Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Fieldcrest R. W. Wallace the Sixth

To whom it may concern

My name is Fieldcrest R. W. Wallace the Sixth. I am writing to inform you of the dissatisfaction I have over your locomotive as my choice of travel. The experience I have had has been most displeasing and I shall not be using your company again, nor shall I recommend your services to my colleagues. The troubles I have had on your railway have been most disappointing and I can think of no such way in which you can make satisfactory reparations. Allow me to explain to you why I am so dissatisfied.

I had a business arrangement in Albany. Being so close to West Hampshire, I decided it would be in my best interest to take a locomotive from Bethany and renting a motor car when I arrived to maximize my relaxation time before I had to get down to work. I procured numerous periodicals to determine which would company would simply be the best for my leisure. Not only did yours get the highest ratings, but it was especially detailed on how remarkable the food was. It explicitly noted how astounding your cheeseburgers were. With such high marks, I immediately wired for a ticket to what I expected to be the highlight of my journey.

I must say, when I first boarded the locomotive, my  experience was quite delightful. A charming member of the staff assisted me to my seat and helped me to stow my luggage. After which, I made my way to the dining car to read the periodicals and enjoy a nice cup of coffee and a simple plain doughnut. The coffee was brewed to perfection and the doughnut felt and tasted as though it were fresh out of the oven. Top notch. Being late in the morning but not yet lunchtime, I had the car mostly to myself save for one other passenger and a child who delightfully ran through the car with glee. It warms my heart to see children be children. With the right sense of adventure, they could grow up to be great businessmen like myself.

Some time passed, though I cannot say how long as I was caught up in such relaxful delight, and the lights went out and the train slowed to a stop inside one of the tunnels carved out of a mountain. I waited for what must have been perhaps thirty minutes when I decided to spark a match so that I might check the time. Why, it was past lunch! Not only had the locomotive not resumed course, but no one had come around to make my cheeseburger. Hours and hours I waited, and yet still no cheeseburger. Outrageous. By this time, I needed to relieve myself but could not find my way to the bathroom. I ended up doing what the ruffians do and stepped off of the locomotive to do my business. While mildly liberating, it was most undignified and embarrassing. Thankfully, it was exceedingly dark that no one could see me. Why, I couldn’t even see my own male part and am simply grateful that I did not urinate on my shoes.

It is now the second day and my neck is sore from sleeping in a train seat. I have missed my business arrangement and have not yet had my bath. I am very displeased. Why has your company done nothing about this great injustice? Surely you must have known something was up when your locomotive did not arrive in Bethany as scheduled. I have no doubt that it is the bureaucratic paperwork that is causing the delay. No doubt many forms have to be signed in triplicate to get anything done. Perhaps if you cared more about a strong work ethic than paper, we’d have been out of this mess shortly after it started.

I’m not demanding that you make this right. It is of my current opinion that there is nothing you can do to make this satisfactory. I expect a full refund when this whole ordeal is sorted out and I shall not be recommending your services to any of my colleagues ever.

Dissatisfied with your service,
Fieldcrest R. W. Wallace the Sixth

PS. I still have not consumed one of these much raved about cheeseburgers. What are you going to do about that?

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Bruce Thomas

Dear Sam

I hope this letter reaches you. I’m trapped aboard a train with many others and I fear for our lives. Considering it’s been two days and no one has shown up to help, I believe someone wants us to die. Allow me to recount the events that have transpired since I began my journey to West Hampshire.

When the train left Bethany roughly two days ago by my estimation, nothing seemed amiss. In fact, I recall enjoying a late coffee and English muffin in the dining car almost immediately after I got on board as I had missed breakfast. I took my time making sure to savor every last bite as I knew it would be the last I would get to eat until lunch time barring some fruit that is kept out for anyone who wants something to snack on. Aside from the one member of the wait staff who was attending to me, I cannot recall another soul in the dining car except for a small child who ran through excitedly and a rather plump mustachioed man reading the newspaper with his coffee. When I was finished, I left some change as a tip and made my wait to my seat in the car behind.

For a train with one hundred and ninety-six people on it (staff included according to the registry I later found) my car seemed surprisingly empty. I chalked it up to the train’s new “Scenic Car” at the rear which I’ve heard is absolutely breathtaking. It was all as well to me. It’d give me some quiet time with my newspaper. However, it was nearly halfway into the tunnel by my estimation that the train lost power and came to a stop. It’s wasn’t a sudden stop or even the train slowing down at the hand of the conductor. It just lost power and slowed down until it came to a full stop.

I waited quite some time before I eventually arose from my see. Though I could see nothing, I could hear people frightenedly returning from the Scenic Car, groping their way back to their seats. A few of them used lighters or matches. Some of the more prepared ones had a small hand flashlight that they used. There was a lot of talk and worry, though no one had gone into panic mode yet. As time passed, people gradually grew more and more annoyed and began bickering, though nothing led to any violence, not in my car at least. Eventually, when night came, or at least what we assume was night by checking a pocket watch, we all went down for a very uneasy sleep.

