Monday, February 24, 2020

Time To - a Ghost Story

Time To….
by  Helen A. Howell

Mr. Trebea glanced at his pocket watch. He hoped the train would be on time. The platform was filling with passengers and the porters were busy transporting the baggage of the first class ticket holders into position.

A cloud of smoke could be seen in the distance as the clacking of the wheels against the track became louder. A final puff of steam whooshed into the air as the carriages pulled to a halt. He looked at all the coaches that stood against the platform; one first class and four second class, then climbed aboard and took another look at the watch before he slipped it back into his pocket.
“Time to disappear,” he whispered.

The whistle hooted three times and the chug of the engine exploded into life as the train pulled slowly out of the station. The rumble of the wheels resounded on the metal track . The train picked up speed and soon a rhythmic clackety clack could be heard.

No one paid any attention to the portly man in the dark suit, top hat and brocade waistcoat, who carried a black notebook as he wandered down the corridor peeking into each compartment and scribbling into his book.

“No,” he muttered after several moments before he jotted something down. He closed the book with a snap and moved on to the next compartment. Must get it right. No room for mistakes. His hand came up to his well groomed moustache and his fingers grasped one end and gave it a twist; something he was prone to do while thinking. A child jumped up from her seat and came to stand by the door. He tipped his hat and smiled down at her through the glass. Her blue eyes, wide open, stared back at him; yellow curls fell about her face, framing soft pink features. She reached out a small pudgy hand and touched the glass window. He sighed, it was his decision to make wasn’t it? He opened his book and started to write.

“Lucy come away from there and sit down,” called a large woman, whose bonnet was tied so tightly under her chin that her cheeks looked as though they would explode. The child glanced back at her and then once more at Mr. Trebea. He could see the question in her eyes. He raised a finger to his lips and silently mouthed shush, then moved onto the next compartment.

He pulled the pocket watch out once more and tutted. Time is getting short. He closed its lid and slipped it away again before looking into the next carriage. He moved along checking compartment after compartment, observing and recording, while the occupants remained oblivious to his presence, that is, all except the golden haired child. He smiled at the thought of her.

The last compartment checked, Mr. Trebea studied his notes. He ran a finger down the column of figures some of which had symbols squiggled to the side of them. “The calculations seem in order.” He closed the book and slipped it into his coat pocket.  He stepped in front of the corridor window and lowered it. The air rushed in, a cold blast upon his face— he loved that feeling. Taking out  the watch from his waistcoat pocket, he lifted the lid and looked at the dial. “Almost time,” he breathed as he leaned out of the window. In the distance he could see the dingy brickwork of the tunnel looming out of the landscape. He held the watch and listened to the tick tock as it marked away the minutes to the train entering it.

The shrill of the whistle blasted into the atmosphere accompanied by the clacking of the wheels as the train approached the underpass. Mr. Trebea nodded and whispered once more to himself, “Time to disappear.”

The train entered the tunnel, vanishing from sight. The scream of its whistle echoed off the dark cold walls and the clackety clack of the wheels danced against the metal track. Smoke billowed out from the other end of the tunnel, grey clouds swirling up into the sky as the train emerged from the black shell into the daylight—with only two of its carriages in tow.

A yellow haired child pressed her nose against the window of one carriage and raised a pudgy hand to wave to the man in the dark suit, top hat and brocade waistcoat, who stood beside the tracks.
Mr Trebea closed his pocket watch, slid it into his waistcoat and waved back.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

I'm Somthing Else - Part 4

I hurry back down the steps to the club. The man at the entrance grabs my arm.
"That'll be $20 bucks."
"But I've already paid once, you know that."
"Not my rules, babe. You leave and wanna come back, that's another twenty."
I take a deep breath, pull another note from my pocket and thrust it at him. He smiles and salutes me by touching his eyebrow and stuffs the money into a pouch.
"Enjoy," he says.
I ignore him and walk into the main area, via the dance floor. People were still swaying and jerking to the loud music, some more obvious than others were high, moving as though no one else existed. I arrive at the bar once more.
"Another Wicked Lady for the lady?" The barman smiles.
"No, give me a straight brandy." 
He fixes my drink and places it in front of me. I swig it down in one gulp and push the glass back towards him.
"Another?" He holds the bottle out.
I shake my head and move to the other side of the room where I can get a good view of the place.  I scanned the area, the walls, the dark recesses. I know it's here, but where? I check the area out behind me, nothing.  

