101st Line


Spooky tree- Contributor: FreeImages

Disclaimer: This story contains dark themes such as death, please read at your own discretion

Eris Nightingale left her apartment nearly fifteen minutes past when she should’ve because her alarm hadn’t gone off and she had burned herself by spilling coffee all over her hand while rushing to get out the door. She was positive that the day couldn’t get much worse. 

She ran down the steps of the subway, sprinting towards the platform. Her footfalls were highlighted by the flickering light from a street lamp. It was dark, but this didn’t bother her. She was used to the pre-dawn silence. The train was sitting there, its doors open and waiting for her, and she smiled. She had made it.

But they closed right as her foot passed the yellow line, leaving her stranded outside the train. She slammed a fist onto the door. Eris watched as the train sped off down the tunnel without her. She cursed, her head hanging as she realized she would have to call an Uber and she would be late. 

“Unfortunate.” A voice from behind her had her jumping, turning to the sound. There stood a tall, lanky man. His face was drawn downwards in a permanent frown, and his pallor was unbearably pale with deep, dark circles under his eyes. He wore an old conductor’s uniform that made his already thin frame seem even smaller.

He tilted his head at the bewildered expression on Eris’ face. In this city, it was rare to speak to another human. 

Eris, despite having no desire to speak to a stranger, replied politely, “Yeah… I was just running late this morning and now I’m gonna be late for my shift.” Eris worked at a small craft store that opened at an ungodly time in the morning for a reason she had not yet discovered. Her boss was a kind old woman named Mrs. Maitri who Eris had begun to look up to, her motherly nature a welcome presence after she had moved halfway across the country. She didn’t want to disappoint her. 

The man blinked, “Why would you be late?” 

“I-” she stammered, “I missed my train.” 

“No you didn’t,” he said, gesturing a bony hand behind Eris. 

She turned and nearly fell right onto the ground. There stood a train. It didn’t quite look like the normal trains in the subway, and the light blue color was slightly unsettling. But it had the correct car number and the LED boards inside projected her stop. 

She blinked several times before shaking her head and stepping on. She must’ve seen another train that was malfunctioning, or she just hallucinated it after getting poor sleep the night before. 

Eris found her place in her usual seat and glanced out the window as a moth bumped into the glass, then quickly changed directions and flew towards one of the flickering lights. 

The man’s face appeared inches from hers and she jerked backward. The man only stared. Eris watched as his eyes shifted from sad, to neutral, to pure happiness and then he let out a laugh. It was croaky and high and she gave her own fake chuckle in the silence. 

He said, “I was wondering if you could help me.” 

She froze before shaking off the adrenaline that had been pumping through her veins from the second she woke. Her voice was even as she gave a small smile, “Of course, with what?” 

“You see,” he pulled a golden pocket watch from his pocket, “I had this made for someone very special to me. My daughter.” 

Eris’ eyes softened.

“Her name is Lorelai and she’s about how old you are now.” He sighed, “I was very harsh to her and I regret what I said. I wanted to give this to her and I believe she lives around where you get on the train, but I don’t think she wants to see me.” 

Her heart ached as Eris listened to the man.

He held out the pocket watch, “I want you to give it to her.”

Eris shook her head, “No, she’s your daughter I-”

“Please. I was horrible to her, and I know she’ll never forgive me. I deserve to not be spoken to. But I want her to have that watch, just as something to remember me by that isn’t the monster from her childhood.” 

She nodded and took the watch, “I’ll try and find her, and I’ll tell her that you care.” 

When the man’s lips curled into a grin, Eris forgot all about her horrible morning. She stepped off the train with a cheery goodbye to the man before trotting off to work, slipping the watch into the pocket of her sweater as she crafted an apology to Mrs. Maitri for when she arrived. 

She unlocked the front door and opened it, the jolly ring of the bell sounding. She stopped dead in her tracks as she entered the back room. 

Mrs. Maitri was dead. 

The days following the death were a blur. Mrs. Maitri had been autopsied and they’d determined she had died via heart attack just before Eris had arrived. After, Eris had gone home and snuggled up under a pile of blankets. Even her usually vocal and trouble-making cat became quiet as he realized that something had happened. 

A full week passed when Eris finally decided that she needed to get out of the house and just do something. As she pulled on her sweater she paused as she felt an unfamiliar weight in the pocket. Her hand dove in to find the pocket watch that the old man had given her, “For Lorelai” engraved on the gold. 

Her lips twitched up for the first time in a while and she nodded to herself; she would find the man’s daughter. She went to her neighbors first, asking if they knew anybody named Lorelai. No luck. 

Next, she texted the few connections she’d made in the city. No luck. 

At some point, she began asking random strangers on the street, who usually wanted nothing to do with the short twenty-something-year-old girl, but she tried nonetheless. 

