Word Count: 2,838
Abby awoke with a start. The carriage had lurched forward, nearly toppling Abby off her seat.
“Are we here?” Mrs. Strinbrall asked. Abby sat up and brushed the blonde hair away from her eyes.
“I don’t know,” Abby said as she stretched.
“We have arrived,” Mr. Strinbrall exclaimed as he pushed open the carriage doors, “Grab your belongings and follow me, ladies.”
Abby climbed out of the carriage after her father and grabbed her bags. Mrs. Strinbrall followed suit and the family was soon inside the station.
It was unusually busy for a cold April afternoon. The Strinbralls waded their way through the crowd and stopped at a lamppost. Mr. Strinbrall started rummaging through his pockets. After a few moments, he pulled out some dollar bills.
“How much are the tickets, dear?” Mrs. Strinbrall asked.
“75 cents,” Abby’s mother replied, “If I’m not mistaken, those prices have risen.”
“The price must meet the demand,” Abby said. “And there seems to be many buyers.”
“Very good, Abigail. I’ve taught you well.” Mr. Strinbrall counted his money, “Abby, you stay near this pole while your mother and I purchase the tickets.”
Mrs. Strinbrall agreed and picked her things up again, “I love you, darling. We’ll come back for you at noon.”
Abigail smiled, “I love you too, mother.”
Mr. and Mrs. Strinbrall left Abby to purchase the tickets. Abby watched them until her father’s hat disappeared into the crowd. Abigail looked up at the large clock in the middle of the station. 11:20 am.
Abby sat down on a bench and waited. And waited. And waited. When the clock struck 11:50, Abby stood and surveyed the area. Mr. and Mrs. Strinbrall were nowhere to be seen. Abby just sat back down and people-watched.
Unbeknownst to Abigail, a man sat down on the other side of the bench. His clothing was unusual and his shoes were no different. People stared at this unusual man, but Abby thought they were looking at her and simply brushed it off.
Finally, the clock struck 12:05pm. Abby looked up at it in shock, then back at the train. People were boarding. Abby jumped up and ran (as best as she could with her large dress) towards the train.
Walking alongside it, she looked into each window for her parents. After reaching the end of the train, Abby began to search for a second time. She began to worry, and speed-walked next to the train, calling out “Mr. and Mrs. Strinbrall!”
As Abby neared the lamppost she had sat near, the train let out a puff and started moving. Abby whipped around to see the train heading out of the station.
“Abigail!” she heard a voice yell. Abby looked to the last train car and gasped. There was her mother and father, leaning out one of the windows, shouting her name.
“Mother! Father!” she yelled, running as close to the train as she could, “Why did you board without me?!”
“We were rushed on board! We did not have anytime to get you!” Mr. Strinbrall explained.
Abby hesitated before speaking. They were nearly as far as she could go, “What should I do?!”
“Buy a ticket for the train tomo-” Mr. Strinbrall was cut off by the train exiting the station.
Abigail just stood there, defeated, watching the train disappear into the distance. What was she to do? She did not have enough money to stay somewhere and buy the ticket, only one.
Abby slowly turned around and made her way back to the bench. The strange man was still there, but this time Abby noticed him. She still chose to ignore the young man, though, and sat down and began thinking. She had a dollar in coins. One single dollar. That could hopefully last her a day, even if the ticket cost 75 cents.
The mysterious man leaned forward and stared at Abby, making her wildly uncomfortable.
“Can I help you, sir?” She said, still refusing to look at him.
The man shook his head as if waking from a trance, “What’d you say?”
“I asked if I could help you,” Abby repeated.
“Uh, yeah, sure. Do you know where this train will be coming in?” The man showed Abby his ticket.
“Well, sir, it would be coming through over there,” Abby pointed to the empty track, “But this is a fake ticket.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“Yes, it is, sir,” Abby said,” If it was real, I would be taking it.”
“Are you not from here, too?” The man asked. His eyes seemed to light up and a grin grew on his pale face.
“I’m from New York,” Abby explained, “but I missed the train back.”
“Oh,” the man looked disappointed, “What’s your name again?”
“I don’t recall telling you in the first place, but my name is Abigail. Abigail Strinbrall.”
“I’m Martin Flinnbaker,” The man said, then smiled, “Would you like to walk with me?”
Abby hesitated for a moment, but then replied, “Yes, sir. Where to?” To her, Martin may have been a bit weird, but overall he seemed pleasant and kind. It didn’t occur to her that she didn’t know this man, but something about Martin made her feel like she had known him forever, and that she trusted him completely.
“To my train, of course,” Martin stood and held out his hand towards Abby.
“Mr. Flinnbaker, I already told you, that ticket is a fake,” Abigail said, “But, I will walk with you.” Abby took Martin’s hand and stood up. Martin took her bag and carried it under his arm as they walked.
