A meeting, a rescue and a remembrance

Submitted into Contest #27 in response to: Write a short story that takes place on a train.... view prompt



Myles tented his slim fingers together, pressing his fingertips together until they blossomed purple under the dim light from the train compartment light overhead. The light was yellow, not white, and put everything around him into sepia tones of brown, orange and tan. It was a boring carriage, as train carriages went. Unplumped cushions sluggishly slouched on the wooden benches and gold trim peeled at the signs affixed to the walls. ATTENTION! They declared, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR LUGGAGE BEHIND! That was all very good, Myles presumed, if you were ever to leave. He couldn’t remember getting on the train, couldn’t remember buying the train ticket, and couldn’t remember his end destination. The train just…was. The journey was improbably, ineffable and inconsequential

Shucking his coat jacket off and bundling it up behind his sore spine, Myles scuffed his brown toed brogues across the carpeted floor of the compartment, enjoying the rebellious scrape of the sole of his footwear against the pilled grey of the ground. He slid lazily down the seat until with a ka-thunk his feet bumped the other side of the compartment seating. Myles was tall; long gangly legs, a short body and flyaway arms that usually plonked themselves into some unsuspecting old ladies’ eye on the 281 bus to Bardenbury.

“Oh, come on, come on, come onnnn” Myles sighed, groaning under his breath.

He was bored. Bored and endlessly frustrated. He wished, oh how he wished he knew why he was even here! He’d tried the door to the compartment many a time, but even then, he had wished he hadn’t. The thing was, he wasn’t alone on this journey. He had the worst bunk mates he could possibly imagine. There was old lady Doryl, who sneezed raucously and always stank of lavender to the extent of his gagging. There were the two London lawyers Bradley and Phillip, both moustached, both wearing suits of identical pinstripe blue, and both very very dull.

There was Greg7 (the seven was silent), a stoner from East Peckham who only wanted to know if Myles had ever ‘lit one up’ and had any rizzlers hidden in his jeans. Mary, an exotic dancer from Portugal who spoke not a single lick of English and whom liked to eat the sugar packets she kept finding down the cracks of the train seats, no matter how old, furry or out of date they were.

And there was the one compartment that wouldn’t open. The other residents of the hell train to nowhere said that it belonged to the conductor, or perhaps his mistress, but Myles was sceptical on both these counts. He had slunk down the train to room 66 many a time, out of nothing else to do and also out of morbid curiosity. He felt like he knew that room, although that was of course ridiculous. He had scented raspberry jam on one occasion when he had been staring down the golden plated ‘66’ on the chipped brown linoleum door, but had put it off to his non-existent yet also tangible ache of hunger. He imagined freshly baked scones, plush with jam that oozed out the sides and stuck to his fingers in the best way. He dreamt of lathering cream upon his knife, and then of the delicate crunch and surrender of satsumas and raisins under his teeth.

Oh boy, was he projecting. There was never movement inside the room, never shadow beneath the crack of the door, and never a reason to believe that anybody or anything had ever inhabited the chamber. Yet, here he was, so lonely and so desperate for human contact, or at least contact that didn’t make him want to shrivel up inside his own skin, that he had succumbed to fictional rescues.

Myles missed reading. If there was anything he truly desperately needed and wanted it was something to sink his creative teeth into and dissect morsel by delicious metaphor. He didn’t know, as he couldn’t remember, but Myles had a particular feeling that he had been a literary connoisseur before the train. He could feel the softness of furled pages on the whorls of his fingertips and smell the waft of pages fresh off the publisher’s reel; he could see the glimmer of golden inking on leather covers and the dimples of well-loved novellas. He could emote when he imagined them: books, stories, even poem at a stretch, and that emoting was something he wanted to hold onto tightly with both hands. Nobody on the train had a feeling, or seemed to only have the illusion of them. They cared sure, about pot or fitness or moral ambiguity, but they didn’t express any real drive, no fire in their bellies and no heat in their gaze as they talked.

It was terrible to be surrounded by shells. Absolutely abysmal. Myles, bored again, in his compartment, shoved his soft worn-down brown jacket up behind his head this time. He punched it into place, then delicately patted it tidy, and then lay down on the bench to attempt to rest. He didn’t sleep on the train: nobody did, they just…stopped being for a moment. It passed the time, and Myles had fistfuls of it to waste.

