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Sep 18

Penny on the track

Posted on Friday, September 18, 2009 in Poems and things

Ruby boarded the Dart at Bray train station and sat facing the front, choosing beautiful coastal views over sights of suburbia. She settled quietly, slipped a stockinged foot from her shoe and rested it on the seat opposite, then removed her book from a battered shoulder-bag. She dived into its imaginary world as the carriage doors chimed loudly to signal their closure, and braced herself against the silent electronic backward lurch as the train began its journey.

Several passengers embarked to join Ruby in her lonesome carriage at the next station, but she was too engrossed in her novel to notice. The train heaved and threatened to topple her bag… she saved it and in doing so lost her place in her book, causing her to sigh and roll her eyes.   She then noticed the girl.

A black haired doppelgänger sat on the opposite side of the carriage, with her hair tied up in the same fashion as Ruby’s own. She wore a blue tee shirt that matched the colour of Ruby’s jumper almost exactly. They both wore blue jeans and navy tennis shoes, their shabby bags nearly identical. The girl was reading a book intently, holding it in front of her face so that Ruby could read its title. She gasped when she saw that she was reading exactly the same book. She gaped in disbelief.

The stranger felt her ears burn, and looked up. She frowned to find Ruby staring straight at her and let her book slowly fall to her lap. Ruby smiled, held up her own copy, and fingered her jumper. The girl peered at Ruby’s book and raised her eyebrows suddenly, seemingly confused.

“Hi!” Ruby said above the hum of the clockwork clack of the train wheels; “Good book, isn’t it?”

“Umm… yeah, I’ve read it a few times now, it’s one of my favourites.”

Ruby sat in silence for a while and considered the situation, then got up to sit opposite the stranger.

“Hey, I don’t want to sound odd or anything but don’t you think this is weird? I just… I believe that some coincidences are there for a reason. Like”… Ruby blushed as she listened to her own voice – “like one of us has a message for the other or something. Do you know what I mean?”

“Yes, but, I don’t know what to say… that message could be anything, we could be here for hours trying to figure out what it is.  Uh, my name’s Robyn though, does that help?” Robyn scrunched her nose in an awkward admittance of the setting.

“Ruby.” they exchanged smiles and both glanced out the window in embarrassment. Ruby considered giving up and returning to her seat… they were approaching Killiney Dart station, the part with the best view of the entire Dalkey to Bray coastline and she hated to miss it, but she stayed put, not wanting to appear rude.


The acceleration pulled the girls towards the rear of the carriage as the train lurched from the station, momentum building, the ocean coming into view.  A sudden  gunshot crack interrupted their thoughts and the seats underneath them jimmied slightly… the girls exchanged curious glances in the seconds before chaos ensued.

The carriage swayed slightly as another loud snap could be heard, and juddered violently as though it had driven over a giant pothole.  A second later a more violent judder rocked the carriage and another shortly after that.  The train began to shake uncontrollably, then buckled and tipped on its side as its wheels left the track and forced the girls into temporary suspension.  Robyn shrieked and grabbed the nearest support bar, Ruby slammed into Robyn’s midriff and grabbed her waist as the train’s carriage blundered back into an upright position.  They slammed against the glass and tucked their feet behind the hand-rail for extra support as the carriage lurched awkwardly screaming its metallic protest, the atmosphere lit with incandescent sparks.  The girls watched in horror as the first carriage containing the driver and several souls left the cliff and plummeted towards the sea,  screaming voices all around them drained Ruby’s face as she began to pray.  Violent jerking as the second carriage tipped towards the the bottom of the cliff made metal howl under the strain of the carriages behind it.  Two left.  The third could not be seen from the vantage point of the girls, but the reactional movements told them it had probably followed suit over the edge of the precipice.  Ruby closed her eyes.

The screeching at this point was deafening, passenger’s voices melted into the scream of tearing metal and bending steel… shattered glass flew in every direction and a final loud bang spun their carriage sideways against the inner wall by the railings as the carriages detatched from one another.  The carriage slowed to a deathly silence.  Ruby opened her eyes to find that the side of the train she had originally been sitting on was completely destroyed…  everyone on that side had perished instantly, horror lay to their left as a small gathering of disjointed bodies could be seen towards the carriage front through the thick black smoke and random carriage debris.

The girls escaped cautiously and stumbled away from the wreckage in silence, both understanding now what the coincidence meant with vivid clarity.  The girls separated, lost in the crowds of spectators, never to meet again.

Hours later Ruby sat unscathed on her mother’s couch under a thick blanket and held on to her sweet tea for dear life as she watched the grim footage replay on the evening news, her eyes glued to the images.  Her breath caught suddenly.  Without removing her eyes from the screen she felt for the television’s remote control and re-wound the footage for a second look… she gaped in awe as she watched herself stumbling away from the wreckage… alone.  She could have sworn… the teacup fell and splashed her goosepimpled legs as she lost consciousness.

Bring on the comments

  1. stipes says:


  2. Brilliant story, K8! We never know who or what is watching after us. :)

  3. Baino says:

    You’re an awesome storyteller. There’s a DVD out at the moment called Passengers, sort of kinda like this but not, quite good if you can get over Anne Hathaway!

  4. Granny says:

    Great story, ya gave me goosepimples at the end!

  5. Holemaster says:

    Nice theme K8. Often imagine that there are several versions of each of us existing at the same time in parallel universes, all making different decisions and experiencing different things.

  6. K8 says:

    Stipes; Appreciated!! Getting her below 1,000 words was a bitch.

    Jefferson; Thanks :) Alternatively nobody’s watching over us, some of us are just insane.

    Baino; Heehee so you’re an anti-Hathawanian too? I agree, she needs a slap.

    Granny; Tanks! I hope Iarnroid Eireann appreciates the irony.

    Brianf; Cheers m8 :)

    Holemaster; Thanks! Everything has happened before and will happen a thousand times over again. That concept gives me chills.

  7. I enjoyed this. Thanks!

  8. TenaciousT says:

    Late to this but feck me that was excellent! Your stories always draw me in & can’t stop reading!

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