Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 183

I Claire was already in trouble up to her hips, and if she missed this train her parents would ground her for life. After sneaking out to go to a ‘Bleeding Black Hearts’ gig, everything had gone horribly wrong. Now, she was barely half-way down the stairs when she heard the rails start to sing. The train was already coming in, and there was a good chance it was the last one of the night. She leapt down the rest of the steps three at a time, hung desperately onto the handrail as she swung around the corner, and ran out onto the platform. Her head spun, but the train was already there and she heard the familiar ‘pop-hiss’ of the doors starting to close. Diving through the nearest opening, she tripped and fell to her knees. The doors slid shut behind her with a clunk and the train moaned away into the tunnel. the far end. It seemed she was the only person on the train. Her eyebrows shot up. There ought to be somebody else, even if this was the last train. Her eyes opened wide. Maybe she had jumped onto some special engineering unit, like a test train, or a vintage train being used for a film shoot. Something ‘period’. The smile faded as she realised she would get into trouble for spoiling the shot. It seemed whichever way she turned she was finding bother. The train slowed and Claire hoped it was pulling into the next station. She could get off. Hopefully it wouldn’t be where they were shooting and she could wait for the right train. Looking through the windows as the train burst out of the tunnel she realised the station looked wrong too. Like the train, there were no bright strip lights, just lots of old bulbs that looked as though they weren’t getting enough power. Everything looked the same smoky yellow. She stood and looked around. Her cheeks were burning and she quickly checked her knees to make sure she hadn’t holed her tights. A glance in either direction A sign flashed past but Claire was just able to read it. showed she was alone in the carriage, but the sigh of Fiddler’s Green? There was no such station; at least, relief caught in her throat. She looked again. she didn’t remember one, and she was usually quite geeky about such things. It must be the film set. She Dim bulbs ran along either side of the ceiling instead stepped back from the door and sank down onto a seat, of bright strip lights, and everything had a yellow tint waiting miserably for an irate director to yell ‘cut’ as to it. Leather loops rather than plastic-coated tubes burly security people threw her off the train and out of hung down for people to hold, and the window frames the station. were wooden, not metal. The floor was set out in parallel slats, with lots of little plugs of something stuck With an ear-torturing screech the train came to a halt between them. and the doors opened. Somebody in a long, dark coat leapt inside, looking away from Claire and down the The train even sounded wrong when it pulled away, tunnel the train had come from. Claire stifled a squeal. creaking and groaning as though everything was too She hadn’t seen anybody waiting on the platform. The much effort. It stank, not with the usual faint whiff doors pop-hissed closed, and the person turned. of armpits and damp clothes, but with a stale smell of burnt tar and it took Claire a moment to realise It was a girl, two or three years older than Claire, the little plugs in the floor were actually cigarette dressed in an outlandish collection of clothes that butts. That’s why the train smelt so bad. People had started with a leather aviator’s cap and finished with been smoking. Inside. Claire’s nose wrinkled as she heavy biker’s boots. Beneath the long coat, either frowned. leather or waxed cotton, Claire glimpsed an equipment belt festooned with little pockets and gadgets, a tight The sounds of the motor and the wheels rattling on fitting black top, and trousers with a black and grey the rails were nowhere near as frantic as she was used camouflage print. Around her neck hung a pair of old to, and the carriage wallowed from side to side. It felt flying goggles with blue-tinted lenses, and in her right slow. Claire looked through the window of the door at hand she held something that looked like a ray gun PAGE 182