Part Four - Return of Dark Alice
The seven forty-five from East Ambleton pulled into Carfax Abbey with a screech. Passengers hurriedly disembarked the line of carriages behind the hissing, ticking train that now momentarily stood idle. The hustle and bustle filled the once serene station with a new flow of energy in the form of milling passengers making their way towards the exit ramp by the old railway bridge which cut a pathway into an outcrop of natural rock thrust upwards into the night sky like a towering sepulchral edifice.
One lagging female passenger climbed off the train and with a small wheeled carry-on and ambled across the platform. She stood for a moment and inhaled the cold autumn air; her journey had been a cramped and stuffy one. As she breathed the crisp air, a newspaper sale board caught her eye. Blazoned across the board in bold black lettering was the following message, ‘Mystery surrounds the death of three teenagers at Carfax Abbey station’ Alice walked over towards a newspaper salesman who sat perched atop a stool next to a precariously balanced tower of the Carfax Evening Standard, she purchased a copy of the Standard and ruffled through its early pages until she stopped at page 2. There was a photograph of the station on which she now stood, and next to this picture was another depicting three smiling regular looking teenagers, two boys, and one girl. The words underneath the pictures read, ’The curse of Carfax town continues. Three more dead teenagers discovered.’
Alice had come here because of the teenagers, she had felt their pain, and heard their voices crying out to her in her dreams. Alice knew who else she needed to talk to and she planned to visit the offices of the Paranatural Detective Agency this very evening, but first she wanted to explore the site where it all happened all those years ago, the place where a mother murdered her disabled son by pushing him into the path of an oncoming train.
At the cue of a whistle the train slowly rolled away from the station disturbing a group of Raven that had gathered on the tracks ahead now exploding upwards in a cloud of blackness to a nearby treetop. The newspaperman opened one of his papers and read for himself the article about the missing teenagers, he as so many other local townsfolk knew the reason the kids always went missing, but he did not fear to speak of it, not once would he dare utter the words aloud, or even to himself. He knew the ghost story was certainly true, and so did many others in this town, but none would speak of it, not to anybody, not even for a hundred pounds, or whatever else the paper was offering for more information, or just a good story.
The newspaperman turned his jacket collar up; there was a new breeze along the platform which steadily grew stronger. The newspapers began to flap and the salesman held on to them for fear of them all blowing away, the only one that did escape was the one he had been holding, folded to expose the article he had been reading. The wind now a howling gale carried the newspaper along the platform, twisting, and shredding its leaves with invisible talons until it disappeared into the gaping black mouth of the railway tunnel. Suddenly and quite inexplicably, the storm passed. The newspaperman lifted up his head to view his once again serene surroundings. The night was pitch, and the moon partly obscured by cloud was barely visible within a darkening sky. A sound faint and distant stirred fears within the newspaper man, it was a squeaking sound, not unlike the sound of a rusty wheel turning. The newspaperman dropped his tin of coins and fled the platform under the watchful eyes of a dozen Ravens.
Alice Washington approached the mouth of the tunnel with trepidation, not only because of its notoriety amongst local paranormal investigators and creative journalists, but also because walking along railway tracks was an offence for which she could be prosecuted.
Alice placed a hand upon the damp moss covered bricks and peered into the blackness inside, ‘Oh well, I suppose this is why they call me Dark Alice!’ she said aloud before stepping into the jaws of the tunnel. She wandered along the underpass carefully keeping to the edge of the internal brickwork; she didn’t want to encounter an unexpected train as she was practically invisible in this murk. About half way along she stopped. Alice took a deep breath and momentarily closed her eyes; not that keeping them open would have been any different now. Alice attempted to soak up any residual energy that she may be able to detect. There was something, she could feel it. Alice concentrated on the emotions that were beginning to seep from behind the old brickwork, feelings of sadness, intense sadness; she was almost overcome with feelings of deep unhappiness when she heard the sound.
Alice concentrated on the noise she could hear intermittent from somewhere ahead of her, it sounded like a squeak of rusty iron rubbing against iron, she opened her eyes. Ahead of her about fifty yards or so, she could see a light, a red light flickering, moving side to side, and it was accompanied by the scrape and scratch of metal.
Alice was afraid; she collected herself and found the courage to speak out to whatever was moving towards her. ‘Hello? Hello please I mean you no harm, I just want to talk with you, I want to help you…if I can’ There came no reply, the red light came closer, the metallic squeaks continued, Alice pressed her back up against the tunnel wall, she fumbled around in her pocket for her mobile phone and pulled it out, quickly she operated its LED flashlight and then pointed it towards whatever was approaching through the darkness.
A form was illuminated, a tall lean man wearing a long overcoat and a fedora hat perched atop his head. He had one hand held upwards to shield himself from the glare of Alice’s LED light; his other hand was holding an old rusty tilly lamp, a flickering candle shone through its bulbous red glass window. When he lowered his hand Alice recognised him and instant relief flooded through her.
‘My god Hector, is that you?’
‘Alice, I thought I recognised your voice. What are you doing down this dank dark, and somewhat dangerous tunnel?’ Asked a puzzled Hector Saint-Sanson
‘Same as you I guess!’ Alice giggled, ‘When I heard you approaching, in the dark, I thought...I thought...well, I’m glad it was you is what I mean!’ Alice walked over to Hector and both of them shared a quick hug.
‘You thought I might be the infamous Roland Frapples, is what you thought. What would you have done if I was!’
‘Talk to you, I mean him. Ask him why he hurts people. Try and stop him from hurting anymore.’
‘This tunnel is a dangerous place Alice; we should leave’ Hector angled the Tilly lamp so that he could read the dial on his wrist watch. ‘In about four minutes the eight twenty-five from East Ambleton will be hurtling through here!’
‘Where did you get that lamp?’ Alice asked, pointing to the old oxidised lamp Hector was holding.
‘I found it near to the mouth of the tunnel, circa nineteen forty-five I think?’ A bell started to ring somewhere in the distance. ‘That will be the level crossing on Falmouth Street; we’d better get out of here and quick!’
Once both Hector and Alice were back on the platform Hector discarded the Tilly lamp leaving it resting on an old station bench. Alice retrieved her carry-on from a shadowy doorway of a boarded up waiting room. They both watched the eight twenty-five pull away from Carfax Abbey station on its way to Piprickin. Hector turned to Alice,
‘Did you sense anything?’
‘Sadness, deep sadness, How about you?’
‘As you know I don’t possess mediumistic talents, but I did have this!’ Hector pulled out a glittering chunky rock from one of his deep pockets.
‘What is that?’ Alice asked interested in Hector’s explanation.
‘It’s a quartz crystal. I placed it down in the tunnel. It glowed, fluoresced if you like, and that is exactly what it is supposed to do in the presence of some types of spirits’ Hector smiled as he rotated the crystal in his hand.
‘Types?’ Alice said puzzled
‘Types that have a lot of negative energy, Dan would have wandered about in there with a myriad of electronic gadgets, but I prefer to use this!’ Hector replaced the stone in the pocket of his Crombie overcoat. ‘Speaking of Dan he’s waiting back at the office, I don’t suppose you’d...’
‘Of course, I’d love to come, nothing else to do right now, and we need to talk’. Alice and Hector made their way over to a small gravel car park, Hector unlocked his Austin A30 and they climbed inside, soon they were both heading along Station Road the PDA headquarters was a ten-minute ride away.