Joel hurried down the narrow side road and turned a corner onto the main street. Rushing down the empty road, he nearly tripped going up the stairs to the station, his aging body straining to keep up with him. Straightening up, he practically flew into the grand station and stared around in desparation for his train.
"Shoot, which way is it?" Joel muttered to himself, as he looked around anxiously for an attendant of some sort. It took him a moment to realize that there was no attendant. In fact, there didn't seem to be anybody on the station. Thinking back, he hadn't seen anybody since that morning. True, there weren't many people in the small town, but still; nobody for the entire day? And certainly there should be somebody at the train station, shouldn't there?
Joel turned around and began striding back towards the entrance. There was always a guard in the security booth by the gate. In fact, that had been the very person Joel had seen that morning.
"Hello, excuse me? Can you help-" Joel began, but then halted in astonishment. He was standing by the entrance. Or, rather, where the entrance had been. Less than a minute ago he had walked through the gate there, but now there was nothing but a wall.
He looked to his left and then to his right, searching for any sign of the gate. But there was nothing there. Joel paced up and down the corridor in confusion. How could it have just disappeared?
After walking up and down the hall several times, and even looking into some of the side rooms, he had no choice but to accept that there was, in fact, no gate. No way out. And where was his train? It couldn't have left without him, could it?
"Well," Joel sighed, "I suppose anything is possible now..."
His words echoed around the broad, empty station. Suddenly, there was the sound of footsteps behind him. Joel spun around, startled, but there was nothing there and the footsteps had stopped.
"J-Jesus, I must be losing my mind", Joel stammered. He blinked, confused. To his surprise, Joel found himself looking at some wide stairs going - not down and out of the building - but up and further in.
Joel was speechless. For nearly 15 minutes he had been wandering around aimlessly and now there were stairs there. Stairs that, he was absolutely certain, had not been there earlier. "This is just like the entrance," he thought to himself.
"Perhaps... Well, I suppose it can't hurt to try?"
Carefully, Joel stepped onto the lowest step of the staircase. Looking up, he couldn't see any sort of landing; It was as though the stairs just kept going forever. Looking back one more time, as though to make sure that the entrance hadn't suddenly popped back into existence, he took another step. And another. And another.
Joel proceeded up the stairs, looking back down at the occasional sound of footsteps, only to find nothing there. It wasn't long before he could no longer see the bottom of the stairs. No matter the direction he looked, he could only see stairs. Even to his left and his right, where there had definitely been walls, were now more stairs.
Joel walked up and up for what could have been days. There was no sky above and no sunlight of any kind, yet he could still see just fine. "Not that there's anything to see besides these fucking stairs," he swore into the darkness.
His legs felt like solid stone. The only reason why Joel kept walking was because he was sure that he wouldn't be able to continue if he stopped for a break. The only thing keeping him going was the repetetive and continous movement of his legs.
Joel moved his foot up to take another step, only for it to slam down hard on a flat surface, causing him to jump to attention. It was an actual flat surface, that wasn't proceeded by another, slightly elavated, flat surface. A landing. It took Joel a moment too long to realize that he had stopped walking.
Joel's legs couldn't take any more, and he collapsed onto the platform. He tried to push himself up from the ground, but his body wouldn't move. He groaned with exhaustion.
Laying down on the flat surface was actually rather relaxing, Joel decided. Sure, his throat was dry, his stomach was rumbling, and his legs hurt like hell, but for a floor, it was pretty comfortable. His eyelids began to feel heavy.
Perhaps he could rest for a bit before moving. Yes, that would be nice. Surely, a short rest would do him good. Joel closed his strained and wrinkled eyes, and-