A few days after she had begun her search, her cat was hit by a car. 

Eris felt like her entire life was collapsing before her eyes. Two deaths in one week. 

She mourned for another day before beginning her search again. If she dwelled on the sadness, she was sure it would consume her. The quest to deliver the watch gave her purpose which was the only thing keeping her moving.

She kept it up for another full week and was beginning to give up when she received a mysterious text.

Hey, I heard you’ve been looking for someone named Lorelai.

A friend gave me your number.

I think I can help you. 


Eris proceeded to ignore every rule of internet safety and immediately texted the number back. 



Yes I’m looking for a Lorelai


She stared eagerly at the screen, awaiting the next message.


There’s a girl who lives in the woods just out of town, towards the west. She’s got dark hair with a few bleached streaks through it.

She’s the only person I know of in this area named Lorelai


This is perfect thanks

Where is her house?


There’s a road that branches off the highway that goes straight into the woods

It’s pretty hard to miss


The next morning Eris called an Uber and made her way to the forest. She directed the driver to the road her contact had described and had them drive down the road before they reached what seemed like a driveway. Eris got out, thanked the driver, requested that they wait for her, and began walking.

As she rounded a corner, she was surprised to see a fairy-tale-like cottage. It was small with hundreds of flowers and vines around it. It was gorgeous.

She made her way to the door, hand clasped around the pocket watch, and knocked. 

A beautiful girl opened the door. Her dark skin was highlighted by the flecks of gold that resided in her eyes and as Eris stared at her, the girl’s face softened into a smile.

“Uh hi, can I help you?”

“Y-yeah, are you Lorelai?”

The girl crossed her arms leaning on the doorway, “Yes, that would be me.”

“I have something for you.” Eris held out the pocket watch, dropping it so it dangled by the chain. 

Lorelai’s eyes widened first in shock and then in stark fear. Eris pulled the chain back, ready to apologize when a hand grabbed her arm and Lorelai pulled her inside the house, ripping the pocket watch from her hands. Lorelai stared at it for a moment before looking up at Eris.

“Where did you get this?”

Eris explained, “I think I met your father on the subway in town. He wanted me to give it to you.” 

Lorelai began pacing, “No. No this can’t be happening, not again.” 

“What do you mean?”

“Have bad things been happening to you?” 

Eris startled at the question before quietly murmuring yes which elicited a low curse from the girl. 

Without missing another beat she asked, “How long have you had it?”

“About two weeks. What is going on?”

“No, no I can’t let this happen to another person. I have to destroy it now.” Lorelai was racing to another room as she spoke and she only stopped as she felt Eris’ hand latch onto her wrist.

She felt a surge of protectiveness over the watch at the declaration of destruction and she growled, “I can’t let you do that.” 

“I’m too late, you’re already-”

“Give it to me.” 

Lorelai narrowed her eyes and tightened her grip around the watch, “No, I have to fix you.” 

Eris yelled, “That watch has been keeping me together for the past few weeks, give it back!” 


Eris lunged forward, grappling for the chain dangling from the closed hand. Lorelai was strong. She pushed her against the wall, her eyes flashing as she held the watch as far from Eris as she could. 

But Eris’ grief was stronger, and she pushed against the taller girl with a ferocity that she had never felt before. She was going to get that watch and give it back to the man. 

When her fingers found the smooth metal she smiled and yanked it from Lorelai’s hand, rushing out the door and down the road. 

She jumped into the waiting Uber, quickly instructing him to drive back into the city.

Lorelai watched as they drove away before taking out her phone and calling her own ride. Her eyes darted back toward her home where she had hidden many notebooks lined with tally marks. She would not let this happen again. 


After getting to the city, it did not take long for Lorelai to find the strange girl who had come to her doorstep bearing her father’s watch.

They always went to the same place.

The girl was standing inside the subway right in front of the tracks. The watch hung from her hand loosely as she stared blankly into nothing. 

Lorelai nodded to herself. She was going to fix this.

Before she had even taken a step, the watch slipped from the girl’s grip and Lorelai watched in horror as it fell straight into the tracks. The girl jumped down to grab it before Lorelai could say another word. 

Several seconds later, a train roared, and the girl was gone. Lorelai dropped to her knees. She had been too late. 

Her hand covered her mouth to contain her sobs as she cried, the grief hitting her fresh and new. 

When she looked up from the ground, she watched as a man wearing a conductor’s uniform jumped onto the tracks, just as the girl did seconds before, and came out with the watch. He looked at her, a smirk on his lips.

As he walked away Lorelai sat back on her heels, one hand holding her head as she pulled out a notepad, flipping to a new page and drawing a single line.

It was the 101st line she had drawn; the 101st death, and she could do nothing to stop it from happening.