The Train Ticket
Ashley loved history, books, fashion, and trains more than anything else in life. In fact, nothing made her happier than reading a book set in the Victorian age or roaring twenties that took place on a train. Not the modern electric trains or diesel trains that ran across the country today. She loved steam engines and the fantasy they carried with them.
These fantasies are what brought her to the derelict Franklin Depot thirty-five miles away from home in the middle of nowhere. There used to be a town here. Her history teacher loved to tell stories of the old mining town in its glory days filled with life. Now all that was left was the depot and a few lines of track.
As she walked up and down the depot, the morning sun was just peering over the tree tops and illuminated the station in gold. She smiled at the depot and closed her eyes.
“This must have been beautiful,” she said.
Suddenly a loud whoosh and whistle from behind her startled her. She grabbed her chest and turned around. There, behind her was a grand steam engine. Puffs of steam and the huffing of pistons engulfed her.
“Is this your ticket, Ashley?” a man in a conductor’s uniform asked. He smiled and held out a ticket.
Ashley wanted to say “no”…to scream…to run away…to say “yes”…to get on the train…to travel the world by train. She looked at the conductor and surrendered to her heart. Her head was still screaming to her that this can’t be real, reality doesn’t work like this. How did he know your name? She ignored these thoughts and reached out to take the ticket.
The Conductor then gave a polite cough and said “If you will excuse me for saying so, Miss Ashley, you’re not quite correctly attired. Could you make your way to the Station and see Mrs. Addams, she’ll ensure you are bedecked as a lady befitting a first-class ticket.”
Ashley glanced down at her clothes. She had on a pair of blue Jeans with her brown ankle boots. Her top half was covered in a loose-fitting red pullover. Of course, she hadn’t expected to be travelling first class on a steam locomotive that day. It wouldn’t have entered her wildest dreams.
The station building was carefully constructed to look like something out of an old western film or a theatre set. The wooden clapperboards were painted cream. As she wandered into the deserted waiting room, she spotted a lady standing behind the counter wearing clothes right out of the Victorian age.
She wandered over to her and asked, “Excuse me, are you Mrs. Addams?”
“Why, yes my dear. You must be Miss Ashley. Please come on through that door and I’ll find something suitable for you. You’ve got a few minutes before the train departs.”
Mrs. Addams selected a simple but elegant green velvet dress trimmed with black around the hem. She also helped her into a corset which squeezed her slim figure into the typical hourglass shape of the late 1800s. Once she put on the dress, she instantly felt more comfortable. She’d never worn a corset before, but it made her feel more secure and whole. It was like a miracle, the clothes were inspiring her to feel a level of confidence that she’d never felt before. She loved the way the dress swished as she walked. Mrs Addams then fixed her hair up, with about a dozen pins and affixed a wide-brimmed black hat with a green feather, on her heat with a large hat pin.
At that point, a loud whistle from the train echoed through the empty station.
“Oh, quick dear, you don’t want to miss the train,” Mrs. Addams said.
“Thank You, Mrs. Addams,” Ashley said as she ran to the train.
She climbed up the iron steps and opened the carriage door only to find the strangest man she had ever seen in her life! Ashley simply couldn’t get past the fact that this man only stood about four foot high, wore a long black coat that ran from his neck down to the floor, where she could just see the bright red toes of what she assumed was a pair of boots peeking out from the bottom. But it was his top hat, it was enormous! it must have been his height again and bright pink!. Ok, so that’s not so strange, but his face was made up only by a big bushy green beard and two plate sized eyes glaring unblinkingly at her.
“Ticket please?” He asked in a squeaky voice, almost high pitched.
Ashley stared at him in wonder, “I err, um, aah yes, I have my….”
“Look love l don’t have all day you know, have you got your ticket or not?” Squeaky voice asked.
Without any more fussing Ashley handed over her ticket, and as quick as lightning a clawed hand shot out and snatched it from her trembling hand before shooting back into the dark overcoat., if Ashley didn’t know better it looked a lot like a lobster claw?
“Where ya wanna go then love?” Squeaky voice asked.
“Um, well l don’t really know. you see, l was just walking down the track and the…” Ashley started.
“Stop right there love, does this face look like the face of someone who is interested in hearing your life story? No? Right, then just move your frilly frocked booty down the corridor and plonk yerself down alright! I am the conductor for this carriage and what l say goes okay, we got that settled? So when l says sit, you sit!”
Before Ashley had time to consider this, the squeaky voiced conductor had both his hands on her behind and was pushing her down to the seats.
“Excuse me, if you don’t mind, l can seat myself thank you!”
“Then what are you waiting for love? A pass? Do it already!!”
Once seated, Ashley watched the conductor walk back down to where she had first got on, and continue to trundle, yes she thought he most assuredly wasn’t really walking, he was trundling. Before long she couldn’t see the pinkness of his hat! Where on earth was the friendly conductor? The one who had given her the ticket?
She sat there is the semi-darkness wondering what on earth she was doing here? Maybe she had slipped on a sleeper and knocked herself out? This had to be some kind of dream! She slowly found her mind spinning off in a millions directions, when she felt or was it smelled someone else was sitting opposite her. She couldn’t see anything, but she could smell something that was a little whiffy, offish, it smelled of sort of fish, or actually dead fish. The smell was getting stronger, and just when she thought she was going to throw up, it went, just like that!
“Sorry about that, it’s my stomach see, makes me burp a lot ………. by the way you look quite lovely in that there green dress of yours, nice enough to eat actually!”
The arrival of both the voice and the content of what was said made Ashley jump almost a few feet into the air!
“What? who, how .. where are you??!” Ashley shouted quite shaken, her head and eyes combined darting backwards and forwards sidewards and downwards trying to secure voice to location. Before an answer came, there was that foul smell again!
“Ere, no need to panic, my love, l don’t mean eat you, l mean eat the dress like.” The voice laughed. “I am a vegetarian, but l do like me a nice bit of velvet, especially when it’s trimmed with fur! That’s proper lip smacking stuff that is! I don’t suppose you might like it off?”
Before Ashley could answer, a pair of orange glowing eyes appeared in front of her face, followed by a bright yellow mouth filled with gold teeth! Ashley felt all a quiver, and once more before she could say another word, the voice said …. “Welcome to the Ghoulare Express!”
Story ended there.
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