The Train Ticket (Dec FTS #2)

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. 

“How…how is–”

“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.

This story was brought to you by:

The Haunted Wordsmith
Tales from the Mind of Kristian
A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip


It Wasn’t Me

Franklin and Simon brought in the small pine twig and set it in the kool-aid pitcher.

“We can wrap this around it,” Franklin said, handing Simon a bright red baby blanket.

“Thanks, Dad.”

Lily popped popcorn in the kitchen as the Simon and Franklin fiddled with the twig so that it would stand up straight.

The three spent the rest of the night stringing popcorn and listening to each other tell Christmas stories.

“It’s time for bed, Simon.”

“Ah, Mom!” Simon started to protest but remembered that Santa only visits good little children when they are asleep, so he relented. “What about Santa’s cookies?”

Lily and Franklin looked at each other and sighed.

“You know, Simon,” Franklin said, “Santa eats so many cookies and pieces of fudge left by other children, how about we give him some carrot sticks instead?”

Simon stared at his dad for a moment then smiled. “Carrot sticks with ranch dressing?”

“Ah, how about plain carrot sticks so that he can share them with the reindeer?” his mother asked.

Simon nodded and placed ten carrot sticks on a small paper plate and left a note for Santa.

“Do you think he’ll like it?” Simon asked as Franklin tucked him into bed.

“I know he will.”

Franklin returned to the living room where Lily was putting the carrot sticks back into the cold water for Simon’s lunches that week. They looked at each other and didn’t say anything. Each knew what the other was thinking. Lily’s eyes filled with tears as she closed the lid on the old tupperware bowl of carrot sticks.

They went to bed dreading waking in the morning and hearing their son’s cries.

“MOM! DAD!” Simon screamed from the living room. “DAD! MOM! COME QUICK!”

Franklin and Lily ran into the living room and nearly fainted. The tiny pine twig had been replaced by a magnificent seven-foot Christmas tree complete with decorations, lights, and gifts resting under it. Where the paper plate sat hours before was now overflowing with mouthwatering sugar cookies.

Simon dove under the tree and handed a large box to his dad. “This one’s yours.”

Franklin stood stunned, then slowly made his way over to the couch and sat down. Lily’s jaw dropped as Simon handed her a small box held shut by a red ribbon with silver and gold stars on it.

Simon smiled and bounced on his knees waiting for them to open their gifts.

Franklin was the first to open his box. “A suit? Who? What?” A note at the bottom of the box read, “Have faith.”

Tears streamed down his face as he motioned for Lily to open her gift.

She gasped as she opened the lid and saw a gift card for the local grocery story. A note under it read, “Support for the Supporter.”

Franklin and Lily watched as Simon dove back under the tree and opened boxes of new clothes, reading books, a telescope they could share, and more arts and crafts supplies than their budding artist could ever use.

No one knew where they really came from, and there was never another Christmas like it, but the family talked about it every year until Franklin passed away, then Lily. Simon told his grandchildren the story every year. The story of how his father found the strength to find another job, and how his mother opened her own cake company out of their kitchen. It was the best Christmas he ever remembered.

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Sure, ignorance is bliss to the individual, but not to everyone else who has to live in the world with them. My mother likes to say, “I don’t have any control over it, so why get involved.” That infuriates me to no end. Every human being on this planet is involved with every one else.

The last 48 hours has been so “just slap someone already” infuriating.

Yes, nothing can be done about the dipshit pissing contest in the White House.

What I find even more infuriating is the ignorance that is accepted in this country. An amazing feature of many “Trump counties and cities” is that their newspapers do not have a politics or world news section. I read ten newspapers this morning in counties that overwhelmingly voted for Trump and not a single one mentioned the government shut down or even the wall!

This is one of the many differences between those who live in large cities (who also tend to be Democrat) and lose who live in rural areas (tend to be Republican). People living in large cities see the impact of legislation and inaction immediately and directly. Lack of mental health care means there are schizophrenic people yelling at the lamppost outside their home. Lack of proper support for homeless individuals means there is someone sleeping under their front steps. Increased unemployment means someone will be asked for money at least a dozen times before they reach the subway /train/bus. Rural residents do not see this on a daily basis. Education, health care, homelessness, drug crisis, mental health crisis, etc. is someone else’s problem because it does not affect them as a whole. It is a personal crisis.

We have seen both sides come together and reach an agreement, but the President is too busy having a tantrum over a perceived threat that is not there.

Contrary to many people’s opinions (like my mother), the US is NOT running out of space. We span the entire freaking continent! I have seen first hand how Hispanic gangs recruit elementary school kids. I have seen many MS-13 members. And you know what….they are all 1st generation Americans. I have read the news and know more people are killed by Americans than illegal immigrants. I hear their arguments though, that someone would be alive if we had stronger borders. I understand their anger. Will it bring them back though?

It often reminds me of a case in Utah and Washington. A woman, Susan Powell, disappeared and her family was convinced that her husband did it. Through their connections with local law enforcement (and a really large family), they hounded the husband and father of their grandchildren so much that he moved to Washington. Their pursued him there. They made his life, and his family’s life so miserable that he killed the boys and himself. One would think that tragedy would have ended there. Guess what…it didn’t. They are still talking about it and “discovering” new evidence even this year. No one can bring them back.

I often think back to a show I watched years ago about a court trial in a Middle East country where a man was accused of killing a young woman. The mother of the victim walked into the court room, yelled at the man, slapped him, then said let him go. His death would not bring her daughter back. Nothing would. Taking his life would not make things right. The trial ended and the man walked free. I say free, because he was, but was he really? He would spend the rest of his life knowing what he had done.

Living life in blissful ignorance may suit some, but there is a world outside their little lives that is beautiful, ugly, joyous, sad, terrifying, and enthralling all at once.

It’s just a shame that people who are ignorant do not realize they are. They listen to what they are told, or see, or hear and accept it as true because they do not know of something different.

When my mother was here this summer, we got into one of our many arguments over ignorance. You see, she is an ignorant person. She doesn’t want to change, because change is scary and hard. She watched a news report on some world event and I disagreed with the information being shared, and of course her response was, “Yeah, and how do you know? You live in Kansas!” Yeah, that required a deep breath and a count to ten before I responded. I explained that you can, through the wonder of the Internet, go directly to the source via other country’s newspapers, governmental bodies, etc. and she promptly disagreed. “You can’t know what’s going on in Russian politics!” So, of course I had to go to the websites for the Kremlin and Russian government and read off the legislation that was the point of the news report. She got mad and stormed out of the room.

It’s like that with everything. She, and a lot of other ignorant people, hear a report and take it as the truth rather than going to the source. It becomes quite frustrating and frightening when you think about how many laws have been passed because they relied on ignorance. My mother still believes that each Act of legislation only has one part and pertains to the name in the title. She doesn’t realize that the Farm Bill includes billions of dollars in riders that form many of the arguments in Congress. She still believes that A bill is introduced, gets read, gets discussed, gets voted on. She’s 76 and stuck in her ways.

Like many ignorant people though, she responds to knowledge with anger and violence. We saw that with the recent mid-term elections and with Trump’s election. Don’t try to eliminate ignorance because, for some reason, they revert back to being four years old and told not to touch something. Some will pout, some will have a tantrum, some will hit, some will touch it just to prove you wrong, and some will accept that you know something they don’t.

These are very trying times we live in…ignorance is in charge.

Who would have ever believed that day would come.