It was after around three hours of staring at the gossamer veins behind his eyelids that Myles heard a dull thumping on the compartment walls. It wasn’t on his wall, but echoed down the compartments like a domino effect in motion. It was a rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat rhythm, musically tuneful but also dreadfully unwelcome as it woke him up from his non sleep and forced him to sit up and glare around the room in distaste. Myles hoped it would stop, but the tapping got louder and louder, more insistent and angry, and finally, just when Myles had had enough, he heard the explosion.

Myles scrambled to his feet, slipping over his jacket that had slithered to the floor in his haste, and slammed his compartment door open. He flung his body half out the compartment, eyes darting left and right, his head whipping round to see if anyone else had come running to see what the hell was going on, but no, there was nobody. Myles could even hear Bradley and Phillip debating the deconstruction of socialism from down the hall, and his heart deflated sadly. He’d obviously imagined it: perhaps a side effect of the non-sleep.

Letting his head thunk back against the doorframe, Myles closed his eyes on a deep bewildered sigh. His heart was pounding, leaping and stuttering in his chest, and he couldn’t get it to calm down. He tried deep breathing, 4 in and 6 out, and listened closely to the ka-thump of his main artery as he willed it to steady and resume its regular functionality. The world smelt of raspberry jam, and Myles’ stomach rumbled, his heart giving a feeble lurch as he worked even harder to still it to its regulation beating. In his hand lay a scone, and he tightened his slim fingers around it, lifting its buttery jammy gloriousness to his slim dried lips. In his other hand a book was propped open, its spine cracked backwards to lay it spread eagle in his palm, it’s words cursive and soft with age as he skimmed them with a loving and familiar eye.

Myles blinked his real eyes open, and looked immediately down the train to room 66. The smell. The feelings, the emotions, they were swimming inside him, filling his lungs and brain up with fuzzy intense warmth. Myles pushed himself off the compartment doorframe and projected himself down the hallway, his strides long and sure. Number 66 was wide open, its hinges blasted and blackened with now gone fire, the screws embedded in the wall opposite. Myles touched one of the golden screws in the flurried wallpaper and immediately hissed, pressing his fingers to his mouth and sucking on them. They were burning hot, hot enough to melt and yet somehow still intact.

Inside the room, the black hunk that was the remains of the door of room 66 was tossed to one side. It looked as though a giant had ripped it to pieces and then become bored, leaving it to trample around inside the compartment instead. The luggage baskets were hanging off the wall, their wiring bashed in and splayed out like a crushed rib cage. The seating was akimbo, it’s cushions upside down, ripped in half and spitting out springs and cotton to the thick scented smoggy air. Myles flapped a hand in front of his face, coughing and pausing as he walked over broken glass and scorched tartan curtains to the centre of the compartment.

 It was huge in there, at least the width of three and possibly four compartments combined. Myles craned his neck backward and took in the ceiling, only to find there wasn’t a ceiling at all. Stars, millions of pinpricks of silver white light, shone back at him, smiling their wintery rays down onto his astonished face.

The moon wasn’t visible, but Myles could feel her there, ever wise and ever watching. His fingers twitched toward a pocket that wasn’t there, eager to grab for paper and pen and document his feelings in that moment, the way his heart filled with simple joy and love of the natural world. Myles closed his eyes with the reverence of a saint praying before their God, and smiled. He was home. He could feel it, so close and yet so convoluted and far.

“Myzikiel” a voice suddenly spoke, a winded and desperate sound

Myles, not Myzikiel, opened his eyes and turned on his heel quick as a whip, glass grinding to dust beneath his heel. A man, he supposed he could call him that, perhaps an ‘it’, was standing behind him. The it was dressed in blackened denim, black from its colour but also the ash of the blast that had occurred in the room. His eyes were bright green, and they were blazing. Myles had never seen such emotion, such furiosity and such determination in one gaze.

The it rushed toward him and grabbed his face in its hands, sharp human thumbs stabbing into Myles prominent cheekbones and making an uncomfortable grind of bone against bone. Sparks flickered behind Myles’ eyelids and he grimaced, trying to shove the it off him, to kick out with his legs in a weak karate move, angle his elbows to poke and jab, dig his fingernails into any flesh he could reach. It didn’t react to this, and instead shook Myles until his eyes flapped open, his teeth biting an edge inside his mouth so harshly that they drew blood from his lower lip. Copper surged onto Myles tongue and he considered spitting it onto the it’s face, his eyebrows scrunched together in harassed panic.

