Disclaimer:If you recognize it, it's not mine
Author's Note: Please read and review. Bonus points to anyone who correctly guesses where the inspiration for the main characters came from (there's a clue in the title).
In the British Isles there is wealth of folklore regarding roads and the things that haunt them. Railways, being the product of the industrial revolution, generally didn’t, at least not in the UK. In the pre-Halloween world this counted for nothing of course, after all, stories or the absence thereof had no bearing on matters of practicality. Then Halloween happened and all the stories became real. Refugees needed to be moved around and the roads were often too dangerous, inhabited by their own unique menaces as well as the usual ones, the most the trains usually had to face was the occasional ghost train and the various threats that could be found everywhere in the New World. Not to mention that they often had the Law of Superior Tonnage on their side, with many monsters finding that their existence didn’t end with a bang or a whimper, but with a very loud splat.
So it was easier to see why the trains were often considered to be the safer option for those who had no choice but to travel outside the walls of a refuge. Not many lines were actually running, many were permanently crippled by damage and the fact that most of the people who knew how to operate the trains were either dead or buried under new personalities, but the ones that were still going hauled hundreds of passengers every week, sealed up inside carriages covered in improvised armour. Train times and schedules were a thing of the past, if you wanted to catch a train all you could do was go to the station and hope that you weren’t still sitting around waiting twelve hours later.
Eight year old Lauren had been waiting for almost four hours, one of a crowd of children who were waiting to be taken to a new fort, their parents having either been killed or replaced by characters who hadn’t the slightest interest in looking after anyone. Either way, they were orphans, some altered, some not. Lauren fell into the latter category. Tired and hungry, she shifted uncomfortably on the hard bench.
“You alright,” asked a rather deep voice, dark eyes looking at her with concern.
Ben was all she had left. Like her parents he’d been changed by Halloween but he’d stayed with her and done his best to look after her, although when she’d tried to tell people that most of them had given her funny looks for some reason. Lauren didn’t care. He was her friend and he kept her safe. When the bad guy who’d replaced her dad had tried to hurt her, Ben had been the one to fight him off, hurling himself at him and chasing him out of the house. When she got scared he was the one who comforted her.
Looking down at the dark haired young man sitting on the ground by her feet, she put on a brave face.
“Yeah. When’s the train going to come?”
Ben scratched at his ear.
“I don’t know. Soon I hope. I hope there’s food, I’m getting hungry.”
A little way away a couple of older kids gave her odd looks. She ignored them.
“Where are we going?”
“I’m not sure. Don’t worry, it’ll be an adventure. There’s probably all sorts of good things there, like chocolate.”
“You’re not allowed chocolate, it’s bad for you.”
The two boys sitting next to her got up and wandered off. Lauren tugged Ben’s jumper.
“You can sit up here now.”
“What about the boys?”
Ben jumped into the empty seat and curled up, legs tucked up in front of him. Lauren snuggled up against his side, comfortable at last.
They stayed in that position until the train arrived some time later. It was a huge, ugly, diesel powered thing, three carriages long with only a few spots of the original paintwork visible under the muddy coloured armour, the windows erased by plates of sheet metal. The brakes squealed as it pulled into the station, causing Ben to grimace and flinch. Everyone else gave a collective sigh of weary relief and started to file towards the train doors, shabby, shell-shocked looking normals mixing with those who’d caught the full brunt of the spell. Lauren and Ben drifted trainwards somewhere near the back of the orphan group. By some unspoken agreement, the assorted adults stood aside to let the children on first. A tired looking guard, his name tag identifying him as Wedge, watched them file past, smiling slightly when he saw a girl with a large black Labrador.
“Nice dog you’ve got there.”
Lauren nodded. Ben just snorted.