31 Oct Train
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Estimated reading time — 11 minutes
There exists a curious legend among the people of South Africa. Although somewhat obscure now, it was prevalent during the late 19th Century colonisation of Africa which saw the construction of railways across the countryside for the transport of workers. This is the legend of the witch trains – ordinary-looking trains, but staffed by the debased servants of a powerful being generally thought to be a witch, or sometimes even thought to be multiple witches. These trains would appear to people travelling alone at night in the countryside and take them aboard, never to be seen again. This was far from the full extent of the machinations of the being that controlled the trains, who will henceforth be referred to as the Witch, but more on that later. Although the activity of the Witch and Her trains has subsided as of late, there is one witch train still roaming, still waiting to return to the Witch’s house.
Seeking out this train is difficult and will take some time; the rails themselves are not mapped so prepare a rucksack for a long day’s journey – and to carry what you will be bringing back. On the first or last day of any month – this is most conducive to the likelihood of the rails appearing – travel by any means to the town of Karasburg in South Africa. When the sun has gone down, begin walking in any direction between north and north-east of the town. It may be advisable to prepare some sort of self-protective gear for travelling the South African countryside at night, but be warned that, once you reach your destination, whatever protective items or weapons you may bring will not be of any use against what you will encounter there.
Keep walking until you find a railroad track. Inspect it carefully to ensure that it is not merely an ordinary track. The track you are looking for will be in excellent condition, and if you look closely, the ground beneath the track will be completely undisturbed – there should be no difference between ground beneath the track and nearby uncovered ground. Walk in either direction along the track. It should take no longer than an hour for you to reach the station.
In stark contrast to the track, the station is a hovel. You will find the few small buildings completely deserted, and all but one have been burnt to the ground. The one that remains standing is a blackened, rickety, wooden shack, though the single front door appears brand new. A sign nailed to it reads,
In older days this station would have actually had staff – the station hadn’t been burned, either. The witch trains didn’t just stop abducting people of their own volition. The train you are looking for will stop here for you soon, but to make proper use of it you need something from the staff room. No matter what you try, the door will not open for you, but fortunately the Witch gave no special treatment to the walls, trusting them by themselves, along with Her staff, to keep intruders out. They are badly burned and worn. A good kicking at any wall should provide an entrance. The staff room is completely bare, save for a few equipment closets along the walls. Search them thoroughly. Most will contain generic, 19th Century mechanical equipment not worth taking, but one will contain a silver control rod for a gearbox. This control rod will be easy to find – it glows, yet curiously it provides no illumination for anything at all save for itself, no matter how dark the environment is. This is what you need. Take it and wait outside. Now wait, however long it takes. Eventually, you will see the decrepit old passenger train come trundling to a stop in front of you.
A train attendant will open the door for you. This train unusually employs both white and black workers, but regardless of his skin colour he will wear an extremely worn and filthy train staff uniform. He will stare at you with decidedly vacant eyes for a moment, and you will very likely feel a sudden, acute sense of discomfort. You would be right to feel this way – the stare is intense, yet there is no-one behind those dull eyes. The man will then say one word:
The tone will sound odd – as a statement, yet there will be the faintest hint of a query in the sound of it. This is because the man’s speech is meant to be a query. In the past, this man and his fellow staff would, upon stopping and opening the doors for them, ask unfortunate travellers of the South African countryside,
“Single, or return?”
If you were to answer the attendant with “return,” you would be taken on the train and ferried a fair distance along the countryside before being brutally beaten by the train staff and thrown off. This is the same for any others who would have been encountered by this train. Any other answer will simply result in him repeating his question until you give one of the expected answers. The other expected answer you can give is, of course, “single,” however, fortunately for you, the train and its staff no longer have the means to carry out their programmed response to this answer. This is why that part of their dialogue has been removed from their usual protocol. If you answer with this, the attendant will simply stare at you and do nothing until you give another response.
