Train Trip

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Nasty night for a train trip.

Low, oppressive clouds pressed close to the ground as I stood on the platform waiting for my commuter train.  It had been raining off and on for most of the day and the uneven concrete held pools of water.  Dodging the larger of them, I managed to find one spot to wait which was under an overhang.  Hoping that the rain would hold off for just a bit longer, I pulled out my slightly damp newspaper and attempted to read it in the wan light cast by an overhead lamp.

Today had been a horribly long day.  The sales meeting had taken most of the morning which left only time enough for a quick bite to eat for lunch and then back to the office for a huddle with my worker bees to sort out who would do what in the upcoming ad campaign.  Sometimes I think my team are spotted across the whole spectrum of the Bell Curve in intelligence.  I must have explained to Frederick six times what I wanted him to do before he finally ‘got it’.

Five o’clock came and went.  When I snapped off my desk lamp, picked up my attaché case, and brought my hand down on the room light switch, it was ten in the evening, and I was exhausted.  Time to go home.  As I trudged down the street in a drizzling rain I realized that there were only two more trains available to me before they stopped running for the night.  If I didn’t get my ass in motion, I’d miss the second-to-last.

Not enough time.  I did miss the ten forty-five.  The very last train would arrive in forty minutes – at eleven thirty.  Then, after a bone-jarring thirty minute trip on an uneven roadbed, I’d finally get home.  I tried to cheer myself up by thinking of the upcoming weekend when I’d have the chance to do some more work on my basement railroad.  There was one whole section, back by the water heater, that lacked much detail.  In fact, there was even a bridge that needed to be put in place.  Yeah, that’s what I’d do.  I’d work on the route a while Saturday and forget the whole weekly grind.

A short blatt of sound interrupted my thoughts.  I looked up and saw the lead engine approaching around a slight bend.  The forward pantograph was up and even in the rain was sparking a little.  As it approached, I was surprised to note that it was the same exact engine I’d bought a model of not six months before.  Now, I’d be pulled home by its giant twin.

Wet steel against wet steel produced a groan which couldn’t be duplicated by anything other than train brakes as the consist eased to a stop.  The whole train was only four cars long so I had to step lively (through a nicely-placed two-inch deep puddle) to climb aboard.  I didn’t even get seated before the conductor entered the car and began asking for tickets.  I handed him my monthly pass and he punched a second hole in today’s box.  He didn’t say a word, just moved on down the aisle to the scattered travelers in the car.

I removed my sodden coat and laid it over the back of the seat in front of me to dry, then sat.  My newspaper was now a pulpy mess so I just ticked it into the pocket and stared morosely out the window at virtually nothing.  It was very dark and only lit occasionally by lights of passing houses or the headlamps of automobiles waiting to cross the tracks.

Once, I calculated that I’d taken this very same route to and from work over seven thousand times.  I rarely looked out the window at all because I was either engrossed in my newspaper or simply drowsing.  We flashed through a station without stopping.  I caught the name, Billington, as block-lettered white on a black background.

I frowned.  That didn’t seem right.  I didn’t remember any town by that name being on the route.  But then I realized that there was a town by that name – on my model railroad.  How strange.  I must have subconsciously picked that name up from one of my early trips and applied it to my route.

It remained very dark outside now and rain began sheeting against the window and drawing trails downwards at an angle.  We began to slow for the next stop.  There wasn’t a soul on the platform here but we waited the requisite three minutes just the same.  Both ends of the station were shrouded in a light fog.

As I watched, a door at the end of the station opened and a man stepped out.  He didn’t appear to walk though.  One moment he was in the doorway and the next he was on the platform raising a flag.  The train lurched into motion and the man quickly retreated back into the station and the door slammed.  This time, I was quite sure that his legs didn’t move at all.

The engine shouted a double moan to the dark and picked up speed.  As we left the cone of light at the end of the station, I saw the nameboard on the eave.  It read Stanley.  My name.  Another one I used on my home model.

Now I really began to wonder what was going on.  A bit uneasily, I stood for a moment and adjusted to the car’s movement so I could walk down the aisle.  When I got to the end of the car, I found that the door wouldn’t open.  The latch seemed frozen and wouldn’t move up or down.  No amount of force seemed to help.  I weaved down to the other end and found the same to be true.  There was no way to exit the car.

