Sunday, 16 August 2009

MULTIPLY The Horror of it All: Challenge 3-E: The Last Days of the Ghost Train

The ghost train was now in the third generation of the Sade family. As a boy Boris Sade Junior would help his father to assemble the wooden panelling, draped with black cloth, as a background to the frightening exhibits contained inside; the threads of the cobwebs descending just at a distance to brush the heads of the customers travelling below on the railway. Monsters covered with fluorescent paint fixed in alcoves along the way and the last shock of all Vlad, the skeleton that jumped out from the side in front of the railway just before the journey was completed through the dark tunnel. Boris Sade Senior had constructed the lever set into the railway tracks. As the little train drove over this part of the track it released the mechanism and Vlad sprung from the side of the railway. There were shocked screams from the ghost train guests and it seemed that the skeleton would remain rigid and that a collision would be inevitable. There was another lever which pulled the Vlad the skeleton back again just in time for the train to approach the exit with its shocked, but satisfied travellers.

These were the memories that Boris Sade Junior had from the past years. Father Senior had died five years ago and Boris Junior was now in charge of the ghost train, travelling from town to village with the other members of the fair ground. Times were no longer so good. Television and film supplied the thrills of today. The ghost train could not compete with the modern computer programmed horror shocks on film and most of the characters shown were not even real, just holograms, and a ghost train was at a loss to compete with these effects. Then there was the general public. It used to be families with their children, knowing that it was not real what they were experiencing in the dark bends and shadows of the tunnel. It was all part of the fun. If a child did have a shock mummy and daddy would tell them it was not real, and Boris would consol them afterwards with a toffee that he had ready as a small compensation. This was perhaps a publicity trick; the kids would enjoy the rides knowing that there was a reward from the man in charge of the ghost train. He also had the lovers on the ride, but they were not really concerned what was happening. Each shock and noise brought them closer together, and Boris was sure that many a romance was settled on his ghost train.

He sighed, today was different. You only seem to have the lower elements of human nature taking a ride. Gangs of youngsters with no upbringing, known as yobs, would buy their tickets and go for a ride. As they left the ghost train it was normal that they would throw a few cobwebs at Boris which they had torn down from the ceiling. He once even found one of the skeletons with a pot of strawberry jam on its head, the jam dripping down the bony limbs. As the youngsters left they just laughed and told Boris that one of the skeletons was bleeding. Yes, Boris was sad and knew that the times of the Sade Ghost Train experience were coming slowly but surely to an end. He left his place at the cash desk in the evening and returned to his caravan parked near bye.

“What shall I do” he thought “there is no future any more. No respect from the kids, from the teenagers. They just laugh at me and my ghost train. I am sure that Boris Senior would despair at such events.”

“He does my son, he does” said a familiar voice from the shadows of the caravan; from the place where Boris senior would sit in the evening in his chair and count the takings of the day.

“Dad is that you” asked a Boris Junior with a slight tremor in his voice.

“Of course it is son, they told me that you are not getting on so well. Just look over in my direction and you might see me, but don’t touch, you might get a shock. I am a bit transparent.”

Boris looked in the direction of the voice and saw a milky mist gradually taking the form of his beloved and honoured dad, Boris senior.

“Dad, is it really you? It can’t be.”

“Just remain cool son, yes it is me and the spirits have told me that the living show absolutely no respect any more for our work. You know I have quite an important position where I am. I am a sort of recognised expert on the after world.” Boris Senior spoke with pride in his voice. “Just don’t worry Boris Junior and trust me.”

“What shall I do dad, Of course I trust you, but I have no power over the rough youths of today. One even threatened me with a knife last week and said for the rubbish we show it was not worth buying a ticket.”

“I have a plan, confirmed by the fellow spirits, so just follow it. This is the idea.” and the ghost of Boris Sade Senior explained to his son what he should do.

The next evening soon arrived at the fair and the usual group of rough stuff were waiting for their ride on the train and queuing for their entrance.

“How much this time” asked their leader, Gutsy. “You know your ghost train isn’t worth the money we pay. All painted plastic and cotton threads hanging down.”

“Yes you old boy, it’s true” shouted the others in unison. “This evening it’s gonna be free, did you hear? Otherwise we might get a bit rough with you.”

“OK” answered Boris Junior as his dad had advised. Boris Senior said he should let them all have a free ride. It would probably be the last ride that anyone had in the ghost train.

The yobs took over their carriage and Boris Junior sealed the entrance to the railway telling the few other customers that it was now full.

The yobs were really pleased. A free ride and they could do what they wanted. This time they had really had a few good destructive ideas. Gutsy had brought his air gun and was firing at the monsters in the alcoves, knocking their heads off. His groupies were laughing at the good idea and now again threw their empty beer bottles knocking a few bones off from the skeletons standing around. Eventually they arrived towards the end of the journey and as usual the skeleton jumped out from the side blocking the rails, but this time it was not Vlad. No indeed not. It was a fleshless figure of a skeleton carrying a candelabra with four candles which were alight and threw a very ghostly reflection onto the railway, as if water was flowing on the ground. The skeleton was peeping from below a black cloth which served as a head covering.

“Now look at that” said Gutsy “anyone frightened; looks like the ghost train driver has thought up something new.”

“Nah, don’t think so” answered one of the others. “Probably had to replace it after you knocked it down the last time and this is all he came up with.”

“Well that don’t frighten me” said Gutsy “and before he disappears again I will take a shot at him with the air gun.”

No, the skeleton with the candelabra did not disappear, he stood there, and Gutsy’s shot did not hit it. On the contrary, the railway carriage burst into flames ignited from the candles it was carrying. As the train carriage burst through the exit doors of the ghost train it contained the yobs burning and screaming, it left the tunnel on fire.

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