THE LAST STOP
& THE CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING TRACKS
"WE'VE ALWAYS LIVED ON THE TRAIN..." a cooing, calm voice echoed from somewhere in the mist. What happened next was something of nightmares.
Violet Wilson thought the train was empty when she stepped out from her room—she hadn’t heard a peep all morning and was growing more anxious by the second. It was so quiet she could hear the blood pumping into her ears as she tried to steady her breathing. She wondered where in the world she had ended up—she last remembered walking into the darkened alley; there were heavy footsteps behind her, slowly walking as though to match her own pace and cadence, each step growing heavier until they were right on top of her, ready to mow her down.
“Ah-ah-ah, not so fast missy…” a woman’s brash chalky voice whispered, cutting into Violet like a knife; she practically fell over as she clutched the door handle for dear life.
“Where do you think you’re going? You are never to go into that part of the train, do you understand…” the woman asked, her hand squeezing tightly on Violets shoulder, almost crushing her.
Violet quickly nodded, nervous to even speak. She turned; half-expecting to see an older lady standing before, but what she found was much, much worse.
The woman’s gaunt face hid her once beautiful features; she looked as though someone had literally sucked the life right out of her body and left her to rot from the inside out. Her eyes were empty, milky white orbs buried deep within their sunken sockets. Thick lines dug into where smiles used to be and her leathery skin hung from her bones like melted plastic, she was not of this world as you or I know.
The woman held her other hand out as though expecting something but knowing whatever it was didn’t exist. Violet stood, confused. A haunting, bone-chilling grin creeped across the woman’s face—“if you don’t have your ticket how do you expect to get off the train?” she mused, unable to hide her delight. The woman’s soft gray hair curled tightly against her head showing glimpses of her shiny scalp underneath. She was wearing rather traditional clothes—an ankle length dress buttoned up to a starched and neatly pressed collar. Opalescent pearls hung around the buttons and a long connected string held her glasses close to her chest.
The old woman was exactly what you expected to see from a knitting club or bingo night, not the coraller of the train, especially not this train, whatever it was. This was the most unusual train Violet had ever seen—not a seat or passenger in sight.
“I’m not sure, I don’t even know how I got here,” Violet whispered to the woman as a chill crept slowly up her spine until it sent icy waves of pain through her body. She sensed danger and there was nothing she could do about it.
“Dear, dear girl, how’d you get here, you must’ve made a mistake…yes, a big mistake. But seeing as how you are here, it must be fate that brought us together. You might as well get used to it; there will be no getting off…not for a long, long time.”
Violet knew she must have walked into another world, she must have; she pinched herself as the woman led her back to her room, shutting it behind her. The room itself looked normal, nothing seemed amiss. It was just as she left it, or so she thought.
The bench seats appeared well used and worn—nothing a good oiling couldn’t fix—but as she got closer she realized the bench itself seemed to be breathing, rising up and down with each breath she took. She ran her hand across the soft leather—it was still warm and supple, just like her own skin but stretched.
Violet tripped over her feet as she slammed into the hard floor below. Each plank of wood—it appeared—seemed to be formed from tiny bones melded together and caked in decades of neglect. As Violet looked around she realized everything in the train seemed to be made from both the living and non-living passengers. Violet quickly scurried out to the hallway, desperate to leave. She had just swung the heavy door to the next compartment open when she felt something grab hold of her.
“Wait, stop! You don’t want to do that…” a girl about the same age as Violet yelled as she held tight to the metal handle, keeping them both safely on the train. Blustery gusts of wind rushed around them, trailing up like a funnel into the tiny compartment which was comprised of all walls and no floor. Violet watched as the curtains billowed up, whipping around the room—the only sign of life besides a roaring fireplace that seemed completely unaffected by the icy wind. A lone portrait hung above it on the furthermost wall, gazing at Violet as though looking right through her.
“Every room takes you to a different world, another place in time…but it isn't what it appears. You should know, it's all a trick... the heavy, lonely rain clouds travel hundreds of miles to hang over you, waiting for the precise moment to break open. Waiting to pierce your body and clean the sky; following the train as it rumbles down the tracks at unrelenting speeds…” the girl explained, her voice trembling. Sure enough, through the window Violet could see the dark, grumbling rain clouds which appeared to grow from the train smoke that swirled out in long trailing puffs as they trucked along.
“How do you know all this, how long have you been here,” Violet asked, wanting desperately to learn the secrets of this train and the magic it held within.
The girl paused, her forlorn face full of dread—“I don’t know, I’ve been here long enough to know you can’t ever leave here alive. The last few people who’ve tried ended up becoming part of the train. The old women will never, ever let you go…”
Violet smiled, she knew this couldn’t be true after-all, it’s just a train. How bad could it be.
She and the young girl had exhausted every door in the hallway until they came once again to the forbidden part of the train; the young girl refused to go any further. At the end of the hall was blinding light—it seemed to be coming from a lone door at the rear of the car; it was swaying dangerously in the wind—all she had to do was jump…
Violet had managed to make it all the way to the back, surprised nothing had grabbed her or stopped her—quite proud of herself. She was just about to lean out and have a look when she felt something closing in on her. As she turned she found the old woman standing there yet again, this time a twisted smile lined her face as she pointed out towards the roaming train tracks as they passed feet below her—“would you like to know what’s out there, beyond this car…” she asked pushing Violet closer and closer to the edge. Violet could practically taste the rain as the drops bore into the gravelly tracks like searing acid as the rain washed them away, the smell of freedom was so close...
About the Creator
Writing my escape, my future…if you like what you read—leave a comment, an encouraging tip, or a heart—I’m always looking to improve, let me know if there is anything I can do better.
& above all—thank you for your time
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