Greetings and salutations, faithful followers of this blog! I’m Timothy Scott Purvis and THIS is Story Time With Tim! An ongoing series presenting my works from the past, my works from the present, and works yet to come all for your reading pleasure! Most are just trunk stories, but others are materials that I’ve self-published on several sites. Links of which you can find below.
Presented here is the first part of The Night Train. I wrote it a couple years ago and has recently been published in paperback through a collection available on Amazon. I’ll post a link to it below.
Anyhow, this tale takes place on a train. Go figure. As if the title didn’t give it away. Olivier Hoyt is close to retirement and has been requested to make one of his last runs of his career. Creepy things transpire as he greets a handful of riders throughout the night.
Thanks for reading and I’ll read to you again next week!
THE NIGHT TRAIN PART ONE
DRIZZLE CAKED THE window. Trails of water snaked towards the sill and pooled there, waiting to splash over the edge once engorged. Inside, an unsettling silence gripped the train car. Gentle, yellow lighting filled the interior reminding him of an old Agatha Christie novel: A practical seduction of apathetic nostalgia. The soft cushioned and upholstered red velvet couches—interrupted only by ornate tables laid out towards the rear of the dining car—hypnotizing under the single lighted chandeliers swaying ever so slightly above, saying, ‘Come take a seat. Remember a simpler time.’
And temptation was there. Oh, how he was tempted.
But he had a job to do.
The oddly named ‘Witches Hyperion’ would be leaving the station soon and it was Olivier Hoyt’s responsibility to make sure all passengers were on board and accounted for. Six names sat on his list and, thus far, four were on board. One of those four, Loralei Thana, sat in the back of the dining car, against the far wall saying nothing. Merely looked out a window into the darkness beyond.
The other three onboard were: Doyle Jacob, Dugal James, and Donald Kobe. All in their cabins. They had come aboard in silence, handed Olivier their tickets, and headed straight back to the sleeping car. The two yet to show were: Ms. Dolores Keres and Mr. Thane Zilla.
Olivier pulled out his pocket watch. Five minutes. Then that would be that. He’d lock the hatches and inform the engineer to depart.
This was his first time on what many in the station called ‘The Night Train’. Generally, he worked the long hauls that lasted days or even weeks. Never the short expresses that traveled overnight to destinations unknown. At least to him. He saw the manifest on their destination, but he didn’t recognize the place. Not somewhere he’d ever heard of, let alone been to. In fact, he’d been surprised (to say the least) when his boss had asked him to porter this train. Just for the night.
“I appreciate the offer, Mr. Ahriman,” he’d responded. “But I’m happy with the shifts I have.”
“I understand that. But we’re understaffed on that run right now, and we could use the help. It’s just the one run. Besides,” Mr. Ahriman said, “you only have a few shifts left before retiring. And we don’t want to make it too hard on you.”
Reluctantly, he nodded and accepted the assignment. Now here he was—three minutes—away from setting out on his first midnight express in the whole of his forty-six years of working the railroads, with butterflies fluttering in his stomach uncontrollably. The quiet solitude of the car left the train feeling like a dusty, old tomb. He took in a deep breath and crossed the interior to check the antique pendulum clock hanging on the wall next to the entryway of the sleeping cars.
Olivier found he had trouble pulling his eyes away from the hands as they moved in their slight way, the second hand the only exception as it raced around the clock face ticking its ominous rhythm. They Really did decorate this with the Orient Express in mind, didn’t they? I remember those old books from my childhood… those old tales of adventure, mystery and a little bit of the macabre. Seldom captured in the author’s minds in this day and age. Regrettably. Why, I recall that old book store with my father and—
“You look restless,” Loralei commented from her seat where she held a coffee cup in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other. Olivier twisted around to stare at her, a twitching in his face. A sudden embarrassment flooded his cheeks and he folded his hands behind his back as a smile was forced upon his visage. A slight frown tried to break that smile when he noted she was smoking yet again. He’d thought smoking had been banned in most places these days. But he supposed the night train had a different set of rules and circumstances. Especially if there were only going to be six passengers. As such, was disinclined to make his typical spiel of ‘no smoking in the compartments’ rhetoric. Though, he made a mental note to check out the regulation book about the allowance of tobacco related indulgence upon said Night Train.
“What makes you say that?” His smile relaxed a little as he cocked his clean-shaven face and well-groomed grey-haired head. A matter he took special care to attend. He certainly didn’t want to look like some curmudgeonly old man. She stared up into his soft, hazel eyes and returned his smile.
“You suddenly started pacing. Always a sign that someone is restless.” She took a long drag on her cigarette. He could see the pack she had on the tabletop yet couldn’t quite read what it said. A small, mischievous grin crossed her pale features, “Relax. The Night Train is always gentle. Always on time. By morning, you’ll feel like a whole new person.”