The it was gorgeous, a thin stripe of a bridge for its nose, nostrils flared wide in what Myles presumed was anger at his disobedience, and its eyes as green as a forest wet from summer rain to release the sweet nectar of petrichor.

“Listen! Myzikiel, stop! I said STOP!” The it hissed, dodging another swing from Myles and twisting his arm tightly behind his back until Myles yelped in pain

“Listen” the it breathed damply, hotly, against Myles neck, its lips brushing the short hairs behind his ear

“You’re not meant to be here. There was a screw up, a monumental cock up of epic…universal proportions, alright? You don’t know who I am? Huh? Come on, do you?”

Myles shook his head with one violent move back and forth “N-no”

“They took your memories, but they’re not gone, so relax and stop. Fighting. Me. You need to get out of here before the train stops, otherwise you’ll be one of them, a wraith, a spirit, a nothing. You have one chance to get out of here and I am your chance, do you understand? You trusted me once and you need to trust me again. That is, unless you want to spend the rest of time without your precious books and your high teas, then you will do. As. I. say” the it growled, his breath spittle flying between his clenched teeth

Raspberry. Books. Myles kicked backward hard, aiming between the it’s legs and hoping, for he thought the first time in his life, that the humanoid being was in fact human in some respects. The it buckled at the waist, groaning loudly and dropping Myles to the floor who ricocheted off the broken ashen door of room 66 like a flyaway rock shot out a volcano. Holding his head as it exploded in pain, Myles stumbled to his feet, falling onto all fours as he scampered out the room and legged it down the corridor, head snapping back like a fan stuck on a circular cycle as he watched for the it to come barrelling after him. He skidded to a stop at the other end of the corridor and wrenched open the bathroom, the room that none of them used due to their lack of needing cleanliness, and was in the process of barricading himself inside when a hand slapped down between the door and the door jam like the fall of a guillotine.

Myles fell backwards over the toilet and landed in the waste paper basket, his mouth dropped open in horror as the fingers of the hand dug down into the cheap wood panelling, making holes as deep as their first knuckle before wrenching the door open. The it stood in the doorway, the yellow lighting illuminating its grey wash hair, it’s angular stubbled jaw. The it looked like a batman villain, whatever Batman was, and Myles was instantly impressed and terrified in equal measure.

It grabbed Myles by the scruff of his shirt and hauled him out the bathroom, out into the corridor and up against the wall of the train. Myles’ head hurled backward and bounced horridly off the panelling behind him, sending fireworks cascading across his vision and a gasp to tumble, stolen, from his blood slick lips. Myles met the it’s eyes groggily, his eyesight dipping in and out of focus as he tried to truly take in this creature before him, someone who looked so much like a man but was anything but.

“W-what are you? What do you want from me? I- please- I just want to get off the train, please, you said- you said I didn’t belong here…” Myles garbled, his mouth full of coppered saliva that made his words slur clumsily against each other

The it slammed him back against the side of the train once more, but this time the effort that went into the contact was ham fisted, weak and unsupported by intent.

“Casimir” it said, eyes narrowed to grey green slits like moonlight hidden by grey cloud and stormy skies

“Casimir” Myles repeated, rolling the name around his tongue and finding that it was familiar to him, as though his lips had shaped the assortment of vowels and consonants a thousand times

“You called me Myze-…Myze-“

“Myzikiel, yes. Your name. Look, I don’t have time to get into this” Casimir quipped agitatedly, pushing his hands through his hair and tugging at his roots, head whipping to and fro down the train

Myles noticed “n-nobody will come out. Nobody cares on this train”

“That’s because they’re meant to be here” Casimir mumbled distractedly; his shoulders hunched as he turned back to Myles.

They faced each other up stoically, Myles apprehensive but also somewhat relieved to be ‘saved’ from the train of hell, and Casimir a flaming body of destructive fury.

“You’re an angel, aren’t you?” Myles said suddenly, a random comment in the face of things but he didn’t feel that he was wrong in this context. He pushed himself up to his full height, using his bony elbows to gain momentum from the crumpled wall behind him.

