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Chapter 1. The Train Station
The bucolic building of the train station overflew with anxious travelers. The 1pm train had been delayed at a previous station when the constant rain damaged the line, causing havoc in the typically well organized railway schedule.
The stationmaster was busy trying to call the central offices for information. Two hours had gone by and people were getting restless. Even the most patient passengers were getting tired of waiting.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” started the reluctant stationmaster after giving up on the call, “Ladies and gentlemen, please.”
The noise was overbearing. He coughed to clear his throat.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please, if I may.”
As people settled down, he shuffled a few papers in his hand. These listed the measures to take in the unforeseen event of a train being several hours late. It was such an unusual incident that the papers were actually no longer pages of the Railway Emergency Protocol, but had become nothing but yellowish brittle papers he had to fish out of the Emergency trunk. This trunk had been shoved under the counter and into total oblivion many years before.
“The train is delayed,” he started in a croaky voice.
A general moan of protest stormed the room. A few of the more vocal travelers complained about the uselessness of this obvious statement. The stationmaster cleared his throat again, coughing discreetly.
“The train is delayed due to bad weather. The lines are damaged and the next train will be here by nightfall,” he announced imprudently.
“What are we supposed to do?” an angry man yelled from the entrance, seconded by some more moans of protest. “This village doesn’t even have a hotel. We were supposed to commute, not stay here forever.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, please, no one is happy about this situation. I beg of you to continue to be civil as you have been so far,” – a line of nervous perspiration rolled down the side of his face. He wasn’t ready to have to deal with this sort of thing. He had been an employee of the railway for several decades and he chose this quiet village specifically to avoid any unnecessary commotion. He was a man of peaceful thoughts and feelings, perfectly content in leading a simple life within a well-established routine.
“We have an Inn at the market square down the street, where you can sit by the fire and have a warm tea, even eat something, if you like.”
The mumbling and grumbling continued.
“It’s not raining now, but if you do not wish to go for a bit of a stroll, you can go next door to the Social Club and wait there,” he said in one breath with a hint of a sigh, probably of relief.
A young couple, standing by the ticket booth, shrugged and started off towards the Inn. A middle-aged woman holding the hand of a small child announced to no one in particular that she’d go for a walk.
One after the other, the crowd of waiting travelers slowly left the stationmaster by himself, much to his relief.
Only one stayed behind, the man who complained about the village not having a hotel.
“May I help you, sir?” asked the stationmaster hesitantly, trying not to stir up another storm.
The man mumbled something incomprehensible and walked away. He didn’t take his bag though, a curious bag with sleeves of shirts and jackets hanging out, looking like colorful tentacles of an unidentified animal trapped inside.
“Your bag, sir,” the stationmaster yelled, hurrying after him, but the mysterious man was already gone. “Umm… Where did he go?”Chapter 2: The Inn >