mean, I had looked it up, but how many other things have been lied about on the internet? I was ready for there to be nothing left, but when I got to the corner, there it was: A strange door absolutely covered in graffiti. Colorful and aggressive graffiti informing me of what they did to my mother the night before, which made me wonder if I wanted to go down there after all. But I couldn’t turn back now. I climbed down the tile steps to a metal door that was wide open. Of all the things that made traveling into the subway creepy, this stood out to me and gave me the heebie-jeebies. The entrance was open and I could walk right in.
I climbed over the hand rail, down the steps into the subway and turned on my Maglite. I was immersed in darkness, the faint smell of gasoline and stale human urine filled the air. A part of me thought of when I was a child and how terrified I was of the dark. This was far beyond dark. This was pitch blackness. I could hear them working on the subway in the distance, hammering away at something. I flashed the light around me to take a look at the station and it was white pillars and tile. Gang graffiti painted the walls that in my photo were white.
The sounds of hammers and men yelling at each other filled the subway. It was coming from ahead of me, in the direction of my work where I had first heard the gongs. I looked around the subway for the third rail, I wasn’t about to fry myself on that thing, when I heard it. I felt strangely relieved. It was louder than I remembered, but the same GOOOOONG. I got chills down my spine; I'd forgotten how deep it was. Asian gongs are lighter, more refreshing and used for meditation, and this was deep, thrumming in the pit of my stomach. Even though it was the only reason I was down there, I froze in place. It took me a second to gather my bearings before I could control my feet again, then I hopped off the platform and started walking along Eureka Station's tunnel. I followed the tunnel with my light. As I walked there was less and less graffiti and the empty walls reminded me of blank pages. I guessed no gangs wanted to be hit by a train - Unlike my genius self.
I was thinking about how stupid I was when my flashlight moved across a deeper black. When I turned back, I could see another tunnel heading away from the main subway. I shined my light down the tunnel and the tracks continued about a hundred feet and then stopped abruptly. I kept walking, noticing that the third rail was never installed down this path. About eighty feet beyond the last track, I came upon a solid concrete wall. It wasn’t the subway’s metal walls and bolts, this was solid, sealed concrete. There was some older graffiti on it, names like “John,” and “Kyle,” with the date 1973, and the expected, “STAY OUT!” art. There was also a tent in the corner, some decomposing papers and an old coke bottle. It was like it was frozen in time, as if the little turnoff had not been traveled down in decades. There was nothing else there, so I turned to head back to the main thoroughfare.
Weird things happen to your eyes in pitch black darkness. It’s as though your eyes expect to see things and so the more your eyes convince your brain, the more likely you are to scare the bejesus out of yourself. That night I kept thinking I saw faces, or bubbles of light that traveled around, but now I think my eyes were fooling me. Like the piece of dust stuck in your peripheral vision. It’s a weird feeling to not be able to trust your eyes. It made me nervous of my ears. Were my senses fooling me?
I walked along the dark tunnel for a very long time. I set the pedometer on my watch to track the distance I’d walked and it seemed as though I might be nearing Van Ness Station soon, but that didn't make sense. I saw lights ahead of me, but the map I printed didn’t show the tunnels intersecting. The old blueprint made it look like they had never even finished building the tunnel. The further I walked, the quieter the gongs became. Where the tunnel ended on my map, I continued walking and arrived at Van Ness Station.
I was confused. The lights of the workers ahead of me appeared to get brighter. I could barely hear the gongs over their hammering. They were coming toward me, so I booked it back toward Eureka Station. I didn't come all this way to watch them make repairs.
When I was out of sight, I reset my watch to track how far I was walking. It seemed like time slowed in the tunnel. The ticking of the screen showed how very slowly I was walking. 0.03 Miles, 0.031, 0.032. Being alone in the dark is frightening. I've never truly gotten over it. My mind rushed to form figures in the blackness. I heard a loud squeak that echoed off the walls, I jumped and dropped my flashlight. Behind me the clicking of tiny feet scurried past. Freaking rats.
My heart was pounding my chest now. I felt nauseous and my legs were having trouble walking, my movements were disconnected as I tried to force my body to obey me. My body wanted me to run.
Way louder now. What the hell?
I walked past where I first entered at Eureka Station and the gongs were definitely louder. The farther I walked down the tunnel, the closer I was getting to them. I walked past the station along the tracks, now in the direction of the ocean. At least I think I was. My hands were shaking uncontrollably now. The blue prints online were wrong. As would make sense, there is little to no information on this station. What on earth happened here?
Down the tunnel in this direction there was no graffiti, no litter, absolutely nothing. Normally finding human debris is unsettling because that means you aren't alone. Here, not finding anything, it felt like I was the only human in existence, making my way down into the armpits of the earth. There was nothing but gravel crunching under my feet and the gongs. The gongs. The gongs.
There it was. The end of the tunnel. It just ended in a hundred feet. It was simple and abrupt. There was no answer. No explanation. What was in the damn tunnel? What is making these noises?!
I wanted to scream my madness away.
I felt sick knowing it had to have been in my head. In my head. I'll need to be locked up.
I broke out into a run, tears streaming down my face in frustration. Why is this happening to me? Why can't I even imagine what life was like before the gongs...
I reached the end of the tunnel and stopped, staring up at the wall. My last footstep echoed as silence engulfed me. No gongs. I didn't remember the last time I'd heard the gong. Where was it? Was that just it? Now that I was in the tunnel, was that all whatever was driving me to insanity, wanted?
"IS THAT IT?!" I screamed at the wall. My yell echoed, bounced off walls and fell quieter as it traveled down the tunnel back towards Eureka Station.
I sat down and stared blankly at the wall. No fear was left in me.
It was louder still. Much louder. It was as though I was next to it. Was it coming from behind the wall?
I shined my flashlight at the edges of the wall. I walked up and placed my hand on it - Concrete. This tunnel was filled as well. Just like the other one. I followed the walls with the white glow of my flashlight until I jumped at a terrifying black mass with bright yellow eyes. I dropped my flashlight in fear. My blood ran cold. I shakily picked up the flashlight and pointed it at the mass again, but the mass didn't move. I walked closer and saw that it was a drawing. Graffiti. It was a black seven foot tall mass with no features at all, just piercing, soulless, yellow eyes staring coldly out.
I pointed my Maglite at the walls around me and surrounding me were the same pictures. There were at least twenty of them lining the walls. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something else that piqued my interest. It was different graffiti. It was familiar but I couldn’t place why it was familiar. It was a cartoon of a man with just one curly hair who was peering over a wall. His enormous nose protruding out. Written below it in large capital words it said, "KILROY WAS HERE."
From the 50's or something, wasn't it? It was something my dad would know if he was still alive.
I pulled out my Maglite and in a rush of insanity I began hammering at wall. The echoes pounded down the tunnel and I knew the workers might hear me, but I didn't care. I didn't care about anything but the damn gongs that had infested me. I needed answers. I pounded and pounded on the walls, caught up in a fury --
It shook the subway.
A deafening sound that shook me to my core. Rocks and pebbles fell to the ground around me. The tunnel was filling with disturbed dust. What if the tunnel was collapsing? I panicked and ran.
I ran as fast as I could all the way back to Eureka Station.
I ran out of the subway and down the street a few blocks before I passed a bar with a bunch of people smoking outside. I wasn't alone anymore.
Now, who the HELL is Kilroy?!
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