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The Man Who Shook

What We Don't Know

I felt the usual breeze of the passing train as I stood waiting for mine. It was a quarter until 11 when I realized that I was one of a few people at the station that night. There were some other business-type people like me to my left, standing a good distance away. But a few feet to my right was an old man in a long woolen, gray coat and a brown hat. He was hunched over, staring at the ground. He was shaking terribly as if he were cold.

Another train came to a stop. Unfortunately, it wasn't mine. The business people boarded. I checked to see if the old man was boarding, but only found him still shaking and staring at the ground. He seemed to be closer this time by just an inch. The train left with no one getting off. I was alone with the old man. Minutes passed and it remained just the two of us. With 10 minutes until my train, I turned to the man to start up a conversation to break the unnerving silence.

I cleared my throat. "Hello."

The old man didn't nudge. The only change in his demeanor was his shaking turning more into a twitch. I couldn't think of anything else to do but whistle to fill the void. I looked all around, trying to avoid the strange man. That's when I saw a security mirror up in the corner to the left. The old man and I could be seen. With my back to him, he was staring right at me with full, white eyes. I peeked over to the man to find that he wasn't there anymore. I spun all around to see where he went but I was unsuccessful in doing so. He simply vanished. My mind raced as my train finally arrived.

Even after 30 minutes on the train, I was unable to comprehend what happened to the old man, why he shook, and why he was staring at me like that. I sat there, tapping my fingers on my briefcase with one hand and rubbing my chin with the other. The train started slowing down. I stood up and waited at the door. When the train came to a full stop, standing on the other side of my door was the old man with his white eyes. Chills crawled throughout my body. The doors slid open and he was gone again.

I couldn't move until the other passengers urged me to get out of their way. I took a few steps away from the train, keeping my whole body stiff except my legs and feet. Then I dashed for the stairs out of the station. Once I got up the stairs and to the street, I continued to sprint away. I began to run out of breath after a half mile, coming upon a bus stop. I sat on the bench next to a woman to catch my breath. My heart slowed down and it became easier to breathe, but I discovered that I was shaking terribly like the old man.

The woman leaned over. "Are you alright?"

I replied, "I don't know."

"You're extremely pale! Looks like you've seen a ghost!"

I said, "I'm not sure." And then everything went dark.

I woke up, finding myself in the emergency room on a bed. A doctor and a nurse were both standing at my side.

The doctor leaned in closer. "Mr. Carr? Can you hear me?"

Feeling sluggish, I asked, "What's happening?"

The doctor answered, "You are in a hospital, Mr. Carr. You were brought in because a woman said you fainted at a bus stop."

"I fainted? What's wrong with me?"

"Your vital signs were all normal. No drop in blood sugar or any sign of dehydration. Did you happen to be in any distress prior to the fainting?"

"Well... yes. Just some weird occurrence at the train station," I stated.

"Okay. Well, Mr. Carr. Seems like everything is fine with you now. It looks like you can leave. But... um... Mr. Carr... this is going to seem a bit odd for me to ask especially to someone who fainted. This is merely out of desperation. Would you be willing to donate some blood?"

"Um... I guess. Why?"

The doctor explained, "With the blood banks not doing so well in donations the past year, we are running low. More so on rare blood types and you happen to have a rare blood type. And we really need it because we have a patient on his deathbed at the moment."

"Oh! Sure, doctor! I'm more than happy to help out."

The doctor was relieved and within minutes the nurse was administering the IV. When the pint was half way, I asked the nurse, "So who is the patient?"

She answered, "This old man who was hit by a car while crossing the street. He was bleeding out. Apparently, the old man happens to be blind. Beats me as to why he was crossing the street without a cane or any sort of assistance."

I didn't know if it was the blood leaving me but my body became cold. "Did you say old man?"

"Yes."

I asked, "Did he happen to shake a lot?"

"Uh... actually, yes! I could hardly get the IV in his arm because of it. How did you know that?"

All I could say was, "I'm asking myself the same thing."

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