This is where the control rod you have comes in. Without saying a word, produce it and hand it to the attendant. His face will not have any reaction to this, but I can assure you that if he had even the remotest capacity for emotion, he would be profoundly relieved to see it. He will silently take the rod and then step off the train to walk briskly over to the conductor’s car. When he does this, simply climb aboard the train and close the door; nobody will hinder you now, and the attendant will not return to this car. It is a standard passenger car, with rows of wooden seats along the walls, everything thickly coated in dust and worn by centuries of age and neglect. The doors to the other cars, as well as the windows, are boarded up. You must spend the whole journey here, but worry not. It is a short trip, and there is nothing you need to see outside the windows anyway. Sit and wait, you will soon feel the train start to move.
The journey will be short, however, it is unlike any other you have ever taken – the train crosses more than just land, indeed, it crosses more than space, but let’s not dwell on that for now. You will not feel anything during the transition, nor will you feel anything when the train arrives at the destination, however, it is extremely important that you do not open the door until you are absolutely certain that the train has arrived – the transition is lethal to unprotected human life. To tell if the train has arrived, first wait ten minutes – this is the longest it will take to enter the transition – then periodically tap the boarded up window with your finger. A hollow knocking sound will indicate that you have arrived, whereas if your finger produces a dull thud, as if you are tapping against a completely solid object, you have not arrived yet. Disembark as soon as you are sure the train has reached its destination.
As you step off the train you will find yourself on a barren, rocky plain, surrounded by a thick mist. Probably the first thing you’ll notice the large number of rotting human bones scattered across the area. The Witch, in its activities in Earth, made a large number of servants. It also made a large number of enemies. The bones that profane the grounds here belong to both camps. The battle that made such a necropolis of this place is also the reason for the abrupt disappearance of the witch trains and new reports of them. A short distance away, not obscured by the mist, you will see a dilapidated church of white stone. Staying close to the edge of the fog but being very careful not to lose sight of the church, make your way there.
This part is important – you must keep a close eye on the church, for you will soon see a small crowd emerge from it and start approaching the train. These are more of Her servants. As soon as you see them, immediately run into the fog as far as you dare but do NOT lose sight of the church – this place is not a natural part of our world, and consequently the geometry of the land is abnormal. If you proceed in what may seem like a straight line too far into the fog, reversing your direction will not bring you back, and in this way it is far too easy to become hopelessly lost there, so do not lose sight of the church! Wait in the fog as the servants go past. They all wear the same, worn out train staff uniforms, and they all wear the same, utterly vacant expressions on their faces. Don’t let this fool you though; if they catch you trespassing on Her land they will tear you apart with a fanaticism and strength no human could match. Once they reach the train, they will stay there – this is the first time it has been here in over a century. Proceed to the church at this point, but stay close to the fog just in case.
Approach the white church and take note of the damage. The walls are adorned in scorch marks and bullet holes. More of the skeletons of the Witch’s servants and enemies surround the church and are scattered amongst the floors and aisles of the nave inside, as you will see through the blasted front doors. You won’t end up like these skeletons at this point; all of the Witch’s servants in this place have gone to the train and will stay there. The people who attacked this place made sure to destroy the Witch’s means of re-entering our world, such as the train and the control rod for activating the transition, so Her servants will be hard at work investigating the train you have brought here. But don’t worry, if you do this correctly, you should be able to return back with the train and control rod before the Witch can make use of them once more.
Enter the church and proceed through the nave to the doors behind the altar. Muster up your courage and determination here, and perhaps prepare something like a rag to cover your face with. The reports I have on this church do not indicate a good ventilation of the next hallway. When you are ready, enter.
The dim light of the hallway will illuminate the carpet of half-decayed corpses across the floor. On the walls you will see the sources of these dim lights; small globes wired into the distended mouths of rows of mutilated heads attached to bizarre machinery set into the walls. Unlike the previous areas, most of these bodies belong to Her enemies, not servants, ambushed and slaughtered here when they tried to make their way to confront the Witch Herself. Walk as quickly as you can through this hall while being careful not to trip, there is certainly no need to take your time here. You may notice that a few of the light globes are dark. Consider the bearers of those lights extremely lucky, for the truth is that these light globes are powered by the electrical signals in the brains of these heads, kept alive by the arcane machinery that supports them. Try not to dwell too much on their fates, you should save your mental fortitude for the trials ahead, And don’t attempt to turn any more of these lights off – the Witch is coming very soon, and if you do not escape, many more people in our world, including you, will end up like this.
