Kirsty woke suddenly, blinking as she checked the time on her mobile phone. It was early- barely even four o’clock. She sat up, looking out of the window along the old railway line. She looked both ways, but she couldn’t see anything.
“Weird,” she muttered as she lay back down. “Could’ve sworn I heard a train.”
The next day, she asked her mother about the train tracks.
“The estate agent said the last train was about fifteen years ago,” her mother said, not looking up from the boxes. “Nothing uses that line any more. Have you seen a box labelled ‘Kitchen- Important’ anywhere?”
Kirsty looked around. “One of the wooden ones? John’s sitting on it.”
Their second day living in The Old Station passed quickly, full of unpacking and dinner from the chippy because nobody had found the pots and pans yet, and soon it was bedtime again. Kirsty looked out of the window as she got into bed. Her bedroom had apparently once been one of the waiting rooms, and offered a decent view along the old tracks. It even had its own door out onto the yard, which had once been the station platform but was now fenced in, with flower boxes and hanging baskets which were currently full of dead flowers. She wondered if the train would come past again, but it quickly slipped out of her mind as she fell asleep.
She awoke at half past three in the morning and sat up. She didn’t know what had woken her up- perhaps it was just the strangeness of the place still. She did miss her old home, her old bedroom with the wallpaper she had picked out herself and all her favourite posters. The posters were still in boxes somewhere, and her parents had promised that she could pick out wallpaper when they redid this room, but they had to sort out the kitchen and the sitting room first. She sighed and sat up, looking out of the window. She missed her friends too, especially Lisa who had lived across from them. They had learnt signalling codes in Brownies, and used to signal out of their windows to each other when their families were asleep.
She was looking straight out of the window when the train passed. It was an old fashioned train, with big windows on the doors that you could slide down to open, and it passed slowly enough for Kirsty to see the passengers quite clearly. They were all women, she noticed. She watched the train pass and leaned out of the window to watch its rear lights disappear through the trees into the distance.
Over breakfast, drinking juice out of a mug because half of the glasses had broken on the way, she told her mother about the train.
“Don’t be daft,” her mother said. “I told you yesterday, there hasn’t been a train along here in fifteen years. Besides, I’m sure I would have heard it.”
“But I saw it, mum!”
“You have a wonderful imagination, Kirsty. You must have dreamt it. Now. We need to get the rest of these boxes unpacked so I can have a list of what else is broken before I call up and shout at the removers. Do you want to start with the sitting room, or the dining room?”
Another day of opening boxes, finding places for things, sweeping up the bits of packing material and folding up empty cardboard boxes followed. At least this time they had found the pots and could have a proper dinner.
Kirsty told her parents that all the unpacking and excitement had left her worn out, and she went to bed early. She sat on the edge of her bed and set her alarm for three thirty. She’d already found out that the walls were thick enough to not disturb her parents- she’d tested it earlier when she set her stereo up. She went to bed with her clothes on and slept fitfully until the alarm woke her.
She pulled her trainers on, took her camera out of her drawer, and slipped out of the door into the yard, leaning on the fence to look along the tracks. A light appeared in the distance and she lifted her camera, taking pictures as the train approached. It seemed to be going slower than the previous night. Much slower.
She stared as the train drew up and a door opened by itself. Feeling as if something else was in control of her body, she climbed over the fence and into the train.
As the train slowly pulled away she walked into the carriage. It was full of women again, women of all different ages dressed in a strange variety of ways. There was an old woman who looked like a Victorian lady. There was a younger girl who looked like she’d stepped straight out of the sixties. They all sat there silently, staring at her.
“Hello?” None of them responded. “My name’s Kirsty,” she said to the sixties girl. “What’s yours?”
The girl stared at her, her eyes blank under her heavy eyeliner, and said nothing.
Kirsty felt nervous, and turned to speak to the Victorian lady. “Why is everyone so quiet?”
The old lady frowned at her and raised one finger to her lips. Kirsty started to feel more than nervous, she started to feel scared. She got up and walked along the carriage, trying to talk to the women, desperately trying to get an answer. All they did was silently stare at her or raise one silent finger to their lips. She begged them, she cajoled them, she screamed and swore at them- and she suddenly realised that her voice was getting quieter and quieter with every word.
She ran to the end of the carriage, to the door at the end, and wrestled the window down. She leaned out of the window and screamed as the wind tore her voice away.
© Kari Fay