When we awoke, everyone was groggy and grumpy, though no one really had anything to say. Most people got up and stepped off the train where the air wasn’t so stuffy. In fact, there was a gentle coolness outside. Though we couldn’t see anything except by the few matches and cigarette glows, it was really refreshing. Holding up my lighter to the walls, I could see that this train tunnel wasn’t much of a tunnel. Instead of being something expertly built, it was literally just a hole carved through a mountain just big enough to get a train through with some tracks laid down. No smooth walls or ground to be found whatsoever. How anyone ever considered this tunnel finished was beyond me, but it’s been used for well over a hundred and fifty years, so who am I to judge. Still, one would think it would’ve at least been modernized for safety reasons.

As the day went on, or at least I think it was day, I slowly made my way towards the front of the train. The people in forward cars seems strangely relaxed to their situation. Trying to make the best of it I suppose. Better than terror and panic, that’s for sure. The front three cars of the train are for authorized personnel only, so I was pleasantly surprised when the first door to the restricted part of the train was unlocked.

 There were twenty-eight narrow beds built into the walls in this car which meant that this was the crew’s sleeping quarters during those really long journeys. The beds didn’t have any blankets or pillows or anything. They just had backpacks and personal belongings which leads me to believe that this car hasn’t been used for sleeping in quite a long time. Instead, it was just being used as a place for the crew to stow their stuff. I rummaged through a few of the backpacks. Found some snacks, a couple of flashlights, first aid kit, and some random junk. The flashlights would be handy as it meant I wouldn’t have to use my lighter to see all the time.

 The next car was clearly a break area. There was a small refrigeration unit, a table with some cards, some lockers, etc. Not much else. The next door led to the engine of the train, but it was locked. I cursed under my breath and went back to the sleeping quarters and began rummaging through everything for a key, but couldn’t find anything. Cursing again, I made my way back to the passenger car. A young girl was waiting outside by the door. She smiled at me as she chewed a piece of gum. Asked me if I had found anything. I handed her a candy bar and showed her a few flashlights. She had a sly way of telling through my disappointment that I wasn’t finished looking, but couldn’t get any further. I’m not really sure what it was, though she knew there was something else upfront that I couldn’t get to but wanted to. So she asked what’s stopping me. When I told her a locked door, she pulled a couple of bobby pins from behind her ears. They weren’t holding her hair in place which lead me to believe she had skills that were less than reputable. Still, I was glad she had them.

After going back in, she began to work at picking the lock of the door to the engine right away. She asked me not to point the flashlight at it as it would only distract her. Upon inquiring where she learned to do this sort of thing, she just smiled at me and winked without ever slowing down. I asked her for her name. She told me Nina and that was it. And almost immediately, the door opened.

We stepped inside and pointed the flashlight to see a body slouched awkwardly over the controls. It was the engineer. He was dead. It looked like the side of his head had been slammed into the side of the wall with enough force to kill him. Inspecting the trauma, his head was actually quite soft at the point of impact and I could feel little pieces of bone sliding around underneath his skin. Strangely, there was no blood, broken flesh or bruising. It was as though the bone on one side of his skull just suddenly shattered inside of his head and killed him. I honestly don’t know what could kill a man in such a way and quite frankly, I don’t know if I want to find out.

As I returned to the front with Nina, I decided to keep quiet about what I saw. No telling how the others would react to such news. The Postman will be taking my letter to you. I feel it my duty to attempt to maintain the safety of the other passengers here despite what little good it’ll probably end up doing. Should you receive this, send help.

Regards

Bruce Thomas

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Gunther

Martin,

I believe I watched a man die yesterday. He was just sitting there in the dark, the only light coming from the match of the person next to him trying to see out the window. It was a rather frightening thing to see. He was just sitting there peaceably to himself with his hands folded in his lap when suddenly, his entire body tensed up and his eyes rolled back into his head. His mouth opened wide as if to gasp but no sound came out. Then his body just slumped back into his seat and he hasn’t moved since. The bastard sitting next to him didn’t even seem to notice. Just kept looking out the window until the matched burned to and scorched the tips of his fingers. After that, I couldn’t see anything.

I fear this train ride may be my undoing, Martin. We’ve been stranded in this blasted tunnel for two whole days now. Why hasn’t anyone come yet? Bah! It’s all rubbish now, isn’t it? Well, I’m not waiting to die. There’s a letter carrier here who’s decided to venture out of the tunnel and get help. He’s also offered to deliver any letters people might have so that their friends and what not may know what’s going on. I’ve offered my company to the bloke. The way I see it, I don’t want to die here with the rest of the poor sops and if something really terrible has come, well, he’s gonna need some help. It’s a win-win for the both of us really. Now I’m just waiting for him to tell me he’s ready and we’ll be off.

Martin, it fucking spooky out here, I have to tell you. I’m standing outside the train writing this letter by the light of my cigar. It so quiet that you can hear a drop of water fall from much further down the tunnel. You’d think I’d be able to hear all the people on the train moving around and talking, but really they’re not doing much of anything. Aside from the occasional polite conversation, it’s extremely quiet. It’s as though some uncomfortable acceptance has overtaken them. All the more reason for me to get the fuck out of here. I seriously don’t want to be around when whatever happens happens.

