The Train A Short Story

Well, as promised here is The Train a short story written by myself a couple of years ago. It was meant to be the opening to a book about a serial killer haunting the London Underground but it never took off and most of that story was integrated into an upcoming book called Redlock about a serial killer in a small village. Obviously the change from metropoliton to sleepy village meant there wouldn't be an underground train so a different opening had to be written, which at some point in the future I will also share as a taster for Redlock. I have re-written the story to fit the shorter format.

I hope you enjoy the relatively short story.

Oh, and if you want to download a version in PDF format, click the relevant link at the bottom of this page.


 

The Train

I moved through the lightless carriage, my heart beating faster with every step. The train was empty except for me and the invisible driver up ahead. And of course there was him. Somewhere in the dark he stood. I could feel his gaze and hear the rasp of his breath but I couldn’t see him. The blanket of darkness provided too many hiding places for someone like him to blend into. But he was there. Waiting. Ready to strike.

A cold breeze ran over my arms and I shivered. Step by step I groped along the walls, bumping into chairs and tripping over discarded bags left by the departed. The carriage rocked gently from side to side as i moved, reminding me of how mom would rock me to sleep at night. That was before I really knew her, when everything seemed innocent. There was nothing innocent about what was happening on this train. Somewhere in the dark a force of hate and anger waited for me to make a mistake. Slip up. Then... Well that would be the end. 

I had first met it in the adjacent carriage earlier that evening. To begin with, everything seemed normal. Just two men returning home from work at the end of a hard day. Dressed impeccably in expensive suits, briefcases by their sides and moving with the swagger of self importance that only success brought. Both looking forward to a well-earned rest before a repeat performance the next day. Of course our reasons for bravado and respite were very different. 

We chatted for a while. Nothing out of the ordinary. “It’s been a lovely day,” “Where do you work,” “I hear it’s nice there.” And on and on it went. Question after question flowed. The man was articulate and intelligent. I asked him what he did. He worked for a bank and loved it. I asked about family. He had none and lived alone. He spoke about his hobbies. I asked what they were. Then it fell apart. The last question caused a change. It seemed reasonable but his expression snapped. Fear took over in an instant and anger surfaced readily. He came at me. We scuffled and fought. The man lashed out indiscriminately; hitting with a primal fury that belied his small size; every blow causing damage and pain. And there we were for what seemed like eternity. Raining blow after blow on each other. Pulling and scratching. Desperate to win at all costs. But then the lights went out. We fell apart. I against the wall and the man... somewhere else. 

I reached up and wiped blood from my nose onto the usually pristine white sleeve of my shirt. The man had gotten a few good licks in. Enough to bloody my mouth, nose and left eye. Why was he fighting? This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I couldn’t understand his motive. After all, I’m just an Average Joe on my way home. Why would he attack me? 

Slowly I groped further along the wall. My foot kicked something hard on the floor and with predictable grace I fall into a pile of dampness. A jelly like material squelched between my fingers. It was too dark to see what it was, but the shape felt human. Except for a hole in what should have been its chest where the jelly like substance oozed readily. I pulled back disgusted. Had the man caused this too?

Schhtink

To the left I heard the noise of metal on metal. Had the man found a weapon? Had he found his bag?

Even worse, had he found my bag?

"Shit."

If he found my bag he’d have my tools. Better move. Quickly I ran towards what I assumed was the end of the carriage. A light bobbed ahead. It was the driver, his torch painting small sections of the wall as he moved. 

“Are you Ok?”

“Yes,” I answered breathlessly. 

“What’s going on back here? Who cut the lights?”

“There’s a man back here with a knife,” I screamed.

“Calm down fella,” He waved his torch backwards and forwards, “I don’t see anybody back there. How do you know he has a knife?”

“He has my bag. I’m a butcher. My tools are in it.”

“Ok. Calm down. Come this way, we’ll get to the engine and radio for the poli...” his words were cut short as the dim light hovered over the body of a woman split from navel to sternum. Quickly the driver swung the light back to me. It was blinding. “Shit,” the driver muttered, “Why are you covered in blood?”

“I fell onto her body,” I moved forward again.

“Stay right there. Don’t come any closer.”

“He’s back here. He did that,” I nodded to the corpse and looked at my hands. They were thick with blood. I must have put them into her open body cavity when I fell. 

“I said stay there,” the drivers voice shook as I crept closer.

Then with a thud I fell. The man was there. He was so fast. He hit me with his brief case and then slashed at my stomach with a long silver butchers knife. My knife. It glinted in the dim light as it swung with ferocity. 

“Shit,” the driver was stunned by the sudden violence and turned to run. The man was on him in a heart beat and clumsily pushed him to the ground.

“Radio,” he growled.

The driver looked confused as the man grabbed his shoulders whilst straddling his ribs. “Radio,” he screamed again.

I grabbed him and pulled him from the poor driver, the knife flying from his hands with a clink. He scrambled onto his back. In the dim light I could see blood running in rivulets from his forehead onto his chest. I had got a good few licks in. His nose was broken and a huge gash was visible along his parting. And there we sat. On our backs. The driver shining his torch between us. Two of us too scared to move and the other... Well who knew what was going on in his head.

A flash of light caught all of our eyes. It was the knife. My knife. Quickly we scrambled towards it, meeting with rage over its resting place. He grabbed the handle first, but I got the blade. I elbowed him in the face and the blade ran across my fingers cutting to the bone. But he let go, falling to the floor with a thud. I turned the knife so the handle was in my one good hand. It felt good. After all it was my knife. We had him. I had him. 

The man lay on the floor. He looked unconscious. The driver came across behind me. Up close I could see he was elderly with grey hair and a round belly. “Nice work. I thought you were a goner when he got to the knife first.”

“So did I,” I replied

“After all the murders we’ve been getting in London, I thought... Well I don’t know what I thought.”

I looked at him perplexed, “murders?”

“You been living under a rock young man. The Rail Ripper?” He looked quite puzzled at my ignorance. “The one they’re calling Butcher Bob.”

“I don’t follow the news.”

“No. But its a good job you were here that’s for sure. What’s your name friend?”

“Robert.”

The man laughed, “Like the serial killer,”

“Exactly,” I slashed his throat with one motion. The look of surprise on his face was priceless. He fell to his knees. I kicked him over. There would be time for him later. The man was rousing. He reached up and rubbed his forehead where my first knife slash had gouged a chunk of skull clean out. Sloppy. I’d been doing this long enough to get the aim right. I straddled his body. He looked up with desperate eyes. 

“Please.” To Average Joe the look might cause doubts. Regrets. But to Butcher Bob it had no effect, and I made sure they were the last words he uttered as I drove my blade down over and over into his prone body. He twitched uncontrollably, but soon that stopped. I liked it when they twitched. A relief came over me like nothing else. I stood in its warm embrace knowing the voices would go away for a while. I surveyed the scene. The driver was still breathing. Not for long. I picked his torch from the dirty ground and made my way to my bag. It was an old leather doctors bag that opened with hinges at the top. Carefully I unzipped it and laid out the tools I needed. I felt like a child. Which one should I use first? I turned to the driver who’d managed to drag himself towards the front carriage. No more sloppiness. I had to get this done and move on despite my urges. It was important that Average Joe left before he was discovered. 

I reached down and retrieved a bone saw. I would enjoy this.

© Ian Ford 2017.


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