Fourteen Minutes (Final Part)

Almost abruptly, the train slowed down. But hardly anyone noticed that as all of them were on the floor in various crouching or squatting positions. Then to everyone’s astonishment, the train dragged to a stop gently. All the passengers on board stood slowly, and looked through the windows. Many people had already gathered at the platform, all of them were law enforcers, rescuers and station staff. They could not believe that they had reached Pretoria and still survived. Someone must have stopped that mad guy at the pilot control.

Moments later, the train doors opened. The obviously relieved passengers began to alight from the train one after another. Selena helped Lee Hoon get up and they both walked slowly out of the train. Azmi held onto Rosnah and stepped out soon after. Teck Meng carried both Raj and Jean in his arms. Both children still looked visibly shaken. All the passengers were evacuated from the station quickly. Three men rushed towards the pilot cabin angrily. Their intent was clear. They wanted to beat the hell out of Fred. But they were stopped by several policemen who had them shipped out too.

As Teck Meng walked away from the train, he saw a posse of armed policemen standing outside the pilot cabin. One of them used a loudhailer to order Fred to surrender. There was no response. Before he could see more, he was already out of the train station.

Everyone was escorted to a temporary assembly area some hundred metres away from the station. Paramedics were already there to receive and attend to them. Selena, Lee Hoon, Teck Meng, Azmi, Rosnah, Raj and Jean were all resting together with different people trying to calm them down with reassurances.

Teck Meng found it funny that these paramedics and counsellors looked more nervous than all these people who had gone through the ordeal with him. It was definitely the most harrowing fourteen minutes of their lives, but somehow all of them managed to force a faint smile when they looked at each other, except the two children.

“I guess we can really count ourselves extremely lucky!” Teck Meng finally spoke. The rest kept quiet, but nodded gently. He knew God had protected him well. Through this, he reaffirmed his faith in Him, and he was glad he had not failed him the last fourteen minutes on the train.

Selena was happy that she had chosen to help another person moments before her supposed death. Through it all, she found new meaning in life. She realised how immature and silly she was when she was contemplating suicide after James had failed her. Life is so much more than that jerk.

Azmi’s and Rosnah’s love for each other had grown stronger throughout this potential disaster. Azmi knew he had to spend more time with his wife, while the latter had decided to follow the doctor’s order.

Raj told Jean that he would love his parents more then. He also said that he would cherish his Playstation 3 even more too. Jean said her parents would be the most important things in her life and she would study well for them.

“Fred Ong Kim Loong, 36, who had threatened to derail an MRT train in fourteen minutes, was found dead in the pilot cabin, moments after stopping the train himself at Pretoria train station. He had apparently stabbed himself in the heart after telling the passengers on board that he ‘had spent his last fourteen minutes wisely’. He had also left a written note behind that read:

I believe I have taught the world a lesson in this one precious episode – live every second of your life in the most meaningful way you are capable of. My secondary school teacher taught me that. And I would like to think that I have done it. I have made every one of you on the train reflect on how you can possibly maximise the remaining time of your life. Fourteen minutes was just a random number. It could have been an hour. It could have been two days. It could have been three minutes. It would not have mattered anyway. Because most of you would still waste your life away until you know your time is up. I’m glad that some people managed to live life meaningfully in those fourteen minutes. To these people, I say I’m proud of you. To the rest of you who have failed, I believe my message is clear to you. You know what to do. There could be another Fred in future. So be prepared.

Fred Ong had been working as a train operator for five years. He’s survived by a wife and two children……” CNA News

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Published in: on Wednesday, December 26, 2007 at 12:22 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This plot holds a rare mix of inspiration & tragedy, CS.
    Yet, you told it very well.
    Here’s wishing you every writing success for 2008. 🙂

  2. Oops, sorry, CS, that was me above!

  3. Wow! What a conclusion, what a remarkable story. The dramatic grip was intense, CS, and the ending unexpected and yet consoling. A beautiful little story full of inspiration and tragedy – just as Suzan says.

  4. thank you, Ladies! may the year end with a glorious bang to the both of you! 🙂


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