Image Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/train-railroad-dark-50517/
The carriage jostled back and forth, its monotonous rhythm putting the two girls to sleep. The journey had already lasted for nearly fifteen hours, with the final stop due to arrive in the next half hour. The branches of the surrounding murky forests whipped by the small window to the twins’ sleeper cabin, the darkness obfuscating their true shape, leaving harrowing tendrils reaching out to the train’s body. Overhead, the cabin’s steel roof resonated with a harsh thud, the ceiling bending under the weight of an unknown mass that had just landed on the top of the train. Maya roused first, rubbing the sleep from her eyes as her ears tuned into the low rumble of footsteps on top of the carriage, barely perceivable over the mechanical churning of the train’s wheels.
“Freya. Wake up.” Maya called out to her sister, asleep in the bed on the opposite side of the cabin.
Freya groaned unenthusiastically, “Just five more minutes, Mum.”
Maya pushed her thin travel duvet off her body and swung her legs around and off her bed. Listening intently, her eyes squinted, and brows furrowed. The footsteps seemed to be patrolling the carriage roof, getting quieter for a time and then returning with renewed vigour. Maya paused breathlessly, honing in on the exact location of the footsteps.
The footsteps stopped.
With a screech, the ceiling above the girls was torn apart as large, blackened claws ripped into the carriage’s surface.
“FREYA, GET UP!” Maya shouted at her sister, kicking herself out of bed and grabbing the sheathed blade hung off a hook to her right.
Freya winced, her eyes slowly opening as light crashed into her awareness, “What the heck is that noise?” grumbled Freya.
“No idea! Here,” Maya tossed the other sword to her sister, “It doesn’t seem to be particularly friendly, whatever it is.” The roof of the cabin crumpled as the intruder smashed its fist into the metal fascia; in a frenzy the creature’s claws dug into the steel, the moonlit sky slowly revealing itself to the twins.
Freya shook her head in an attempt to wake herself up, grabbing the sheathed sword that had landed on her stomach. With her other hand, Freya tossed her sheets to one side and knelt at the ready on her bed. Her hand returned to her side, her fingers wrapping around the blade’s hilt in anticipation of the upcoming encounter. Through the newly formed holes in the ceiling, Maya caught a glimpse of the pale faced visage staring down into the cabin. The creature’s eyes were a milky white, its pupils missing; its mouth was agape revealing a large writhing tongue and jagged teeth. Doubled over, it stared down into the train; Maya’s hand twitched, ready to unsheathe the blade in an instant. The creature howled as it reared backwards on its two legs.
The sound enveloped the girls, their ears ringing in pain, “By the Gods!” Maya reached up with her hands, dropping her sword to the floor to cover her ears. Freya grabbed the blankets next to her and frantically smothered her head. Blood trickled down Maya’s neck as her eardrum burst, her balance became shot, and her world mired in tinnitus. The scream continued for what felt like an eternity, before both of the girls collapsed – their hands falling limp at their sides.
The creature fell silent, its eyes dropping back into the cabin to survey the damage it had caused. Ripping the now dilapidated roof off its hinges, the beast dropped into the room with the girls. With one of its webbed hands, it scooped up the first of its prey, placing Maya’s head in its mouth greedily.
The Ink Well Prompt #14:Railroad was the inspiration for this short story. You can join in by following the instructions here: @theinkwell/the-ink-well-prompt-14-railroad