I’m going to explore the train. Though I have not seen a soul since we boarded except her, I’m certain that we are not the only people aboard. I can hear someone coming. The woman? I will report back after.
It was the ticket master. He only had three fingers. Dead eyes. He took my ticket, reached into his pocket and gave me some green bread. He smiled. No teeth. His uniform was dazzling. Brilliant pressed, white shirt. Mine is yellowy orange around the collar and cuffs from sweat. His navy blue waistcoat was ironed and the creases sharp. It fitted him well. I was shaking when he took my ticket, terrified of his dead eyes. I haven’t eaten the bread yet. I noticed his name badge said ‘Mr W_.’ He didn’t have a shadow. Probably left it behind at the station. There is a weevil in the bread. I am too hungry to care.
The bread was repulsive. I was sick out of the carriage window. The dust outside congealed the vomit so it became a mass of unset concrete the instant it fell out of my mouth. I felt better afterwards. I couldn’t see if the extrusion plastered the side of the train. It was lost in the dust storm.
Detail to note – Mr W_ didn’t take my ticket. I only thought he did because it is such a normal exchange of gestures. But I did give him something. But what? Thought it was the gazebo photograph, but it wasn’t. That was in the back of the diary. Odd as I usually keep it on the front. Could someone be reading this? Or moving my things around? Must keep diary closer. Haven’t discovered what Mr W_ took from me, only that he gave me bread and I ate it. That dead eyed expression, I have seen it before. I shall write down now as I remember it and before it becomes just another sand dune in the growing desert of my mind.
Memory of Dead Eyed Expression.
The white paint on the handlebar of the tricycle was flaking. I remember picking at it with my middle finger. I am seven years old. I like the slight pain as the flakes stab under my nail. The trike is mine, although my sister will claim it was always hers. She is buried without it now, and she never mentioned it after the age of thirteen, but before that it was always her tricycle. I call it Silver Shadow. The metal handlebar is black and red from rust. It resembles a sickly bone exposed by the flaking paint. The trike is on its side upon the grass. I am sitting by it. My sister has dressed me like a doll. I don’t mind. I never did. I just sit on the grass picking away at paint. I pick at everything. At scabs. Turning over rocks and pebbles to pick at the soil. I used to cut myself with glass and nails so that it would scab over and I could unpick it. I shake this habit when I meet Lucy as it repulses her. Nobody ever minded but her. At aged seven, on that morning by the trike, I have no scabs to pick and so I pick at the paint. The red dust is in the sky. It wasn’t like that in ‘reality’, but that is how I now remember it. Red dust everywhere. I grow bored of the flaking white paint and look around. I see my sister by the pond. She looks happy and sad at the same time. Happy in her summer dress. It is white like the trike and has ivy sewn on the hems. It is her favourite dress. She is nine. I walk up to her and push her into the pond. She screams and splashes. I am laughing. Then I see a fish, it is staring up at me. Dead eyes. Expressionless eyes. Within those eyes I judge myself and my actions. The fish does not move. I do not move. My sister is gurgling and struggling. The fish swims away. I am helping my sister out of the pond. She has wild eyes, manic and livid. She chases me round the garden. She throws the trike at me. It strikes my head and I fall down onto the edge of a paving stone. When I come back around my family are all standing over me. They are all worried. My sister has a dead eyed expression. Behind her, I can now count fourteen cyclones of dust eating the horizon.
Mr W_ had the same expression when he handed me the green bread. I hadn’t thought once about the near-drowning of my sister since the day it happened. The concussion had wiped it from my mind. Only now do I recall it. The fish, the trike, the ivy on the dress. The eyes. Mr W_ knows something, perhaps everything. I must investigate him. I shall keep a running list of investigations.
- The woman with the ‘Tumour Baby’ – where is the child? Why the nosebleeds? Why the ear-bleeds? Why the change of dress? When did she get on the train? At Holstenwall?
- Mr W_ – how is he alive? What of the tramp? A twin? How can he make me remember what I have forgotten?
- Who, if anyone, moved the photo of the gazebo from the front to the back of the diary?
- The number 278
- The eye and ferris wheel symbols. Why in my carriage? Are they in others?
- Find Brekker.
- Decipher The Dream.
- Find Lucy.
- Sleep in under a 50 count.
I will now go and investigate the train. I will make a note of every carriage. I hope to find:
- Travellers to talk to.
- Some answers.