Weird Fantasy / 715 words
PREFACE: This is a standalone 6000 word short story that has been split into 6 parts for convenience. It is fully written, with a new installment scheduled for release every week until completion.
Nobody thought it was real.
When the new stations were built throughout Paris and its suburbs, word-to-mouth spread their peculiarities quite quickly. Advertising claimed that tickets would be free for all. Many thought there would be a catch… they were not wrong.
Anyone wanting to use this new service was required to sign a contract. Some did not bother to read it, but those who did noticed the fine print that spelled it all out clearly…
First, you could only get one-way tickets.
Second, by signing the ‘agreement’ — that was their word for it — your soul became the property of the Company.
No one in their right minds would have believed any of this. I certainly did not.
Those who used the service, since they could not return with the same train, decided to ride the regular on the way back. At least they’d only pay for half the trip.
As time passed, people went missing. They left with the train and never returned. Complaints were raised, but the Company would just bring out the signed contracts. They had provided service one-way only and could not be held responsible for whatever happened after arrival. Law officials studied the documents but, albeit the odd terms, could find no fault with them.
The historical companies — SNCF and RATP — which had initially worried about this new entity, began to relax. If passengers disappeared, surely folks would stop using these one-way trains and the Company would eventually go out of business.
But, human nature being as it is, people continued to use the Twilight Stations — as they became known. Some because they did not believe the stories. Others because they did, and hoped for some sort of thrill ride. A few even saw it as some strange and painless way to commit suicide — one day you were there, the next you were gone. I doubt any of them considered what might happen to them after they’d disappeared.
In case you’re wondering: No, I’m not suicidal. In fact, I’ve always avoided the mystery train. If I’m sitting in one right now, it’s because of my younger sister. Angela.
Our family moved to France ten years ago. I believe it had something to do with legal issues involving some of my father’s former business associates. He never talks about it, and I never ask. I suspect I wouldn’t want to know.
After living on the Riviera for a couple of years, our parents found this nice little house in Issy-les-Moulineaux. Mother teaches English in a nearby school while father takes the subway into Paris — he works for a bank in the fifteenth arrondissement.
Three years ago, a Twilight Station was raised a mere two blocks away from us. We pointedly ignored it. Until, that is, an emergency arose.
Last week, my sister’s best friend — Sophie — was mugged and roughly beaten. She was hurt enough to end up at the hospital. Mother had taken the car to work, so Angela — who was desperate to see her friend — decided to ride the train.
It was a stupid thing to do, but my sister has always been impulsive.
Under normal circumstances, she would have ridden a bus or taken the subway, but both were on strike that day — one of the perks of living in France — and she did not have enough cash to cover a taxi fare. The mystery train, however, was there — waiting next door, ready and available.
When we found the note she had left behind, we immediately hurried to the station… but it was already too late.
We never saw her again.
My parents went to the police, but all they could do was report her missing. A lawyer was hired, but he too was unable to act. The Company itself was unblamable.
The minute she had boarded that damnable train, Angela had just vanished into thin air. The station claimed she had reached her destination safely. They even provided video footage of her getting off at their Montparnasse station. Yet, no other trace of her could be found anywhere. And she definitely never showed up at the hospital. That was proof enough that something had gone terribly wrong.
I should stop writing. I am getting off at the next station and must be careful not to get caught…
[TO BE CONTINUED]
Text © 2021 by Alex S. Garcia.