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Those That Pass in the Night (standard:romance, 2474 words)
Author: Tim CallawayAdded: Jul 31 2002Views/Reads: 3313/2064Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Two strangers meet on a train during war torn England. Things are not as they seem!
 



Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story

wartime rail traffic to the coast. As there were no searchlights 
visible he concluded that there was a problem with the engine and a 
German attack was not likely. Jayne joined him at the open window and 
felt the cool, May evening air brush against her face. 

"Look another engine is coming up behind us from the depot," announced
Geoff. "There must be a problem with the engine probably this bloody 
incline. The Victorian railway builders took a gamble when they 
designed this slope and embankment. Light weight rolling stick would 
not have a problem under normal circumstances but this section of 
railway was not designed for this wartime loading." 

"I hope they get a move on as I have to report for duty by midnight,"
said Jayne. 

"No worries. They will have us moving in about ten minutes if I'm not
mistaken." 

There was a sudden jolt to the carriage as the other locomotive was
attached as a shunting engine and Jayne fell into Geoff's strong arms. 
He held her in all innocence as they gazed into each other's eyes. 
Their lips met briefly but passionately. Jayne pulled away, 

"I'm sorry Geoff, but I'm not that type of girl. I like to know a man
before I reveal my female mystery!" laughed Jayne to break the tension. 


"I don't know what came over me," apologised Geoff as he sat down.
"Let's pretend it never happened." 

"What was that, Geoff?" 

"Never mind. Do you want some chocolate?" offered Geoff as he put his
hand into his jacket pocket. Chocolate was a luxury and its main source 
was from the American Airfields. Geoff had a good access to this source 
of pleasure and Jayne did not hesitate and held her hand out eagerly 
for this delicacy.  Geoff placed two squares of milk chocolate into the 
palm of her warm, yet dry hand and she devoured them fervently. As she 
chewed the sweet delight the train started to move and beat the incline 
through the combined power and tandem of two locomotives. 

The guard stood outside their compartment but just stared aimlessly into
the inner darkness. He hesitated but did not enter the compartment to 
check their tickets but left them to their invisible lovemaking. Jayne 
looked intently at Geoff, 

"Geoff, tell me something about yourself. Are you married? Do you have a
girlfriend?" inquired Jayne. 

"No, but I used to. She was killed in a heavy raid in Southampton last
year." 

"1943 was a bad year for me to," whispered Jayne in support. 

"What happened to you then?" asked Geoff as he brushed some fluff from
his uniform jacket. 

"My parents were also killed in a raid. They didn't stand a chance as my
mum refused to have an Anderson shelter built in the garden or ever go 
to the communal shelter. I miss them so much. That's probably why I've 
offered to do extra duties since then." 

"We sound very similar, don't we? It was by chance that we met tonight
and I don't intent to waste a minute of our time together." 

Geoff held Jayne by the hand and they looked at each other as the train
came into Newbury station under the cover of darkness. As the train 
came to a halt doors opened and numerous members of the armed forces 
disembarked or fought their way onto the train. Jayne thought that it 
was strange that no one entered their carriage but thought no more 
about it. 

The sound of the air raid sirens split the warm air in two. The train
abruptly surged forward, without warning, to cross the main lines to 
the other side of the station. This was a dangerous manoeuvre as the 
Cornish Riviera was due any minute passing some 60 miles an hour 
through the busy market town. The driver was eager to clear the station 
before the raid commenced and took this calculated risk. 

"That was a close one," shouted Geoff over the noise of an engine at
full throttle traversing worn out tracks and points. Loose items moved 
around within the compartment and Jayne gripped the seat in terror. 

"Why is the driver so eager to leave Newbury?" asked Jayne trying to
hide her fear. 

"To give us the best possible chance of not receiving a direct hit. This
train is carrying explosives and ammunition for the war effort. No one 
wants to be blown away!" 

Jayne sat back in meditation as she considered his powerful words. She
watched out of the window as they left the mainline heading towards the 
downs and Winchester. Smoke billowed out as they passed two bridges and 
gathered speed. The ride was far from smooth as the train was exceeding 
the 25mph speed limit in its bid for escape. Throughout the train 
people held on for their very lives and items of baggage fell from the 
luggage racks injuring several people in the process. 

A few moments later the wheels of the train locked and screeched to a
halt just outside a small station. Geoff looked out of the window to 
find out where they were. 

"We've stopped outside East Woodhay Station and it appears to be a red
light ahead. Bad luck under the circumstances," announced Geoff above 
the noise and commotion outside the carriage. 

