It was now tomorrow, and there was no train. The sky rumbled in disagreement with itself, and forks of weak lightning fingered out along the clouds’ underbelly. A curtain of rain dropped like it was poured out of a bucket.
Far away, I heard the unmistakable whistle of the steam engine. A slight chuggachugga, like it was working uphill. I plucked up the case again, gripping the leather-covered handle tight. It was supposed to be cuffed to my wrist, but I’d forgotten the damn things at the motel. The combination locks gleamed on other side. I smiled, confident again, and stepped out into the rain.
The train churned the engine and the wheels worked furiously in the slick tracks. Around the corner, and then the cyclopean headlamp. It burned brighter as the beast neared, the ground beneath the platform shaking in response. As it approached, I could see the heavy dent in the boiler tank. The crushed smokestack. Smoke curled out from random holes in the thing and it came to a screeching, shuddering full stop several hundred meters past the boarding dock.
A woman screamed; I didn’t even know she was standing there. I eyed her standing there with her hands covering her mouth, and followed her terrified gaze.
Draped over the coal car, and half of the next two passenger cars, was a black shape, oily and writhing like a coiled snake, but it wasn’t one of those.
A great slotted eye the size of a dinner plate stared out at us, as my mind scrambled to piece together the entirety of the monster wrapped around and tethered to the partially-destroyed locomotive: A big, black, Giant Squid.
There was the torpedic head, the cat-golden eye, with about a dozen shredded and oozing tentacles hung over the machine. It squirmed, clearly uncomfortable or dying, maybe both.
The train station attendant left his post, (having no tickets to sell) and approached the platform, mouth agape. I took a deep breath and squeezed my eyes shut. We had to remain calm, even if there was a cephalopod crushing the (11:45 P.M.) train. I cleared my throat.
“What about the passengers aboard?” I shook my head and started to put the briefcase down, then thought better of it. The rain smacked me on my cheeks as I neared the train and looked up. One tentacle lifted, waved and fell back to the tangled mess with a heavy plop. I climbed up into the mangled car and had a peek in. The interior was dark, but blessedly free of bodies. Overhead, the groan of overburdened metal and splintered wood framing encouraged me to vacate immediately.
“Right, well look at it. It appears to be dying,” I said as I hopped down to the platform.
The woman tore her gaze from the animal and stared at me like I had tentacles of my own. “Shouldn’t we call the police?”
“What would the police do?”
The attendant pulled a worn handkerchief from his overalls pocket, paisley-deep red, and blotted his whiskered chin.
“I’m thinking calamari.”