Playmates

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Here's another reason why children should not play on railways, and why they should go nowhere near the tunnel.

Submitted: December 09, 2009

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Submitted: December 09, 2009

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Even though they couldn’t see anybody inside the office, they still approached cautiously, as they knew somebody had to be in there, it was their duty. Everything was quiet, and the whole train station seemed void of anything living, as though the insects and birds had decided to take time away, on their own personal vacation. Gary Carlton and Paul Miller were both eight years old, and had decided, as they had increasingly in the past year to play truant. An afternoon playing sports did not appeal to them, but they had to be back at a certain time or else their parents would have raised questions. So far they had never been caught, and one of their favourite places to hide away from adult’s prying, questioning eyes was the railway, where they could indulge in all manner of activities appealing to children. They could explore, build dens, generally keep themselves occupied until they sometimes reluctantly went home.

With the sun blazing in a cloudless sky, casting harsh shadows, all sound seemed slightly amplified, and the boys crouched beneath the counter, and walked slowly onto the platform, around a corner, out of sight, where they both stood straight, and looked around them to make sure nobody was looking at them. There wasn’t, as they could not see anyone. They both walked to the end of the platform, down a slope and onto the embankment, where the gradual curve of the tracks took them out of sight. With harsh, callous looking bushes sloping up to their right, and on the other side of the tracks, they slowly made their way to their truancy area, where they could relax for the duration. Both of them picked up a branch and swung it to and fro as they walked, sometimes picking up a stone to hit it across the tracks. Eventually, the huge gaping maw of a tunnel came into view, and they both stopped around ten metres in front of it. Their walking space had widened slightly from six, to around eight metres from the tracks to the bushes.

Gary threw away his stick, put his hands on his hips and looked at Paul and said:

"Right, what are we going to do now for the next three hours?". Paul swiped the stick nonchalantly, looking at the stones on the ground. He shrugged.

"Dunno," he said, but then looked up, his face one of surprise and revelation. He threw the stick down.

"Why don’t we play dare?" he said. "We’ve never played that before". Gary smiled, and nodded.

"Ok, but what happens if one of us fails?".

"Then we owe a can of fizzy drink or chocolate bar". Gary nodded again.

"I’ll go first" he said.

"No," said Paul. "We’ll toss a coin". He reached into his pocket and pulled out a ten pence coin.

"Heads or tails?" he said. Gary took a few moments to decide.

"Tails," he said, and Paul flipped the coin. He caught it and slapped it on the back of his hand. He exposed it and saw that it was tails.

"I’ll go first" said Gary smiling. "What I want…" he stopped as something on the ground near the track, approximately two metres from the tunnel caught his eye. He saw that it was a bunch of withered, weather beaten flowers. He crossed over to them, walking up to stand two feet from the track. Paul joined him. They both simply looked down at the daffodils.

"What does that mean?" Paul asked.

"Not sure, " Gary replied. "I think it means somebody died here. Someone’s come all the way down here to lay flowers where someone died". They both looked at each other for around two seconds, and Gary pointed across to the other side of the tracks.

"What I want you to do, is walk across these tracks, and back again" Paul pointed down at one of the rails.

"That’s dangerous," he said. "These tracks are electrified. If I touch one, I could die". Gary said nothing. Paul looked across to the other side.

"Right," he said, "I’m not owing you anything". A wave of fear swept through him, and he tried not to show his anxiety. Instead, he put on a brave face, and slightly hesitated in stepping over the rail. It took a few minutes, but he made it to the other side, and spent a few minutes exploring around, as they had never crossed the tracks before. After discovering nothing of interest, Paul decided to make his way back as he knew he couldn’t put it off for long. It took slightly less time to come back, and when he did, he breathed a loud sigh of relief.

"Right," he said, "Your turn" and looked around, trying to think of something for him to do. It was then that they both a heard a distant rumbling.

"A train’s coming" said Gary. It was a sound they both knew well.

"That’s your dare," said Paul. "I want you to stand on the tracks, and only when I say, can you jump out of the way".

"When you say?"

