Chapter 1 The Station
It was a cold night for this time of year. A fresh summer breeze blew through the trees whose long branches loomed over the sidewalk like dark skeletal arms. The smell of rain filled the air and pitch black clouds covered the sky.
Artur was on his way to the train station, time had moved faster than he’d expected. He could count himself very lucky if he managed to catch the last train before the station would inevitably shut down for the night.
His feet stomped on the pavement as his legs carried him quickly through the almost silent streets. His arms were tightly wrapped around his backpack, since one of the straps had ripped and was now loosely dangling on just a few remaining threads.
He spent the whole afternoon and a better part of the night, at the house of his friend Leon. Since Leon had move away from the city to a more rural part of the country, spending time with him had become a lot more difficult.
Artur stumbled but managed to quickly regain his balance and kept on running. The few lights of the station now came into view, not even 2 minutes and he would have reached his destination. Maybe there was still a chance for him to sleep in his own bed tonight.
The railway system extended from the main city like tentacles across the entire province. Connecting every last little village and farmland to the great railway system. However not all of them were operating 24 hours a day.
The further one moved away from the big Cities, the more likely that the trains would stand still before the clock even reached midnight.
Artur ditched the stairs and just jumped straight over the iron fence down to train tracks. He landed hard on the concrete ground and a sharp pain shot through his right leg. His eyes darted around the empty station, there it was, all the way back on the other side.
A single train wagon was waiting for its moment to leave. Not a single soul was sitting inside, still the train operator had to wait for his time to come. For the automated schedule to announce the last trains departure so he could finally go home and enjoy a goodnights sleep.
Artur ran as fast as he could to rail number 5, only a few small flickering neon lights illuminated his path. Suddenly he heard the electric engines turning on and the brakes of the train starting to release.
A robotic voice blasted through the station speakers and foretold what Artur had feared. “The last train is leaving Gyoer on Route 5, please prepare to board immediately”
Artur knew he wouldn’t make it the long way around, so he dashed straight across, over the rails, past the signs foretelling the demise of anyone who dared to set foot on the steel bars mounted into the concrete.
He could make it, hopefully noone saw him running over the rails. The last thing he would need is a hefty fine for not following proper Station etiquette.
THE TICKET! A moment of distraction, that’s all that was necessary to loose his footing for a second and to get stuck on one of the warning signs. Artur tries to catch himself but his right leg flares up again with Pain and gives out.
He hits the ground hard, chin first, into the solid rock pieces scattered between the rail lines. Catching his breath through clenched teeth Artur looked up towards line 5. The Train was gone.
“Dammit!” He cursed as he wiped the blood of his chin, well it didn’t matter, he forgot to buy a return ticket anyway. Artur slowly got up from the tracks and hobbled to the nearest bench.
His clothes got a few holes and the second strap of his backpack was now also torn off. He would have to call Leon and ask if he could stay at his Place tonight. Even though Artur had to get to work early tomorrow. Depending on his bosses mood this could be the end of his not very fruitful career as a carpet salesman.
After catching his breath and examining his wounds, he reached into his pocket to get his phone out. However he suddenly had the unexpected sensation of touching a piece of paper. He pulled it out of his pocket and found a little note attached to a valid train ticket to the main city.
Written on the note in Leon handwriting: “Knowing you, you’ll, probably need it”. “Goddamit” he cursed again, laughing at his own misfortune. If he would have just kept on running he could have made it and thanks to Leon still would have had a valid ticket.
Artur decided to just rest for a few minutes and let the fresh air cool off his sweaty skin. Feeling his knee and chin pulsating with pain from the fall not even a minute ago.
Just as he started drifting off into thoughts, he was suddenly startled awake by a loud noise, which was immediately followed up with a wave of pain through his leg. The loud steamy noise of a massive construct had startled him awake.
Before him stood an old, rusty piece of forgotten history. A bulky and heavy piece of machinery, with bolts and levers sticking out of every side. Artur thought he was dreaming for a second but even after intensely rubbing his eyes the large Railway car was still firmly standing in place.
The machine was mostly silent, an old creak here and there and zishing noises as steam was pushed through some of the old pipes. It was just a single train cart, the Windows were the train conductor should be sitting were completely black. Two old flickering headlights were slightly humming and light up the rails in front.
Artur was startled again as the train doors opened with a creaking sound and the turning of multiple gears. A bit of steamy fog waved out of the doors onto the station. Slowly Artur got up and walked a bit towards the colossal vehicle.
No doubt about it, it was a train, but not a train you would see riding the rails in this century. This thing was ancient. He carefully looked inside the train without setting a foot in the doorway. There was an old Mechanical arrangement of Letters spelling the word “Gyoer”.
The rest of the inside was made out of very old wooden design, coated with ancient fabric, like you would find in any grandmothers home. Artur looked around the station if anyone else was here to see this.
But the Station remained lifeless, it almost seemed darker and had a ghostly feel to it. Without fully realising he took a step inside the cart still facing the station. A haunted feeling went down his spine and the hairs on his neck stood up.