My information on this place is based on the accounts of the few who attacked it over a century ago and managed to escape. Thus, I can’t give details on what you will find beyond this forsaken hallway, but I know that among the things here you should find a library, a door of the same luminous silver of the train’s control rod, with a crucifix set into it, and a pool of blood. Avoid the door for now, and the pool of blood at all costs. Instead enter the library. Most of the books here are worthless, except for one set, which should be the centrepiece of the library. Though these ancient books are penned in Hebrew, their place is marked by a sign in English reading “The Annals of the Connexion of the Thrones of God,” or simply “The Annals of the Connexion.” In layman’s terms, this odd phrase refers, essentially, to telepathy. These are what you are looking for.
Before the end of your journey you, one way or another, will be able to read Hebrew, and many other languages. However, it is advisable that you use your discretion in reading these books should you ever so choose. Aside from instruction on the creation and control of the servants that the Witch uses, these books talk about the precise nature and origins of the Connexion of the Thrones of God, the universe, of God and the other deities of the universe. It also details the origin of our species, and what we are to these beings. These things are explained in as much detail as the human mind, or the mind of any other being of this dimension, is capable of conceiving, and it is reported that an alarming majority of those who have read these texts were unable to reconcile themselves with the bleak truth of our existence, and would suffer insanity or depression at the least, often committing suicide. Carefully consider your life and outlook before you seek the knowledge in these texts.
The other copies of these books were destroyed a long time ago by the Witch, as well as others like her, along with most of the people in the world who naturally had the telepathic Connexion. These people made up a large part of the Witch’s enemies who attacked her here. Take these books and leave now – it will not be long before the Witch emerges from Her slumber, yet there is one more sacrifice you must make to facilitate your escape. Find the room with the silver, crucifix-set door, and steel yourself, for this will not be pleasant. Open the door.
The room is pitch black, but you can clearly see the machinery surrounding the chained, furiously screaming man inside, all of it in the same silver of the non-illuminating glow. Try to find something to hold onto as this man, cut off for so long, forces his mind upon you. Your head will feel as if it is being squashed like a balloon to the bursting point as the last man with the Connexion transfers it to you. It will feel like years, but it will only take seconds before it is done. The man will thankfully die from the strain, making him one less person left behind on your conscience. You will want to take time to process all this, as the knowledge and outright changes to your brain will be unimaginable, but you don’t have a moment, you must run now. If you pass the pool of blood on your way out, you will notice that it is bubbling. The Witch is emerging. Run to the hallway, and prepare yourself for the hardest part.
This hallway was created for the Connected when they attacked this place. All the people now set into the walls have been subjected to unthinkable horrors before being forced inside their minds by destruction of all five of their senses. But with the Connexion you will, upon entering the hallway, feel all of their ghastly thoughts inside your mind. This is why the Witch did this – to weaken the Connected at this hallway with the tormented thoughts of these people so as to defeat them more easily. As hard as it will be, you must focus yourself on running through this hallway. Once you are out, you will be fine, but you must get out quickly.
Get to the train, where Her servants will still be. As long as She is not nearby, you can now use the Connexion to force your will upon them, preventing them from attacking you, but not for long. Quickly enter the conductor’s car on the train, and use your will on the control rod in the same way to make your escape from this place.
If you successfully escape, what you do with your newfound talents and books is entirely up to you. As mentioned before, you now have the capability to read the Hebrew language of the Annals, and other languages. There are many people who will offer incredible sums of money for the Annals of the Connexion, as well as unthinkable gifts, many of which will sicken you with their degradations. Many more people will hunt you for the Annals, as well as for simply what you now are. Most likely, you are not able to predict what you will do, as you will surely be a completely different person at the end of this journey, so at the very least you should hope that you can adapt to your new life quickly enough before it can overwhelm you.
Credit To: corpulent