All is dark and silent. I see flashes of light in the dark. I can hear the cry of a baby. Wake up, the baby is crying! I try to move, but I am paralyzed. I try to open my eye and they feel heavy like a brick. My mind keeps shouting to get up. Why can’t I move? I concentrate on my index finger in my right hand. If I can only move this finger, I will be able to break free. Come on you can do it. Just move one finger. I concentrate. I notice that I can’t breathe. I’m suffocating! Breathe! I need air on my lungs. I try to move all my body but to no avail. I try to shout but I can’t make a single sound. Fight it! The baby needs you! Get up! With a jolt I finally wake up and break free from this terrible spell. I desperately gasp for air like a fish out of water. It fills my lungs. My heart is racing, feels like it is going to beat out of my chest. My vision is blurry. I rub my eyes with both my hands to improve my sight.
I see shapes of trees outside. I’m traveling fast past them. I am sitting on a green bench in the middle of a passenger car. It seems that I’m onboard a train. I look around and I see windows at the back and sides of the train car. The walls, ceiling and floor are made of cherry red oak. The edge of the ceiling has seven rustic lamps circling around the car. I am alone. I walk up to the window in the back of the car. How did I get here? I tried to remember, and my mind was blank. I had no recollection to previous events.
The view outside is thick forests and the railroad track. I look up and see words on the wall that say, “EASTERN & ORIENTAL EXPRESS”. I turn to look behind me and see a door, it was white and metal. It looks out of place with the rest of the car. I get close to inspect it. I put my hand on the cold surface and the door opens. I walk across the threshold. The doors close behind me. I am startle with the sound it made. I see people sitting on the chairs, they don’t move to the sound of the closing doors. I walked passed a girl sitting on the third rows of chairs from the back. She looks 17 years old. She had long red curly hair. Her face was filled with freckles. And she was wearing a blue pale mini dress with black leather boots.
“Sit down.” She whispers.
“What?” I asked.
“No, No. Don’t look at me, look forward. Quick sit down it's almost time.” She said.
I could tell that she was scared. I sat in the chair in front of her. I observed the others, no one moves. They looked like statues. I see a drone coming out from a compartment at the front of the car. It is black with a circular head. It has two antennas on the top, one lens on the front and 4 extremities like arms. It was hovering to each of the passengers.
“Tickets please.” It asks in a metallic voice. I couldn’t see if the passengers gave it the ticket, the drone blocked the view. It was now my turn. It turns to face me.
“Ticket please.” It spoke.
I search for the ticket in the pocket of my jeans, but they were empty. I didn’t know if I even had a ticket. I guess I did if I was on the train.
“Ticket please!” It said it in a rough tone and a red light near the lens turns on.
I was going to tell it that I didn’t have one. Before I could, I hear the girl whisper again.
“Say your number.”
“What number?” I whisper back.
“I will not ask again. TICKET PLEASE!” the drone said. This time its tone was scaring me.
“Say twelve!” she whispers.
“Just say it! Trust me!”
I looked at the drone and say doubtfully “Twelve?” The red light near the lens turns off and in a friendlier tone it says. “Thank you. Welcome to the Eastern and Oriental Express.”
The drone turns towards the girl and asks for her ticket. I hear her say “Seven”. The drone hovers back to its compartment at the front of the car. When it was gone, I see the passengers more relaxed and moving. Some of them would say “Thank God.” others would leave in a hurry. I am confused. I feel the back of my chair move, I turned and see the girl resting her arms in the head of my chair.
“You get used to it after a while.”
“What was that?” I asked.
“That’s the Conductor. It makes sure we all have our tickets to ride the train.”
“But I don’t have a ticket.”
“Yes, you do.” She looks at me seriously “Remember your number is twelve. Never forget that!”
“Because you are the twelfth person to walk out of does doors.”
“How did I get onboard?”
“Same way we all did, from behind those doors.”
“I didn’t get on a station?”
“No, you didn’t. This train never stops, and it never slows down.”
“But… That’s not possible.”
“A lot of strange things happens on this train. But most importantly you must follow these simple rules. Every 24 hours you need to return here to give the conductor your ticket. Never use someone else’s ticket and don’t be a nuisance on the train. People that cause trouble vanish.” She gets up and says, “Come I’ll show you around."
I followed her to the next car, the dining area. Each dining table is divided with large booths. The booths and carpets are red with golden flowers. The tables have a white tablecloth. The plates and silverware are set. The glasses of wine are ready to be served. The napkins are folded as standing fans. The windows have golden drapes; I can see the trees outside. It seems we are going faster.
