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.

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