I paused in my trip back up the aisle to bend forward and look out the window.  What I was seeing seemed to be the moon, but it was on the wrong side of the car.  I was going east so the moon should be on the south side – not the north.  But wait – how could I be seeing the moon on such a nasty night?  As I stared at the bright spot I began to realize that trees and other structures were going behind the ‘moon’.  Then, the ‘moon’ winked out; or, rather, went from bright to a dull glow and then went out.

I was still standing when we went around a very sharp curve.  I was thrown to the left and banged my hip against the seat back.  Grabbing the seat for support, I heard the rear door slam open and a voice called out “Gazmeterzag!  Next stop Gazmeterzag!”

Whirling around in an attempt to see who had called out the next stop on my model railroad.  I saw nothing.  There was nobody else in the car at all.  It was then that I realized that somehow, some way, I had been projected onto my own railroad and now I was hurtling along with no stops between me and ... Oh My God!  The bridge!  I hadn’t finished it!

 


Submitted: October 17, 2013

© Copyright 2022 B Douglas Slack. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

J E Hunter

This was a pretty awesome short story and really original too, I especially liked the ending!

Mon, October 21st, 2013 4:15am

Author
Reply

Thanks, J. E.. I wrote the story in about a half hour for the Halloween Horror contest by FruitLoop.

Mon, October 21st, 2013 6:21am

FrootLoop246

Thanks for your entry! Your piece has been scored and judged! Results will be up november 1!

Thu, October 24th, 2013 4:46pm

Author
Reply

Excellent! Thank you.

Thu, October 24th, 2013 9:51am

masharocks

Wow this was pretty amazing and I really enjoyed reading it! Keep it up:-)

Sat, November 9th, 2013 10:12pm

Author
Reply

This was my first whack at suspense/horror - and I wrote it in 45 minutes for a contest. Who knew? Thanks for stopping by.

Sat, November 9th, 2013 2:17pm

Mr Watson

Enjoyed that Tom, you write some good stuff,the lads got a model railway under his bed collecting dust,happy days.

Tue, November 19th, 2013 7:51pm

Author
Reply

i did too - several of them - as we moved from base to base. Now I do my model trains virtually using an Australian product called Trainz. Loads of fun. Thanks for reading.

Tue, November 19th, 2013 11:58am

BriannasBooks

Amazing story! I loved the ending, it was really great. Good job! :3 ~Brianna~

Thu, December 26th, 2013 6:59pm

Author
Reply

Thanks, Brianna. It was entered into a Horror contest on Halloween. Got second prize.

Thu, December 26th, 2013 11:37am

akirachan20

wow that's frightening one, liked it

Sat, April 5th, 2014 7:50pm

Author
Reply

Happy to hear that, Akira Chan.

Sat, April 5th, 2014 12:55pm

Sidiosyncratic

Just the kind of story i love to read and with such narration, its a treat !

Wed, April 30th, 2014 7:01am

Author
Reply

Thanks. This was a contest winner.

Wed, April 30th, 2014 7:26am

Crowefoot

Hey this was written a while ago but it caught my eye because i love stories set on trains (especially ghost stories). This was a great read- starting in mundane details but heading off in a wonderfully surreal direction. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed it a lot.

Sat, April 16th, 2016 11:11am

Author
Reply

Thank you, Crowefoot.It was fun to write as I have been into model railroading for years, both physical and virtual. It just seemed to come naturally.

~Tom

Sat, April 16th, 2016 5:45am

Reagle

It took you 45 minutes to write this? It's exquisite! You have an imaginative yet precise method of structuring words together and it really helped visualize what was going on. I enjoyed the concept, especially the part about not completing the railroad.

Tue, July 25th, 2017 10:16pm

Author
Reply

Thank you, Reagle. I tried to get the reader thinking a regular train trip and then ease in the fact it was a model railroad. It had to be the layout creator taking the trip because he was the only one who knew the bridge wasn't finished.

Bill

Tue, July 25th, 2017 4:02pm

Sharief Hendricks

What a cool story....

I loved how you turned the moon into a character ...

An awesome ending ...

Sat, July 11th, 2020 10:11pm

Author
Reply

My inspiration for this one was The Addams Family. Gomez Addams loved to run his trains around and crash them. I wondered what it would be like to be riding on one of them.

Bill

Sat, July 11th, 2020 3:19pm

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