Olivier chuckled, “Are you a frequenter then? I’ve never worked a midnight express before.”
“Oh yes. I meet all sorts of wonderful people here. Generally. Very quiet though. Hardly a soul on board. Makes it very peaceful. Almost romantic. And, also, very safe. So, you don’t have to worry. The night will be as smooth as a silken slip.”
The car door opened and his two remaining passengers came aboard. They were tall and quiet (one, a fellow who was bald and pale of complexion. He reminded Olivier of Lurch from the ‘Addams Family’ TV show. The other, Ms. Keres he presumed, wasn’t quite as pale but had long raven black hair that hung limply across her shoulders. She reminded Olivier of… well, Morticia from said series, only a little less poised).
He raised a finger to Ms. Thana. “If you’ll excuse me, ma’am.”
She nodded and he went over to them. There was a brief greeting of, “Welcome onboard! I’ll take your tickets and if you need any help settling in, please just ask.”
They shook their heads ‘no’ and handed him their tickets. No other words were spoken (at least by them) as they barely glanced at Loralei and then continued on to the sleeping car. Olivier cleared his throat and locked the door.
“Yes, well, I do hope you enjoy your trip!”
Afterwards, he made his way through the kitchen and porter cars towards the engine where the engineer, Mr. Domhnull Shamus, if he remembered correctly, waited to set off. He nodded and said nothing as Olivier retreated back to the passenger cars to make sure everyone had settled in all right. He marched dutifully back down the corridors and once more through the dining car where Ms. Thana remained smoking. She didn’t so much look up towards him as lift her eyes, which followed him uncomfortably across the car and towards the entrance leading into the passenger section.
The train shifted and Olivier felt the slide of wheels on rail as the cars slowly edged forward with a metallic jolt. He paused by the windows in the first passenger car, staring out into the night. Trees meandered by in the gloom of fresh rain. Rivulets of water on this side not quite so thick he was unable to view the gentle lapping ocean waves swatting at the shoreline beyond the tree line below. Moonlight came in random intervals as storm clouds undulated to-and-fro. He wondered if this were to be an all-night shower, or merely a few hours. He supposed time would tell.
It would almost be serene, in its stormy way (the way a thunderstorm could be rather soothing on a restless night), were it not for some itinerant and nagging fear crawling up his spine. Perhaps it was nothing, he considered as he clasped his hands behind his back, his back a sudden rigid pike the likes he hadn’t felt since being on the Spokane run when it derailed. Fortunately, nobody had been seriously hurt. Though he’d entertained taking a long vacation for a few weeks, he was back at work the next day.
The unsettling way in which his passengers were behaving, (or rather, not behaving), however, left him on edge. Even though he had no reason to be. I think I’d rather be in a train wreck than on this run, right now. He frowned, sighed, and then chuckled, closed his eyes, shook his head, and dropped his chin to his chest. Come on, you old buzzard. Just one lousy night. They’re simply tired travelers ready to reach their destinations unharmed. Probably merely ready to be done with all this, just like you. Time to get on with it then.
He looked back up, opened his eyes, and pulled himself from the view chugging along at a quicker clip, the thrumming vibrations of metal wheels tearing at slick railway craving the leeway of cross-country travel. Such an old locomotive, he considered. Right down to the steam powered engine, and replete with old school engineer.
Olivier came to the first door. Knocked.
There was a grumble deep within, but, within less than a minute, Doyle Jacob answered by opening the ornate door wide. The brown haired man stared at Olivier without uttering a word, his mouth hanging slightly ajar , dark eyes seeming to stare straight through him. With how pale the man was, Olivier got to wondering if any of his passengers saw the light of day very often.
“Mr. Jacob, sorry to bother you. I was just making sure there wasn’t anything further you needed: towels, toiletries, snacks, late night tea? Extra pillows or blankets, perhaps?”
The man shook his head in a slow twist, his eyes remaining in place in spite of the shaking. A low, slow groan escaped his throat as he did this and Olivier couldn’t help but to wonder if he hadn’t awakened him from an already deep slumber. Poor fellow.
“Very well. Should you require anything at all, by all means ring.”
Mr. Jacob grunted and closed his door. Olivier continued on down the hall checking on each of his passengers and receiving much the same response. Dugal James, the only dark-skinned person onboard, that somehow still looked pale and ashen, had oddly handed him a pamphlet on retirement that referenced some ocean view facility far down the coast whose nightlife was ‘to die for’, apparently. And, even odder, wasn’t named in the brochure. Olivier looked back at the man to ask, but he retreated back into his room, heavy wooden door not so much slamming as shuddering resoundingly in his face.
