Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Johnathan Sandow

My Darling Katherine,

I apologize for my delay. The train which I have boarded seems to have broken down in a tunnel which no light can penetrate. It’s been very quiet and I’ve kept to myself as to not create a disturbance. Most here, at least of those from my car, seem to have the same idea. It’s been quite scary to say the least. I believe a man a few rows down from me passed away and the man next to him somehow didn’t seem to notice. What nerves of iron he must have to remain so calm in such a situation. He should be an inspiration to all of us. He was very well prepared too as seems to have an endless supply of matches which he lights whenever he wants to look at something. Or perhaps it is simply to cover the stench of the deceased next to him. A foul odor has been growing about the car and it is a relief every time he sparks one; I can only imagine what the smell must be like next to him.

On a more pleasant note, a sweet old lady sitting a few rows behind came over to me earlier today with an oil lamp strangely enough. She sat down beside me and we exchanged pleasantries. And then, out of the blue, she started talking to me about the Bible. I was so glad too, as I was feeling quite uncomfortable and squeamish. We talked at great length about Sodom and Gomorrah and had an absolutely wonderful discussion on 1 Corinthians 6:9. You should have seen her face, Katherine. She seemed so elated to have someone to discuss scripture with. I suspect she must get shut-down about it often as our conversation really seemed to make her day. We exchanged address and telephone numbers so that we can perhaps have a Bible study sometime. Until then, if we are to remain here for longer, perhaps I shall offer her some company and we can discuss some of the finer points of Origen and his writings

Anyhow, my darling. I hope to see you in Church this weekend. I pray that the Lord shall see us all safely off this train and into the embrace of our loved ones.

Yours in Christ

Johnathan Sandow

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Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Mark Ambrose

Evening Frank, or whatever the fuckin’ time it is. I don’t know. We’ve been stuck in this blasted tunnel for what must be at least a few days it seems. I can’t be sure. I only know that I’ve slept twice since I’ve been here. Haven’t showered since before I left. I must look like a real piece of work. My face is scruffy, my hair is getting greasy, and the grime is building up in my hands. Not very respectable looking for someone in our line of work. I’m gonna need a real hot bath and some toiletries when I arrive.

Don’t worry. I still got the stuff. I haven’t allowed it to leave my side since I left. I was worried that someone might try to steal it from me in my sleep, but everyone seems to be pretty honest here. My biggest worry is that some twat will try to burn it. Can you believe it? Some fuckin’ kid comes up to me and asks if he could have my suitcase or anything inside of it to burn. I said, “No, you little fucker! You touch my case and I’ll burn you!” He got all wide eyed and buggered off. I’ve seen him a few times since, but he’s tried not to make eye contact with me and hurried past. Apparently some of the other passengers are cold. Dummys should’ve worn a better coat. You ain’t never seen me beggin’ for nothing. I come prepared.

Anyhow, despite the troubles, most people seem unnaturally calm. Why, just earlier today, I heard a gunshot followed by no screams. When you hear a gunshot on a crowded train, you expect a little screaming, but no. Nothing of the sort. Now, I was in a different car at the time and reacted the only way someone in my position could deem appropriate. By getting calmly getting off the train and nonchalantly making my way all the way passed the final car to take a piss. I don’t want no part of whatever was going on in there. I’ll just keep to myself, thank you very much.

Anyways, I’m taking a piss and I hear this rustling some cars back, near the one I heard the gunshot from. So I kind of peak around, turning my head back best I can without pissing on myself and I see a big fat butt pointing up from the ground. Well I soon discovered that the big fat butt had a big fat body when it stood up holding something with a slight sparkle in his hand. Well, it must have been something very interesting because fatty waddled off and back on board the train, all the while holding the sparkly item in both his hands, never his eyes looking up from it. I don’t know why that stuck out to me as peculiar. It’s not like it was the most interesting thing to happen on this trip. No, far from it.

Let me tell you, since we have arrived in the tunnel, I have not seen one single employee. It’s like they all just disappeared. Not a fuckin’ clue of them anywhere. Now that I think about it, the calmness of everyone seems that much more fucked up. In fact, the only person who even seemed to panic even remotely was some scrawny fellow who made a run for back where we came. The stupid bastard didn’t even have a light. There could be miles of darkness that way; he’s likely to trip and break his neck or run face first into a wall. We don’t even know if the entrance is still open. For all we know, we could be trapped in here and that fool running off into the darkness is likely to end up dead.

Oh fuck, me. Listen, if this letter reach you before me, know that I’m not letting go of the package. Hold tight and I will arrive.

