Synopsis: Murder on fast rails and the crime gets the green signal.
About the Author: Dimitriy Kaplan is a full time student studying Comparative Literature. He writes as an Opinions Columnist for the Binghamton Pipe Dream and is an aspiring fiction writer in the genre of suspense and detective fiction. Samples of his writing can be found at www.dimitriykaplan.com.
In this sordid tale, a man finds out that he is not himself anymore.
As I stepped outside through a strange set of doors that appeared to have been forged from iron, I’d done something I haven’t in years. I stopped, opened my eyes, took a breath of the cold November air and my surroundings froze. The trees appeared to melt from the glow of the setting red sun and the soundtrack to the serene backdrop of the lake thawed my frosty ears. I glanced across the horizon and my head was on swivel yet able to capture every moment as if I had pressed record. I took a step towards the tracks realizing this weekend would be the first of the rest of my life.
I knew things would be different when I decided to leave the grimy projects of Toronto, my girlfriend of five years and my career, but I didn’t care. My dead end job as a cashier at Goodman’s Pawn Shop had become tedious to the point of insanity and living in the same old broken down apartment with Samantha was producing the same effect. I was beginning to hate the world I had created for myself and a drastic change was exactly what I needed. I planned to go to Montreal to start over. It was as simple as that. I knew things would be difficult; building a life is hard enough the first time, but I would get through it and the first step came as I grabbed the handrail of the train and stepped inside.
I settled into my seat just as the train had begun to roll out of the station, it wasn’t too difficult to do so considering all that I had brought with me was a small luggage case. For lack of better options at the time, I had quite literally escaped my life in Toronto and packed only things for which I had really cared for. Inside my luggage case was about half of my wardrobe, my passport, a few photographs, an old pocket knife from the second war that my grandfather had given me and a few similar antique keepsakes of mine from home. I had always been fond of antiques. The shine of my fathers pocket watch soothed me as it glowed of the sun through my window. As a member of the train crew approached to check my ticket I gladly handed it to him. “Thank you… Mr. Downy. Have a great trip,” he mumbled as if it had been the thousandth time he’d said those words today. I had several hours before I would check into the hotel that would be my home for a few months, I thought of how I would begin this new life of mine as I stared into the vast forest and felt myself dozing off counting the snowflakes on my window.
Just as fast as I had closed my eyes for what I thought was a brief moment, I had opened them to a veil of night against my window. The train was shaking rather vigorously and I quickly became startled. I had initially thought the mobile antique would fall apart on the tracks before my very eyes. It took me a few seconds to remember why I was even on a train and soon enough my mind was settled and seemingly at peace. I stood and began to slowly move through the train car to the nearest bathroom, not knowing whether it was on the first or second level of the train car. I hesitantly searched only to find a screech piercing my ears to an almost deafening level. Suddenly there was a frantic commotion within the train car and a small crowd of people had formed surrounding the bathroom I was on my way to. One shrill screech became two, and then a third from a woman that had soon fainted. She was then caught and escorted by a taller, lanky young man. I was incredibly irritated yet extremely curious as to what had occurred inside of the bathroom, it must have been surely something crude or horrifying to have caused such a wildly rapid commotion.
As I approached the end of the car my fears were confirmed by the most gruesome and terrifying sight I’ve ever seen in my life. I peered through the hysterical crowd of people to witness flashes of a sight that could normally only be portrayed in a horrendous movie. It looked as though some one had painted the walls of the train bathroom crimson by simply splashing buckets of paint. The man on the floor seemed as though he may have been a replica of his former self as he laid motionless, blood still crawling away from his body. I fell back against the wall and became uncontrollably dizzy. As the train rumbled vigorously and the body shook on the floor, I nearly became sick.
Once the train crew was alerted the crowd of people slowly became replaced with a crowd of terrified guards and crew. I retreated to my seat and continued to observe the eerie situation. I had stepped into a world of mystery and terror. Was the killer still inside the train and if so, within which car? Would he kill again? How long am I to wait to be certain of my safety? The horrors! I shut my eyes for a moment to reassure myself I had in fact awoken from my earlier nap and was not still dreaming.
Within a couple of moments the train’s loudspeaker was activated and the conductor had announced that our nearest stop was two hours away due to blizzard conditions that had closed nearer stations. To the dreadful fright of many passengers, the conductor proceeded to announce that he would not be able to stop the train right away to alert authorities because there was not a paved road for miles and the forest was blanketed in heavy snowfall that would cause for a difficult journey otherwise. A couple of women began to cry at the time of this announcement. The man next to me turned and began to discuss the recent inconvenience of the weather with me,
“How do you do, I’m Jack Feinman. This weather is just terrible, not to mention murder! Murder on the train! How could this have happened?”
“I don’t know,” I shrugged, portraying myself as visibly annoyed.
“Well this is a definite cause for a ticket refund at the very least, if I don’t say so myself.”
“Right,” I stated as my annoyance was growing exponentially.
“Anyway, I didn’t catch your name.”
“Oh nice to meet you Mr. Walsh, I’m going to go speak with the train crew.”
I turned to the window and began to stare into the depth of the forest, I sank into my seat and opened my father’s pocket watch; it no longer glimmered in the light of the sun.
The train car in which the bathroom was located was unsettled to say the least; throughout the entire train, passengers were in a state of nervous panic. Many of the passengers seemed to be looking over both their own shoulders and those of their neighbors in paranoia. The excitement of the train had mesmerized me but I felt that I needed to stand or walk within the train rather than await my own horrible death. I stood and walked up the stairs to the second level of the train car, across the aisles and then back to the first level. I thought that the killer could be within this very train car, or perhaps in the very next one. I wasn’t even sure of what the train crew was doing about the incident other than keeping their passengers in suspense of a killer running about. I wanted to know what the train crew was doing about this.
There were about thirty minutes remaining before the train would arrive in Montreal to a rather large group of police authorities as I would have expected. I sat in my seat and stared into the darkness of the window for the remaining time, noticing the panic had somehow settled in the quiet background of the night. The train finally stopped about ten minutes from Montreal and I could no longer wait on the crew to get their act together and to deliver me safely to Montreal. I utilized this brief pause in the motion of the train to simply step off of the train. I figured I would walk for ten or twenty minutes within this miniscule town hoping they had a cab that would complete my journey. As I was about thirty yards from the train I heard another irritating screech from the direction of the train. I figured it had only been a figment of my imagination. This one was reflected from my ears as it was nothing in comparison to the past two hours of my life. Whether or not it was real, I had been glad to escape the terrible fate of whatever was occurring on the train.
The next morning I awoke within my hotel trapped within the soft linens of my bed. I had made it to my hotel last night by midnight after finding a cab in the town nearby. As I stepped outside of my hotel room I found a copy of a newspaper lying conveniently on top of my door mat. As I read through the first page I read the story headline that stated, “Murder Aboard the Railways,” and I was vividly reminded of my previous night. I looked meticulously through the article that proclaimed, “The two bodies that had been found on the Montreal bound train from Toronto last night appeared to have been grotesquely stabbed hundreds of times with a small blade. The victims, an apparently unrelated Paul Roberts and a Jeanne Gruleaux, were found about an hour and a half apart from each other. The Montreal forensics department has ruled that the murder weapon appears to be an old military knife, found at the scene, dating as far back as the early 1940’s.” My eyes lingered on the page of the paper for a brief moment after I had finished reading. I suppose the killer had also been fond of antiques.
**** THE END ****
Copyright Dimitriy Kaplan 2012
Image Courtesy: Google Images snap from “In the mouth of madness” (movie)