Donald Kobe, the only passenger in a business suit, merely waved him away and shut the door. And neither Thane Zilla nor Dolores Keres seemed inclined to bother with opening their door at all (they shared a room making him wonder if they were either married or involved in other… affairs. Little bit early in the night for that. Hmm). All who answered still wore what they came onboard with: jeans and button up shirts, dresses and suits. Mr. Jacob wore a long grey robe. No one seemed interested in acquiring any further services. Which left Olivier to wander the back cars looking for anything that might need done. Restrooms cleaned, linens folded, trash disposed of, floors swept, mopped, or vacuumed.
All was in order as far as he could tell. Unnervingly enough. It was a train in perfect sanitary condition. Despite looking like a locomotive straight out of the 1800’s. Right down to the hallway décor and the soft red carpeting. He stopped before a mirror hanging on a wall just outside the conductor’s office in the caboose. The gentle rattle of the wheels on rail were louder here as he stared at his own visage. So many wrinkles and gray hairs. He hated growing old. He was only sixty-seven (only… who are you kidding?)with still some years ahead of him. Maybe he’d finally take that vacation to Italy he’d always dreamed about. He had the funds for it, after all. And it wasn’t like he was married with a mortgage. Just a neat little apartment by the bay.
A subtle shift below the carriage indicated that the car had hit one of the varied bumps along the railway leading towards the inland town of Gathas. He’d never heard of it himself, but he was sure it was a nice enough place.
He turned away from the mirror and resumed his inspection of the train cars. Everything was spotless, like it was straight off of the production line. He sighed and headed back towards a small alcove in the caboose where he had placed his overnight satchel. There would be little to do, he figured, until the train pulled into Gathas station around six a.m. or so. Providing nothing unusual occurred, of course.
Olivier walked the long corridor of the caboose hall and paused. I should probably recheck the forward cars. Never know. There might have been something I missed. Olivier turned and whistled as he made his way back up towards the front of the train. He knew he was only kidding himself. The truth was, nothing needed done. He just wanted to keep himself busy. And sitting down to read the next Stephen King novel wasn’t going to do him any good. Sure, he enjoyed the reads, but it distracted him from his work. He knew that idle hands were the devil’s playthings and that simply would not do. No matter how much he got sucked into those crafty worlds.
Thanks for reading and hope you had fun! There will be more to come next week! Until then, have a good week!
~Timothy S Purvis
Amazon Kindle Author’s Page–> Timothy S Purvis
Smashwords Author’s Page–> Timothy S Purvis
Check out The Night Train in this Collection–> Amazing Short Stories Volume 3
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I would appreciate if you have Kindle or even if you want some paperback goodies if you’d head on over to my page and maybe show me some love there. I mean, if you’ve been reading a while and see something you like, wouldn’t you like to have it in your personal library? I have some cool short stories available for cheap. Also Tales From A Strange Mind that collects my short stories (there’s also a Kindle edition but, for some reason, Amazon wouldn’t let me link them together) , Tales From A Strange Mind II which collects my old novellas, Red Star Sheriff (Which also has a Kindle edition but Amazon, am I right?) my first novel ever released, though, yes, it does have some grammatical errors and drags on for way too long, sigh. But I still love it and I will be writing a follow up sometime within the next few years. I have a collection of my poems called MisAligned: The Heart Waxes Poetic which collects my old poems but not some of my newer ones included those flash fictions! I’ll probably do that in the future as well. And if you love the perfectly inane, why not check out my Star Cloud scripts presented in book form? Star Cloud The Original Scripts. Another one where Amazon was being difficult with me in connecting the Kindle and PB versions. Still, the paperback they let me sale for cheap and it’s well worth a look if I say so myself. Or, if you don’t want to click on individual links (all of which will take you to my author’s page anyway), just click on my author’s page directly by tapping my name: Timothy S Purvis See for yourself what all I’ve published since I began this venture in 2016.
I mean, if you like my work, of course. No pressure. Just trying to find my way in this world without working menial tasks and suffering physical and mental issues as a result. If only I could merely stay home and write. That would be my most epic fantasy brought to life. Well, if you don’t want to do that, you could also donate to my cause down below after all is said and done. It would help. You know, if you liked what you saw and all. Up to you. I don’t have a lot of reviews on my materials because of low sales. I mean, very, very low sales. In the single digits. Right now, I have to rely on Pubby for reviews and those people only read your synopsis and recap it for a five star review. I want honest opinions. Not mean ones, but honest. So, if you ever find yourself buying some of my work, I’d certainly appreciate some feedback. Again, up to you.
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