Another world: Episode 5

THE TRAIN

All Barry can hear is the rhythmic click-clack of the rails.

He dozes in his comfortable surroundings.

Time passes.

Gradually he wakes and explores the length of the carriage. There are no other passengers. The next carriage is an empty dining car, thick linen tablecloths, and silver dinnerware. He draws back curtains, but he can see nothing out of the window.

When he returns to his compartment, a woman now sits in the opposite seat. She wears a robe, a towel on her head, and slippers on her feet.

She looks up as Barry slides open the polished compartment door.

“Is all that luggage yours?” she says. She doesn’t appear to have any luggage.

“Yes, it is,” says Barry. He finds a place to sit among his bags. Barry feels he should introduce himself, but he can’t seem to recall his own name. But it’s not a problem because his new companion is eager to talk.

“A few moments ago, I was in the shower singing; I’m Going to Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair. Do you know that song? Well, it’s good advice. Anyway, then I sensed a presence outside the bathroom door. I’m good at sensing things. Anyway, I opened the door and stepped in here. And here you are. Are you going all the way?”

Barry doesn’t know what to say, so he studies his shoes and then gets up for a stroll. He cracks the window and can smell pine trees and the sea.

The train slows and comes to a stop, but there is little to see through the thick fog except for a deteriorating wooden sign he can’t read.

A jolt. The train starts. A bag falls from the overhead compartment, but Barry catches it before it can do any damage and earns an appreciative look.

Soon the fog clears. Fields and trees glide by under a starlit sky. Then the train slows and comes to rest at a signal box. Two uniformed men step into the carriage. They eye his luggage suspiciously.

They ask him for his papers.

The train begins to move again as Barry fumbles in his pockets. But he can find no papers.