What am I missing? Am I looking for the wrong thing?  This one can transform, I need to look for something more human. That's it. It's transformed, I'm sure of it. I start by looking more closely at those who surrounded me, then further away. So far, every one looks normal. Where are you?

I scan the room once more, then the line up at the bar. At the very end I spot a tall man, dark hair,falling rakishly cross his forehead. Wearing a leather jacket and tight jeans, and I mean really tight. He's leaning down towards a young woman as though he is whispering something to her. She, slim, around five foot five, blond hair tied up on top of her head, wisps of curls dancing about her long bear neck, laughs as whatever he said. She picks up her bag from the bar, he puts an arm around her shoulders and together they leave.

I watch them mount the steps and when they reach the top, I follow.
"Going so soon babe?" The doorman smirks at me. I smile back and mentally punch him in the nose.

I race to the top of the steps and spot them walking off down the road. I know there are many alleyways off this road, some leading to the backs of houses, some leading through to other parts of the city. I start walking, keeping them within my sight. I have to time this right if I don't want to loose him and save her at the same time.  What if I'm wrong and this is just a normal couple. For a split second I search through my memory of what I noted about him. There was something else, yes he was wearing leather gloves, ones that fitted his hands like an second skin. It has to be this creature, it's covering those needle sharp nails.

I notice that it had picked up speed, so that the girl was doing little running steps to keep up. I took my pace up a notch or two. My hand reaches into my jacket and I pat the knife. Reassured of its presence, my fingers wrap around the handle and I feel its ice cold metal against my skin. I must be ready. I withdrew it and clutching it to my side, I upped my pace another notch.
I had never had to confront one of these that could transform. I had a strong feeling that this was not going to be easy in any way.

Now its going much faster and I hear the girl shout, "Hang on honey, don't be impatient." At this point he picks her up and disappears to the left. I move fast and reach the mouth of the alley within several seconds. I hear her scream, one of those gut wrenching screams and I fly towards the sound. It, still in human form had ripped away its gloves and was tearing her shoulder straps out of its way. I  reached them just as he was about to penetrate her skin on her neck with those deadly nails. I fly through the air and land it an almighty two footed kick that has it reeling over to the ground. I look at the girl and shout.

It stands and we face each other. Its eyes now bulging, an iridescent blue, glowing in the dark of the night. My knife gleams as the moonlight reflects off  it. It is as though we are frozen in time, it watching me and me watching it. Who will move first? It was like a wire being wound tighter and tighter until it snapped, and snap it did as we both rushed towards each other. At the moment of meeting I swirl around as I pass it, slicing my knife into its leg but its nails catch me across my back, ripping into my skin. I feel the warmth of my blood trickling down my back. It turns with great speed and comes back for another clash, nails held out before it. I rush towards it. It takes a swipe at me as I skid to the ground and through its legs. Turning on the spot I thrust my knife into its back, with all my strength I pull downwards, slicing it open. My hands move faster than the eye can see and with a couple of moves Mamma taught me, I remove its heart from its body. Still beating in my hand I crush it between my palms. Its body lies before me, crumpled into a heap. I watch it slowly disintegrate until nothing is left. 

My nights work is done. And tomorrow night will be the same. In the meantime I must search for a mate, for this is important work and I need to produce a daughter to carry on after me.

Now where to search for this man...... that is the question?

The End.