A stranger boards the night train from London to Glasgow, taking a seat in the back of the third carriage and huddles into the corner of the seat, his collar up around his neck, shutting out the world on this journey through the night. As the train pulls out of the station and gathers speed, he drifts in and out of sleep.
Stopping at the station after station, the usual melee of bleary eyed people entering and alighting from the night train. The stranger looks out of the train window and sees the darkness flashing by as if they are on some underground ride hurtling towards the centre of the earth.
He grabbed a coffee from the trolley as it rattled and banged its way up the aisle of the train crashing through door after door. As he sipped his hot black coffee, his mind turned to Scotland and the lady he had left behind weeks ago, with red hair and a size 10-hour glass figure to die for. They had parted on bad terms and had said things that they both regretted. This was the time to put things right and to show her how much he loved her. The train was due into Glasgow at 6.30am, he would surprise her and take her out for breakfast
He sipped at his coffee before his eyes finally shut and he drifted off into a deep slumber. Two hours later he awoke to a virtually empty carriage. He took some time to get his bearings and to realise they were not quite half way there. The train slowed on the approach to a dark station. He couldn’t see anyone getting on or off the train. The train held at the platform for a little while before it moved off, gradually building up speed until it was at full throttle.
Suddenly the adjoining door from the forward carriage burst open and in came four people, two men and two women. They sat down scattered around the carriage, one of the men sat opposite the stranger. He felt a strange aura from the man opposite, as though he was not real. All four of them sat silently and soon the train was pulling into the next station.
“Your Stop” the man opposite said to the stranger.
“No, I have a long way to go yet” retorted the stranger.
“your stop” the man opposite reiterated.
Before the stranger could get his reply out, the four travellers were on him, pulling him along the carriage. He felt weightless and unable to resist. He was hurled through the door of the train and landed on the platform of the dark, desolate station. He looked at the tracks, the train was gone with no trace of its lights disappearing into the night.
The stranger looked around, everywhere was closed and bolted. There was no way out of the station, no foot bridge to get over to the adjacent platform and a wall either end of the platform, the only way out would be over the tracks, something he didn’t relish during the dark hours. He looked for a time table on the walls of the station but there was none. He picked up his bag and made himself comfortable on the bench along the external wall of the closed buffet.
The stranger woke some hours later expecting to see daylight, and his chance to escape this eerie, cold, hell hole but the night was still thick. He looked at his watch, dawn should have been an hour ago but there was no sign of it any time soon. The stranger picked up his bag and proceeded to the edge of the platform as near to the end wall as he could get. He looked up and down the track for a few moments to reassure himself that there were no trains coming. He climbed down onto the track and started the short walk to the other side of the wall and freedom. He turned to look back at the station as the train struck, burying him under the wheels, never slowing or stopping.
The following day he was standing on a platform with the four spirits he had met the previous day. They sat down in the carriage, the stranger sat opposite a traveller. As they drew into the next station the stranger said, “your stop”. The traveller was removed from the train, the stranger knew he would be seeing them again soon.
Thanks to Ariel Chart for publishing the reworked version of ghost train in you September 2017 edition.