“Attention please, the train to Jamshedpur from Howrah is about to arrive at 3:10 hours.”
A dawn of December. people were conquered by the coldness of the night. Fog had covered the area. The railway lines faded away in the blur`after 10 metres. Morning breeze cut through my face.
As I peek at the wrist watch which showed—3 am.
“I’ll be there by evening.” I click send to my beloved, Gitika.
“The train to Jamshedpur is ariving.” The voice echoed across the deserted railway. I picked up my luggage, a bag, and followed up to the platform edge, looking out for the train.
The train arrived. Only two carrier. Strange. I tried peeking inside the windows, it was all dark, like an abandoned cave. The chart glued near the gate only had two names. Each from a different station. My name was listed first. Second was someone named as Kabir Khanna. The door hung open with a loud thump, stabbing through the silence of the night. I shivered. A step taken back. Heart throbbed against my chest.I looked for the warmth of the sun to caress me. Nothing.
I stepped in with my luggage. Cold. I will ask the caretaker to turn down the A.C, I thought. Shivering with cold, I dropped my luggage, pulled out my ticket from my wallet. Seat 666. Strange. I was sure that it was printed 66. Misprint? Unlikely to happen. I stepped out of the train to re-read the chart.
B4 666 Abhimanyu singh
B4 666 Kabir Khanna
There. It is a misprint. Two people having the same seat? I stared at my seat number for a little longer.
“The train to Jamshedpur is about to leave.” A different voice announced. A tone of threat and warning. It echoed in my ears. I looked around for any official. None was at sight. No, this was not my train. I concluded not to board it.
The engine hooted. With a jerk, the train started moving forward. First, ever so slowly, like waiting for me, and soon sped up. My luggage. I run after the door. Holding the handle, I jumped in. The unusual atmosphere draped me again. I picked up my suitcase and turned towards the door. It was closed. And there was no handle. Damn!
Drops of sweat trickled down my forehead. Nervousness crawled over my spine. I looked at my ticket again. Seat 666. From a distance, a loud cry of a baby rung in my ears. Passengers. I pushed the door and walked inside. The curtains were drawn. And on them were the seat numbers printed. With heavy steps, I walked forward, reading the numbers. 01…03…05…17…28…45…60…63…64…65…666…67…
Special seat? Maybe. I drew the curtains of the cabin open, and stepped in. Empty. I heard the same cry, somewhat closer. I put my luggage under the bed, seated myself and looked out. The fading darkness. I sighed against the window pane, which steamed. I like small child drew a happy smiley with my finger.
Cough. Cough. Cough. ‘Cold, eh?’ I said to myself. I stooped to pull out the cough syrup I always carried while travelling from my bag. Two sweet spoons gulped down my throat. I looked at the window again. Sad smiley stared back at me. The unsettling feeling jumped back. A peak at the watch: 3:03 AM. The watch had left me too. I pulled out my cell phone. No signal. Battery about to die. I sighed hopelessly.
The same cry. My stomach growled like a thunder.Maybe coz I had enjoyed the packets of chips and biscuits I bought earlier today outside the station.
I stepped out of the cabin, walked up to the restroom. Flush. I came out. I looked at the mirror, then at the tap. A thought occurred to me that if I press the tap, thick blood will spurt out. With force, I pushed the thought away. Push. Water barfed out of the mouth of the tap. I rinse my face. Run my wet fingers across my face, throwing the hair backwards. My face, tired and yet eager to meet her. Gitika, Her smile. A smile curled up on my lips. I turned around and walked up to my cabin.
3:05 AM. Curtains of the cabin beside me were pulled off. I decide to say hello to my neighbours. I walked. And walked. And walked. It felt like an eternity. But almost a minute later, I reached their cabin. Three figures were seated in that numb darkness. Their head played low.
“Hello,” I said.
Silence was their response.
“Long night?” I said in my best tone.
They looked up.
I made my escape from their cabin. Their faces, flashed across my mind as I run down the aisle. Hollow eyes. Bright white, slashed face. I stumble into a hooded figure.
“Help,” I said, panting, my hands on my knees.
“Welcome,” the hooded figure replied
“Be seated and you’ll meet your destiny.”
“What are you saying?” I shouted.
“There are dead people in this train. Ghosts!”
“You’ll join them, too.” His voice was shrill and cold.
The engine roared. The train moved faster. The floor matched the speed. The door I walked in from hung open. I made past the hooded figure. Running forward, I looked forward. The train was going for a fall. The bridge was yet to be completed. It all came to me. The haunted train. The collapsed bridge. It was all connected. A train had collapsed on this bridge 30 years ago. The bridge was left abandoned. The passengers were never found. Crash. The engine splashed on the ground. Splinters of glass cut through my face. And a voice echoed
“Hello Abhimanyu,” said Kabir.
“Welcome to death train. Be seated and you’ll meet your destiny.”