As Halloween approaches, it seems appropriate to share this tingling little short story…
Inspired by a small story idea I had while waiting for a train one cold winter morning.
Encounter on the Platform
I love these crisp, still, winter mornings… leaving the house in the dark, not so much.
As I make my way across the platform to claim a seat in the shelter, there’s only a scattering of people at this quiet, suburban station at such an ungodly hour.
Just as my spot on the bench warms up, I’m forced to shuffle over and make room for one more. A small woman, she’s dressed head to toe in black, hooded by a chunky knitted hat, face pallid in the blue light of approaching dawn.
She sits close, so close we share the same pocket of icy air. She reaches down into her ample handbag. I expect her to take out a phone – all the other commuters are in their e-bubbles – instead, she takes out a small, battered, hardback book. Curious, I peer over her shoulder. The typeface cramped on the tissue paper thin pages.
Her lips flutter as she absorbs and silently recites the words. She raises her eyes ahead to the tree-line, my gaze follows.
A watercolour wash of pink seeps up the trunks.
She drops the book into her bag, an urgency in the motion. Next, she takes out a small tube of what looks like hand cream. I notice the number 50 shouting from the label.
She squirts a liberal dollop of the cream into her hand and fiercely rubs it onto her cheeks, along her neck, and over her hands, coating every inch of her exposed flesh.
The rails rattle and whirr, lights slowly swell on the horizon. Phones are stowed, seats abandoned, what seemed like a sparse gathering of passengers, morphs into a thick snake along the yellow line.
The lady in black gets up and lifts her bag. It’s only then I notice she’s dropped the bookmark from her New Testament. I bend down to pick it up.
She turns, our eyes connect.
“You dropped this!”
I hold out the bookmark, blink twice, not sure I’ve read the logo on the bookmark correctly: ‘Nosferatu Anonymous’.
She thanks me with a nod, a soft smile drawing her lips away from startlingly serrated teeth.