Wednesday 19 December 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 86

This week's prompt photo is actually a close up shot of a much larger photo, taken by Brian Romeijn, a Rotterdam based photographer, who became well know for this series of photos he took of the Orient Express, which stands abandoned in Belgium after its last trip in December 2009. You can see the original picture on his site, Precious Decay, along with a variety of other photos of urban decay.

It prompted a dark tale. I went for a ghost story and this came out instead. Enjoy!

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Lie In Wait

He walked through the carriage. He could see them all perfectly in his mind’s eye, seated in their finery. The travel outfits, the latest fashion of the era, bought specially for the journey: bustles and black ties, stiff collars and corsets. He could hear their pleasantries and their witty banter as they past the time staring out of the windows. Men and women – rarely children, unless groomed for such a trip to sit quietly and attentively – impressed by the carriages, the exquisite train, all revelling in their wealth and comfort, all believing that it was the purpose of life.

Then as he passed through into another carriage, he felt it. It was still present at the edges, gnawing away at the fading decadence. A pervasive darkness that lay in wait, as it had done then. Little had they known how vulnerable they’d been; how easily they had been taken and diverted. He wondered how it had manifest; how it had travelled from one to another.

He witnessed the dark stains, too numerous to hide, even in the decay that the decades had wrought; the rips and slash marks in the upholstery where the filling now burst from, and heard a whisper of the cries that had been released in their last throws.

No one had been able to explain the arrival of a train full of slaughtered people, with no one living but the driver, who had been oblivious to the contents he’d been carrying, despite spending a lifetime rotting in a prison cell paying for it. People had speculated on who else it could have been, how someone could have jumped on or off the train and done it. But he knew differently.

He had examined the faded pictures, identified the marks from one to the other, how each had taken their part; the system and pattern was ever present in the chaos of the pictures if you had a mind to see it, and he did. And here, now, he knew he hadn’t been wrong in its origin. 

He paused in the middle of the second carriage and waited. It whispered at the edge of his hearing, words starting to form, cajoling, persuading, enticing. He smiled. If he could get it to come to him, he could give it what it needed: a channel, an outlet, a place to reside. He would welcome it and give it an opportunity. It would be his, to use as he pleased.

His head tilted back as the murmurs grew to voices, and opened his arms. The smile on his face spread, his mouth opening wide. And as it arrived, a roar of laughter built up inside him and exploded out, shaking the remains of what they dubbed ‘the carriages of carnage’, waking the souls that slept there, to taste the fear again. 


  1. It took me a little while, but I'm here:

    A Friendly Conversation

    I crept through the old abandon train car, the ancient velvet seats faded and torn, and tried to find the best position to hear the conversation going on outside. Most of the windows had been blown out, either from gun shots or weather, and glass littered the floor and seats. If I wasn’t careful, they’d hear my footsteps through crunching shards.

    *Just a little closer.*

    I’d followed the new ADA out to this abandoned train yard where the old coaches sat derelict and faded. He looked out of place in his crisp, clean shiny charcoal suit and blood-red tie. *If he’s going for subtle, he totally missed the mark.* But I suspected he was a plant by Backlog, a shadow group who’d managed to get members in every branch of law enforcement, including the lawyers and judges. They murdered the last ADA who wouldn’t capitulate to them and shoved Antoine Mitchem into his place. *The guy takes more bribes than a Mafioso if that suit’s anything to judge by.*

    I settled on my belly in a dusty seat and position my phone camera and microphone just over the lip of the broken window just as ADA Mitchem stopped to talk to the guys waiting in front of a Lincoln Town car parked between the train coaches.

    “Why did you have me come all the way out here to meet you, Mr. Butler? Why couldn’t we do this by phone or email?”

    Butler shrugged, but his face never moved at all below the dark sunglasses. “I find it both expedient and prudent to find places where there aren’t many witnesses. Emails and phone calls leave a trail. This way protects all of us. And I prefer to see the faces of my employees when I give them instructions.”

    *Employee? I thought the ADA worked for the public.*

    This just confirmed what I’d suspected about Backlog. They were a private entity manipulating the system for their benefit, and now it included the ADA of Fort Collins. *I’m gonna roast your asses when I get my chance.*

    “So, what do you want from me now?”

    *Uh-oh, trouble in paradise already?*

    “I want you to increase the charges against former police Commissioner Ainsworth to include the death penalty.”

    Mitchem gaped. “All he did was beat a US Marshal and threaten him a little. That’s not worth the death penalty.”

    Butler closed his mouth and icy silence fell over the conversation. He stayed silent long enough to make Mitchem fidget.

    “He exposed us. He exposed you indirectly. The consequences of that are deadly, as is questioning the instructions. Are you prepared to follow ADA O’Donnell’s footsteps?”

    To my surprise, Mitchem swallowed hard as his gaze skirted over the other men standing behind Butler. Apparently, this guy was a scary mudfucker and the new ADA knew it.

    “No, Mr. Butler, but I’m concerned there’ll be too many questions about why the charges are so strenuous.” Mitchem backpedaled pretty quick, but he made his reasons sound plausible.

    “Don’t worry about questions, ADA Mitchem. They won’t matter in the long run. Just make sure he’s charged with assault and battery with deadly intent. We’ll do the rest.”

    I gritted my teeth and hoped my phone caught all that. I’d need it as proof when I took on these guys because if they could kill an ADA, increase the charges against a police commissioner, and threaten the new ADA without breaking a sweat, I’d be dead faster than you could spell the word on the evening news.

    588 #WIP500 words

    1. Great piece! Definitely peaks my interest. Love to read more. Thanks for joining in.