“Where are you from, Mr. Flinnbaker?” Abby asked.
“Why do you ask?” Martin replied.
“You seemed to be eager to learn where I was from, so it’s only fair I know yours.”
“I’m from California, out west,” Martin said.
“I’ve never met someone from the West. I’ve only read articles about them.”
“The newspaper articles from when it became a state, around five years ago.”
“Oh, those articles. I should’ve remembered that,” Martin nodded his head as he talked, “How come you are heading to New York?”
“I live there with my parents.”
“Why’d you leave?” Martin asked as they rounded a corner.
“We visited mother’s sister and husband. They live on this large plantation,” Abigail explained, “It is pretty, but I prefer my house.”
“My garden is much better than the Sherman’s. It’s my pride and joy, so I take good care of it.” Martin inquired more about her garden, so Abby started describing it.
She described the hedges and how they were perfectly trimmed, how the flowers were arranged, and the pond and it’s perfect little lily pads.
“The farm sounds much better to me.”
Abby was offended. No one had told her her garden was worse than a farm, “Excuse me? I would like to think my garden is at least a tad better than a farm.”
“Maybe it is in your head. I think plantations are much better. They feel so secluded and peaceful.”
“My garden is al-” Just as Abby started to talk, they reached the train tracks, “See, as I told you, there’s no train.”
“It’s late,” Martin looked at his watch. Abby had never seen one like it, “Give it a moment.” Abby rolled her eyes.
“Mr. Flinnbaker, if there was a 12:30 train, I would be taking it.”
“Then why don’t you?” Martin asked. He reached into his pocket and revealed a second train ticket. Abby paused, but eventually took the ticket. What harm could it do?
“Thank you, Mr. Flinnbaker.”
“Please, just call me Martin,” Abby nodded while Martin took off his hat, put it under his arm, and set down her bag, “Had you ever been to your aunt and uncle’s before?”
“Yes, once a year since my brother was born.”
“How old were you?” Martin asked.
“But you are young.”
“Martin, I am nearly 20, I wouldn’t call that young.”
“You’re young to me. I’m nearly 39,” Martin chuckled.
“You don’t look a day over 20, Mr. Flinnbaker!”
Martin laughed again, “It is both a blessing and a curse.”
“I wouldn’t think so,” Abby said.
“People don’t take me seriously. They see a young-looking scientist and nearly always think I’m new to the field.”
A scientist! How exciting! Abby thought, but she had no time to express her admiration before the sound of a train caught her attention. Sure enough, when she turned to her right, she saw a train entering the station.
“I told you,” Martin said smugly as the train slowed to a stop. Abby was too busy looking at the station schedule to reply. There was no 12:30 train to New York. She was sure of it.
“Tha- that’s not possible!” Abby exclaimed.
“And why isn’t it?” Martin asked.
“It’s not on the schedule! It shouldn’t be here!”
“Well, it is here, and we might as well take it,” Martin stepped up onto the train and turned around to hold out his hand, “Are you coming, Abigail?”
Abby hesitated, “How do I know for sure this train is going home?”
“The tickets,” Martin held up his ticket in one hand and kept holding out the other, “Please tell me you are coming. I enjoy your company.”
“Martin, I’m flattered, but-”
“But what? You’re scared? Would you rather wait until tomorrow evening to get home or right now?”
“Then come on! The train can’t wait forever!”
Abby reluctantly grabbed Martin’s hand and pulled herself up. Martin picked up Abby’s bag and they made their way down the aisle to Martin’s desired seat. Martin sat down first and motioned for her to sit next to him, but she sat across from him. Martin seemed annoyed and set her bag down next to him.
A few other passengers piled into the train, but they all seemed… off. Abby noticed that they all seemed to be glowing. Now, not like good-looking “glowing,” but actually emitting light from themselves. Abby voiced her concerns to Martin, but he brushed them off.
“Sounds like it’s just your imagination,” he said, “I don’t see anything.”
Abby just nodded and looked at the passengers two rows away from them. He was glowing, but there was not sun shining on him to do that.
“But look at that man several rows back. Is he not glowing?” Abby asked.
Martin turned around and looked at the man, “He is not, Abby.”
Abby quickly turned back to the man. How was it possible? He had stopped glowing. To Abby’s dismay, as she looked around, no one was glowing anymore. Abby rubbed her eyes, but they still were not glowing.
As the train started to move, Abby turned to Martin and asked, “Wherever did you get these tickets?”
“A close friend of mine sent them to me, so I could visit him. His wife has fallen ill.”
“That’s too bad. Is it smallpox?”
“No, she has already had that. I believe it is cholera.”
