by Dave Moores
Dave Moores is the author of Attitude and Windward Legs. Both published thorough MiddleRoad Publishers.
The grassy pathway before me descended into an empty valley. Pretty summer clouds graced the sky, the day was bright, and the air carried the scent of fresh-cut hay. I had no notion of my purpose here and strangely this did not concern me.
An odd little man appeared at my side. His face displayed the lines and papery pallor of advanced age. He was formally clad in black, a cloth jacket over a white shirt and black tie. On his head, a bowler hat. He carried a walking cane and wore unexpected black shorts. The ensemble was completed by dress shoes and socks, black as well—hardly appropriate for a ramble in the countryside. When he spoke his voice was surprisingly clear, the accent and diction refined. “Come along, we have to get below right away.” He beckoned to me and set off down the path with a nimble gait. I felt compelled to follow.
A single-track railway line came into view. Strange again, that I had not observed it sooner. My guide pressed on and our path turned left beside the track. Around a bend we came upon a small structure having the appearance of a shed. I recognized it as what used to be called a halt, not exactly a station but a place where a local train might pause for passengers to alight or embark. We drew near and climbed weathered wooden steps to a sheltered platform.
The man consulted a timetable displayed in a glass-fronted case. He checked a pocket-watch and gave a satisfied nod. “You won’t have to wait long. Five minutes, it’s always on time.” For reasons I can’t explain, I still felt no curiosity, merely a sense of anticipation. I have always enjoyed train-rides. We seated ourselves on a bench.
The hoot of a train-whistle was followed by the rumble of wheels. A small steam locomotive puffed into sight pulling a couple of carriages. The sight recalled childhood day trips to the seaside with my parents. The train pulled in with a hiss of steam and gentle grinding of brakes.
We got to our feet. The man reached for a door handle. “Farewell, the train will take you where you need to go.” He handed me a business card which I pocketed as I boarded. There were no other passengers.
As the train moved off, a nagging sense of unmet obligations replaced anticipation. Had I failed to make a payment, or missed a crucial appointment? I searched my memory in vain.
Miles went by and the day darkened. Landscape passing the windows turned to wild moorland and sombre woods. My unease deepened to fear, but fear of what, I still had no idea. Who was this person who’d put me here, anyway? I reached into my pocket and withdrew the business card. The name read “Sebastian Angelo D’Eath.”
Angel of . . ?
I awoke to a beeping sound. Two paramedics stood over me. One held something against my chest. He let out a breath and gave me a smile. “Touch and go for a minute there. Thought we’d lost you.”