-Mark Ambrose

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Sam Davis

Yesterday a young girl left her mother’s side and began walking in circles, chanting ceaselessly. “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” It was quite chilling, really. She attacked a man who tried to help her and then went back to her circle as though nothing had ever happened. Today she collapsed to the floor and died. A gunshot next to my ear went off and put a bullet in her head, apparently just to be sure. The bang was unexpected and left me doubled over, temporarily deaf except for the ringing. Save for some people that entered our car from the front, there was almost no commotion, or at least none that I could tell. I was too busy dealing with my own problems.

Stumbling to the back of the car, I pushed the door open and stepped outside. As soon as my feet touched the ground, I bent over and puked. There seemed to be no-one around me to witnesses my grace, so I slumped down against the cave wall on the dark side of the train and lit a cigarette as I watched the car.

How tragic that so few reacted. Surely they must have heard the gunshot. Perhaps they did hear it and were reacting cautiously, though if they were I certainly didn’t notice it and all I heard was the terrible ringing in my ears.

As I smoked my cigarette trying to comprehend what had just happened, I happened to see something reflect it if the corner of my eye. I don’t know why I initially got up to inspect it, though I suspect my subconscious telling my mind to cease considering what had happened on the car had something to do with it. It was a little copper name badge, one worn by much of the staff of the train. It seemed strange to find this outside the train and stranger still that I don’t think I’ve seen a single staffer since before we entered the tunnel.

I hate to cut my letter short, but the letter carrier shall be departing soon and I should be finding someone to show this badge to. I don’t know who or how they could help, but if I can find someone who could make use of this information, it’d probably be best if he knew before the letter carrier departs.

Sincerely, Sam Davis

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – President Seymour Wellington

Terrance Adams Lincoln, you filthy little twat-wrangler. It has come to my attention that there are those in this world that are at least as qualified as you to do your job. Until now, I have turned a blind eye to your personal proclivities because you did such exemplary work that I had great difficulty believing that there was anyone as competent as yourself. I see now that I was very mistaken. No longer shall I allow your indiscretions to risk tarnishing the reputation of my company. If I don’t have a exemplary report about how you’ve cleaned up from Ralph when I return, you shall have only your personality with which to woo those street walkers you’re so fond of. I hope I have made myself abundantly clear.

Sincerely,

President Seymour Wellington

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Bart Mankinson

Dearest Mary,

Should I ever evacuate this journey and return home to you, I fear I shall forever be a bitter shell of the man whom I once was. The journey back from my trip that started out so enjoyable took a degrading turn when we lost motion and light traversing through the Sanderson Tunnel. While most of the passengers seemed to take it with stride, the business man in front of me was all too quick to express his displeasure and has continued to express it for two days. I must say that it has put quite the damper on my mood. If not for his continued mutterings, I may have been able to patiently enjoy myself whilst I wait for the train to return to motion.

He was actually quite pleasant when we took board of our journey, sitting there quietly going over what appeared to be business work. I say this only because of the way in which his papers were strewn about his lap and seat; rest assured that I was not snooping. Anyhow, the train suddenly seemed to lose power and slowed to a stop. After a few moments of silence, I heard him mutter something to the effect of, “Is this really what my ticket has paid for? Does not my money go towards the experience?” His grumbling only grew stronger until someone eventually came through with some old oil lanterns they had found in one of the storage cars. He was apparently placing them at key points on the train to make things easier. That is until the businessman in front of me berated the poor bastard into hanging it by his seat.

“What do you think you’re doing?” He said. “Don’t put that there, I absolutely must have that lamp over here. I have very important work that must be done and it doesn’t stop just because of disaster.” The poor boy tried to explain the necessity of placing the lamp where he was but the man would have none of it. “Don’t you sass me, young man! I am doing far more important work than you can possibly imagine and the rest of you can deal with a little dimness so that I can do what must be done.” The boy tried to reason with the man, but eventually he relented and placed the lantern where the man saw fit. I slipped the poor boy fifty dollars just for having to deal with the wretched man in and among everything else so that he might be able to get some much needed enjoyment when we get out of here.

Full of grumblings and mutterings, the business man attended to his work, almost constantly complaining and cursing under his breath. A short while ago when the Postmaster announced that he was going to attempt to walk his way out and offered to deliver any correspondence free of charge, the man immediately stopped what he was doing, pulled out a large stack of paper and began furiously writing letters and stuffing them into envelopes. So enthralled by his speed and ferocity, I couldn’t resist but to look over his shoulder and glance at what he was sending off.

Oh Mary, I wish I had not. Such an offensive string of obscenities laced with phrases such as fanny bandit and twat coddler. I don’t even know what that could possibly mean and I’m certain that I don’t want to know. Sweet darling, how I long to return to the gentle embrace of your arms and soft demeanor. Please know that I am safe for the time being and that for the most part, my time has been uneventful, though annoying.