"Yes,"

"Right, OK. I will". Gary was slightly less hesitant in stepping over the first rail, and he stood facing the tunnel, determined not to lose the dare. The rumbling grew louder, and Paul walked further back down the embankment. Deep inside the tunnel, lights appeared, and waves of fear swept through him, but for the moment, he was determined not to move, not until Paul said. The sound, and the lights grew in intensity, along with the fear surging through Gary, making him clench his fists until they were almost white. The train was approaching the tunnel exit, and there was no more darkness to see within its confines. The sound almost deafened him. He leapt across the rail and fell down the embankment, breathing heavily with fright. The train thundered past, and in a few seconds, it was disappeared around the bend, along with the reverberations. Silence descended, and two butterflies fluttered past. Paul was smiling at Gary, who clambered to his feet and brushed himself down.

"You lost," he said, "You owe me a can". Gary shook his head.

"No, No," he said, "The sound was too loud, I couldn’t hear you. That’s not fair".

"It is fair. You jumped out of the way before I said".

"Did you see how close that train was?"

"Yes, it was miles away. You bottled it, and jumped out of the way before I said. You owe me one can". Gary folded his arms and looked at the ground, knowing that Paul was right, but reluctant to admit it. He sighed, and nodded slightly.

"Right, thank-you" said Paul. "It’s my dare". Silence descended whilst Gary tried to think of a challenge, but was soon punctuated by the crunch of gravel coming from behind them. Gary frowned and looked in the direction of the tunnel. The noise came again, and again, and again. It sounded like footfalls.

"Can you hear that?" said Gary. Paul joined him at his side and stared into the tunnel also.

"Yes," he said. "Is someone in there?". The noises then stopped, and the silence returned like an invisible fog.

"Probably nothin’" said Paul. "Might be because that train just came past. The rails are probably cracklin’ with letricty". Gary nodded.

"Yes, could be" he said, looking down at the flowers that were pressed into the ground each time a train went past, caused by the downdraft of air it created. He looked into the tunnel again, could see only darkness, then turned and paced around for a few moments, thinking of a dare for Paul, before stopping two feet from the rail and pointing down at it.

"Your dare," he said. Paul followed the direction, but shrugged.

"What?" he asked. "Your not asking me to touch the rail are you?" he said, looking at Gary with wide, fearful eyes.

"No. Put your ear about five inches from it. That’s your dare". Paul stared down at the rail. It didn’t look particularly formidable, or dangerous, but the boys categorically feared it. Paul breathed in a deep breath, and stepped across to the rail and kneeled down, placing his hands on the edges of the wooden sleepers. His face was directly above the shining rail, at about ten inches.

"Is that it?" asked Gary. "Is that as close as you’re going to get?".

"No, " said Paul. He slowly lowered himself closer until he was around six inches away, then turned his head to look along the rail. He saw a sparrow fly across the tracks and disappear into a bush, and he saw Gary crouched near the rail around eight feet away, checking to make sure Paul completed his dare.

"Bit further," he said, and Paul lowered himself slightly further to around five inches.

"Bit further".

"Further!" surely that’s close enough". He lowered himself slowly, not wanting to lose the dare. Gary watched him intently, making sure he met his conditions. Not going close enough would result in a chocolate bar, he decided, but Paul did seem to have lowered himself closer, and his ear looked to be around four inches from the track. Something caught Gary’s eye within the tunnel. A shape seemed to detach itself from the shadows and walk, or stagger into the open. Gary’s eyes widened, not quite sure as to what he was seeing. Paul saw Gary step back, his face ashen, his eyes wide and staring past him.

"What?" said Paul. "I’m closer aren’t I?" he said. A shadow then fell across him, and Gary screamed:

"No!" he reached out a hand in a ‘stop’ gesture, but fear overwhelmed him and he walked slowly backwards, tears coursing down his face. A hand clamped down on Paul’s head, and forced him down onto the rail. Electricity surged through his skin and burned his skull. He managed a two second scream before his brain was literally cooked, and his lifeless body slumped down, his hair billowing smoke, which joined the smoke that had already been billowing from a boy of similar age, who had already touched the rail once. His burnt and charred face stared at Gary who was still backing away. He extended a crisp and smoking hand.

"Friends," he said. "I want you to stay with me. I’ve been here for three months. I need some friends to play with. Please, join us". Paul’s soul, or spirit rose to stand beside the boy. He looked down at his body, then at his new friend, then at Gary. Gary’s immature mind couldn’t take it, and he fainted, falling forwards, his face hitting the rail. Electricity coursed through him, the other boys watching him as he shuddered, and burned. After a few moments, he was stood staring down at his own body, his hair and clothes billowing smoke. He looked at the other boys, who smiled slightly, waited for him to join them, then all walked into the tunnel, swallowed by the darkness.


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