“I think my niece was infected by that once. My brother said she suffered greatly.”
“As with Andrew’s wife. He wrote to me describing her pain. It sounds horrible. Andrew needed help around his estate, so he sent for me.”
“Why didn’t he call for someone closer to him?”
“I do believe I may be one of Andrew’s only friends. Which is sad, because he is a nice man, but he doesn’t social-”
“Tickets, please,” A man standing in the aisle said. Abigail and Martin handed him their tickets.
“As I was saying, he never goes out of his was to socialize,” Martin continued, “His wife does all the talking.”
“He sounds like my mother. She never talks unless spoken to.”
“Really? Usually, women are the social ones, not the men.”
“Men and women both should be social. What good is a person with no friends?” When Martin didn’t reply, Abby continued, “They are certainly no good. Even the lowest of the low need to make themselves known.”
“And who are the lowest of the low?”
“The poor, unmarried mothers,” Abby began listing off categories of people when Martin interrupted her.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Really? Why not?” Martin leaned back in his chair.
“Why do you care?”
“No reason,” when Abby continued to stare at him, he spoke again, “I don’t support slavery either, I just want to know why slaves are not the lowest of the low.”
“They’re people too. They have decent beliefs, families, everything a Caucasian person can possess.” Abby explained.
“Not everything,” Martin said, “Not land.”
All Abby did was nod. She hated talking about slaves, mostly because of her opinion on them. She hadn’t met anyone besides Lily who she could talk to about the subject, and even Lily had a different opinion on it.
After some brief silence, Martin spoke, “Do you have any plans for when you get back?”
“Some family friends are coming to dine with us. The Thims are coming all the way from Maryland to see mother, and I can only assume Mr. Frederick is only dining with us for me. You see, my friend Katherine is hoping to marry him, but I think he…”
Martin listened attentively as Abby talked about her affairs until his watch struck 1pm. He looked at the other passengers. They were starting to glow again as the train sped up. It had to be going at least 90mph, but it wasn’t enough. It had to be going at least 110mph, and they were running out of time.
Martin stood up and faced Abby, “Excuse me, but I think I just saw a friend onf mine in the other car.”
Abby barely had time to say “OK” before Martin rushed down the aisle. He walked through the next passenger car, through the fake coal car, and finally into the fron engine.
It was empty, as Martin had planned, so he had no problem taking over the controls. With the press of a button, Martin opened up the train’s electronic control panel and started fiddling with the settings. Somehow, he had to override his own creation and go 20mph faster, or else he would never make it back to 2019.
Meanwhile, Abby was sitting down, staring out the window. Despite the abnormal speed the train was going, she didn’t notice anything wrong until she made eye contact with the same man from before.
“I knew it!” Abby exclaimed when she saw the man’s glow. Her first thought was to tell Martin, which she did.
Abby rose and patted her dress down before making her way to the other train car. To her shock and somewhat horror, it was empty.
“Martin!” Abby called out as she searched, “Mr. Flinnbaker!”
Of course, Martin was nowhere in the passenger, and Abby had no success in finding him. She sat down and pondered what to do about Martin missing, until she noticed the door to the coal car open.
That must be where he went, she thought to herself. She stood and walked over to the coal car. She quickly noticed it was empty, and thinking it best to return to her seat and hope Martin was alright, she turned around and went back to her train car.
Martin, on the other hand, had finally managed to increase the train’s speed. As the train sped up to 110mph, Martin sat down and strapped himself into a chair. This would be a bumpy ride.
Martin reached for the microphone connected to the speaker system he had put in the train, “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, this is your…”
“…conductor speaking. As we’re nearing our final destination, and final speed for that matter, I do recommend you fasten your seatbelts and hold on to something.” Abby looked around, trying to find where Martin was. She had heard his voice, but he was nowhere to be seen. Abby pinched herself, to see if she was dreaming, but she did not wake up.
Abby panicked. Where was Martin’s voice coming from? Why did he say “final speed”? Where was he? Suddenly, two pieces of fabric and metal clamped around her waist. She tugged at the “seatbelt” to no avail and eventually followed Martin’s voice’s instructions to hold something.
Abigail looked out the window. The train was going at an incredible speed. She had never gone this fast before and she was definitely scared. Abby started to hyperventilate and sweat. The top of the hill was growing closer, and the train kept gaining speed, and the other passengers kept glowing more and more until it all stopped.
For a quick ten seconds, everything, including Martin and Abigail, was frozen. Abby tried to scream, but she couldn’t open her mouth. Nothing inside or outside were moving. The birds were stuck mid-flight, the leaves were no longer swaying in the wind, and a passenger’s dog’s tail was no longer wagging.
And just as fast as everything had stopped, there was a large blue flash, and everything went black.