Casimir looked wretchedly at him and Myles swallowed his tongue, wanting to take his words back immediately. The it, or Casimir as he know knew, looked the furthest from angelic you could get, his body one sharp line, his eyebrows low and his ash blackened complexion further darkened by the pulsating aura of ‘wrong’ that surrounded him.

“I was. I fell” Casimir said with finality, his teeth grit so tightly together that the words were more hiss than language

“Oh” Myles deadpanned, ashamed “I- I’m sorry…I just assumed, with the rescue and all. But I- okay- sorry for the misunderstanding- but“

“but…why did you fall?” Myles asked, unable to stop the words before they forced themselves through his foolhardy lips

Casimir snorted and whirled around, his arms folded behind his head in an angular and oppressive A

“Oh, you know, consorted with a friend, fell in love, lost him…found him, all that ol’ jazz”

“You…” Myles frowned “you fell because you went to find him? Who you loved?”

Casimir nodded, a dismissive yet loaded kick of his chin. His eyes were wild in his sunken face, the green of his eyes matching the pallor of his skin as he once again rushed forward and took Myles’ face in his sharp boned hands, the non-existent pulse of his wrist wresting against the soft hollow of Myles’ cheek. Myles did not fight him this time.

Their eyes met; Myles’ heart thudded in an endless plateau. There was nothing delicate about the moment and yet it was heart wrenching.

“Yes” Casimir said firmly, eyes trained on Myles’ “and it was worth every damning moment”

Myles swallowed softly, nervously, and Casimir dropped his hands. He smirked, devil may care, and within a second the train was dissolving into dust around them, the only thing Myles could hold onto the shine of Casimir’s teeth in the gloom and the dig of his inhuman nails on his palm.

Their story, whatever it was to be, was only just beginning, and, as the dust settled, Myzikiel remembered. 

February 06, 2020 20:20

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Amanda Chan
22:07 Feb 25, 2020

The descriptions in this story are top notch! I love the way you depict Myles, and his surroundings. You have creative methods of introducing your characters. One thing I would say watch out for is punctuation at the end of dialogue. There are also some of the paragraphs which don’t fit together perfectly, as in sometimes it feels like it should be a new paragraph instead of a continuation of the paragraph. Nevertheless, well done! I was swooped up into the drama of this story. I actually think you handled the Casimir part pretty well be...


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Kathleen M.
21:45 Feb 13, 2020

Honestly, the extensive vocabulary in this story was amazing, and the imagery made me feel like I was actually on the train. The part with Casimir was a bit jarring at first, since it switches the tone of the story, but I really liked it. I don't mean to sound like a broken record, repeating what everyone else is saying, but I look forward to reading more of your writing. :D


Lauren Smith
18:38 Feb 14, 2020

Oh thank you so much! that's so kind of you to say! It's okay, no, the feedback is great and now I know it's a running theme I can work on it :) thank youuuu!


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Zosia Appleton
00:04 Feb 13, 2020

This has such great imagery - something I will try to take inspiration from in my own writing. I must echo the other comments and say that the interactions will Casimir felt off compared to the pacing of the beginning. I love you writing and will be follow in your next submissions with interest.


Lauren Smith
18:08 Feb 13, 2020

Oh bless you, that's so kind to say; thank you! I realise now I tried to stuff too much into such a short writing challenge so thank you for your feedback :) that's amazing, thank you again!


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Shannon Henry
20:35 Feb 11, 2020

I had difficulty following some of the story. Mostly the part involving Casimir. However, I also found it exciting and intriguing. The ending left me wanting more. If this is part of a larger story, it's very promising!


Lauren Smith
21:22 Feb 11, 2020

Thank you for your comment! and thank you for your input, that really helps me moving forward :) I'm glad you enjoyed it and still found it exciting despite the confusion!


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Brittany Gillen
23:01 Feb 09, 2020

I struggled a little to follow the altercation between Casimir and Myles, but the beginning was great. I could definitely feel Myles’ frustration both at his situation and his lack of memory. I liked how although he had no memories he still had feelings and desires. Definitely reads like a small part of a larger story. Myles and Casimir are both interesting characters. The bit we see of Casimir is very intriguing. Nice job.


Lauren Smith
13:58 Feb 10, 2020

Thank you so much for your comment! I was struggling to show their relationship how I initially wanted in such a short amount of words so this was definitely something I needed to work on :) it is part of a larger story too so I'm glad that came across and thank you for your kind comments about the characters! I wasn't sure how they'd come across


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