“This is where we eat. We are served three meals a day, 8 am, 12 and 5 pm. If you do not arrive in time the cook will not serve you. Come let’s go to the next car.”
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“To your room.” She said with a smile.
“No, I mean the train where is it headed?”
“No one knows.” Her answer was unsettling. How could she not know? How could she be so calm about it?
The corridor on the next car was narrow. We were passing several doors. She opens the fourth door and with a hand gesture invites me in.
“Welcome to your room.” she said.
The carpet is green with yellow patterns. The wall is cherry red oak. The rooms has two windows with the view of the forest. In the back of the cabin is the king size bed dress with white sheets. At the right side of the bed is a nightstand with a reading lamp.
The train was very beautiful, the architecture and designs were breathtaking. But still, something didn’t feel right. I notice that she closed the doors very gently to not make a sound. When I turn she is up on my face.
“Tell me what you remember?” She demanded.
“What?” I said confused.
“Do you remember your name? Where you are from? How you got on the train?” Her smile had vanished replaced with fear and desperation. With each question, she took a step closer.
“Do you remember anything?” she insisted.
“I… No, I don’t. How can that be? I can’t even remember my own name!”
“Come on, you just got here you must remember something. Think hard! Hurry before the memories disappear.”
I did as she told me. I turned to look out the window. As the trees passed, I began to remember the flashes of light, the cry of the baby and with it the pain in my breasts. I walk towards the mirror to look at myself. I have long brown hair below my shoulders. My skin is tanned, my eyes are light brown. I'm wearing long jeans with a long sleeve black shirt. I touch my breast, they are tender. I squeezed one of them hard and I feel it get wet inside my brassier. I turn to look at her. “I think I have a child. I can still hear it crying!”
“They probably took your baby.”
“Who? What the hell is going on here? What can’t I remember anything? Who are you?”
“I am Seven. None of the passengers on this train can remember anything about their lives before boarding. We arrived the same way you did. We only know that we are being watched.”
“By whom?” I asked.
“The machines that control this train. They observe our every movement. So far, our rooms are the only place we can get privacy.”
“We need to find a way out!” I said
“Good luck with that! No one has ever found a way off this ride. And the ones that try get taken away by the conductor.”
“I don’t know…. they just vanish.” A hard knock on the door interrupted us. Seven walks over to opened it. There is a man standing outside. He is big and muscular. He seems to be in his late thirties. He is wearing a Traditional African Embroidery blue shirt with matching blue pants.
“Seven, you are not supposed to be here!” He said in a Nigerian accent.
“Hi Four. I was just showing the new passenger around.”
“You know that you are being watched! Come with me, I’ll take you to your room. And you” he said looking at me “If you want to stay out of trouble do not listen to this one.”
He escorted her to her room. I peeked my head out and saw them five doors away from my room whispering agitatedly. I could not make out what they are saying but I can tell that he is scolding her.
They both see me spying. She goes in her room, and he enters the room next to hers, slamming the door. I closed my door and sat at the edge of my bed looking out the window. I need to find a way off. I need to find my child. I look at the clock on the wall and it read 4pm. I began to search my room. I'm not sure what I'm looking for, all I needed is a clue to make sense of it all. I search under the bed, behind the nightstand, inside the dressers and the wardrobe. In the wardrobe I found a blue dress. The dress was short above my knees with long sleeves. The cloth had flower patterns. The front and the back of the dress had a V shape neck exposing both my cleavage and upper back. Below the hanging dress in the floor of the wardrobe was a pair of golden high heels. I took the dress out and saw a ticket that said, “Dinner Outfit”. What the hell is going on here? What is up with this blue color everywhere?
The clock now reads 4:45pm. I quickly freshen up and put on the dress. I was about done fixing my hair into a braided crown when I hear a knock on the door. I walk towards the door to open it. Seven was smiling at me. She still has the same blue dress.
“Are you ready for dinner?”
We walk into the dining car. She grabs my hand tightly. “Remember to never show fear and always smile. They always seem interested in people that do not play along.”
We found our table and sat opposite to each other. Still smiling she continues talking in a whisper. “I sometimes suspect that we have a spy onboard the train. Someone that report to the conductor pretending to be a passenger.”
“I thought you said we were all brought onboard.”
