Estimated reading time — 5 minutes
After stowing our luggage away under the bottom bunk and taking a few moments to adjust to our new ‘home’ for the next seven days, we turned to face our travelling companion or the random stranger who made the journey work out that little bit cheaper. She seemed pleasant enough. Her name was Elena; she was 25, foreign, Eastern European I would guess, average looking. We could have done worse. After the initial small talk and introductions were over, we took our seats and my wife and I began chatting about the trip and such.
I noticed Elena go to the window and watched from the corner of my eye as she pulled back the curtains. She seemed to freeze suddenly and almost jump back from the window with a gasp. I started to get up to see what she was looking at but she motioned at me to sit back down and returned to her side of the cabin. “I thought I saw something but there was nothing”.
I was finding the journey quite pleasant by this point. The scenery was more impressive than I could have imagined and I was getting excited about our first day trip in the morning. My wife, Elena and I would chat now and again but Elena was conscious of the fact that we were newly weds and needed our privacy. I liked her for that.
Come night time, I was pretty tired and fell into a deep sleep almost instantly. I don’t know for what reason but I awoke with a start some time later. I could feel a presence, like someone was where they shouldn’t be. I peered over the side of my bunk and there she was. Elena. Just stood at the window, staring. “Elena?” I whispered. She looked up at me, terrified. She looked back at the window then walked back to her bunk and got in, back turned to me.
That morning I had expected Elena to mention the events of the night before but she didn’t. She got up as normal, got ready and was off the train as soon as we were permitted. I wondered if it had been a dream. My wife and I enjoyed the city sites, ate some good food and generally had a good day.
Back in the cabin Elena was reading a book and my wife was resting. I got up to go to the toilet and noticed that Elena’s eyes followed me out, almost as though she was waiting for me to leave. When I returned she was at the window taking photo after photo. She turned to me holding out the camera.”Tell me, please. What do you see?”. I looked down at the camera. “Scenery. Blurred scenery. Blurred trees”. Terrible photos? She looked at me blankly.
“Then… you do not see… her?”. She was shaking violently.
“I just see trees…”.Elena shut off the camera and left the cabin quickly.
Elena’s behaviour had become very strange by now. She didn’t come on that day’s excursion saying she was ill and she rarely engaged in conversation. I was past caring. She was weird and I was cursing myself for being so tight with my money.
My wife and I returned from dinner to find Elena by the window yet again. I sat down and looked up at her with disdain. Slowly her head began to turn in my direction until she was staring directly at me. She looked horrific, like she hadn’t slept for years. She was wide eyed and her mouth was open slightly. “The train is always moving but she… she is always there”. Slowly her head turned back to face the window.
Early night. The excursion today was tiring. We had spent the day touring a “modern Soviet city” and took a bunch of photos of the Opera House and statue of Lenin. Elena didn’t come again. Like I cared.
A noise brought me out of my sleep, a noise I couldn’t make out at first. My heart racing, I sat up and looked at the source. Elena was pounding heavily on the window over and over again. I leapt off my bunk and grabbed her hands. “Elena, stop!” I held her wrists tightly until she seemed to come round. She looked up into my eyes, opened her mouth and screamed so loudly my ears felt like they would bleed. “Jesus, Elena, what the fuck?” I let go of her and she returned to the window and began hitting it again, relentlessly. “I’ve had enough now, I’ve fucking had enough of this crazy bitch”. I grabbed my wife and went to find someone to get us moved.
After a lot of talking and persuasion (and some money) we were offered another cabin. We returned to ours to pick up our stuff with a porter. Elena wasn’t there. Good, I thought.
I enjoyed this day a lot more knowing that we wouldn’t have to return to Elena that night. My wife and I were looking through our photos from that day, drinking beer. I got up to go to the toilet and kissed her on the head.
I started to walk down the corridor when I saw a familiar figure standing deathly still by one of the train doors. Elena. I began to turn the other way thinking I would just go use the others when suddenly she reached out and opened the door. “ELENA, NO!” I tried to run to her but she just jumped. Like that , she was just gone. SHIT. I closed the door and ran to get someone. She’d dropped her camera so I swept it up on my way, I don’t know why exactly.
The train had been stopped for some time now and I had answered as many questions as I could. We had been told we would continue to the next station at some point where my wife and I would get off. Given the circumstances, I wanted off the train anyway. It started up again. I was relieved.
I sat down on my bunk and reached into my bag to get Elena’s camera. I knew I should have given it to the police but something inside stopped me. I flicked it on and started scrolling through her photos. I felt sad to see the shots she had taken on the station and of the empty cabin on her first day. She must have been as excited as we were, I’m sure.
Suddenly I froze. I’d come to the blurred scenery shots she’d shown me days back, only this time I could see something amongst the trees. I zoomed in slowly. My heart was hammering hard against my chest as my brain tried to take in what my eyes were seeing. There amongst the blurred trees and forestry was a woman, stood there, staring up at the camera, her face frozen in an eternal scream. I flicked to the next picture. She was there again. And the next and the next. She was in each and every photo, no matter where Elena had taken the photo, at what angle, the woman was there. I kept flicking through. I must have gone through over a hundred photos and there she was again and again.
Then, she was on the train. The photo was taken from inside our train and she was there at the end of the corridor, stood at an awkward angle looking at the camera, her face still frozen in a scream. The next photo she was closer. She was walking towards Elena. She was getting closer. I got to the final photo and my blood ran cold. Her terrifying face was right up to the lens.
I threw the camera down onto the bed and ran to the window, ripping back the curtains. A scream caught in my throat.
There amongst the trees, in the distance I could see her. The woman. Staring up at me from afar. My eyes followed her until she was out of sight then I looked back to my original focus point and there she was again. I repeated these eye movements over and over and she was always there.
My wife came in at this point. “What are you looking at?”
I stared at her, horrified and unable to move. “The train is always moving but she… she is always there”.
Credit To – TheRoyalGame