Well, looks like he’s coming, so I’d best put this away. Nice! Looks like he managed to get his hands on a flashlight. This little walk’s going to be easier than I thought. Hope to see you on the other side, mate.

-Gunther

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Ester Heraldine

Dear Mildred

Pardon my lateness but I have been stuck on the train for almost two whole days. There seems to have been a power outage of some sort and we’re stranded in the tunnel. I’m not sure how much longer it shall be, but I hope the power is restored soon; people seem to be getting restless. I admit, it is a long time to sit and my legs are getting a bit stiff. I imagine people would like to get out and stretch their legs a bit. I’ve noticed some men have stepped outside to smoke their tobacco.

Listen Mildred, you know I’m no prude and I know people need to de-stress, but don’t they realize how awful that tobacco is? Why, the Collins boy, you remember Jimmy, well he died a few months back from emphysema. He was only forty-three years old. I think it was due to all that tobacco he smoked. I heard that he smoked two or sometimes three of those little cigarette boxes a day. He didn’t care none what it did to him. He just liked the way it made him feel. Can you imagine? He tried to hide it, but I cannot fathom that he enjoyed all that coughing. I think he just had too much pride to admit he was wrong. There’s a reason pride is a deadly sin and the Collins boy is proof.

Speaking of sin, I’m beginning to think this train is turning into a haven for the devil. I saw this older man flirting with a young girl who couldn’t be anymore than twenty-three and then walk off into a restricted part of the train. I think they were up to some hanky-panky. It’s simply disgusting the brazenness some people will have in a public setting. At least the queer boy in the next row over seems to know enough to hide his shame in public and not flaunt it. He just remains quiet and keeps to himself. I wonder if anyone has talked to him about Jesus yet? Perhaps I should go sit with the boy after I hand this letter over to the nice postman. He seems like such a sweet child. It’d be a shame for him to burn in Hell on account of his sin.

Also, I’ve heard a few people using foul language. It seems the more time we spend on this train, the more obscenities I hear. It’s as though Satan himself has grabbed ahold of these people’s tongues. Why, it’s making me just a little bit frightened. Hearing someone utter the word “blast” is bad enough, but some of these words begin with f and d. I even heard a word that began with the letter c. I don’t know what it meant but I did know that it was horribly offensive.

Not all is bad though. Some people are making the best of their time. One gentleman appears to be writing a correspondence to someone by match light as to not wake up the gentleman sleeping next to him. It’s so sweet to see someone being careful not to disturb those around him. I, myself, am actually writing to you by oil lamp.

In case you’re wondering, it was found in your sister’s attic. Apparently, it had belonged to your great-great-grandfather. He was a seaman of sorts and took this lamp everywhere he went. It lit his cabin on the boat and his way when he walked. It helped him to deal with a great many foggy nights. Anyhow, I was visiting your sister for tea and told of how I was coming to visit you. That’s when she sprang up and told me to wait as she ran into the other room. When she returned, she was holding this oil lamp. That’s when she told me all about the lamp and its history. She asked me if I would bring it to you because you so love to study family history. It even has the initials MHD carved into the side for Martin Henry Dennison; the same initials as you. A find like this is ever so delightful. And even though it hadn’t been used in over a hundred years, it was still full of oil.

I’d hope to have it all preserved for you when I arrived but it is ever so dark in here and I needed some light source some of the time. But, you’ll be pleased to know that it works splendidly and the light that it casts is most comforting. I cannot wait to hand it to you when I arrive. I hope that this letter reaches you in good fortune. And don’t worry for me. I have many other activities to keep me company. I brought my crosswords and my knitting. I cannot wait to see you again. Ta-ta!

Your friend
Ester Heraldine

Letters from Unsung Heroes: The Train – Johnathan Millowsborough

Dearest Joseph,

I am writing to inform you of the delay of my arrival. The train leading into West Hampshire from Bethany seems to have fallen into disrepair on the tracks inside of a tunnel. It’s quite dark in here and I am writing to you by match light. Genevieve was wrong to laugh at my purchase of one thousand wooden matches. She was also wrong to laugh at my bringing of quill and ink with me. “What if I were to get trapped in tunnel?” I protested. Looks like I have the last laugh now.

We’ve been trapped in here for about two days now and the cabin is beginning to stink. I believe the man next to me to have suffered an aneurysm and passed onto the next life a day and a half ago. I’m surprised that no one has been dispatched to come help. This train ride was only to be six hours journey and it broke down merely two hours into the trip. I find it difficult to believe that no one has thought to investigate.

A postmaster who has grown justly impatient has announced that he will collect any letters we have and deliver them to their loved ones free of charge. He’ll be traveling by foot and by my estimation, there are at least three or four miles left in this dark tunnel, so it is my hope that someone has a flashlight that they can lend the gentleman. Otherwise, I shall fear for his safety.

Should this letter reach you before I, good Joseph, please send help right away. This has been a terrible that we are all in and we desperately need help.

Respectfully

-Johnathan Millowsborough