“Yes, but I’m quite sure that someone in here is a traitor. I just don’t know who.” She discreetly looks around and I do the same. She continues “If you look around you will notice missing passengers. You already met Four, that older lady drinking tea is number One. The old grumpy looking man is number Five and miss congeniality over there is number Nine. All other numbers not mentioned are gone from the train.”
“You don’t think they might have found a way off”
“No, not possible. He would have told me, and we would have left this ride together.”
“Eight. He was my friend. We spend a lot of time together trying to figure out this train. The night before he vanished…” she stops talking and is looking at the old lady number One that was still drinking her tea. I turn to look and see her glaring at us. She quickly looks away pretending to do something else. Seven continues whispering even softer.
“The night before he vanished, he saw someone in his window looking at him. But was gone in a blink on an eye. I told him it must have been his own reflection, but he was confident someone was on the other side of the window. Next morning, he didn’t show up for breakfast. I went to his room, but he was gone. His room was clean, and the decorations were replaced. It was like he was never onboard the train. I searched every corner looking for him. I even assaulted some of the passengers begging for information about his whereabouts. I didn’t get help from anyone. Everyone is too frightened. They fear to be taken as well. But that’s all going to change now that you are here.”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“Because you were assigned to what used to be Eights room! Together we can inspect it and see what clues were left behind.”
“I already searched my room and didn’t find anything out of the ordinary except for this outfit that was my size.”
“Yeah, every day you will find new cloths in the wardrobe.”
“Let me guess everyone gets the same color” I said as I signal to the other passengers that are also wearing blue outfits. “Please tell me that at least the color changes each day!”
Seven laughed “Yeah, so lame!”
“May I join you ladies for dinner?” It was Four, sitting next to Seven. Her smile fades away when he sits down. “I hope she hasn’t been troubling you.” He asks me.
“Not at all. Seven and I have become instant friends.” I told him
“Yes, friends at first sight!” Seven said with a giggle.
“That's nice. We all need friends on this train.” Said Four with a forced smile.
The chef arrives with our dinners and serves us some wine. The chef was another drone like the first one but white. I could hear it humming a song while serving the food. I can't make out the lyrics, but it seems familiar. We all ate, drank, and laugh at the dining table until it was time for bed. Four escorted Seven to her room. After his arrival to the table, we didn’t continue with our conversation. I would have to wait for tomorrow for more answers.
I couldn’t sleep last night. All I could her was the cry of my child. I need to care for my baby. I need to get off this train. I have a feeling that Seven can tell me how. I was anxious to see her again and I knew she would be too.
The morning rays finally illuminated my room. I got out of bed and went to the wardrobe to see if it was true what she said. The new outfit for the day was hanging inside. Today I was wearing green capri pants with a blank tank top. I found a pair of black Nickie’s too.
I get dressed and head to the dining car to have breakfast. I sat at the booth we used last night waiting for Seven to join me for breakfast. I see the other passengers arrive. The only two passengers missing was Seven and Four. I assumed they would be together. I finally see him walking in with a dread expression on his face. He walks over and sits across from me at the table. We didn’t exchange words. It wasn’t necessary. By the look on his face, I knew something was wrong. I knew she was gone. I made a movement to get up to rush to her room. He grabs my hand tight forcing me to stay seated.
“If you leave now they will start watching you too. If they have their eyes on you, you won’t be able to find out what happen.” He ended his sentence just in time to greet the chef with a smile on his face.
“What did you do to her?” I ask him after the drone is gone.
“I tried to protect her and keep her safe. But she was stubborn. She wouldn’t listen to me. When Eight vanished, I told her to be smart, to lay low. I TOLD her to be inconspicuous! Did she listen? Did she care? No! She did what she wanted, not what she was told. And look where it got her.”
“She was just a child!
“Yes. A child that would not obey!” he said with anger.
He leans back in a more relax position and continues. “I’m sure Seven told you the remaining numbers onboard. Did she tell you why number One is still on the train? Didn’t you ask yourself that as well? You know, people think of the number one as being the best at everything. But One is a lonely number. She was the first and alone. She saw things that only appears in our nightmares. She made up the rules out of observation and trial. Yet no one can get a word out of that sweet old lady. She just spends her days looking out the window drinking her tea.”
“Seven said we have a traitor onboard.” I said with spite.
He looks at me with concerning eyes “Careful now, that assumptions can get you into a lot of trouble.”
“Are you now trying to keep me safe? Cause it didn’t go so well for Seven.”
“I’m cutting you some slack because you are new here. A word of advice: Play the game and play it well if you want answers.”
“Are you playing the game?”
“I would if I could remember anything before the train.”
