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|Those That Pass in the Night (standard:romance, 2474 words)|
|Author: Tim Callaway||Added: Jul 31 2002||Views/Reads: 3313/2064||Story 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. Tweet
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