Your loving husband,
Bart Mankinson

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Maxwell Hart

Dear Emily,

I regret to inform you that my arrival has come under delay. Shortly after we entered the tunnel portion of our journey, the locomotive simply gave up the ghost so to speak. I’m not sure what caused the issue; I only know that I was on the scenic car enjoying my pipe tobacco when the lights went out and the locomotive slowed down to a stop. As the people on the car with me hurried inside, I remained patiently behind as to avoid the hustle and bustle of the commotion as well as to finish my smoke. Running inside with the rest of the frightened souls would’ve done me no good and shall have only ruined a good smoke.

When my pipe had burned it’s last, I decided then that I should perhaps make my way back to my seat to make sure my luggage was safe from hooligans who would use such an opportunity for their own misdeeds. As I made my way through the cars, groping the tops of seats so as not to trip on anything, I could hear the quiet breaths and fidgits of frightened passengers. Though it seemed strangely calm, I chalked it up to some instructions that I had perhaps missed by remaining to finish my tobacco. I later learned that no such instructions were given as all the members of the crew seem to have vanished as though raptured away by some unseen force.

Making my way through the dining car, I looked forward to sitting down comfortably and reading the news paper I had purchased before entering the train. I figured I could read peacefully by flashlight while I waited for everything to start again. It was in the dining car that I heard the whimpering of a small child. I took out my torch and found the source of the sound hiding underneath a table. It was a six year old boy named Nathaniel Manx. He was writing a letter to his mother when the power went down. It took quite coaxing to get him to come out. Apparently, his mother had instilled an unnecessary amount of “stranger danger” fear within him. I reason that I must have sat with him in the dining car for a day before he came out because I at one point fell asleep for what must have been six to eight full hours. In fact, he didn’t even accept food from me until after I had awakened because he was hungry enough at that point that his hunger overcame him. Unfortunately, by that point all that I was able to offer were some stale bagels and doughnuts from behind the counter.

Anyhow, he eventually came with me to my seat and I’ve become something of a comfort to him in his time of distress. I’ve learned that we was to visit his aunt and uncle on Sparrow Avenue. I believe that is just a street or two down from your house if I am correct. Their names are Carol and Stephen Hupper. If you could be so kind and let them know of their Nephew’s situation, I would be most grateful. I would take him myself with the postmaster, but I honestly don’t know what we’ll encounter in this tunnel and I don’t want to put the lad in any danger. He’s had enough of a time as it is.

My regards and I hope to see you soon,
-Maxwell Hart

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Samuel

Hello Danny,

I’m afraid my train has gotten caught in a bit of a spot. You see, there seems to have been some sort of a total power failure and we have not progressed for about two days by my estimate. Quite annoying, I admit, but we’ve managed to make a jolly old time of it. Some of the men have conscripted me into helping out with some of the labor. One of my tasks is to keep small fires going as the tunnel we are trapped in seems to have no source of light. Unfortunately, the fuel I gather has to be from various luggage that the other passengers don’t care about and burnable yet unnecessary equipment and crates from the train as there seems to be nothing to burn whatsoever in this dark tunnel. Thankfully, we haven’t had to burn much as most passengers have seemed quite content to just sit quietly in the dark.

I found a few oil lamps in a car near the front that seemed to be a holding area for emergency supplies. What few I found we’ve hung up in and outside of key points on the train. Strangely, one old woman seems to have brought her own. I can’t fathom why she would bring such a thing on a train ride but it has made things easier for everyone.

Anyhow, my helpfulness has not gone unrecognized. The men who’ve been working the rounds have taken notice and invited me into their circle after the work was done last evening. We played cards and they gave me whiskey and rolled cigarettes. I nearly choked on my first smoke and gagged on my first drink. The men broke out into hysterics over this and though I felt ashamed at first, one of them gave me a firm slap on the back and said in a gruff voice, “We’ll make a man of you yet!” and everyone followed with a “Hear, hear!” I realized then that this was some sort of ritual that they have all been through at some point in their life and they probably didn’t just enjoy these things naturally.

Having developed this comradery, I have now taken my first steps into manhood. This disaster has turned into a sort of self realization for me. All the things I used to enjoy seemed so trivial and these simple pleasures are what really bring true happiness. Oh, I’m sure I’ll still get joy out of my old fancies, but this experience has made me much more grounded and for that I am most grateful.

Anyhow, I hope this letter reaches you. The postmaster is going to make an attempt to leave the tunnel by foot and has offered to deliver any messages we might have to those on the outside to let them know of our predicament.

Your good friend
Samuel

P.S. Should you receive this before I arrive, please send word to my mother to let her know that I am alright. She’s probably worried sick that I didn’t phone to inform her of my arrival.