The 'Permanent Way' staff rushed about attending to the emergency ahead.
>From their conversation and activity it transpired that a cow had got 
on the track through a broken fence and this bovine specimen was not 
keen to leave the newly found abundant green pasture of the railway 
embankment. 

"Why don't we get off and spend the night in the waiting room? We could
be here hours!" suggested Jayne as she pulled her bag from the luggage 
rack. 

"It looks like you give me no alternative," chuckled Geoff as he picked
up his own bag. They climbed carefully out of the carriage onto the 
railway track beneath. At the very moment their feet touched the 
platform the train started to move now free from the bovine 
obstruction. They looked at each other and laughed with a shared 
understanding. They were now stranded and forced to spend the night 
together in this isolated country station. They saw the humour in this 
yet wondered what the night would bring in terms of mutual romance. 

Jayne opened the door to the waiting room, which was illuminated by
soft, flickering gas light. The remnants of a fire burned in the grate 
and they settled down on the bench nearest to the source of warmth. The 
stationmaster opened the door and looked around the room. Seeing no one 
there he turned down the gaslight and raked the fire oblivious of the 
two star crossed lovers at play. He locked the door and left the 
station for the night. 

A couple deep in embrace and conversation filled the room lit only by
the weak glow of embers. In the distance bombs started to fall on the 
town of Newbury. The German bombers had got lost on their bombing 
mission to Oxford and were using the railway for navigation. As they 
were running low on fuel they started to jettison their bombs to 
lighten their load. Rather than waste the bombs they dropped them on 
the track and continued in a southerly direction along the Winchester 
branch line (lovingly called the 'Golden Mile') taking out the track, 
station buildings and various bridges. 

"Geoff, the bombs are falling. Shouldn't we get out of here?" screamed
Jayne above explosions increasing in amplitude. 

"We're safe as we can be in here. Just relax, the bombs will soon pass,"
shouted Geoff as the windows were blown inwards from the blast of an 
explosion that destroyed the now empty East Woodhay signal box. Both 
the lovers were showered with glass which they carefully removed 
avoiding splinters and potential injury. They walked towards the door 
now hanging dangerously from its hinges. As they walked onto the debris 
filled platform they could see the glow of Newbury in the distance now 
a fireball. The last bomber passed overhead on its flight home to 
France. A trail of smoke emerged from its port engine. 

"He'll never make it," said Geoff hoping that his prophesy would become
a reality in vengeance. 

"You're probably right," replied Jayne as she squeezed his waist
tenderly. 

In the distance lay the wreck of a burning train. The ammunition car of
the 10.45pm train to Winchester had been hit killing most of the 
passengers, an unexpected bonus for the Germans. The rescue crew were 
quickly on the scene surveying the scene of devastation and attempted 
to find any survivors from the hopeless, twisted wreckage. 

Two wardens were on duty standing by the last carriage. This was the
only carriage remaining free from damage and its doors were wide open 
following the escape of its passengers. The door to the last 
compartment was still closed and the wardens walked towards it to 
inspect its occupants. A voice called out from the darkness a warning. 

"I shouldn't open that door if I was you!" 

"Why on earth not? There could be someone trapped in there!" replied
John Carter. 

"No one ever uses that compartment. It's reserved for our spectral
hosts," said the old guard as he walked towards the wardens parting the 
smoke and fumes in his haste. 

Ignoring this warning John Carter opened the door and climbed into the
carriage. Inside it was dark and colder than the atmosphere outside. He 
looked around and saw that the compartment hadn't been cleaned for many 
months or used by anyone. It was devoid of life but had an atmosphere 
of hope, yet misadventure. 

"Are you OK in there?" asked the guard from the relative safety of the
ground. 

"Wait a minute, what's this?" uttered John Carter from the gloom of the
dark compartment. 

"It's a Wren's hat with a bullet hole in it and dried blood! What's been
going on here then?" he asked rhetorically. 

"You really don't want to know, " answered the old guard. 

The old station at East Woodhay was converted into a private residence
following the closing of the line in 1963. The buildings have been 
lovingly restored keeping many of the original features in place. 
Visitors marvel at the original fireplace that stands proudly in the 
drawing room. The gaslights have been replaced by electrical 
equivalents but blend into the Victorian splendour of this house. 

Some say that on the 24th May each year the house receives two extra
visitors dressed in wartime uniforms. They are seen to sit locked in a 
loving embrace staring into the fireplace about 11.30pm. The spectral 
visitors cause no harm, as they only seem to be interested in each 
other as they pass like ships in the night. 

The End. 

( 2002 Tim Callaway - all rights reserved. 


   


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