Tuesday, 13 October 2009

MULTIPLY The Horror of it All, Challenge #9: End Station

ghost train

The train was waiting at the station for the signal to leave. Gilbert had to run. Things did not go as well as he had planned and he only caught the train at the last minute. He jumped on the steps just as it was pulling out and managed to find his balance in the corridor. The wheels began to turn pulling the train out of the station along the rails and Gilbert breathed a sigh of relief.

He looked along the corridor searching for a quiet place to rest. Still out of breath, but now glad that he could take it easy. He found a compartment with an empty seat and sat down, hoping that no-one would acknowledge him and start talking. He did not even have a newspaper or book to bury his head in. Everything had to happen so quickly. He looked out of the window. It was evening, but quite bright, it was a full moonlit night. “Typical” he thought, "on such a night I have to travel where everyone can see me”. He would have preferred less light, it was then that the train entered a tunnel and he had his wish. Nothing could be seen, it was quiet and dark prevailed.

To Gilbert it seemed like a never ending tunnel, but it did not bother him. He closed his eyes and slept, confronted with his dreams of the past.

“Next Saturday at the theatre after curtain fall. Here is your ticket. You know what to do” said his client adding “and make sure you don’t miss.”

Gilbert never missed. He could not afford to miss, it was his job.

After the killing he managed to get to the station. He knew he was tight on time, and he still had the gun with him. He was hoping to be able to dispose of it on the moving train, and decided to relax until the tunnel came to an end. He would then take a walk in the train and throw the gun out of a window at the next best opportunity.

Suddenly the train jolted and shook Gilbert enough to bring his doze to an end. The tunnel had come to an end and although the moon was still shining it seemed to be casting a reddish glow on the landscape. He looked around and saw that the compartment was almost empty, with the exception of a man sitting opposite Gilbert.

The man laughed “Had a good sleep?” he asked.

Gilbert was not in the mood for a conversation, but decided he did not want to cause any trouble. “Thank you, yes” was his answer. “We must have stopped at a few stations on the way while I slept, I see that the compartment is now almost empty.”

“Oh yes” said the stranger “there was one part of the journey where everyone left the train except for us.”

Gilbert thought this a strange answer and examined his neighbour closer. He was dressed completely in black; black trousers, a long black coat and wearing a white shirt with a black tie. His face was a great contrast to the darkness of his clothes and seemed to be reflecting in the red glow of the surrounding light outside the train.

“Do we have far to the end station?” Gilbert wanted to know. The train was destined for the coast and Gilbert was eager to take the ship across the channel to France; to disappear in another country.

“I believe our journey is almost finished” said the neighbour. “If you look further out of the window you will see your destiny.”

“My destiny? Sounds like a complete final solution. I only want to travel to the end station.”

“As I said, take a glance out of the window, the end station is quite near.”

Gilbert looked out of the window and saw only the fields passing by, illuminated by the glow of the moon. It was then that he saw a reflection on the fields of the train, but something unexpected. Not just the train carriage, but a shape on the roof of the train. He looked up and heard his carriage companion laugh.

“Everything under control” he said. “It is only the survivors that reached the membership of the human race. The train travelled over a red light just before you began to sleep and found its end station in the pillar of a bridge. Some of the fellow travellers had to continue their journey in another direction, but they will be cared for into eternity, like yourself Gilbert.”

Gilbert was feeling rather strange “I don’t understand. What is that “thing” perched on the train roof and what is happening. Is this a bad joke?”

“Oh no, the joke is on you Mr. Gilbert. After so many successful jobs, it is now your turn. You were amongst those that stopped existing after the train crashed. You can perhaps be proud that your last job was the Prime Minister of the country where you lived. Sorry for the past tense, but you will now come with me and my friend on the roof of the train. Our journey is eternal, some might say, the journey to hell.”

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