Ticket to Paradise

Today’s writing prompt over at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie is Train Ticket.


Geoffrey was late for everything, so it was no surprise that he missed the last train to Paradise, PA. The next one was scheduled for 9:00 pm that night.

“But that’s three hourrrrrs from now…” Geoffrey whined to the ticket person—Sybil, according to her name tag.

“I knowwww…,” she whined back to him. “Do you want the ticket, or not?” She popped her chewing gum.

“I guess,” he sighed. “Thank you, Sybil.”

“That’ll be $229.95.”

“Why the extra hundred?”

“It’s the Silver Bullet,” Sybil explained.

“So?”

“So… that thing goes like the wind! You’ll be in Paradise in half the time it takes a regular train.” She put her hand over his and patted it. “You won’t believe it!”

Geoffrey jerked his hand away. Although he liked it, he wasn’t used to a woman’s touch. “No shit?”

“I shit you not, Geoffrey.” Sybil gave him a playful wink.

Geoffrey blushed and paid her for the ticket. “Uh, I guess I’ll browse around in the gift shop while I wait.”

“It’s a free country.” Sybil was grinning at him but wondered if she meant it, or if she was just teasing him. He figured it was probably the latter, since he was unlucky in general, but especially with women.

“Yeah, I know,” he muttered. Droplets of sweat began to form on his neck, so he loosened his tie. Being around women always made his neck sweat. He never learned how to ‘play the game.’ Hell, he didn’t even know what the game was.

Geoffrey perused the book rack, but found he’d already read most of the titles. He wandered over to the magazine section, but nothing interested him. He picked up a Sports Illustrated and flipped through it anyway.

Suddenly, Geoffrey heard a low rumble and felt the floor vibrate. The rumbling grew louder as the train got closer, howling into the terminal.

It screeched to a stop and the doors slid open. The engineer was merely a grayish shadowy figure.  There were no passengers on the train and Geoffrey was the only person boarding.

He spun around to face Sybil, “I can’t be the only passenger. Can I?”

“Everybody makes this trip alone.” Sybil said gently. “Don’t be afraid.”

“To Pennsylvania?” Jeffrey demanded. “I wanted to go to Paradise, Pennsylvania! You know, in Lancaster County?

“Yes, well…”

“I-I-I-I’ve changed my mind. I-I don’t want to go!”

“You have to. Your ticket is paid for and it’s your time.”

“My time? My time for what?” Geoffrey’s neck was really sweating now.

“It’s all part of the plan, Geoffrey…” Sybil smiled dreamily. “All part of the plan…”

“What plan?” He screamed. “Dammit! What plan!?”

The engineer getting was impatient. “Geoffrey!” He snapped. “Enough of this! We all have to go sometime. You don’t want to be late again, do you?”

 

Atlas Obscura

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