February Free Fiction

In my last post, I made a pledge to blog more for readers, particularly those who aren’t writers. So, with this in mind, I thought I’d share a short story that I wrote in July 2011. I’ve updated and improved it in the last couple of days so I really hope you enjoy it.

 

Uninvited

 

Jasmine stared out the window, marvelling at the breathtaking scenery flying past. This was her first major trip alone and she was so excited. As the sun began to set behind the distant hills, the colours streaking across the sky brought tears to her eyes. She had never seen anything so exquisite.

As night fell, Jasmine got ready for bed. She pulled the hidden bunk from the wall and climbed under the covers. It was surprisingly luxurious and with the rocking motion of the train, she was soon asleep.

A whispering voice woke Jasmine sometime later. She lay in the dark, disoriented and confused. She listened carefully for the voice she thought she heard but the only noticeable sound was that of the rails on the track. Believing she had dreamt it, she closed her eyes and was soon asleep once more.

Less than thirty-minutes later, more whispering awaked Jasmine. The voice did not disappear this time and lying on her bunk, she strained to decipher the words. The voice had an ethereal quality that she had never heard before yet for some unfathomable reason, she wasn’t afraid.

She reached out and pulled the light cord above her head, flooding the room with dazzling brightness. Blinking furiously to accustom her eyes, she noted the voice had disappeared. Her eyes swept the roomette yet nothing had changed. She shook her head, turned off the light and, just as she was about to close her eyes the voice started up again, only louder.

“Help me! Please help me! I’m going to die!”

Jasmine froze. Not only was the voice clearer, it was closer. The phrases repeated over and over, in a plaintive voice, like a litany. Slowly Jasmine reached her hand towards the direction of the sound; she felt something icy cold and filmy brush against her fingers and she jerked back, a squeal of fear slipping from her lips.

The voice hushed at the sound. Jasmine lay unmoving for several minutes as she calmed her thundering heart. She propped herself up on her elbow and tried to peer through the inky blackness to see what had startled her, but nothing was visible.

Suddenly several deafening crashes reverberated around the confined space, like someone, or something, was pounding on the walls. Jasmine pulled her knees up towards her chest and hugged them as she shivered in fear. The pounding came again, louder than before, and then a third time but so loud she had to put her hands over her ears.

The temperature unexpectedly dropped a few degrees and Jasmine could see her exhaled breath form a silvery vapour that swirled around like smoke in a gentle breeze. Now she was extremely frightened. She had seen plenty of horror films and read enough books to be blessed (or cursed, depending on your viewpoint) with quite an active imagination, but this wasn’t a scene from the latest slasher movie or supernatural blockbuster. This was happening right now!

Silence blasted her eardrums almost as effectively as the pounding had. Gradually the temperature, and everything else, returned to normal. Jasmine remained curled into a tight ball for many minutes, nervously waiting for something else to occur. All was quiet. Soon her muscles began to relax and she slowly stretched herself along the length of the bunk.

Jasmine’s eyelids grew heavy as the swaying motion of the train lulled her towards sleep. Her lashes fluttered as she yawned, but just before her eyes shut, she heard what sounded like sharp fingernails dragging across a chalkboard. Her eyes snapped open as the noise set her teeth on edge. She climbed down from the bunk and moved towards the window where the excruciatingly annoying din appeared to be coming from. She reached a trembling hand forward and yanked the blind with such force it continued to revolve after it hit the end stop.

Looking back at her through the glass was the face of a young man. She staggered back in shock, fell over her feet, landed on her rear and screamed.

His face was sad as he stared back at her. It was battered and had what appeared to be blood caked to the side where the skull caved in. Recovering from the shock, Jasmine arose and approached the glass. She put her hand flat against the window, her hazel eyes sad, and mouthed, “I’m sorry.” The man put his hand up to hers and smiled gently before vanishing into the night.

Removing her hand, she could have wondered if she was dreaming, except for one thing – a smudged handprint on the other side of the pane.

 

Jasmine couldn’t resist chuckling, when at breakfast she heard a couple animatedly discussing a story about the train being haunted by a boy who had been murdered on it twenty years before.

* * * * *

I’d really love to know what you think of this – please feel free to comment or critique!

 

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7 thoughts on “February Free Fiction

  1. It’s an interesting story, not least because you don’t often find a ghost story set aboard a train. I liked all the effects experienced by Jasmine on one horrifying night-journey.

    A few honest points to critique (and I always welcome critique, too!):

    1. “awaked” in para 4. If I’d been editing this, and if it were my own, I would have changed that to “awoke”, “roused”, “startled her awake” rather than “awaked”.

    2. “his face was sad” “her hazel eyes sad” – in the same para. Perhaps I would have chosen another word for sad in the second instance.

    3. Jasmine “chuckled” at the end (the end being rather rushed – I would have loved more of a twist or learning how the boy met his death) – this makes her seem rather heartless considering she was so “sad” and empathetic towards him only a few hours before.

    4. My honest thought when I saw Jasmine chuckling at the end, when the other passengers were discussing the ghost? I thought she must have killed him. But, then, that didn’t make sense of the sadness she felt in the presence of the boy/man ghost. Unless she regretted the act.

    Well, that’s my honest tuppenceworth! You are always welcome to critique anything of mine but I am missing belonging to a writers’ group at the moment and felt happy to critique! My old group, run by amazing Bernadine Evaristo, taught me lots about critique and what to do with it once you have it 🙂

    • Thank you for your critique, TT. Here are my answers in response.

      1. You’re absolutely right – I checked my first draft and it had ‘awoke’ on it. I didn’t change it so all I can think is that when I ran the grammar check on the final version, Word changed it automatically (or I hit the wrong key)!

      2. Good point – I missed that one. Normally I would have picked that up, but . . .

      3. Jasmine wasn’t chuckling because she was heartless or because he had been murdered, she was chuckling because the couple were discussing a ‘story’ that she knew was actually true. I could have embellished the ending, but decided to leave it to the reader’s imagination!

      4. No she definitely didn’t kill him & had nothing to regret.

      If you want me to critique anything of yours, just point me in the right direction!!

      Thanks for taking the time to read Uninvited!

      Carlie x

  2. Duh! I get it now, that ending. When I first read it, it was ambiguous but then ambiguity can be effective, particularly at the end.

    Well, you could critique some short stories of mine from 20 years back which were published but that would be a bit pointless! Also, all my old stuff is on an old computer or old-fashioned ‘floppy’ disks. The only writing of any note that I’ve done for over 15 years was in November with NaNoWriMo, so maybe you could cast your eye over my WIP when it’s in any fit state to be read 🙂 Thank you!

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