In the Montague Street Tunnel the train shakes. Left to right. I try to even it out by moving counter to it. At some point it grows too strong. I get annoyed before I realize that it is not part of the regular noise of movements of the subway anymore. The car is violently swaying. The wheels leave the rail. The floor tilts. I hold on to a pole, then I hear the screeching of the brakes. The train comes to a halt, but it keeps shaking in place. The word earthquake hushes around among the passengers. I’m angry and hold on to the pole. It goes on for another half-minute or so.
Then, everything is quiet.
We hear an explosion and rushing water. Shortly after the lights go out. It’s pitch dark until phone screens flash on. I notice water streaming along the sides of the car. Next, the whole train is moved by a forceful jolt and foamy water gushes up outside the windows in gigantic waves. I realize that the rubber that I always thought seals off the doors does not actually do that. The water seeps pretty much freely into the car and begins to expand along the floor. People panic. Two men take off their shirts and try to seal the crevices through which water is pressing in. Others come and help.
The water level outside, which we were able to gauge by a line along the windows, has risen out of sight now. It’s above the car and the water must be filling up the whole tunnel. The water level inside the car is following. It has risen to the top edge of the back rests. People stand together around little phone screen bonfires. I hear praying. I stand apart. Alone. I look for someone who seems weaker than me. A man of some sort. He is dressed like me. I grab him and start punching him in his face. Eventually, I feel something. A group of people pummel me. They push me under water. I float motionless while frantic hands and grips try to immobilize me.
I come to and the water is almost to the roof now. I taste my blood and lap it from my upper lip. We are all floating with our heads an inch from the ceiling of the car. The people from before are reduced to panicked faces bobbing in the water. They breathe heavily. Some still hold their lighted phones close to their faces fearful of the dark. I think it silly, but I’m glad. I get tired and sleepy. We all feel comfy after breathing each other’s breath over and over. I see some faces disappear under water. Mine, too. Under water everything is nicely muffled. Still, some moans of agony are discernible even here. I think that I don’t want to rise back to the surface and breathe the dirty air.