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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Can Stop Love

Luke sat in his car in front of the old café. His fingers gripped the wheel tightly, his knuckles turning white as his breath created a fog upon his windshield. The car was off. He had pulled over to the side of the road to collect his thoughts for a moment. He and his fiancé of three years had just suffered a terrible breakup. Words were said. Obscenities were shouted. Doors were slammed. And hearts were broken.

As Luke sat in the cold, he had time to think it over. Was it really worth it? Was throwing away the best relationship and years of happiness over a stupid terrier worth it? He glanced out the passenger window at the old café. His eyes widened when he saw the sign. Le Coffee. Luke didn’t realize it when he pulled over, but this was the very café where he and Jessica had first met. Was it a sign? Luke leaned forward and looked up at the sky through the windshield. At first it was a single, but then a second ray of light broke through the clouds, as though they were just for him. Hell yeah it was a sign.

Luke looked at his watch. He frowned. In fifteen minutes, Jessica would be boarding a plane to visit her family in Florida for the Christmas. And then, well, and then he might not ever see her again. At the very least, he couldn’t let her on that plane without saying he’s sorry.

With a turn of his key, Luke started the car and peeled rubber. If he was going to make it in time, he was going to have to break some speed laws, but you know what they say. You can’t stop love. Within seconds, Luke was going sixty-seven MPH in a thirty-five MPH zone. He soon passed an intersection going a cool seventy-eight, startling a parked police officer causing him to spill his hot coffee all over himself. The blue lights came on, but Luke took no notice.

As he approached the town’s border, the road was blocked by a couple of granola type people pushing a fruit cart across the road. Was. Luke plowed through that fruit cart like it was the eighties and he was one half of a buddy cop team. Watermelon, oranges, and bananas were everywhere. It was of no concern to him, however, as his goal was fast approaching. The airport was within his sight.

With a sweet power slide, Luke parked his car right in front of the airport entrance, thereby blocking normal traffic, and ran inside. Racing down the twisting corridors, he pushed his way through various people trying to find the correct terminal of Jessica’s departure. Jumping a turnstile, he caught the eye of a security guard who started running after him, but Luke was just too damn fast. Taking a brief stop to look down the terminals, he spotted Jessica about to board a plane. With extreme gusto, he ran through the security gate, pushing down other passengers waiting their turn, only to be tackled to the ground by a TSA agent. The rest of security soon caught up and held Luke down, placing him in handcuffs as he fought to no avail to free himself..

“JESSICAAAAA!” he screamed.

The only woman who turned was a large blonde woman who was not his Jessica. She was clearly frightened by this and hurriedly boarded her plane.

Luke was arrested and charged with multiple misdemeanors and felonies including evading police, criminal speeding, destruction of property, resisteing arrest, and illegally passing through a security check point among other things.

Jessica found out about Luke on news. Though she had regretted her break up and was planning on calling him as soon as she arrived in Florida, she was terrified of the insane man Luke had become and decided to move to Montana where she started a whole new life.

Blonde obese Jessica became paranoid of and slightly aroused by the strange handsome man who she believed was stalking her at the airport. She made sure to keep her doors and windows unlocked in case he ever got out of prison.

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 – 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 – 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 – unsigned

Dear mother,

I am right now on the train to grandmother’s house. A splendid vehicle this is. Did you know that trains have dining tables? Really, they do. It’s a special car where you go to eat. Have you ever eaten in a vehicle, mother? I plan I shall do so come noon. That’s when the schedule says they serve lunch.

I can’t wait to tell grandmother all about my train ride. I love looking out the windows to the countryside. It’s so beautiful to look at. Especially on such a sunny day like today.

Wow! We just entered a tunnel. It’s so neat and dark outside the windows yet the lights make it so cheerful inside. I want to live on a train, mother. I can’t imagine a better way to live.

<unsigned>

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