“What makes you think I can? I don’t even remember my own name for Gods sakes!”
“Ah, but you do remember the cry of the baby. And that’s all you need.” he said.
“How do you know about that? I never told you.”
“Seven told me.”
“Last night before bed.”
I looked at him surprised. I couldn't believe Seven told him.
“Believe me or not, Seven and I were very close friends. She was like a daughter to me. Knowing that she is now gone pains me.”
“Then help me find her and my child.”
“Because of my fondness with her I am now being watch too. That is why I came to you. All I can do is give you advice. It’s up to you to be smart. Learn the truth without getting caught.”
We finished our breakfast and parted ways. Before he left he said “Remember to be at the passenger car at 3pm to give the conductor your number.” I nodded in replay, and he walked away.
I clean my face with the napkin and looked around. The other passengers are gone. I'm curious to see Sevens room, but when I get there, I see the conductor locking her room to deny access. Up ahead I see another exit door. I walk over to see what was at the other side. This car was a community space filled with comfortable couches, reading tables with lamps. Board games were displaced on the tables. The room was decorated with blue drapes on the windows. Blue zebra pattern chairs. Beautiful flower shaped lamps on the walls and ceiling fans. A very cozy space for entertainment. Sitting in a corner I saw her, number One. She was by the window reading a book and drinking tea. Behind her I saw Five and Nine playing chess.
“May I join you?” I asked.
She looks up from her book and gives me a smile. “Certainly, my dear.”
I sat in the chair front of her and look out the window.
“Lovely, isn’t it?” She asked.
“The view. This train. I simply adore it.”
“Yes, this train is quite exquisite, and I do admire the architecture. The view is peaceful too.”
“Aye, that it is.” The old lady seems to be Scottish. Her hair is mostly white with still some chestnut color here and there. She went back to her book without saying another word.
“How long have you been on this train?” I asked.
She looks at me and said with a smile “I dinnae recall how long it has been. But I’ve been here longer than the others and certainly longer than you. I’m certain that I might be the only one left again. Now If you don’t mind, I’d like to return to my book.”
I didn’t like her tone and it made me hell of mad hearing her say that after Seven had vanished. But I sat in silence remembering that Seven and Four had told me to play the game. I studied her and her book. I couldn’t see the title; it was worn out. Its pages were crumpled and some of them were missing. That book had seen better days. She stops reading to look out the window. She sees something and chuckled. I tried to follow her gaze, but the train was going too fast. I couldn’t see what she saw. She continued reading. I continued to look outside. I spent probably like 30 minutes looking out the window when I see in between the branches of a tree a monkey. It is fighting with a bird for a fruit. As this event was happening, One stops reading to laugh at the scene. How did she knew to look out the window to see the two fighting creatures? I look again at her book and saw that it has marking on certain pages. I decide to look out the window again. The train was still in the thick forest. The trees are passing by quick. I wouldn’t be surprised if we were riding above 100 mph. Another 30 minutes passess, and I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. But there they were again! The monkey and the bird fighting over the fruit. Are we driving in circles? I could not believe it. I looked at her and saw her again laughing at the scene.
“You knew that was going to happen, didn’t you?” I demanded to know. She didn’t answer my question, she looked at me with widen eyes. “Are we driving in circles? But it’s been over 30 minutes. How can they still be fighting over the same fruit?”
“I’m sorry my dear but I dinnae ken what you mean?”
“What are you reading and why are the pages marked? Is that how you can tell when to look out the window? How long have you been on this train to synchronize that?”
“Do not be a nuisance!” She said agitatedly, get up and leaves the car. As One walks away I notice Nine who is playing chess with Five looking at me.
“Checkmate!” She said and got up to walk towards me.
“No way! That is not Checkmate!” Said Five in disbelief.
“Look again pops.” she tapped him on the shoulder and walks away.
“Damn it! Check mate.” He said.
Nine came over and sat down. She was blond and tall. Her eyes are blue. She is wearing a green with pink flowers summer dress. “I haven’t had the chance to welcome you to Abduction Express.”
“I thought this train is called Eastern and Oriental Express?”
“Abduction Express is the name Eight, Seven and I gave it.”
“You know what happen to Seven?” I asked.
“Same thing that happen to Eight and the other missing passengers. Look Twelve, I’m tired of seeing people vanish while that witch stays onboard. She may look all nice and sweet, but she's not. There is a reason none of us talk to her.”
“And what reason is that?”
“HA. What are you now, some sort of detective? This will be your first full day on the train and you have already manage to get yourself acquainted with four passengers onboard, including myself.”
