Monday, 9 November 2015

British Rail Gothic

This may give you some context for what follows: Regional Gothic meme.
  • Your train terminates unexpectedly at Crewe. You get another train, which promises to get to your destination, but after an hour travelling through the dark you arrive back in Crewe again. The next train does the same, and the one after. There are no exits from the station, just more platforms, more trains glistening wetly in the rain.
  • The train stops in the tunnel and the lights go off. This happens every day, and every day, as you sit in the darkness, you can hear… scraping sounds on the roof of the train. Chitterings. Once, something banged into the window right behind you, and you heard a feral cry. You pretended not to notice. You all pretend not to notice.
  • The train lurches through stations without stopping, and for a moment your eyes meet the horrified stare of an auburn-haired woman on a rural platform before she vanishes behind you. In the wake of the train, the fields burn blackly, scenery consumed even as you lay eyes on it. Your fellow passengers make genteel conversation; they chuckle about the weather.
  • The conductor's announcements are coming more frequently, but they remain tantalizingly beyond comprehension. The stations he lists – surely they do not appear on any map that you have seen. There is increasing urgency in his tone, a desperate warning he is trying to communicate, or perhaps he is pleading for your help. Yet you find yourself unable to care, you slump against the window glass and dream uneasy dreams.
  • “East Midlands apologises for the delay” says the conductor, eyes glinting behind a false smile. He passes down the carriage handing out the day's rations. “East Midlands apologises for the delay” his voice repeats mechanically. The gaunt carriage-folk huddle away from him and grumble in whispers to one another. You remain silent, faithful, hopeful: One day, you know, you will Make Your Connection In Birmingham.
  • You shiver in the air conditioning. Outside the sun shines brightly; the window is cold, and your breath condenses into ice on its surface. Trembling, you wander the carriage, and scrape at the windows, the doors. They are all smooth, without purchase for your numb fingers. You fall to the ground shivering. The other passengers tut at you and put more ice in their drinks.
  • The last train is leaving. The last that will ever leave. You run along the platform and every carriage is a writhing mass of humanity, packed impossibly densely. Limbs trail from between closed doors twitching. Your lungs burn. You run faster down the platform, past full carriage after full carriage. Bulging eyes stare at you from faces pressed grotesquely against the glass. There is no end to the train. You run on.

Attribution: please click the photos to see the originals.

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