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Jacob Edger

A child died today. By my estimate, she was somewhere between ten and thirteen. I don’t know what happened. But it shook me to my core. It was not long after the lights went out and the train stopped. We were sitting there in our seats quietly. It was pitch black and no one spoke a single word as though there was some form of unspoken etiquette about being trapped in the dark with a  bunch of strangers. It had been perhaps hours since everything stopped when it started to happen.

There was a shuffling, and then the sounds of feet walking across the train floor. Then, a soft and gentle voice started to speak.

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

And then the voice spoke it again. And again. And again. And so forth.

We could not see anything, but we could hear the steps and the voice. They would fade slightly and come back repeatedly. Finally, I lit a match and leaned out of my seat to see what was going on and there was the girl of whom I had previously spoke of dying. She was walking in a circle, face looking down to the floor. Some of us tried to speak with her, but she did not respond. She just kept walking in her circle. One man tried to see if he could help. He got down on his knees and put his hands on her shoulders. She flipped out, went into some kind of rage while never moving from her spot. Flailing and screaming hysterically, she bit his thumb and it bled profusely. He lurched back to his seat and she went back to repeating her line and walking in a circle as though nothing had happened at all. That was the last time anyone tried to help her.

She did not stop for sleep, nor drink, nor food, nor bathroom. She just kept going all day, all night, and what I presume to be all the next day. And then she just collapsed. Her body didn’t move. She had no breath. And according the individual who eventually got down to check the body, no pulse either.

“She’s dead,” he said.

Then there was a loud bang and a spray of blood. No one was quite sure where the sound had come from, though it was definitely in our car. When our eyes gazed back to the body, we noticed a whole in its head. That’s when a voice spoke from the shadows.

“And now she won’t be coming back,” it said.

I don’t know who fired that gun, there was only enough light to see the body. About three people, a man and two women, rushed in from another car to see what had happened. They were horrified at the dead body when they saw it. The man started shouting questions, demanding to know what happened. No one answered. They just sat in their seats and fixed their gaze straight ahead like I did.

I never considered myself a Christian man. Now I’m sure of it. There is no God. What I am not sure of, however, is whether or not there is a devil. If there is, however, I have reason to believe he is here with us right now.

To whomever finds this letter,
Jacob Edger

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Jessica Wildersen

Dear Sarah,

Apologies for my lateness, but the train that was to carry me to West Hampshire seems to have broken as I have been trapped in this tunnel with no power for two days. Don’t worry about me for I am doing very well. To be honest, I’m actually finding this quite liberating. Sure, in the beginning, I was annoyed, but after a time it felt quite freeing. We fall into these repeated gestures in order to uphold the standards of society, but for what? To appease some unspoken form of dignity? Why?

A nice young woman gave me a pair of jeans and a dark green tank top to wear (or at least I think it was dark green, I couldn’t really tell because it was so dark) so I wouldn’t have to sit in my formal dress the whole time. It was very nice of her and she just happened to be my size. I must say, the clothes she gave me are extremely comfortable and honestly, I may want to start reserving formal wear for special occasions rather than everyday. Thankfully my boots, though high in heel, are very comfortable and supportive. Though they look a little silly with jeans and tank top, they are certainly better than going around barefoot.

I know what you must be thinking. “Barefoot!? On a train?” Well, the change in attire did want to make me take my boots off and kick my feet up, but instead, I’ve been constantly bustling around, helping out with the hard work. Now don’t scoff at me, but I think I rather enjoy getting my hands dirty. I’ve been helping out where I can and being of use to people. I figure if that nice young woman can help me out, than I can help out too. I helped collect useless junk from the various cars to use as fuel to make a fire. It’s amazing how much old useless junk is left hidden away in the compartments of the trains and the non-passenger cars. All in all, we found quite enough that we should be able to make a few more days worth of fires if we have too.

Speaking of fire, some of the men set up a table near the fire outside the train and started a card game called poker. I must say, it was quite fun and they were kind enough to let me have one of their cigars and some whiskey. I must say that I did not handle them well. It was really awful and I cannot figure out why men smoke and drink such things, but they seemed to get quite a kick out of me attempting it. That’s when I noticed the girl who’d given me the clothes earlier. She was standing in the shadows smoking a cigar and had seen the whole thing. She laughed and then gave me something of a nod of approval as if to say that it’s okay. I laughed and looked away somewhat embarrassed. I’d like to be friends with this woman, but when I looked back up, she was walking into the darkness. I only ever see her for very brief moments, but when I do, she always seems to be helping someone.

I’m afraid I must let you go, Sarah. The postman is coming around to collect the letters. He’s going to get help and has offered to take any messages we have with him. Hopefully we’ll be out of here soon, though I am grateful for the experience. It has taught me much.

Your friend,
Jessica Wildersen