“I’m just trying to make friends.”
“Well, one of your friends goes missing the night you arrive. I don’t find that a coincidence.”
“I didn’t do it, if that’s what you are implying.” I said offended.
“I didn’t say that. But, I do know she told you something. Same thing Eight told Seven before he vanished. Something they would not share with me.”
“By the way Seven was referring to you last night, it didn’t seem like you two were friends.”
“Seven was upset with me after Eight vanished. She could not bear my indifference. But it hurt me just the same as her. I just knew I had to play along to not become the next victim. She obviously didn't care about the consequences and by the looks of it, you don’t either.”
“So, your plan is to stay on this train forever?”
“My plan is to survive. I don’t remember what it's like outside. I don’t know what awaits. All I know is here and now, and I’ll do anything to stay safe. I suggest you do the same.”
“And how do you propose I do that?”
“Don’t talk to One again. Seven didn’t know this, but the day before Eight vanish, he talked to One too. I saw them while I played Chess with Five. And just like you did, he noticed something he was not meant to know about this train. Something I don't dare to find. Something I am asking you to forget… For the sake of your child.”
I was startled that she also knew about my baby. “Who says I have a child?” I asked her.
“The walls on the train are thin.”
“I want a rematched!” Yelled Five to Nine interrupting us.
“Gladly Pops!” She yelled back. She got up and walk to Five who was anxiously waiting for her.
I couldn’t stand it. I feel like I want to cry. I go straight to my room. When I opened the door, I was surprised to see Four looking out the window. He turns to look at me.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“I wished to speak with you in private.”
“Have you talked to One yet?”
“Why don’t you go talk to her yourself?”
“Would you please stop with the hostility? I am trying to help you! I’m on your side.”
“I am sorry, I don’t know what to think. Seven is gone and everyone else just keeps giving me unsettling warnings. Everyone is hiding something, especially number One.”
“So, you did talk to her?” He asked.
“No, not really….”
I walk towards the window in my room to inspect it.
“Is there a way to open the window?” I asked while touching the window frame.
“No, they are locked.”
I walk to the nightstand removed the reading lamp and grabbed table. I walk back to the window and was getting ready to smash it. Four got in my way.
“What in God’s name you are doing? Have you gone mad?”
“Get out of my way Four! I need to prove a theory.”
“And what theory is that?”
“Either this train is going around in circles or the view out the window is not real."
“What makes you think that?”
“Sitting with One I saw a monkey and a bird fighting over a fruit. Thirty minutes later I saw them again, another thirty minutes passed, and I saw them again. One was reading her book and each time the thirty minutes came up she would look out the window and laugh at the scene. She knew what was going to happen at the exact time it would happen. Seven also told me last night that Eight saw someone looking at him from outside this window.
Four didn’t say a word, he looks at me in silence. He gives out a sigh and moves out of the way. I grab the nightstand high and whacked it against the window. The window was hard, I smacked it a couple of times, but the window wouldn’t break.
“Give me the table.” He said. I gave it to him, and he hit the window hard. The window fills with cracks racing through the glass shattering it.
“Oh my God!” he said in disbelief.
Between some cracks in the glass, we could still see the forest view but in other the view was black. The view outside the window was not real! It was an illusion! The window was like a broken TV screen. We are now more confused than ever. In our search for answers, we got more questions. What is really happening on this train? Where are the missing passengers? Where is my baby? One knows more than she is telling, they all are. But I intend to find out.
TO BE CONTINUED…
About the Creator
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Zero grammar & spelling mistakes
Outstanding story! 💖 & subscribed!!!💖💕
Great story and I have subscribed to enjoy any follow ups just as well
You should definitely continue this story - it was very engrossing!
Your story is interesting, the plot moves along at a good pace, and your dialog is good, but I found myself distracted by technical errors, like discrepancies in tense, and other grammatical issues. I find that when I proofread my own work it is easy to miss those kinds of things. If you write your drafts in a Word document (or other word processing program), instead of on the Vocal site, you can use the editor function to can identify issues you might miss, even after reading your draft multiple times.
OMG! The way that you express feelings and sensations are outstanding. The drama and mystery keep all my atention. I can sleep thinking of all the possibilities
Oh. My. Goodness. Yours is the best I've read so far. I hope you're writing the next part. Can't wait to read it. And to be honest, if I was abducted onto that train, I wouldn't complain. In this economy, I would love not to work and have 3 free meals provided. Lol!